Tag Archives: John M. James

Old Photos Found of First Jesse James Museum

Jesse James Museum
The First Jesse James Museum, Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky

For 20 years, I have searched for any old photos of this James family home that became the first Jesse James museum. James family lore had spoken about the museum for years. Recently Curtis Gilliland, a cousin who is vice-president of the Pulaski County Historical Society in Somerset, Kentucky notified me about a new accession received by the Society that arrived right before Christmas, 2016. At last, now we can see what the first Jesse James museum looked like.

D.A.R. HISTORIAN UNCOVERS ARCHIVE

Helen Vogt Greene
Helen Vogt Greene, museum historian of the Lake Worth Historical Museum, 414 Lake Avenue, Lake Worth, Florida

Helen Vogt Greene, curator and museum historian of the Lake Worth Historical Museum in Lake Worth, Florida, donated the accession to the Pulaski County Historical Society.

Greene is an award-winning historian. In April of 2016, the Palm Beach Historical Society awarded Greene the coveted Fannie James Pioneer Achievement Award. The award is named for an African-American pioneer (of no known relationship to the Jesse James family) who served as the first postmistress of the post office in the settlement of Jewell, now Lake Worth.

In October of 2016, the Florida State Daughters of the American Revolution also recognized Greene for her demonstrated record of 45 years as a “historical, educational, social, religious, political, scientific, and cultural innovator.”  The National Society of the DAR honored Past Honorary Regent Greene as one of its “Women in American History.”

THE RECOVERY

The photo accession includes several photographic images, personally written notations, a business card, and Helen Vogt Greene’s written letter statement of provenance and donation.

In my personal interview with Mrs. Greene, she confirmed the facts of the letter and explained more of the story behind the photos. Greene, who was 7 years old when her family took these images around 1943, stated that a group from Poland had visited Somerset and Pulaski County in Kentucky at that time. The interest group was attracted to the county’s name and its namesake of Casimir Pulaski. Greene’s family joined their tour.

Casimir Pulaski
Count Casimir Pulaski of Poland, 1745-1779

I informed Mrs. Greene that John M. James, a founder of Pulaski County and the grandfather of Frank and Jesse James per local lore, selected the name for the county. In the American Revolution, John M. James was a supplier to the Patriot cause together with Joshua Logan Younger, grandfather of the Younger brothers of the James gang. Also as a spy for Gen. Washington, John M. James was a great admirer of Casimir Pulaski as an American Patriot from Poland.

Helen Greene stated that she was unpacking some boxes recently when she uncovered the photographs that had been long stored away. As an historian cleaning house, Greene determined her family photos should return to their place of origination. So, she donated them to the Pulaski County Historical Society.

TEXT OF THE DONATION LETTER

December 31, 2016

Pulaski County Historical Society

304 South Main Street

Somerset, Ky 42501

 Dear Mr. Elmore, President

Since 1980, I have been associated with the small Historical Museum of the City of Lake Worth, Florida. In all that time, first as the Curator and now as the Historian, I have never been able to tell families what they should save and what in the world do other people want? I add myself to that list.

donation letter
Donation and provenance letter of Helen Vogt Greene

Enclosed you will find three c. 1943 pictures and an advertising card for the Oak Leaf Tourist Cmp. I am quite certain we were traveling through. My father traveled from place to place working on government projects. He was an Electrical Supervisor. He wanted his family with him and we lived in a trailer. These pictures were just ‘unpacked”. If these are not ‘keepers”, please feel free to use File #13.

I find the card quite interesting.  If you still have cabins for 50 cents a night, we may visit you…when it is warmer. Success in all that you do to protect and preserve your history.

Blessings and a Happy New Year…2017

(S)  Helen Vogt Greene

Contact information of address, telephone number, and email for Helen Vogt Greene are redacted here.

HISTORY OF THE JESSE JAMES MUSEUM

When I first visited the site of the old Jesse James museum, it was in 2001. Cousin Virgie Herrin-Fuller 1922-2009, a James descendant and retired schoolteacher, took me there. Virgie lived on the same road as the old museum, just a few minutes away. Virgie grew up in Shopville, in the home that her grandparents Joseph Allen Herrin and Susan Harriett James had built on the original land of John M. James.

Museum ruins
Ruins of the Jesse James Museum, 2001

Virgie said at that time that she always recalled the old log cabin where we stood was used as a Jesse James museum. It was a tourist attraction. She further stated that the log cabin originally was built on the land of John M. James in Shopville where she grew up.

As we looked around that day, all that was left of the old museum were two standing brick chimneys. Virgie confirmed that the museum had burned down years ago. Everything that the museum contained, that was collected from the James homes in Shopville, was consumed by the flames.

Jesse James Museum ruins
Alternate view of the ruin of the Jesse James Museum, 2001

In further research, I found many others among the James family and in the town of  Somerset who recalled the old museum as Virgie did. Nowhere I looked did I ever find someone who could provide photographic evidence of the building’s existence. Now, thanks to Helen Vogt Greene, that is changed.

GRAFFITI CONFIRMS JAMES FAMILY LORE

Now the lore of the James family is confirmed by the newly recovered photographic images. Graffiti painted on the building walls in the period, presumably when the structure became a museum, tells the story of the building.

Jesse James Museum
Jesse James Museum, front facade graffiti

This house built in 1816 was

123 years old when rebuilt in 1938.

Jesse James Funeral (illegible)

Rev. J.M. Martins (illegible)

I have chosen this day

24th chapter of (illegible)

44th verce (sic)

Rhoda May-James
Rhoda May-James 1806-1889. No photographic image of Rev. Joseph Martin James ever has been found. The James family’s archives, however, do include an image of one is his wives, Rhoda May, and an abundance of photos of his children and their families.

John M. James settled the land on Buck Creek that became Shopville, from two land grants he acquired in 1799. John’s son, Rev. Joseph Martin James operated a store house on nearby Flat Lick Creek, that gave the area its name.

The reference to a reverend is unclear. The text could refer to Virgie’s great-grandfather Rev. Joseph Martin James, at times referred to as Martin among his congregation, at other times referred to as Joe among his family. For many years, Rev. Joseph Martin James served as pastor of the Flat Lick Baptist Chruch, of which his father was a founder. A history of Flat Lick Church acknowledges the James in the formation and operation of the church, and also in their relationship and kinship with Frank & Jesse James. Rev. James later founded the First Baptist Church of Somerset, Kentucky, also serving there as pastor. Joseph Martin James was a very popular preacher.

Rev. James was the son of John M. James and Clarissa “Clara” Nall. The congregation of Flat Lick Church defrocked Rev. J. M. James due to his becoming an alcoholic bigamist who sired 24 children, among three wives, his last four children being born in consecutive years by two alternate wives, one of whom was a teenager from his congregation. Remaining very popular nonetheless after his demise in 1848 for his preaching ability, his congregation memorialized him as being “talented, but erratic.”

Zee Mimms-James Bible
Bible of Zee Mimms-James, inscribed on the day her husband Jesse Woodson James was killed

The biblical reference that appears on the museum building is reminiscent of the notation Jesse’s wife Zee Mimms-James made in her bible, following Jesse’s assassination. In very precise handwriting, Zee inscribed her bible, “Jesse killed this day April 3, 1882, in St. Joseph.” Her inscription appeared below the bible verse: I Thessalonians, Chapter V: “But of the times and seasons, Brethren,  you have no need that we write to you, for you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord is to come as a thief in the night.”

A side view of the building reveals additional graffiti, which states:

Jesse James Museum
Jesse James Museum, side graffiti

The hangout house of Jessie (sic) & Frank James

Moved from Shopville & reblt.

A letter from Frank James telling how

They began their life.

We began slaying Yanks one by one

We joined Quantell (sic). He had 37 men.

We made things hot

Now & then.

 ADDITIONAL CONFIRMATION FOUND

 Around the time of the discovery of the of the Zee James Collection of historical images and artifacts by Al King of Somerset, Mr. King found himself at an estate sale on Main St. in Somerset. A small number of items attracted King’s attention. The seller stated the items came from the Jesse James Museum on North Route 1247 outside Somerset when the museum went out of business. Mr. King purchased a photo, not knowing who was pictured in the image.

Mary Harriet James
Mary Harriet James-Owens 1843-1935

During the first meeting with Mr. King to authenticate the artifacts he purchased from the historical home of Judge James Madison Lindsay, King alerted me to the photo he had bought on Main St. King asked me if I could identify the person in the photograph. When the photograph was produced, I knew instantly who was in the picture. The photo was of Mary Harriett James, a daughter of Rev. Joseph Martin James and Rhoda May. The image reflected other known images of Mary Harriet James in the family archives. This was corroborating evidence that the first Jesse James Museum actually contained artifacts produced from the Shopville homes of the James family.

 

__________________________________________________

The James family expresses its deepest appreciation to historian Helen Vogt Greene for this valuable contribution to our James family history.

_________________________________________________

OAK LEAF TOURIST CAMP & S. L. WILSON

The former site of the first Jesse James Museum was part of the Oak Leaf Tourist Camp, N. Rt. 1247 near Abbott Rd., 3 miles north of Somerset, Kentucky. Except for two remaining brick chimneys, the site sits vacant today, but conitnues to be talked about and visited.

Oak Leaf Tourist Camp-Business Card
Oak Leaf Tourist Camp

Free DOWNLOAD

The Ancestry & Kinship of S. L. Wilson

First Jesse James Museum site-2017
The former site of the Oak Leaf Tourist Camp and first Jesse James museum today, 2017.

 

John W. Mimms Jr. Daguerreotype – Now on the Market

Leonard Hall is the owner of a daguerreotype appearing to be that of John W. Mimms, Jr. Hall wants to put his image on the market and make it available for acquisition.

case and daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr.
Daguerreotype presumed to be of John W. Mimms Jr.

There’s a hitch, though. Mr. Hall’s preferred customer is a member of the Jesse James family or its related families. His backup choice is an historical institution that would make the image available to the public, or a collector of Jesse James-related or Western memorabilia.

Who is John W. Mimms Jr.?

John W. Mimms Jr. is the son of John Wilson Mimms Sr. and Mary James, making Junior a descendant of the James family, also. Mary James is the daughter of John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor, grandparents of Frank and Jesse James, making Mary James and John Wilson Mimms Sr.  an aunt and uncle of the James brothers, and making John W. Mimms Jr. their first cousin.

John Wilson Mimms Jr daguerreotype
Daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr.

When John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor died between 1826 and 1827 within months of one another, the couple left behind nine orphan children, ranging in age from a few months to Mary, who was the eldest at age seventeen. Among the orphan clan was Robert Sallee James, the father of Frank and Jesse James.

Mary’s uncle is Drury Woodson Poor from her Poor ancestry on her mother’s side. He became the executor of the estate of John M. James. Within weeks, D. W. Poor immediately became guardian to Mary and her siblings.

An immediate problem arose to confront Drury Woodson Poor. He had nine children of his own. Now, he was given charge of eight more. Besides,  he had just launched his career as a Kentucky legislator and state representative from Logan County. Poor had the confidence of his community. Known as the “Lion of Whippoorwill Creek,” Poor had served Logan County as its sheriff before his election. His judgement was respected. Poor’s resolution to his problem was to marry off Mary James, the eldest orphan, to John Wilson Mimms Sr.

case cover
Exterior of the daguerreotype case

For almost thirty years thereafter, John Wilson and Mary James Mimms operated a tobacco farm in Adairville in Logan County, Kentucky. After being ordained in the Missionary Baptist Church as a Methodist minister, Rev. Mimms removed his family from Kentucky in 1856 to join Mary’s brother Thomas Martin James in Missouri.

For the benefit of the orphan clan, D. W. Poor purchased the family Bible of John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor and gave it to Mary James-Mimms. Before the Bible burned in a storage room fire, its’ genealogy entries were copied into the family Bible of Robert William Mimms. Ultimately this Bible was passed down to Ruth Ethyl Waers, a granddaughter of Robert William Mimms.  Ruth married Col. Harold Burton Gibson. The Bible is presumed to have stayed in the Gibson family.

History knows little about the life of John W. Mimms Jr. other than he was born in Logan County, Kentucky on July 14, 1831. He married Cornelia Dobbins on Dec. 22, 1859, in the company of his siblings Robert William and Lucy Frances Mimms. Then he died shortly after that in February of 1863.

The Mimms Daguerreotype Cannot be Authenticated

Since no photographic images exist of the closest family of John W. Mimms Jr., no forensic analysis can determine if the picture of him is scientifically authentic. The earliest known images of these James-Mimms descendants occurs among their grandchildren.

Also, since no authentic documents exist to show comparison evidence of the image or of the handwriting of John W. Mimms, Jr. to the signature in the daguerreotype case, the handwriting cannot be ascertained as authentic, either. Forensic analysis, however, should be able to verify the paper stock and ink as being in the period, or not.

Some evidence of ownership or subject identification of “John W. Mimms Jr.” can be found in the inscription “H_ _per, Kentucky.” These two identifiers appear written on the case interior underneath the daguerreotype. The written name and location must be taken at face value.

John W. Mimms Jr signature inside
Inscription – “John W. Mimms Jr. H __per, Kentucky”

What can be authenticated in this artifact, in fact, is the town in Kentucky that is inscribed in the case, despite the evident appearance of puncture damage to the town’s name. The town is Hesper, Kentucky. This fact is little known except to historians of the Jesse James family and the James Preservation Trust. The identification is found in a letter from Lutie Mimms to Joan Malley-Beamis. Lutie identifies J. W. Mimms Jr. as a “merchant in Hesper, Ky.” Lutie is the granddaughter of John Wilson Mimms Sr. and Mary James-Mimms. Joan Beamis is a great-granddaughter of Drury Woodson James, an uncle of Frank and Jesse James.. Beamis also is the author of Background of a Bandit, the first genealogy of the Jesse James family by the Kentucky Historical Society.

Provenance of the Daguerreotype

In his original query to Stray Leaves about his daguerreotype,  Leonard Hall attested to the following provenance.

“I was in Martha’s Vineyard this summer (where the Presidents hang out for vacation) and Island off Cape Cod…..and I am an ex~photographer and picker….I was at a flea market that I normally visit and saw this at an Antique vendors table…I bought it as he seemed to realize it had some connection but said he had if for a few years and wanted to sell it as he dealt in high-end jewelry…..he said he got it in Miami where he summers…..that’s the origin as far as I’m concerned…”

Image Comparisons

In this circumstance, an authenticity rests in the eye of the beholder.

case back inside
Rear interior of case manufactured by Littlefield, Parsons, & Co.

Regarding the case, it is a widely and well-known fact that Littlefield, Parsons, & Co. made photographic casings of this type in a variety of sizes, covers, similar fabric and imprints. The company’s casings were available throughout the nation, both North and South. Similar cases are known to host photographic images of Civil War partisans from both sides.

While it is assumed the identification of the company, paper, ink, and other related materials are authentic, only a formal scientific forensic analysis can ascertain definitively. The costs of such analysis well could exceed the cost of acquiring the image.

What is left to assess is a comparison between the  daguerreotype and known Mimms family images. While the physical characteristics of the Mimms are not known to be catalogued, a catalogue of physical characteristics of the James does exist. After all, the subject  image of the daguerreotype and the following photographic images of related Mimms family members are all descendants of the James family, too. These Mimms display identifiable James family physical features.

Multiple images exist of Zerelda Amanda “Zee” Mimms a younger sister of John W. Mimms Jr. Zee Mimms also is the wife of Jesse Woodson James. Sarah Ann, or Sallie Mimms, was born after Zee. Drury Lilburn Mimms was born before Zee and Sallie and immediately following John W. Mimms Jr.

John W Mimms Jr-siblings Zerelda Amanada-Sarah Ann-John Robert Lilburn Mimms 600x
Siblings Zee Mimms-James, Sallie Mimms, Drury Lilbrun Mimms

From generations that follow the Mimms siblings, Maj. Gen. Harold B. Gibson Jr. is the son of Ruth Ethel Waers-Gibson who inherited the Mimms Bible. Lutie Mimms, whose full name is Lucille Ethel Mimms-Gray, is a daughter of the eldest and firstborn of the Mimms siblings, Robert William Mimms.

Harold B Gibson-Lutie Mimms-John W Mimms Jr
Mimms descendants Maj. Gen. Haorld B. Gibson Jr., Lucille Ehtyl “Lutie” Mimms, and the image subject John William Mimms, Jr.

Does the daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr. resemble images of the Mimms siblings and family?

Interested in Acquisition? 

Email me at ericjames@ericjames.org and express your family or social affiliation with the James family. I’ll be happy to refer you directly to Leonard Hall.

UPDATE: July 21, 2016

Daguerreotype of John W. Mimms Jr. SOLD

Cowans gets the kinship wrong. However, citing the research of Eric F. James of Stray Leaves, Cowans concludes a sale of a legitimate Jesse James family artifact.

 

 

The Smack & Zing of This Bloody Ground

This Bloody Ground, Volume II of the Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet
Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. II, This Bloody Ground

Daniel Boone and John M. James are ancestors of today’s descendants of Jesse James. In the present film documentary Daniel Boone & the Opening of the American West, Boone once more cuts a path and trail for Jesse’s grandfather John M. James, again today as Boone did in the past. The film is worth viewing as a preview of the smack and zing of John’s own history, soon to come in my book This Bloody Ground.

In recent years, as I sat in Danville, Kentucky, writing the story of Frank & Jesse James’ grandfather as the second book of my Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet, Kent Masterson Brown was in Lexington, Kentucky, beginning his journey of three years to bring Boone to film.

Both my book and Brown’s film cover the same period, the same territory, many of the same people, and a lot of the same history. However, each of us delivers a different view. Much of Boone’s story, as Brown tells it, is located north of the Kentucky River. The story of John M. James in This Bloody Ground, as might be expected, resides south of the Kentucky River.

Brown credits Boone in part with opening the Northwest Territory that became everything from Ohio west to Minnesota. John M. James and his band of rebel Baptist preachers, not only opened the West from colonial Virginia to Missouri Territory, but also way beyond into the Far West, to the Rockies and California.

Daniel Boone is a star in history’s firmament, replete with legend and misleading mythology, which Brown goes to great length to extinguish in a shower of facts. John M. James, for the most part, is unknown to legend, mythology, or fact. Equally, unknown is the origination in John’s Kentucky of many of those families affiliated with John who later spawned their own history of the American West.

Kent Masterson Brown
Kent Masterson Brown

I have enjoyed the former historical work of Kent Masterson Brown. Brown resembles for me the often fabled Kentucky lawyer whose telling of a good history lesson, more than a trial, vindicates justice. His voice that speaks through grit is invaluable. Brown and I are in the same business. Maybe that explains our mutual fondness for a neat and tidy bow tie.

Scitt New as Daniel Boone
Scott New portrays Daniel Boone

As a boy, John M. James tried to join Daniel Boone, when Boone stood beside his wagon in Stevensburg, Virginia, seeking recruits to enter the dark and unknown wilderness. Though John was too young for Boone to accept, each man became a pioneer. Each did so in his own way. Each has had a lasting effect on American history.

In This Bloody Ground, I will argue, however, that John M. James was more an average person’s pioneer. John M. James, not Daniel Boone, produced a more lasting effect relative to the common person. The legacy of John M. James endures in the social, religious, and political culture of America.

The marriage of Jesse’s son Jesse Edwards James Jr. to Estella Frances “Stella” McGowan might have appeared surprising at the time. It should not. He is a great-grandson of John M. James. She is a third great granddaughter of Daniel Boone. Their marriage represents the reunion of Daniel Boone and John M. James. For today and all tomorrows, the descendants of Jesse James will be the progeny of a star pioneer and a pioneer of the common man.

To view the entire program of Daniel Boone and the Opening of the West, and to savor the smack and zing of This Bloody Ground coming this year, CLICK HERE. The program may not be available for very long.

Taxes Drove Jesse James’ Ancestors to Revolution

The Stamp Act of King George III
The Stamp Act of King George III

The Stamp Act passed by the parliament of King George III instructed the grandfather of Frank and Jesse James in the power to disobey.

John M. James was informed by his uncle Henry Field, a son of Henry Field Sr. and Esther James. Putting his life and the lives of his family on the line, John’s Uncle Henry was a judge on the Culpeper Court who had resigned his judgeship to oppose the king.

As This Bloody Ground, Volume II of Jesse James Soul Liberty, points out,

Parliament recently had imposed a cider tax, plus a sugar tax. Now, a stamp tax was to be paid. The revenue stamp was to affix to most every paper item generated throughout the Colony, including documents issued by the Culpeper Court in its jurisdiction over churches and preachers. The stamp equally applied to countless other documents and papers as well, such as a gazette, a bill of sale, a land transfer, or even a will. Payment to the Crown was required in sterling, scarcely found in the colony where barter was the principal currency. Feeding upon every official and non-official act of the colonists, the stamp tax amounted to economic enslavement.

Sterling coin, the only way to pay King George's taxes
Sterling coin, the only way to pay King George’s taxes

How egregious were these taxes to cause the James family to turn to revolution?

A recent article titled “What 11 Common Objects Would Cost in 2015 if Colonial Taxation Still Existed” outlines the financial burden in the dollar values of 2015.

Everything in print bore a tax. A magazine tax would add $294.56. A printed diploma would bear a tax of $234.84; a deck of cards, $5.87 in taxes. A printed calendar bore $1.96 additional tax.

Previously levied taxes already were proving burdensome. A pound of tea bore $1.46 in tax. Foreign coffee was expensive, costing $350.86 in tax. Foreign sugar carried a tax burden of $129.16.

no tax revolt

The  preferred beverage to water was wine. But wine was getting very expensive, too.  A ton of wine imported from Spain or Portugal bore a tax of $58.72. Wine imported from Madeira, the favorite of Thomas Jefferson, carried a tax of $821.94, fifteen times more than European wine. The paper on which a license to sell wine was printed, added $469.68 in tax to the license cost.

Indeed, these tax excesses amounted to economic enslavement. Absent relief, revolution became the only recourse. The lessons of economic oppression have remained with the James family since.

Receipt for Taxes Paid
Receipt for Taxes Paid

Aquia Church – The James Family’s First House of Worship in America

 The Aquia Church in Stafford County, Virginia, is the first known house of worship of the ancestral family of Frank and Jesse James.

Aquia Church

Located in Stafford County, this old church was established by the Anglican Church of England, which constructed the church about 1667 upon the area’s first church of Overwharton Parish, which had burned. Its brick construction of Flemish bond masonry would become a hallmark of the mansion houses constructed later by John M. James, Jesse’s grandfather, in Kentucky.

Aquia Church Historical Marker
The Aquia Church is located on Jefferson Davis Highway (US Highway 1) the church is on a tree-ringed hilltop off I-95 (Exit #143A) just south of Marine Corps Base Quantico.

The James family is first known to have arrived in the Virginia Colony sometime around 1620-1640. They arrived as Anglicans. The family became Episcopalians during the next fifty years. James family members appear in the Register of Overwharton Parish, 1723-1758.

During the fiery and impassioned ministry of Rev. John Waugh, notoriously known to history as “Parson Waugh” of Parson Waugh’s Tumult that erupted in 1688, the James fell under Waugh’s anti-Catholic preaching.

Like the James family, John Waugh (abt. 1640-abt. 1706) had emigrated from England to the Virginia Colony. Among Waugh’s descendants would appear Gen. Alexander William Doniphan (1808-1887), Waugh’s second great grandson, best known to the Jesse James family as the leader of Jesse’s uncle Drury Woodson James in the Mexican War, and the General at Santa Fe when Frank James’ father-in-law Sam Ralston first explored his own settlement in the West before finally settling in Missouri.

The Aquia Church was constructed with simplicity. No fancy wood carvings or distracting religious icons. Just solely an express and intent focus upon preaching the Word.

Parson Waugh’s Tumult was an extension of the Glorious Revolt that led to the unseating of King James II, a Catholic. As King William assumed the throne to put an end to there ever being a Catholic king ruling over England again,  the firebrand Waugh continued to preach to end royal rule over Virginia. Waugh urged his congregation to remain armed for their own defense. George Mason III (1690-1735), a third great grandfather of Thomas T. Crittenden Jr. the close friend and confidante of Jesse James’ son, lent his support and protection to Parson Waugh, to his congregation, and to the James. Ultimately, Parson Waugh was arrested, and George Mason was stripped of his command.  Construction of the Aquia Church, known today, was begun in 1751 and finished in 1757. Eighteen years later, the American Revolution began.

Robert “King” Carter (1663-1772), known as King because he was the wealthiest man in the Colony, had hired Nathaniel Hedgeman of Overwhwarton Parish as an overseer of his enslaved. Hedgeman, however, met a violent death, leaving Carter to remark about Hedgeman, “I have heard of late he hath been a very great delinquent from my business and lived a loose, rebelling life, which hath brought him to his untimely catastrophe.” King Carter was a third great grandfather of Maj. Hancock Lee who built the log cabin ordinary where Frank and Jesse’s mother was born. Carter also was a great-grandfather of General and President William Henry Harrison who led the James and the rebellious Baptist preachers of Kentucky into the War of 1812.

Aquia Church pew

Nathaniel’s eldest son, Peter Hedgeman (abt. 1700-1765), tendered his application for his father’s job, to which Carter replied, “As for entertaining his son, a wild young lad that hath no experience in the world, I can by no means think proper.” Despite Carter’s rebuff, young Peter Hedgeman rose to social and political in Overwharton Parish, serving in his lifetime as a justice, militia officer and presiding Burgess, representing Stafford County.

Peter Hedgeman also served as vestryman of Overwharton Parish. There he noted the dissention tearing apart his parishioners and threating to dismantle his church. Some, like the James, had removed themselves to St. Mark’s Parish, a congregation that was known to foment revolution. Peter Hedgeman readily acknowledged, “sundry inhabitants of Overwharton Parish complaining of the illegal, arbitrary, and oppressive proceedings of the present vestry of said Parish, and praying that the same may be dissolved.”

St. Mark's Church
St. Mark’s Church

Dissenters among the James and their in-law families associated with St. Mark’s Parish as the events of the American Revolution unfolded. At St. Mark’s, fourteen-year-old John M. James, destined to be the grandfather of Frank and Jesse James, first learned the power to disobey.

The lesson came directly from his Uncle Henry, the son of Henry Field Sr. and Esther James. John’s Uncle Henry was one of the sixteen  judges in Culpeper County who resigned their commissions, to boldly oppose King George’s Stamp Act. From Henry Field Jr., John learned that being disobedient in a civil manner could alter a person’s identity, and also change one’s course of destiny.

By the time the Revolution was in full effect, John M. James was one of the dissenters who bartered his participation in the war for the liberty of separating church from state. They became known as “the fighting Baptists.

These ancestral colonials and their associated families set the stage in their period for much of the dissention, conflict, and religious structures that attempt to influence political structures, not only in the time of Frank & Jesse James but also, in present day.

—————

Much more of this will be found in This Bloody Ground, the second volume of my Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet.

This map gets you to the Jesse James family ancestral lands

Here’s a map, crucial to identifying the early settlement in Kentucky of John M. James, after the American Revolution and his entry into the Western frontier.

What this map reconstructs is some original military land grants distributed by Virginia to participants who served in the American Revolution. Virginia set aside these lands about 1783 and began to dispense them about 1790. John M. James was among the first of the Kentucky pioneers to acquire land here. In his lifetime, John leased, owned, sold, and controlled most all of the land on this map.

topo map of Shopville, Kentucky

The principal grant holder here was Col. Nathaniel Welch, who acquired most everything west of Buck Creek, identified on the right. On another map not shown here, Welch also acquired about 3,500 acres east of Pitman Creek. From the land at Pitman Creek to the land at Buck Creek, most al of it intermittently fell under the control of the James family. These are the lands that formed the foundations of Pulaski County, Kentucky, of which John M. James was a founder.

Looking more closely in the upper center, Fellowship Knob identifies the first acquisition by John M. James.  Following the road, upper center of Fellowship Knob takes you to the site of John’s Flat Lick Baptist Church, founded in 1799, and still operational today. John’s land extended further, well beyond the top boundary of this map to adjoin the military grant of Robert McAlister, another family relation.

Flat Lick Church
Flat Lick Baptist Church, founded 1799

From Fellowship Knob on the road extending to the lower left is a black square identifying the Mansion House of John M. James, built sometime in the 1790s.

Dahl Road home of John M. James
Mansion House of John M. James

Proceeding from the Mansion House around the corner and down brings you to the intersection of Dahl Road & Shopville Road at Flat Lick Creek. The black square here identifies the stone house of the “talented, but erratic” Rev. Joseph Martin James.

Shopville Road at Flat Lick Creek
The Stone House of Rev. Joseph Martin James

The open space below Shopville is the big Flat Lick, still in the possession of James descendants today. A buffalo trail originally came down the center of this map from Crab Orchard to Flat Lick, where the buffalo then, and still do today, gorge themselves on its abundant salts, next to Flat Lick Creek.

This map is part of a recent two-volume history Dawning of the Cumberland by Charlene Adkins who is 93 years old. The old military surveys were drafted by surveyor Bobby Hudson, and identified by D. E. Coates, a Pulaski County historian. Their work has proved critical in putting the James family lore about John M. James’ lands into clearer perspective, while adding definition that is plainly identifiable today.

This map arrives just in time for the publication of Volume II of Jesse James Soul Liberty, This Bloody Ground, which tells the story  of the first arrival and settlement on the Western frontier of Frank and Jesse James’ grandfather, after the service of all of these patriots and first military grant holders after the American Revolution.

overview of Shopville, Kentucky