Take a bow, Judge Ross! In Chapter 11 of Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, the late Judge James R. Ross a great-grandson of Jesse James, risked the loss of his judicial career when he proclaimed before a judicial review panel, “I’m a great-grandson of Jesse James. No one in our family backs down.”
Jim Ross was responding to the political vendetta brought against him by conservative political elements in Orange County, California. Jim made the landmark ruling that found Disneyland guilty of violating the civil rights of two gay young men. Disneyland evicted the couple for dancing together.
That was in 1980. At the same time at Disney World, a young gay man named George Kalogridis had been busing tables for Disney for nine years. He liked his job. He liked working at Disney. But he probably didn’t like being forced to keep part of himself a secret to keep his job. In the 33 years since Jim Ross made the courageous decision that fatefully cost him his career, the equal rights of gays is now a recognized fact in America. Thanks in part to a great-grandson of Jesse James, gays can be freely open to be who they are.
Today in 2013, Alex Kalogridis is the first openly gay president of Walt Disney World, overseeing its operations in Anaheim, California. He’s also Chief Operating Officer of the Disneyland Resort in Paris. On June 1 of each year, Disneyland plays host to the LGBT community holding one of the world largest gay pride parades in America, attracting more than 150,000 visitors.
Take a bow, Jim Ross. Thank you for paying the price to assure equal rights in America. As the Associated Press reported at the time of Jim’s passing, “with that one ruling, Ross proved himself a far better man than his famous ancestor.”
Betty Dorsett Duke thinks I’m out to kill her. She’s insane. Betty thinks others are out to murder her, too. Yes, she’s that insane.
But why would anyone want to murder Betty Dorsett Duke? After all, she doesn’t exist.
In Betty’s imaginary world, she craves to own an existence. Betty craves an identity of her own. More than anything, Betty craves a famous identity.
You see, Betty has no identity. She’s murdered it. And she believes she’s gotten away with the crime.
Long ago, maybe as early as childhood, Betty did away with the family she was born into. She killed them off straightaway, in her mind. Betty killed her own family because she didn’t want to accept the birthright God gave her. No, God, Betty said, not your choice. My choice. I want to be the great-granddaughter of Jesse James.
Irrationality, like challenging Creation itself, Betty conveniently disregards. If indeed she was the outlaw’s great-granddaughter, Betty would be approaching 90 years old. Betty is a generation short.
Betty desperately craves the blood of Jesse James as her own. She once confronted a real great-grandson of the outlaw. As if performing a stick-up, Betty demanded. “Give me your blood! Right here and now!” Jesse’s great-grandson, who was a Superior Court Judge, laughed at her. He ruled his assailant was crazy.
Another time, Betty tricked an old woman in her nineties to give Betty a vial of her blood. She told the feeble woman, “so I can prove we’re kin.” The aged woman was a true cousin of Jesse James. Betty is not.
Assaulting people is something Betty likes to do. It’s fun for Betty. It’s her occupation and recreation. After all, in Betty’s world of imagination, there are no consequences. In Betty’s mind, she’s the daughter of an outlaw. Assaults are to be expected, imaginary or not. But then, Betty decided to turn her imagination into reality.
Betty formed a gang. They could do her dirty work for her, and Betty could fly free of any consequences. Betty manipulated a con artist who peddled fake historical photographs to be her front man. The con thought he could become famous, too, if he could just hold on to Betty’s skirt. But the world fast recognized the fool was a con man, like Betty. Somewhat confounded about what to do with her ineffectual protégé, Betty easily bought into his world of daydreams and illusory nightmares, too. Fantasy birds of a feather.
Betty wasn’t above conscripting a puerile, little boy into her gang, either. As if he was born her own, Betty adored the babyish boy who loved nothing more than to make fun of grown-ups. Betty could offer the infantile ample targets of opportunity. Over the years, Betty conscripted others into her gang. But none could survive among the lies which populate Betty’s imaginary world.
Even within her world of outlaw spirits and phantasmagorical invention, Betty continues to fantasize. If someone were to murder her, Betty hallucinates, she then can become famous. Who would be the best person to murder her? Of course. The murderer must be someone Betty believes is from Jesse’s family. Betty picked me.
With the encouragement of the silly con man and the effete boy who likes to insult grown-ups, once more Betty devises another assault. Because Betty has conspirators, Betty believes I must have conspirators, too. She assigns me a batch and then fabricates a fiction of how we’ve banded together against her.
Betty imagines a confession of guilt is what’s needed to turn a convincing trick. She finds some hapless soul to play along in a charade he doesn’t believe himself. Betty calls the FBI. “They’re trying to murder me,” she cries. “I have evidence – a confession!” Once more, no one comes. Betty does not live in the world of facts and reality where real crimes need investigation. Betty lives in her imagination.
Frustrated, Betty appeals for recognition to the press, to TV reporters, and to the national news outlets. Betty desperately litters the internet, posting her accusation over and over. All to no avail. No one investigates her accusation. No one is interested in Betty’s concocted confession. Yet again, no one responds to Betty. Sadly and pathetically, she is not of their world.
Betty is a lonely person. Like all who live in a world of self-made madness, Betty struggles every day with the identity she created for herself. But happiness never comes, because nobody believes Betty is a great granddaughter of Jesse James. Certainly not her own family. They ignore Betty. Certainly not the family of Jesse James. Few of them know who Betty Dorsett Duke might be. There is no one, no one to validate the existence of Betty Dorsett Duke. She doesn’t exist.
How can anyone want to murder someone who doesn’t exist? Who is there to murder? There is no one.
Danville, Ky. 2012
UPDATE: Betty Dorsett Duke died August 29, 2015. Her online obituary identified her as “Betty Gail Duke,” a name she never employed when making her claim against the James family. Her claim remained unproven unto her death. Her own family continues to discredit her claim (see link below). The Jesse James family denies Betty Dorsett Duke, aka Betty Gail Duke, is their kin.
At 94, Darrell L. Cave is still connected to the family of Frank and Jesse James. As was his 4th great grandfather, Rev. William Cave, back in the 18th Century.
Uncle Billy Cave, as he was called then, was exiled from Colonial Virginia as a rebel preacher. Among other rebel preachers who were known to “shove a text of scripture down your throat,” Uncle Billy entered Kentucky in a Traveling Church, together with Jesse and Frank’s grandfather, John M. James. When the Cave and James families moved on to Missouri, Uncle Billy’s grandson Uriah Cave donated land in Kearney to establish the Mt. Olivet Church.
In 2004, Darrell Cave personally dug the final resting place in Mt. Olivet’s cemetery for Jesse’s twin children, Gould and Montgomery James. Laying the twins to rest beside their parents was Jesse’s great grandson, Judge James R. Ross. Assisting the Judge was Eric James of the James Preservation Trust, who had exhumed the twins’ remains in Waverly, Tennessee, and brought them to Missouri.
In his eulogy over the twins’ grave, Judge Ross recognized the fulfillment of a promise he had made to Jesse’s son. “Today, we reunite Gould and Montgomery James with their parents. We know they are with their parents in heaven. In bringing them here, I am fulfilling a promise I made 50 years ago to their son, Jesse Jr. I am glad to have fulfilled this promise. May God grant them eternal rest.”
From the start, the re-internment of Jesse’s twins had been fraught with numerous difficulties. Darrell Cave, who had been a long time sextant of Mt. Olivet Cemetery, had his own issues about the event. Darrell was mindful of the circus atmosphere that previously surrounded the exhumation of Jesse James in his cemetery in 1995. He was not about to let another circus happen again. The hurdles Darrell Cave set up required persuasion.
As cemetery sextant, Darrell first denied the re-internment altogether. Following numerous conversations with Judge Ross, Darrell was persuaded to finally allow the wishes of Jesse’s wife Zee for reunion with her children to be fulfilled.
But Darrell had his caveats. No press would be permitted. Agreement came readily. Then Darrell insisted no cameras be present. Eric James laughed, reminding Darrell of the famous picture of Frank James standing before the gates of James Farm where a posted sign read, “No Kodaks!” Eric argued there had to be a documentary record, since historical personages were involved and the event itself was historic by nature. Darrell relented. Then Darrell insisted only one person could be in attendance. Eric and the Judge rebutted, stating the event required at least one principal and one witness. Before they provided the legal argument for why, Darrell agreed. Darrell only would allow Judge Ross and Eric James to attend.
On the day of re-internment, Eric James met Darrell Cave in person for the first time. Eric was struck by something he could only define as spiritual.
Recalling his arrival for the dis-internment of Jesse’s twins in Tennessee, Eric met the grave diggers in Waverly for the first time. One introduced himself as Robert Shadowen. Immediately Eric asked Robert for the name of his grandfather. When Robert told him, Eric said, “You’re kin to the James.” Robert denied it. Using his laptop, Eric showed Robert how Robert’s ancestral French Chaudoin family, sometimes pronounced Shadowen in America, was linked to the Mimms family, and through the Mimms to their James cousins.
In Kearney, when Darrell Cave introduced himself, his Cave surname struck a similar chord with Eric. Then Eric inquired of Darrell, “Cave family of colonial Virginia?”
Darrell responded, “Yep.”
Eric pressed, “Came into Kentucky with the Traveling Church?”
Again, Darrell responded “Yep.”
Eric pressed further, “Are you descended from Uriah Cave?”
Darrel answered, “He’s my second great grandfather.”
Eric explained his excitement to Darrel Cave. Eric pointed additionally to the fact that the dis-internment in Tennessee was assisted by Ann Yager Hamlin, a descendant in the Samuels family who also are related to the James through the outlaws’ stepfather Reuben Samuels. Hamlin represented Humphreys County as its official court witness to the exhumation. Ann Yeager Hamlin, Robert Shadowen, and now Darrell Cave had not been assembled through any conscious preplanning. Such an outcome could only be defined in the context of a spiritual event. Clearly, hands from on high were also assisting.
Back in Kentucky, Eric went to the files of The James Preservation Trust. Eric had been working on a donated archive from Mike Albright, a James relative of the Cole family from Nebraska. Eric sent a picture from the file to Darrell Cave of some Cole family children in Nebraska. A boy at the left the end of the picture was identified as “Darrell Cave.” Eric inquired of Darrell if he knew the identity of the boy Darrell Cave in the photo. Darrell responded, saying “That’s me.” Darrell then explained that, following harvest time, the Cave family usually traveled and visited with cousins. In this case, Darrell was visiting his Cole family cousins in Nebraska, who also are cousins of the James.
In 2010, the Kearney Chamber of Commerce recognized Darrel Cave and his family for their contributions to the City of Kearney.
Between 1884 and 1888, John James of Alvarado, Texas, returned to the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory from his home in Wise County, Texas. He came to Stockbridge Academy, found today at Eagletown, Eagle County, Oklahoma, to fulfill his dream of being with the Choctaw, a dream he held to since his first encounter with them on his family’s migration from Illinois into Texas Territory when he was fifteen.
John’s first wife, Mary Elizabeth Rosaline “Ross” Bradley, died in 1879, leaving him with four children.
Two months later, John quickly remarried to Louisa Ellen Sutton. By 1884, Louisa had given John two more children. But soon, John would find himself at Stockbridge surrounded by many more than his own six children.
Stockbridge was founded by Cyrus Byington, who named the Choctaw school after his birthplace in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Byington migrated to Mississippi in 1821, where he became a missionary to the Choctaw. Finding the Choctaw had no written language, Byington set about to create a grammar, dictionary, and speller.
Byington followed the Choctaw in 1832 in their removal to Oklahoma. There, for another thirty-one years, Byington preached and taught among the Choctaw. Byington died in 1876.
John James was invited to Stockbridge by Judge James Hudson. John arrived sometime in 1884. At Stockbridge, John and Louisa would add two more children to their growing family. Among John’s students were the children and grandchildren of Judge James Hudson, some of whom found their way into John’s book My Experience with Indians, published in 1927 right before John died.
In 1888, John James acquired a portion of the estate of his former father-in-law Jackson Bunyan Bradley, who died the previous year. Bradley and his family came to Texas from Mississippi in 1851, accompanied by his brother-in-law Sam Myers. In Johnson County, Texas, Bradley built and operated a school at Mountainview, where John would live and teach next.
Though John James left Stockbridge for Mountainview, he also retained his love of the Choctaw. When he wrote My Experience with Indians he wrote of them in particular “that my children and grandchildren may know of them.”
Six years later in 1894, after leaving Stockbridge, John James received a letter from one of his former Choctaw students, Elliston E. Dyer.
Hon. J. James, Alvarado, Texas.
“My dear old time friend:
“I have just received a copy of the Cleburne Daily Times, and in it I find your picture, and note that the paper states that you spent several years among the Choctaw Indians, as a missionary…This of course calls to my mind the days of long ago, when you were at old Stock Bridge, trying to guide to the right direction, the destinies of a bunch of more or less ignorant boys and girls…Of the Choctaw tribe, I am one, and I have often thought since then, what a pity that men like you weren’t scattered all over this country…”
On December 29, of that same year of 1894, Louisa bore John a son, the last of the couple’s thirteen children. John and Louisa James named the child Elliston Dyer James.