BOOK REVIEW: Baker, L. C., The Ones That Got Away: Knights of the Golden Circle Exposed (no publication information given) pp.177, some photos and illustrations, no endnotes, bibliography, or index. ISBN 978149959393, soft cover $14.99
The Knights of the Golden Circle seems to attract all kinds of strange people and theories. This book, indeed, contains some strange theories and a lot of misinformation. The writing is littered with errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The photographs and illustrations used are of very poor quality. The author gives little or no information about where he got his material.
The author would have us believe that Lewis Cass, who resigned as Secretary of State because Buchanan took little or no action against the secessionists, and Illinois Senator Orville Browning were connected with the Knights of the Golden Circle. He hints that both men may have had something to do with Lincoln’s assassination. He also makes the preposterous accusation that Browning, a close friend and confidante of Lincoln for many years, carried on a lengthy love affair with Mary Todd Lincoln!
There is a lot of misinformation about Ben Ficklin and his association with Sen. William M. Gwin of California and the freighting firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell. He says Ficklin was a West Point graduate. This is not so, Ficklin graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Ficklin was acquainted with Sen. Gwin and Gwin did back the Pony Express, which was first Ficklin’s idea. Gwin was a farsighted man who fought long and hard for all sorts of development on the Pacific Coast that would benefit California and the nation. Gwin was, as one author put it, “adept at reconciling contradictory forces for his own political advantage”. However, to state that Gwin was trying to obtain a monopoly in the opium trade to raise money for the Knights of the Golden Circle is way out there in left field.
The author’s idea that Russell, Majors and Waddell and Ficklin had a monopoly of freighting during the “Mormon War” and made a fortune is completely wrong. Russell, Majors and Waddell lost a half million dollars when their wagons and livestock was stolen or destroyed by the Mormons and the Indians. The Pony Express also lost money and the company went broke and sold out to Ben Holladay.
Jesse James gets into the story in the chapter on Captain Logan Enyart. Enyart served in Company G. of the First Missouri C.S.A. He was married to a sister of Col. Richard B. Chiles, his commanding officer. Chiles later joined Quantrill’s Raiders and was killed during the war. Enyart probably knew Frank and Jesse James during the war. The author would have us believe Jesse James made regular visits to Enyart’s home in Nebraska City, Nebraska after the war. The author states that is was a well known fact that Enyart had a secret underground passage between his house and stables over 100 yards long to give the James gang entrance to his house. (He must have borrowed this one from some Dalton Gang mythology.) The author did not, however, seem to know that Enyart did invite Frank James to stay at his home when Frank was an official race starter in Nebraska City in August 1909.
Many other examples of bad information in this book, could be pointed out. The above should be enough to tell the discerning readers to save their book money for something more worthwhile.
The Civil War had begun to surround the old Virginia home that James Carter James once occupied at Plainview in Fauquier County before he died in 1842. His progeny occupied the place since.
Avoiding the war for the James family was impossible. On April 15, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln ordered 75,000 troops, authorizing the Union to launch an aggressive attack upon the Confederacy.
A series of assaults throughout January and February of 1862 culminated on February 25th in the capture of Nashville, the first Confederate capital to fall to the Union. Eight days later, Carter James youngest son, George Carter James, enlisted at age twenty in the army of the Confederate States of America. He joined Company A of the 9th Virginia Cavalry. His regiment was called Stafford’s Rangers.
In July of the previous year, the U. S. House of Representatives passed the Crittenden Resolution, declaring that the war’s objective was not to interfere with slavery. The resolution required the Union take no action against the South’s “peculiar institution.” The bill’s sponsor, John Jordan Crittenden of Frankfort, Kentucky wrote, the war’s objective was to “defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union.”
Two weeks later, Congress passed the First Confiscation Act which emancipated slaves who served the Union during the war. In August, Gen. John C. Fremont ordered the emancipation of slaves in Missouri though Lincoln requested Fremont alter his decree. The following month, black troops were recruited in Kansas. By December, the Secretary of War issued a report authorizing the use of former slaves by the Army. At the same time, bills were introduced to abolish slavery.
The day after George Carter James enlisted, Abraham Lincoln requested Congress to pass a joint resolution urging for compensated emancipation. On March 10, 1862, President Lincoln met with Border State congressmen about the matter.
That very day on March 10th, two older brothers of George Carter James enlisted in Stafford’s Rangers, together with their brother-in-law. Edmond Thompson James joined with his brother John W. James. With them enlisted Richard Mortimer Crittenden, the husband of their sister Lucy Ann. Another sister, Sarah, married William T. Crittenden Jr.
Edmond Thompson and John W. James served Quarter Master duty. By December, Edmond was made a Sargent. After serving little more than a year, John W. James died on March 23, 1863, of an “inflammation of the bowels.” Edmond was severely ill the same month, but survived. Shortly afterward, Crittenden was assigned to detached service as a wagon master, a role he fulfilled through the end of the war, when he was paroled on April 15, 1865.
Through their service, Edmond was absent in March and again April of 1864. In July, as Confederate General Jubal Early got within five miles of Washington D. C. but was repelled, and again in August as Sherman began his march on Atlanta, Edmond was absent again. In this time, his brother George had gone AWOL. Edmond may have been sent to return George to duty. Both returned in August. On February 5, 1865, George was paroled, as Sherman scorched Georgia and South Carolina, and Jefferson Davis sued for peace. As Richmond fell, Edmond was paroled on April 18th together with George Mortimer Crittenden.
They all returned to Plainview to rebuild their lives in Fauquier County. George Carter James lived to 1890. Roger Mortimer Crittenden died in 1894. Edmond Thompson James lived well into the 20th century, dying in 1920 in his 85th year. John W. James gave his life to the war and to the Confederacy while on duty with Stafford’s Rangers.
The Ninth Virginia Cavalry – Company A
Stafford Rangers – Stafford County
JAMES, EDMOND THOMPSON: Enl. 3/10/62 in Co. A. Promoted to Sgt., 12/1/62. Absent sick, Dec. 1862. Absent on QM duty, March-April and July-Aug. 1864. Present at 10/6/64 final roll. Paroled at Blacks and Whites, 4/18/65.
JAMES, GEORGE C.: Enl. 3/5/62 in Co. A. AWOL, Nov.-Dec. 1863 and July-Aug. 1864. Present at 10/6/64 final roll. Reported to the Bureau of Conscription on 2/5/65 as being AWOL in Fauquier Co.
JAMES, JOHN W.: Enl. 3/10/62 in Co. A. On extra QM duty, Sept. 1862 thru Feb. 1863. Died of “Inflamation of the bowels,” 3/21/63.
CRITTENDEN, RICHARD MORTIMER: b. 9/30/1825. Enl. 3/10/62 in Co. A. On detached service as wagon master, March 1863 thru Aug. 1864. Present at 10/6/64 final roll. Paroled in Va., 4/15/65. d. 4/2/1894 in Stafford Co. bur. Grove Church, Fauquier Co.
(ed. Brother-in-law, spouse of Lucy James.
John W. James 1824-1863 Edmond Thompson James 1835-1920 George Carter James 1842-1890
. James Carter James & Martha Lee Tiller
.. Capt. Joseph James & Clarissa Brown
… George James Sr. & Mary Wheeler
…. Thomas James & Sarah E. Mason
….. John James, the Immigrant & Unknown
From: Interior Journal, Stanford, Ky. March 2, 1906
Obituary of Mr. J. W. James
Crab Orchard, Ky. Feb 27, — on February 25th, near the somber hour of midnight, the noble and generous spirit of J. W. James, the noblest man that ever lived in all the tide of Time, took its flight from his elegant home to a far more splendid mansion in the skies.
He was not yet 45 and no man, not even his lamented father, the late G. W. James, will be so sadly missed by the poor and humble. He has had many work hands in his service, and when any servant or ex-servant died, he always gave him appropriate burial at his own expense. When some poor black woman, sick and out of coal and provisions, both would be sent at his own expense in his own wagon.
On one occasion, a poor destitute man, (William Kidd) with a withered arm, passing his place of business with an empty meal sack on his shoulder, and a coffee-sack in which he had three hens, the only property he had in the world, stopped in to warm. Willie said, what have you there, Bill, a “possum”? No. How are “possums”? Mighty scarce. How are times with you? Might hard. I have in my coffee-sack my only three hens. The only things I have in the world. I am taking them to the store to buy me some meal and coffee. Look here at this paper and see what your hens are worth in the market – 68 cents a piece. Take them back home to lay you some eggs, and take this dollar to buy you some coffee and meat, and take your meal sack up to my miller and tell him to fill it as full of meal as he can tie it. He gave more to preachers, churches, Sunday schools, Christmas trees, and to feed and clothe the poor, than any other man in Lincoln county.
Alas! how sad that one who had so often fed the hungry, should die hungry himself-because he could not eat! His donations to churches, Sunday schools, and to charity amounted annually to the hundreds.
Frank Brooks said on the train today, “The death of Will James is the breaking up of the noblest family that ever lived in Lincoln county.” His place here can never be supplied. His fortune was ample, his cash capital in the thousands, and his pockets always full to meet the demands of the borrower and the beggar. How much better this than millions to libraries for ostentation only, which do not benefit the poor people.
I never saw such universal sorrow expressed in all ranks of life. At his burying were the proud aristocrats and the poor tenant, working men and their wives and their little children shivering in the snow. At Stanford, Monday morning, much grief was expressed by such men as Cicero Reynolds, County Clerk George L. Cooper, and the editor of the Interior Journal, all of whom had business relations with him.
He was for some time clerk in the J. B. Owsley bank in Stanford, and was a devoted friend of this venerable financier, whose confidence he enjoyed. He was educated at Georgetown College, and though not gifted with the divine inflatus of lofty oratory, yet in a debate in that college when no doubt, he was competing with the Georgetown or Lexington bar, he took the prize of discussing whether or not circumstantial evidence should be admitted in courts. His side of the debate was the affirmative. He was a fluent talker, an excellent penman, and an accurate and rapid accountant. He was the fond idol of his mother and his relatives, male and female, loved him to idolatry. His aunt, Mrs. M. V. Stigler adored him as her own darling “Willie.” Deceased was twice married. His first wife was Mattie Owsley Evans, daughter of the late George W. Evans, and his present wife was Margaret, daughter of the noble old Scotchman, the late John Buchanan. His wives were both most excellent women of the first families, and his last wife is noted for her domestic qualities. Lik the great Washington, the deceased left no children, but all the poor of this community will ever regard him as a father, brother, and friend. His grand old father, G. W. James, and devoted mother, Lizzie P. James, preceded him to the tomb years ago. He leaves a most devoted wife to mourn his untimely death. His sisters, Mrs. Louanna Holdan, of Stanford, Mrs. Scott, of Somerset, and Mrs. Berta Morris, of Crab Orchard, are broken hearted with grief, fresh wounds no time can heal; and he left male and female relatives and friends who will never cease to mourn for him who never gave cause to mourn before. He was in many qualities the grandest man that ever moved in the track of time. Brave and noble, gallant and true! His poor little niece, Sue Beth James, and nephew, George Andrew James, dual orphans, whose father gave his life in service as a soldier in the far away Philippines, came up from Stanford to mingle their tears of the grave of the dear departed. All relatives and friends who are good enough will meet him again. Oh, shall we not strive to do so!
Rev. O.M. Huey made most beautiful and appropriate remarks at the residence to the large crow assembled there, which at first fanned the flames of grief in talking of the noble dead and cruel Death, til it was almost unbearable, but at the close, with his soft expressions (sic) and beautiful language, he assuaged our grief to soft, soothing, sacred billows of sorrow, which we hope will softly slumber there forever!
One by one our friends depart,
Who has not lost a friend?
There is no union here of hearts,
But that union has an end.
Farewell, dear Willie, we leave three
With the new-fallen snow for a winding sheet,
And cold, bleak winter for a bier;
And every clod beneath the mourner’s feet
Moistened with a tear.
FONTAINE F. BOBBITT
John William “Willie” James 1861-1906 & Margaret Buchanan 1867-195-
. George W. James 1823-1888 & Elizabeth R. “Lizzie” Bobbitt 1841=1896
.. Rev. Joseph Martin James 1791-1848 & Martha “Betsy/Patsy” McAlister 1795-Bef.1930
… John M. James & Clara Nall
Franklin Pierce “Frank” James, Henry Clay Fire Insurance Company, Lexington, Kentucky; Mercer National Bank, Harrodsburg, Kentucky together with John Pendelton “Black Jack” Chinn; State Auditor for Commonwealth of Kentucky
Alfred Harris Pence Sr. died September 30, 2010 at Fort Logan Hospital in Stanford, Kentucky. He was a third cousin, twice removed of Bud & Donnie Pence of the James Gang.
The earliest Pence family migrated as early as 1800 from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley to Lincoln County where Stanford is located. Then, Emanuel Pence bought 250 acres on Logan’s Creek from Jacob Swope.
By then, John M. James, the progenitor of the family of Frank & Jesse James, had been residing in Lincoln County at Crab Orchard for fifteen years. The great-grandfather of the Younger Gang, Col. Charles Lee Younger, also had made settlement in Lincoln County at Crab Orchard. In 1800, John M. James partitioned a portion of Lincoln County and departed the area to establish his own Pulaski County, where he became its first judge-executive and state representative.
Among other local neighbors of the Pence, Younger, & James families in Lincoln County were the family of Far West frontiersman William Lewis “Bill” Sublette, and his brothers Milton Green & Solomon Perry Sublette. Their departure from Crab Orchard to the Far West would not occur until the 1820s.
Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman, who was born at New River in Fincastle County, Virginia, migrated to Crab Orchard in 1779 with his father Johannes Vardeman, an axman who cut the Wilderness Trail into Kentucky with Daniel Boone. Before he had become a preacher, Jerry Vardeman eloped with Betsy James, the daughter of John M. James. Later as a successful preacher, Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman baptized Robert S. Thomas, the first president of William Jewell College in Missouri. Vardeman founded the School of Theology at William Jewell, and also gave Frank & Jesse’s father, Rev. Robert Sallee James, $20,000 to also become a founder of William Jewell College.
Lincoln County, Kentucky, and its communities of Stanford and Crab Orchard forged a cohesion and force among the Pence, Younger, & James families that remained strong and powerful until the end of the Civil War.
The following obituary for Alfred Harris Pence Sr. was published in the Advocate-Messenger newspaper of Danville, Kentucky.
STANFORD — Alfred Harris Pence Sr., 90, of Stanford died Thursday at Fort Logan Hospital in Stanford.
Born June 20, 1920, in Stanford he was a son of the late Alfred L. and Nannie Woods Pence.
He was a life-long member of New Beginnings United Methodist Church, a Navy veteran of World War II serving in the South Pacific, and a 64-year member of Caswell Saufley Post No. 18, American Legion. He graduated in 1942 from the University of Louisville College of Pharmacy (now the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy) where he was a member and chaplain of Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity.
Mr. Pence was the pharmacist and co-owner of Colemans Drugstore in Stanford and was the first pharmacist at Fort Logan Hospital, retiring after 20 years of service. He was a 50-year member of the Kentucky Pharmaceutical Association.
An active member of the community, he served on the Stanford Chamber of Commerce and the Stanford City Council, was a member of the Lincoln County Historical Society and Masonic Lodge No 60, as well as various other community activities.
Survivors include his wife of 68 years, Bettie Marie Bryan Pence of Stanford; four children, Alfred Harris Pence Jr. (Jackie) of Stanford, Ruth Anne Lowe of Lexington, William E. Pence (Carol) of Lexington and Bettie Sue Holthouser (James) of Memphis, Tenn.; 12 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a son-in-law, Dr. Charles Lowe, and a sister, Anne Elizabeth Gaines.
Visitation is 5-9 p.m. today at Spurlin Funeral Home.
The funeral service will be 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010, at New Beginnings United Methodist Church. The Rev. Jeremy James will officiate. Burial will be in Buffalo Springs Cemetery. Military rites will be performed by Caswell Saufley Post 18, American Legion.
Casketbearers will be Bryan Pence, Chris Lowe, Matthew Lowe, Adam Holthouser, Cole Pence and Casey Cushenberry. Honorary bearers will be Robert Gaines, Ben Gaines, Sam Matheny, Buddy Pence, Cecil Witt, Cabel Francis, Jack Bright, Brent Iler, Josh Gordon, Joe Glenn Cushenberry, Matthew Darling, Jonathan Dahmer and Jim Holthouser.
Memorials in lieu of flowers may be given to the New Beginnings United Methodist Church Stained Glass Fund, or the Lincoln County Educational Fund, P.O. Box 423, Stanford, KY 40484.
Official website for the family of Frank & Jesse James
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