Tag Archives: Mary Louise James

Mary Louise James Tags Early Buildings of Paso Robles

In 1947, the long-widowed Mary Louisa James Burns wrote to R. C. Heaton in Paso Robles, California. She sent him a history of her father, Drury Woodson James, a founder of the town. In 1905, Heaton had purchased the home Drury Woodson built for his family, the same home in which Mary Louise was born.  The residence was one of many buildings Drury Woodson James built as part of his El Paso de Robles Hotel, around which he built the town of Paso Robles. In one correspondence, written by her granddaughter Mary Joan Malley Beamis, Mary Louise James identifies and tags the early building of Paso Robles.

engraving-identification-1948

Mary Louise James Burns identifies landmark locations of the buildings of the El Paso de Robles Hotel, built by her father Drury Woodson James in Paso Robles, California. The locations are pictured in an engraving published by The Paso Robles Journal, Oct. 6, 1948.
Mary Louise James Burns identifies landmark locations of the buildings of the El Paso de Robles Hotel, built by her father Drury Woodson James in Paso Robles, California. The locations are pictured in an engraving published by The Paso Robles Journal, Oct. 6, 1948.

Joan Beamis transcribes the identification tags dictated by her grandmother Mary Louise James…

This is from a wood cut. I have the original copy.

  1. D. W. James Home – 1969 or 70. I was born in this house. A very good likeness considering.
  2. South Cottage where your “Nana” was married (long cottage).
  3. Original Hot Springs Hotel.
  4. Patsy Dunn store. (Ed.: D.W.J.’s father-in-law Patrick Dunn) My father moved this and we used it for storage for many years. It was torn down in 1960.
  5. The Ralston Cottage, or at least its location.
  6. Bath House – original – another was built here but burned in about 1910.
  7. Club House
  8. Tenth Street
  9. Old Stage Road, now Spring St.
  10. Tenth St.
  11. Park Water Station
  12. (does not appear)
  13. Stagecoach approaching
  14. Sunnyside Cottage, or Cottage A                                      

______________________________________________

r-c-heaton-ad-paso-robles-1948-red

LETTER FROM R. C. HEATON TO MARY LOUISE JAMES BURNS

Paso Robles, Cal.    April 20th, 1948

Mrs. E.F. Burns

Somersworth, N.H.

Dear Mrs. Burns: Thank you for the copy of your father’s history sent me by the Paso Robles chamber of commerce at your request. I have it filed away in the history of San Luis Obispo county.

Letter from R.C. Heaton to Mrs. Edward Frederick Burns (Mary Louise James), daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. References to Carolina F. "Carrie" James Maxwell and Helen "Hattie" James Bennett, sisters of Mary Louise James. "UncLe Jim Blackburn" refers to James Hanson Blackburn, brother of Daniel Drew "D.D." Blackburn, both partners of D.W. James. Heaton owned the El Paso de Robles Hotel property following its destruction by fire in 1910.
Letter from R.C. Heaton to Mrs. Edward Frederick Burns (Mary Louise James), daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. References to Carolina F. “Carrie” James Maxwell and Helen “Hattie” James Bennett, sisters of Mary Louise James. “UncLe Jim Blackburn” refers to James Hanson Blackburn, brother of Daniel Drew “D.D.” Blackburn, both partners of D.W. James.

Thinking that you would like to see a picture of the old home place as it was in your younger days I had some copies made and am enclosing one to you. I sent one to Carrie.

Please tell me when the house was built and when your folks moved in – also anything that you recall about the place.

Frank and Jesse James were out to California twice but I do not have the record of what years or where they stayed.

This would be interesting to some people.

The visit of Carrie and Hattie B.* last year with us is a happy remembrance.

Too bad that your father could not have ended his days peacefully in the grand old hotel** he had the faith and courage to build in those early days.

Too few people appreciate what he and that other active generous citizen – Uncle Jim Blackburn – done for this community and its old time residents.

Best wishes,

R.C. HEATON

* The references to Carrie and Hattie is to Mary Louise’s sisters Carolina F. James Maxwell and Helen James Bennett.

** The reference to the grand old hotel is to the larger resort hotel D. W. James built in the rear of the original pioneer stagecoach hotel. The Springs Hotel burned to the ground in 1910.

_________________________________

In 2002, the friends and family of Frank & Jesse James reunited at the Paso Robles Inn to celebrate Drury Woodson James.

Drury Woodson James by His Daughter Mary Louise James Burns

HISTORY OF DRURY WOODSON JAMES

By Mary Louise James Burns, his daughter

Mary Louise James, daughter of Drury Woodson James
Mary Louise James Burns, daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. From Jesse james Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence by Eric F, James, p.18.

Drury Woodson James was born in Logan County, Kentucky on the 14th of November, 1826. His parents and grand-parents were Virginians, and his grand-fathers fought for Independence in the Revolutionary War. Drury Woodson James was the youngest of five boys. They were reared by his oldest sister, having been orphaned at an early age. Drury’s mother died when he was three months old, and his father when he was a year old.

In 1846, Drury enlisted in the Mexican War as a drummer boy, and fought through the war under General Taylor. After the war was over, James went to California. He left old Fort Kearney with a pioneer wagon train and reached the Hangtown gold fields in 1849. He mined for several months and then entered the business of buying and selling cattle. This proved to be a very successful venture. It is stated that his practice was to drive the cattle to the different mining towns and sell the cattle on the hoof for as much as three or four times the amount paid for them. James became known in the country in 1850, and played an important part in the early history of the community.

D. W. James
Drury Woodson James, Founder of Paso Robles, California. From the book Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence, by Eric F. James, p.17

In 1850, D. W. James and a John G. Thompson of Kentucky purchased the La Panza Rancho. They engaged in the business of buying cattle and horses. The county records of this time show numerous failures among the cattlemen. During the years of 1862, 1863, and 1864 occurred one of the worst droughts in the history of the country. At this time James and Thompson found themselves with 5000 head of cattle. At this time, cattlemen all over the area, when they saw their feed and water going, turned their cattle loose to fend for themselves. Not James; he drove the cattle to the Tulare and Buena Vista Lakes and saved them. James and Thompson also owned the Comatti8 and Carissa ranches. It is not known when they purchased these ranches, and they were probably sold along about the same time that the La Panza Rancho was sold.

Thompson and James sold the La Panza Rancho in 1869 to Jones and Schoenfield. Thompson then returned

Mary Louise James testimony-1/3
Page one of a three-page testimony of Mary Louise James Burns, daughter of Drury Woodson James, executed and transcribed in 1949 by Mary Joan Malley Beamis, great-granddaughter of D.W. James. This original document in the Joan Beamis Archive of the James Preservation Trust.

Page 2:

to Kentucky. In 1857, a James H. Blackburn had bought the El Paso de Robles Rancho from Petronelli Ries. Ries had acquired the ranch in 1850 from one Pedro Novares. Novares had acquired the ranch under a Mexican land grant in 1844. Novares claimed six leagues or about 25,000 acres along the Salinas River. In 1850, James B. Blackburn divided the ranch. Daniel D. Blackburn chose the northern league of the rancho on which were located the springs. Daniel D. Blackburn then sold one-half of his northern half to a Thomas McGreal who sold it to James in 1869. D. D. Blackburn and D. W. James each owned half of the northern league. D. D. Blackburn then sold half of his half to James H. Blackburn. So James owned a half and the two Blackburn brothers each owned a quarter of the northern league.

On September 15, 1966, Daniel D. Blackburn and Drury W. James married sisters at a double wedding in the San Luis Obispo Mission. They were married by the Rev. Father Sastra in the old Mission church. Louise M. Dunn married D.W. James and Cecelia Dunn married D. D. Blackburn. The Dunn family had come to America from Australia about 1850. They settled first in Sacramento and later moved to San Luis Obispo.

Mary Louise James testimony 2/3
Page two of a three-page testimony of Mary Louise James Burns, daughter of Drury Woodson James, executed and transcribed in 1949 by Mary Joan Malley Beamis, great-granddaughter of D.W. James. This original document in the Joan Beamis Archive of the James Preservation Trust.

James B. Blackburn was the first of this famous partnership to die. He left the bulk of his estate to Daniel and Cecelia Blackburn and their children. At this time, there was talk of the railroad coming through to El Paso de Robles. Realizing the possibilities of this part of the country as a resort area, Blackburn and James decided to build a hotel. The cornerstone was laid in 1889. The railroad tried to buy the property and the half-finished hotel from Blackburn and James but they refused the offer.

The business set-up became more and more complicated and the number of heirs and D. W. James found that it would be almost impossible to sell any portion of his interest in the property should he want to. So in 1890 he started court action for the purpose of dividing the property. The court ordered the property partitioned.

Mary Louise James testimony 3/3
Page three of a three-page testimony of Mary Louise James Burns, daughter of Drury Woodson James, executed and transcribed in 1949 by Mary Joan Malley Beamis, great-granddaughter of D.W. James. This original document in the Joan Beamis Archive of the James Preservation Trust.

Page 3:

The following history of Drury Woodson James was dictated to me, Mary Jean Malley Beamis, by my maternal grandmother, Mary Louise James Burns in 1949 when she was eighty one years of age.

It was written at the request of the officials of the city of Paso Robles, California, on the occasion of the dedication of a monument to her father’s memory in the Park which had been given to the city by Drury Woodson James and Daniel D. Blackburn.

(s) Mary Joan Beamis

May 22, 1971

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

STRATFORD, SB.

May 23, 1971

Personally appears Mary Joan Beamis and made oath that the above statement is true and the information to the attached statement is true to the best of her knowledge and belief.

Before me,

(s) John F. Beamis

Notary Public