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Last Photo of Jesse Edwards James Jr. – Son of Jesse James

Jesse Edwards James Jr., son of Jesse Woodson James, Norwalk State Hospital, 1949

The James Preservation Trust has received the contribution of what is believed to be the last photo taken of Jesse Edwards James Jr., son of America’s iconic outlaw Jesse Woodson James.

The photo was taken in 1949 during Jesse Jr.’s confinement in the Norwalk State Hospital in Norwalk, California. Months later, Jesse Edwards James Jr. died on March 26, 1951 at the age of seventy-five.

In the same image also is pictured Jesse Jr.’s caregiver at Norwalk. He is Luther Garlin Henderson. The contribution of this historic photographic was made by Henderson’s son, Bruce Henderson, a retired attorney.

Luther Garlin Henderson 1903-1958, caregiver to Jesse James Jr. at Norwalk State Hospital

“My father suffered a heart attack in 1947, and was forced to cease employment in his industry. To support his wife, and infant son (me), he found less physically demanding work at Norwalk State Hospital, Norwalk, California.”                                                                                           – BRUCE HENDERSON ESQ. 

 

NORWALK HOSPITAL – THEN and NOW

In the beginning, Norwalk Hospital was called Norwalk State Mental Hospital. Often it was referred to as a sanitarium.

Opened in 1916, the facility housed 105 patients with 21 employees, all administered by one physician. The 305 acre property included a farm, worked by the patients, most all of whom were unemployable men. The hospital had its own cemetery.

Then & Now – Norwalk State Hospital, Norwalk, California

Shortly after Jesse’s Jr.’s passing, the name of the facility was changed in 1953 to the Metropolitan State Hospital, housing 1,900 patients. Marilyn Monroe’s mother Gladys was a patient there. In 1955, actor Bela Lugosi was admitted for ninety days for treatment of his morphine addiction.

Today the facility is dramatically changed. Gone is the farm. Much of the land surrounding the Norwalk Hospital where Jesse Jr. was committed now is an industrial park. The old hospital has been replaced by a modern facility. Inside, treatment is administered to conservator patients with psychiatric disabilities, felony defendants found incompetent, parolees treated for mental disorders, and patients judged not guilty by virtue of insanity. A long history of abuse and negligence continues to be alleged.

The Norwalk Hospital Jesse Jr. knew sits abandoned. A walk of the grounds displays the apparent decay. The place is advertised as a location site for film makers.

CONDITIONS  IN JESSE JR.’S TIME

Little, if any, documentation exists that records the experience of Jesse Jr. at Norwalk. Hospital records remain sealed. They even are unavailable to surviving family.

An insight into what Jesse Jr. may have experienced at Norwalk can be found in the book Life Writing and Schizophrenia: Encounters at the Edge of Meaning by Mary Elene Wood. On page 290, the author records the memory of one of Norwalk’s patients. 

“I lay in bed a lot.  It was horrible. There weren’t enough beds for everyone so women were lined up in the hallway. We were all so scared but they didn’t do anything to reassure or comfort us. We would all talk about what would happen to our kids, we were all worried about that. Some of the women lost their kids altogether. Some of the patients got electroshock therapy. I didn’t have to have that, I was lucky. They were scared about it. The whole time I kept thinking those horrible thoughts.”

 

Jesse Edwards James Jr. with caregiver Luther Garlin Henderson, Norwalk State Hospital, 1949
Reverse copy from photo of Jesse Edwards James Jr. & Luther Garlin Henderson, Norwalk State Hospital, 1949

 

 

 

ELECTROCONVULSION THERAPY

An electro shock terminal used at Norwalk

Electro shock therapy, sometimes more aptly called electro-convulsion, was one of two therapies commonly applied to Norwalk patients. The second was hydrotherapy ice bath immersion.

Given his history of nervous disorder, Jesse Jr. very likely was administered electro shock therapy while at Norwalk.

However, the lingering question is, was Jesse Jr. ever subjected to a procedural lobotomy? The procedure was a popular application in the period, as evidenced by the tragic experience of Rosemary Kennedy, sister of President John F. Kennedy.

Death certificate for Jesse Edwards James Jr.
Lo Angeles Death Index citation for Jesse Edwards James Jr.

 

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Thursday February 27th, 2020

Stray Leaves

A Saudi sheik has just restored the Kentucky frontier cabins of some Hite family descendants. George Burns Hite & Nancy Gardner James are the parents of Robert Woodson & Clarence Jeff Hite of Quantrill’s Guerillas, better known as Woot & Tuck Hite. Nancy James is a daughter of John M. James & Mary “Polly” Poor. When John M. James entered Kentucky, four grandsons of Hans Jost Hite already were well established at Fort Harrod. The four grandsons and descendants of Hans Jost Hite - Abraham, Joseph, Isaac, and John Jacob Bowman - were known as the “Four Centaurs of Cedar Creek.” Cedar Creek is where John M. James established his first home on the frontier. The Four Centaurs are 1st cousins of George Burns Hite and his sons Woot & Tuck, 2 and 3 generations removed respectively. If you visit Kentucky today, you also can visit the thoroughbred farm of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. ... See MoreSee Less

A Saudi sheik has just restored the Kentucky frontier cabins of some Hite family descendants. George Burns Hite & Nancy Gardner James are the parents of Robert Woodson & Clarence Jeff Hite of Quantrill’s Guerillas, better known as Woot & Tuck Hite. Nancy James is a daughter of John M. James & Mary “Polly” Poor. When John M. James entered Kentucky, four grandsons of Hans Jost Hite already were well established at Fort Harrod. The four grandsons and descendants of Hans Jost Hite - Abraham, Joseph, Isaac, and John Jacob Bowman - were known as the “Four Centaurs of Cedar Creek.” Cedar Creek is where John M. James established his first home on the frontier. The Four Centaurs are 1st cousins of George Burns Hite and his sons Woot & Tuck, 2 and 3 generations removed respectively. If you visit Kentucky today, you also can visit the thoroughbred farm of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.Image attachmentImage attachment

Tuesday February 25th, 2020

Stray Leaves

For John M. James, the travel time in 1782 from Virginia into the richly forested frontier of the District of Virginia that became Kentucky, was longer than a month. By the time of 1800 when John was patrolling Eastern migrants along the Wilderness Road into the Cain-tuc, the travel time was cut in half to two weeks. John's patrolling also made the passage twice as safe. ... See MoreSee Less

For John M. James, the travel time in 1782 from Virginia into the richly forested frontier of the District of Virginia that became Kentucky, was longer than a month. By the time of 1800 when John was patrolling Eastern migrants along the Wilderness Road into the Cain-tuc, the travel time was cut in half to two weeks. Johns patrolling also made the passage twice as safe.

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What kind of patrolling, Eric?

Sunday February 23rd, 2020

Stray Leaves

Paul Maccabee explains why St. Paul MN was a safe haven for criminals like Francis Lawrence "Jimmy" Keating of our James family. Paul was drawn to SL by our profile of Jimmy you can find in the comments below. In the video, Paul shows a record of Jimmy's train robbing cohort Tommy Holden. ... See MoreSee Less

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