Tag Archives: Mimms

HELP! Virginia Hill Mimms Escaped!

Help is needed. Virginia Hill Mimms escaped. Do you know where she is?

The front page of the Santa Cruz Sentinel in Santa Cruz, California reported Virginia’s child burglary ring on June 20, 1940:

Burglary Ring Arrest of two young women, one the mother of two children, arrest of a third juvenile boy and ‘cracking’ of four additional theft cases, were reported yesterday by the police department as they believed a local theft ring had been broken. Ten burglaries and petty theft cases were marked ‘solved’ as the prisoners confessed their activities… Mrs. Virginia Mimms, 21, of 131 Sycamore Street, was formally charged with first-degree burglary.”

Virginia Hill Mimms was identified as the mother of the two children. The two juveniles implicated the second woman as Betty Sages, age 16, who then was arrested. A total of five juveniles were identified in the gang.

A week later, the Sentinel reported:

Woman Burglar Asks Probation pleading guilty to burglary. Mrs. Virginia Mimms, a 21-year-old mother of two children yesterday asked Superior Judge James L. Atteridge for probation. The court referred her case to the probation officer who will report his findings July 17.”

After June 28, 1940, Virginia Hill Mimms disappeared. Her two children disappeared with her. Since then, nothing more is known of Virginia Hill Mimms.


Virginia Hill Mimms Dropped Out of Sight

Virginia Hill Mimms is the second of the several wives of Wyatt Leon Mimms. Mimms and Hill were married in August of 1938 in the neighborhood of Naglee Park in San Jose, California.

Wyatt Mimms is a third cousin of Frank and Jesse James. Virginia Hill also is a half 15th cousin of Frank & Jesse James herself. The common ancestor shared by the distant-cousin couple reaches back into the royalty period with Edward I, King of England. Very likely, this remote fact of distant kinship went entirely unrecognized by Wyatt and Virginia at the time.

Virginia’s full maiden name is Virginia Helen Hill. She was born to Richard Taylor Hill 1882-1934 of Kansas and Mary “Mae” Freeman, born in California in 1880. Nothing more is known about Virginia’s parents or immediate family.

The brief marriage of Wyatt and Virginia produced two children. Wanda Mimms was born in 1939. Another child was born in 1940. Both children still may be living.

Virginia apparently formed the burglary gang with her children. Wyatt abandoned her. She and her children were left penniless and desperate.


A Relative in Syria Won’t Let Virginia Flee

Lilly Martin Sahiounie has lived in Syria for forty years since she married her Syrian husband. Her son, Steve Sahiounie, is a writer and political analyst. Lilly is the granddaughter of Henrietta Keller, the second wife of Eddie Bernard Mimms, the father of Wyatt Leon Mimms by a prior marriage.

Lilly Martin Sahiounie
Lilly’s son, Steven Sahiounie

For almost a generation, Lilly has sought her Mimms relatives. Her research has produced a large amount of information. At the heart of her research, Lilly wants to learn more about the missing Virginia Helen Hill Mimms.

Researching deeply into the Mimms genealogy, Lilly has assembled the following Mimms history. Information about this Mimms line never has been compiled before.


The Trail Takes Off with Drury Shadrach Woodson Mimms

Lilly’s research begins in Goochland County, Virginia, the seedbed of the Mimms family. Lilly’s focus is Drury Shadrach Woodson Mimms, the son of Robert Mimms and Lucy Poor, both migrants to Logan County, Kentucky from Goochland.

This family is well known to the Jesse James family. Drury S.W. Mimms, as he was called, is a brother of Rev. John Wilson Mimms who married Mary James, the eldest of the orphans of John M. James and Mary “Polly” Poor, the grandparents of Frank and Jesse James. The marriage was arranged by Drury Woodson Poor.

Marriage bond for John James and Mary “Polly” Poor, witnessed by William Hodges Jr.


Drury S.W. Mimms operated a mill on Whippoorwill Creek. He did so with the help of two slaves. One was 53 years old. The second was only 17. Drury also farmed 112 acres on the Logan County border with Robertson County, Tennessee.

In 1857 when Drury S.W. Mimms died, his widow Elizabeth M. Rose Mimms asked her brother James B. Rose, the executor of Drury’s estate, to sell Drury’s mill. With no immediate prospects of a second marriage in sight, the widowed mother was desperate to receive the income from the sale to provide for her children Gideon M. and Virginia R. Mimms, as well as for herself.


Gideon Mason Mimms Hits the Road for Kansas

Gideon Mason Mimms was only a year and a half when his father died. For almost a decade, his mother struggled to provide for Gideon and his sister. When Gideon was eleven, his mother married John Joseph Pope of Robertson County, Tennessee. Gideon acquired an instant family of six step-brothers and sisters. He also gained some family stability. Unlike his distressful early childhood that followed his father’s passing, the few years left in his childhood were relatively comfortable.

When Gideon was twenty-two in 1876, he married Lou Ella Riley of Lickskillet. Gideon’s new father-in-law, James Albert Riley, had a harsh reputation for extreme cruelty and frugality that was downright stingy.

 
From: Freedom, a Documentary History of Emancipation, Series II the Black Military Experience, Ira Berlin, Editor, Cambridge University Press, p.706

On the eve of the Civil War, a slave woman who had acquired her freedom through the Freedman’s Bureau escaped with a child slave who James Riley claimed to still own. Riley overtook the woman, beat her senseless with a club, and took the child back to Lickskillet. When searched for, Riley disappeared. He did so, he later stated, “to put the child out of reach of the damned Yankees.” Shortly afterward, Riley shot a Negro soldier. Once more, Riley disappeared to escape arrest. In due time, Riley was apprehended in Tennessee. He was tried for having “maltreated” Catherine Riley and found guilty. He was fined $100, almost half of which went to the freedwoman Catherine.

 

Gideon Mason Mimms and youngest son Eddie Bernard Mimms

In time, James Albert Riley returned to Lickskillet to operate his mill. When the Bethany Church sought him out to acquire land for their house of worship, Riley sold the church one acre plus precisely an additional twenty-nine hundredths of an acre. Riley attached a caveat to the transfer that should the church convert the building to some other purpose or relocate, the land would revert to Riley.

Such actions by Gideon Mimms’ father-in-law apparently made it easy for Gideon to distance his wife from her father.

A pregnant Lou Ella was visiting her brother in Kansas Territory in Crawford County in the town of Girard. Although Lou Ella suspected she would give birth to twins, she was pregnant in fact with triplets. Around midnight between September 9 and 10 in 1892, Lou Ella gave birth to three children. The last of the three to be born was named Eddie Bernard Mimms. Gideon departed Keysburg in Logan County, Kentucky and joined Lou Ella and the three children to settle in Girard, Kansas.


Gideon Mimms Returns to Logan County

The first and second-born of Lou Ella and Gideon’s triplets were two females named Addie and Ettie Belle Mimms. As a child, Eddie Bernard Mimms chose to call himself Bill, so there would be no confusion among the three siblings Addie, Ettie, and Eddie Mimms. The name Bill Mimms stuck with Eddie Bernard Mimms for the rest of his life.

Gideon Mimms did not survive long on the Kansas frontier. The strip mines of Carbon Creek offered the only employment around Girard. The need for miners was so great, word was sent to Eastern Europe to recruit young immigrant men to come to Kansas. Girard was flooded by a wave of immigration from Balkan countries.

With the arriving immigrants came a rising tide of socialist politics. Girard attracted the luminaries of the socialist movement – Percy Daniels, the novelist Upton Sinclair, the founder of Chicago’s Hull House Jane Adams, presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs, and publisher Emanuel Haldeman-Julius. For Gideon Mimms, socialist politics was not what he knew or was used to. Gideon uprooted his family and returned to Kentucky and Logan County.


Eddie Bernard “Bill” Mimms Hightails to California

Eddie Bernard “Bill” Mimms 1892-1967

Ambitious Bill Mimms did not abandon all the railroad contacts he had made while in Kansas. Associating with the Brotherhood of Local Fireman and the American Railway Union founded by Eugene V. Debs worked to Bill’s benefit. Bill got a job with a railroad as a fireman. Working on trains, Bill hightailed from Logan County, Kentucky to the fields of the California Gold Rush. Bill was too late, though, to strike any gold. Instead, Bill found steady work on the trains pulling logs out of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

In his late teens, Bill found himself a wife, too. He married Pearl Myone Rogers. Within a year, Wyatt Leon Mimms was born to the couple. For whatever misfortune, the marriage did not last long. Young Wyatt soon was living with his mother in San Luis Obispo, California, not too far from the town of Paso Robles, founded by Drury Woodson James. Later, Wyatt and his mother relocated to Santa Cruz, where his mother remarried.

“I know that Grandpa Bill did not like Jesse James, because of the outlaw reputation. My grandpa did have a Rebel flag always hanging in the house, and he identified with that.” – Lilly Martin Sahiounie

Six years of single life had passed before Bill met and married Henrietta Keller. Like Bill, Etta also had been married before. She brought a one-year-old child to their marriage. The child’s name was Billy Joe Martin.

The couple moved to Sultana, California. There, Bill bought a new home for Etta, paying $1,000 with his cash savings. In this house, Etta bore Bill two children of his own. The couple raised their combined three children as one family.

Visiting Mimms cousins in Russellville, Kentucky

Bill worked as an equipment operator, maintaining the county roads of Tulare County. For 32 years, Etta worked in tandem with the fruit pickers of the field worker’s movement. Etta was a fruit packer around Dinuba. With their joint income, Bill and Etta visited Kentucky in the ‘30s and later in the ‘50s, to maintain ties with Bill’s relatives among the Mimms.

Bill died in 1967. Etta followed in 1985. Etta occupied their home for all of 51 years. Today, their two children live in Fresno, California and Montgomery County, Alabama. Lilly Martin Sahiounie maintains contact with them.

Wayne Homer Mimms, son of Bill & Etta Mimms (L) & Billy Joe Martin, Etta’s first child by Joe Alfred Martin (R)

Etta’s first child Billy Joe Martin also grew up and married. The couple gave birth to Lilly Martin who is now Lilly Martin Sahiounie, living in Syria.

Bill Mimms is the only father and grandfather Billy and Lilly Martin ever knew. If you ask them, Bill Mimms is not just their biological ancestor. They continue to speak of Bill Mimms as their father and grandfather and consider him so.

Lilly’s immediate motivation for studying this Mimms family line of ancestors is to understand the relationship between Wayne Homer Mimms, a half-brother of Wyatt Leon Mimms, and her father Billy Joe Martin. The two were childhood friends, as well as cousins. They also link Lilly and her family to the Mimms family.


The Restless Flight of Wyatt Leon Mimms

Young Wyatt Leon Mimms

Little is known about the childhood of Billy Mimms’ son Wyatt Leon Mimms. The boy grew up in the household of his mother Pearl Myone Rogers Mimms and his step-father. He visited his biological father often. That is about all that can be said, other than, Wyatt must have been a restless person. When he grew to adulthood, Wyatt took flight.

The research of Lilly Martin Sahiounie is voluminous. It would compose a small book quite nicely. For purposes here of clarity and brevity, the story of Wyatt Leon Mimms might best be represented in the following timeline.

Wyatt Leon Mimms in Hawaii
  • 1917: born in Hooker, Oklahoma
  • 1920: living with his mother in Santa Cruz, California
  • 1930: living in Santa Cruz with his mother and step-father
  • 1936: issued a marriage license in Reno, Nevada to marry his first wife, Catherine Chilcote of Powder River, Montana, on November 10th
  • 1936: arrested on December 20th, following his marriage, in Reno for disorderly conduct
  • 1938: when he was an office clerk at the Pasatiempo Country Club in Santa Cruz, California, Wyatt married a second time to Virginia Helen Hill. He later is employed as an usher at the Santa Cruz Theater
  • 1939: a first child is born to Virginia and Wyatt. The child’s name is not known
  • 1940: their second child, Wanda Mimms, is born. Later in the years when the U.S. Census is taken, Virginia and Wanda are each identified as a “lodger,” living in San Jose, California
  • 1941: Wyatt, while on duty in Hawaii as a police officer, is witness to the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan
  • 1942: Wyatt arrives in Honolulu aboard the K.V. Japara from the Canton Island of Kiribati in Micronesia on March 20 to work with the Hawaiian Construction Company on development of the Maryknoll School in Honolulu
  • 1942: On December 31 Wyatt is mustered into the U.S. Armed Services
  • 1943: Wyatt marries his third wife, Lila Kananioehowa Lee in the Hawaii Court of Domestic Relations on May 23rd
  • 1947: Wyatt arrives in Honolulu aboard the S.S. Matsonia from Los Angeles and San Francisco
  • 1948: On the 4th of July Wyatt marries his fourth wife Josephine Ruby West of Boise, Idaho in the Central Union Church
  • 1949: Wyatt arrives in Hawaii aboard the S.S. Lurline with Josephine. Again he is employed as a police officer
  • About 1952: Wyatt marries his fifth wife Jeanne June.
  • 1953: Rodney Mimms is born to Jeanne June and Wyatt
  • 1955: Wyatt is working as an agent for the GTE telephone company, a job he will hold until at least 1970. Josephine is a clerk for Standard Oil
  • 1956: Josephine departed Nandi, Hawaii to travel to the mainland United States alone on January 23rd
  • 1957: While still working for the GTE telephone company, now as a chief special agent, Wyatt flies aboard Pan American World Airways on March 22 to San Francisco alone
  • 1976: Wyatt sells property in Hawaii that was held in the name of Wyatt and Margaret L. Mimms. The precise relationship between Wyatt and Margaret is unknown
  • 1981: Wyatt’s granddaughter, Taryn D. Brewer, is born in California
  • 1982: Wyatt obtains a divorce on May 26th from Virginia Helen Mimms in Alameda County Court in California
  • 1982: Wyatt marries Margie Belle Hunnicutt on June 6th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The couple establish their home in Visalia, California, but travel extensively “living life to the fullest.” The marriage will last 26 years. This represents the most settled and stable period of Wyatt’s life
  • 1994: Virginia Hill Mimms is recorded living in Berkeley, California, with a former residence in Sylacauga, Talladega County, Alabama
  • 2000: On October 1st, Virginia is last recorded living in Paris, Texas.
  • 2005: Margie Hunnicutt Mimms dies in a rest home on April 14th in Visalia, California
  • 2005: Margaret R. Mimms paid taxes in Hawaii on May 16th
  • 2005: Wyatt dies in a rest home on August 18th in Placerville, California
Wyatt Leon Mimms and Margie Hunnicutt Mimms in London, England, 1987

Do You Know Where Virginia Hill Mimms Is?

Nothing would be known about this Mimms family line were it not for Virginia Hill Mimms gone missing and the research of Lilly Martin Sahiounie. Virginia is last identified in 1949, living in Berkeley, California. Somewhere in the world of Mimms family genealogy, the rest of this story is waiting to be discovered.

Who Wrote the Jesse James Family Tree?


Who wrote the Jesse James family tree? The story of the Jesse James family tree discovery is told in the opening chapter of Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence.
Joan Beamis found the family tree among the artifacts of Mary Louisa James-Burns. Joan called her grandmother Mary Louisa, Nanna. Joan’s great grandfather is Drury Woodson James, an uncle of Frank & Jesse James. Nanna is his daughter. The finding of the family tree following Nanna’s death left Joan with the lingering question.

Jesse James family tree-pg5
Page 6 of the Jesse James family tree found by Joan Beamis.

Some of my Theories of Nanna’s Handwritten Family Tree Found in Her Trunk after She had Died in 1950

by Joan Beamis

The family tree was declared as inadmissible evidence for genealogical purposes by the D.A.R. Registrar’s Office when offered as partial proof when I was searching my papers for membership in the D.A.R. I could not say who wrote it, when it was written, or by whom it was written.

Rejection imprint received by Joan Beamis from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

My grandmother, Mary James Burns (Mrs. Edward F.) never talked about her James connections even with her own grandchildren; and we were grown men and women when my father inadvertently let it slip. (He had to forbid us to mention anything about it to Nanna.) My one thought now, is, that Nanna, seventeen years in her grave next June, would have enjoyed my research as much as I have.

Now, about this little “tree.”

1. Evidently written by someone in Kansas City because the exact birth date and death dates are given only for Mary, Elizabeth, and Thomas Martin.

2. It might possibly have been one of Mary James Mimms’ children because the only wedding date is that of the mother and father – 1828.

3. It was evidently written expressly for my grandmother because all vital information and statistics about Drury Woodson James were left for her to fill in. With the exception of his name and his wife’s name, and that was written Lula instead of Louisa.

4. Exact death dates are given for Mary James Mimms, Elizabeth James West, and Thomas Martin James. Year of death is given for Dr. John James and Nancy James Hite. Nancy married Maj. George Hite of Logan County, Ky., brought ten children into the world and died there at the age of 55. I know nothing at all about the dentist Dr. John James who married Amanda Williams on Sept. 1, 1836 (On record at Logan County Court House). In the 1860 Census, they were living with the Williams family – they and their three children plus Prudence Williams aged 71 female listed as a farmer! the son-in-law, Mary Williams, aged 45. The brother-in-law aged 17, a farm laborer and another brother-in-law Lucius age 7.

5. Apparently, the author of this tree was very familiar with the family of Rev. William James. He is listed as marrying Mary Barbee, as near as I can make out because Nanna has crossed out the name and written Varble over it. The original tree is thus:
a) William
b) Mary married Geo. Kirkpatrick – no children
c) Laura married Chas. Dickson – 2 children: Chancy, Frank (married)
d) George not married
e) Alice married Luther Chapman: Grace, Ethel, and Alvin
f) Luther – married
Then Nanna had written in, evidently after corresponding with Mary Kirkpatrick the following changes. Compare with the above.
a) Julia – dead
b) Thomas – dead
c) William – dead
d) Mary – married Geo. Kirkpatrick – 1 child William Lee (Dec. 3, 1875 – Jan. 18, 1879)
e) Laura married Chas. Dickson: Chancy, Frank (married)
f) George – not married
g) Alice – married Luther Chapman: Grace, Ethel, & Alvin
h) Luther – married
i) Gustavus – dead

Evidently, the author was unaware that William James had nine children and not six. But the missing ones could very well have died in their early infancy as did Mary Kirkpatrick’s only child William Lee, whom the author was also unaware of.


Lucy Ethel Mimms-Gray, called Ludie, was a lifelong school teacher. She also was a member of the DAR who helped Joan Beamis acquire her DAR membership via their Mimms ancestry. Ludie also is a James descendant through her great-grandparents John M. James & Mary “Polly” Poor.

6. Evidently, a woman’s handwriting and I think a member of the Mimms family. Lucy Mimms Gray (see the family tree – a daughter of Robert Mimms and Mattie Thomason – with whom I had an extensive correspondence until she died age 90, January 5, 1967) says it was not her mother’s handwriting. May have been Nannie Mimms McBride or it may have been Sallie Mimms Sullivan. Couldn’t have been Mary Kirkpatrick. Couldn’t have been Elizabeth James West’s daughter-in-law as she certainly would have know the name of the girl her son Oscar married! Someone from the West family also would have known that Elizabeth James bore nine children, not four as the tree states.

7) Couldn’t have been Susan Parmer (Jesse’s sister) as she was living in Texas and furthermore was dead by the time the tree was written. And so was Nancy James Hite.

8) Doubtful as to whether it could have been Sarah Woodward James or either of her two daughters-in-law, as she was reputed to have disliked her husband’s family intensely. Furthermore, no vital statistics are included about Aunt Sarah – not even her wedding date.

9) Undoubtedly written by a Mimms because that has the only wedding date and that is just the year 1828. Also, the details are more complete for that family than for any of the other seven families. Also Mary James Mimms, being the eldest, and repeatedly in possession of the James family Bible, was the only one who would know the details of her parents and her grandparents. She must have told the details to Nannie, Sallie, or Mary G. Mimms (daughter-n-law). But why they didn’t jot down the death date of their father (Sept. 1870). The death date given is that of the mother. Death dates for Nannie McBride, Sallie Sullivan, and Mary G. Mimms ought to narrow the field.

But all in all, it remains a mystery and probably will so forever now. 


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GREAT-GRANDSON OF JESSE JAMES & DANIEL BOONE, DONALD JAMES BAUMEL, IS DEAD

“If all I did was to walk around saying that I’m a descendant of Daniel Boone and a descendant of Jesse James, I wouldn’t have a life of my own.”
– Donald James Baumel to Eric F. James, 2002

Donald James Baumel, James Gang & Family Reunion, 2002, Paso Robles, California

The ancestry which Donald James Baumel inherited from America’s iconic outlaw Jesse James and Kentucky’s iconic explorer Daniel Boone determined how Don lived and died. Central to his life was what Don valued most – his privacy.

Don Baumel died on April 27, 2011. Family members delayed announcement of his death, considering whether to announce it at all. If Don had his way, he would have probably preferred to slip away into history totally unnoticed, with no recognition either of his life or of his death by anyone.

Don was last seen among his family at the James Gang & Family Reunion, held in Paso Robles, California in 2002. Months of coaxing by Judge James Randall Ross, Don’s first cousin, finally got Don to show up. Among 200 family and friends attending the reunion, Don went virtually unnoticed among them as he circulated freely through all the events. No one had seen Don in years. He talked with few people.

At a break in the events, Judge Ross and I went to lunch with Don. He ordered a sandwich, but picked at it sparingly. We then went shopping for a western outfit, so Don could be dressed western style like the rest of us. But in every store, Don resisted. Nothing was purchased. That night at the banquet, however, Don appeared in a western outfit that had more worn authenticity than anyone else in the dining room. He looked like he just had stepped out of the California West when Frank and Jesse last visited Paso Robles. The clothes were Don’s own.

Touring historic sites the next afternoon, Don rode with me, my niece Kathryn Craft, and Steve Leonard of the James Preservation Trust. For once, Don was not silent at all. We showered him in questions. Don not only responded generously, he gave us an exclusive insight into his life, which no one ever had heard before.

Don was born a twin. His twin sister Diane survives him. In high school in Los Angeles, Don and Diane both were considered “joiners.” If a group existed, they joined. Years later in 2007, I met Barbara Clemens from their high school class. Barbara confirmed the fact. Diane and Don were elected by their classmates, together with three others, as “Ephebians,” the top graduation honor awarded to those who demonstrated the highest grade averages, and who were the most socially and politically active. Don was Vice-President of the student body.

About this time, Don learned he was a direct descendant of the notorious outlaw Jesse James. Like most others among the James family who stumbled upon the family secret, Don was advised not to advertise the fact, but not to deny it either, if questioned. Don chose to avoid the question altogether.

When he joined the U. S. Army, Don’s life began to change. He was assigned to a security group, and stationed at a radio squadron in Mobile, Alabama. Don learned tools of the secrecy trade. Exiting the Army, Don enrolled at UCLA in California. He no longer was the socially and politically active student that he once was in high school. Don had changed.

Don knew little of his family history, unlike his cousin Jim Ross, who had grown up in the household of Jesse James Jr. For himself, Don seemed to live in a growing fear of the past. As he did, Don’s life appeared to become directionless. When his father Mervyn Baumel died in 1964, Don was left a trust fund instead of an outright inheritance. Unlike his cousins descended from Thomas Martin James, the Kansas City millionaire merchant, Don didn’t need to worry about having money or a career, and the possible exposure that came with it

Most of his life, Don lived in San Francisco. Like a couple of his less recognized cousins, Rev. William Henry James who maintained a mission for the poor and homeless of Kansas City, and Luther Tillman James who founded the Kansas City Provident Association to financially support programs for the poor and homeless, Don developed an affinity for the disenfranchised of San Francisco. Among the faceless of Market Street, Don found he could live and work as he pleased, both comfortably and anonymously. Money meant little, if nothing, to Don. Anything he had, he was happy to share or give away. Like Rev. William Henry James, like his ancestral Mimms cousins, and like his third great grand Uncle Drury Woodson James, Don lived in a hotel.

A heart attack took the life of Donald James Baumel, as it did his cousin Jim Ross in March of 2007, and also Jim’s mother Jo Frances James in March of 1964.

ERIC JAMES
Danville, Ky.
September 28, 2011

*********************************

DON’S DESCENT FROM JESSE WOODSON JAMES
Jesse Woodson James & Zerelda Amanda Mimms
. Jesse Edward James Jr. & Estella Frances McGowan
.. Mervyn Baumel & Jessie Estell James
… Donald James Baumel

DON’S DESCENT FROM DANIEL BOONE
Daniel Boone & Rebecca Ann Bryant
. Nathan Boone & Olive Van Biber
.. Alfred M. Hosman & Mary Boone
… Luther Alfred McGowan & Mary Frances Hosman
…. Alfred Monte McGowan & Martha Ann Wood
….. Jesse Edward James Jr. & Estella Frances McGowan
…… Mervyn Baumel & Jessie Estell James

…… Donald James Baumel

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The Man Who Dug the Grave for Jesse James’ Twins

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.

Photo by Matt Frye, Kearney Courier

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The Reunion of Gould & Montgomery James, a slide show.