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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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ANOTHER BROTHER OF JOAN BEAMIS IS GONE

JANICE MALLEY, SISTER OF JESSE JAMES GENEALOGIST JOAN BEAMIS, HAS DIED

J. MARK BEAMIS ENDORSES JESSE JAMES SOUL LIBERTY

MARY LOUISE JAMES TAGS EARLY BUILDINGS OF PASO ROBLES

JESUIT COUSIN OF JESSE JAMES CELEBRATES GOLDEN JUBILEE

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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High School Photos of Jesse James Great-Grandchildren

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.

Jesse Edward Smith Recalls Jesse James, His Namesake & Cousin

Susan Prudence James-Smith 1845-1919

My mother (ed. Susan Prudence James-Smith) and her brother, R. W. James (ed. Robert Woodson James 1838-1922), were first cousins to the James Brothers. The Jesse in my name was taken from Jesse James.

He paid some special attention to me when I was a small boy and made occasional visits to our house until the law was in such hot pursuit they hardly dared to visit among their kin. On one visit to Salt Springs Jesse gave me a one dollar gold piece. I lost it playing in the dusty road. Had plenty voluntary helpers looking for it but it was never found. Jesse told my mother he was going to give me a horse and bridle and saddle when I became of age – his idea about a perfect gift for a boy. He gave my father a fine riding mare with a bullet wound in her neck and a pair of spurs he was wearing and father used them as long as he was riding horses. Then he gave them to me and I am passing them on to my son, Arnold (ed. Edwin Arnold Smith b. 1903), a lover of horses, who wants them as a keepsake.

Zee Mimms-James with her children, Jesse Edwards James & Mary Susan James

Shortly after Jesse’s death in 1882, when he was shot in the back by Bob Ford, one of his men, his wife (ed. Zerelda Amanda “Zee” Mimms-James 1845-1900), who was also a relative of mothers, and Uncle Bob James (ed. R.W. James previously mentioned), came to our farm home at Shackleford, with her small son, Jesse, and daughter, Mary, and spent several days with us. She was a sad and broken-hearted widow and I believe she was dressed in full mourning as was the custom for widows in that day.

Father (ed. John Wesley Smith) sold his blacksmith shop in Salt Springs and moved to the Thompson farm at Shackleford in the spring of 1877 or 1878. Mr. Thompson lived in the East, Boston, I think, and we only saw him once a year. He would come about the time of year to collect the rent and would stay several days or a week. He brought his son whom he wanted to learn something about farming as he was to be the owner of the farm at some future date.

Jesse Edward Smith 1872-1964

The Chicago and Alton Railroad was constructed through the Thompson farm while we lived there. I remember something about the construction work. No tractors, no bulldozers, no hi-loaders. All done with horses, mules, plows, scrapers, picks and shovels. The laborers chewed tobacco and smoked pipes; no cigarettes. We saw the first trains operated on that line.

We moved to Butler, Missouri, in 1888 where father had a Livery, Feed, and Sale Stable. After Frank James had been acquitted of all criminal charges for which he was tried, we saw or heard from him occasionally.

Frank was in Butler one fall and was official starter for the races at the County Fair, a job he had performed at other tracks all over the country. He proved to be about as much attraction as any other feature of the fair. Again he was in Butler with Cole Younger, when they were traveling with a Big Circus as drawing cards. They rode together in a street parade, and, of course, they drew lots of attention.

–  Historical Notes from the Bates County Museum, by Reva Stubblefield; Bates County News, Feb 8, 1973

–  Special thanks to Sandy Kassem, a cousin of Jesse Edward James, for providing this article.