Tag Archives: Nall

Titanic Star Gloria Stuart – a Jesse James Cousin

Actor Gloria Stuart, aka Gloria Frances Stewart 1910-2010

To a modern young audience it seems Gloria Stuart only achieved stardom in her 90s for her portrayal of Old Rose in the hit movie Titanic.

She garnered both Oscar & Golden Globe nominations. The Screen Actors Guild, of which Gloria was a founding member, gave her the SAG Award. On her 100th birthday, the Guild also honored her with a Centennial Celebration. Gloria also received a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame, and other awards, too. Gloria’s career spanned seven decades and included many classic hit films, still viewed and appreciated today.

Surprising to our James family is the discovery that Gloria Stuart is one of our stray leaves. She is related to our James family through her Cole and Nalle ancestries, as shown below.


This discovery was brought to the attention of Stray Leaves by Crusader, formerly known as Andrew Exler.  In 1980, Crusader charged Disneyland with violating his civil rights by depriving him his right to dance with a gay friend. The landmark case was heard by the great grandson of Jesse James, Judge James R. Ross. Ruling against Disneyland, Judge Ross upheld the civil rights of Crusader. Today, Crusader is a paralegal with an appreciation for the James family.

Looking at the 100 years of Gloria Stuart’s life, there are numerous crossroads where her life intersected with the James, although most probably unconsciously.

Sculptor Gordon Newell

Like so many among the James family, the lives of Gloria and her family are married to the arts. Gloria not only was an actor, she also was an artist and author of her own autobiography. Her first husband, Blair Gordon Newell, was a sculptor. A fountain he sculpted sits before the White House in Washington.

Gloria’s second husband was the Chicago and New York journalist Arthur Sheekman. Groucho Marx brought Sheekman to Hollywood to work for him as a screenwriter. Sheekman became known as the 4th Marx brother, after Groucho, Chico, and Harpo.

Arthur Sheekman & Gloria Stuart

Gloria and Arthur’s daughter Sylvia Sheekman is an author of cook books. Sylvia married Eugene Allen Thompson, also a screenwriter. Among Gene Thompson’s credits are the successful TV programs Mission Impossible, Columbo, the Lucy Show, Beverly Hillbillies, & Marcus Welby M.D.

Syliva V. Sheekman-Thompson

Among Sylvia & Gene’s children,  Dinah Thomson-Sapia is an attorney who formerly worked in the San Benito and Monterey County District Attorneys’ offices. Today Dinah is in private practice in Santa Cruz, California, but devotes much charitable time to a number of organizations. Before becoming an attorney, Dinah served in the U. S. Coast Guard.

Dinah V. Thompson-Sapia

Gloria Frances Stewart died just recently on September 26, 2010, at her home in the Brentwood community of Los Angeles. She was 100 years old, and her star continues to rise.


Charlie Rose Interviews Gloria Stuart – Feb 26, 1998

Advance to 17:00 minutes. Play interview thru 39:20 minutes


Gloria Stuart appears in this 1933 newsreel short among Hollywood’s Stars of Tomorrow. Can you recall the movies careers of any of the other stars featured with Gloria in this clip?



Gloria Frances Stewart, aka Gloria Stuart, 1910-2010

. Frank Stewart & Alice Vaughan

.. Thomas C. Vaughan & Berilla Cole

… Jesse Cole Jr & Angelina Wheeler

…. Jesse Cole Sr. & Nancy Sparks

…… Richard James Cole Sr. & Ann Hubbard (Common Ancestors)

….. Richard Cole Jr. & Sally Yates

…. James Cole & Sarah Lindsay

… Zerelda Elizabeth Cole & Rev. Robert Sallee James

.. Frank & Jesse James


Gloria Frances Stuart also has a connection to John M. James & Clara Nall

Gloria Frances Stewart, aka Gloria Stuart, 1910-2010

. Frank Stewart & Alice Vaughan

.. Thomas C. Vaughan & Berilla Cole

… Jesse Cole Jr & Angelina Wheeler

…. Jesse Cole Sr. & Nancy Sparks

….. Humphrey Sparks Sr & Mildred “Milly” Nalle

…… Capt. Martin Nalle & Isabelle Unknown (Common Ancestors)

….. John M. James & Clarisssa “Clara/Clary” Nall

James-Younger Gang Conference, 2010

Author John Koblas with Eric James
Donna Rose Harrell, Frank & Sharon Younger, Sr. Gemma Younger, & Judy Younger Hoffstetter
Marjorie Highley Best and Eric James
Tom Nall and Sharon Younger

On Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, I dropped in on the annual conference of the James-Younger Gang, gathered in Bardstown, Kentucky, where I visited with some old friends.

Here’s John Koblas, author of Faithful Unto Death, The Jesse James Northfield Raid, The Great Cole Younger & Frank James Historical Wild West Show, and Jesse James Ate Here.

Donna Rose Harrell (L) presented an excellent paper on the Columbia Bank robbery. Frank & Sharon Younger (C) never miss a meeting, though they live in Canada. New this year was Sr. Gemma Younger and Judy Younger Hofstetter (R).

Marjorie Highley Best is the daughter of Rev. Robert E. Highley, who baptized Mary Susan James, the daughter of Jesse James, in Nashville.  Rev. Highley wrote the book Jesse James Though OfficiallyDead Lived on for 65 Years, in which he accounted the actions of his own family and some con artists who claimed to be Jesse James. Marjorie’s family may be related to the James, through her Poore ancestors, though it remains to be proved.

Tom Nall is a relation of Clara Nalle, the wife of John M. James. Like many among the Nall/Nalle family who have been university professors, Tom also has been a teacher for 39 years.


Rhoda May-James

RHODA MAY (1806-1889) is the stalwart spouse of the “talented, but erratic” Rev. Joseph Martin James (1791-1848).

Rhoda withstood all transgressions, indignities, & social ostracism that her husband created with admirable Teutonic stoicism.

When acute alcoholism took Joe’s life at age fifty-seven, Rhoda became a forty-two year old widow, left alone to raise nine children.

For the next forty-one years of her life, Rhoda May James resolutely carried the social burden of her husband’s disgrace. She watched as the Civil War divided her children and tore apart her family. She never remarried.

Home of Rhoda May & Joseph Martin James, built circa 1854

Thanks to Gwen Smith-Gershwin, who is a fourth great granddaughter of Rev. Joseph Martin James & Martha  McAlister, Joe’s first wife, this tintype image of Rhoda May now can be appreciated.

The original tintype was handed down in the family through Rhoda Alice Owens-Cole-Dowell, Rhoda May’s granddaughter & namesake.

Rhoda May

Prior to the contribution of this tintype image to The James Preservation Trust, the only known image of Rhoda May was a framed oval colored photograph. This colored image still hangs in the home of Nelva Anne Herrin, a great granddaughter of Joe Martin & Rhoda May James. Nelva Anne’s contemporary home, built by her father Lem Garland Herrin, sits opposite the decayed ruin of the home built & occupied by her great grandparents Joseph Allen Herrin & Susan Harriet James on the original settlement lands of John M. James at Shopville in Pulaski County, Kentucky. Susan Harriet James is a daughter of Joe Martin James & Rhoda May.


Edward Perry James & his family. Namesake Rhoda May James sitting at her father's knee.

EDWARD PERRY JAMES (1847-1931) was only a year old when his father died. He grew up in his father’s stone house in Shopville, married Elizabeth Langford, & raised a family of nine children in the same house. His youngest child, he named Rhoda May James, after his beloved mother. Progressively selling off his land holdings in Shopville, he removed his family to a new home he built in Berea, Kentucky, where he died.

Susan Harriet James-Herrin

SUSAN HARRIET JAMES (1843-1920) was five years old when Joseph Martin James died. She was thirty years old when she married Joseph Allen Herrin, a Union veteran of the Civil War.

In a diary Herrin kept during the war, he noted the wounding of Susan Harriet’s brother, Andrew James.

Home of Susan Harriet James & Allen Custer Herrin

Herrin was returned from the war for almost a decade, when he and Susan Harriet married in the home of Rhoda May.

On the land of Susan Harriet’s grandfather, John M. James, in Shopville, the couple built themselves a new home. The home remained occupied by her descendants until about 1947, when the couple’s grandson, Lem Garland Herrin, built his bride, Thelma Hayes, a new home directly opposite the lane of the old home.

Mary Harriet James-Owens

MARY HARRIET JAMES (1842-1935), nicknamed Mary Jane, was age ten when her father died. Left alone with Rhoda May to defend the family home during the Battle of Mill Springs, she successfully retained hold of the single horse they owned against marauding soldiers, by claiming half her family fought on one side while the other half fought on the other. Shortly after the war, she married Union veteran Daniel J. Owens, who had been imprisoned during the conflict. She was mother to ten children.  At age ninety, she flew in an airplane for the first time. Flying over five states, she sang “Glory, Glory Halleluiah” and exited the airplane singing “Nearer My God to Thee.”

Rev. Martin Nall James

Rev. MARTIN NALL JAMES (1833-1911) was fifteen when Joe Martin James died. He became a Baptist preacher, but not one like his father. At twenty-five he married Susannah Elizabeth Matthews. The couple elected themselves Baptist missionaries & migrated into Missouri. During the war, he fought on the Confederate side. The couple bore eight children.

Rhoda Ann James, granddaughter & namesake of Rhoda May

CYRENIUS WAITE JAMES (1831-1911) was age seventeen at the time of his father’s death He was Rhoda’s second eldest child. Cy bore witness to much of the abuse suffered by his mother. He and his other siblings also suffered the social stigma brought upon their family by their father’s bigamous third marriage to the youthful Permelia Estepp. Though his half-siblings with Permelia lived in plain view across Flat Lick Creek, the two families remained completely estranged from each other. Cy fought for the Union in the war and was taken prisoner. In prison in Georgia, he awoke to a nightmare of his daughter dying, at the same time she choked to death on some corn In Illinois. Prior to the war he removed his family there. Afterward, he walked them to Texas, where his descendants live today. No picture of Cy is known to exist.  His daughter, Rhoda Ann James, named for his mother and shown here, operated his bank in Rhone, Texas.


John Smith May, nephew of Rhoda May. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society

JOHN SMITH MAY (1835-Aft. 1891) was a farmer and a teacher before the Civil War started. Shortly after joining the Confederate Army he was captured & imprisoned in Ohio. After the Battle of Chancellorsville, he was exchanged. He joined John Hunt Morgan in Sparta, Tennessee, but was captured later again with Morgan, David Hunt James, & Richard Skinner James. He was secondly incarcerated at Camp Douglas in Chicago, but later sent to Virginia. He surrendered with Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. Afterwards he returned to Kentucky to resume teaching. By Elizabeth McQueary he had ten children and by Sallie Thurmond two more. In Pulaski County, he became Superintendent of Schools, the Court Clerk for the county, and was elected to the lower house of the Kentucky State Legislature. He and Rhoda May-James died within a few years of one another.