Tag Archives: Nancy Samuelson

The Latest Fake Jesse James History From Ron Pastore

 

Nancy Samuelson, book reviewer for the Wild West History Association, the James-Younger Gang Journal, & Leaves of Gas reviews the latest book to come from the imagination of treasure hunter Ron Pastore

 

 

 

Jesse James’ Secret: Codes, Cover-Ups & Hidden Treasure by Ron Pastore and John O’Melveny Woods, (Intellect Publishing. 2010).    296 pp., soft cover, $19.95.

This is another round of Jesse James did not die in 1882. Like most other books and articles of this ilk this one is loaded with misinformation and fairy tales. There are no notes, no bibliography, or any other pretense of real research. The book is also replete with photographs of very dubious identification and origin.

Jesse James was really Jeremiah (or was it Jere Miah—the authors can’t seem to keep the spelling consistent) James. Jeremiah lived on well after Jesse James was shot and killed by Bob Ford in 1882, raised a large family and died in Kansas.

Even well documented facts concerning the James and Younger families are totally twisted in this book. For instance the father of Robert James (the father of Frank and Jesse) is said to have died on a buffalo hunting trip to Indian Territory. In fact, both of Robert James’ parents, John and his wife Mary (Polly), both died in Logan County, KY in 1827 and there are extensive court records that document this.

The authors claim that the James boys and the Younger boys were cousins and this is not true.  The authors also list the following Youngers as members of the James-Younger gang: Bud, Cole, Bob, Jim and Grat. Bud was a nickname for Cole Younger and there was never a Grat Younger. Grat was a Dalton and a member of the Dalton Gang. The Daltons and the Youngers were, however, related.

I could go on for several pages just listing errors of fact in this book but that would do little but  document the complete lack of scholarship of the authors.

The entire book is more tall tales of Knights of the Golden Circle, buried treasure, switched identities, etc, etc. Unless you wish to collect all of the weird books in print about Jesse James I would advise you skip this one.

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Betty Dorsett Duke Book All Smoke, No Gun

BOOK REVIEW: Jesse James: The Smoking Gun by Betty Dorsett Duke (Betty Dorsett Duke: 2011), 337 pp., soft cover, $19.

By Nancy B. Samuelson

This is the third book written by Betty Dorsett Duke in an attempt to convince the world that her great-grandfather, James L. Courtney, was really Jesse James. Like her previous books, this one is another example of half-baked ideas, lack of scholarship, and wild imagination.

Jesse James, The Smoking Gun-book

The smoking gun is a photograph that Ms. Duke bought on e-bay. She claims this photo was taken in Texas in 1875 and is the wedding photo of Frank and Annie James with friends and family, including Belle Starr. The photograph is most likely one taken in 1888 at the time Mrs. Caroline Quantrill

(mother of the famed guerrilla leader) visited Missouri. Mrs. Quantrill was given a reception at Blue Springs, Missouri in May 1888. There was also an ice cream social held in her honor and she spent some time in September visiting with Mrs. Reuben Samuel, the mother of Jesse and Frank James. Woodcuts or sketches of Mrs. Quantrill appeared in the Kansas City Journal, the Kansas City Star, and other newspapers during her stay in Missouri. This same photo that Duke labels her “smoking gun” is currently displayed on quantrillsguerrillas.com and Mrs. Samuel and Mrs. Quantrill are identified as the two elderly ladies in the center of the photo.

There are other misidentified and questionable photos in the book as well. On page 280 there is a photo identified as Arkansas Tom Dalton. This man is, in fact, Roy Daugherty, alias Arkansas Tom Jones. He was a member of the Bill Doolin gang and was captured after the gun battle in Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory on September 1, 1893. On page 138 there is a supposed picture of Wood Hite, a cousin of Jesse and Frank James and a sometime member of the James gang. There has never been a published photo of Wood Hite as far as I know. Some time ago I contacted the Logan County, Kentucky Historical Society in an attempt to locate photos of the Hite family. The Society does not know of any photos of this family.  They did supply a couple of photos of some of the Hite graves. Several more of the photos in this book are very questionable as well.

Ms. Duke spends a great deal of space recounting all the problems with the Dr. James Starrs  exhumation and DNA testing of Jesse James in 1995. She has said most of this before, and many other people have questioned this as well, including this reviewer. Ms. Duke does add a new wrinkle in this book. She now says Stephen Caruso, Deputy Counselor for Clay County, Missouri in 1995, admits that the hair and tooth from the James Farm that was provided to Dr. Starrs was not what it was said to be. Caruso has allegedly stated that the hair provided was from the head of John Hartman the Director of Clay County Parks Department and the tooth was not from the James Farm. If this information is correct then the Starrs DNA testing was completely and totally faked.

Ms. Duke has a lot of other misinformation in her book. She claims there is no documented evidence that Frank and Jesse James lived in Tennessee. There was testimony in both of Frank James’ trials to the effect that he lived in Tennessee and was known as Ben Woodson while there. She states that Rev. Robert S. James reportedly died in a mining camp called Rough and Ready (since renamed Placerville) California.  Rough and Ready still exists today and Placerville is a completely different town.

A lot of people change identity here and there throughout the book. None of this is explained to the satisfaction of this reviewer. Quanah Parker becomes a good friend of the James boys and builds a house for them according to Duke. It is very odd that none of the biographies about Quanah Parker have ever mentioned this. Burk Burnett, Dan Waggoner, Billy Dixon and several other well known western characters are brought up in this book.  Duke claims most of these men were associated with her great-grandfather James L. Courtney. Evidence to support these claims is either lacking completely or very garbled.

Ms. Duke comes across as very paranoid in this book. She makes a lot of claims about the “James Establishment” putting her down because if the truth were known then the James Farm and some other museums would lose money. She also claims that some of these “James Establishment” people are making threats to harm her and her family.

In summary, this is another very bad book trying to prove that Bob Ford did not kill Jesse James in April 1882. Unless you find crackpot theories highly entertaining do not waste your money on this book.

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Eric James says “No, Thanks” to Jesse James publisher, North Star Press

If you thought you knew Jesse James, wait until you meet his family. So says Eric James, author of the new, long awaited, four volume history of the family of Frank and Jesse James.

According to historian Nancy Samuelson who has previewed portions of the upcoming book, the author of The History of the Dalton Gang says James’ book is likely to send historians back to find what history they missed.

“I was honored that North Star Press of Minnesota wanted to publish my book,” says Eric James. North Star Press already publishes five books about Jesse James and the James-Younger Gang by author John Koblas. “My books would have been a natural complement,” says James. Koblas, who also has previewed a large portion of James’ book, insists James’ book “must be published!”

After two months of negotiations, however, James now is seeking a publisher elsewhere. After twelve years of research and writing, Eric James is not at all disappointed that publication of Volume I of his epic quartet now appears headed for a nine month delay. Publication formerly was expected this Fall. Release now is re-scheduled for Summer of 2011.

Given the economic difficulties in the publishing industry today, James doesn’t begrudge North Star Press for not wanting to produce a hardcover edition. James just wants to meet his readers’ expectations. They tell James a hardcover edition is a must, though some of his readers prefer a case slipped, collector’s edition.

James credits North Star with opening his eyes to his book’s possibilities. “North Star was particularly helpful in establishing the multi-volume format of the work,” says James. “This, in turn, focused my attention on the work’s trans media possibilities.” James is intrigued by the new Vook format, soon to be used by vampire author Anne Rice. A Vook is a book published in tandem with video applications of a book’s content.

Since 1997, Eric James has written and published the official web site for the family of Frank & Jesse James. Stray Leaves, a James Family in America since 1650 (www.ericjames.org). On any given day, over 10,000 visitors are attracted to the web site, particularly to research its gargantuan genealogy database, related to the James family. James also is president of The James Preservation Trust, which addresses the historical interests of the James family.

Eric James already is at work planning a special 4-day schedule of events in Kansas City, where he will premiere the book. Russell Hatter, curator of the Capital City Museum in Frankfort, Kentucky and publisher at The Frankfort Press, is looking forward to James’ quartet of new books. “Eric James’ gift for pulling new history out of genealogy is absolutely brilliant!”

James-Younger Gang Journal Pans Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure

The following review of TV’s Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure appeared in the Winter, 2009-2010 edition of The James-Younger Gang Journal, posted here with permission of the reviewer Nancy B. Samuelson & the Journal. Samuelson is an author, historian, lecturer, and book reviewer for the Wild West History Association.

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Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure

This program aired on the History Channel three times during early November 2009. With this program, the History Channel has stooped to a new low. The program featured, so called, historians Ron Pastore and Ralph Ganis.

Pastore heads a team called the National Geomantic Survey, or NGS. I have not been able to locate any such national organization. NGS appears to be a creation of Ron Pastore’s imagination. Further, the term geomantic comes from the word geomancy. This is the practice of divination by means of a figure made by a handful of earth thrown down at random or by figures or lines formed by a number of dots made at random. In other words fortune-telling!

The program moves from this bit of pseudo-science to a lot of mythology about the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC). We are asked to believe that a lot of carvings in caves in Kansas are really coded messages that will help locate huge treasure hordes hidden by Jesse James as he was working for the KGC. These carvings are said to be cryptic codes, however, most of what is shown is the initials JJ in various forms. Real cryptic—as these are the initials of Jesse James.

Jesse James was supposed to have obtained 1.5 million dollars during his robberies and hidden much of it in Kansas in order to finance a second Civil War that was to be started by the KGC. The total of all the take in the James gang robberies probably does not exceed a quarter of a million dollars and Jesse James is not known to have spent any lengthy amounts of time in Kansas either. Ganis has Jesse involved in the Ku Klux Klan operations in North Carolina as well.

Pastore claims to have located two treasure hoards. These two finds amount to all of about $30-35 in old coins. That is a pretty small amount of money to finance a second Civil War! The coins and one piece of gold were buried in Mason jars. However, the jars shown in the program were not discolored with age, and the zinc lid on one of the jars appeared in near pristine condition. Most of the coins also appeared to be in near pristine condition and the coins are dated in the 1890s. The dates of the coins are passed off as proof that Jesse James was not killed by Bob Ford in 1882.

There is much more that could be said about the nonsense that was passed off as “history” in this program but I think I have given the reader enough information to realize that this program was not “history” in any sense of the word.

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RELATED STORIES

The Latest Fake Jesse James History from Ron Pastore

James-Younger Gang Journal Pans Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure

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Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure

Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure – Deconstructing Chapter One

Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure – Deconstructing Chapter Two

Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure – Deconstructing Chapter Three

Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure – Chapter 4 deconstructed

Jesse James’ Hidden Treasure – Chapter 5 Deconstructed

Newman University Promotes Bogus Jesse James Historian Ron Pastore

Jesse James Family Challenges Newman University’s Presentation of Bogus History

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