Tag Archives: Preservation

Jesse James Family Reunion 2002 Video – Pt. 11

A year before the Jesse James family reunion, Judge James R. Ross and myself made a trip to Paso Robles to meet with Tom Martin, then current owner of the Paso Robles Inn. I had visited there in 2000 when the remnant of the old hotel was undergoing preservation and restoration. I was anxious to see what had been done since. Both I and Judge Ross also hoped Tom Martin would agree to host our Jesse James family reunion at the historic hotel, first founded by Drury Woodson James.

Tom Martin, Anne Martin-Bowler, Judge James R. Ross, Eric F. James
Tom Martin, Anne Martin-Bowler, Judge James R. Ross, Eric F. James

I had already posted a lengthy feature story about Uncle Drury and his famous hotel on our website Stray LeavesWhen Meeting Tom Martin, we also met his sister Anne Martin-Bowler. She informed us she was writing a book about Drury Woodson James and the founding of the hotel. The book was planned as a promotion for the hotel. The History of the Paso Robles Inn, More Than a Century of Pride has been published since.  Anne did an excellent job.

Needless to say, the Martins were thrilled to be our host. We were equally thrilled to be holding the family reunion on Uncle Drury’s old hotel property. We were especially excited about having a family banquet in Uncle Drury’s ballroom, which the Martins had preserved and restored. Until Tom Wallace

Until Tom Wallace, who supervised the reconstruction, told us his story of working on the formerly condemned property as he does in this video, the only information I had about it was gleaned from George Jackson. a heating contractor, employed  to install a  heating plant for the old ruin. I was particularly tickled by Jackson’s story of discovering a petrified cat when he opened up sealed portions of the original brick basement. You can find Jackson’s story on Stray Leaves.

Michele Bachmann Challenged to Prove Jesse James Claim

Michele Bachmann - FRAUDULENT CLAIMANT

The James Preservation Trust represents the historical interests of the family of Frank & Jesse James. Everyday the Trust deals with claims from the public regarding the outlaw Jesse James. Most claims regard a kinship to the outlaws, or a story of a relationship passed down through generations of a family. Only a few claims are submitted with supporting evidence.Most every one of the claims is unproved.

Some claims, such as the claim made by the motorcycle celebrity Jesse Gregory James that he is a descendant of the outlaw Jesse James, are plainly fraudulent. The Trust challenged the celebrity to produce evidence of his claim. The celebrity has produced no evidence. The Trust since has labeled Jesse G. James a fraud.

Among all the claims, however, no claim has ever come from as high a level as one intent upon becoming President of the United States…until now.

As reported in the press on November 21, 2011, T-GOP Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann writes in her book Core of Conviction: My Story that her second great grandfather won a farm in a poker game with the outlaw Jesse James.

It’s an historically recognized fact that throughout his lifetime Jesse James never owned a farm of his own. It’s also a fact that Jesse James was assassinated as he worked on a finance plan (robbery) to purchase a farm for his family in Nebraska. But the deal was never closed.

The James Preservation Trust challenges Michelle Bachman to produce the transfers of record regarding her second great grandfather’s farm that she claims he won from Jesse James.

UPDATE

Following Michele Bachmann’s claim, a thoughtful exploration of the facts behind Bachmann’s fraudulent claim was made on the Huffington Post by author Chris Rodda.

Rodda is a Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). She also is author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History

Rodda questioned,

Did Michele Bachmann Really Expect to Get Away With Her Jesse James Story?

Rodda then produced the facts behind the story, now copied here:

Chris Rodda

So, let’s start with the passage from Bachmann’s book:

“… When the bugle sounded, Iowans answered the call. That same great-great-grandfather Halvor Munson — the tall one who almost didn’t get to leave Norway — was fifteen when the Civil War broke out. Halvor rushed to enlist, and because he was big, it was easy for him to join the Army. The young soldier was sent west, spending the war years guarding U.S. forts out on the frontier.

“After the war, Halvor was demobilized and ended up coming home on a river raft. And who else was on the raft? None other than Jesse James and his gang. That notorious criminal crew, in fact, invited Halvor to join them; he declined. Yet he did agree to play poker with James and his gang, and he won, of all things, a farm in Iola, Kansas. Who would know that you could win at poker with Jesse James and live? For a while, Halvor traveled back and forth between Kansas and Iowa, but Iowa was always his home. …”

Now, let’s separate fact from fiction.

In the paragraph before the Jesse James claim, Bachmann is just keeping up the most important piece of fiction in the story she tells when campaigning in Iowa — that the intended destination of her immigrant ancestors was the awesome state of Iowa, and that it was Iowa where they settled upon arriving in the United States in 1857. In both her campaigning story and her book, Bachmann simply omits that her ancestors first lived in Wisconsin for well over three years, then went to the Dakota Territory for about the same length of time, and only ended up in Iowa — seven years after coming to America — because they couldn’t hack the hardships and dangers of the Dakota Territory, and fled to the safety of a well established Norwegian community in Iowa. So, of course, in her new Jesse James poker game story, she had to make her great-great-grandfather Halvor an Iowan when he enlisted in the Union Army.

Halvor did enlist in the Union Army, and he was only fifteen at the time. That part is true. He enlisted in February 1862, and his sixteenth birthday was on March 1, 1862. But he was not an Iowan; he was a Dakotan. He became a private in Company A of the 1st Battalion Dakota Cavalry, which was organized in April 1862. Halvor wasn’t “sent west.” He already was west.

Next, Bachmann’s story places the alleged poker game with Jesse James at the time when Halvor’s Army unit was demobilized, and Halvor was supposedly on his way home on a river raft. But this is impossible for two reasons.

First, since Halvor’s home was in the Dakota Territory, and not in Iowa, there wouldn’t have been any river raft trip for him to get home. According to his military records, Halvor’s unit mustered out on May 9, 1865 at Vermillion, Dakota Territory, only about fifteen miles from his home at Elk Point — close enough to just walk home. But it’s actually highly unlikely that Halvor even went home at all. His family had left fled the Dakota Territory in 1864, and were then in Utica Township, Iowa. But he probably didn’t go there either, and even if he did, he couldn’t have gone by raft because Utica Township is almost 300 miles away from the Missouri River.

Second, it was May 1865. There was no James Gang yet. The members of what would become the gang were busy wrapping up their Civil War guerilla activities. The whereabouts of Jesse James and his future gang members at this time are very well known because May 10, 1865, the day after Halvor Munson mustered out of the Army in the Dakota Territory, was the day that Quantrill’s Raiders were ambushed by Union soldiers, and James Younger was captured. A few days later, Jesse James was shot by Union troops while attempting to surrender to them, after which he spent many months recovering. This was all happening in Missouri, nowhere near the Dakota Territory. It wasn’t until February 1866 that Jesse James formed his gang and robbed his first bank.

Halvor’s river raft trip wasn’t in 1865 when he got out of the Army, but three years later, in 1868. Immediately after being discharged from the Army, Halvor, along with the sergeant from his Army company, joined up for the Sawyers Expedition, a federally-funded expedition led by Lt. Col. James Sawyers to build a road from Niobrara, Nebraska to Virginia City, Montana. This expedition set out on June 13, 1865.

According to the account of his son, Halvor signed on for a three-year enlistment in the expedition service, and was at Fort Benton in Montana when his enlistment was up. Since Halvor got out of the Army in May of 1865, and left with the Sawyers Expedition in June, his three-year enlistment would have been up in May or June of 1868. This is when he was on a river raft on the Missouri, getting off the raft at Sioux City, Iowa, and going overland from there to join his family in Utica, Iowa.

And where was Jesse James in May and June of 1868 when Halvor Munson would have been on this river raft trip? Well, according to all accounts, he was on his way to California. He was in Kentucky in March (at the time of the Russellville bank robbery), went to Missouri in early April, left from there for New York in May, and was on a ship bound for San Francisco on June 8. So, no, he couldn’t have been on a river raft with Michele Bachmann’s great-great-grandfather playing poker and losing a farm.

So, where did Bachmann get this story from? Well, just like her fictitious story about how her immigrant ancestors came to Iowa, it appears that she found something on the web, and then made some revisions to it. In this case, it was almost certainly a “Family Group” sheet for Halvor Munson on the IAGenWeb site.

Here’s the section, written by other Munson descendants, that mentions the Jesse James story. But this says that the James Gang was only “allegedly” on the raft, and calls the poker game story “folklore” and “unverified,” words that, of course, didn’t stop Michele Bachmann from turning the story into historical fact in her book.

“Halvor proved his faith in the ‘New World,’ as the Norwegian emigrants called America, when he enlisted in the Union Army in February 1862. He was only 15 years old so first served as a drummer boy in Company A, First Dakota Cavalry, which was assigned to garrison and patrol duty in the Dakota settlements. Uncertainty about the Indians, who, until a treaty in 1858, had sole access to Dakota Territory, kept Company A and the settlers on constant alert. Halvor was probably one of the soldiers that, along with the settlers, hastily erected Fort Brule in August 1862, for protection against the Indians. Convincing rumors of an imminent attack by the Sioux in early September 1862 later found to be untrue, frightened the settlers into an evacuation to Sioux City rather than taking refuge in Fort Brule.

“Halvor served in the Civil War for three years, two months, being honorably discharged as a Private, First Class, in April 1865, an historic month. On April 9th, General Lee surrendered his Confederate troops to General Grant at Appomattox, Virginia. President Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre April 14th and died the next morning. Out of service and only 19, what next for Halvor? His son, Alfred, wrote that Halvor immediately joined the government’s Sawyer Ox Team Expedition for a three-year term of duty. The purpose was to supply U. S. forts along the Missouri River as far west as Fort Benton, Montana (forty miles northeast of Great Falls). They also made a 500-mile trip from Ft. Benton to Salt Lake City, Utah to secure flour for these forts in 1866 or 1867. U.S. troops escorted them through dangerous Indian territories.

“Halvor completed his Expedition duty while at Ft. Benton in the spring of 1868. He rafted down the Missouri River with Confederate prisoners of war that the Union Army had used to fight Indians. The infamous ‘James Boys’ were allegedly aboard one of the rafts recruiting members for their gang. Jesse was 21 and had been robbing for two years, but may have established his ‘fame’ later as he lived until 1882.

“Halvor, age 22, left the raft at Sioux City, Iowa and came to Chickasaw County where he lived with his parents in Utica Township. [The Munsons lived near the village of UTICA in Dane County, Wisconsin, in UTICA township in Crawford County, Wisconsin, and in UTICA township in Chickasaw County, Iowa.]

“He married Anna Jorgensdatter Aaberg on October 26, 1868, at Saude, Iowa. They lived in Utica Township one year, and then settled on a farm in Jacksonville Township near the crossroads town of Jacksonville. It was established in 1854 when the first settler built a log cabin on The Old Military Trail, Fort Crawford–Fort Atkinson, Fort Dodge.

“Halvor was a shrewd operator when it came to dealing in land. He bought and sold land in Jacksonville Township, Utica Township, and near Iola, Kansas. Forklore had it that he won the 240-acre Kansas farm in a poker game, but this is unverified. …”

RELATED STORIES:

Jesse Gregory James, alias Jesse James

Techniques of Jesse James Con Artists

News Coverage Spreads Bachmann Fraud

The Fraudulent Claim of Insane John James

 

Put Jesse James on Your MasterCard or Visa

Last week Capital One Bank approved the image of Jesse James for the face of the MasterCard of Eric James, president of The James Preservation Trust. This image never has been published before. The original full image of Jesse will be published for the first time on the book cover of Eric’s new book about the Jesse James family Jesse James Soul Liberty, Behind His Family Heritage of Stigma & Silence.

The funding campaign to publish Jesse James Soul Liberty remains in effect until August 14, 2011 at Kickstarter.com

To encourage additional pledges, The James Preservation Trust will now make this previously unpublished image of Jesse James available to anyone who registers a pledge of $25 or more, or who increases an existing pledge, between now and July 30, 2011. When the funding goal is successfully achieved, those who pledge will receive the image of Jesse James to put on their credit cards, together with the Rewards offered by the pledge amount selected.

Make your pledge today on Kickstarter.com . Put Jesse James on your bank credit card. And put Jesse James Soul Liberty and the history of the Jesse James family on the shelves of America’s bookstores and libraries.

Kickstart the book JESSE JAMES SOUL LIBERTY

WE ARE LAUNCHED!

Come join the party for JESSE JAMES SOUL LIBERTY – BEHIND HIS FAMILY HERITAGE OF STIGMA AND SILENCE.

I’m thrilled to invite you to join me in this final leg of a twelve year journey to research, write, and publish the only book ever written about the Jesse James family.

Join me at Kickstarter.com where you can enjoy the book’s exclusive backstory in addition to viewing the video below.

Give SOUL LIBERTY your own kickstart. Then be sure to tell your friends. Thanks for making a little bit of history with me.

Best regards,
ERIC JAMES