Tag Archives: Pulaski County

Did the James Gang Steal Morgan Horses From Cousins ?

Raymond James, who appears on pg. 67 of Jesse James Soul Liberty, visited me last week. Raymond has spent a lot of time studying the Operations Orders for the 12th Kentucky Infantry in the Civil War, where his great-grandfather John Thomas James (pg. 73) served. Raymond has identified the campaign movements of his grandfather on a daily basis from start to finish. An extraordinary accomplishment that hopefully will make its way into print.

Raymond James
Raymond Edward James

On other topics, Raymond also related a story told to him by his grandmother, Lydia Crow-James. The James family, Lydia said, raised Morgan horses. From her hilltop home in Dabney in Pulaski County, during winter she could see clear to Shopville and the horses the family penned. After the James Gang raid on the Columbia Bank in Ky. on April 29, 1872, many of the Morgan horses were stolen from their pen in Shopville. Left behind were some very tired, sorry-looking horses. A while later, the stolen Morgan horses reappeared at the James farm after the attempted bank robbery in Somerset, presumed to have been by the James Gang who fled when a group of hunters assembled at the same time in the town square for a hunting party.

It’s an interesting story, which unfortunately is impossible to verify, unlike the troop movements of the 12th Kentucky Infantry.

Commenting on his appearance in Jesse James Soul Liberty, Raymond said he had read the book twice. “The first time I read it from start to finish. The second time I read it again, but this time with the notes. Reading the notes was like getting an extra book!”

Sadly, Raymond also informed me of the recent passing of his grandson. An autopsy is pending. We wish Raymond’s daughter Kathy well.

UPDATE: Raymond James now informs us the autopsy is in on the death of his grandson. The young man died of a brain aneurysm. The autopsy report notes such deaths occur when the brain’s blood vessels become constricted. One other case of death brought on by a brain aneurysm among James family members is known. The death of Eleanor Marie James-Brush was caused likewise, cutting short her life at age 62. Eleanor was known to drink 2-3 pots of coffee per day, the caffeine from which was the most likely cause for constricting her blood vessels and triggering the event. Constriction may also be caused by recreational drug use, particularly hard drugs like heroine, even in short-term use or in use long past.

Flat Lick Baptist Church – The Mother Church Founded by John M. James


John M. James (1751-1823) was one of the founders of Flat Lick Baptist Church, located outside Shopville in Pulaski County, Kentucky. Most of the his fellow founders were rebel preachers like himself, who had been persecuted for preaching without a license. They made their exodus from Virginia in 1781 in a Traveling Church, bound for the Shawnee temple of New Canaan, called the Cain-tu-kee. John provided the land upon which the original log church was built in 1799.

The first pastor at Flat Lick was James Fears, followed by Stephen Collier. Then came John’s “talented, but erratic” son, Joseph Martin James (1791-1848), who was expelled from the church and defrocked for his alcoholism and bigamous marriage with a parishioner. Joe’s brother-in-law, Robert McAlister (1782-1851) assumed Joe’s role as pastor. Robert was followed by Joe’s son, John James (1816-1902). John graduated Georgetown College with his cousin Reverend Robert Sallee James, the father of Frank & Jesse James.

This image of the Flat Lick congregation was taken in 1899, on the 100th anniversary of Flat Lick Church. Kneeling center, in his white shirt and suspenders, is another son of Joseph Martin James, Edward Perry James (1847-1931).

The original register of Flat Lick Church remains preserved today in the church’s archives. Among those listed here appears Martha James and Rachel McAlister, Pastor Robert McAlister’s wife. Other James family members populate the register, including one of the James family’s enslaved persons, Nutty James. The enslaved were an integral part of Flat Lick’s congregation. While the men and women sat on the ground floor level opposite one another, the enslaved stood in the loft.

This is another photo taken on the 100th anniversary. The original log structure was replaced in the late 1840s, when Joseph Martin James was pastor. Ransom Carson supervised the enslaved who built the new church of stone. At the same time, Reverend Joe had Ransom and the enslaved build Joe a stone residence, which Joe then occupied on the knoll above his store house at Dahl Road and Flat Lick Creek. Some time later, a portion of the church’s stone wall collapsed during a fire. The congregation immediately fully restored the church.

This picture of Flat Lick’s congregation was taken in 1999, following ceremonies celebrating Flat Lick’s 200th Anniversary. On that day, the congregation heard from a descendant of John M. James. John’s 4th great grandson Eric James recounted the James family’s historical association with the Church, as Eric stood at the very lectern from which his ancestors preached 200 years ago.

From the large number of churches that were spawned throughout central Kentucky, and as far as Tennessee, Missouri, and Texas, from this church, Flat Lick gained a reputation for being a Mother Church.

Flat Lick Baptist Church proceeds into the 21st century, fully functioning and operational.

To commemorate the 200th Anniversary of Flat Lick Baptist Church, this book was published, documenting the church’s history. Copies may be purchased by writing directly to the church.