Take a bow, Judge Ross! In Chapter 11 of Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, the late Judge James R. Ross a great-grandson of Jesse James, risked the loss of his judicial career when he proclaimed before a judicial review panel, “I’m a great-grandson of Jesse James. No one in our family backs down.”
Jim Ross was responding to the political vendetta brought against him by conservative political elements in Orange County, California. Jim made the landmark ruling that found Disneyland guilty of violating the civil rights of two gay young men. Disneyland evicted the couple for dancing together.
That was in 1980. At the same time at Disney World, a young gay man named George Kalogridis had been busing tables for Disney for nine years. He liked his job. He liked working at Disney. But he probably didn’t like being forced to keep part of himself a secret to keep his job. In the 33 years since Jim Ross made the courageous decision that fatefully cost him his career, the equal rights of gays is now a recognized fact in America. Thanks in part to a great-grandson of Jesse James, gays can be freely open to be who they are.
Today in 2013, Alex Kalogridis is the first openly gay president of Walt Disney World, overseeing its operations in Anaheim, California. He’s also Chief Operating Officer of the Disneyland Resort in Paris. On June 1 of each year, Disneyland plays host to the LGBT community holding one of the world largest gay pride parades in America, attracting more than 150,000 visitors.
Take a bow, Jim Ross. Thank you for paying the price to assure equal rights in America. As the Associated Press reported at the time of Jim’s passing, “with that one ruling, Ross proved himself a far better man than his famous ancestor.”
Thanks to the Pony Express that still sporadically delivers U.S. Postal mail to our offices, only recently did we learn of the recent wedding of Rosemary Ross to Melvin R. Havill. The wedding announcement that was sent in December 2011 announcing their wedding at Christmas finally was delivered to us in June. Unlike everyone else, we’re celebrating Rosemary as a June bride.
Rosemary’s former husband was Judge James R. Ross, a great grandson of Jesse James, who died in 2007. Mel was a Ross family friend with residences both in Arizona, where he owned and operated Havill Engineering since 1960, and in Orange County, California. Mel has since retired.
We offer our warmest wishes to Mel and Rosemary Havill.
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.
Between 1884 and 1888, John James of Alvarado, Texas, returned to the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory from his home in Wise County, Texas. He came to Stockbridge Academy, found today at Eagletown, Eagle County, Oklahoma, to fulfill his dream of being with the Choctaw, a dream he held to since his first encounter with them on his family’s migration from Illinois into Texas Territory when he was fifteen.
John’s first wife, Mary Elizabeth Rosaline “Ross” Bradley, died in 1879, leaving him with four children.
Two months later, John quickly remarried to Louisa Ellen Sutton. By 1884, Louisa had given John two more children. But soon, John would find himself at Stockbridge surrounded by many more than his own six children.
Stockbridge was founded by Cyrus Byington, who named the Choctaw school after his birthplace in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Byington migrated to Mississippi in 1821, where he became a missionary to the Choctaw. Finding the Choctaw had no written language, Byington set about to create a grammar, dictionary, and speller.
Byington followed the Choctaw in 1832 in their removal to Oklahoma. There, for another thirty-one years, Byington preached and taught among the Choctaw. Byington died in 1876.
John James was invited to Stockbridge by Judge James Hudson. John arrived sometime in 1884. At Stockbridge, John and Louisa would add two more children to their growing family. Among John’s students were the children and grandchildren of Judge James Hudson, some of whom found their way into John’s book My Experience with Indians, published in 1927 right before John died.
In 1888, John James acquired a portion of the estate of his former father-in-law Jackson Bunyan Bradley, who died the previous year. Bradley and his family came to Texas from Mississippi in 1851, accompanied by his brother-in-law Sam Myers. In Johnson County, Texas, Bradley built and operated a school at Mountainview, where John would live and teach next.
Though John James left Stockbridge for Mountainview, he also retained his love of the Choctaw. When he wrote My Experience with Indians he wrote of them in particular “that my children and grandchildren may know of them.”
Six years later in 1894, after leaving Stockbridge, John James received a letter from one of his former Choctaw students, Elliston E. Dyer.
Hon. J. James, Alvarado, Texas.
“My dear old time friend:
“I have just received a copy of the Cleburne Daily Times, and in it I find your picture, and note that the paper states that you spent several years among the Choctaw Indians, as a missionary…This of course calls to my mind the days of long ago, when you were at old Stock Bridge, trying to guide to the right direction, the destinies of a bunch of more or less ignorant boys and girls…Of the Choctaw tribe, I am one, and I have often thought since then, what a pity that men like you weren’t scattered all over this country…”
On December 29, of that same year of 1894, Louisa bore John a son, the last of the couple’s thirteen children. John and Louisa James named the child Elliston Dyer James.