Tag Archives: Shopville

Old Photos Found of First Jesse James Museum

Jesse James Museum
The First Jesse James Museum, Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky

For 20 years, I have searched for any old photos of this James family home that became the first Jesse James museum. James family lore had spoken about the museum for years. Recently Curtis Gilliland, a cousin who is vice-president of the Pulaski County Historical Society in Somerset, Kentucky notified me about a new accession received by the Society that arrived right before Christmas, 2016. At last, now we can see what the first Jesse James museum looked like.

D.A.R. HISTORIAN UNCOVERS ARCHIVE

Helen Vogt Greene
Helen Vogt Greene, museum historian of the Lake Worth Historical Museum, 414 Lake Avenue, Lake Worth, Florida

Helen Vogt Greene, curator and museum historian of the Lake Worth Historical Museum in Lake Worth, Florida, donated the accession to the Pulaski County Historical Society.

Greene is an award-winning historian. In April of 2016, the Palm Beach Historical Society awarded Greene the coveted Fannie James Pioneer Achievement Award. The award is named for an African-American pioneer (of no known relationship to the Jesse James family) who served as the first postmistress of the post office in the settlement of Jewell, now Lake Worth.

In October of 2016, the Florida State Daughters of the American Revolution also recognized Greene for her demonstrated record of 45 years as a “historical, educational, social, religious, political, scientific, and cultural innovator.”  The National Society of the DAR honored Past Honorary Regent Greene as one of its “Women in American History.”

THE RECOVERY

The photo accession includes several photographic images, personally written notations, a business card, and Helen Vogt Greene’s written letter statement of provenance and donation.

In my personal interview with Mrs. Greene, she confirmed the facts of the letter and explained more of the story behind the photos. Greene, who was 7 years old when her family took these images around 1943, stated that a group from Poland had visited Somerset and Pulaski County in Kentucky at that time. The interest group was attracted to the county’s name and its namesake of Casimir Pulaski. Greene’s family joined their tour.

Casimir Pulaski
Count Casimir Pulaski of Poland, 1745-1779

I informed Mrs. Greene that John M. James, a founder of Pulaski County and the grandfather of Frank and Jesse James per local lore, selected the name for the county. In the American Revolution, John M. James was a supplier to the Patriot cause together with Joshua Logan Younger, grandfather of the Younger brothers of the James gang. Also as a spy for Gen. Washington, John M. James was a great admirer of Casimir Pulaski as an American Patriot from Poland.

Helen Greene stated that she was unpacking some boxes recently when she uncovered the photographs that had been long stored away. As an historian cleaning house, Greene determined her family photos should return to their place of origination. So, she donated them to the Pulaski County Historical Society.

TEXT OF THE DONATION LETTER

December 31, 2016

Pulaski County Historical Society

304 South Main Street

Somerset, Ky 42501

 Dear Mr. Elmore, President

Since 1980, I have been associated with the small Historical Museum of the City of Lake Worth, Florida. In all that time, first as the Curator and now as the Historian, I have never been able to tell families what they should save and what in the world do other people want? I add myself to that list.

donation letter
Donation and provenance letter of Helen Vogt Greene

Enclosed you will find three c. 1943 pictures and an advertising card for the Oak Leaf Tourist Cmp. I am quite certain we were traveling through. My father traveled from place to place working on government projects. He was an Electrical Supervisor. He wanted his family with him and we lived in a trailer. These pictures were just ‘unpacked”. If these are not ‘keepers”, please feel free to use File #13.

I find the card quite interesting.  If you still have cabins for 50 cents a night, we may visit you…when it is warmer. Success in all that you do to protect and preserve your history.

Blessings and a Happy New Year…2017

(S)  Helen Vogt Greene

Contact information of address, telephone number, and email for Helen Vogt Greene are redacted here.

HISTORY OF THE JESSE JAMES MUSEUM

When I first visited the site of the old Jesse James museum, it was in 2001. Cousin Virgie Herrin-Fuller 1922-2009, a James descendant and retired schoolteacher, took me there. Virgie lived on the same road as the old museum, just a few minutes away. Virgie grew up in Shopville, in the home that her grandparents Joseph Allen Herrin and Susan Harriett James had built on the original land of John M. James.

Museum ruins
Ruins of the Jesse James Museum, 2001

Virgie said at that time that she always recalled the old log cabin where we stood was used as a Jesse James museum. It was a tourist attraction. She further stated that the log cabin originally was built on the land of John M. James in Shopville where she grew up.

As we looked around that day, all that was left of the old museum were two standing brick chimneys. Virgie confirmed that the museum had burned down years ago. Everything that the museum contained, that was collected from the James homes in Shopville, was consumed by the flames.

Jesse James Museum ruins
Alternate view of the ruin of the Jesse James Museum, 2001

In further research, I found many others among the James family and in the town of  Somerset who recalled the old museum as Virgie did. Nowhere I looked did I ever find someone who could provide photographic evidence of the building’s existence. Now, thanks to Helen Vogt Greene, that is changed.

GRAFFITI CONFIRMS JAMES FAMILY LORE

Now the lore of the James family is confirmed by the newly recovered photographic images. Graffiti painted on the building walls in the period, presumably when the structure became a museum, tells the story of the building.

Jesse James Museum
Jesse James Museum, front facade graffiti

This house built in 1816 was

123 years old when rebuilt in 1938.

Jesse James Funeral (illegible)

Rev. J.M. Martins (illegible)

I have chosen this day

24th chapter of (illegible)

44th verce (sic)

Rhoda May-James
Rhoda May-James 1806-1889. No photographic image of Rev. Joseph Martin James ever has been found. The James family’s archives, however, do include an image of one is his wives, Rhoda May, and an abundance of photos of his children and their families.

John M. James settled the land on Buck Creek that became Shopville, from two land grants he acquired in 1799. John’s son, Rev. Joseph Martin James operated a store house on nearby Flat Lick Creek, that gave the area its name.

The reference to a reverend is unclear. The text could refer to Virgie’s great-grandfather Rev. Joseph Martin James, at times referred to as Martin among his congregation, at other times referred to as Joe among his family. For many years, Rev. Joseph Martin James served as pastor of the Flat Lick Baptist Chruch, of which his father was a founder. A history of Flat Lick Church acknowledges the James in the formation and operation of the church, and also in their relationship and kinship with Frank & Jesse James. Rev. James later founded the First Baptist Church of Somerset, Kentucky, also serving there as pastor. Joseph Martin James was a very popular preacher.

Rev. James was the son of John M. James and Clarissa “Clara” Nall. The congregation of Flat Lick Church defrocked Rev. J. M. James due to his becoming an alcoholic bigamist who sired 24 children, among three wives, his last four children being born in consecutive years by two alternate wives, one of whom was a teenager from his congregation. Remaining very popular nonetheless after his demise in 1848 for his preaching ability, his congregation memorialized him as being “talented, but erratic.”

Zee Mimms-James Bible
Bible of Zee Mimms-James, inscribed on the day her husband Jesse Woodson James was killed

The biblical reference that appears on the museum building is reminiscent of the notation Jesse’s wife Zee Mimms-James made in her bible, following Jesse’s assassination. In very precise handwriting, Zee inscribed her bible, “Jesse killed this day April 3, 1882, in St. Joseph.” Her inscription appeared below the bible verse: I Thessalonians, Chapter V: “But of the times and seasons, Brethren,  you have no need that we write to you, for you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord is to come as a thief in the night.”

A side view of the building reveals additional graffiti, which states:

Jesse James Museum
Jesse James Museum, side graffiti

The hangout house of Jessie (sic) & Frank James

Moved from Shopville & reblt.

A letter from Frank James telling how

They began their life.

We began slaying Yanks one by one

We joined Quantell (sic). He had 37 men.

We made things hot

Now & then.

 ADDITIONAL CONFIRMATION FOUND

 Around the time of the discovery of the of the Zee James Collection of historical images and artifacts by Al King of Somerset, Mr. King found himself at an estate sale on Main St. in Somerset. A small number of items attracted King’s attention. The seller stated the items came from the Jesse James Museum on North Route 1247 outside Somerset when the museum went out of business. Mr. King purchased a photo, not knowing who was pictured in the image.

Mary Harriet James
Mary Harriet James-Owens 1843-1935

During the first meeting with Mr. King to authenticate the artifacts he purchased from the historical home of Judge James Madison Lindsay, King alerted me to the photo he had bought on Main St. King asked me if I could identify the person in the photograph. When the photograph was produced, I knew instantly who was in the picture. The photo was of Mary Harriett James, a daughter of Rev. Joseph Martin James and Rhoda May. The image reflected other known images of Mary Harriet James in the family archives. This was corroborating evidence that the first Jesse James Museum actually contained artifacts produced from the Shopville homes of the James family.

 

__________________________________________________

The James family expresses its deepest appreciation to historian Helen Vogt Greene for this valuable contribution to our James family history.

_________________________________________________

OAK LEAF TOURIST CAMP & S. L. WILSON

The former site of the first Jesse James Museum was part of the Oak Leaf Tourist Camp, N. Rt. 1247 near Abbott Rd., 3 miles north of Somerset, Kentucky. Except for two remaining brick chimneys, the site sits vacant today, but conitnues to be talked about and visited.

Oak Leaf Tourist Camp-Business Card
Oak Leaf Tourist Camp

Free DOWNLOAD

The Ancestry & Kinship of S. L. Wilson

First Jesse James Museum site-2017
The former site of the Oak Leaf Tourist Camp and first Jesse James museum today, 2017.

 

Stray Leaves Diary of John James of Alvarado – 1

This website takes its name of Stray Leaves from the diary of John James of Alvarado, Texas, which he titled his Stray Leaves. John began his diary of four typewritten pages on March 8, 1903, but he never wrote any more of a diary. His progeny inherited his four-page diary. John also sent copies home to relatives in Shopville, Pulaski County, Kentucky. This four-page document and historical record has been disseminated among the James family and its descendants since.

Stray Leaves from my diary

John James – Alvarado, Texas, March 8, 1903

Nativity

My father is of English descent on his paternal side. My mother’s name was Hall and her people were mixed-Americans. Both were born and raised in Pulaski County, Kentucky.

 

The Stray Leaves diary of John James of Alvarado, Texas, page 1
The Stray Leaves diary of John James of Alvarado, Texas, page 1

 

I was born on Flat Lick Creek, same county and state Apr. 29, 1832, and recollected quite distinctively some of the people and places there, such as Grandma Hall’s and orchard. Grandma James’ stone house and mill pond, the Peyton Randall place, and of going there and staying all night with Grandma James and of sleeping in a small side room in which I saw the first high chair for children. I was less than 4 years old then.

I can remember Uncle Perry James building me a cornstalk playhouse in a fence corner to the front and right of the stone house, and of he and I and Aunt Babe coasting downhill, out in from of the house on the sleet and snow using warped clapboards from an old ash hopper to ride on.

I can remember mother, carrying water from the mill pond to wash with in a cedar churn and of the churn getting away from her in the mill pond and of someone getting it for her own at the dam. I also remember playing hide and seek with Aunt Babe and some neighbor children and of Aunt Mary  (Mary Martha James) hiding me under her big cook apron. I also remember being at Uncle Shad Owens place and some of the family, also remember some of the places where we lived all before I was 5 yrs. old.

The stone house built by Rev. Joseph Martin James prior to the Civil War at Flat Lick Creek in Shopville, Pulaski County, Kentucky.
The stone house built by Rev. Joseph Martin James prior to the Civil War at Flat Lick Creek in Shopville, Pulaski County, Kentucky.

In Feb. 1857, Father (Cyrenius Waite James) and family and Uncle Henry and his young bride (who was Rachel Tomlinson) moved to Illinois. Jesse Nance hauled us to Danville, Kentucky in a covered wagon where we stayed all night with Uncle Mack James (Joseph McAlister James, aka Joseph McJames) Uncle Henry being drunk all the way and his young wife crying all the time, Uncle Mack offered her $50.00 if she would go back to her Father. We traveled from Danville to Louisville on R.R. train, crossed the Ohio River on a large ferry boat stayed all night in a hotel in the Ind. side and from our window saw a big fire over the river in Louisville. We went on to Pesotum, Illinois on the train. At Pesotum, we stayed in a small depot until Father walked out to Squire Lee’s, 4 miles, and got a wagon and team and hauled us out there.

We lived in Champaign County twp years near Uncle Squire Lee’s (husband of Elizabeth Ann James) then moved to Uncle Mack’s farm in Douglas County, 15 miles S.W. (Spring 1859).

In 1861 Father enlisted in the U.S. army and was a soldier 3 years passing through 17 of the great battles of the rebellion in Sherman’s and Grant’s armies. He got wounded slightly once at Rebecca Ga. was paroled and came home and stayed a few days and returned to his command, then in Tennessee.

The Stray Leaves diary of John James of Alvarado, page 2
The Stray Leaves diary of John James of Alvarado, page 2

During the war, mother and I tried to farm and did make a crop but had a hard time to keep something to eat and wear. Everything was high-priced and Father’s 13 dollars a month was not sufficient to keep us supplied as there was then a family of Mother myself, William Henry, George Mack, Squire Martin, and Mary Martha, four children.

My little and only sister Mary Martha only 2 years old got choked to death on a grain of corn. While Father was a prisoner of war at Marietta Ga 1000 miles away but in a vision the night and hour she died, he saw her come to near his pallet dressed in white and was the most beautiful. Father woke up his bedfellow and told him of the strange vision, and looked at his watch and noted the time.

John James of Alvarado, Texas
John James of Alvarado, Texas

When Father came home in 1865, I was 13 yrs. old and could do a man’s work on the farm. Father’s health was bad and I had all the work to do. We had nothing left but a poor pony team and old wagon and one cow, but prospered and came to Texas in fall of 1869 when I was 17 years old. I had never been to school but nine weeks in my life but had picked up a fair education and had read the New Testament through one that Father brought home and given me.

(To Be Continued)

This map gets you to the Jesse James family ancestral lands

Here’s a map, crucial to identifying the early settlement in Kentucky of John M. James, after the American Revolution and his entry into the Western frontier.

What this map reconstructs is some original military land grants distributed by Virginia to participants who served in the American Revolution. Virginia set aside these lands about 1783 and began to dispense them about 1790. John M. James was among the first of the Kentucky pioneers to acquire land here. In his lifetime, John leased, owned, sold, and controlled most all of the land on this map.

topo map of Shopville, Kentucky

The principal grant holder here was Col. Nathaniel Welch, who acquired most everything west of Buck Creek, identified on the right. On another map not shown here, Welch also acquired about 3,500 acres east of Pitman Creek. From the land at Pitman Creek to the land at Buck Creek, most al of it intermittently fell under the control of the James family. These are the lands that formed the foundations of Pulaski County, Kentucky, of which John M. James was a founder.

Looking more closely in the upper center, Fellowship Knob identifies the first acquisition by John M. James.  Following the road, upper center of Fellowship Knob takes you to the site of John’s Flat Lick Baptist Church, founded in 1799, and still operational today. John’s land extended further, well beyond the top boundary of this map to adjoin the military grant of Robert McAlister, another family relation.

Flat Lick Church
Flat Lick Baptist Church, founded 1799

From Fellowship Knob on the road extending to the lower left is a black square identifying the Mansion House of John M. James, built sometime in the 1790s.

Dahl Road home of John M. James
Mansion House of John M. James

Proceeding from the Mansion House around the corner and down brings you to the intersection of Dahl Road & Shopville Road at Flat Lick Creek. The black square here identifies the stone house of the “talented, but erratic” Rev. Joseph Martin James.

Shopville Road at Flat Lick Creek
The Stone House of Rev. Joseph Martin James

The open space below Shopville is the big Flat Lick, still in the possession of James descendants today. A buffalo trail originally came down the center of this map from Crab Orchard to Flat Lick, where the buffalo then, and still do today, gorge themselves on its abundant salts, next to Flat Lick Creek.

This map is part of a recent two-volume history Dawning of the Cumberland by Charlene Adkins who is 93 years old. The old military surveys were drafted by surveyor Bobby Hudson, and identified by D. E. Coates, a Pulaski County historian. Their work has proved critical in putting the James family lore about John M. James’ lands into clearer perspective, while adding definition that is plainly identifiable today.

This map arrives just in time for the publication of Volume II of Jesse James Soul Liberty, This Bloody Ground, which tells the story  of the first arrival and settlement on the Western frontier of Frank and Jesse James’ grandfather, after the service of all of these patriots and first military grant holders after the American Revolution.

overview of Shopville, Kentucky

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.

Fountain Carroll Randall Photo Found in Montana

Family of Fountain Carroll Randall. Fount Randall 1869-1905, wife Alta “Addie” Woodall 1873-1956, daughter Iva Blanche Randall 1898-1964

Fount & Addie Randall did not last long in Livingston, Montana, after migrating there to be with many families from Pulaski County, Kentucky who already had moved to Livingston. The couple returned to Pulaski County with their infant child, where three generations of the Randall family lived at Shopville, on the original settlement lands of John M. James.

In Pulaski County, the couple had three more children, Carl Fountain, Sherman Andrew, and Cecil B. Randall.

Fount had been married before in Pulaski County to Martha Ellen Gilliland who bore Fount Ada Lilly and Lee Othar Randall. Martha died in 1892. Martha’s parents are Gallen Elliott “Doc” Gilliland and Nancy E. Gastineau, parents of the hapless brothers James Harvey and Josiah Gilliland, who were hanged by Sheriff James McHargue. The Sheriff believed his daughter had been raped by the Gilliland brothers.

Thanks to Shelly Cardiel who rescued this old image and went in search of descendants who might appreciate it.