Tag Archives: springs

HISTORIC TINTYPE of RHODA MAY-JAMES

Rhoda May-James

RHODA MAY (1806-1889) is the stalwart spouse of the “talented, but erratic” Rev. Joseph Martin James (1791-1848).

Rhoda withstood all transgressions, indignities, & social ostracism that her husband created with admirable Teutonic stoicism.

When acute alcoholism took Joe’s life at age fifty-seven, Rhoda became a forty-two year old widow, left alone to raise nine children.

For the next forty-one years of her life, Rhoda May James resolutely carried the social burden of her husband’s disgrace. She watched as the Civil War divided her children and tore apart her family. She never remarried.

Home of Rhoda May & Joseph Martin James, built circa 1854

Thanks to Gwen Smith-Gershwin, who is a fourth great granddaughter of Rev. Joseph Martin James & Martha  McAlister, Joe’s first wife, this tintype image of Rhoda May now can be appreciated.

The original tintype was handed down in the family through Rhoda Alice Owens-Cole-Dowell, Rhoda May’s granddaughter & namesake.

Rhoda May

Prior to the contribution of this tintype image to The James Preservation Trust, the only known image of Rhoda May was a framed oval colored photograph. This colored image still hangs in the home of Nelva Anne Herrin, a great granddaughter of Joe Martin & Rhoda May James. Nelva Anne’s contemporary home, built by her father Lem Garland Herrin, sits opposite the decayed ruin of the home built & occupied by her great grandparents Joseph Allen Herrin & Susan Harriet James on the original settlement lands of John M. James at Shopville in Pulaski County, Kentucky. Susan Harriet James is a daughter of Joe Martin James & Rhoda May.

SOME CHILDREN OF RHODA MAY-JAMES

Edward Perry James & his family. Namesake Rhoda May James sitting at her father's knee.

EDWARD PERRY JAMES (1847-1931) was only a year old when his father died. He grew up in his father’s stone house in Shopville, married Elizabeth Langford, & raised a family of nine children in the same house. His youngest child, he named Rhoda May James, after his beloved mother. Progressively selling off his land holdings in Shopville, he removed his family to a new home he built in Berea, Kentucky, where he died.

Susan Harriet James-Herrin

SUSAN HARRIET JAMES (1843-1920) was five years old when Joseph Martin James died. She was thirty years old when she married Joseph Allen Herrin, a Union veteran of the Civil War.

In a diary Herrin kept during the war, he noted the wounding of Susan Harriet’s brother, Andrew James.

Home of Susan Harriet James & Allen Custer Herrin

Herrin was returned from the war for almost a decade, when he and Susan Harriet married in the home of Rhoda May.

On the land of Susan Harriet’s grandfather, John M. James, in Shopville, the couple built themselves a new home. The home remained occupied by her descendants until about 1947, when the couple’s grandson, Lem Garland Herrin, built his bride, Thelma Hayes, a new home directly opposite the lane of the old home.

Mary Harriet James-Owens

MARY HARRIET JAMES (1842-1935), nicknamed Mary Jane, was age ten when her father died. Left alone with Rhoda May to defend the family home during the Battle of Mill Springs, she successfully retained hold of the single horse they owned against marauding soldiers, by claiming half her family fought on one side while the other half fought on the other. Shortly after the war, she married Union veteran Daniel J. Owens, who had been imprisoned during the conflict. She was mother to ten children.  At age ninety, she flew in an airplane for the first time. Flying over five states, she sang “Glory, Glory Halleluiah” and exited the airplane singing “Nearer My God to Thee.”

Rev. Martin Nall James

Rev. MARTIN NALL JAMES (1833-1911) was fifteen when Joe Martin James died. He became a Baptist preacher, but not one like his father. At twenty-five he married Susannah Elizabeth Matthews. The couple elected themselves Baptist missionaries & migrated into Missouri. During the war, he fought on the Confederate side. The couple bore eight children.

Rhoda Ann James, granddaughter & namesake of Rhoda May

CYRENIUS WAITE JAMES (1831-1911) was age seventeen at the time of his father’s death He was Rhoda’s second eldest child. Cy bore witness to much of the abuse suffered by his mother. He and his other siblings also suffered the social stigma brought upon their family by their father’s bigamous third marriage to the youthful Permelia Estepp. Though his half-siblings with Permelia lived in plain view across Flat Lick Creek, the two families remained completely estranged from each other. Cy fought for the Union in the war and was taken prisoner. In prison in Georgia, he awoke to a nightmare of his daughter dying, at the same time she choked to death on some corn In Illinois. Prior to the war he removed his family there. Afterward, he walked them to Texas, where his descendants live today. No picture of Cy is known to exist.  His daughter, Rhoda Ann James, named for his mother and shown here, operated his bank in Rhone, Texas.

A NEPHEW OF RHODA MAY-JAMES

John Smith May, nephew of Rhoda May. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society

JOHN SMITH MAY (1835-Aft. 1891) was a farmer and a teacher before the Civil War started. Shortly after joining the Confederate Army he was captured & imprisoned in Ohio. After the Battle of Chancellorsville, he was exchanged. He joined John Hunt Morgan in Sparta, Tennessee, but was captured later again with Morgan, David Hunt James, & Richard Skinner James. He was secondly incarcerated at Camp Douglas in Chicago, but later sent to Virginia. He surrendered with Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. Afterwards he returned to Kentucky to resume teaching. By Elizabeth McQueary he had ten children and by Sallie Thurmond two more. In Pulaski County, he became Superintendent of Schools, the Court Clerk for the county, and was elected to the lower house of the Kentucky State Legislature. He and Rhoda May-James died within a few years of one another.

Jesse Edward Smith Recalls Jesse James, His Namesake & Cousin

Susan Prudence James-Smith 1845-1919

My mother (ed. Susan Prudence James-Smith) and her brother, R. W. James (ed. Robert Woodson James 1838-1922), were first cousins to the James Brothers. The Jesse in my name was taken from Jesse James.

He paid some special attention to me when I was a small boy and made occasional visits to our house until the law was in such hot pursuit they hardly dared to visit among their kin. On one visit to Salt Springs Jesse gave me a one dollar gold piece. I lost it playing in the dusty road. Had plenty voluntary helpers looking for it but it was never found. Jesse told my mother he was going to give me a horse and bridle and saddle when I became of age – his idea about a perfect gift for a boy. He gave my father a fine riding mare with a bullet wound in her neck and a pair of spurs he was wearing and father used them as long as he was riding horses. Then he gave them to me and I am passing them on to my son, Arnold (ed. Edwin Arnold Smith b. 1903), a lover of horses, who wants them as a keepsake.

Zee Mimms-James with her children, Jesse Edwards James & Mary Susan James

Shortly after Jesse’s death in 1882, when he was shot in the back by Bob Ford, one of his men, his wife (ed. Zerelda Amanda “Zee” Mimms-James 1845-1900), who was also a relative of mothers, and Uncle Bob James (ed. R.W. James previously mentioned), came to our farm home at Shackleford, with her small son, Jesse, and daughter, Mary, and spent several days with us. She was a sad and broken-hearted widow and I believe she was dressed in full mourning as was the custom for widows in that day.

Father (ed. John Wesley Smith) sold his blacksmith shop in Salt Springs and moved to the Thompson farm at Shackleford in the spring of 1877 or 1878. Mr. Thompson lived in the East, Boston, I think, and we only saw him once a year. He would come about the time of year to collect the rent and would stay several days or a week. He brought his son whom he wanted to learn something about farming as he was to be the owner of the farm at some future date.

Jesse Edward Smith 1872-1964

The Chicago and Alton Railroad was constructed through the Thompson farm while we lived there. I remember something about the construction work. No tractors, no bulldozers, no hi-loaders. All done with horses, mules, plows, scrapers, picks and shovels. The laborers chewed tobacco and smoked pipes; no cigarettes. We saw the first trains operated on that line.

We moved to Butler, Missouri, in 1888 where father had a Livery, Feed, and Sale Stable. After Frank James had been acquitted of all criminal charges for which he was tried, we saw or heard from him occasionally.

Frank was in Butler one fall and was official starter for the races at the County Fair, a job he had performed at other tracks all over the country. He proved to be about as much attraction as any other feature of the fair. Again he was in Butler with Cole Younger, when they were traveling with a Big Circus as drawing cards. They rode together in a street parade, and, of course, they drew lots of attention.

–  Historical Notes from the Bates County Museum, by Reva Stubblefield; Bates County News, Feb 8, 1973

–  Special thanks to Sandy Kassem, a cousin of Jesse Edward James, for providing this article.