Who knew Charlie Pitts intended to marry Jesse James’ sister, Susan Lavenia James? The answer was found in the Zee James Collection.
“August 10, 1876, My Darling Suz. I have pondered long for the love if your embrace. I am taken with the thoughts of our union. I told of Maw Pitts of our plans and she is beside herself. Worry not for I will come for you soon. Charley.”
This was just one of the revelations arising in a hand written note from the discovery of the Zee James Collection in Stamping Ground, Kentucky.
Surprise adventures and arrivals at my book signings are becoming no longer surprising.
Last week, at the Gathering of Authors, a young lady introduced herself to me. She said she knew all about Jesse James. “What’s your name,” I asked. “Katie Cole,” she replied. “Do you live in Frankfort,” I pressed.” “No,” she responded, ” in Stamping Ground.”
Katie Cole is kin to Jesse and Frank’s mother, Zerelda Elizabeth Cole. Zerelda’s uncle, Judge James Madison Lindsay of in Stamping Ground, sent Zerelda to a convent school in Lexington for disciplinary purposes.
Katie and I conversed at length about my book and its many pictures. Her mother, April Cole, took all these pics. I believe the website KyCaptialLiving.com, where more event pics appear, is her’s, too.
Katie is one sharp and intelligent young lady. When I inquired about her interests, she said she liked creating video games. Later in the day, Katie visited me again. She was collecting autographs from all the authors. I signed mine, “To Cousin Katie, Let’s get up a video game for Jesse. Best regards…”
A short time later, Kentucky’s 1999-2000 Poet Laureate, Richard Taylor, came over to introduce himself. “You don’t have to introduce yourself, Richard. I know you well,” I said. “You do?” Richard asked. I replied, “I never forget a person who sues me.”
I then refreshed Richard’s memory of several years ago. At that time, Richard he sat on the Board of Directors of the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS). The Board he sat on decided to sue me with The Concerned Members of the KHS on the advice of an executive director to the KHS, appointed by one of Kentucky most corrupt governors, Gov. Ernie Fletcher. I was the Concerned Members’ president and became the primary target of the lawsuit.
Richard and I recalled the KHS misadventure and lamented what has become of the KHS since. He shared some intelligence that things might finally be turning around for the better with the KHS. I reminded Richard of the James family’s long standing with the KHS that preceded the lawsuit. We’re both looking forward to hearing news of new directions, and the re-stabilization of the venerable, old institution.
Before I relocated to Kentucky from California, when I visited Kentucky to do research for my books, Richard Taylor’s Bookstore in Frankfort was always my first stop. I always managed to leave one or two hundred dollars behind in his store. Now, Richard says, he’ll be stocking my books.
Richard’s Taylor family has a long history with our James that will become a very clear in Volume II of Jesse James Soul Liberty – This Bloody Ground.
Nov. 8, 2012, Last night a fire occurred in the home the parents of Frank & Jesse James married in Stamping Ground, Ky. Rev. Robert Sallee James married Zerelda Elizabeth Cole on Dec. 28, 1841, standing before the fireplace in the home of Zerelda’s uncle, Judge James Madison Lindsay. Judge Lindsay parented Zerelda several years in this home, before sending her to a convent school. That fireplace was the cause of last night’s fire.
The current owner of the home is James Barber, the son of the late John Barber. When John acquired the property about a decade ago, he sold off much of the land & the contents of the home. As a distant cousin of the Zerelda’s Cole family, John kept the historic home for himself. A couple of days before John died, he offered the home to me for purchase, which I declined.
The historic site also was the location where the discovery of the Zee James Collection came to light. The collection consisted of the trunk & contents that Zerelda had packed with Jesse’s widow following Jesse’s assassination. The women sent the trunk back to the family home for safe keeping. The house which remained in the ownership of Lindsay family cousins since Jesse’s murder preserved the historic artifacts for well over 100 years.
The fire damage to the home is repairable. Whether it gets repaired remains to be seen.
Official website for the family of Frank & Jesse James – Living lives, telling the story. Knowing self.
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