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The Plot to Capture Jesse James

“The Plot to Capture Jesse James,” from Phil Stewart’s Archive, was first published on Stray Leaves in 1999. 

The Plot to Capture Jesse James

By Phil Stewart

Robert Ford, the "dirty little coward"
Robert Ford, the “dirty little coward”

Bob Ford killed Jesse James with the full knowledge and consent of Sheriff James H. Timberlake of Clay County, Police Commission Henry H. Craig of Kansas City, and the Governor of Missouri, Thomas T. Crittenden. While the James neighbors plotted to capture Jesse James, the government plotted to assassinate Jesse James.

By the fall of 1880, it was nearly impossible for Jesse and his family to justify robberies and murders on injustice and social conditions brought about by the Civil War. There was no place for roaming bands of old guerilla fighters and outlaws. Jesse was bad for business. Land prices in the outlaw’s home county were lower than in other parts of the state. Business and banking interests avoided the area, despite opportunities for growth. Jesse James was an economic liability.

John Watts Shouse, conspirator to capture Jesse James
John Watts Shouse, conspirator to capture Jesse James

A small group of Clay County citizen talked among themselves, although very quietly. Chief among them was John Watts Shouse, a veteran of the Mexican and Civil Wars, and a southerner by birth. Shouse was a no-nonsense man who had organized and commanded on of the first Confederate Home Guards. With him were other prominent citizens: John T. Pettigrew, William Dollis, William Dagley, Riley Henderson, William Wysong, and John Shouse’s younger brother James. Most of the lived in the Bethel community, which also was the home of the Ford and Cummins families, a few miles from James farm.

The neighbors made at least one attempt to convince Jesse’s mother, Zerelda, to speak to her son and convince him to surrender. The feisty, fiery, and protective Zerelda Samuel would not consider surrender. Not Jesse James! Having failed, the group shifted focus to capture Jesse and  turn him over to Sheriff Timberlake for prosecution.

Jim Cummins
Jim Cummins

During the fall of 1881, Jesse came searching for one of his old associates, Jim Cummins. Jesse believed Cummins was about to turn traitor. Jesse already had killed Ed Miller, one of his gang and a neighbor who Jesse no longer trusted.

Jesse arrived in the Bethel community during the first few days of October. Jesse soon learned that Cummins had been seen around the home of Cummins’ brother-in-law, William Ford. Bill For was also an uncle to Robert and Charles Ford. When Jesse arrived at Bill Ford’s home, he found Bill’s wife, and fifteen-year-old son, Samuel. In a scene reminiscent of the time young Jesse James himself was beaten by Union soldier in search of his brother Frank James, Jesse grabbed the teenager. He threated to kill him if he didn’t “fess up” where Jim Cummins could be found. When the boy would not, or could not, provide the information, Jesse lost his temper. Frustration got the best of him. He began slapping the boy. The slapping became a beating. When Jesse mounted to leave, young Samuel Ford was beaten and bloody.

New of the beating quickly made its way throughout the neighborhood. John Shouse and his group were fed up. Jesse once protected the farmers and resident of the area. Now he was the aggressor and torturer. Time had come to bring the others into the group to plot the outlaw’s capture. Not surprisingly, William Ford eagerly and enthusiastically joined.

Sheriff James H. Tiberlake
Sheriff James H. Tiberlake

Dick Liddil separated from Jesse following the beating. Liddil worried about being around Jesse. His boss was increasingly paranoid and irrational. Liddil believed it was only a matter of time before Jesse came after him. Although not quite ready to turn traitor against Jesse, it would not take much to push Dick Liddil to side with the neighbors.

The conspiring neighbors changed focus and makeup. Some now plotted the murder of Jesse James. Not wishing to become involved in planned murder, many of John Shouse’s group departed. Capturing Jesse was one thing, but planned assassination left their mouths bitter. John Shouse himself wanted nothing to do with it. The group was asking for war against the James gang. Shouse had a family to consider. Others soon took his place. A brother of William Ford, Elias Capline Ford known as “Cap,” quietly and cautiously joined the group. The group now comprised of a few silent citizen and several members of the Ford and Cummins families. The conspirators sought someone they could trust inside Jesse’s new gang.

In early November of 1881, William Ford contracted Sheriff James Timberlake. He informed Timberlake that a network was in place. They could inform Timberlake of the comings and goings of Jesse James. They could assist with his capture.

Timberlake was more than enthusiastic. He offered William Ford $1,000 for his assistance in capturing Jesse James. He further assured Ford no members of the group would be prosecuted if the plan resulted in the death of the outlaw.

But they needed the assistance of other agencies. Timberlake, along with Cap Ford, traveled to Kansas City and contacted Police Commissioner Henry Craig who was briefed. Commissioner Craig traveled to Jefferson City to enlist the cooperation of the Governor of Missouri, Thomas T. Crittenden. The Governor had made the subject of Missouri outlaws the main topic of his campaign. He would do whatever possible to fulfill his campaign promises. Rewards were guaranteed and pardons would be given. The plot to assassinate Jesse James was formed.

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RELATED:   More from Phil Stewart’s 1999 Archive

The Plot to Assassinate Jesse James

The Gad’s Hill Train Robbery

Frank James – Scholar with a Gun

School Time for Jesse James – Part I

School Time for Jesse James – Part II

Jesse James & Half-Brother Perry Samuel

Jesse James Family – Slaves & Servants

Robert Sallee James – Father of Jesse James

Jesse James Myths & Facts

Frank James – Scholar with a Gun

From Phil Stewart’s Archive, first published on Stray Leaves in 1999. 

Frank James – Scholar with a Gun

By Phil Stewart

Frank James received more education as a young man than did most rural Missouri farm boys of the 1850s and 60s. The James farm was just a mile from Somersette school. Frank attended regularly…almost enthusiastically…until he was eighteen years old.

Frank James
Frank James

In addition to “The Three Rs,” Frank developed a love for classic literature. He would sit for hours with the works of Shakespeare and other famous writers of the time. His father, the Rev. Robert Sallee James, had been a scholarly man himself. Frank had his father’s collection of books readily available. Frank’s love for literature would remain with him throughout the dark years of the Civil War, and even through the outlaw years to come.

Many researchers believe that Frank James desired to further his education by attending William Jewell College in nearby Liberty. There is no doubt Frank had the intellectual capacity. His acceptance into the college was a given. His father had been a major influence in the founding of the school, and had been a member of the first Board of Trustees. Any such plans were dashed, though, with the coming of the Civil War. Frank James was 18 years old in 1861, and like most young men, left home to serve “the cause.”

Henry IV
Henry IV, Tomb Effigy, Canterbury Cathedral

The blood, death, and brutality of the border war could not extinguish the love Frank James had for reading, knowledge, and for classic works of literature. They became his passion. It is difficult to imagine one member of Quantrill’s Raiders sitting around a campfire reading anything, let alone reading English literature like Frank.

If Frank desired to further his education, the circumstance had changed. Like most schools of the area, William Jewell College closed shortly after the opening shots of the war. The college would not reopen for nearly three years. Frank still had his father’s library. Shakespeare had become his favorite works. He read and reread the plays until he could snap out a quote for almost any situation. During the war, Frank and been tabbed with the nickname “Buck.” “Professor” might have been more appropriate afterward.

If more education was out of the question, Frank certainly could put Shakespeare to work on behalf of the James Gang…which is exactly what he did at Gad’s Hill, Missouri. Frank James lifted the script of Shakespeare’s HENRY IV for a train robbery, during which Frank performed Shakespeare for a captive audience.

Henry IV-Pt 1

ANALYSIS by Drew Fracher

So, what about this play?

Although called HENRY IV, I believe that this is the story and journey of his son Hal, the Prince of Wales, who will go on to become Henry V.

Here we have a young man who knows in his heart that he will inherit a huge job…and who is trying his best to have some fun before the fact. I realize that much of what Hal I doing is not avoiding responsibility, but trying to learn as much as possible about the job to come. Trying to experience the society that he will eventually be in charge of from all levels, figuring out what fairness and justice are all about, who you can trust and what realis is important in his own world. A journey all of us must go through.

Hal clings to his life and friends in the tavern as substitutes for the things that are lacking in his relationship with his father. Hal and his dad are having trouble communicating. We witness Hal’s coming of age, his growth to manhood and an acceptance of huge responsibility, all the steps on his rocky road.

The good news is that he not only survives, but flourishes. There are no true villains or heroes here, only different sorts of people trying their best to figure out how to make it in the world. That is perhaps what I like best, that no one is clearly in the right and politics is politics, then and now.

DREW FRACHER,  Director, Georgia Shakespeare Festival, 1999

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COMMENTARY by Eric F. James

As a former actor myself, I perceive Frank James as Prince Hal…an eldest son, a carefree and boisterous youth, distinguished in war, a “wild prince” given to audacity and rebellion.

Henry IV expelled and banished his son, Hal. Did Frank James spiritually experience a similar disapproval by his deceased father?

Frank James was 27 years old at the time of the Gad’s Hill train robbery. His performance from HENRY IV in the middle of the robbery intentionally may have been foreshadowing his expected retirement.

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RELATED:   More from Phil Stewart’s 1999 Archive

The Plot to Capture Jesse James

The Plot to Assassinate Jesse James

The Gad’s Hill Train Robbery

School Time for Jesse James – Part I

School Time for Jesse James – Part II

Jesse James & Half-Brother Perry Samuel

Jesse James Family – Slaves & Servants

Robert Sallee James – Father of Jesse James

Jesse James Myths & Facts

COUSIN OF JESSE JAMES GRANDCHILDREN BELONGED TO 20 LINEAGE & CHIVALRIC SOCIETIES

On November 20, 2011, Kansas City native Col. Stewart Boone McCarty Jr. died. Like the grandchildren of Jesse James, Col. McCarty was a direct descendant of Kentucky explorer Daniel Boone, making him a cousin to the grandchildren of Jesse James, who also are directly descended from Daniel Boone. (See Pedigree below.) Unlike the outlaw’s grandchildren who suffered under the stigma of their heritage, Col. Boone suffered no such stigma. He actively pursued his family history to the joy of reveling in it.

Col. Stewart Boone McCarty
Col. Stewart Boone McCarty Jr., USMC (Rtd.) – Left

Little joy came, though, to Joan Malley Beamis, who was the first of the Jesse James family to pursue the James family heritage. Joan was a great granddaughter of the infamous outlaw’s uncle, Drury Woodson James. Joan sought her own membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

Joan Bemia
Joan Malley Beamis

 

 

Her family strictly warned Joan to avoid any contact with her cousins in Missouri. Writing to the New York City Library, instead, Joan was dismayed to learn that the great repository of east coast history knew nothing about her family and nothing whatsoever about the family of Frank & Jesse James.

Col. McCarty had no such difficulty. For many years he served the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR) as President General. Out of its membership of 28,000, Col. McCarty was one of six to receive the Society’s Minuteman Award.  He had graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles with an AB in Economics. At George Washington University, he completed an MA in Management and Personnel Administration; and then he completed graduate studies in Archaeology at Worcester College of Oxford University and the Catholic University of America.

Despite receiving an excellent education herself, Joan struggled for years simply to make contact with her family of cousins who didn’t even know of her or her kinship with them. Joan wrote a number of times to Lawrence Barr, the outlaw’s grandson.  He ignored her letters. Finally, his wife, Thelma Duncan Barr responded to Joan, but only after Thelma had been urged to do so by a cousin in the Mimms family, who already was a member of the DAR.

Joan Beamis learned her cousins in the Jesse James line of her family knew little, if nothing at all, about their family history and lineage. Joan was left to perform the difficult research that took years to restructure the skeleton of her James family genealogy. What little she learned, Joan published as a book titled, Background of a Bandit, through the Kentucky Historical Society.

Stewart Boone McCarty
Col. Stewart Boone McCarty Jr.

Col. Stewart Boone McCarty Jr. pursued a lifelong career in the U.S. Marine Corps. He commanded units from platoon to battalion, in combat and in garrison, interspersed with staff assignments and attendance at military schools.  He was awarded the Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medals with combat “V” in Korea and Vietnam; the Purple Heart; the Meritorious Service Medal; and other United States and foreign military awards.

He retired from military service in 1974. Knowledge of his family history merited him membership in multiple lineage societies in which he avidly participated.

  • General Society of Colonial Wars (past Deputy Governor General and past Governor of the Washington D.C. Society)
  • National Gavel Society (past President)
  • National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (past President General; Minuteman Award Recipient; Patriot Medal Recipient)
  • One Hundred Living Descendants of Blood Royal
  • National Society Americans of Royal Descent
  • Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in the United States of America
  • Order of the Merovingian Dynasty
  • Hereditary Order of Descendants of Loyalists and Patriots (past Governor General)
  • General Society Sons of the Revolution (past President of the Washington D.C. Society)
  • Huguenot Society of Washington D.C. (past President)
  • St. Andrew’s Society of Washington D.C. (past President)
  • Society of the War of 1812 (past President of the Washington D.C. Society)
  • Society of Descendants of Knights of the Garter (Treasurer of the American Friends)
  • Ancient Heraldic and Chivalric Order of Albion
  • Baronial Order of the Magna Charta
  • Jamestowne Society
  • Society of Boonesborough

 

Chivalric Orders

  • The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (Officer Companion)
  • Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (Grand Cross, former Grand Prior, Priory of St. King Charles the Martyr, Washington, D.C.)
  • Knight of Grace of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

 

Joan Beamis finally achieved her membership in the DAR. Her lineage link to the American Revolution came through her ancestry descended from the Patriot Robert Poor. Joan also learned she was eligible, if invited, for membership in more lineage societies. Among them are:

  • The Sons & Daughter of the American Revolution
  • The Daughters of the American Colonists
  • The Daughters of the Colonial Wars
  • The Jamestowne Society

 

In all her research, Joan never did identify the Patriots among her James lineage. They existed, as the new history of the James family will show in Jesse James’ Soul Liberty; but they eluded her.

Eric James, Danville, Ky. January 6, 2012

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Pedigree of Col. Stewart Boone McCarty Jr.

. Stewart Boone McCarty Sr. & Vivian Myers Simmons

.. Ernest P. McCarty & Elizabeth Josephine Stewart

… Samuel L. Stewart & Delila L. Boone

…. Daniel Boone Jr. & Mary Constance Philabert

….. Daniel Morgan Boone & Sarah Griffin Lewis

…… Daniel Boone & Rebecca Ann Bryant

 

Pedigree of James Randall Ross

James Randall Ross

. Ronald Munro Ross & Josephine Frances James

.. Jesse Edwards James Jr. & Estella Frances McGowan

… Jesse Woodson James & Zerelda Amanda Mimms

.. Alfred Monte McGowan & Martha Ann Wood

… Luther Alfed McGowan & Mary Frances Hosman

…. Alfred M. Hosman & Mary Boone

….. Nathan Boone & Olive Van Biber

…… Daniel Boone & Rebecca Ann Bryant

 

Titanic Star Gloria Stuart – a Jesse James Cousin


Actor Gloria Stuart, aka Gloria Frances Stewart 1910-2010

To a modern young audience it seems Gloria Stuart only achieved stardom in her 90s for her portrayal of Old Rose in the hit movie Titanic.

She garnered both Oscar & Golden Globe nominations. The Screen Actors Guild, of which Gloria was a founding member, gave her the SAG Award. On her 100th birthday, the Guild also honored her with a Centennial Celebration. Gloria also received a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame, and other awards, too. Gloria’s career spanned seven decades and included many classic hit films, still viewed and appreciated today.

Surprising to our James family is the discovery that Gloria Stuart is one of our stray leaves. She is related to our James family through her Cole and Nalle ancestries, as shown below.

Crusader

This discovery was brought to the attention of Stray Leaves by Crusader, formerly known as Andrew Exler.  In 1980, Crusader charged Disneyland with violating his civil rights by depriving him his right to dance with a gay friend. The landmark case was heard by the great grandson of Jesse James, Judge James R. Ross. Ruling against Disneyland, Judge Ross upheld the civil rights of Crusader. Today, Crusader is a paralegal with an appreciation for the James family.

Looking at the 100 years of Gloria Stuart’s life, there are numerous crossroads where her life intersected with the James, although most probably unconsciously.

Sculptor Gordon Newell

Like so many among the James family, the lives of Gloria and her family are married to the arts. Gloria not only was an actor, she also was an artist and author of her own autobiography. Her first husband, Blair Gordon Newell, was a sculptor. A fountain he sculpted sits before the White House in Washington.

Gloria’s second husband was the Chicago and New York journalist Arthur Sheekman. Groucho Marx brought Sheekman to Hollywood to work for him as a screenwriter. Sheekman became known as the 4th Marx brother, after Groucho, Chico, and Harpo.

Arthur Sheekman & Gloria Stuart

Gloria and Arthur’s daughter Sylvia Sheekman is an author of cook books. Sylvia married Eugene Allen Thompson, also a screenwriter. Among Gene Thompson’s credits are the successful TV programs Mission Impossible, Columbo, the Lucy Show, Beverly Hillbillies, & Marcus Welby M.D.

Syliva V. Sheekman-Thompson

Among Sylvia & Gene’s children,  Dinah Thomson-Sapia is an attorney who formerly worked in the San Benito and Monterey County District Attorneys’ offices. Today Dinah is in private practice in Santa Cruz, California, but devotes much charitable time to a number of organizations. Before becoming an attorney, Dinah served in the U. S. Coast Guard.

Dinah V. Thompson-Sapia

Gloria Frances Stewart died just recently on September 26, 2010, at her home in the Brentwood community of Los Angeles. She was 100 years old, and her star continues to rise.

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Charlie Rose Interviews Gloria Stuart – Feb 26, 1998

Advance to 17:00 minutes. Play interview thru 39:20 minutes

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Gloria Stuart appears in this 1933 newsreel short among Hollywood’s Stars of Tomorrow. Can you recall the movies careers of any of the other stars featured with Gloria in this clip?

 

LINEAGE

Gloria Frances Stewart, aka Gloria Stuart, 1910-2010

. Frank Stewart & Alice Vaughan

.. Thomas C. Vaughan & Berilla Cole

… Jesse Cole Jr & Angelina Wheeler

…. Jesse Cole Sr. & Nancy Sparks

…… Richard James Cole Sr. & Ann Hubbard (Common Ancestors)

….. Richard Cole Jr. & Sally Yates

…. James Cole & Sarah Lindsay

… Zerelda Elizabeth Cole & Rev. Robert Sallee James

.. Frank & Jesse James

ADDITIONAL LINEAGE

Gloria Frances Stuart also has a connection to John M. James & Clara Nall

Gloria Frances Stewart, aka Gloria Stuart, 1910-2010

. Frank Stewart & Alice Vaughan

.. Thomas C. Vaughan & Berilla Cole

… Jesse Cole Jr & Angelina Wheeler

…. Jesse Cole Sr. & Nancy Sparks

….. Humphrey Sparks Sr & Mildred “Milly” Nalle

…… Capt. Martin Nalle & Isabelle Unknown (Common Ancestors)

….. John M. James & Clarisssa “Clara/Clary” Nall