Tag Archives: Stray Leaves

2015 Year In Review & 2016 Crystal Ball

Stray Leaves favicon
Favicon for Stray Leaves

The year 2015 presented significant challenges for our Stray Leaves website and our blog Leaves of Gas. Despite those challenges,  the statistics show that more visits generated more hits, more page views, and more file downloads than in previous years. Now we look into our crystal ball for 2016.

Right now, our 2016 crystal ball shows us a future for Stray Leaves that is both clouded and bright. If difficulties can be overcome by more investment and website improvement, the probability exists that Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas will progress to become a better research resource and a more influential source of information as it approaches its 20th anniversary in 2018.

THE 2015 BOTTOM LINE

  • Number of annual visits:  477,092
  • Number of annual hits:  9,764,670 or 9.8 million plus
  • Number of annual page views:  7,155,636 or 7.1 million plus
  • Number of annual file downloads:  7,231,751 or 7.2 million plus

IT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER

stats-ericjames.org SL Stats 02-12 2015

The year 2015 began with a recovery from a hack to Leaves of Gas that occurred in November of 2014. Recovery of the blog took three months.

The devastation from the hack proved a blessing in disguise. As Google downgraded Leaves of Gas in public searches as a hacked website, Google also quickly identified the posts and pages that were affected by the hack. Google’s identification made it easy to recapture the blog posts from our backup archive. With the removal by Google of the designation of hacked website, all might have seemed restored to normal.  However, Google presented another challenge for Leaves of Gas.

In an effort to present quality content at the top of Google searches, Google changed its algorithms. Anticipating that mobile applications are poised to overtake desktop applications, as more and more people access the web via tablet or smartphone, Google announced that it would give priority in search strings to websites that are mobile responsive and which produce content of high quality. To keep the priority status Stray Leaves earned over so many years, Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas had to adapt to the new requirement from Google to become mobile friendly.

2015 IMPROVEMENTS

Being mobile friendly means changing everything about Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas .and its presentation. Given the gigantic size of our website and blog, the prospect could take years. The first alteration was to meet Google’s requirement for a “landing page.”

Welcome swf-Stray Leaves
Old landing page for Stray Leaves. Now a WELCOME page.

Our WELCOME page that was created five years ago no longer was viable to Google as a landing page. Steve Jobs intended to kill flash websites, by rendering them no longer accessible on smartphone or on tablets. Our WELCOME section was constructed on a flash platform. Now our WELCOME page sits in semi-retirement as a link on the menu for Leaves of Gas. Those who still access the web via laptop or desktop can still access the old WELCOME page. At the front door of our website now is our new landing page which is Google compliant.

Landing Page-Stray Leaves
New Landing page for Stray Leaves

Our changeover from flash to mobile friendly landing page cost us valuable web traffic.  For almost three months, visits to Stray Leaves fell by almost half over 2014 statistics. To return to par required more improvements.

Surnames-Stray Leaves
Stray Leaves famous SURNAMES genealogy database

Our SURNAMES genealogy research database has always been a premiere attraction of our website. Since its inception in 1997, the 55,000+ web pages that make up the database have been a magnet for genealogists and for researchers looking into much more than the genealogy of the James family alone.

But our database was built on a 1997 software platform. That software is no longer supported by its creator. The old platform inadequately serves Google’s standard of today for a mobile-friendly presentation. Not yet finding a suitable substitute, the existing software was re-coded to improve screen visibility for mobile devices. Still lingering is the need to find another new platform for the database altogether. That is a project for 2016.

A HIT BY ANY OTHER NAME IS ANOTHER HACK

By summer and into the fall of 2015, our website and blog began to recapture lost audience and its priority standing in Google searches. At the beginning of October, however, the arrival of the detestable Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax shot our statistics into the stratosphere. We were poised for a ceiling breakthrough. But a follow-up story on the hoax cabal brought everything to a crash. Leaves of Gas was hacked again. This hack appeared to emanate from Houston, Texas, the home of the hoaxers.

Leaves of Gas-screenshot
The upgraded Leaves of Gas theme with improved drop down menu, search, and email capabilioty

This time, repair to Leaves of Gas took about thirty days. Using a security backup file of the entire blog installed after the previous hack, the entire blog was restored. Then, security was doubled. Within ten days, stats were restored to pre-hack level. Since then, stats have continued on an upward trajectory.

2016 CRYSTAL BALL – MORE IMPROVEMENT IS REQUIRED

Our crystal ball for 2016 tells us, the oldest section of Stray Leaves still is in need of a very challenging makeover. The CONTENTS and JESSE JAMES pages, together with their ARCHIVED CONTENT and NEW FOUND LINES subpages, must still be transcribed, remounted, and presented again in a new mobile friendly theme. Another year may be required to achieve this.

store website
Screenshot of Jesse James Soul Liberty website

Further complicating needed improvement to the Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas website and blog is the additional need to revamp the website for Jesse James Soul Liberty. Funding that could easily have continued to support our website and blog has been directed to research, promotion, and publications for producing our epic five-volume history of the Jesse James family. Our present book website is not recognized by Google as being mobile-friendly. This, too, needs to change. Our entire book website needs to be republished for both ease of use and ease of customer purchase of our family history books and related souvenirs to come.

Left waiting on the horizon remains our plans for the Joan Beamis Studio for film, video, and podcast production, and for continuing Jesse James Family and Gang reunions, highlighting and celebrating the unique contributions to society by slected members of the James family.

Meanwhile, the cost of making the required improvements, plus the need for added security, up-to-date software, editorial applications, design, storage  and other services, arise from the former hobby level of Stray Leaves to a new level of professionalism. Time has come to recognize that Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas must have financial underwriting to support this new professional level of service and to continue as an effective research resource.

YOUR OPINION MATTERS

Can your crystal ball see the future of Stray Leaves and Leaves of Gas?Our options for badly needed support and underwriting are limited.

  1. Should our website and blog accept advertisements?
  2. Should patronage or corporate sponsorship be sought?
  3. Should the SURNAMES database be put on a paid subscription basis?
  4. Should Leaves of Gas become a paid membership site?
  5. Or, should our website and blog continue to sustain free use solely through the support of user and visitor donations?

SEND ME AN EMAIL. Let me know your thoughts.

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Stray Leaves Diary of John James of Alvarado – 2

2nd Installment of “Stray Leaves” from my diary

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

In my last I told you about our moving about up to the time I came to Texas. Now I will go back and tell some other things connected with my life in Illinois, for it was there the greatest epoch in my life and history occurred, when we lived there it was a new and sparsely settled country and not very much society schools and preaching until after the war.

Just before I was 16, I professed religion and joined the “New Light” church and from that time I became an active Sunday school and church worker, and I now see that was the very best thing that could have happened.

While Father was gone to the war I grew out from under his rule and influence so that when he came home I felt in me a feeling of rebellion against him and was never willing for him to boss me as I called it, so in the summer after I was 16 I left home “ran away” after night I went to another county about 30 miles from home taking only one extra shirt and my testament that I loved so well. I hired to a man to herd cattle, so did not have much to do but put in all my spare time reading my Testament.

The Stray Leaves diary of John James of Alvarado, Texas, page 3
The Stray Leaves diary of John James of Alvarado, Texas, page 3

I planned to get myself plenty of clothes and then go to school for I wanted to get an education I wanted that above everything else, of course I loved my dear mother and the children, wanted to see them and went home in the fall on a visit intending to go back to Philo, Illinois, where a man had offered to board me and send me to school for my work of nights and mornings. But Father begged me to stay at home and promised me an education, so I stayed on account of our financial condition and father’s feebleness (from hardships and exposure in the war) I never got to go to school any more, I had never went to school but nine weeks and that was to Uncle Henry… (illegible writing)…by a chip fire light until I ruined my eyes that had been afflicted with granulated lids from the time I was 5 yrs. old (our first year in Illinois), but I stayed with my Father and learned to love him again and done all I could for him but read and studied all the time I could.

I loved that Sunday School and prayer meeting and debating societies and sing schools and became active in all that work and I loved the girls too and had several precious sweet hearts ” that I hated most of to Leave” when we came to Texas, but I learned to write by writing back to several of them for over a year after I came here.

During the summer (our first summer here) after I was 18, the neighbors fixed up an old log house with split log seats and plank on pegs in the wall for a writing desk and put me in as teacher over about a dozen children, but my school was a success from the start. It gave me the chance to study and I would study every evening after school was out every lesson that was to come up the next day so I kept ahead of my school. I taught four schools at that place and my salary grew from about $20.00 up to $75.00 per month and at the end of the 4th school I had carried my advanced classes up into such high branches as higher arithmetic, algebra, physical geography, philosophy and Astronomy and Book keeping.

The Stray Leaves diary of John James of Alvarado, Texas, page 4
The Stray Leaves diary of John James of Alvarado, Texas, page 4

I had not only taught a good school, but had educated myself during the two years or four schools that I taught there so I kept on teaching for 18 years, the last three years a mission teacher to the Indians where I learned to love the Indians and learned their language and can talk it yet, though it has now been 15 years since I quit teaching.

The 3rd year, after coming to Texas in September after I was 20, in April I married into one of the very best families in this country or state, I would teach in the winter and wake crops in the spring, teach again in the summer. Father had moved to Wise County, 50 miles north of here. I also moved up there and went to teaching and farming as I did here where my wife and baby child died the same week in I had joined the Baptist Church in spring 1873 and up there in Wise County in 1878.

I was licensed to preach and was ordained soon after, so I mixed preaching with teaching and farming. I had 4 motherless children that my dear Mother was taking care of so I married again in fall 1879. I now have eleven children living and thirteen grandchildren.

While I was among the Indians I a Missionary preacher, teacher, and doctor would have stayed there had it not been for my family, I did not want to raise up my children and have them marry off in that country. So in spring of 1883 I moved back to Johnson County to the same neighborhood we first came to 33 years ago and where I first began teaching, Some of my first pupils are living here yet and most of them Grandfathers and Grandmothers and when I think of it, it makes me feel old, but I am only 51 next month, have not a grey hair in my head.

The Stray Leaves diary of John James of Alvarado, Texas, page 5
The Stray Leaves diary of John James of Alvarado, Texas, page 5

In politics, I am a Democrat but in politics religion and everything else I am very liberal and kind to those who differ with me in their views. I believe there is good in all creeds and in all nations of the Earth and believe God’s people do wrong in keeping up separate denominational creeds instead of trying to live together in Love and Unity. I began to preach that kind of doctrine about twelve years ago. Of course, that did not suit Baptists. They took my credentials away from me; but I am glad of it, and have never regretted it. From that day until this I have been an independent free man and preach and teach what I believe and hold myself accountable to no man or set of men but God only.

While a mere boy reading the Bible, I began to believe in the Mighty Power of the mind. I felt that I had some mysterious secret power but did not know how to use it. I believed a correct understanding of this secret mental or Spiritual power would make plain many of the mysterious things spoken of in the Apostles and of the similar things among the different nations of the earth, all the way down from that time until now. There were my feeling and thoughts back to 30 or 40 years ago and I have lived up to those4 very things demonstrated.

I have learned how to recognize and use that secret power that I felt swelling up in my very being when I was but a mere child from a mere boy. I have always desired to be able to heal the sick. Now I have witnessed hundreds of them getting well under my treatments and; yet it is not I that do it, but it is done by God-given power that I have learned how to use.

The Stray Leaves diary of John James of Alvarado, Texas, page 6
The Stray Leaves diary of John James of Alvarado, Texas, page 6

All my youthful desires for knowledge and for power was my earnest prayer, and God has answered them not as I expected but more fully than I had ever dared hope for and above all I have a better understanding of the great doctrines of the Bible and have a more vital and intelligent conception of God’s love and serve him better than I could ever have done by following human creeds.

I have had many strange and wonderful experiences through life much that was dark and mysterious at the time but all is plain now. As I look back along the journey of my past life, I can now see how God in his mercy and wisdom was leading me. I seem to have come to the great Fountain of Wisdom and day by day Wonderful Knowledge of the here to fore hidden mysteries of the world and of life are coming to me. Praise the Lord, O my Soul. Amen.

JOHN JAMES    March 8, 1903

 

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)

Fraud on Find a Grave

Sue (anonymous last name) has posted a fraudulent memorial on findagrave.com. Sue will not respond to a legitimate request to remove the fraud. Her non-reaction calls into question the validity of any posting on findagrave.com, or the intention of its owner ancestry.com to give accurate information. One must question, out of the almost 1,800 memorials Sue has posted and manages, how many more memorials on Find a Grave contain fraudulent information that can’t be trusted?

Sue describes herself so: “I’m a Mother of 4 adult children, (is that an oxymoron?-lol) 2 sons, 2 daughters. I have 11 marvelous grandchildren, a fantastic, loving husband whom I’ve been married to for 40 yrs. on Sept. 21, 2014. And now our first Great Grandchild, Gysele Mei has arrived at 28 wks. She’s doing well so far. I’m the oldest of my 2 sisters & one brother. I’ve been a laryngectomee since Nov. 1999. Oh ya, I’m a redheaded Indian gal.

“Some of my ancestors are Chase, Campbell, Wabasha, Morelock, Moman, & Cress. My husband’s family names are Bryan, Bowen, Goodman & Goodpasture and O’Dell.”

Find a Grave screenshot of erroneous information-1

The issue of Sue’s fraud is clear. Sue’s memorial of Joseph Jesse Chase claims Chase is a son of America’s iconic outlaw Jesse Woodson James. This claim has been known to the Jesse James family for years. The claim always has been denied. No one among Chase’s descendants has ever provided any credible evidence to substantiate the Chase claim.

Find a Grave Screenshot of erroneous information-2

After a dozen years of genealogical research, and the expenditure of a quarter million dollars, the Jesse James family has gone out of its way to identify who actually is related to Jesse Woodson James. Extraordinary findings were made by documenting the Jesse James family, followed by genealogical research into the in-law families of the James, and then into others related by extension from those in-law families. Research went so far to study the genealogy of most anyone who was known to have contact with the James.

Historically, there have been literally thousands of claims of kinship to Jesse Woodson James, and to his brother Frank James. Not one ever has been proved. Even today, Stray Leaves receives two or three claims per month on average. Like Sue, few claimants reply to a request for evidence.

A reasonable assumption implies that Sue Anonymous likely is a relation, if not an actual descendant, of Joseph Jesse Chase. Sue assumed management of this Find a Grave memorial following its abandonment by Kent D. Myrick. Complaints to Myrick from members of the Cole and Graves families, who are legitimate relations of Jesse W. James, resulted in Myrick’s desertion and the subsequent assumption by Sue Anonymous.

email screenshot

The email request sent to Sue, pictured here, also met with no response. Sue’s lack of courtesy in not providing any kind of response whatsoever is evidence enough of her non-responsibility. Former requests made to findagrave and ancestry.com by a complainant from the Graves family also met with a lack of responsible action.

Without evidence, the memorial posting by Sue, that is supported by findagrave.com and ancestry.com amounts to fraud.

It shouldn’t be expected that Sue would permit this message on her findagrave pubic profile. However, with regard to Jesse Woodson James and the James family, Stray Leaves will continue to publish the identity of con artists, bogus history, fake genealogy, inaccurately identified images or artifacts, false claims, inaccurate information, and fraud when it is encountered.

This memorial to Joseph Jesse Chase is a fraud.

___________________________________

UPDATE:  March 19, 2016

After almost two years, the Find a Grave memorial above has been corrected.  The present memorial removes the names of Jesse Woodson James as a parent of Joe Jesse Chase.

In this time, considerable focus has been placed on Find a Grave policy that grants ownership of a memorial on irresponsible administrators.  This has raised considerable opposition by related families who are offended, as was this following case: “Does this couple in Missouri own your relatives on Find a Grave, too?

Focus also was brought by the National Genealogical Society which brought this issue to public attention on Facebook.

Corrected Find a Grave memorial
The corrected Find a Grave memorial that removed Jesse Woodson James as a parent of Joe Jesse Chase.