Tag Archives: Thomas Martin James

Frank James Was Framed – Remove from Frame

Two new articles about Frank James drew our attention last week. The Wild West History Association just published an informative article in their WWHA Journal, March 2017, about Frank James in Oklahoma. The article is written by Roy B. Young. The article shows Frank James was framed.

 

Frank and Jesse James-OK
Frank & Jesse James in Oklahoma by Roy B. Young

The face of the article, which is more about Frank James than Jesse James, presents an old-timey vibe, reminiscent of western pulp magazines of more than fifty years ago when sensationalism was the rage. Regretfully, the article then begins with the fake-news subject of treasure hunting for Jesse James hidden gold in Oklahoma. You have to leap past that hurdle and another hurdle at the end to get to the meat of Young’s story that is bonafide and new.

Roy B Young-framed
Author Roy B. Young

Roy B. Young employs the current rage of culling old newspapers, many now online, to tell a story either overlooked, forgotten, or not present in today’s history consciousness. Having culled most of these papers myself in their original depositories for a couple of decades, I noted a lot of familiar information in Young’s story. My forthcoming Volume IV of Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet is a biography of Frank James in his retirement years.

Informed as I think I am, Roy B. Young found lost history I did not know about. I’ve expressed my thanks to him for writing it. Nothing tickles a historian more, than learning something new he didn’t know.

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Excerpt – The Jameses decided to bid on farm land in the Indian Pasture Reserve two and a half miles northwest of Fletcher, Oklahoma just inside the southern border of Caddo County. On November 9, 1960, a Lawton newspaper announced that Frank was seen in that city with a “companion” driving a two-horse buggy “bidding a few friends goodbye on the fly and drove out of town under whip.” The article continued, “Just as the buggy rounded the curve of Fifth Street, east of the courthouse, James doft his big white sombrero so that his long gray locks fluttered in the breeze and he gave a yell as in days of old.”

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Regrettably, Young ends his well-done story of Frank James, writing about the Jesse James imposter J. Frank Dalton. Why Oklahoma feels it necessary to include fake news as a necessary component to its true history is beyond me. Sensationalism calls into question any factual or true history associated with it.

This article would have truly been a superior one had it not been for the bookends of treasure hunting and J. Frank Dalton, framing it.

Forget for now Frank James being framed in this manner. Grab the fresh history Roy B. Young now offers anyway. Then wait for Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. IV, Frank James in Retirement to address Young’s speculation and provide you even more unknown history about Frank James in his retirement years.

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The second article about Frank James comes from the Osage County News. Wendi Bevitt writes about the visit of Frank James to Burlingame, Kansas and the 1899 Osage County Fair.
1899 Burlingame
Burlingame Fair – 1899

Prior to writing her story, Wendi queried us about Burton Allen James, Indian Agent from the James family for the Sac and Fox Reservation. She also queried about Perry Fuller, the onetime business partner of Frank and Jesse’s uncle Thomas Martin James, whom I also wrote about in Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I.

Since Volume IV of JJSL will address Frank James in his retirement, I was pleasantly surprised to read the outcome of Wendi’s article. Much of her story is focused upon Frank James in his career as a public speaker and as a race starter when he appeared in 1899 at the Osage County Fair.

Frank James-Osage County Fair
Frank James as race starter at the Osage County Fair, 1899

Like Roy Young’s reporting on Frank James, Wendi Bevitt’s article brings fresh history into view. The freshness is in the details, such as how Frank James started a race.

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Excerpt – He would stretch an immense rubber rope across the track and when the racers were at their mark, he would let the rope fly free.

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Interesting, too, is the behind the scenes arrangements of a Frank James speaking engagement. History like this has not been published before and is a welcome addition to the historical record.

WENDI BEVITT is the owner-operator of Buried Past Consulting LLC, a firm specializing archaeological surveys, historical research and report preparations for both public and private sector clients.

Jesse James Cave, located on the Sac-Fox Reservation in Osage County, Kansas, is visited by Wendi Bevitt’s children.

What would Jesse James’ cousin, Dan James, do about Arizona ?

American’s iconic outlaw Jesse James had a modern day cousin who wrote movies and books using pseudonyms. One of the names he wrote under was Danny Santiago.

As Danny Santiago, Daniel Lewis James Jr. wrote an award winning novel, titled Famous All Over Town. Today the book is a classic, that is studied in countless college Hispanic studies programs. Dan’s protagonist is a 24 year old Chicano, named Chato Medina. Literally translated, his name means a cat from the old part of town.

Like Jesse James and Dan James, Chato had political problems. When the Southern Pacific Railroad began demolishing Chato’s neighborhood, Chato took up arms. His firearm of choice was a piece of chalk. Chato took his chalk to the streets. Everywhere he went Chato chalked his name in protest. Like Jesse and Dan who fought injustice, Chato suffered retribution. He became an outlaw and was jailed for his crimes. Like Jesse and Dan, Chato also became famous all over town.

Dan James wrote his novel after spending a significant part of his life working with his wife Lillith in the barrios of Los Angeles with the disadvantaged from the Hispanic community. Dan and Lillith introduced Hispanics kids to Hollywood celebrities, got their parents trade jobs in the film industry, lent them money when necessary, sent them to college, drank with them in their cantinas, and became godparents to a multitude of Hispanic children.

Dan’s grandfather was Jesse’s uncle Thomas Martin James. Taking some fancy European chinaware that was useless to fur traders heading into the Far West, T. M. James transformed his trading business in Kansas City into the famed T.M. James Fine China Co., later purchased by the Havilland Fine China Company. On the side of Dan’s mother Lillie Snyder, Dan’s great grandfather was Andrew Jackson Snyder. A.J. served as Brigadier General for Gov. Green Clay Smith in Montana Territory during the gold rush there. Later, as a stockman, A.J. offered to buy the Cherokee Strip to annex to his Texas ranch that sold 30,000 head of cattle per year.

Dan’s father and namesake, Daniel Lewis James Sr., wrote plays with characters that resembled Jesse James, too. Dan Sr. could never figure out, though, if his cousin Jesse was a sinner, or was sinned against. None of his plays was produced.

Daniel Lewis James, aka Danny Santiago

Dan Jr. was more like his cousin Jesse. Dan was a social activist. He worked for the longshoreman union organizer Harry Bridges. When Dan was arrested in the Bloody Thursday riots of 1934 in San Francisco, about the same time his cousin Barbara James was jailed for demonstrating for birth control, Dan Sr. suggested Dan confine his politics instead to the use of his pen.

Wielding a pen as his weapon also got Dan into trouble. Dan wrote the movie The Great Dictator with Charlie Chaplin, confronting the Fascist government of Mussolini. Like his cousin Jesse, his own government came down hard on Dan. He was brought before the House on Un-American Activities. Dan was accused of being a Communist, and he was blacklisted from making a living as a screenwriter.

Chaplin fled to his native England. Daniel Lewis James Jr. fled to the barrios of Los Angeles to continue to fight with the Hispanic community against bigotry and social inequality. Today, Daniel Lewis James would probably be in Arizona.

LINKS:

New York Times Obituary for Daniel Lewis James

Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration

What’s the Matter with Arizona?

Hey Arizona… We don’t need no stinkin’ “papers”!

Jesse James Auction Artifact – Lacks Provenance

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The James D. Julia auction house, in Maine of all places, is claiming an 1860 Army revolver they have for auction came through a “direct descendant of the James family.”  The descendant is not identified.  Some of the James family have lived in New England since the 1880s.

The auction house does not identify the provenance for its claim that Jesse might have used an Army revolver. Frank & Jesse James already had a clear preference in guns. They used the Colt Navy revolver. Upon his death, Jesse’s guns went to his wife and son, then to his grandchildren, who then donated them to James Farm & Museum. There’s been a clear and unmistakable chain of custody and provenance.

The father of Charles D. Schmelzer, a German born manufacturer who owned the Schmelzer Fire Arms Company, worked at the Colt armory in Hartford, Connecticut. The family company was located next door to T. M. James & Co. the store in Kansas City of Jesse’s uncle, Thomas Martin James. Charles D. Schmelzer himself served with T. M.’s son, Luther Tillman James, on the Kansas City Board of Education. Schmelzer’s immigrant father had sold fire arms in the Far West, through Kansas and Nebraska and all the way to Colorado, as he stood at trading posts beside stacks of buffalo skins, waiting to be shipped to New York.

I’ve submitted an inquiry to James D. Julia, and am waiting on a response of the gun’s provenance and the auction’s claims. I’m not holding my breath.