Tag Archives: Ward

Liberal Arts Education Defines Many of the Jesse James Family

Williams College
Williams College

A liberal arts education is a core characteristic of many James family members who have had the benefit of an elite Eastern style education. Among schools attended by the James is Williams College, which has just been named America’s number one liberal arts school by U.S. News & World Report.

Vassie James’ daughter, Frances Ward, graduated Vassar, as did many of the feminists among the Jesse James family. Frances married Williams graduate George T. Olmsted Jr. George was a classmate of Frances’ brother, James Crawford Ward.

Following graduation, Jim Ward went on to work for G.H. Walker & Company, employed by owner George Herbert Walker, the grandfather of President George Herbert Walker Bush & great-grandfather of President George W. Bush. Many years later, Jim ended his banking career as Vice-President of the Third National Bank of Nashville.

Following an impressive banking career himself, George T. Olmsted and Frances established an endowment at Williams College to support superior teaching. The Olmsted Award is granted annually. George & Frances also established the Williams College Summer Science Camp. As they said, “The kids come to understand that if you have a question…you can try to answer it yourself.”

You can read more about them in the chapter “Underrated Men & Unleashed Feminists” in Jesse James Soul Liberty. Vo. I.

The James & the Arts

Jesse James by Beth Hoeckel
Jesse James by Beth Hoeckel



Beth Hoeckel is an artist who graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago, an institution supported by the Jesse James family.

Vassie James, a wife of Hugh Campbell Ward     & cousin of the outlaw, founded the Pembroke School in Kansas City. Among her descendants, Vassie left a strong legacy in the education and the arts.

Vassie’s granddaughter, Joan Olmsted married Dr. James Franklin Oates III of Evanston outside of Chicago. Dr. Oates was a life trustee of Goodman Theater that was affiliated with the Art Institute. The couple also financially support the Virginia Commonwealth University School for the Arts. Joan O. Oates is a life trustee of Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia.

Vassie’s daughter-in-law, Mary Van Etten married J. Harris Ward, a life trustee of the University of Chicago, where Mary also was a life trustee. Mary served on boards of the Chicago Public Library Foundation, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, the Field Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago, where she served as president of the Women’s Board of Trustees from 1953 to 1966.

Eric James was enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1966, and performed in a half a dozen plays at its Goodman Theater.

More of Beth Hoeckel’s art can been seen at www.bethhoeckel.com