Tag Archives: Younger

The Troubled Life of Peter Burnett

At the Jesse James family reunion in 2002, living descendants in the family of Peter Burnett appeared. They were seeking knowledge of the Burnett family’s connections to the Jesse James family. Stories of a connection had come down in their family lore.

To date, no specific connection with the James family, or with Drury Woodson James, Jesse’ s uncle and founder of Paso Robles, California, has been found. Given D.W. James social and political connections, it remains highly likely some connection existed. Is also is highly certain that Peter Burnett would have known Rep. Coleman Purcell Younger of Santa Cruz, California, the husband of Burnett’s niece, Rebecca J. Smith, among other Burnett-Younger kinships.

_________________________

“Ancestry & Kinship of Peter Hardeman Burnett”

FREE DOWNLOAD

___________________________

BOOK REVIEW: Nokes, R. Gregory, The Troubled Life of Peter Burnett: Oregon Pioneer and First Governor of California

(Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2018) pp.ix-270, several photos and maps, appendix A-D, notes, bibliography, index, ISBN 978-0-87071-923-5, paperback, $19,95.

By Nancy B. Samuelson

Peter Burnett may not be a name that is familiar to many people these days. It seems a pity that he has been largely forgotten. He was a man of some rather significant achievements in the states of Missouri, Oregon and California. I have been interested in him for some time and was pleased to see that someone had finally written a book about him. However, I found that the author chose to judge Burnett by today’s standards of political correctness and ignore or belittle his many real accomplishments.

R. Gregory Nokes
R. Gregory Nokes, author of The Troubles Life of Peter Burnett

R. Gregory Nokes is a journalist and is a competent writer but the book will appeal more to a general audience than to historians or scholars. He did do a fair amount of research and has discovered a number of Burnett’s letters that have never been made public before.  He has also thoroughly researched Burnett’s other writings, and there is a considerable amount of this material.  There is no evidence, however, that he consulted any contemporary newspapers reports of the actions and events in Burnett’s life.  Nor did he dig very deeply into family connections and the accomplishments of many other members of this talented Burnett family and their near kinfolks.

The author makes much ado about Burnett’s contributions to the deplorable “Lash Law” in Oregon that Burnett helped put on the books. But little is said about the almost immediate revision of the law and the fact that the law was never once enforced. Many, in fact, most other states and territories had similar or worse laws on the books concerning African Americans and other minorities. Nokes is highly critical of Burnett in many ways and this detracts from the contributions Peter Burnett did make.

Peter Burnett was almost completely a self-educated man. He was born into a poor family in Tennessee but the family soon moved to Missouri to better themselves. Burnett was able to become an attorney and established a good law practice and engaged in several business enterprises. He was one of the men responsible for getting the U. S. Congress to approve the Platte Purchase that added a considerable amount of territory to the northwestern section of Missouri. Some of Burnett’s business enterprises were not successful and he soon turned his eyes to the Oregon Territory. He “boomed” Oregon and organized the first major wagon train to travel to Oregon in 1843. He was active in the organization of the Oregon Territorial Government and was Oregon’s first Supreme Court judge.

When word came of the discovery of gold in California, Burnett once more decided he could improve his fortunes by going to California. He took the first wagon train from Oregon to California and achieved a fair amount of success in mining for gold in California. He then moved to Sacrament and went back into the legal business. He took over some of the real estate sales for John Sutter and was well on the way to repairing Sutter’s finances until Sutter, Sr. fired him in a huff. Burnett did bolster his own finances as well from his sales of Sacramento real estate.

Burnett then turned his hand to helping get a state government organized in California and was overwhelmingly elected as the first Governor of California. He later resigned from this office to pursue his business interests. He later went into the banking business in San Francisco and was president of one of the most successful banks in California. Peter Burnett died a wealthy and highly esteemed man.

Burnett was completely honest, a rare quality in the hectic days of Gold Rush California, a deeply religious man, and a devoted husband and father. All of his children that survived were successful and talented people. His sons-in-law were attorneys and served in state government as did some of his grandchildren.

An item of interest to Wild West buffs was completely missed by the author. Burnett had close connections to the Younger and Dalton families. His brother, George William Burnett, was married to Sydney Ann Younger, an aunt of the Younger boys of James-Younger gang fame. Sydney Ann’s half-sister, Adeline, was the mother of the Dalton brothers of Dalton gang fame.  George William Burnett served in the Oregon legislature for some time and his son George Henry Burnett served on the Oregon Supreme Court from 1911 to 1927, twice serving as the Chief Justice of the court. Peter Burnett also maintained close social relations with Coleman Younger, the uncle of the outlaw Younger brothers, in Santa Clara County. California for a number of years.

This book is certainly worth reading and it inspired me to dig even deeper and to see what else I could learn about this fascinating man. Peter Burnett is worthy of more study so we can fully appreciate his contributions to our history.

James-Younger Gang Conference – 2017

James-Younger Gang-2017 Conference logo              CONFERENCE OPEN TO ALL – SIGN UP BELOW

Georgetown College, Scott Co. KY
Georgetown College, Georgetown, Kentucky

_______________________________________________________________________________

CONFERENCE PROGRAM

Annual Conference 2017 – National James-Younger Gang Inc. Georgetown, Kentucky

What Happened in Missouri began in Kentucky

Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017

4:00 pm   Check-In Comfort Suites Hotel

5:00-9:00  –  Conference Room, Comfort Suites

Reception with Author Fair & Book Signing – Featured Authors: Eddie Price, Eric F. James, Gerald Fisher, William A. Penn, James M. Pritchard, Kent Masterson Brown, Sue Kelly Ballard, Bryan Bush, Dan Pence, Ronald Wolford Blair, & Frank Kuron. Read more about these extraordinary authors and their books HERE.

7:00 pm   Eddie Price, author of Widder’s Landing, performing “What I Saw at Cane Ridge”

Friday, Sept 29, 2017

9-12:00: Conference Room, Comfort Suites

9-10:00:   Jesse James Identity Theft. Mark Bampton of Ampthill, England: Topic – A Forensic Analysis of the Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax

10:30-11:30:   Eric F. James, author of This Bloody Ground, Vol. II of Jesse James Soul Liberty; TopicThe story of Frank & Jesse’s grandfather John M. James from the American Revolution to revolution against banks

11:30-1:00:   Lunch

1:00-2:30:   Conference Room, Comfort Suites

  • Dr. James C. Klotter, Kentucky State Historian; author of The History and Culture of Central Kentucky, 1792-1852; Kentucky Justice, Southern Honor, and American Manhood. Topic:  Student Life at Georgetown College
  • Dr. Glen Taul; Topic – Georgetown’s Records of Rev. Robert Sallee James & Rev. John James

2:30-5:00:  CARPOOL TOUR

3:00-4:00:   Ward Hall

  • Ron Bryant, former research historian, Kentucky History Center. Sustaining the Southern Plantation Life of William Ward, Richard Mentor Johnson, & their Lightfoot, Chinn, & Pence Slave Families

4:15-4:45: Georgetown College, Ensor Library-James artifacts display

5:00:   Business Meeting:  Comfort Suites

Saturday, Sept 30, 2017

9:00-12:00: Conference Room, Comfort Suites

9:00-10:00:   Living Descendants of John Hunt Morgan’s Captured Rebels  Ben T. Calvert, a descendant of John Thomas Calvert of John Hunt Morgan’s men, discusses his family’s six generations in Stamping Ground, his descent from Anthony Lindsay and his recent restoration and preservation of Lindsay Cemetery. Joining him is Asa Castle, a descendant of David Hunt James, also captured with his brother Richard Skinner James, Morgan, and Calvert. Both Calvert & James are cousins of Frank & Jesse James. Joining Ben & Asa is Kathy Hall who will speak about her ancestor Louis Singleton Price. While captured, Price wrote letters to his family, which Kathy will share.

10:30-12:00:   Guerrilla Symposium: Topic – What Made a Civil War Guerrilla?

  • Gerald W. Fisher author of Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky
  • James M. Prichard, Civil War Guerrilla Collections at the Filson Historical Society, author of Embattled Capital, Frankfort During the Civil War
  • Dr. Thomas J. Sabetta of the University of Kentucky, currently writing two books, one about Capt. Delos T. “Yankee” Bligh who pursued the James Gang, and another on “Dynamite” Dick Mitchel, a rider with John Hunt Morgan, Basil Duke, Sue Munday, and Sam Berry.
  • Kent Masterson Brown Esq., author & film documentarian, The Civil War in Kentucky: Battle for the Bluegrass State, First editor Civil War magazine, former chairman of Gettysburg National Military Park Advisory Commission & Perryville Battlefield Commission

12-5:00:  BUS TOUR

7:00-10:00:   Banquet:  Wilshire’s Restaurant                                             Special Guest Speaker:                                                                                                         J. Mark Beamis, second great-grandson of Drury Woodson James      &  son of Joan Malley Beamis, author of Background of a Bandit.

J. Mark Beamis, son of Joan Beamis

Sunday, Oct 1, 2017 – Adjourned

Maps provided to self-tour the Bluegrass & additional historical sites

_______________________________________________________________________________

 REGISTER NOW

ENTIRE CONFERENCE $89.00 – Includes Banquet dinner

THURSDAY ONLY $ 20.00

FRIDAY ONLY $ 30.00

SATURDAY ONLY $ 40.00 – Banquet excluded

DOWNLOAD REGISTRATION FORM HERE

_______________________________________________________________________________

RESERVE HOTEL NOW

Comfort Suites-Georgetown KY
Comfort Suites Hotel, Georgetown, Kentucky

Discount room rates are available now at Comfort Suites in Georgetown, Kentucky.

The group rate for the James-Younger Gang is $85/night for two adults plus applicable taxes. $10 more for each additional person.  Amenities include a deluxe complimentary breakfast, indoor heated pool, fitness facility, guest laundry, & game room. Each suite has a micro fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer, alarm clock radio, iron & ironing board, sofa sleeper, and wired & wireless Internet.

CALL  (502) 868-9500 ext. 403 for James-Younger Gang reservations. The discount rate of $85/night will automatically apply after 8 rooms are booked. Prior to 8 rooms booked, a rate of $100/night applies. Reserve early to insure availability. Only 20 rooms have been set aside. The discount rate expires August 31, 2017. Click HERE for general hotel information.

___________________________________________________________

 CRAVING SOME SWAG ?

The official tee shirt of the James-Younger Gang and Family conference is available now.

Chose from 9 colors in sizes small to 6X.

Order by July 1 for July 15th delivery.

ORDER HERE

 

______________________________________________________________________________

RELATED:   Take a PREVIEW TOUR now with Dan Pence, Tom Nall, & Eric F. James as they make final conference arrangements.

___________________________________________________________

Follow event UPDATES on Facebook.

___________________________________________________________

         SIGN UP for the CONFERENCE NEWSLETTER 

Sign me up for updates & news

___________________________________________________________

 

End logo

 

Retta Younger and A. B. Rawlins – Destiny by Marriage

The following is a preview of what readers can expect to find in THIS BLOODY GROUND – Volume II of the Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet, scheduled for publication in 2015.

Henrietta Younger-Rawlins with brothers Jim, Bob, & Cole Younger
Henrietta Younger-Rawlins with brothers Jim, Bob, & Cole Younger

While history recognizes Henrietta Younger-Rawlins as a sister to the notorious Younger brothers, history has ignored Retta’s husband A. Bledsoe Rawlins. When Retta married A. Bledsoe Rawlins on April 2nd of 1894, two families whom Frank and Jesse’s grandfather John M. James had known as his neighbors in Kentucky, were brought together in a union destined to be both comfortable and natural. The two families had known each other for over 100 years, through at least three generations.

Charles Lee Younger, Wilbur Zink Collection
Col. Charles Lee Younger, Wilbur Zink Collection

When Retta’s young but aristocratic grandfather, Col. Charles Lee Younger, arrived on the Kentucky frontier at Crab Orchard, no one could mistake the young man for what he was. Col. Younger first appeared as the dutiful son of his father, John Logan Younger. But the untamed and wild frontier of Kentucky soon transformed him into the man he was destined to become, as the destiny of many of Col. Younger’s new neighbors also was being constructed.

The elder Younger was crippled. John Logan Younger had suffered “a rupture” while serving at Valley Forge in the 12th Regiment of Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army. John M. James, then a wagoner and spy for Washington, was there, too, suffering from a bullet wound. Valley Forge was where the alliance of the James-Younger families first aligned. Despite his disability, John Logan Younger continued in military service until discharged in January of 1779. He and John M. James then migrated with a Traveling Church of rebel Baptist preachers, arriving on the Kentucky frontier around 1782. Also among those rebel preachers were the brothers Moses Owsley and William Miller Bledsoe. According to pension papers, the elder Younger was a farmer, but now he was “unable to follow it.” He was in need of an income. More importantly, he needed his youngest son’s help. Col. Younger arrived to assist his older brothers, Lewis, Peter, Henry, and Isaac. The Colonel brought the company of his Indian woman.

The Olde Fort of Harrod's Town 1775-1776
The Olde Fort of Harrod’s Town 1775-1776

Nothing on this bloody ground of Kentucky wilderness could be achieved alone. The land Col. Younger tried to farm, also forced him into taming and protecting it. Around Crab Orchard, Col. Younger found himself among the surveyors and cabin builders from Fort Harrod, Abraham and Isaac Hite. From Harrods’s Fort, their cousin Col. John Bowman repelled the Shawnee back into Ohio territory with his brothers Isaac, Joseph, and Abraham, all grandsons of Hans Jost Heydt and Hite cousins. The Bowman brothers were renowned as “The Centaurs of Cedar Creek.” The bonds formed here among the Hite, Younger, and James families would strengthen across two future generations, when the grandsons of John M. James and Col. Charles Lee Younger produced the explosive identity of the James-Younger gang in the Civil War era.

Nearby at Cedar Creek in the shadow of Col. William Whitley’s station, John M. James was acquiring land adjacent to his neighbors, the former Marylanders Thomas Owsley and Johannes Vardeman. Daniel Boone hired Vardeman as an ax man to blaze his Wilderness Road. John M. James was captain of a militia protecting it from Native-American assaults.

Col. William Whitley
Col. William Whitley

An early arrival at Cedar Creek, William Whitley became mentor to all of these men. Whitley perfected the principle of fighting the enemy on its home ground. When he did, Whitley always returned with the finest horses the Indians could breed, excellent enough to attract the eyes of Col. Younger and John M. James, who became gambling turfmen of horse racing at Whitley’s Sportsman’s Hill. Here the personality for racing and risk entered the DNA of the James-Younger gang.

As the rebel preachers, led by the rabid Elijah Craig, fanned out across this new frontier, ferociously founding churches in all the future Kentucky strongholds of the James family, Rev. William Miller Bledsoe married Craig’s niece, Elizabeth Craig. When she died giving childbirth, Bledsoe married Patience Owsley, a daughter of Thomas Owsley, John M. James’ adjacent neighbor. Bledsoe initiated a religious revival, expecting to seed the meetinghouse at Cedar Creek as the first Baptist church of Crab Orchard. Through the power of four hundred conversions, Bledsoe made his move.

The expectation of the upstart preacher John M. James to build a house for the Lord was eclipsed once more. John had occupied himself too much with ushering and settling migrants, furnishing supplies for them, and keeping an eye for more land to acquire, and perhaps a town he could found for a church of his own.  For now, the ministry of others shadowed the fervor of John M. James. He vowed, someday his fervor would be unleashed.

Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman, son of Johannes Vardeman. As a teenage miscreant, Jerry Vardeman played fiddle for balls in William Whitley’s attic. After eloping with a daughter of John M. James, Jerry was brought into the fold of the Cedar Creek Baptist Church, later succeeding William Miller Bledsoe as its pastor. From his 4,000 converts and an abundance of other churches he preached among, Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman culled money necessary to supply Frank & Jesse James’ father, Rev. Robert Sallee James, with 7 slaves, and fund to buy James Gilmore’s farm and found William Jewell College in Clay County, Missouri.
Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman, son of Johannes Vardeman.

As a teenage miscreant, Jerry Vardeman, a son of Johannes Vardeman, played fiddle for balls in William Whitley’s attic. After eloping with a daughter of John M. James, Jerry was brought into the fold of the Cedar Creek Baptist Church, later succeeding William Miller Bledsoe as its pastor. From his 4,000 converts and an abundance of other churches he preached among, Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman culled money necessary to supply Frank & Jesse James’ father, Rev. Robert Sallee James, with 7 slaves, and $20,000 in additional funds to buy James Gilmore’s farm and found William Jewell College in Clay County, Missouri, installing one of Vardeman’s converts, Robert Stewart Thomas as its first president.

When William Miller Bledsoe’s son was born, Rev. Bledsoe looked at the infant and commented, “He looks like a Bledsoe,” pronouncing the word a as the letter A. The boy was nicknamed “Honest A. Bledsoe,” to become the future namesake of A. Bledsoe Rawlins.

Prior to the Civil War, A. Bledsoe moved to Texas. He purchased the headright of Capt. Roderick A. Rawlins, who later became his son-in-law. In 1865, A. Bledsoe was elected Chief Justice of Dallas County, but was unseated in the following election. During Reconstruction, A. Bledsoe was elected again to the Constitutional Convention, aligning himself with the Radical Republican faction, familiar to some among the Younger family. When A. Bledsoe took the oath of loyalty to the United States, A. Bledsoe was nicknamed a second time as “Iron-Clad Bledsoe.” A. Bledsoe established the controversial and unpopular Texas State Police. Then A. Bledsoe returned to Dallas County to live out his days as a judge.

Abram Bledsoe
Abram Bledsoe, aka A. Bledsoe
Capt. Alexander Roderick Rawlins
Capt. Alexander Roderick Rawlins

In 1852, Roderick Alexander Rawlins married Virginia Bledsoe, granddaughter of Rev. William Miller Bledsoe who eclipsed John M. James in founding a church, and the great granddaughter of Thomas Owsley, John’s neighbor at Cedar Creek. The couple named their firstborn, A. Bledsoe Rawlins. On April 12th of 1894, A. Bledsoe Rawlins met his destiny when he took Retta Younger, the granddaughter of Col. Charles Lee Younger, as his midlife bride. Except for his eight children spawned in his prior marriage, his marriage to Retta Younger went unfruitful. The families of Cedar Creek and Crab Orchard had forged the destiny of the union of Retta Younger and A. Bledsoe Rawlins beginning one hundred years before.

John Jarette Finally Gets a Grave Marker

A mystery has surrounded the death and burial of John Jarrette, a Quantrill Raider, and James Gang member. Researcher Lorna Mitchell has been on Jarrette’s trail. Attempting to solve the mystery, Lorna has produced documents, expected to write some new history, plus a grave marker for John Jarette.

L-R: Lorna Mitchell, her husband Ron Mitchell, researcher Wendy Higashi, with Frank & Sharon Younger of the International James-Younger Gang

An unsubstantiated story of death claims that John and his wife Mary Josephine Younger, known as Josie, a sister of the Younger brothers, perished in an ambush of their home in St. Clair County, Missouri in 1869. Local lore said John and Josie Jarette were buried in Yeater Cemetery in Roscoe, Missouri. The Jarette’s children Jeptha and Margaret, were adopted following their parent’s demise. Genealogy records of William R. Lunceford in 2005 stated Anne and Lycurgus Jones became legal guardians of Jeptha Jarette. Nothing is known of who adopted Margaret. No cemetery records exist for Yeater Cemetery and a physical inspection of the cemetery revealed tombstones too old and weathered to be discernable.

Lorna Mitchell has tracked down John Jarette to Greenwood in British Columbia, Canada. She’s produced a death certificate showing Jarette, a proprietor and rancher, died in a local hospital in 1906.

A marriage certificate also has been produced by Lorna, showing a marriage between Robert Letherdale, a livery proprietor, age 30, and Edwards Rosella Jarette, age 18. Edna, as she was known, is identified as being born in Henderson County, Kentucky with her parents identified as John Jarette and Josephine Younger. The couple was married in 1893.

The marriage certificate for another daughter, Marion Jarette, the spouse of Hugh F. Keefer, also shows John and Josie Jarette as Marion’s parents. Both daughter petitioned the British Columbia Probate Court, with Marion relinquishing any claim.

In addition to these documents, Lorna states she has an archive of supportive documents, records, and newspaper clippings.

Of the new grave marker installation, Lorna writes, “Frank and Sharon Younger, my husband and I just returned from our trip to Greenwood to attend the ceremony for John Jarrett’s new grave marker. The event was a huge success with fifty people in attendance, some in period costume. We toured the museum where they have recently opened an exhibit for John, then we went to the cemetery where the President of the Greenwood Historical Society gave a talk on John. Then a minister gave a short sermon and prayer. Amazing Grace was played on an accordion at the end of the ceremony. After a luncheon ten of us drove to Rock Creek to see the properties where John lived…I will be writing a more detailed account of our trip for the next James-Younger Gang Journal.”

Whenever an important discovery, such as this, is made, new questions arise. We expect Lorna will be moving on to the next step of investigation, namely researching how, why, and when Jarrette went to Canada and what was Josie’s fate and where. Of course, people are going to inquire, too, about the middle initial “M” in her documents and where that comes from, since a middle initial for John Jarette was unknown previously. A couple years discrepancy in Jarette’s birth date can be expected to be called into question also. But a specific date may not be as important as the hopeful discovery of John Jarette’s life in retirement from the James Gang and Quantrill Raiders.

Lorna Mitchell provides the excellent example of how genealogical research will provide historical breakthroughs. Traditional historians should take note. More due diligence of this type should be conducted by genealogists and historians. We look forward to more of Lorna’s fine research. Lorna Mitchell is opening a new door to new history.