In Victorian Frankfort, Kentucky, high society held washtub boat races on the Kentucky River. In once race, Campbell E. James took his competing craft Bashi-Bazouk to victory. From the Turkish, Bashi-bazouk translates as “damaged head,” and as “disorderly,” and as “leaderless.” The term originated when applied to different soldiers in the Ottoman Army who fought as irregulars. The intent of Campbell E. James to characterize his prospects for victory was evident in his irrepressible humor.
In her book Filling the Chinks, Ermina Jett Darnell wrote about everyday life in Frankfort at the time. As a descendant of the Cole family ancestors of Frank & Jesse James, Darnell was their 3rd cousin. Campbell Edmundson James, or C. E. James, was the son of Judge A. J. James & Mary Allison Beatty, and also a relation. In Filling the Chinks, Darnell recorded the following story of Campbell E. James taking his Bashi-Bazouk to victory.
On September 1, 1877, the local paper announced that there would be a tub race on the river at 5:30 on the following Tuesday. The writer said: “The course selected is from Herndon’s wharf to the boathouse below the upper bridge. All tubs other than the regulation wash-tub will be ruled out.”
“Herndon’s wharf” was back of the site of the present Southern Hotel. “The regulation wash-tub” was a heavy affair made of wooden staves held together with metal hoops.
The contestants were: E. H. Berry, C. C. Todd, Jacob Evans, Ed Grant, M. H. Malone, Dudley Watson, Campbell James, Clarence Drane, Howard Jett, W. C. Dudley, M.P. Gray, John W. Milam, John Pendleton, Robert Franklin, Peter Dudley, T. L. Crittenden, F. C. Hutchinson, Willoughby Rodman, Albert Crutcher.
New announcements were made in such an edgy, eager style that it is hard to see how anyone in Frankfort slept the night before the race. No contestant could be under eighteen. There were to be no paddles, but each man steer and propel with his hands. The winner would become the proprietor of all the tubs. There would be boats in attendance to pick up the crew of any capsized tubs. Crews would not be allowed to swim by the side of their tubs, and no tubs could go ashore until the end of the race.
Then came the great day, and all Frankfort turned out. The bridge was crowded, and both sides of the river were lined with people.
But of the twenty entries, only sixteen started, and of these, only three reached the goal. The Bashi-Bazouk, paddled by Campbell James, came in full two tub lengths ahead of Ocean Wave, paddled by Dudley Watson. The Undine No. 2, by Albert Crutcher, was capsized, alas, about ten feet from the string!
Just learned of the passing of John Broadus James. I met John and his son Anthony Neal "Tony" James in Texas about 20 years ago. He learned of my research trip there and insisted I make time to see him. John rearranged his schedule so he could bring Tony along to hear my stories about his great-grandfather John James "of Alvarado." We spent the evening over dinner exchanging stories. I learned about John's father, the preacher and poet Rev. Maurice Broadus James. Sometime after, Tony went into the military. John was very proud. Unfortunately, Tony was in a helicopter accident and was relieved from service, which must have been a great disappointment for Tony and John. I'm sorry we never got together again, as I am with many of the descendants of John James "of Alvarado." ... See MoreSee Less
NOTICE to reality TV producers...STOP CALLING! WE'RE NOT INTERESTED! Magilla Entertainment called two days ago wanting to enlist our participation in another Jesse James treasure hunting unscripted series for TV. We guessed that Ron Pastore is behind the move. After some discussion, the producer stated our idea of a scripted docu-series for Netflix based on the factual lives of Jesse James' family members might be the better way to go. The producer said our idea would be discussed in yesterday's production meeting, and he would get right back to me. I wasn't holding my breath. So far, no call from the Magilla. ... See MoreSee Less
Here's some colorful video history on George Morgan Chinn, a grandson of Frank James' cohort John Pendleton "Black Jack" Chinn. Whenever I drive from Danville to Midway or Lexington, Ky, I pass the ruins of Chinn's Cave House. Here also are a couple of testimonials about George, also colorful, from the files of the James Preservation Trust. #1- "I remember George very well. He was my late father's cousin and we do have his linage through the Morgan's, dating back to John Morgan in 1778. He was a really smart fellow and funny. His [Ed.: grand] father was Jack Chinn. I have a picture of him with William Jennings Bryan, Dicky Brant, and Frank James (Brother of Jesse) seated in a buggy hitched to the only grey horse that won the Kentucky Derby. Jack was fined five dollars for speeding in a horse-drawn vehicle. He paid ten dollars and told them to keep the change because he was going out of town (Harrodsburg, Ky) the same speed he came in. My dad had a lot of these old family tales." And #2 - "hi I knew him personally. He has a lot of historical books at the Fort Harrod Museum. He also published one about Brooklyn or the Palisades area of Jessamine and Mercer Counties. His wife's nickname was Cotton because of her white hair. They were both feisty. I lived and grew up on five acres that attached to the Chinn land. It was at 5555 Lexington Rd in Mercer county. The Chinn mansion was in a hairpin curve...'Chinn curve.' "We had hunters and trespassers that would go on the property and we would have to call the Chinns to have them removed. "My grandfather grew up and ran with Jack Chinn. Jack had a moonshine still in a cave across the ky river from the mansion. He would take a boat across to the cave. Mr. George Chinn was a historian and you can look for his books on google. Or contact the Fort Harrod in Harrodsburg or the local library. Sorry, that is all I have except I know George had a daughter." George Morgan Chinn also was a director of the Kentucky Historical Society and editor of their publication "The Register." He authored several books, including "Kentucky: Settlement and Statehood, 1750-1800," still in print, "The Encyclopedia of Hand Arms," and the five-volume work "The Machine Gun." ... See MoreSee Less
This 1879 map from the US War Dept. shows the extent of the 10,000 acres rancho of Drury Woodson James. The rancho reached from Paso de Robles to Chalome. The map also identifies the probable route DWJ took through the Palonio Pass and past the Salt Springs during the drought of 1863-64 when he drove 5,000 head of cattle from Paso to Lake Tulare to save and preserve the bulk of his wealth. ... See MoreSee Less
The Diety is pulling in the line of Susan Prudence James. After the recent passing of Kurt Leslie James last week, now comes the news of the passing of his cousin Shirley Jane Russell Turner. We are informed by Shirley’s sister Sandy Russell Kassen. Shirley is a great-granddaughter of Susan Prudence James & 2nd great-granddaughter of Dr. John R. James, a brother of T.M., Drury Woodson, & Rev. Robert Sallee James the father of Frank & Jesse James. delphosherald.com/Content/Obituaries/Obituaries/Article/Shirley-Jane-Turner/194/1192/212603... See MoreSee Less