Jesse James Treasure Discovered…and Returned

Home » Jesse James Treasure Discovered…and Returned

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Who’s treasure is it? The email from the unidentified woman was insistent. “This family is part of the Jesse James family. You represent the Jesse James family. These things now are yours.”

Nothing about the woman, what she said, or what she described made any sense at all. But I’m used to dealing with that. All I could glean was that some woman died in Florida – I couldn’t get a name. Locally, she was known to be kin to Jesse James – How? I couldn’t learn that either. Now, the deceased woman’s house was being cleaned out, and her debris was flying my way.

bag of treasure

What I expected to receive was a letter envelope with, maybe, some photos. What I got instead was a shipment box. Inside was a large plastic shopping bag. The bag was loaded with studio portrait photos in their cardboard fold-out frames, piles of fading snapshots, an envelope of records and official documents, and a baby shoe.

Like most people, the deceased woman was a bad record keeper. The photos were not identified by names, but rather by relationships. “Sis’s grandkids.” Great. Who’s Sis? Who are the grandkids? Who are these people? I was reminded of occasions when asking for directions in the South. Replies contained no specific point-to-point directions by name, but only by oblique references, informed by personal memory. “Go down about two miles to the corner where the gas station used to be.”

Some of the photos bore the name of James. But none of the names was familiar. The images didn’t resemble any James I know. I searched the internet but found nothing relating to these James. So, whose Jesse James treasure was this? I was stuck with the mystery.

research files of the James Preservation Trust

The historian, genealogist, and archivist in me recognized I could not throw any of this away. This belonged to someone unknown, someone yet to be found. Meanwhile, I was stuck with it all. I stashed the collection with my files, hoping someday, someway, someone or something would appear to claim it, or direct me to its rightful heir. For about seven years, the bag and its treasure sat waiting, like so many family orphans.

Two weeks ago, I was browsing Find-a-Grave for updates and new information, just as I continually browse courthouses, libraries, and research archives for things overlooked, new references, identities familiar from my growth of knowledge, or for the latest deaths, notices, or entries. A Find-a-Grave listing appeared with references to a James, familiar from my mystery treasure.

Find-a-Grave posting

I promptly dispatched an email to Christine Cartwright, who posted the entry. “Are you related to this family, or know someone who is?”

“Hi Eric, Yes, I am a relative William Everett James. He was my great-grandfather. What kind of information do you have may I ask? Some of us are in the dark because a small part of the family doesn’t want to share pictures, docs, and stories with the rest of us…Please if you have new information I would love it…”

In further correspondence came this revelation “Yes, there has been talk that one of the great aunts had some letters from Jesse and Frank and somehow they are cousins. But no one can find this so-called letters or maybe someone is hiding them. I don’t know but it would be great to know if there is a link.”

Christine Cratwright
Christine Cartwright & Her Orphaned Family Archive

The treasure sent to me anonymously finally has found its rightful home. Returning the collection has been deeply gratifying, like so often before when orphans of the James are rediscovered, or rediscover their past, with the help of our Stray Leaves website and its SURNAMES genealogy database.

True to any genealogy quest, though, arriving at one answer always raises more questions. Is the Everett Roscoe James of Clinton County, Ohio related to the James in our SURNAMES database? Christine has solved one mystery. His real name was William Everett James, and Roscoe was his nickname. Christine’s research will continue. Is William Everett James related to the Jesse James family? Christine will continue working on that, too; as I stand by to help. Perhaps a DNA test will put the question to rest. But does that really matter? It took six years to resolve the mystery of this lost treasure of family photos. What’s another month or two to nail down a family identity? For many, it takes generations. Meanwhile, Christine and her family now have some lost treasure from their own family to study and enjoy.

**********************************

RELATED STORIES

The 1854 Family Bible of Ione Gray, Granddaughter of Mary Harriet James, is Returned to Descendants

Missouri Returns Burton Allen James Family Bible

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Wednesday September 15th, 2021
Stray Leaves

Have you considered it? See MoreSee Less

Have you considered it?
Tuesday September 7th, 2021
Stray Leaves

COVID HAS STRUCK THE JAMES FAMILY AGAIN . . . "My foundation and the love of my life. R.I.P 9/5/2021" – Judy Rae Davis-Gibson, spouse of Robert Melvin Gibson Sr. and 3rd great-granddaughter of John J. James & Mary Jane "Polly" Carrell. See MoreSee Less

COVID HAS STRUCK THE JAMES FAMILY AGAIN . . . My foundation and the love of my life. R.I.P 9/5/2021 - Judy Rae Davis-Gibson, spouse of Robert Melvin Gibson Sr. and 3rd great-granddaughter of John J. James & Mary Jane Polly Carrell.
Wednesday September 1st, 2021
Stray Leaves

Greg James posted the following to his immediate family a few hours ago:
"I’m currently dealing with a heavy heart and confusion. My wife Judy suddenly passed away today and I’m asking for prayers and good thoughts. Thank you!"
Judy is the second wife of John Gregory "Greg" James. Greg’s first wife, Beverly Ann Brown, is the mother of Greg’s James descendants. Regardless, we send Greg our sympathies and condolences.
See MoreSee Less

Greg James posted the following to his immediate family a few hours ago: 
Im currently dealing with a heavy heart and confusion. My wife Judy suddenly passed away today and Im asking for prayers and good thoughts. Thank you!
Judy is the second wife of John Gregory Greg James. Gregs first wife, Beverly Ann Brown, is the mother of Gregs James descendants. Regardless, we send Greg our sympathies and condolences.

Comment on Facebook

So sorry to hear about your wife Judy`s passing! Our prayers are with you!🙏

Deepest condolences. 🙏

Tuesday August 31st, 2021
Stray Leaves

Very sad news. Frank Younger has died. Details of his memorial service appear in the Comments below. See MoreSee Less

Very sad news. Frank Younger has died. Details of his memorial service appear in the Comments below.

Comment on Facebook

FRANK YOUNGER'S MEMORIAL SERVICE . . . November 18, 1940 – August 28, 2021. Frank Younger sadly passed away suddenly at age 80 as a result of an accident in his home. Frank was predeceased by his parents, Paul and Margaret (and stepmother Irene). He is survived by his wife, Sharon, and their three children, Pauline (Mike), Matt (Zoe), and Tom (Tamara), and grandson, Paul. Frank loved his family and always enjoyed sharing his encouragement, wisdom, and inimitable sense of humor with them. His contributions to the lives of many include his commitment to his career as an Astronomer at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics), his ongoing participation in local classical orchestras (including the odd instrument repair), and mentoring of many friends in any way he could. Frank’s recent endeavors included attending and helping run the James Younger Gang club as well as writing and reading his poetry. Frank has often enjoyed and been seen as having contrasting traits including riding his Harley motorcycle to a string quartet practice or cleaning his antique gun collection prior to reading his latest poetry writings to gangster club members. His unique character and compassion for all of his friends and family will be missed. You are invited to Frank Younger’s online Memorial Service. Please feel free to share the meeting link below as you see fit. You can join from any web browser using a computer, tablet, or smartphone. This will be a short memorial (20 – 30 minutes). We will not be able to provide any technical support on the day of the memorial. If you have any questions about how to join us using Zoom, please contact Zoë Younger at 778-828-9971 before Friday. We will be recording the memorial, so if you have difficulty logging in, or if you miss it, you will be able to view it at a different time. There will not be an opportunity to speak to all attendees during the service, however, if you wish to share a story with the family via email, we will be assembling a collection before the weekend. Please click the link below to join us. Topic: Frank Younger’s Memorial Service Time: Sep 3, 2021 03:00 PM Vancouver Join Zoom Meeting us02web.zoom.us/j/89203244337?pwd=QkU5b01uNzdZMWZNWmIwTUVPYllVUT09 Meeting ID: 892 0324 4337 Passcode: Frank Thank you, Join our Cloud HD Video Meeting us02web.zoom.us

I was devastated when I received the email. I spoke to Frank and Sharon a month or so ago. We had a nice talk. I will miss him dearly.

I was fortunate enough to have met and talked with Frank. He impressed me as a nice and knowledgeable man.

Load MORE