When Joan Beamis, a great-granddaughter of Drury Woodson James, discovered she was a first cousin of Frank and Jesse James, due to her father’s inadvertent slip of the tongue, Joan was all excited to learn more about her family’s secretive connection. Her grandmother, Drury’s daughter, lived with Joan in their New Hampshire home, but Nanna looked at Joan sternly as if to say, “One doesn’t ask such things,” so Joan wrote. Nanna never surrendered the information she knew or the genealogy she kept in her traveling case.
When Joan reached beyond her home to New York City and very far beyond for information, she was specifically warned not to contact any family in Missouri. Joan wrote that in her letter to Gilbert Cam, the executive director of the New York City Library.
The isolation of the Jesse James family in Missouri had been solidified from 1882 up to 1950 when Joan began her research.
The isolation Joan met then still persists today, despite every effort made then, and being made now, by some among the family, and outside of the family, to crack that shell.
No one from the James family in Missouri showed up to attend this family reunion in 2002, though they were repeatedly invited. The board the directors of the James-Younger Gang accepted the James family’s invitation to attend and take part. Subsequently, however, the group’s founder Phillip Steele hijacked the group to Tennessee instead. Judge Ross, Jesse’s great grandson, never spoke to Phillip Steele again and resigned his membership in Steele’s group. I just recently learned that Steele had that privilege to sidestep the group’s board of directors written into their by-laws. Steele already had built a reputation for himself re-publishing the James family genealogy that Joan Beamis first produced in her book Background of a Bandit, published by the Kentucky Historical Society in 1970. Steele considered he was the James family’s genealogist alone, though to my knowledge he never conducted any genealogy research. The last time I saw Philip Steele, he pumped me for every new thing I had found that he could appropriate and publish as he might his own.
As I point out in this video, some of the Jesse James family prefers their self-imposed isolation to genealogical and historical transparency. They continue to do so today. The research before 2002 and since has shown no further need for the protective cover they covet. Still, they object to the research and publication of findings being discovered every day. Oddly, they do not face the facts of their heritage whatsoever. They simply turned a blind eye to them.
As this video outlines, the research into the James family continues, even today and hopefully beyond. With each advance in the research, the genealogy and history becomes more and more undeniable. I know history stands on the side of informational transparency. Those who object today soon will pass. With their passing, new generations of James family and new generations of those interested in their family and outlaws, will become the beneficiaries of all the work being done today to recapture the James history that’s been lost for over 300 years.
Future generations will have a picture of the Jesse James family far different, and far more comprehensive, than the fragments of the family now embattled with one another.
NOTE: If you think you missed Part 11, you haven’t. It just hasn’t been posted yet. Look for Part 11 and Part 13 after Christmas. OR…SUBSCRIBE ABOVE and be notified. Merry Christmas.