Book Review – Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol.I

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BOOK REVIEW: James, Eric F.  Jesse James, Soul Liberty. Volume I. Cashel Cadence House, Danville KY. 2012. 411 pages, $36.95, reviewed by Bobbi King of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, June 23, 2013. Reprinted here by permission.

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter-Dick Eastman

 

Mr. James has conquered the Everest of writing a family history genealogy book that is interesting enough for the rest of us to want to read.


Eric F. James was asked to take on the task of researching and writing the story of the James family, specifically the many members of the family who merited fair consideration distinct from the myth and legend of the notorious outlaw brothers Frank and Jesse.

Bobbi King
Bobbi King

Mr. James succeeds in acquainting us with a family of characters who do deserve to be featured apart from the tarnished brothers. The book’s subtitle, “Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence” offers a not-so-subtle hint on the family’s take on their historical connection.

Apparently, the more well-informed members of the family vigorously sought to put the kibosh on any kinship to Frank and Jesse James when naïve queries arose.

Mr. James introduces the family:

“In the emerging democracy of colonial Virginia, the early Kentucky frontier, and throughout the American heartland, the James were renowned as community builders, public office holders, ministers of faith, financiers, educators, writers, and poets. From these roots shot Frank and Jesse James.

“Following the Civil War, Frank and Jesse James eclipsed the family’s destiny. War may have splintered the family ideologically, but Frank and Jesse James disjoined the family’s compass and direction, casting a longer and darker shadow on the James family, like no other.

Like their royal ancestors of old when beset by crisis, the James family turned suspicious and distrustful of its own. The larger James family kept apart from one another, holding in muted reverence what relic of itself that it could. The line of Frank and Jesse James was left isolated, unsupported and abandoned.”

Goaded by family in-laws, the Jesse James family withdrew into a citadel of its own. Their ostracism was enforced by every other family line of the James.

Mr. James’ research appears to be extensive. . .

Jesse James oul Liberty, Vol. I
Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence, by Eric F. James

Mr. James’ book locates the various families’ residences, describes their personal occupations, details relationships and kinship to one another (a six-generation descendant chart is included), chronicles their military service, catalogs their movements about the regions, and quotes a good deal of material from their letters and journals, which always evokes a personality, a spirit, a temperament.

Mr. James’ research appears to be extensive across a wide variety of sources, with references at the end of the book that contain explanatory tidbits adding even more to the story. The photographs and illustrations, even those blurred by age and decomposition, are vivid and well produced, summoning up their subjects and places.

Mr. James, along with Judge James R. Ross, a great-grandson of Jesse James, is a co-founder of the James Preservation Trust. He writes and publishes on the official website of the James family, and is without a doubt the family cheerleader.

His writing is strong. . .

His writing is strong, perhaps a bit hyperbolic for my taste, but this is a good book for fans of Western history who want to know the real story. His research supports a claim to authenticity, and his writing keeps us reading.

Mr. James has conquered the Everest of writing a family history genealogy book that is interesting enough for the rest of us to want to read.


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EXCITING NEWS FROM PARIS, FRANCE . . . We've recently learned that the archives of Charlie Chaplin in Paris have an abundance of material related to our blacklisted, American screenwriter Daniel Lewis James Jr. Dan James story of his relationship with Chaplin is told in the chapter "All For the Underdog" in Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence.

Nellie Willard Werger pictured below, a granddaughter of Lillith Stanward, Dan's wife, made a substantial contribution of artifacts to the Chaplin archive.

Photos of Dan James with his Leica camera slung around his neck, when he worked on the movie set of The Great Dictator, now compliment the daily notes that Dan wrote during production. Photos Dan took while filming and also off the set also appear in the archive.

One of the images of Dan James that has captivated our attention is a photo of him shirtless, as he worked with Chaplin in a scene where Chaplin is in a mud hole. Dan's shirtless image perfectly displays the broad shoulders and body trunk that is genetic among our James men. This is a physical feature very commonly overlooked by those who seek to authenticate images claimed to be Jesse James.

More regarding this archive of new photos and documents will be appearing soon on our website Stray Leaves.
... See MoreSee Less

EXCITING NEWS FROM PARIS, FRANCE . . . Weve recently learned that the archives of Charlie Chaplin in Paris have an abundance of material related to our blacklisted, American screenwriter Daniel Lewis James Jr. Dan James story of his relationship with Chaplin is told in the chapter All For the Underdog in Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence.

Nellie Willard Werger pictured below, a granddaughter of Lillith Stanward, Dans wife, made a substantial contribution of artifacts to the Chaplin archive. 

Photos of Dan James with his Leica camera slung around his neck, when he worked on the movie set of The Great Dictator, now compliment the daily notes that Dan wrote during production.  Photos Dan took while filming and also off the set also appear in the archive.

One of the images of Dan James that has captivated our attention is a photo of him shirtless, as he worked with Chaplin in a scene where Chaplin is in a mud hole. Dans shirtless image perfectly displays the broad shoulders and body trunk that is genetic among our James men. This is a physical feature very commonly overlooked by those who seek to authenticate images claimed to be Jesse James. 

More regarding this archive of new photos and documents will be appearing soon on our website Stray Leaves.Image attachmentImage attachment

I'm considering including this image of the actress Sarah Bernhardt in Vol. V of JJSL, a biography of Drury Woodson James. On the morning of April 18, 1906, eighty-two-year-old Drury awakened at his Lenox Hotel to the great San Francisco earthquake. His wife, Mary Louisa Dunn, twenty years Drury's junior, was torn between administering the hotel and its guests and her Catholic Church about to serve the dispossessed. Drury's son-in-law Edward Frederick Burns watched his Turkish Baths at 11 Grant St. burn to the ground. Suddenly Sarah Bernhardt appeared among the ruins. That night she performed Phedre in Berkeley. ... See MoreSee Less

Im considering including this image of the actress Sarah Bernhardt in Vol. V of JJSL, a biography of Drury Woodson James. On the morning of April 18, 1906, eighty-two-year-old Drury awakened at his Lenox Hotel to the great San Francisco earthquake. His wife, Mary Louisa Dunn, twenty years Drurys junior, was torn between administering the hotel and its guests and her Catholic Church about to serve the dispossessed. Drurys son-in-law Edward Frederick Burns watched his Turkish Baths at 11 Grant St. burn to the ground. Suddenly Sarah Bernhardt appeared among the ruins. That night she performed Phedre in Berkeley.

Yip Harburg appears on page 241 of Jesse James Soul Liberty Vol. I. He was the lyricist with Harold Arlen as the composer for the play Bloomer Girl, written by Daniel Lewis James Jr., originating from the idea of Dan's wife Lilith Stanward. They chose the perversities of fashion to dramatize the early struggles of the Women's Rights Movement. Like Dan James, Harburg, too, was blacklisted by Hollywood.April 8, 1896: The great American popular song lyricist Yip Harburg was born on this date in 1896! Yipper worked with many well-known composers. He wrote the lyrics to the standards "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?," "April in Paris," and "It's Only a Paper Moon," as well as all of the songs in The Wizard of Oz, including "Over the Rainbow." He was known for the social commentary of his lyrics, as well as his liberal sensibilities. He also championed racial and gender equality and union politics. ... See MoreSee Less

Yip Harburg appears on page 241 of Jesse James Soul Liberty Vol. I. He was the lyricist with Harold Arlen as the composer for the play Bloomer Girl, written by Daniel Lewis James Jr., originating from the idea of Dans wife Lilith Stanward. They chose the perversities of fashion to dramatize the early struggles of the Womens Rights Movement. Like Dan James, Harburg, too, was blacklisted by Hollywood.

When John Hunt Morgan surrendered in the Civil War, some of our James family serving under him surrendered with him. David Hunt James and his brother Richard Skinner James, of Woodford County, Ky., were captured and sent as POWs to Camp Douglas in Chicago. Richard died of his injuries while incarcerated. David Hunt James was sent to Richmond, Va. at war's end and paroled. He walked home to Woodford County, where he returned to his family's farm, continued to farm hemp and tobacco, and founded the Second National Bank of Lexington. Also captured with the James brothers was John Smith May, a nephew of Rhoda May and Rev. Joseph Martin James of Pulaski County, Ky.
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Several of my family served under Gen.Morgan and were captured then sent to camp Douglas..Thank you for your post.

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