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Dead Betty Duke Arises in Occult Rehash

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Book Review – The Mysterious Life & Faked Death of Jesse James

The authors are the children of the late Betty Dorsett Duke who published three books that claimed her great-grandfather James L. Courtney was really Jesse James. It appears this family is going to endlessly produce books stating this claim over and over again.

A rehash for occult readers

BOOK REVIEW: Duke, Daniel J., and Duke, Teresa F., The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James (Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont, 2020) 200 pp., a number of illustrations b/w, endnotes, index. Softcover, $16.99.

By Nancy B. Samuelson

The authors are the children of the late Betty Dorsett Duke who published three books that claimed her great-grandfather James L. Courtney was really Jesse James. It appears this family is going to endlessly produce books stating this claim over and over again.

Author Daniel J. Duke
Occult author Teresa F. Duke
Author Teresa F. Duke
Time shifting authors
SPOILER ALERT !!! – The sibling authors Duke claim to be the second great-grandchildren of Jesse James. Jesse Woodson James was born in 1847. To partially validate their claim, the Duke siblings would need to be over 85 years of age at the present time, which they are not. They are short by a generation.

Former Claims Repeated

The first six chapters of the book repeat a lot of the claims made by Betty Duke in earlier books. Several photos are used again here that appeared in Betty Duke’s book, Jesse James the Smoking Gun. These photos are all very questionable photos.  Photos claimed to be pictures from Frank and Annie James’s wedding are, in fact, photos taken when Mrs. Quantrill visited Missouri. Copies of some of these pictures were reproduced and sold as postcards. Just about all of the material in the first six chapters merely repeat what Betty Duke has published earlier.

Tawdry Sideshow – Restated

Chapter seven is titled ‘Tawdry Sideshow”. This is a critique of James E. Starrs’s exhumation of Jesse James’s body and DNA testing in 1995. This is reasonably accurate but it is not new information. Your reviewer published an article “Who is Buried in Jesse James Grave” which covered this same territory. I was given the Perry Award by the James-Younger Gang in 2007 for this article. 

James L. Courtney Notebook – Argued

The third part of the book is an appendix, titled, “In His Own Words”. This is a copy of a diary or notebook that was supposedly kept by James L. Courtney. Some notes are added as commentary to explain some of the entries. This section makes up pages 84-187. This appears to be mostly a record kept by Mr. Courtney to show where and what work he did, what he spent money on, visits with neighbors and friends, etc. It makes for pretty dull reading. The authors added comments which further adds to the confusion. A couple of examples follow:

#1 In August 1871 a man named Singleton is mentioned. The commentary says, “Bud Singleton was a known James Gang member, as is verified by sources such as James W. Buel in his 1881 book titled The Border Bandits. [Buel’s book is very inaccurate and I have never found any reference to a man named Singleton in the James Gang anywhere else.]

#2 in February 1874, “Friday at Thads & Pa is still low & all the children is there & we all remained there all day Bud Poca William Serena & in fact all the Youngers & in the evening Bud & Poca they went down home & at nite [Dave] Mixen & Bill Holcom they came & set up until three & then went home.” The Commentary: “Notice in the diary above that he writes that “Bud, Poca, William, Serena and in fact all the Youngers…” Now some may say that just means younger children, but if that was the case he wouldn’t have written “children” in the line above that. We believe that when he writes “Youngers” he means members of his gang, as in Cole Younger and his brothers and possibly other members of the Younger family. This entry shows another uncharacteristic slip of the writer in revealing his identity. For us, it equates to further evidence that the diary legitimately belonged to Jesse James.” [Of course, none of these names except possibly Bud, which was a nickname for Cole younger, are Younger names.]

Conclusion – A Rehash

This book is largely a rehash of many of the claims by Betty Dorsett Duke that James L. Courtney was the real Jesse James. Just like Betty’s books and the previous book by Daniel J. Duke, there is still no good evidence here to prove this case.

About Destiny Books

EDITOR’S COMMENT from Stray Leaves: The publisher of the Duke family’s book is Destiny Books. As the publisher advertises below, the books it publishes fall into the genres of dreaming, the occult, magic, and time-shifting. Or, as Destiny Books more succinctly states, it publishes “books on popular occult topics…”

Destiny Books publishes occult and magic books.

Wikipedia defines occult so: “The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural beliefs and practices which generally fall outside the scope of religion and science, encompassing such phenomena involving otherworldly agency as mysticism, spirituality, and magic.”

The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James evidently is not intended for readers of factually true and authentic biography, history, or even family history. The professed genre by Destiny Books to publish books of the occult should alone be fair warning for readers of what they might expect to find in the family Duke’s rehash.


Murder & Betty Dorsett Duke

Betty demands blood from a great-grandson of Jesse James

Betty’s true biological family refutes her claims

Betty claims Stray Leaves’ publisher Eric F. James & others are out to kill her

Stalkers of Famous & Infamous Families (posted July 28, 2010)

Betty Dorsett Duke Book All Smoke No Gun

Old Jesse James Con Artists Never Die. They Just Propagate the Next Generation

Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure


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Tuesday October 19th, 2021
Stray Leaves Daily

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Tuesday October 19th, 2021
Stray Leaves Daily

☞Today in Old-West History — On today’s date 119 years ago, Sunday, October 19, 1902, notorious Old-West outlaw & fiddle player James Hardin “Uncle Jim” Younger (1848-1902) met his earthly demise at the age of 54 when he committed suicide by gunshot whilst on parole at Saint Paul, Minnesota.

☞Requiéscant In Pace, Jim Younger.

☞Jim Younger was one of the central figures of a band of the most desperate outlaws the Old West ever knew — the infamous James-Younger Gang, which was formed by Jim’s brother Cole Younger along with Frank & Jesse James.

☞Jim Younger joined the Confederate Army during the War Between the States (1861-1865) & served with Quantrill’s Raiders. In 1864, he was captured by Union troops & was imprisoned until the end of the War.

☞After the War, Younger worked on various ranches until he joined the James-Younger Gang in 1873. When his brother John was killed at Roscoe, Missouri in 1874, Jim left the gang & went out west where he worked on a ranch in San Luis Obispo, California.

☞In 1876, Jim returned to the gang, & on September 7 he participated in a bank robbery that became known as the Great Northfield Minnesota Raid. During that robbery he was shot & captured. The James brothers escaped, but Cole, Jim, & Bob Younger were shot up by a posse, arrested, & sentenced to long terms in the state penitentiary at Stillwater, Minnesota, where they were afforded celebrity status.

☞Jim Younger’s fiddle was one of the few possessions that he was allowed to have with him in prison, & he played it often. As time passed, Jim noticed that a little bird would appear most every day in the window of his jail cell. It seemed as though the bird came to listen whenever Jim played his fiddle. Jim was lonely & he befriended the bird which he named “Swipsy.” The bird would fly into the prison cell & Jim would always try to have crumbs to feed Swipsy. One day, a fellow prisoner killed the little bird just for spite. Jim then painted a picture of Swipsy on the back of his violin to remember his little feathered friend.

☞In 1898, the prison warden allowed the prisoners to throw a Christmas party at his own home, with Cole Younger portraying Santa Claus & Jim Younger playing his fiddle.

☞Paroled in 1901, Jim became engaged to his long-time lover Alix Mueller; however, because of the terms of his parole he couldn’t marry her.

☞On October 19, 1902, after a failed attempt to sell tombstones & then insurance, Jim Younger locked himself in his room, wrote a suicide note to Alix, picked up his revolver, & blew his brains out.

☞In 2013, Jim Younger’s fiddle, which was played by him at the famous 1898 Christmas party at Stillwater Prison, was sold at a Dallas, Texas auction for over $11,000.

☞The left-hand photograph depicts the image of Swipsy the Bird that Jim Younger painted on the back of his fiddle. The right-hand photograph depicts an undated studio portrait of Jim Younger.
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Tuesday October 5th, 2021
Stray Leaves Daily

For Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, CA., and all his descendants, PASO ROBLES FOUNDERS’ DAY 2021. See MoreSee Less

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