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Jesse James Family Member Charges History Book with “Incorrect facts”

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In lectures and writing, I’ve often referred to the ability of the Jesse James family to confound expectations. Now I have the example that beats them all. And it’s more than the oxymoron of “incorrect facts.”

Milton F. Perry Award


Last week, Jesse James Soul Liberty hit a new high and a low.

The high was receiving the prestigious Milton F. Perry Award for ground breaking history and writing, following numerous rave book reviews.

The low appeared in the worst book review possible, posted to the Customer Reviews page for the book on Amazon.com.

The confounding part is, the bad review was written by a James family member who contributed to the content of the book.


amazon customer review

Never mind the blatant oxymoron, and the editorial errors of improper capitalization and misspelling, in contradiction to a complaint of “lack of editing,” plus the fact this James family member appears not have read the entire book. Is this really a book review? Or is it something else? Is there something flying here beneath the radar of detectability? How confounding is this?

I’m no stranger to criticism. From schoolyard bullies to my show business career when everything I did was reviewed and criticized; to my real estate business when powerful interests attempted to sabotage my success critically, competitively, and politically; to my work in the political arena of public service which always invites confrontation; and today to my dedication to the James family through my work with Stray Leaves, Leaves of Gas, and the James Preservation Trust, I’ve experienced it all. Criticism of me and what I do always has been in the public eye.

I know from this experience what criticism is good. I also know what criticism is worthless, and how to differentiate the two.

Most criticism I’ve received, relating to the James family, has come from claimants and impostors. Year after year, they have been as relentless as they are worthless. Their accusations of attempted murder by me, conspiracy to murder by me, and imaginary FBI investigations of me prove so. All of their public posturing is false, fraudulent, and totally without proof.

When conducting the exhumation of Jesse James’ twin children for the James family, public criticism branded me a grave robber and a treasure seeker.  Totally wrong, again. The event resulted from the promise of Jesse James Jr. to his mother to fulfill her lifelong wish to be reunited with her children. The promise was handed down from Jesse Jr. to Judge James R. Ross, Jesse’s great grandson, who in turn entrusted the job to me. The business was conducted in compliance with the law, with full oversight by governing authorities.

LinkedIn invitation

A former president of the Friends of James Farm, Marvin “Butch” Leslie, publicly branded me a pedophile once. He banned me from the Friends’ website on Delphi Forums, and from Delphi Forums altogether. This was done in much the same way as when Sen. Joseph McCarthy blacklisted Daniel Lewis James as a Communist, on the hearsay of one demagogue alone, without one scintilla of evidence ever being produced.

As my book, Jesse James Soul Liberty shows, these kinds of attacks have wrecked the James family with division, self-destruction, and disunion for decades. Joan Beamis stated, “I was specifically warned not to try any correspondence at all with any relatives in Missouri.” My own contact with some among James family was met with the same silence and obstruction which Joan had met. One family member specifically told me to mind my business. Not everyone in the James family wishes to discuss the family’s history.


Virginia Jacques Church
Virginia J. Church

So, I was pleased to have the cooperation of my Amazon critic, Virginia J. Church. In our written interviews, she provided valuable history about her part of the James family. She also provided photographs not seen before. Researching her content independently afterward, most everything she offered checked out as true. What could not be verified was left out of the book. Our relationship, I thought, was cordial, constructive, and friendly. I take pride in the James family who participated in my book, and the relationships with them that have resulted.

Needless to say, I was chagrined by the harsh comments I then saw on Amazon. Immediately upon reading the criticism by Virginia J. Church, I wrote to her promptly as follows:

Eric James email quote

To date, there has been no reply.

To argue over such a small part of the book may seem frivolous. However, more than a decade of diligent and financially costly research, that will never be recouped, has been conducted to make this book a totally factual history, and error free. On each page of its 400+ pages appear no less than 25 facts per page, and more often than not, more. The book contains 175 photos and images. There are 381 notes and source citations with a bibliography of 220 sources. The devotion of this book was to create a factual record, and nothing less.

If the biting criticism of Virginia Church is so valid, why does she not offer the corrections necessary?

Absent whatever corrections Virginia J. Church might want to see, the book which she finds filled with “Incorrect facts” and of so little value in her personal estimation – though it is clear she has not read the entire book – remains the record of history, as written.

This event painfully bears out a fundamental theme of the book with unmistakable evidence. Jesse James Soul Liberty continues to show the ability of the Jesse James family to confound expectations. The book also continues to bring to life in real-time the self-inflicted fragmentation by some among the James family, who so easily and so readily attack their own.

As the jacket back of Jesse James Soul Liberty, states, “Think you know Jesse James? Wait until you meet his family.”

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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