A mystery has surrounded the death and burial of John Jarrette, a Quantrill Raider, and James Gang member. Researcher Lorna Mitchell has been on Jarrette’s trail. Attempting to solve the mystery, Lorna has produced documents, expected to write some new history, plus a grave marker for John Jarette.
An unsubstantiated story of death claims that John and his wife Mary Josephine Younger, known as Josie, a sister of the Younger brothers, perished in an ambush of their home in St. Clair County, Missouri in 1869. Local lore said John and Josie Jarette were buried in Yeater Cemetery in Roscoe, Missouri. The Jarette’s children Jeptha and Margaret, were adopted following their parent’s demise. Genealogy records of William R. Lunceford in 2005 stated Anne and Lycurgus Jones became legal guardians of Jeptha Jarette. Nothing is known of who adopted Margaret. No cemetery records exist for Yeater Cemetery and a physical inspection of the cemetery revealed tombstones too old and weathered to be discernable.
Lorna Mitchell has tracked down John Jarette to Greenwood in British Columbia, Canada. She’s produced a death certificate showing Jarette, a proprietor and rancher, died in a local hospital in 1906.
A marriage certificate also has been produced by Lorna, showing a marriage between Robert Letherdale, a livery proprietor, age 30, and Edwards Rosella Jarette, age 18. Edna, as she was known, is identified as being born in Henderson County, Kentucky with her parents identified as John Jarette and Josephine Younger. The couple was married in 1893.
The marriage certificate for another daughter, Marion Jarette, the spouse of Hugh F. Keefer, also shows John and Josie Jarette as Marion’s parents. Both daughter petitioned the British Columbia Probate Court, with Marion relinquishing any claim.
In addition to these documents, Lorna states she has an archive of supportive documents, records, and newspaper clippings.
Of the new grave marker installation, Lorna writes, “Frank and Sharon Younger, my husband and I just returned from our trip to Greenwood to attend the ceremony for John Jarrett’s new grave marker. The event was a huge success with fifty people in attendance, some in period costume. We toured the museum where they have recently opened an exhibit for John, then we went to the cemetery where the President of the Greenwood Historical Society gave a talk on John. Then a minister gave a short sermon and prayer. Amazing Grace was played on an accordion at the end of the ceremony. After a luncheon ten of us drove to Rock Creek to see the properties where John lived…I will be writing a more detailed account of our trip for the next James-Younger Gang Journal.”
Whenever an important discovery, such as this, is made, new questions arise. We expect Lorna will be moving on to the next step of investigation, namely researching how, why, and when Jarrette went to Canada and what was Josie’s fate and where. Of course, people are going to inquire, too, about the middle initial “M” in her documents and where that comes from, since a middle initial for John Jarette was unknown previously. A couple years discrepancy in Jarette’s birth date can be expected to be called into question also. But a specific date may not be as important as the hopeful discovery of John Jarette’s life in retirement from the James Gang and Quantrill Raiders.
Lorna Mitchell provides the excellent example of how genealogical research will provide historical breakthroughs. Traditional historians should take note. More due diligence of this type should be conducted by genealogists and historians. We look forward to more of Lorna’s fine research. Lorna Mitchell is opening a new door to new history.