Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
The following letter of apology written by Thelma Duncan Barr to Joan Malley Beamis is transcribed as written. No editing has been applied.
Thelma Duncan Barr is the spouse of Henry Lafayette Barr, a grandson of Jesse Woodson James. Joan Malley Beamis is the great-granddaughter of Drury Woodson James, an uncle of Jesse Woodson James, America’s iconic outlaw.
Overland Park, Kansas
Oct. 26, 1970
Mrs. John F. Beamis
7 Hamilton Street
Somersworth, N.H., 03878
Dear Mrs. Beamis.
My name is Thelma Duncan Barr. My husband is Lawrence H. Barr.
We were in Los Angeles, Calif. In Oct. on our way home from Hawaii. We visited several days with our cousins, the daughters of Aunt Stella James. Ethel Rose Owens gave me your letter, Sept. 1970, to read. I wanted to write you and offer an explanation for my husband not answering your letter of several years ago?
I am sorry he did not see fit to answer your letter. You have no idea how many inquiries he gets through the mails. He simply didn’t want to be bothered. I told him at the time he should have answered your letter.
However, he does not know very much about the historical facts of the family. Mother Barr would not let it be “talked about” in her home. Now Forster has always been interested in the “James Stories” and got into his possession all he could find about Jesse James. He has all the keepsakes, historical data, pictures (what there are) etc. Lawrence has very, very little about his grandfather! Only in the past few years has he become interested. If all I recall correctly you were asking for a picture of Drury Woodson James.
He did not have it and has only very few pictures of his mother. What we do have is in books we have had to buy and newspaper clippings. Forster was always the one who answered people’s letters. Now that is the best excuse I can give him, which is true, believe me.
However, in the past three years I have been doing a Genealogy of “my” family. I started with my mother’s family and then my father’s family. They both came from the early day settlers of Mo. They came from Virginia to Kentucky, to Mo. About 1820 & 1825. This, to me, has been most interesting. I am not finding very many stories or historical events. It is mostly lineage.
A long time ago, when on a trip to Calif., we went to see Lutie Mimms. She gave me, to bring home with me a Genealogy of the Mimms family. She & Mother Barr were double cousins. At that time it was all in a gig-saw puzzle to me. I read, read, & read it before I could begin to understand it. When I finished copying it I found a “gap” in it that directly linked the Mimms & the James families together. She (Lutie) said he niece had it. I never did get it from Lutie, her niece, or Aunt Stella.
We went to the nursing home to see Aunt Stella & she did know us!
In the research of some of the related families to my direct lines I came across a James family in the “Germanna Records” of Richmond, Va. But Dr. B. C. Holtzclaw said he did not think there was a connection with the Rev. Robert Sallee James.
In Ethel Rose’s letter you spoke of a book, or pamphlet, that you and your co-author Mr. William E. Pulliam, were going to publish! Has it been published yet? You said you were going to give them away to historical societies, libraries, D.A.R. of Washington D.A.C. of Texas.
I belong to the Clay Co. (Historical) Museum Ass. They are endeavoring to write a new history of Clay Co. of some of their earlier families. Of course they have not asked the Barr boys for the James Family because many, many books have been written about them. (There is a Jesse James Museum in Liberty. He makes money at it and seems to think he’ s an authority.)
Each month they have a resume of a family on their monthly letter. I wrote one on my Duncan family fr Jan. 1969 (I believe) it was. I also belong to Smithville Historical Society. They are compiling a lot of families. I have given them the Thomas Fry family; the McCullough Family; Capt. James Duncan; John Duncan and have a great deal on related families (which others are working on, too.) I don’t type so mine is all handwritten. It has been work. I know how to appreciate your labors, believe me!
I am interested in where you got your information on the exact connection of Mimms or (Mims) & James line. I “think” I have it figured out, but am not sure I am correct!
Do you get all the brothers & sisters that you can of each family or – do you just get direct lineage?
The only data we have on Drury Woodson James was that he was the youngest of 8 children (of John James who married Mary Polly Poor.) He was born Nov. 17, 1825 (also have another date from another source as Nov. 14, 1826.) Which is correct?
You no doubt have more authentic data than I do. What I have has been from books others have written. A Mr. Ed Knowles who in 1908 was at Topeka, Ks. on the “Topeka Capitol Journal”. He is no longer with them. He sent my husband a “copy” of a talk he gave at Clay Co. Museum meeting in Liberty. That is where I got my little on “Lindsay” and “Cole” family.
All I have on James Family is
I. Martin James married?
II. John James married Mary Polly Poore their ch.
1. Mary; 2. William; 3. John 4. Elizabeth; 5. Robert Sallee James; 6. Nancy; 7. Thomas and; 8. Drury Woodson.
III. Gen. Robert Sallee James married Zerelda Cole
- Their children & on down to present day
Do you have any data back older than Martin James?
We have Carl Breihan’s book but didn’t think much of it. I couldn’t find the entire Genealogical history of Lindsay-Cole line in it. Has he written more than one book?
We thought “Jesse James was His Name” was a good book (as far as we know) that is.
If I have any data you don’t have I’d be willing to exchange with you. I would like for you to verify my connection between the Mimms & James family. It isn’t in too good an order right now, but I could re-write it for you.
You see I have written so much these past three years that I have about ruined my right hand. I hurt a tendon in it over 3 yrs. ago. When I write too much it gets very sore.
I am corresponding with a Mrs. Sale on Ind. In respect to some mutual family connections. Also a woman in El Centro, Calif on a connection with a branch in my mother’s line. It seems to never end.
This week I had a request for some Barr data. It don’t have any to speak of so now I have to search for it. I think Forster has the Barr family Bible too.
I must quit for tonight.
If you are going to give out copies of your “James Family” I’d love to have one.
If you contact the Clay Co. Historical or Museum Ass. Don’t contact a Mrs. Eldridge. She is a “professional”. She gets her material
“free” then sells it. This woman in deed paid her $20.00 for research & got very little” for it.
The Clay Co. Museum told me about 2 yrs. ago they didn’t want mine because they at that time did not have a facility for handling them. No file system or anything. Of course mine was hand written and not printed. A book might be different. Mr. Donald Pharris is the Pres. He is rather up in years tho. He re-wrote some of my sketch & misspelled so many names it made me sick. He botches up nearly every one. He wanted another sketch but I wouldn’t give him another.
Are you a member of D.A.R. or D.O.C.? I can’t find proof of Dr. James Duncan in the Rev. War. He was; but I haven’t found the proof yet. They sent my money back twice. I’ll have to find another source. There were dozens of James Duncans, one in every generation!
It has been nice visiting with you. Please don’t think too harshly about my husband. He just doesn’t see the importance of our work. He thinks I’m wasting my time!
Thelma Duncan Barr
9519 El Monte
Overland Park, Kansas 66207
Next Day – Oct. 27, 1970
My husband finally dug out of his files, this morning, your letter that I asked him several times to hunt up for me.
You wrote him March 1, 1966/ He ans. You Aug. 21, 1966. Then you sent him an air mail card Sept. 23, 1966 & a Xmas greeting. You said you were going to send him copies of your research but we did not received them.
So he didn’t ignore your letter completely. He has an office in the basement. I never know who he writes to or anything about it.
He is retired now but “sits a lot.” Not me, I have to be up and doing things! This Genealogical work I have done on my family has been done by correspondence mostly. We do have a good library down town Kansas City; but it is hard for me to get there. It costs about $1.50 to park car. I always get so interested I forget to eat lunch. I stay so long I get caught in heavy traffic. Some trips you don’t find a thing you want – other times more than you can copy.
In re-reading your letter I see you do belong to D.A.R. I am eligible for D.O.C. but have not found proof yet on Duncan line for D.A.R. Duncan Tavern in Paris, Ky. Has it but can’t get it unless I go there.
(final unmarked page)
Do you have cousin Luties’nleice’s address?
Do you have the Mimms line back to Thomas Mimms who came to Lancaster Co., Va. In May, 1657?