Tag Archives: El Paso de Robles

Drury Woodson James by His Daughter Mary Louise James Burns

HISTORY OF DRURY WOODSON JAMES

By Mary Louise James Burns, his daughter

Mary Louise James, daughter of Drury Woodson James
Mary Louise James Burns, daughter of Drury Woodson James, founder of Paso Robles, California. From Jesse james Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence by Eric F, James, p.18.

Drury Woodson James was born in Logan County, Kentucky on the 14th of November, 1826. His parents and grand-parents were Virginians, and his grand-fathers fought for Independence in the Revolutionary War. Drury Woodson James was the youngest of five boys. They were reared by his oldest sister, having been orphaned at an early age. Drury’s mother died when he was three months old, and his father when he was a year old.

In 1846, Drury enlisted in the Mexican War as a drummer boy, and fought through the war under General Taylor. After the war was over, James went to California. He left old Fort Kearney with a pioneer wagon train and reached the Hangtown gold fields in 1849. He mined for several months and then entered the business of buying and selling cattle. This proved to be a very successful venture. It is stated that his practice was to drive the cattle to the different mining towns and sell the cattle on the hoof for as much as three or four times the amount paid for them. James became known in the country in 1850, and played an important part in the early history of the community.

D. W. James
Drury Woodson James, Founder of Paso Robles, California. From the book Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, Behind the Family Wall of Stigma & Silence, by Eric F. James, p.17

In 1850, D. W. James and a John G. Thompson of Kentucky purchased the La Panza Rancho. They engaged in the business of buying cattle and horses. The county records of this time show numerous failures among the cattlemen. During the years of 1862, 1863, and 1864 occurred one of the worst droughts in the history of the country. At this time James and Thompson found themselves with 5000 head of cattle. At this time, cattlemen all over the area, when they saw their feed and water going, turned their cattle loose to fend for themselves. Not James; he drove the cattle to the Tulare and Buena Vista Lakes and saved them. James and Thompson also owned the Comatti8 and Carissa ranches. It is not known when they purchased these ranches, and they were probably sold along about the same time that the La Panza Rancho was sold.

Thompson and James sold the La Panza Rancho in 1869 to Jones and Schoenfield. Thompson then returned

Mary Louise James testimony-1/3
Page one of a three-page testimony of Mary Louise James Burns, daughter of Drury Woodson James, executed and transcribed in 1949 by Mary Joan Malley Beamis, great-granddaughter of D.W. James. This original document in the Joan Beamis Archive of the James Preservation Trust.

Page 2:

to Kentucky. In 1857, a James H. Blackburn had bought the El Paso de Robles Rancho from Petronelli Ries. Ries had acquired the ranch in 1850 from one Pedro Novares. Novares had acquired the ranch under a Mexican land grant in 1844. Novares claimed six leagues or about 25,000 acres along the Salinas River. In 1850, James B. Blackburn divided the ranch. Daniel D. Blackburn chose the northern league of the rancho on which were located the springs. Daniel D. Blackburn then sold one-half of his northern half to a Thomas McGreal who sold it to James in 1869. D. D. Blackburn and D. W. James each owned half of the northern league. D. D. Blackburn then sold half of his half to James H. Blackburn. So James owned a half and the two Blackburn brothers each owned a quarter of the northern league.

On September 15, 1966, Daniel D. Blackburn and Drury W. James married sisters at a double wedding in the San Luis Obispo Mission. They were married by the Rev. Father Sastra in the old Mission church. Louise M. Dunn married D.W. James and Cecelia Dunn married D. D. Blackburn. The Dunn family had come to America from Australia about 1850. They settled first in Sacramento and later moved to San Luis Obispo.

Mary Louise James testimony 2/3
Page two of a three-page testimony of Mary Louise James Burns, daughter of Drury Woodson James, executed and transcribed in 1949 by Mary Joan Malley Beamis, great-granddaughter of D.W. James. This original document in the Joan Beamis Archive of the James Preservation Trust.

James B. Blackburn was the first of this famous partnership to die. He left the bulk of his estate to Daniel and Cecelia Blackburn and their children. At this time, there was talk of the railroad coming through to El Paso de Robles. Realizing the possibilities of this part of the country as a resort area, Blackburn and James decided to build a hotel. The cornerstone was laid in 1889. The railroad tried to buy the property and the half-finished hotel from Blackburn and James but they refused the offer.

The business set-up became more and more complicated and the number of heirs and D. W. James found that it would be almost impossible to sell any portion of his interest in the property should he want to. So in 1890 he started court action for the purpose of dividing the property. The court ordered the property partitioned.

Mary Louise James testimony 3/3
Page three of a three-page testimony of Mary Louise James Burns, daughter of Drury Woodson James, executed and transcribed in 1949 by Mary Joan Malley Beamis, great-granddaughter of D.W. James. This original document in the Joan Beamis Archive of the James Preservation Trust.

Page 3:

The following history of Drury Woodson James was dictated to me, Mary Jean Malley Beamis, by my maternal grandmother, Mary Louise James Burns in 1949 when she was eighty one years of age.

It was written at the request of the officials of the city of Paso Robles, California, on the occasion of the dedication of a monument to her father’s memory in the Park which had been given to the city by Drury Woodson James and Daniel D. Blackburn.

(s) Mary Joan Beamis

May 22, 1971

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

STRATFORD, SB.

May 23, 1971

Personally appears Mary Joan Beamis and made oath that the above statement is true and the information to the attached statement is true to the best of her knowledge and belief.

Before me,

(s) John F. Beamis

Notary Public

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Tuesday June 30th, 2020

Stray Leaves

Here's some colorful video history on George Morgan Chinn, a grandson of Frank James' cohort John Pendleton "Black Jack" Chinn. Whenever I drive from Danville to Midway or Lexington, Ky, I pass the ruins of Chinn's Cave House.
Here also are a couple of testimonials about George, also colorful, from the files of the James Preservation Trust.
#1- "I remember George very well. He was my late father's cousin and we do have his linage through the Morgan's, dating back to John Morgan in 1778. He was a really smart fellow and funny. His [Ed.: grand] father was Jack Chinn. I have a picture of him with William Jennings Bryan, Dicky Brant, and Frank James (Brother of Jesse) seated in a buggy hitched to the only grey horse that won the Kentucky Derby. Jack was fined five dollars for speeding in a horse-drawn vehicle. He paid ten dollars and told them to keep the change because he was going out of town (Harrodsburg, Ky) the same speed he came in. My dad had a lot of these old family tales."
And #2 - "hi I knew him personally. He has a lot of historical books at the Fort Harrod Museum. He also published one about Brooklyn or the Palisades area of Jessamine and Mercer Counties. His wife's nickname was Cotton because of her white hair. They were both feisty. I lived and grew up on five acres that attached to the Chinn land. It was at 5555 Lexington Rd in Mercer county. The Chinn mansion was in a hairpin curve...'Chinn curve.'
"We had hunters and trespassers that would go on the property and we would have to call the Chinns to have them removed.
"My grandfather grew up and ran with Jack Chinn. Jack had a moonshine still in a cave across the ky river from the mansion. He would take a boat across to the cave.
Mr. George Chinn was a historian and you can look for his books on google. Or contact the Fort Harrod in Harrodsburg or the local library. Sorry, that is all I have except I know George had a daughter."
George Morgan Chinn also was a director of the Kentucky Historical Society and editor of their publication "The Register." He authored several books, including "Kentucky: Settlement and Statehood, 1750-1800," still in print, "The Encyclopedia of Hand Arms," and the five-volume work "The Machine Gun."
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Thursday June 25th, 2020

Stray Leaves

This 1879 map from the US War Dept. shows the extent of the 10,000 acres rancho of Drury Woodson James. The rancho reached from Paso de Robles to Chalome. The map also identifies the probable route DWJ took through the Palonio Pass and past the Salt Springs during the drought of 1863-64 when he drove 5,000 head of cattle from Paso to Lake Tulare to save and preserve the bulk of his wealth. ... See MoreSee Less

This 1879 map from the US War Dept. shows the extent of the 10,000 acres rancho of Drury Woodson James. The rancho reached from Paso de Robles to Chalome. The map also identifies the probable route DWJ took through the Palonio Pass and past the Salt Springs during the drought of 1863-64 when he drove 5,000 head of cattle from Paso to Lake Tulare to save and preserve the bulk of his wealth.

Comment on Facebook This 1879 map from ...

...and we're speaking the same language! Really awesome!

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