In Victorian Frankfort, Kentucky, high society held washtub boat races on the Kentucky River. In once race, Campbell E. James took his competing craft Bashi-Bazouk to victory. From the Turkish, Bashi-bazouk translates as “damaged head,” and as “disorderly,” and as “leaderless.” The term originated when applied to different soldiers in the Ottoman Army who fought as irregulars. The intent of Campbell E. James to characterize his prospects for victory was evident in his irrepressible humor.
In her book Filling the Chinks, Ermina Jett Darnell wrote about everyday life in Frankfort at the time. As a descendant of the Cole family ancestors of Frank & Jesse James, Darnell was their 3rd cousin. Campbell Edmundson James, or C. E. James, was the son of Judge A. J. James & Mary Allison Beatty, and also a relation. In Filling the Chinks, Darnell recorded the following story of Campbell E. James taking his Bashi-Bazouk to victory.
On September 1, 1877, the local paper announced that there would be a tub race on the river at 5:30 on the following Tuesday. The writer said: “The course selected is from Herndon’s wharf to the boathouse below the upper bridge. All tubs other than the regulation wash-tub will be ruled out.”
“Herndon’s wharf” was back of the site of the present Southern Hotel. “The regulation wash-tub” was a heavy affair made of wooden staves held together with metal hoops.
The contestants were: E. H. Berry, C. C. Todd, Jacob Evans, Ed Grant, M. H. Malone, Dudley Watson, Campbell James, Clarence Drane, Howard Jett, W. C. Dudley, M.P. Gray, John W. Milam, John Pendleton, Robert Franklin, Peter Dudley, T. L. Crittenden, F. C. Hutchinson, Willoughby Rodman, Albert Crutcher.
New announcements were made in such an edgy, eager style that it is hard to see how anyone in Frankfort slept the night before the race. No contestant could be under eighteen. There were to be no paddles, but each man steer and propel with his hands. The winner would become the proprietor of all the tubs. There would be boats in attendance to pick up the crew of any capsized tubs. Crews would not be allowed to swim by the side of their tubs, and no tubs could go ashore until the end of the race.
Then came the great day, and all Frankfort turned out. The bridge was crowded, and both sides of the river were lined with people.
But of the twenty entries, only sixteen started, and of these, only three reached the goal. The Bashi-Bazouk, paddled by Campbell James, came in full two tub lengths ahead of Ocean Wave, paddled by Dudley Watson. The Undine No. 2, by Albert Crutcher, was capsized, alas, about ten feet from the string!
ANOTHER TRAGIC DEATH in the line of Rev. Joseph Martin James & Permelia Estepp. Two days ago, Richard Lee James, age 62 of Wilmington, Ohio, died on the farm of his father Raymond James, age 88, in Russell Springs, Ky. Details are pending. It is assumed to be a farming accident. Richard’s passing is particularly tragic. His daughter Heather Lee James collapsed and died suddenly at the age of 23 in 2008 from diabetes. In her honor, Richard bore a tattoo image of his daughter on his shoulder. Richard’s 2nd great grandfather, Judge John Thomas James also suffered a tragic death in 1923. While crank starting his automobile, the car proceeded to run over Judge James and drag him to his death. Richard Lee James was a veteran and remained an activist in veteran issues. ... See MoreSee Less
The passing of our cousin Cathy Eloise Smith-Suttle is noted. Cathy's common ancestors with our James are Cathy's 5th great grandparents, Judge Joseph McAlister Sr. of Gilmore's Rifles in the Revolution, and wife Nancy Agnes Gilmore. ... See MoreSee Less
Stray Leaves has just learned of the passing of Margaret Elizabeth "Betty" Shouse in Kansas City on April 30th, 2019. Betty is a great-granddaughter of John Watts Shouse, who together with his son James O. Shouse, William Wysong, William Dagley, Joseph T. Pettigrew, William G. Dollis, Riley Henderson, and Dick Liddil formed a plan and tried to get Jesse James to surrender to authorities prior to his assassination. ... See MoreSee Less
The historic meeting place of the James-Younger Gang destroyed in Northfield, Minnesota. About 20 years ago the historic Archer House hosted the annual meeting of the James-Younger Gang. Many of us resided in the hotel for the term of the conference. ... See MoreSee Less
We stayed there in 2018 for a couple of nights. It was a wonderful place. When we arrived, there was a storm brewing and we sat outside along the river and watched it coming closer. The front porch of the house was a lovely place to sit in the mornings. Happy memories.