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One of 5 Historic James Homes in Pulaski County, Kentucky

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This is one of five historic homes of our James family in Pulaski County, Kentucky. Located at the intersection of Route 80 and James Road, the site is about eight miles east of Somerset, Kentucky.

Unclear is whether this home was built by John M. James (1751-1823), or by his son, Reverend Daniel Field James (1795-1871). I believe it was John. Daniel built his own brick home on Highway 461, north of Dahl Road. John’s previous brick home was built at the bend in Dahl Road, circa 1795. This second home was more opulent in its construction with arched windows and doorways, and much larger in size than John’s first home.

This home definitely was occupied by two of John’s daughters and their husbands. John’s third eldest daughter, Betsy, lived here with her husband, Reverend Jeremiah Vardeman. After she eloped with Jerry, John brought the un-godlike Jerry into Baptist ministry. Jerry went on to become an eminent Baptist Divine. Jeremiah Vardeman founded the schools of Theology at Georgetown College in Kentucky, and at William Jewell College in Missouri. He also gave Frank and Jesse’s father, Reverend Robert Sallee James, $20,000 to become a William Jewell College founder, after Robert graduated Georgetown.

Record books today identify this tract as “The Vardeman Tract.” Jerry’s enslaved were buried in a cemetery on this site. Jerry also had a still in the knob behind the cemetery meadow. John’s eldest daughter, Molly, subsequently occupied this home with Senator Jack Griffin Sr.

The home then was occupied by Will James, John’s grandson and a son of Daniel Field James, with his wife Nancy R. Gilliland. Will, it is said, got shot up riding with Frank and Jesse. Will returned to this home partially crippled. The estate sits in clear view of James cemetery, on the knob diagonally across Route 80 at the end of James Road.

It was Jack Griffin’s son, Senator Jack Griffin Jr., who accidentally burned down the house. This photo shows the markings of the fire that consumed the second story bedroom level.

Today, all the bricks are gone. The leveled site is planned as an interchange for the extension of historic Route 66. A gravel pit consumed the former slave cemetery onsite. The Commonwealth of Kentucky avoiding any necessary cemetery mitigation for the enslaved. The Commonwealth also determined the home itself not to be worthy of an archeological excavation. Soon the site will become a road interchange, unless the present delay in construction, caused by the collapse of the national economy, persists anbd national transportation funds are withheld.

We pray to John, Jerry, Daniel, Will, to all their wives, and to all their enslaved, that the history of Route 66 never paves over the history of our James 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

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