Tag Archives: Wild West History Association

Frank James Was Framed – Remove from Frame

Two new articles about Frank James drew our attention last week. The Wild West History Association just published an informative article in their WWHA Journal, March 2017, about Frank James in Oklahoma. The article is written by Roy B. Young. The article shows Frank James was framed.

 

Frank and Jesse James-OK
Frank & Jesse James in Oklahoma by Roy B. Young

The face of the article, which is more about Frank James than Jesse James, presents an old-timey vibe, reminiscent of western pulp magazines of more than fifty years ago when sensationalism was the rage. Regretfully, the article then begins with the fake-news subject of treasure hunting for Jesse James hidden gold in Oklahoma. You have to leap past that hurdle and another hurdle at the end to get to the meat of Young’s story that is bonafide and new.

Roy B Young-framed
Author Roy B. Young

 

Roy B. Young employs the current rage of culling old newspapers, many now online, to tell a story either overlooked, forgotten, or not present in today’s history consciousness. Having culled most of these papers myself in their original depositories for a couple of decades, I noted a lot of familiar information in Young’s story. My forthcoming Volume IV of Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet is a biography of Frank James in his retirement years.

Informed as I think I am, Roy B. Young found lost history I did not know about. I’ve expressed my thanks to him for writing it. Nothing tickles a historian more, than learning something new he didn’t know.

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Excerpt – The Jameses decided to bid on farm land in the Indian Pasture Reserve two and a half miles northwest of Fletcher, Oklahoma just inside the southern border of Caddo County. On November 9, 1960, a Lawton newspaper announced that Frank was seen in that city with a “companion” driving a two-horse buggy “bidding a few friends goodbye on the fly and drove out of town under whip.” The article continued, “Just as the buggy rounded the curve of Fifth Street, east of the courthouse, James doft his big white sombrero so that his long gray locks fluttered in the breeze and he gave a yell as in days of old.”

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Regrettably, Young ends his well-done story of Frank James, writing about the Jesse James imposter J. Frank Dalton. Why Oklahoma feels it necessary to include fake news as a necessary component to its true history is beyond me. Sensationalism calls into question any factual or true history associated with it.

This article would have truly been a superior one had it not been for the bookends of treasure hunting and J. Frank Dalton, framing it.

Forget for now Frank James being framed in this manner. Grab the fresh history Roy B. Young now offers anyway. Then wait for Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. IV, Frank James in Retirement to address Young’s speculation and provide you even more unknown history about Frank James in his retirement years.

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The second article about Frank James comes from the Osage County News. Wendi Bevitt writes about the visit of Frank James to Burlingame, Kansas and the 1899 Osage County Fair.
1899 Burlingame
Burlingame Fair – 1899

Prior to writing her story, Wendi queried us about Burton Allen James, Indian Agent from the James family for the Sac and Fox Reservation. She also queried about Perry Fuller, the onetime business partner of Frank and Jesse’s uncle Thomas Martin James, whom I also wrote about in Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I.

Since Volume IV of JJSL will address Frank James in his retirement, I was pleasantly surprised to read the outcome of Wendi’s article. Much of her story is focused upon Frank James in his career as a public speaker and as a race starter when he appeared in 1899 at the Osage County Fair.

Frank James-Osage County Fair
Frank James as race starter at the Osage County Fair, 1899

Like Roy Young’s reporting on Frank James, Wendi Bevitt’s article brings fresh history into view. The freshness is in the details, such as how Frank James started a race.

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Excerpt – He would stretch an immense rubber rope across the track and when the racers were at their mark, he would let the rope fly free.

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Interesting, too, is the behind the scenes arrangements of a Frank James speaking engagement. History like this has not been published before and is a welcome addition to the historical record.

WENDI BEVITT is the owner-operator of Buried Past Consulting LLC, a firm specializing archaeological surveys, historical research and report preparations for both public and private sector clients.

Jesse James Cave, located on the Sac-Fox Reservation in Osage County, Kansas, is visited by Wendi Bevitt’s children.

 

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Tuesday March 2nd, 2021
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Tuesday February 9th, 2021
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Theater advertisements for plays appeared like this in newspapers. This ad for Bloomer Girl appeared in August of 1845. Bloomer Girl was the product of Daniel Lewis James Jr. and principally his wife Lilith Stanward. The following excerpt about them appears in JJSL:

Written against the backdrop of World War II, when blacks were moving out of the South into an industrial workforce, and women also were moving out of the home into the workplace, Bloomer Girl is set in the pre-Civil War era, interweaving themes of black and female equality, war and peace, and politics. The play’s principal character, Dolly, is based upon the inventor of the bloomer, Amelia Bloomer, a contemporary of an acquaintance of Vassie James and Susan B. Anthony. As a fighter in the suffragette movement for women’s rights, Bloomer advocated, “Get rid of those heavy hoop skirts; wear bloomers like men; let’s get pants; let’s be their equal.” In the play, Dolly politicks for gender equality, as her rebellious niece Evelina politicks her suitor, a Southern slaveholding aristocrat, for racial equality. As the play’s librettist, Yip Harburg, stated,
Bloomer Girl was about “the indivisibility of human freedom.”

Bloomer Girl opened on Broadway on October 5, 1944. Dan (Daniel Lewis James) insisted Lilith’s (Dan’s wife) name come first in the show’s credits. The play was an instant hit, lasting 654 performances. Dan remained modest about the show’s success, considering his contribution a failure. “...I seem not to have given full credit to my collaborators on the 1944 musical comedy Bloomer Girl...The facts, in brief, are as follows: the originator of the story idea from which the musical grew was my wife, Lilith James, who charmingly chose the perversities of Fashion to dramatize the early struggles of the Women's Rights movement. She also developed the principal characters. I joined her in writing a first draft of the libretto. It failed to satisfy our lyricist, E. Y. Harburg, and Harold Arlen, the composer. It also failed to satisfy us. An impasse developed at which point all agreed to call in the team of Sig Herzig and Fred Saidy who were experienced writers in the field of musical comedy. They reworked the material to the satisfaction of everyone but Lilith and myself, who had hoped to invade Gilbert & Sullivan territory, with what we thought was a light-hearted paradoxical look at history. What I took for a personal artistic failure for which I blamed, first of all, myself, went on to become a lavish entertainment which played on Broadway for eighteen months and has since often been revived in summer theater. If I was not delighted, audiences certainly were and full credit for this should be given to Sig Herzig and Fred Saidy (now deceased) without whom the production would never have taken place...”
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Wednesday February 3rd, 2021
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YOU CAN'T HELP BUT WONDER...What might have happened if Alan Pinkerton assigned Kate Warne to track and capture Jesse James?In 1856, twenty-three-year-old widow Kate Warne walked into the office of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Chicago, announcing that she had seen the company’s ad and wanted to apply for the job. “Sorry,” Alan Pinkerton told her, “but we don’t have any clerical staff openings. We’re looking to hire a new detective.” Pinkerton would later describe Warne as having a “commanding” presence that morning. “I’m here to apply for the detective position,” she replied. Taken aback, Pinkerton explained to Kate that women aren’t suited to be detectives, and then Kate forcefully and eloquently made her case. Women have access to places male detectives can’t go, she noted, and women can befriend the wives and girlfriends of suspects and gain information from them. Finally, she observed, men tend to become braggards around women who encourage boasting, and women have keen eyes for detail. Pinkerton was convinced. He hired her.

Shortly after Warne was hired, she proved her value as a detective by befriending the wife of a suspect in a major embezzlement case. Warne not only gained the information necessary to arrest and convict the thief, but she discovered where the embezzled funds were hidden and was able to recover nearly all of them. On another case she extracted a confession from a suspect while posing as a fortune teller. Pinkerton was so impressed that he created a Women’s Detective Bureau within his agency and made Kate Warne the leader of it.

In her most famous case, Kate Warne may have changed the history of the world. In February 1861 the president of the Wilmington and Baltimore railroad hired Pinkerton to investigate rumors of threats against the railroad. Looking into it, Pinkerton soon found evidence of something much more dangerous—a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln before his inauguration. Pinkerton assigned Kate Warne to the case. Taking the persona of “Mrs. Cherry,” a Southern woman visiting Baltimore, she managed to infiltrate the secessionist movement there and learn the specific details of the scheme—a plan to kill the president-elect as he passed through Baltimore on the way to Washington.

Pinkerton relayed the threat to Lincoln and urged him to travel to Washington from a different direction. But Lincoln was unwilling to cancel the speaking engagements he had agreed to along the way, so Pinkerton resorted to a Plan B. For the trip through Baltimore Lincoln was secretly transferred to a different train and disguised as an invalid. Posing as his caregiver was Kate Warne. When she afterwards described her sleepless night with the President, Pinkerton was inspired to adopt the motto that became famously associated with his agency: “We never sleep.” The details Kate Warne had uncovered had enabled the “Baltimore Plot” to be thwarted.

During the Civil War, Warne and the female detectives under her supervision conducted numerous risky espionage missions, with Warne’s charm and her skill at impersonating a Confederate sympathizer giving her access to valuable intelligence. After the war she continued to handle dangerous undercover assignments on high-profile cases, while at the same time overseeing the agency’s growing staff of female detectives.

Kate Warne, America’s first female detective, died of pneumonia at age 34, on January 28, 1868, one hundred fifty-three years ago today. “She never let me down,” Pinkerton said of one of his most trusted and valuable agents. She was buried in the Pinkerton family plot in Chicago.
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YOU CANT HELP BUT WONDER...What might have happened if Alan Pinkerton assigned Kate Warne to track and capture Jesse James?
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