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Harold Dellinger has died.
Harold was Jesse James’ pop-historian.
Most people don’t know Harold Dellinger. Among the Jesse James community, Harold was an officer and active participant in the James-Younger Gang, the William Clarke Quantrill Society, and the Friends of James Farm. Those are the people who knew Harold best.
There is another group of people who knew Harold Dellinger on a much different level. Harold was known to them as a pop-historian. That is, Harold was one who appreciated history so much that he rose to a level of authority although he was not trained officially as a historian. For many, Harold was their introduction to the popular history of Jesse James and the Civil War. Only those close to Harold knew his interest in Jesse James began simply enough when Harold was a young parole officer in Kansas City.
In 2007, Harold published his book JESSE JAMES, The Best Writings on the Notorious Outlaw and His Gang. The book served as an excellent introduction to Jesse James for newcomers to the subject. For the knowledgeable already, the book offered an indispensable addition to one’s library shelf of Jesse James books.
In recent years, Harold produced some YouTube videos, as the Quantrill Society visited obscure historic sites connected to Jesse James and the Civil War.
Harold’s visit with the Quantrill Society to the historic residence of Judge Luther Mason prompted Stray Leaves to initiate an inquiry into the ancestry and kinship of Judge Luther Mason. Not surprisingly, the research revealed Judge Mason is kin to Frank and Jesse James, as well as to other notables of the Civil War era. While their kinship as half 5th cousins is somewhat distant and indistinguishable in the period, the tug and pull of their shared genetics now remains known and unmistakable, revealing new history to come.
The James-Younger Gang issued the following condolence:
“We are saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Harold Dellinger and send our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and associates. Our historical community has lost a valued member. Harold will be remembered fondly for his kindness and willingness to help fellow historians.
“We had the pleasure of having Harold as a guest speaker at our 2015 conference in Kearney, Missouri. He gave us a wonderful presentation on Jim Cummins then joined us for our banquet where he mingled with new and old acquaintances.
“He will be greatly missed.”
On behalf of the Quantrill Society, President Cyndy Taylor had this to say:
“The William Clarke Quantrill Society is still reeling from this blow–Harold was fine one day, before Higginsville, and gone the next.
His daughter, Laura, told me today that there would be a visitation on June 14 from 4-7pm with a eulogy at 6 pm during that time, at Passantino Funeral Home in Kansas City, Missouri. The obituary will be coming any day now, as the family is still putting it together. He will be buried at Lancaster, Missouri where his parents are buried.
“Harold was president of the WCQS for 10 yrs. or more, and good friend /assistant to Don Hale. He belonged to a number of historical organizations.
“To say ‘We miss him’ is the understatement! He was on our ‘frequent contact’ list; all of us, especially the board members, talked to him and asked questions of him sometimes weekly.
On Saturday, June 2, 2018, Harold was scheduled to participate in Confederate Memorial Day events in Higginsville, Missouri. When he failed to appear, members of the Quantrill Society checked his residence, where Harold was found deceased.
R.I.P., friend of Jesse James and Stray Leaves.
Condolences accepted in Comments below.
UPDATE: Obituary, Funeral, & Internment