Posted September 18, 2002



press release September 2002:




At a reunion of the Jesse James family & its related James families, held September 12-14, 2002 in Paso Robles, California, the start up of the James Family DNA Project was announced. Six thousand dollars was raised to initiate the project to start in 2003. The project hopes to help identify valid claims of relationship to the James family, among the many new discoveries in the family's genealogy.

A keynote banquet address by Eric James noted, "The Jesse James family was disconnected from its larger family. Intensive research has revealed Jesse James has many more relatives than previous histories show." James publishes Stray Leaves, "A James Family in America Since 1650," a web site devoted to the history & genealogy of the James family. ( The DNA project, James said, will help reconcile James family lines known to be related by circumstantial evidence & family lore but lacking in documentary evidence.

The banquet was hosted by a great grandson of Jesse James, James R. Ross, a retired Superior Court judge from Fullerton, California. Two other great grandsons of the outlaw and other family lines also attended from all over the country. In 1995 Judge Ross employed DNA technology in the exhumation of Jesse James' body. DNA then proved the body to be that of Jesse James, and disproved claims of a family relationship by others.

James demonstrated how the Jesse James family became disconnected from its larger family. "Pioneering migrations and the Civil War splintered the family. However, the criminality of Jesse & Frank James was the ultimate embarrassment for this extraordinary family of community founders, educators, and ministers," said James. "Individual family lines simply cut loose of the Jesse James family. That wall of silence has lasted 140 years and persists today, even among those most closely related to the outlaws."

James pointed to the failure of historians to adequately investigate & report James family genealogy. Joan Beamis, a James family member, assembled the first genealogy, disseminated among the immediate family in 1966. In 1970 she published "Background of a Bandit" with William E. Pullen. Since then, subsequent family histories continued to show the Jesse James family as isolated, small, and with no outside relations. James said, "We now know that the James family is large, very large. Joan Bemis's early research also has been located and points to a larger family we now know exists."

Family DNA projects are underway already by various in-law families related to the James. Among those are the Lindsay, Martin, Woodson, and Graves families. "Finding the new James family genealogy was based on a tri level approach, "said James. "We researched the James family, then the in-law families, then the families related to the in-law families of the James. This unique approach recreated social communities that identified new family relationships." James expects the DNA project will result in similar breakthroughs and will point James family research in more new directions.

The James Reunion was held in Paso Robles, California, celebrating James Founders Days & Jesse & Frank James' uncle, Drury Woodson James, who founded the town. Drury W. James came west in 1849 with his brother Rev. William Henry James, a year before the outlaw's father, Rev. Robert Sallee James, followed. D. W. James became a wealthy California cattleman, mayor, county supervisor, State senator & State representative. He hosted Frank & Jesse in California in 1868-69 when each was wounded with bullets and seeking recovery. "New genealogy research into Drury's line has cracked a couple of Jesse James mysteries already," says Eric James. His research was successful in locating living great grandchildren of Drury W. James. Joan Beamis, a great granddaughter of Drury Woodson James, died in 1990. "Drury now has a claimant line in Canada," says James. "DNA sampling should be able to establish if the current new found descendants and the claimant line have Drury as their common ancestor."

For decades many have claimed to be related to the James family. "The James Family DNA Project will generate new findings as to who is and who is not a family member." James added, "Properly placing the Jesse James family in the context of its larger James family also will lead to a reassessment of the character, personality, and motivations of one of America's enduring legends."

The James family of the above press release is not affiliated with this Civil War St. Louis James & Younger website. If you have questions or comments on this press release please contact them via Eric James' Stray Leaves website



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