Vol. 38 No. 2 Spring 2018 Williamson County Genealogical Society P.O. Box 585 Round Rock, Texas

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1 The Chisholm Trail Vol. 38 No. 2 Spring 2018 Williamson County Genealogical Society P.O. Box 585 Round Rock, Texas

2 A Family s Jesse James Connection By Barbara Reece Phillips The sister of my 2 nd great grandfather, W. Green Reece, was the only girl in her family. She was blessed with six brothers! Rebecca Reece was born in Haywood County, North Carolina on 15 December On 6 April 1847, she married Moses Norris and they proceeded to have eight children born in the Pigeon River area of North Carolina. He had received a land grant in Haywood County for 100 acres in Moses served in the Civil War as a private in the Confederacy, Company I, North Carolina 62 nd Infantry Regiment. However, he was captured at Cumberland Gap on 9 September 1863 and spent time in prison at Louisville, KY. After the end of the war, they stayed in North Carolina but evidently had a hard time making ends meet. The 1870 census has him with no land value and only $284 of personal property. Sometime between 1870 and 1871, the family moved close to Crawford Township, Buchanan County, Missouri where in 1871, their youngest daughter Nancy was born. It was in Buchanan County, Missouri that Nancy met her future husband, Francis David James, better known as Frank James. Frank s family had moved to the same township in Buchanan County, Missouri, just a few short years before the Norris family. Nancy and Frank lived close to each other until Frank s family moved to De Kalb, Buchanan County not far away. But evidently distance did not matter since on 22 October 1890, Nancy Norris married Francis D. Frank James in St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri. They had eight children with 7 still living per the 1910 Census record when they were living in Bloomington, Buchanan, Missouri. Her mother, Rebecca Reece Norris, had died in 1894 and her father, Moses Norris, died in Her parents were living in neighboring Clay County and are both buried there in Shady Grove Cemetery. Per the 1900 Census for St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri, there were about 9 or more men named Frank James living in Buchanan County and none in Clay County! The James brothers, Frank, who was known to the family as Buck, and Jesse, were born in Kearny, Clay County, Missouri in 1843 and 1847, respectively, and lived both in Clay and Buchanan Counties. After the end of the Civil War during which they had been members of Quantrill s Raiders, they started their life of crime and used many aliases as shown by the 1880 Census of Frank when he used the name Ben Woodson. But there is no doubt about where the outlaw Frank James was in 1900 as he is actually on the census! Even the census taker said Wow! Wow! The Chisholm Trail, Vol. 38 No. 2 (Spring 2018) Page 24

3 1900 U. S. Federal Census, St. Louis, Missouri Our Frank had probably moved elsewhere to farm but he did not go far since I found him still in the county in But what was Frank s relationship to the famous outlaw brothers, Frank and Jesse James? Was he actually one of the outlaws? To make this determination, I had to look at the family tree of the James family. The outlaws, Frank and Jesse, have many trees on Ancestry! Following the trail and looking at their history, it was easy to determine their father was the Reverend Robert Sallee James. Robert was a Baptist minister who in 1849 helped found William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. He was a highly educated man who graduated from Georgetown College in Georgetown, KY before moving to Clay County, Missouri. There are actually two stories about Robert s death! First, he left in 1850 to visit his brother, Drury Woodson James, in California where there was a very active group of the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC). It was thought that the Reverend James was part of this group. However soon after arriving he contracted cholera and died and was buried in what is known as Placerville, CA. His probate records show he owned six slaves and farmed hemp. The second story is just as mysterious as the supposed death of his son Jesse. It was reported that he actually faked his death, returned to Missouri to pick up Miss Sara Mulkey, who he married and they moved to Mulvane, Kansas and started a new family. This story is supported by old photos of Robert found in an old truck owned by Jesse s daughter that were supposedly taken well after his death in But, we are getting off topic! The first proof that my Frank James was not the outlaw was that his name was Francis David James. The full name of the outlaw Frank was Alexander Franklin James. So it was not the same person. Francis, as I will call him from now on for easy clarification, was the son of William Henry James who was born in White County, Tennessee in February The Chisholm Trail, Vol. 38 No. 2 (Spring 2018) Page 25

4 I created a chart to see how the two Franks were related: Relationship Name Birth yr & place death yr & place Common Ancestor William James Sr 1754 Wales VA Brothers William A. James Jr 1782 VA or PA Aft 1850 TN 1 st cousins John L. James 1810 NC 1875 MO 2 nd cousins William Henry James 1840 White, TN 1915 MO 2 nd cousin 1X Francis D. James removed 1869 MO 1937 MO Name Birth yr & place death yr & place William James Sr 1754 Wales 1805 VA John Martin James 1775 VA 1827 KY Robert Sallee James 1818 Logan, KY 1850 CA Alexander Franklin James (Also Jesse) 1843 MO 1915 TX &MO Based on the documentation found, it seems Francis was a second cousin one time removed from the outlaw Frank James. Many of the trees on Ancestry report William A. James, Jr dying in 1807 in Virginia. However, he is on an 1850 Census in Tennessee! One family researcher performed an extensive search project and provided a very strong hypothesis, with documentation, that this person on the 1850 census is the son of William A. James, Sr. Family stories also lend credibility to the relationship. In May, 1947, Nancy s brothers, William Spenser Norris and John Wesley Norris, had a reunion in Alhambra, California. Their visit was documented in the Alhambra Post-Advocate newspaper and included a great photo of the elderly brothers. In the accompanying article, the brothers re-lived some of their memories including the escapades of Jesse James as the newspaper stated. These brothers were only young boys when the James band of outlaws was very active in the area where they lived. Their sister later married a distant cousin of Frank and Jesse and I would speculate that they actually knew the outlaws as the families were neighbors for a while. Still passed down through descendant s stories are tales of Jesse and Frank, with their gang, visiting cousins and other relatives, sleeping in doorways with their guns on their chests and attending some of the social events in the area. So they probably had some stories to tell! Nancy s family was not immune from violence though. It seemed she and her husband lead a quiet life farming as did most of her brothers. But Nancy was the informant on the death certificate of her brother Joseph Aron Norris when he committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth with a shotgun on 20 June His wife had died in 1917, a daughter died in 1922 but the death of his daughter Mary from tuberculosis in March 1928 may have been the final factor in his death. Mary s husband had moved the family to Arizona hoping it would improve her health but it was not successful. She died leaving an 8 year old son. The Chisholm Trail, Vol. 38 No. 2 (Spring 2018) Page 26

5 Pictured above is the Francis D. and Nancy Norris James family. Standing left to right: Mary, Nellie, Helen, Alma and Emma Seated left to right: Earl, John, Frank, Nancy, Francis and Everett Jesse James So although the Francis and Nancy Norris James family were connected to the outlaws through blood and lived close to their home territory with many other James relatives, they did not participate in the outrageous activities of the outlaws. However, they were able to tell the stories about some of their escapades and lawless deeds! Francis lived a quiet life on his mortgaged farm most of his life until just before his death when he rented his home. Again Nancy was the informant on her husband s death certificate when he died suddenly on 30 October Nancy died 8 December 1943 of pneumonia. This time, her son, Francis D. James, Jr reported her death. What was a surprise to me was the fact that two of their daughters married men named Witham which leads to a connection on my mother s side of the family who were from Ohio by way of Maine. But then, that is another story! The Chisholm Trail, Vol. 38 No. 2 (Spring 2018) Page 27

6 Resources: North Carolina, Index to Marriage Bonds, County Court Records at Waynesville, NC and FHL # item 2 North Carolina, Marriage Records, Haywood Marriage Bonds ( ) 1850; Census Place: Tennessee Valley, Macon, North Carolina; Roll: M432_636; Page: 357B; Image: ; Census Place: Tennessee Valley, Macon, North Carolina; Roll: M653_904; Page: 252; Family History Library Film: ; Census Place: East Fork, Haywood, North Carolina; Roll: M593_1142; Page: 169A; Family History Library Film: ; Census Place: Crawford, Buchanan, Missouri; Roll: 675; Page: 359C; Enumeration District: 067 Clay County, Missouri Cemetery Records, Volume I Shady Grove Cemetery Find A Grave. Find A Grave. Side served: Confederacy; State served: North Carolina Graden, Nettie, ed. Buchanan County, Missouri Taxpayers, , 1901 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, Ancestry.com. U.S., Civil War Prisoner of War Records, [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, North Carolina, Land Grant Files, [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., National Park Service. U.S. Civil War Soldiers, [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, Web: Missouri, Find A Grave Index, [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Arizona Department of Health Services; Phoenix, AZ, USA Missouri Death Certificates. Missouri Secretary of State. accessed 24 August Post-Advocate Newspaper, Alhambra, CA May 1947 Year: 1910; Census Place: Bloomington, Buchanan, Missouri; Roll: T624_772; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0032; FHL microfilm: Year: 1920; Census Place: Bloomington, Buchanan, Missouri; Roll: T625_908; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 32 Year: 1930; Census Place: Fair, Platte, Missouri; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 0005 Year: 1940; Census Place: Wayne, Buchanan, Missouri; Roll: m-t ; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: The Chisholm Trail, Vol. 38 No. 2 (Spring 2018) Page 28

7 Missouri State Archives; Jefferson City, MO, USA Year: 1870; Census Place: Crawford, Buchanan, Missouri; Roll: M593_761; Page: 322A; Family History Library Film: Year: 1880; Census Place: De Kalb, Buchanan, Missouri; Roll: 676; Page: 506D; Enumeration District: 079 Year: 1850; Census Place: District 1, White, Tennessee; Roll: M432_900; Page: 9A; Image: 22 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Mississippi; NAI: ; Record Group Title: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Confederate Organizations, compiled , documenting the period ; Record Group #: ; Series Number: M269; Roll: 144 Year: 1840; Census Place: White, Tennessee; Page: 4 Year: 1850; Census Place: District 10, White, Tennessee; Roll: M432_900; Page: 70B; Image: 144 Research and photo by Sharlene K. Miller detailing conclusion/hypothesis on William A. James Jr. on MOjdaly public tree on Ancestry.com and public tree of mjames The Chisholm Trail, Vol. 38 No. 2 (Spring 2018) Page 29