Renowned Jesse James historian coming to Logan April 16

By Chris Cooper -

The Southern Kentucky Pastfinders have invited Eric F. James from Danville to come a speak about his new book Jesse James Soul Liberty. James is a well-known Jesse James historian and has published one book and will be presenting a program in the court room of the historic Logan County Courthouse Saturday, April 16 from 6-8 p.m.

Think you know Jesse James? Wait until you meet his family. Rooted in the struggle of the Jesse James family to outrun the stigma of an outlaw reputation, Soul Liberty is the saga of a family destroyed by silence and torn apart by self inflicted anonymity. Drawing upon long hidden letters, memoirs, and personal interviews, author James recaptures the family who turned on its own.

In this epic pageant of personalities and events, the core behavior, character, and soul of the James family emerges the selfsame character and soul of their outlaws that has eluded historians for more than a century.

Jesse James Soul Liberty reveals the James family in all of their paradoxical identity.

• As rebel preachers of Colonial Virginia in the War of the Revolution

• As sharpshooting defenders of faith and freedom on the Kentucky frontier

• As politicians of an emerging nation

• As millionaire merchants of the American heartland

• As cultural combatants and feminist challengers to the politics of the status quo

The James’ are community builders, preachers, politicians, financiers, educators, writers, and poets. Equally, they are pariahs, outcasts, and outlaws.

Jesse James Soul Liberty extracts the compelling powers possessed by the James family. Their compulsive force for personal freedom, with religious and political liberty, ever fronts the endemic ability of the James’ to confound expectation.

As the Jesse James family uncovers the history lost to them, they finally answer the question no one else can. Why does Jesse James endure as a cultural American icon?

Author, Eric F. James, says, “Jesse James’ great grandson, Judge James R. Ross, sentenced me to 10 years of hard labor.”

“Why don’t you write about the James family?” the judge complained. “Everyone writes about Frank & Jesse. No one ever writes about our family.”

The problem was…behind the James family’s wall of silence, the Jesse James family had lost its identity and all of its history.

What followed was a decade of intense and costly research which took the author into countless county court houses, libraries, and research institutions across the breadth of America. He met with the cousins and relatives of the James family, plus claimants who wanted to be related to the outlaw, and those who had no idea they were part of the Jesse James family at all.

“Always standing behind me was Judge Ross,” the author asserts, “persistently asking, ‘What evidence do you have?’.”

Now, the author’s personal interviews with members of the Jesse James family; the family’s own long hidden writings, letters, and memoirs; plus 10 years of research recaptures the family who turned on its own.

Breaking 130 years of silence, the James family itself finally recaptures their lost identity in their own words and deeds to illustrate what no historian has been able to define-the very character and soul of the James family, which also belonged to the family’s outlaws.

From generation through generation, the Jesse James family itself reveals why Jesse James endures as a cultural American icon.

About the author

Co-founded the James Preservation Trust with Judge James R. Ross, Jesse’s great grandson. Eric also is the archivist of the Joan Beamis Research Archive that produced the first genealogy of the Jesse James family, Background of a Bandit, published by the Kentucky Historical Society.

Recently, Eric supervised the exhumation of Jesse’s twin children, Gould and Montgomery James, reuniting them with their parents per the wishes of their mother, Zee Mimms-James.

Since 1997, Eric writes and publishes the official web site for the Jesse James family, Stray Leaves and the family blog, Leaves of Gas.

Formerly as a writer, Eric’s weekly newspaper column “Remarkable Real Estate” appeared for several years in California’s Daily “Law” Journal publications. He also was a contributing editor and writer for California Real Estate, the trade publication of the California Association of Realtors.

Eric is retired from two business careers. For over 30 years he managed and operated international real estate brokerage firms.

In a prior career, he was an actor for 13 years in regional theatre, the Broadway stage, and national television. For nearly a decade, he served his local community of Dana Point, Calif., as a city commissioner.

Eric F. James resides in Danville, Ky. near Pulaski County, founded by his 4th great grandfather, John M. James. He has two sons, Christian and Malcolm James who live in California, and two former wives: his first wife Delia Sheen, niece of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and mother of his children, and his second wife Broadway producer Susan Bagley-Bloom, granddaughter of tobacco scion R. J. Reynolds.

By Chris Cooper

To contact Chris Cooper, email or call 270-726-8394.

To contact Chris Cooper, email or call 270-726-8394.

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