In the late months of 2016, a friend sent me a digital copy of what is now called the Black Book, other wise known by its published name, Jesse James Was One of His Names.
I was asked to read the book and assess it for authenticity, Being a distant fan of Jesse, I decided what the hell, I love a good mystery. When I started this venture it was purely to determine the overall authenticity of the book, but with the turn of each page I saw yet another mystery within to be resolved, this got me even more excited because I knew I could prove or disprove a majority of the many claims made within the pages of the book in question… I had no idea how much Jesse James history had to do with the west and even Utah!
As many of you already know, I have been able to prove many claims made within the book, to date I have yet to disprove anything. Eventually I found the proofs I was looking for that made it clear to me and anyone receiving the same information that J Frank Dalton, who came forth in 1946 claiming to be Jesse Woodson James, was indeed Jesse Woodson James.
At this time I had no idea of the genealogical mess created over the many years and the many regurgitations spewed out of the mouths of media and book authors all eager it seems to capitalize on Jesse’s name. But as you sift through the bull shit and learn the truths verified by good old fashion research, a picture began to unfold. Little did I know that picture would be literal in ever sense of the word.
After proving to myself the authenticity of the Black Book or should I say giving the book credibility… I became very familiar with Jesse’s Face, fortunately a photo surfaced in about 1940 found in an old cabin near Bottomless Lake New Mexico, not 100 mile S/W of where Jesse lived for 25 years of some of his more active days under the name of Captain Harrison Trow.
The discovery did not catch much attention until 1946 when J Frank Dalton stepped from the dark and announced who he really was, some one who knew of the photo brought it to him to verify.
J Frank Dalton, or Jesse examining a
photo of himself, his brother Sylvester Franklin James and his Mother Molly
This photo alone has helped resolve many a mystery within the Black Book and other. Although I had verification of the true identity of Captain Harrison Trow, this photo verified it.
Jesse on the left, overlaid with
charcoal drawing of Harrison Trow on the right increasing opacity with each frame left to right.
Jesse on the left, overlaid with older image of Captain Harrison Trow
Older image of Harrison Trow on the left, overlaid with image of J Frank Dalton
1920 Photo that was discovered at the
If you do not know the story behind this found in the Black Book, you are missing out…
In this photo is found Jesse,
I knew that the circulating photo of Myra Bell Shirley and supposed Jim Reed, it was actually Jesse and Myra Bell.
Married under the names of Captain Harrison Trow and Missouri Ann
Although it would all seem conclusive, to me… which it was, but what if I could just find one more photo from a credible source and it shows also to be with out doubt Jesse James… Well I decided to put the word out several years ago and on August 12th 2021 I receive a very interesting email,
It sounded good and the mention of Orvus Lee Hawk, gave me a bit more hope however… I was certain it would end up being another family photo where in the family convinced themselves that their grandfather was Jesse Woodson James… It has happened many times over. So needless to say I did not get my hopes up… The following day I receive another email with the following letter… For those who cannot read the letter for what ever reason.. the text of the letter will follow…
The Family Name has been removed from the following images…
Grandpa died Aug 15th at 6:45
p.m. For an old man age 107 past he did
his best. He would have lasted perhaps
another year or so – questions, questions, by the 10’s of thousands which he
answered just simply shortened his life.
I’m sorry he isn’t here to answer yours,
too. Frank & Jesse James made dozens
of trips from Alabama,
We flew over N M twice in July 1948
crossed your state again on or about Nov 1st 1948 & came back
across in March 1949 on the train. JJ
So Jesses Woodson James at age 107 went to
his death still answering questions - some authoritative like yours ---
Will you please mail the clipping of the paper you save so I can ad it to JJ’s scrap book’s please? God bless you all -- Jesse was (buried?) here Sunday among friends and kinfolks – old cowboys, etc –
Adios amigos –
O. Lee Hawk
Attached to the same email was the following picture…I opened it and almost immediately I was ready to roll my eyes, and almost close the picture but… I don’t know what it was, but I paused and looked closer, and there it was….
This is the first time I have shown the entire photo
Full Image taken in 1895-6
minus the Photographers information,
withheld for a wise purpose…
The two men standing are not the Younger brothers as thought by the family… but I am almost certain I know who they are… the two sitting are without question, Kentucky Born, Jesse Woodson James on the left and his brother Sylvester Franklin James on the right, Sons of George Strother James and Mollie Dalton, NOT Missouri Born Jesse Robert James and Alexander Frank James, the two sons of Zerelda Cole and cousins of Jesse Woodson James.
I knew I did not have to do an overlay to prove the point but because of my meticulous nature… I did it anyway…
Using the grayscale image found in 1940, overlaid onto this new image and increasing the opacity, I was not surprised in the slightest…
I hope that my efforts here will finally resolve many things misconstrued over the many years and hopefully open the eyes of many who have been told or who have imagined that their grandfather or family member was or was not Jesse Woodson James, but might have been Jesse Robert James, Jesse Howard or Jesse Ballard James, all cousins to Jesse Woodson James.
If you choose to, I invite you to get a copy of one of the most interesting books I have ever taken upon the task of validating… The Black Book, or Jesse James was One of His Names, and I would invite you to get a copy of the premature and short assessment of the Black Book, Death of the Republic.