1. Most historians
agree that she is the mother of Jesse James.
2. Her remains would share the exact mtDNA sequence as the remains of
3. She is buried only feet from the purported grave of Jesse James.
Missouri State law prevented him from exhuming Zerelda's remains, but upon
contacting the Missouri Attorney General's office, I found that there is
no such law.
I have challenged
Jackson's and Nikkel's validity as DNA reference sources because it is not
clear who the birth mother of Jackson's mother, Dorothy Anne Rose, was.
Her genealogical records are highly questionable, indicating that she may
or may not be a true matrilineal descendant of Susan James Parmer. And in
a case of such historical significance as this--there can be no room for
It is claimed that
Dorothy's mother is Feta A. Parmer. But Feta’s husband, Bert A. Rose, was
married first to a woman named Katie who might in fact be Dorothy’s
who is not a forensic scientist but a law professor, did not provide
conclusive proof that Dorothy, Robert Jackson, or Mark Nikkel are true
descendants of Susan James Parmer. James Starrs has gained a questionable
reputation among legitimate forensic scientists in his chosen hobby of
body exhumation. Click on the following link to see an article written by
Amanda Ripley of the Washington D.C.'s Washington City Paper who
interviewed Starrs in 1998:
The Bone Hunter(PDF).
The "proof" Starrs
offers consists of Dorothy Anne's death certificate and a 1920 Texas
census record. Even amateur genealogists know that those records are only
as reliable as the informant providing the information. Starrs has only
assumed, not proven, that Dorothy was Feta's child. And if it turns out
that she wasn't, the entire 1995 exhumation will be totally invalid
because those DNA results are based solely on Jackson's validity as a true
matrilineal descendant of Susan James Parmer.
certificate is one of the strangest I have ever seen. The original Texas
Certificate of Birth has no name listed in the space for "Name of Child,"
and there is no birth year listed--only the date "5/26" with no year
Copies of the original birth certificate and social security
application for Dorothy Anne Rose will be shown in the latest edition of
my book due out soon.
Feta A. Rose requested that amendments be made to the original record and
did so in Oklahoma City, OK (where Robert Jackson resides) on November 4,
1971. The original record was amended as follows:
Item or Item NO.
Entry on Original
Name of Child
_ _ _ Rose
Dorothy Anne Rose
Date of Birth
May 26, _ _ _
May 26, 1914
In checking Dorothy
Anne's application for a Social Security number, I discovered that the
Social Security Administration also seemed to question Dorothy's year of
birth--1914 is crossed out.
Now this is the clincher--The 1920 Tarrant County, Texas, census record
that Starrs himself used as proof that Dorothy is Feta's child, also shows
a discrepancy in Dorothy's age. The census taker listed Dorothy as being
15 years old in 1920. If this is true, Dorothy Anne would have been born
around 1905 and could not have been Feta and Bert's child, because Bert
was married to another woman at that time. But Starrs just assumes that
"the census taker must have erred here since Feta's age and her living
with Allen Parmer in 1910 insure that Dorothy Ann on January 8, 1920 was
five, not 15, years of age." (Professor James E. Starrs, THE JAMES
FAMILY MITOCHONDRIAL DNA TREE: Proving the Validity of the Reference
This controversy could very easily be
resolved if Jackson would agree to donate a new blood sample, taken at my
expense, under strict chain of custody guidelines. I can only add that if
the tables were turned, and I were in Jackson's shoes, I would be jumping
at the chance to defend DNA results which such a high degree of certainty
as his is said to provide...against all challengers.
Click here to review more about my DNA
challenge to Robert A. Jackson in the article
Another key issue with
the 1995 testing is the questionable origin of the human hair and teeth
that Starrs submitted to the scientists for DNA testing.
Many are not aware
that Starrs exhumed two graves marked as those of "Jesse Woodson James"
during the summer of 1995:
1. The Mt. Olivet
cemetery site on July 17-19, 1995.
2. The original burial site in the yard of the James Farm on September 15,
teeth were unearthed by Starrs at the Mt. Olivet site, the DNA results
from which were expected by mid-September. Starrs is adamant that the 1995
DNA results are based on these teeth.
But I find that hard to believe because he obtained a court order to
exhume a Tupperware bowl from the original site on September 15, 1995--the
exact date he was expecting the DNA results from the teeth retrieved from
the Mt. Olivet site. Starrs' main goal in exhuming the bowl was to
retrieve a tooth that was said to be encased there. He was even quoted in
the Kearney Courier as saying "that tooth could be the tooth that tells
the tale." Employees at the James Farm & Museum have verified that former
museum curator, Milton Perry, placed skeletal remains, including teeth,
which are said to have originated from the original grave site, in a
plastic container in his desk drawer and handed them out to various
individuals as souvenirs.
It is obvious that if in fact Starrs did use some of those teeth for the
1995 DNA testing, there was no chain of custody guidelines used, and
therefore no way of documenting their origin.
There are varying reports as to whether or not there were any teeth in
that bowl--some claim Starrs expressed disappointment because there was no
tooth in the bowl, while Missouri attorney, Stephen Caruso, says there
were teeth in the bowl.
The reader may question why Starrs would have even bothered to get a tooth
from a Tupperware bowl, if the teeth he retrieved from the Mt. Olivet site
gave him the DNA results he was looking for?
Just where did Starrs get the teeth he submitted for DNA testing?
According to Gene Gentrup, the former associate editor of the Kearney
Courier, "Starrs credited a tooth retrieved from the James Farm & Museum
as being key to his probe." (Two human teeth found on the grounds of the
James Farm & Museum in 1976 were placed in the museum. The James/Samuel
family had lived on that site for over sixty years. So it is probable that
those teeth could have belonged to Zerelda or any of her children which
would result in a positive match to a true matrilineal descendant's mtDNA
sequence.) Not only did the teeth come from the museum, so did the hair
used for DNA testing, which Starrs acknowledges. (When my family and I
first visited the James Farm & Museum in March of 1996, a sample of
Zerelda's hair was on display. The hair has since been removed from the
James Farm & Museum.)