Jesse James

Death Hoax and Buried Treasures

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 Sources)

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 the following link to review more about my DNA challenge to Robert A. Jackson in the article titled:  
Modern Day Shootout

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, 1995.

Approximately fifteen 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.)

Jesse James' Signature

6. Grandpa wrote the following rhyme in his diary: "When stemm and tryst James L. Courtney is my heist." Stemm: a line of descendants from a particular ancestor; tryst: a prearranged meeting place; heist: a robbery. I believe this indicates that Grandpa stole the name James L. Courtney.

7. On July 27, 1871, Grandpa wrote in his diary that he "went a-hunting with the schoolmaster." J. Frank Dalton, an ex-Confederate guerilla who claimed to have been with Quantrill in the Lawrence raid in Kansas, said that Quantrill didn't die as history reports, but moved to a town in Texas, where he taught school under the name of Bedicheck. It was named after schoolmaster James Madison Bedicheck, who became a schoolteacher after the Civil War. James Bedicheck was with Quantrill in the Lawrence, KS raid. He is buried in Eddy, Texas, about seven miles west of Blevins. Further research has determined that James Madison Bedicheck was not Quantrill, but there are indications that Quantrill did use the alias of Bedicheck, and that he did teach at the Bedicheck Academy.

8. In Louisiana, on January 8, 1874, a mail stage between Monroe and Shreveport was robbed. According to Grandpa's diary, he and Jim Snodgrass were in Shreveport January 5-14. When Grandpa began documenting the trip on January 1, Jim Snodgrass was referred to as Jim Clark. But on January 8, Jim Clark suddenly became Jim Snodgrass. Known James Gang member Jim Cummins used the alias Jim Clark. On January 3, Grandpa and Jim Clark "started for Bud." Cole Younger, a well-known James Gang member referred to as Bud, was in Louisiana during the last part of December 1873 through January 1874. It appears as though Jesse James, Jim Cummins and Cole Younger robbed that stage.

9. Three of Thomas Barron's sons had fought for the South during the Civil War, one of them losing their life. If Grandpa had really fought for the North, would Barron have welcomed him with open arms into his home, treated him like a son, and consented to the marriage of his daughter to him?

Here's are just some of the reasons why I believe my great-grandfather was in fact Jesse James:

1. J. L. Courtney's military records and Grandpa's diary indicated that Grandpa was not J. L. Courtney, the union soldier. J. L. Courtney's Certificate of War Service in the Union army records him as being 5 feet 10 inches tall with dark hair. My great-grandfather had sandy brown hair and was 6 feet 4 inches tall. Some may think that Grandpa was too tall to have been Jesse James because Jesse was reported to have been between 5 foot 9 inches and 5 foot 11 inches tall. John N. Edwards was a journalist who served in the Civil War with Jesse James. In his book, Noted Guerrillas, he described Jesse as being "a tall finely molded man." Jesse James' parents were tall - in fact his mother is reported to have been six feet tall. It stands to reason that Jesse James probably followed suit.

2. According to Grandpa's diary and oral family history, he named his favorite horses John and Reb. While anything is possible, I find it hard to believe that a "Yankee" would name his favorite horses after "Johnny Reb," because of the bitter feelings that lasted well into the twentieth century between the North and the South. Some of Grandpa's own relatives did not speak to each other ever again because they fought on opposite sides during the Civil War.

3. There are at least six known James Gang members listed by their first names, an initial instead of their first names or their surnames  in Grandpa's diary. These members include Bud Singleton, Bill Wilkerson, Jim Clark (an alias used by Jim Cummins), John Moore, J. White (probably James White) and Thompson "Tom" McDaniel/McDaniels. Other suspected gang members are listed by their last names only - Jones (Payne Jones?), Devers (Jim Devers?), Anderson (Jim Anderson? - brother of Bill Anderson), Cooper (Ben Cooper?), and Hines (Jim or John Hines?).

4. There are many ex-Confederate soldiers and ex-Confederate guerrillas listed in Grandpa's diary. For instance, "Cournal Pickit" (Grandpa spelled phonetically) was George Bible Pickitt, who later became General Pickitt, head of the Confederate army camp near Decatur, Texas. Pickitt's son Tom rode with Billy the Kid.

5. Grandpa 'accidentally' signed his diary "J. James" several times.

below, a page from James. L. Courtney's diary.


So ... Who's telling the Truth about Jesse James' DNA Results???

By Betty Dorsett Duke

There are conflicting reports as to who’s telling the truth about Jesse James’ DNA results. One way to decide who’s telling the truth is to determine who has the most to gain by agreeing with Professor James E. Starrs’ 1995 findings even though they have been found to be flawed.

Stephen Caruso, deputy county counselor for Clay County at the time of the 1995 exhumation and DNA testing of the reported grave of Jesse James, told the Kearney Courier (Clay County, Missouri) the whole thing was “phony.” “They tried to do DNA testing on remains that weren’t Jesse James,” Caruso said. He claims that someone lost Jesse’s hair that was to be tested, but then it suddenly turned up. He also claims someone submitted their own hair in place of the lost hair.

Yet when the James Farm & Museum is asked about the DNA results they claim they were conclusive. What gives? Who are we to believe?

Here’s some facts about the exhumation and DNA results that may help the reader decide who’s telling the truth:

 Stephen Caruso represented the James Farm & Museum during the exhumation and DNA testing;

 The validity of the two men Professor Starrs chose as mitochondrial (mtDNA) reference sources is highly questionable. He (Starrs) admittedly lied about not being able to exhume Jesse James’ mother to use her mtDNA sequence to compare against the mtDNA sequence of remains that allegedly originated from the exhumed grave. (Starrs, A Voice For The Dead, 2005);

 The origin of the teeth and hair reported to have been retrieved from the grave bearing Jesse James’ name which was used for DNA testing is highly questionable due to no chain of custody (;

 Gene Gentrup wrote, “Starrs credited a tooth retrieved from the James Farm & Museum as being key to his probe. I worked as associate editor for The Kearney Courier during the exhumation of Jesse James and subsequent DNA tests. I wrote the article in the newspaper’s ‘Special Collectors’ edition in which Professor James E. Starrs said a tooth collected from the James Farm Museum provided the necessary mitochondrial DNA needed to prove that ‘with a reasonable degree of certainty’ the remains buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Kearney are indeed Jesse James. I never heard that any of the teeth found among the remains exhumed from Mt. Olivet carried sufficient DNA for the purposes of Professor Starrs’ investigation. Likewise, Starrs expressed his disappointment that no teeth were found in the “Tupperware bowl” unearthed from Jesse’s original grave at the family farm. I did write in a later story that Starrs credited the tooth from the James Farm Museum as being key to his probe. I never thought to ask about the contradiction. So what about the tooth that Starrs used for mtDNA testing? From where did it come? I hope this is helpful. I am now editor of The Southern Platte Press newspaper in Parkville, Mo.”

 After five years had passed from the announcement of the DNA results and still no published final report, Dr. Anne C. Stone, Dr. Mark Stoneking and Professor James E. Starrs, finally relented to pressure from inquiring minds and published it. However, instead of providing legitimate scientific answers they issued a very unscientific challenge asserting that DNA testing did not prove the exhumed remains were those of Jesse James, but they think they did so it’s up to all doubters to prove them wrong:

“Do the mtDNA results prove that the exhumed remains are those of Jesse James? The answer to this question must be no, as there is always the possibility (however remote) that the remains are from a different maternal relative of RJ [Robert Jackson] and MN [Mark Nikkel], or from an unrelated person with the same mtDNA sequence. However, it should be emphasized that the mtDNA results are in complete agreement with the other scientific investigations of the exhumed remains: there is no scientific basis whatsoever for doubting that the exhumed remains are those of Jesse James. The burden of proof now shifts to those who, for whatever reason, choose to still doubt the identification. The mtDNA results reported herein provide a standard which other claimants to the legacy of Jesse James must satisfy.” (Dr. Anne C. Stone, Dr. Mark Stoneking, and Professor James E. Starrs, Mitochondrial DNA [mtDNA] analysis of the presumptive remains of Jesse James.)

So, dear reader, who do you think is telling the truth?

Why the 1995 DNA Results are Tainted....

1. The validity of the DNA Reference Sources.

2. The questionable origin of the teeth and hair used for DNA testing. 

As you might imagine, the publication of my book sparked controversy and has continued to generate sometimes heated discussions on the topic of the true identity of Jesse James.

The 1995 exhumation of the purported grave of Jesse James in Clay County, Missouri, and subsequent DNA testing proved absolutely nothing.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA, passed directly from mother to child) was chosen for that exhumation because the Y chromosome method of DNA testing couldn't be used as the location of Robert James' (Jesse's father) grave is not known. Hence, there was no Y chromosome DNA reference source available at that time. 

But instead of exhumation project leader, Professor James E. Starrs. exhuming Zerelda James Samuel, the mother of Jesse James and also the perfect candidate for a DNA reference sample, he chose Robert A. Jackson and his nephew, Mark Nikkel. Jackson and Nikkel claim to be matrilineal descendents of Susan James Parmer, Zerelda's daughter, and Jesse's full-blood sister. Zerelda would have been the perfect choice as a DNA reference source for several reasons:

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 Jesse James. 

3. She is buried only feet from the purported grave of Jesse James.

Starrs claimed 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 doubt.

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 mother.

Professor Starrs, 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 Paperwho interviewed Starrs in 1998:

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.

Dorothy's birth 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 designated.

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:

10. This document from Rev. James' (Jesse James' father) probate papers provides legal proof that Jesse James' middle initial was in fact "W". His full name is recorded as Jesse Woodson James by James Harris, the administrator of Rev. James' estate. Dated April 21, 1850. Book C, Page 109, Section 110. State of Missouri, County of Clay.

Dorothy Rose
Jesse James Death Hoax and Buried Treasures


Marker #44
Location: Courthouse lawn, Highway 79, Center Street, Archer City. 
City: Archer City 
Marker Erected: 1972 
Marker Text: 
Jesse James, celebrated 1860s-1882 Missouri outlaw, used to visit in Archer City 
in house built by Stone Land and Cattle Company for its manager, Allen H. Parmer 
(1848-1927), his Confederate comrade of the Civil War and husband of his sister 
Susan (1849-89). With Frank James, his brother and aide, the outlaw chief hid at 
the Parmers' when hunted for train and bank robberies or on other occasions. 
Jesse James was killed in 1882; Frank and his wife continued to visit at 
Parmer's house, which was later moved from original site. Parmer brought up a 
family of respected, upright citizens. Erected by Archer County Historical 
Survey Committee. House is shown only by appointment, 1972.

Letters To Be Burned

Jack Loftin

A historian from Archer County, wrote a book about the area, “Trails Through Archer.” In this book he writes about Jesse James being in the area of his sister Susan James Palmer in 1884. By 1884 Jesse James was suppose to have already been dead. At the time of this writing, Susan James Palmer was living in Henneritta, Texas between Wichita Falls and Vernon, Texas. 

From the book “Trails Through Archer” Loftin writes:

A daughter of Jesse’s niece, Allen Palmer’s granddaughter, has told an Archer City Historical Commission that in her mother’s trunk are many letters, some of which will prove that Jesse wrote to his sister, her grandmother, dated and post marked – Heneritta, Texas 1884. These letters the mother had planned to burn, but they are not lost, have been promised to the county commission.


Tales Through Archer
Published by Nortex Press
Published in the U.S. by Eakin Publications
P.O. Box 23006
Austin, Texas 78735

Interview of Baker for WPA project in 1937: Mr. Baker story tells of working cattle up
along the Chisholm Trail in Indian Territory (Chickasaw Nation Or Pickens Co or later
Carter Co Ok) Mr. Baker became ill and stayed the the ranch of Allen Parmer and Mrs. Parmer took care of him. Mrs. Parmer told him the man he met on previous stay was Jesse James. Article states that Mrs. Allen Parmer was
Jesse's sister.

DNA Controversy