Home A Picture Is Worth... J.L. Courtney's Story Letters and Opinions Links Contact Betty About The Book General Store Modern Day Shootout Evidence What's New Discussion Family Tree DNA Controversy Treasure Maps



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 five know James' Gang members listed by their first names or last names (or an initial) 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). Other suspected gang members are listed by their last names only - McDaniels (Thompson McDaniels?), 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.

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?

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.


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

_Dorthy Christopher Parmer Gen Forum

Hi Bubba Yes I can sent a copy I think it was around 1879/80 And guess what, I
live in Wichita, Ks, do you need anything from here? I also have a Baker but she was in Georgia, Married to my greatgrandfather Joseph E. Whitehead, Sarah was her name.