New Book: ‘Secret History of the Wild, Wild West’

Reveals how Jesse James and other outlaws were part of a secret organization in search of lost treasures and political power

Author, Daniel J. Duke’s latest book; Secret History of the Wild, Wild West‘ is slated for release via his publisher, Inner Traditions/Bear & Co. this coming June 28th (available at bookstores around the globe and available for preorder now), very near the same time his interview with Regina Meredith of ‘Open Minds‘ with GAIA TV will air. We are really looking forward to this! Stay tuned for more updates as the release date nears!

Below is a short description of the book. More can be found at the publisher, Inner Traditions – Bear & Company :

“• Offers evidence from Jesse James’s secret encoded diaries

• Examines Jesse James’s close ties with other notorious outlaws, such as Johnny RingoJesse Evans, and Billy the Kid

• Shows how Jesse James was related, by blood or marriage, to powerful people in law enforcement and politics, including the elite families behind the Copperheads and the Knights of the Golden Circle organizations

Jesse James and many other Old West outlaws were much more than just wild cowboys. As author Daniel Duke–the great-great-grandson of Jesse James–reveals, James and other infamous outlaws were part of a larger organization, centuries old, that has affected U.S. history from the small, rural streets of early America to the highest levels of the nation’s government, with continuing influence to this day.

Drawing on his great-great-grandfather’s secret diaries, Duke unravels the hidden history of the Wild West to expose the outlaws, politicians, and secret societies who were pulling strings behind the scenes. He examines Jesse James’s close ties with other notorious outlaws, such as Johnny Ringo, Jesse Evans, and Billy the Kid, and demonstrates not only how James faked his death and lived out his life under an alias, but how Billy the Kid did the same. He also details how both Jesse James and Billy the Kid continued their work for the nameless organization after their faked deaths.

Exploring how Jesse James was related, by blood or marriage, to powerful people in law enforcement and politics, Duke details James’s connections to the Baylor family, who founded Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and other elite families who were instrumental in founding and leading the Copperheads and the Knights of the Golden Circle organizations before, during, and after the Civil War. The author shows how Jesse James was connected to former U.S. presidents Lyndon Baines Johnson and Harry S. Truman as well as LBJ’s man in the shadows, Texas mob figure Billie Sol Estes.

Exposing the secret agenda behind the outlaw gangs of the Wild West, Duke also reveals the stealthy war between the secret organization and its opposition that has been waged in the shadows for centuries.”


New Book: ‘The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James’

I am very happy to announce the soon to be released book, ‘The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James‘ by Teresa Duke and Daniel Duke,which is slated for release June 9th, 2020 via Inner Traditions – Bear and Company.

“A deep investigation into historical documents that prove the notorious outlaw Jesse James faked his own death

• Presents the legend of Jesse James and counters it with the real story, based on family records

• Provides photographic evidence, a journal of Jesse James’s, and historical records that prove James faked his death, verified by experts and civic authorities

• Debunks the 1995 DNA test results of James’s supposed remains

The story of the notorious outlaw Jesse James’s assassination at the hands of Robert Ford has been clouded with mystery ever since its inception. Now, James’s great-great-grandchildren Daniel and Teresa Duke present the results of more than 20 years of exhaustive research into state and federal records, photographs, newspaper reports, diaries, and a 1995 DNA test in search of the truth behind Jesse James’s demise.

Explaining how the accepted version of the history of Jesse James is wrong, the authors confirm their family’s oral tradition that James faked his own death in 1882 and lived out his remaining days in Texas. They methodically unravel the legend surrounding his death, with evidence vetted by qualified experts and civic authorities. They share the journal of their great-great-grandfather, kept from 1871 to 1876 and verified to be written in James’s handwriting. They reveal forensically confirmed photographs of James before and after his supposed killing, including one of James attending his own funeral. Examining James’s life both before and after his faked death, they provide an account of where he lived and who he associated with, including his interactions with secret societies. They compare the contradictory newspaper reports of James’s death with accounts by his family and associates, which support that the man buried as James was actually his cousin, and reveal how James tricked authorities into believing he had been killed.

Further supporting their claim, the authors debunk the DNA test results of the exhumation of James’s body in 1995. The Dukes detail the ways in which the test was fraudulent, an assertion supported by the deputy counselor for Clay County at the time of the testing. Backed by a wealth of evidence, the descendants of Jesse James conclusively prove what really happened to America’s Robin Hood.”

‘The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James’ by Teresa F. Duke and Daniel J. Duke

Available for pre-order now and slated for release June 9th anywhere books are sold!

Thanks to our late mother/author Betty Dorsett Duke, my sister/author Teresa Duke, our ancestor Jesse Woodson James, our wonderful agent Fiona Spencer Thomas, our friend Matt Hamlin and friend/author Pip Lee and others.

Also, a huge thank you to our great publisher Inner Traditions/Bear & Co.

You can read our first book review here:  Whiskey & Wit Book Reviews! 

Please stop by my Goodreads page as well.

You can find the book at the locations below and many others around the globe.










DNA Controversy: Why the DNA Results from the 1995 exhumation of the alleged grave of Jesse James, are Tainted.

I wanted to present some of the evidence we’ve gathered over the years just as my late mother, Betty Dorsett Duke had written it. Without further ado, I present you with…

DNA Controversy:  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 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.

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:

Item or Item NO. Entry on Original Certificate Amended Information
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 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 here to review more about my DNA challenge to Robert A. Jackson in the article 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.)


The Square Magazine – ‘Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure’ article — Daniel J. Duke

“Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure – Lost Templar Treasure: Secret Diaries, Coded Maps, and the Knights of the Golden Circle – An article published in the October 2020 Issue of The Square Magazine, now available online.

The Square Magazine – ‘Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure’ article — Daniel J. Duke

Article & Interview with ‘The Square Magazine’ — Daniel J. Duke

Author Daniel J. Duke interview and article with ‘The Square Magazine’ concerning the Old West outlaw Jesse James, treasures, the Knights Templar and more.

‘The Square Magazine’ interviews author Daniel J. Duke and publishes his article concerning outlaws, treasures, the Knights Templar and more…

Article & Interview with ‘The Square Magazine’ — Daniel J. Duke

The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James: Based on Family Records, Forensic Evidence, and His Personal Journals by Daniel J. Duke and Teresa F. Duke — Whiskey & Wit

Daniel and Teresa Duke, children of the late Betty Dorsett Duke (also an author of several well-known Jesse James’ works), have come together to produce the newest in a James’ book series that breaths new life into the outlaw’s rich history. 431 more words

via The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James: Based on Family Records, Forensic Evidence, and His Personal Journals by Daniel J. Duke and Teresa F. Duke — Whiskey & Wit


Book Review: The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James

Daniel and Teresa Duke, children of the late Betty Dorsett Duke (also an author of several well-known Jesse James’ works), have come together to produce the newest in a James’ book series that breaths new life into the outlaw’s rich history.

via Book Review: The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James — Daniel J. Duke

New Book! ‘The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James’ — Daniel J. Duke & Teresa F. Duke

A deep investigation into historical documents that prove the notorious outlaw Jesse James faked his own death.

via New Book! ‘The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James’ — Daniel J. Duke

Ballistics Tests Prove Jesse James Not Shot As Bob & Charlie Ford Claimed

Not Jesse James
Body passed off as Jesse James

“Professor Starrs at first agreed with the coroners that the bullet did not exit the skull of the man alleged to be Jesse James.Associate editor of the Kearney Courier, Gene Gentrup, wrote: “…Even though Starrs had earlier stated with certainty that the bullet never exited the head, he softened his stance during the presentation saying without be able to fully reconstruct the skull scientist were unable to ascertain whether it exited, although he thought it did.”

Gary Chilcote, owner and curator of the house where Jesse was allegedly killed now turned tourist attraction, insists that the legendary bullet hole in the wall, the money-making star attraction of his museum, was created from the bullet fired from Bob Ford’s pistol as it exited Jesse James’ skull.

But all of the arguments over whether or not the bullet exited or not were settled by ballistics tests that prove that Jesse James could not have been shot as Bob and Charley Ford claimed. Katarina Babcock, a New Mexico Department of Public Safety firearms expert, proved on The Discovery Channel’s, “Jesse James: Legend, Outlaw, Terrorist”, which aired on October 29, 2005, that the bullet from either of the pistols Bob Ford claimed to have been the murder weapon would have left large exit wounds.

Babcock fired one shot each from a Smith & Wesson 44 and a Colt 45 into two ballistics spheres which simulate the human skull, skin and brain. As stated earlier Ford gave conflicting statements as to which one was the actual murder weapon. He fired the fatal shot into the man he claimed was Jesse James from a distance of about six feet, with his arm outstretched cutting the distance the bullet traveled about four feet. The ballistics tests showed that either weapon fired from that distance would have left exit holes.

Babcock’s findings show that something is amiss with the alleged death photos of Jesse James. According to her tests the highly questioned corpse probably wouldn’t have had much a face left if shot in the back of the head at the close range Bob Ford testified to.” Copyright Betty Dorsett Duke 2007

Jesse W. James Handwriting Comparisons

Pictured below are three pages from my great-grandfather’s original 1871 diary, which; along with the signature photo and Jesse James family photo, are now part of my copyrighted (C) Betty Dorsett Duke Collection. Jesse James signed his diary “J. James” and “James L. Courtney”. Jesse W. James was his real name and James L. Courtney was his alias.

He wrote the entire diary in pencil, just as he did in a six page letter he wrote to Dr. Reuben Samuel, his step-father. I wasn’t aware of this letter until Michigander, Matt Hamlin, sent the following link to me:


The letter, along with its complete transcription, may also be viewed at this site:


Both Jesse James and Dr. Reuben Samuel are pictured in the eBay photo of the James and Jackson families (with friends)

James Family in Blevins, Texas
Jesse James with family and friends in Blevins, Texas

Matt Hamlin pointed out that the T’s in both samples are identical. The same applies for some of the other letters of the alphabet. While reading his diary I noticed that he sometimes made his J’s fancy like this:

Jesse James signature
Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney signed his 1871 diary “J. James”.

And other times he made his J’s plain – like he did in his signature on the Christie’s letter pictured on the right below. The slant, writing style, and spelling is also the same in both handwriting samples.

Jesse James' Journal and Christies
A page from Jesse W. James AKA James L. Courtney’s original 1871 diary (June 28, 29, & 30) is on the left, and the last page of the six page letter signed Jesse W. James, which was auctioned by Christies for $175, 000, is on the right.

Transcription follows:
June 1871
28 Wensday for book .50
for wagon grease .25
29 Thirsday morning
for milk .25
at Decatur in camp back of the tin shop and remained there all day and in the evening went ahunting with H Pratt and Edward Sunderland and the tavern keep, and I killed a deer.
30 Friday morning in camp back of the tin shop and rized up for to start south

for corn 1/2 lb .75
for caps for gun .75”

Jesse James' Journal and Christies sample 2
Another page from Jesse W. James AKA James L. Courtney’s original 1871 diary is pictured on the left. The last page of the letter auctioned by Christies is on the right.

Transcription follows:

“James L. Courtney

his book bought June 28/ 1871

at Decatur Texas price 50 cts

if the oner should be found ded his uncle lives in cass co mo. his address is as folows E. L. Andrass Brosley po cass co mo if the oner should be found dead the person he [maybe who?] finds this will please rite immediately to E. L. Andruss Brosley po cass co mo”

Jesse James' Journal and Christies sample 3
Another page (cropped) from Jesse W. James AKA James L. Courtney’s original 1871 diary (scanned in black and white) pictured top left.

The same last page of the letter signed Jesse W. James letter (auctioned by Christie’s) is pictured again top right for comparison purposes. Another excerpt from a letter signed Jesse W. James is pictured on the right below. Compare the way Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney wrote the word “to”, (the first word in the third line from the top), is almost exactly like he wrote it in the letter. Also check out the W’s, H’s, and T’s. There are examples of my great-grandfather underlining words on other pages of his diary:

Transcription of letter on bottom right:

“do & if we were free men we would do all in our power to put it down [illegible] Allen of Liberty made similar remarks about us to [illegible] [illegible] a few days ago to but he will probably regret it. if you value your life you had better retract your slander” Jesse W. James”

Transcription of the diary page pictured top left above:

“W. M. Roberts branded on the left hip B to [two?] marks [?] [illegible] [illegible] to under half crop and the other under cut [?] in the rite & and [illegible] half crop in the left. John Hitson & Bill [John & Bill Hittson] Palapinto co & Teresa [?]”

For more information on E. L. Andruss and a robbery attributed to the James Gang in Coldwater, Brosley County, Missouri click on the following links:

http://forums.delphiforums.com/Zeke1/messages?msg=926.26 http://forums.delphiforums.com/Zeke1/messages?msg=926.24

More information about the Brosley, Cass Co., MO robberies – courtesy of Daniel Duke. National Republican article: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86053573/1873-12-12/ed-1/seq-1/;words=county+Cass+Missouri?date1=1873&rows=20&searchType=basic&state=&date2=1873&proxtext=cass+county+missouri&y=15&x=15&dateFilterType=yearRange&index=1 The State Journal article (Jefferson City, MO): http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87052128/1873-12-12/ed-1/seq-2/;words=county+Cass+Missouri?date1=1873&rows=20&searchType=basic&state=&date2=1873&proxtext=cass+county+missouri&y=15&x=15&dateFilterType=yearRange&index=2