A James family genealogist told me that the age-old mystery of Jesse James’ true fate could be solved by following his paper trail. I doubted what she said at first but have since learned she was right! In 1999 I failed to obtain a court order to exhume my paternal great-grandfather’s grave (mainly due to lack of evidence) for DNA testing to determine his true identity. He was known as James L. Courtney in Texas but according to old family stories he was really Jesse James, America’s most famous outlaw.
This article only reports a fraction of the genealogical information that made me a believer in genealogy and paper trails. Besides genealogical evidence I, with the help of others, have amassed pictorial evidence that literally shows the man known in Texas as James L. Courtney was really Jesse James. Then there’s his 1871 diary that he signed, “J. James” and “James L. Courtney”, and mentioned historically recognized members of the James Gang. There’s a preponderance of evidence that he was Jesse James, yet scientific DNA testing taken under strict chain of custody guidelines, is needed to provide the ultimate identification proof…and it is currently underway. Read More Here: Shelton_Connection_To_The_James_Family
For as long as I can remember I’ve heard old family stories that claim my paternal great-
grandfather, known as James L. Courtney in Texas, was really Jesse Woodson James. I’ve
dedicated the past two decades to determining the truth of the matter. The findings of my
research, as well as the research of many others, resulted in convincing me that the old family
stories are true – Jesse James lived in Texas from 1871 until his death in 1943 under the alias of
James L. Courtney. Y-DNA testing is the final step of my investigation and is currently
underway. From this point forward I’ll refer to James L. Courtney as the real James L. Courtney
in order for the reader to differentiate him from Jesse James.
Jesse James was the son of Robert Sallee James and Zerelda Elizabeth Cole. The real James
L. Courtney was the son of Stephen Courtney and Dianah Andruss. Jesse James and the real
James L. Courtney were cousins – both of them descended from Sarah E. Mason Barbee James. 1
Jesse James was the third great-grandson of Sarah Elizabeth Mason Barbee and Thomas James
(her second husband), and James L Courtney was the fourth great-grandson of Sarah Elizabeth
Mason Barbee and Andrew Barbee (her first husband)…
There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know — Harry S. Truman
On January 25, 2009, Laura Anderson Way, an excellent genealogist, emailed me telling of a discovery she made while perusing Eric James’ website, “Stray Leaves – A James Family In America Since 1650”.  Laura’s find provides more strong written and pictorial evidence supporting my family story. Since some readers may not be familiar with this story, I’ll relate only the part that pertains to her find.
For as long as I can remember I’ve heard family stories that claim Jesse Woodson James was my paternal great-grandfather. The story goes that he assumed the alias of James L. Courtney and hightailed it to Texas. He was living there when he got away with his April 3, 1882 murder, and lived there until he died of old age on April 14, 1943. He told his friend and neighbor, J. Z. Jackson, that “a name to live by is a name to die by”, hence his tombstone bears the name of James L. Courtney instead of Jesse W. James.
In 1995 I decided to either prove, or disprove, this story once and for all, and after several years of extensive research I became convinced that it is true. Realizing that this story and my findings needed to be made public for the sake of historical and genealogical accuracy, I wrote my first book on the subject, Jesse James Lived & Died In Texas, [Eakin Press, 1998]. Soon afterwards I became very aware that the now deceased Judge James R. Ross, who is generally accepted as Jesse James’ great-grandson, aggressively challenged any new information about Jesse James that differed from the historically accepted version of his life and death.
Eric James, Judge Ross’ spokesperson, Kathy Reynard, and others, joined forces and started a genealogical war against my family story and my findings. These individuals adamantly pursue all avenues attempting to totally discredit my family story and my findings. Ms. Reynard, who was once their spokesperson, created the website Jesse James In Texas?, which mimics my website of the same name minus the question mark. Her website was formerly accessed at http://www.jessejamesintexas?.com, but is now hosted by Eric James’ Stray Leaves website at http://www.ericjames.org/JesseJamesinTexas/index.html.
This particular story began with Laura’s email to me and developed to its current status through emails. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I included these messages, only taking the liberty of italicizing them in order to differentiate them from my commentary.
In an effort to disprove your theory, they [my detractors] completely don’t realize that Whitsett is last name of one of the guerillas and James Simeon Whitsett died in New Mexico.
James “Sim” Whitsett was John Rankin Whitsitt’s son.
I wonder exactly where those stables were.
Laura was referring to the letter pictured below which is currently displayed on Eric James’ web site at http://www.ericjames.org/JesseJamesinTexas/index.html. This letter was written by J. R. Andruss to Mr. James L. Courtney, (Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney, my paternal greatgrandfather), on stationary bearing a letterhead reading:
G.P. Whitsett J. R. Andruss
Whitsett & Andruss
Lamar Livery, Sale & Feed Stable
On Broadway, half block north of Square.
Lamar, MO., January 11, 1887
Please keep in mind that my great-grandfather was known in Texas as James L. Courtney, but a body of evidence indicates he was actually Jesse W. James. He revealed the truth of his true identity in his 1871 diary by signing it “J. James”; “JWJ”; and James L. Courtney”. He also included the following rhyme:
“When stemm and tryst James L. Courtney is my heist.”
Definitions of the key words: Stemm = a line of descent; Tryst=a secret prearranged meeting; and Heist= to steal.
The fact is that Jesse James and James L. Courtney were cousins descending from a common ancestor, Sarah Mason Barbee James, daughter of George Mason, who is known as “The father of the Bill of Rights”.
From this point forward I will refer to the letter pictured above as Exhibit 2E.
Jesse James didn’t just pull the Courtney name to use as his alias out of his hat – there actually was a real James L. Courtney. And, adding even more intrigue to this story, is the fact that the real James L. Courtney assumed the alias of James Haun. No one knows for certain why he did this, but from here on I will refer to him as the real James L. Courtney or James L. Courtney AKA James Haun, in order for the reader to differentiate him from Jesse W. James AKA James L. Courtney.
The real James L. Courtney was the son of Stephen and Dianah Andruss Courtney, and they, as well as all of their children, reportedly also assumed the alias of Haun. Some living Courtney’s and Haun’s claim that Stephen Courtney changed his entire name to Andrew Jackson Haun, while the rest of his family kept their given names only changing their surname to Haun. But bear in mind that the claim that Stephen Courtney and Andrew Jackson Haun were the same man is theory and not fact.
My opposition claims as fact that my great-grandfather was the real James L. Courtney and only assumed the alias of James Haun because he got into some trouble with the law. But their theory just doesn’t make any sense. If he really was James L. Courtney and got in trouble with the law, trouble so serious it caused him and his entire family to change their names to Haun and leave Missouri and move to Kansas…why on earth would he change his name back to James L. Courtney?
The rest of the Stephen and Dianah Courtney family reportedly lived the rest of their lives in Kansas as Haun’s, and are buried as Haun’s.
Kathy Reynard offers this following version as the reason for the reported name change – written exactly as she wrote it:
“Shortly after the [April 1867] wedding [Stephen and Dianah’s daughter, Harriet Courtney Black], Stephen, Diannah, and the four boys abruptly left their home in Miami County [Kansas] and moved to Morris County, Kansas where there were few settlers, and they built a home on what later became known as Haun Creek. Stephen Courtney had changed his given and surnames and was now Andrew Jackson Haun. Diannah and the boys kept their given names, but the entire family now called themselves the Haun family. Much research has been done to find the reason for the name change and the move to Morris County. My husband’s Aunt Frances and Lee Haun, grandson of Theodore, who had never met, remembered hearing stories about it being because of a stolen horse. Jane Haun of Ponca City, Oklahoma remembered her mother telling, very quietly, that they were “really supposed to be Courtneys, but don’t tell anybody.” Kathy Lyons, a great granddaughter of Robert Haun, said that her mother remembered hearing that either Robert Haun or his father had shot and killed a man during an argument, and they had to move quickly in order to keep him from being arrested. This gave me something to go on, and I went to the State Archives in Topeka to go through the newspapers of this time period. I found an interesting article in the Johnson County paper in mid-May 1867 that told of a man shooting his brother during a heated argument. He was arrested, held for just a few hours, then released. And then in the middle of the night, the entire family had packed up and left. No names were mentioned. There is just one problem with trying to link this incident to the Courtney/Haun family — neither Stephen nor Diannah had a brother that had died in May 1867, in Kansas or anywhere else. There are no police or court records for this time period, so I think this is as close as we are going to get in solving this mystery. The Hauns went to great lengths to protect their new identity; even the probate records of Stephen and Diannah mention their son James L. Haun living in Texas, although James had resumed the use of the Courtney name when he moved to Texas in 1871. No one knows why he did this. He sold the farm he had purchased in Morris County to his father, and also sold land that he had purchased in Johnson County, Missouri as James L. Courtney.” 
Did one of the Courtney boys shoot the real James L. Courtney dead and then Jesse James stepped in and assumed his name? Kathy Reynard states as fact that Stephen Courtney assumed the alias of Andrew Jackson Haun, yet she presents no proof of this and neither has anyone else. Or did one of the Courtney boys shoot their father dead instead of their brother? Since no one has ever proved that Stephen Courtney and Andrew Jackson Haun were the same man, maybe Dianah married again and her new husband was Andrew Jackson Haun.
Dr. David Hedgpeth also has a theory about the reason for the name change. He believes that Rev. Robert Sallee James, (Jesse James’ father), faked his death and assumed the alias of Andrew Jackson Haun. If this proves to be true, the real James L. Courtney AKA James Haun, and all of his siblings, would have become Jesse James AKA James Courtney’s step-siblings. This would also mean that Dianah Andruss Courtney AKA Dianah Andruss Haun would have been his step-mother.
Whatever the case may be, Exhibit 2E was written to my great-grandfather who was living as James L. Courtney in Blevins, Texas at the time. As stated earlier, he wrote the rhyme in his 1871 diary revealing that he stole James L. Courtney’s name. No one knows exactly when he assumed this alias, perhaps in 1867 after the shooting incident, but his diary proves that he was using the name James L. Courtney by the time he reached Decatur, Wise County, Texas on June 28, 1871.
Since the real James L. Courtney discarded his name, it appears Jesse James seized the golden opportunity of putting it to good use as his own. And he couldn’t have made a better choice since Courtney was a name he was very familiar with. As stated earlier, James L. Courtney was his cousin, perhaps his step-brother, and some of his Courtney cousins were his neighbors in Clay County, Missouri.3
Believing that Exhibit 2E provides proof that my great-grandfather was James L. Courtney AKA James Haun, my opposition included it in their brief for my 1999 exhumation hearing in Marlin, Falls County, Texas. I was seeking a court order from Falls County Judge Michael Meyer, to retrieve a small dime-sized sample of my great-grandfather’s bone from his grave for DNA testing purposes, but my request was denied. I was upset at the time, because I want a definitive answer as to my true lineage, but I later learned that Judge Meyer did me a great favor.
If the judge had granted the order to exhume, the mtDNA sequence obtained from my greatgrandfather’s remains was to be compared to the mtDNA sequences of the two men used as DNA reference sources for the 1995 exhumation in Kearney, Missouri, and at that time I wasn’t aware that their validly as DNA reference sources is highly questionable.
To the best of my knowledge no one at the hearing had any idea that Exhibit 2E actually held an important clue supporting my family story. If Kathy Reynard hadn’t pictured it on her website, and if Eric James hadn’t included her website on his website, Laura may have never seen it and wouldn’t have discovered the highly important name of Whitsett.
I believe my oppositions’ line of reasoning regarding the significance of Exhibit 2E is this: Since the real James L. Courtney’s mother’s maiden name was Andruss, her nephew, J. R. Andruss, wouldn’t have written to my great-grandfather if he hadn’t been the real James L. Courtney. But what none of us realized at the time was that the real James Courtney and Jesse James were cousins, and perhaps step-brothers, and that the Whitsett name held an important clue to my great-grandfather’s true identity.
In response to Laura’s initial email I emailed her the following excerpts from my latest book, The Truth About Jesse James, as well as a picture of my great-grandfather taken in Lamar, Barton County, Missouri (pictured below the excerpts) :
Frank James was at this time in bed upstairs in the hotel, receiving seven former Quantrill men who had come in on the morning train from Kansas City. They were William H. Gregg, J. Frank Gregg, James Whitsett, Hiram J. George, Benjamin H. Morrow, Warren W. Welch, and J. C. Ervin, who was the alternate pallbearer to the other men who would carry Jesse’s body at his second burial.
L. Courtney received a letter dated January 11, 1887, from James Russell Andruss in Lamar, Missouri. J. R. Andruss was the son of Orville Rice Andruss, brother of Dianah D. Andruss Courtney AKA Dianah D. Haun, the real James L. Courtney’s mother and perhaps Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney’s step-mother. The letter acknowledges this in closing with ‘your cousin’.
I also included the following in my email to Laura:
Was James Simeon “Sim” Whitsett part of G. P. Whitsett’s family?
Laura, that picture of my g-grandfather pictured in my latest book, the one that’s signed Jessie James “alive”, was taken in Lamar, Missouri. (Pictured below.)
Out of all my photographic evidence none speaks louder in telling the tale of my great grandfather’s true identity than this photo, the original of which is owned by John B. Barritt of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. What makes this picture so important is that John Barritt is not related to me and we had absolutely no knowledge of one another other until he read about my story in the Dallas Morning News, yet he owns a picture of my great-grandfather identified as Jessie James. Mr. Barritt’s story follows:
“Upon the death of my Uncle Clifford’s widow, her daughter, (no relation to me), offered to me a valise which contained many photos of the Barritt family. I, of course, accepted them.
One of the photos in the group was a photo upon which was written “Jessie James alive”. It was not unusual to see such a photo because many of the so called desperadoes of the “Old West” often were seen at the “Medicine Shows” which were popular at the time. Emmett Dalton and Elmer McCurdy were examples. Whether it was an actual photo of Jessie made no difference to me, it was not to be discarded.
When I saw the article in the Dallas Morning News about a lady who claimed to be a great granddaughter of Jessie James and had written a book about him, I compared my picture with the one shown in the article. I contacted Betty Duke, the author and sent her a copy of the picture because I believed it was authentic.
I wondered about it being among my great-grandfather’s effects so I decided to investigate the matter.
In the middle of the 19th century, about the time Jessie was born, my great-grandfather was living in Ohio. He put up his farm as bail for the release of a friend whom he believed to be innocent of the murder for which he was charged and lost it as a result.
It was then he left Ohio and settled in Missouri. Other relatives were already in Missouri and Kansas. He then moved to Oklahoma where he operated the Batchel Hotel in Venita, I. T. ]Indian Territory], and the Miami Hotel in Miami [Oklahoma].
The acquisition of the land by the railroad could have been his reason for the move to Oklahoma, but it could have been the Civil War, as well.
The Pony Express was the link between the two ends of the railroad. It was started on April 3, 1860 and could have been instrumental in the possibility of my great-grandfather’s having known Jessie besides him being a neighboring farmer.
It was at this time Jessie was active in his outlaw’s role and would need sanctuary. What better place to hide than in your friend’s hotel? And even when he rode with Bill Anderson?
Is it not, also, plausible that, on his return trips from Texas, he would choose the same place from which he could easily contact anyone in the area with whom he chose to visit.
The picture was taken by a photographer from Lamar, Missouri, a mere 60 miles from Miami, Oklahoma, but many of the photographers did travel to the surrounding towns. The picture could have been made at the hotel at any time Jessie chose to do it to share with a trusted friend a secret known only to a select few.
Other photos in the group were those of family members and friends of the family, and were taken by photographers from ten or more towns in the area around Lamar.
No matter how hard you try there will always be those whom you cannot convince, not even with the truth. There are skeptics in every instance who will never admit their position.
The truth always wins and I hope my meager contribution will help it do so.
Great-grandson of Henry Clay Barritt – John B. Barritt Jr.” (1999)
Mr. Barritt added in a separate letter that “Jesse” was spelled with an “ie”–Jessie– in some old documents, and that it wasn’t until later years that the “ie” was used for girls. I have found this to be true; in fact, some of my older family members spelled my great-grandfather’s name Jessie. Mr. Barritt also said “The name Jessie James “alive” was added to the picture before it was taken for it to turn out like it did.”
The following tintype of my great-grandfather is believed to have been taken shortly after his arrival in Texas in 1871. The face in this photo, as well as other known photos of my great grandfather, pictured in both of my books and on my website, has been determined by a facial identification professional to be the same face pictured in the Jessie James “alive” photo:
After further research I sent Laura another email:
The J. R. Andruss who co-owned the livery with G. P. Whitsett was the real James L. Courtney’s cousin, and, according to one source, G. P. Whitsett was Sim Whitsett’s brother, nephew, or cousin. I’m trying to determine which. James Simeon “Sim” Whitsett rode with Quantrill and identified the body of Jesse James at his reported first funeral.
Now we believe that Jesse didn’t really die in 1882 and wasn’t buried as reported, and we may now have one of the pallbearer’s brothers from that fake funeral closely connected to my great grandfather. The letter written on that stationary from J. R. Andruss was written to James L. Courtney. By that time my great-grandfather was living in Texas under the alias of James L. Courtney, so the letter was written to him. You can see on that letterhead that the livery was located on the square at Lamar, Missouri. Now check out the back of the attached picture — the photographer’s studio was also located on the square in Lamar, Missouri.
I’m pretty excited about this. I wonder what else I’ve overlooked? — Betty
Years ago, Barbara Irwin, an Andruss family researcher, sent me copies of her research which also includes Merriam Morrison Kokojan’s research. Their research revealed some very intriguing information about J. R. Andruss which I recall reading then, but the significance of it meant nothing until Laura discovered the Whitsett – Andruss connection:
“James Russell Andruss was born near Holden, Missouri in 1857. Around 1886 he purchased a livery stable from President Harry S. Truman’s father in Lamar, Barton Co. Missouri. It was known as the Truman & Andruss Livery for a while.”
Further research revealed that the Truman & Andruss Livery eventually became known as the Whitsett & Andruss Livery. Now the plot thickens…President Harry S. Truman was James J. “Jim Crow” Chiles’ nephew, and Jim Crow Chiles was one of Quantrill’s guerrillas. Joanne Chiles Eakin, co-author of Branded as Rebels, is also related to him. G. P. Whitsett had cousins who rode with Quantrill and may have also rode with Quantrill himself. At the very least the Andruss’ were related to Jesse James through the Courtney’s. Jesse James also rode with Quantrill during the Civil War.
The following article reveals little known information about President Harry S. Truman (written exactly as the article appears):
“All history books readily and freely educate of the great President Harry S. Truman and his legacy left to the world. How he saved the world from the destruction of World War 2 as well as the heroic, monumental decisions he made to end that long war.
What isn’t spoken of is that President Harry S. Truman was a card carrying member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans ! Yes, you read it correctly.
Not only was Harry S. Truman the thirty-third President of the United States (1945-1953) as well as the thirty-fourth vice president – Harry S. Truman he was a direct descendent of Confederate soldiers and was a staunch & loyal supporter of the history and glory of the Missouri Partisan Ranger movement in Missouri against illegal and cruel occupation by Federal forces during the War of Northern Aggression.
Most know the back story of President Truman from childhood and history books. To wit – Truman was born on May 8, 1884 in Lamar, Missouri, the oldest child of John Anderson Truman (1851-1914) and Martha Ellen Young Truman (1852-1947). His parents chose the name Harry after his mother’s brother, Harrison Young (1846-1916), Harry’s uncle. His parents chose “S” as his middle name, in attempt to please both of Harry’s grandfathers, Anderson Shippe Truman and Solomon Young; the initial did not actually stand for anything, as was a common practice among Celtic / Scots-Irish.
During World War I Truman served as an artillery officer. After the war he became part of the political machine of Tom Pendergast and was elected a county commissioner in Missouri and eventually a United States Senator.
John Truman was a farmer and livestock dealer. The family lived in Lamar until Harry was ten months old. They then moved to a farm near Harrisonville, then to Belton, and in 1887 to his grandparents’ 600 acre farm in Grandview. When Truman was six, his parents moved the family to Independence, so he could attend the Presbyterian Church Sunday School.
As a young boy, Truman had great interests in reading and most importantly in history. Both highly encouraged by his mother. He was very close to his mother for as long as she lived, and as president solicited political as well as personal advice from her. Truman also read a great deal of popular “spun” history.
What is not readily known nor is this taught to our children, is that Harry S. Truman was a Confederate son – through and through! Truman and his family’s unwavering support of the South and the Confederate States Of America was immense, steadfast and allegiant.
Yes, Harry S. Truman had at least 2 ancestors, who were Confederate soldiers. First, William Young, son of Solomon and Hariette Louise (Gregg) Young, served under Upton Hayes. Solomon & Hariette were the grandparents of Harry S. Truman. Redlegs stole the family silverware, killed over 100 hogs, and burned his barns and haystacks. This occurred after Hariette had fed the men. Young rode with Hayes, Virgil Miller, Cole Younger, Dick Yeager & Boon Muir in August of 1862. Sources: Joanne Eakin & Donald Hale, “Branded as Rebels” page 484; John N. Edwards, Noted Guerrillas, page 94.
The other man was James J. “Jim Crow” Chiles. Actually, he was an in-law, his wife was a daughter of Solomon Young. Source: Joanne C. Eakin & Donald Hale, “Branded As Rebels” page 71.
Also highly probable, is that since Truman’s grandmother Hariett was a Gregg, she may have been related to William Gregg, who rode with Captain William Quantrill.
Of additional resource is an excellent article in the July 2007 edition (Volume 10, Number 2) of North & South magazine titled, Border State Son: Harry S. Truman and the War Between the States by David D. Schafer. The author is a former staffer at the Harry S. Truman NHS in Independence, Missouri, and former member of the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City. The article is about how the War of Northern Aggression highly influenced Truman’s life.
President Harry Truman’s grandmother Hariette (Gregg) Young was put in a “prison camp” due to Ewing’s General Order #11 (Listed at end of chapter). Harry’s mother was Martha Ellen Young. She, from childhood, remembered her home being burned, following Order #11. In 1861, when Kansas “Redlegs” made their first raid on the Truman’s family’s property, the Youngs were living southeast of Kansas City near Hickman Mills.
At this time, the Redlegs tried to make Harrison Young, Harry’s uncle, an informant and reveal information on Missourian’s loyal to the South. Harrison refused and was repeatedly “mock hanged” and his neck stretched to torture and make him talk. Harrison Young never broke to this torture !
During Harry’s WW1 service, Harry never wore his “Dress Blues” when visiting home, as Momma “…didn’t like the damned Yankees…” As well – because of the burning of the family’s farm and destruction by yankee predators, when Truman’s mom Martha Ellen, came to visit him at the While House, she refused to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom !
In closing, the true & complete history of our beloved Harry S. Truman, our thirty-third President of the United States was of a true Confederate son, proud of his family and very adamant of the preservation and memory of the atrocities committed against Missouri by Lincoln and the savage Kansas scurf that pushed this nation into war.
Something the spin doctors and revisionists will never allow to come to light. For how could one of the greatest president ever have been of Confederate extraction and loyal to the South! That can’t come to light… Especially that before during and after his term as President Of The United States, that Harry S. Truman was a proud, bona-fide, card carrying loyal member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans ! Plain & simple.
So proud was President Truman, that he actually attended some of the Quantrell Reunions of survivors of Captain Quantrill’s command and other Missouri Partisan ranger heroes.
We leave you with 2 quotes directly from Harry S. Truman that puts all into perspective. The truth cannot be denied. As follows…
‘But Quantrill and his men were no more bandits than the men on the other side. I’ve been to reunions of Quantrill’s men two or three times. All they were trying to do was protect the property on the Missouri side of the line…’ ~ Truman
‘…They tried to make my uncle Harrison into an informer, but he wouldn’t do it. He was only a boy… They tried to hang him, time and again they tried it, ‘stretching his neck’, they called it, but he didn’t say anything. I think he’d have died before he’d said anything. He’s the one I’m named after, and I’m happy to say that there were people…around at the time who said I took after him.’ ~ Truman speaking about what the Kansas “Red Legs” did to his 13 year old uncle, during the War Of Northern Aggression.’ 
Missouri has a saying — the three most famous people of Missouri are Harry Truman, Mark
Twain, and Jesse James. President Harry S. Truman agreed with many Missouri folks in thinking that Jesse James was kind of a Robin Hood, a good old boy, who took care of the widows and others. He never allowed himself to forget where he came from, and he often put a Western Missouri spin on issues debated in the Senate Chamber. An example was a speech Truman made in 1937 on his attempt to depict the scale of the subterfuge he believed the nation’s financiers had been guilty of. Truman goes on to describe a railroad robbery committed in 1873.
To Quote Harry S. Truman:
‘The first railroad robbery was committed on the Rock Island back in 1873 just east of Council Bluff, Iowa. The man who committed that robbery used a gun and a horse and got up early in the morning, said Mr. Truman. He and his gang took a chance of being killed and eventually most were. That railroad robber’s name was Jesse James.” The said Jesse James held up the Missouri Pacific in 1876 and took the measly sum of seventy thousand dollars from the express car.
About thirty years after the Council Bluffs hold up, the Rock Island went through a looting by some gentleman known as the “Tin Plate Millionaires.” They used no guns but they ruined the railroad and got away with seventy million dollars or more. They did my means of holding companies. Senators can see what “pickers” Mr. James and his crowd were along side of some real artists.’ 
President Truman’s quote leads one to conclude that he knew the family stories about Jesse James, and thought of him as more of a Robin Hood than the tin plate millionaires who were ripping the railroads off twenty times his rate. Harry S. Truman knew more about Jesse James than just his outlaw history. The past of both men’s families reflect a similar story.
At the tender age of sixteen Jesse James witnessed a band of federal militiamen appear at the James farm looking for his older brother, Frank James, a member of Quantrill’s Band. His step-father, Dr. Reuben Samuel, also had his neck stretched repeatedly in an attempt to make him tell of Frank’s whereabouts. Jesse’s mother was pregnant at the time and the Union militia slammed her into a wall. When they finally found Jesse in the field working a team of horses they beat him unconscious with bayonets and plow lines. All of this torture proved fruitless so the Feds left promising worse treatment on their next visit.
But President Harry S. Truman and Jesse James had more than a Civil War story in common, they shared a family tree:
Laura sent the following excerpt to me from Ron Wall’s biographical sketch of James Simeon “Sim” Whitsett:
“Simeon’s parents, John and Eliza Whitsett, lived about a mile north ofHickman’s Mill. Ironically, Hickman’s Mill and an area of one mile surrounding it was one of the few areas in Jackson County that was exempt from the order.
Perhaps John and Eliza escaped the devastation that befell most of Jackson County. Isaac and Cynthia Whitsett at Lee’s Summit certainly did not, nor did Sim’s cousin Stewart Whitsett and his family. Evidence indicates that they moved from Lee’s Summit to Lafayette County where several Whitsett families lived. Some of the Lafayette County Whitsett’s were cousins and the ties may have been close enough for one or more of these families to take them in.”
Besides Sim Whitsett’s family, future President Truman also lived in Hickman Mills (Hickman’s Mill?) along with his parents and siblings: “The Truman family returned to Jackson County in 1866, to live on a farm two miles north of Hickman Mills, in an area later known as Holmes Park.” 
Laura and I were still attempting to determine if Sim Whitsett was related to G. P. Whitsett, and if so…how? But it didn’t take Laura long to determine that Sim and G. P. Whitsett’s fathers were first cousins. This would mean that G. P. and Sim Whitsett were either first cousins once removed or second cousins, I’m not sure which.
“Samuel Whitsett had many children, but John H., James W., and Joseph are the ones we are concerned with.
John H Whitsett 1770-1845 is the ancestor of Gilbert Pink Whitsett
James W Whitsett 1773-1838 is the ancestor of James Simeon Whitsett
Joseph Whitsett 1774-1824 is the ancestor of Stewart and William Whitsett
(They married the Crawford girls named Laura and Susan, cousins of the Youngers)
Susan Crawford had married William Whitsett. When he died she then married Thomas Vandever. She died in the jail collapse.
Riley Crawford was also a guerilla and was their brother.
I believe that John H. Whitsett and James W. Whitsett were serving in the War of 1812 in the same co. (from Montgomery co, KY)
Joseph lived in Indiana, but somehow the descendants all ended up in Missouri.
The Indiana/Kentucky migration was pretty common I think. These men were originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Laura’s attached document follows:
Besides Whitsett’s being listed on the above pictured roster, there’s a Barron, a Wilkenson/Wilkerson, and a Younger. These names could also prove significant because my paternal great-great-grandfather was Thomas Hudson Barron, and he was in the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans. Wilkenson/Wilkerson’s and Younger’s rode with Quantrill and later the James Gang, and Bill Wilkerson, a known member of the James Gang, is mentioned in my great-grandfather’s diary as sitting with the family at Thomas Hudson Barron’s death bed.
Many genealogists and historians claim that most of Quantrill’s men were related by blood or by marriage.
Laura related the following information in a later email:
“James “Sim” Whitsett’s grandfather was James W. Whitsett (1773-1838) and Gilbert P. Whitsett’s grandfather was John H. Whitsett (1770-1840)
John H. and James W. were brothers. Both were sons of Samuel Whitsett.
And they each had a son they named John R Whitsett born about the same time
Some researchers make the mistake of thinking John R Whitsett is one man…..That is why some people say that Sim and GP are brothers……but they are not brothers.
These two John R Whitsett’s are 1st cousins to each other…….
Reverend John R Whitsett 1803-1879 GP’s dad
and John Rankin Whitsett 1805-1892 Sim’s dad
I’m not sure if they are called second cousins…..but I think that is what the relationship is called.
They are not first cousins.
I hope you will also let them know about the other son of Samuel Whitsett named Joseph Whitsett (1774-1824) whose children settled in Lafayette County, Missouri.
Joseph’s son Isaac Ellis Whitsett had the two son’s William and Stewart who married Jeptha Crawford’s daughters.”
Laura wrote on February 15, 2009: “Sim was mostly in Jackson County, GP was mostly in Johnson County, other guerrillas and their family that descended from Joseph were mostly in Lafayette Co.” Her email also contained two biographical sketches, one for G. P. Whitsett, and one for his brother, T. Jep Whitsett. The latter sketch contains the following information (written verbatim): “…he moved to what was then Lafayette county, which embraced also the present Johnson county.”
The highlighted portion above indicates that the Whitsett cousins very likely knew each other.
Laura did the genealogical research while I perused all of the many books I’ve acquired over the years about Jesse James and his associates for any mention of the Whitsett name. Many of these books mentioned James Simeon “Sim” Whitsett, but none mentioned G. P. Whitsett, but fortunately Donald R. Hale’s, Branded as Rebels Volume Two, contains the following information contributed by Cecil R. Coale which supports Laura’s genealogical findings:
Whitsett, Joseph Haden: “I am a distant cousin of James Simeon Whitsett who was once of Lee’s Summit…..My great great uncle Joseph Hayden Whitsett of Bonham, Texas was the same age as Sim and when Quantrill and Sim came to Texas that winter of October, 1863 to May, 1864, they ran around together here in north Texas. Uncle Hade died at age 103 in 1950 in Bonham. He was one of the three living Confederate veterans in 1950 in Texas. …..Uncle Hade was born in Barren County, KY., as was his father. Sim Whitsett was born in Jackson County, Missouri, but his father was from Kentucky……..Quantrill and Sim had departed Texas by May 1964 [should be 1864]. Uncle Hade joined Shelby’s 2nd Missouri Cavalry regiment after the Battle of Westport in October, 1864. Uncle’s Hade’s company was the one that became “Shelby’s Escort” later at Fulton, Arkansas. Shelby’s cavalry retreated from Westport to Bonham where General McCulloch’s garrison and commissary were located. Uncle Hade spent the last the next 9 months in a long retreat from Bonham to Clarksville, Texas and then Corsicana, Texas. Shelby disbanded the Missouri Cavalry in Corsicana in July, 1865 and Uncle Hade made his way back to Bonham….
Ref: Letter to Don Hale, July 26, 1998, from Cecil R. Coale, Jr. McKinney, Texas.”
In a later email Laura wrote that she is fairly certain that Gilbert Pink Whitsett (G. P. Whitsett) and Sim Whitsett were second cousins:
On James Simeon Whitsett and Gilbert Pink Whitsett……
I think they are related like this …….but I am not 100% sure yet.
James “Sim” Whitsett’s Ancestors Gilbert Pink Whitsett’s Ancestors
Samuel Whitsett b 1745 ……… Same guy…… Samuel Whitsett b 1745
James W Whitsett b 1773 ………….Brothers……… John H Whitsett b. 1770
John Rankin Whitsett 1805-1892 ….Cousins……. Rev. John R Whitsett 1803-1879
James Simeon Whitsett ………… 2nd cousins…..Gilbert Pink Whitsett
Plus the Crawford sisters ….Susan and Laura …..related to the Youngers through their mother……married the Whitsett brothers (William and Stewart) who were sons of Isaac Ellis Whitsett b 1804.
William died soon after he married Susan. She married Thomas Vandever and she was killed in the jail collapse. Isaac’s father was Joseph Whitsett b 1774 who was another son of Samuel Whitsett.
Armenia Crawford Selvey was also killed. She is sometimes called Armenia Whitsett Selvey. (Maybe she married another Whitsett brother before marrying Charles Selvey.)
Riley Crawford……who died when he was seventeen was often mistaken for Bloody Bill Anderson….They said he was quite a ruthless killer after his father Jeptha Crawford was murdered and his two sisters died in the Jail Collapse. (Susan Vandever and Armenia Selvey.)
The following information relates that Sim Whitsett and Jesse James were comrades and friends:
“James Simeon Whitsett (John R.6, James W.5, Samuel4, Ralph3, William2, Samuel1), was born March 19, 1845 in Missouri, and died May 22, 1928 in Missouri. He married (1) Martha M. Hall January 6, 1870 in Jackson County, Missouri. She was born August 21, 1844, and died July 1, 1878 in Jackson County, Missouri. He married (2) Margaret Angelina Arnold February 26, 1880, Cass Co., Missouri. She was born April 29, 1848 in Kentucky and died August 26, 1926, Hereford, Deaf Smith County, Texas.
Rode with Quantrill’s Raiders. Friend of the Youngers and James brothers. Biographical sketch in “Branded as Rebels” by Don Hale of Lee’s Summit, Missouri;
In the Marley Brant book, “The Outlaw Youngers: A Confederate Brotherhood” states that one of Bob Younger’s pall bearers on September 20, 1889 in Lee’s Summit, Missouri was James S. Whitsett. Also, at the funeral of Jim Younger in Lee’s Summit, Mo. on October 22, 1902 J.S. Whitsett was again a pallbearer and mentioned as a childhood friend of the Youngers (probably cousins).” 
Finding information on G. P. Whitsett, co-owner of Whitsett & Andruss Livery, proved more difficult than it did for his well documented cousin. The History of Johnson County, Missouri, census records, and a death certificate provided more information.
The History of Johnson County, Missouri:
“GILBERT P. WHITSETT, stock dealer. Among the enterprising citizens of Centerview, may be mentioned Mr. G. P. Whitsett, who was born in Johnson County, January, 1845. He is the second son of John R. Whitsett, a native of Kentucky. In 1874, Gilbert P. was married to Miss Georgia Mitchell, of Centerview, a native of Kentucky, and daughter of T. H. Mitchell, Esq. He then engaged in the grain and live stock business, and followed this until 1881, when he opened a livery stable, and is at present engaged in the livery business. He has three children living:
Jeddie P., Mary M. and Birdie H. Mr. Whitsett’s mother was a native of Tennessee, and was a daughter of James Cull.” 
The information located above says that Gilbert P. Whitsett opened a livery stable sometime around 1874, but it didn’t say where. But thanks to a letter J. R. Andruss wrote to my greatgrandfather on January 11, 1887, I now know that livery was located very near the Square in Lamar, Missouri…the same Square where Jesse James had his picture taken.
The real James L. Courtney, along with his parents and siblings, also lived in Warrensburg, Missouri.
Neither Laura nor I could locate a military record for Gilbert Pink Whitsett, which is odd since he was of the right age to have served in the Civil War that officially began in 1861 and officially ended in 1865. But since there are no complete roster for all the men who rode with Quantrill or the James Gang, he may have ridden with Quantrill. No other information was found about G. P. Whitsett until 1870. Was he riding with Quantrill during the war and maybe Jesse James afterwards?
According to the information provided by census records and, The History of Johnson County, G. P. Whitsett was born in 1845, but according to his death certificate he was born in 1840. The informant for his death certificate, Ella Whitsett, said that his birthday was January 4, 1840 and that he died a widower in Lamar, Missouri on October 2, 1925. His occupation is listed as a stock dealer. In 1870 he was a teamster and living in Reno, Washoe County, Nevada. Ella Whitsett also said that G. P. Whitsett’s father was Jack, (nickname for John), Whitsett, but she apparently didn’t know who his mother was because this space was left blank. (Death Certificate pictured below.)
Laura learned that G. P. and Sim Whitsett were related to other men who rode with Quantrill:
I’m trying really hard not to get anyone mixed up with anyone else.
I see where the two Armenias are getting confused.
One was born as Armenia Crawford (She died in the Jail collapse) who was related to the Youngers through her mother who was a Harris.
At least two of her sisters married Whitsetts who were brothers.
Laura Francis Crawford married Stewart Whitsett (Son of Isaac Ellis Whitsett) Susan married William Whitsett who died ……and then she married Thomas Vandever
Susan died in the Jail collapse.
I think Susan’s oldest daughter named Armenia Whitsett b 1855 is being confused with Susan’s sister Armenia Crawford Selvey b 1835.”
In another email she shared more information on the Whitsett’s relationship to other Quantrill guerrillas:
“I sent this to you about two years ago ………but want to refresh your memory because of the Crawfords who married the Whitsetts.
Rueben Harris b 1760 in Virginia and Died May 6, 1842 in Jackson Missouri.
His parents were William Harris and Sarah Steele.
Three of Rueben’s children headed up households of the Allied Families
WILLIAM HARRIS 1796
RUEBEN HARRIS 1804
ELIZABETH HARRIS 1814
William Harris (1796-1847)
Married Rhoda Burnett (Burnetts married into the Younger family) Children:
James Marshall Harris
Rhoda Burnett took in the families after husband died. Just one of the censuses I have on her.
1860 United States Federal Census about Rhoda Harris Name: Rhoda Harris
Age in 1860: 59
Birth Year: abt 1801
Home in 1860: Sni A Bar, Jackson, Missouri
Post Office: Blue Springs
Household Members: Name Age
Rhoda Harris 59 (Vandevers lived with the Harris family)
Marion L Harris 17
Thomas Vandever 41
Susan Vandever 24
Armina Vandever 5 Last name is Whitsett
Jeptha Vandever 3
Thomas Vandever 1
Laura Vandever 4.12
Martin Beau 17
John Leonard 22
Rueben Harris b. 1804
married Laura “Lavina” Matilda Fristoe
(her sister is Bursheba Fristoe mother of the Youngers)
Thomas B Harris
Laura F Harris
Richard A Harris
Union Rhoda Harris
Elizabeth Harris b. 1814 married Jeptha Crawford who was murdered on 29 Jan 1863.
I have her date of death as 29 Jan 1862 which I believe is incorrect. Most accounts say she was turned out in the cold after the execution of her husband.
Laura Crawford Married Stewart Whitsett
Susan J Crawford Married William Whitsett, then Thomas Vandever Ann E Crawford
Mary E Crawford
On July 16, 2009 Laura sent me the following email:
“Does this matter Betty?
Sim Whitsett’s YDNA shows he is not related to the Whitsettt’s who married Crawford women.
But each person in those families had their own guerrillas, the most ruthless of all being Riley Crawford.
Sim Whitsett obviously has documentation to show he was a guerrilla.”
The DNA information is important, but just knowing that G. P. Whitsett was Sim Whitsett’s cousin is enough for me. However, this still doesn’t prove that either of them knew my greatgrandfather, but on January 27, 2009, Carol Holmes, a genealogist who mainly concentrates on the James family, sent me the following email:
“That is the same man standing next to Courtney who you have listed as might being John Brown [Pictured in my first book, Jesse James Lived & Died In Texas]. That man standing next to him is Sam Whitsett. Compare the pictures on the web page that you just sent to the one in your first book.”
I checked out the picture she referred to, and as soon as I saw it, I saw what she saw. There are several known photos of Sim Whitsett pictured on Ron and Sue Wall’s Family History website, but the owner of these pictures prefers that I not use them which is totally understandable. The link to their website follows:
The following picture and notice appears on Ron and Sue Wall’s website:
I don’t think the man pictured above looks like Sim Whitsett either, but I do believe Sim may be pictured in the group photo pictured both above and below. In the photo below look at the man on the back row to the far left – the man with a white beard and dark suit. Joanne C. Eakin and Donald R. Hale, authors of Branded as Rebels, tentatively identified this man as “John Brown. The group photo pictured below in its original state and includes the admirable Miss Lizzie Wallace. This original photo is pictured in Branded as Rebels:
The photo pictured below was found in my great-grandfather’s personal belongings after his death. The man standing next to him (on the right) looks similar to the man pictured above tentatively identified as “John Brown?”, but he also looks very similar to Sim Whitsett who is believed by some to not be pictured.
I emailed the photo pictured above to Ron Wall to see if he thought the man standing next to my great-grandfather is Sim Whitsett, and this was his reply:
“After using some simple photo software to overlay the photo of the face in your picture on one regarded as an authentic picture of Sim as an old man, the two faces seem to match to an incredible degree. I then reversed the photos, overlaying the known Sim Whitsett photo on your photo with the same striking result. I certainly do not qualify as an expert, but my experiment seems to indicate that the two pictures are of the same man.” 
Why would Sim Whitsett, an ex-Quantrill guerrilla, be pictured with the real James L. Courtney who was a Union soldier? Quantrill’s men were known for not socializing with Union soldiers. To me this picture provides very strong circumstantial evidence that my great-grandfather was Jesse W. James, just as my family said. In my fifteen years of research I have never found evidence of him being anyone else.
While attempting to locate a known picture of the actual John Brown who rode with Quantrill in order to compare it to the picture tentatively identified as being him, I learned that there were two John Browns who rode with Quantrill, but I haven’t had any luck locating pictures of either of them.
Rose Mary Lankford, author of, The Encyclopedia of Quantrill’s Guerillas (1999), wrote:
“I have 2 John Browns in my list of Quantrill’s Guerrillas. One was born June 11, 1843, in Ohio. His father was John T. Brown and his uncle was the infamous John Brown of Osawatomie, Kansas. The family moved to Vernon County, Missouri. When Brown was a young boy, his father was killed and the family scattered about. Brown joined Quantrill at the age of 15 and he took part in the Lawrence Raid. After the war, he went back to his home in Vernon County, and married Matie Gilmore. He died at Sheldon, Vernon County, MO on September 20, 1940.
The other is John L. Brown born Jan. 31, 1844, in Simpson County, Kentucky. The family moved to Lafayette County, MO when John was 11 years old. He joined Quantrill in December of 1861. In the spring of 1862, he joined Jackman and later joined the Confederates in July of 1862. He was in the battles of Lone Jack, Springfield, Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, Hartville, and was in the Lawrence Raid. In 1864 he was in northern Missouri and went to Denver. He never surrendered after the war. He lived in Texas, Kansas, and settled down in Lafayette County, Missouri.” 
As evidenced by the information presented above, Laura Anderson Way’s discovery of the James-Whitsett-Andruss connection proved to be significant clue in my quest to determine my great-grandfather’s true identity. Her discovery in turn led to the fact that President Truman and Jesse James were related through the Woodson line, which in turn explains why Jesse James AKA James L. Courtney had connections to the Whitsett & Andruss Livery, formerly known as Truman & Andruss Livery. Two of the owners, John Truman, father of President Truman, and J. R. Andruss, were his cousins, and at the very least he was associated with G. P. Whitsett through
P.’s cousin, Sim Whitsett.
Instead of discrediting my family story and my findings as my opposition hoped for, Exhibit 2E actually helped it, just as other information my opposition uses to discredit my claim has done. Dr. David Hedgpeth wrote, “I compare Betty to the ‘Roadrunner’ and her opposition as the ‘Coyote.’ No matter how hard they try to get the roadrunner they just keep blowing themselves up. Wouldn’t it be far more productive to put the energies into a common direction? Wouldn’t working with Betty eventually get true results? I’ll provide two examples of this:
The secret Y DNA testing they did on Haun/Courtney descendants in an effort to lay my family story to rest once and for all, actually proved that my great-grandfather was not James L. Courtney. They publicly announced on the Internet that they had definitive proof that my great-grandfather was not Jesse James.
But DNA expert Dr. M Al Salih said the opposition’s claim is not true. His statement follows: “With regard to the question about the basis for exclusion in forensic case-work (such as this case) a difference at any single locus is considered the base for exclusion. Exclusion in this case is the lack of relationship between two families. Unproven mutations cannot be used to justify the exclusion as has been suggested in this case. They have to show that other members of these families have a similar mutation as was found in this case.” 
Colleen “CeCe” Taylor aka CeCe in Tennessee posted the following statement on the
Internet: “Watch the references to the “photo experts!
Remember, I have statements from them that totally discredit Betty’s claims to photo matches. The Austin Police Department and the state of Texas do not agree with Betty’s statements in her book; Visionics has washed their hands of her claims.
The forensic artist she used is flabergasted with Betty’s claims!” 
The fact is that Visionics did not wash their hands of my claim, and they did not retract their statement of recognition. CeCe’s fabrication was further exposed by William McCann’s post on the James Family Genealogy Forum: “I am the supervisor of the Forensic Science Multimedia Lab for the Austin Texas Police Department. I received a Bachelor of Science degree from The University of Texas at Austin, School of Communications. I have worked professionally in photography and video production for over 17 years. I was asked by Betty Duke to examine a number of photographs of her family members and known photographs of the James/Samuel family. After visually inspecting both sets of photos (Duke’s and historically accepted photos of the James/Samuel family), my staff and I determined with a high degree of certainty that the faces in question matched. Despite opinions to the contrary I stand by my conclusion. Ms. Duke is very sincere in her search for the truth. Her photographic evidence and supporting documentation is very compelling. I am disturbed by the viciousness of the personal attacks that have been posted on GenForum in regard to Ms. Duke. If it is truly our desire to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of Jesse James what good is served by comments ranging from petty cheap shots to outright slander?” 
When I first began this quest to determine my true lineage my mother offered some sound advice which I have adhered to: “Don’t ever exaggerate or lie about anything you say, because if you do and it is found out you will be totally discredited.” My opposition has provided a prime example of the wisdom of her words.
The fact is that both “John Brown?” and Sim Whitsett rode with Quantrill, so regardless of whether or not the man tentatively identified as “John Brown?” was John Brown or Sim Whitsett, the ex-Quantrill guerrilla pictured in the group photo at the 1920 Quantrill Reunion was photographed standing next to my great-grandfather. I am convinced this man was Sim Whitsett. This old family photo provides pictorial evidence that my great-grandfather was closely associated with ex-Quantrill guerrillas. And anyone who has the least bit of knowledge about these men knows this would have been highly unlikely if my great-grandfather had really been James L. Courtney, the ex-Union soldier. This pictorial evidence is supported by written evidence provided by my great-grandfather’s personal diaries which prove with his own words that he was associated with ex-Quantrill guerrillas and known members of the James Gang. All of these facts, plus many more, sure make it difficult for anyone to truthfully say that Jesse James getting away with his own murder and living on after 1882 as James L. Courtney is just another tall Texas tale.
General Order Number 11
District of the Border
Kansas City, Missouri
August 25, 1863
First, ___ All persons living in Jackson, Cass and Bates Counties, Missouri, and in that part of Vernon included in this district, except those living within one mile of the limits of Harrisonville, Hickman Mills, Independence and Pleasant Hill and Harrisonville, and except those in the part of Kaw Township, Jackson County, north of Brush Creek and west of the Big Blue, embracing Kansas City and Westport, are hereby ordered to remove from their present places of residence within fifteen days from the date hereof. Those who, within that time, establish their loyalty to the satisfaction of the commanding officer of the military station nearest their present places of residence will receive from him certificates stating the fact of their loyalty, and the names of the witnesses by whom it can be shown. All who receive such certificates will be permitted to remove to any military station in the district, or to any part of the State of Kansas except the counties on the eastern border of the State. All others shall remove out of the district.
Officers commanding companies and detachments serving in the counties named will see that this paragraph is promptly obeyed.
Second, ___ All hay and grain in the field, or under shelter in the district, from which the inhabitants are required to remove, within the reach of the military stations, after the 9th of September, next, will be taken to such stations and turned over to the proper officers there; and reports of the amounts so turned over made to district headquarters, specifying the name of all loyal owners and the amount of such produce taken from them. All grain and hay found in such district after the 9th of September, next, not convenient to such stations, will be destroyed.
Third, ___ The provisions of General Order No. 10 from these headquarters will be at once vigorously executed by officers commanding in the parts of the district, and at the stations not
subject to the operations of paragraph first of this order, especially in the towns of Independence, Westport and Kansas City.
Fourth, ___ Paragraph 3, General Order No. 10, is revoked as to all who have borne arms against the government in the district since August 20, 1863.