Sunday, June 20, 2010

Did You Know? #24

This will be an entry dealing with opposites, graves, and connections with our Bragg family.

If you were to list five infamous outlaws in the old West, I just bet that our first subject will come to mind. Jesse and Frank James emerged from the American Civil War (where they rode with the infamous Kansas terror William Quantrill and Bloody Bill Anderson) and began a new career in crime. Sons of a Baptist preacher, the Rev. Robert James, reputedly "pulled off the first daylight bank robbery in peace time," stealing $60,000 from the bank in Liberty, MO, not far from their home and the community in which their father had helped to found the William Jewell College.[1]

Over the next 15 years their gang held up banks and trains, Jesse married his first cousin, Zerelda, and traveled as far as Minnesota to rob the Northfield bank. The James-Younger gang was stunned when they suddenly found themselves caught in the fire of feisty citizen's defending their bank and town. Frank and Jesse escaped alone.

Although they attempted to begin lives under assumed names, eventually they returned to a life of crime, recruiting the help of Bob and Charlie Ford. But they could not resist the $10,000 reward on their leader's head. On April 3, 1882 Bob shot Jesse in the back of his head as he was adjusting a picture on his living room wall. Or did he? Theories raged for decades as to who was buried in Jesse James' grave.[2]

The connection of the James brothers with our family comes through our father's 3rd great-grandmother, Elizabeth Venable (wife of Richard Bragg, 1762-1840). The next two charts illustrate the connection.

Abraham Bedford Venable & Martha Hannah Davis
Hugh Lewis Venable b.1727
James Venable b.1734 -
married Judith Morton, see
the next chart for her relation-
ship with the infamous Jesse
Elizabeth Venable b.1764
(married Richard Bragg)

Hugh Lewis Bragg b.1795
William Bragg b.1834
Frank Martin Bragg b.1867
Orval Bishop Bragg b.1895
Don Cicero Bragg b.1920

Elizabeth Venable Bragg's aunt Judith Morton (the wife of James Venable, Elizabeth's father's brother) and Jesse Woodson James are 2nd cousins 4 times removed.

Col. Robert Woodson & Elizabeth Ferris
Richard Woodson b.1662
Benjamin Lewis Woodson b.1666
Agnes Woodson b.1711
Robert Woodson b.1690
Judith Morton b.1739
Elizabeth Woodson

Elizabeth Woodson Mims b.1769

Mary "Polly" Poor b.1790

Rev. Robert Sallee James b.1818

Jesse Woodson James b.1847

What kind of person do you think of as being the opposite of the outlaw Jesse James? How about a legendary explorer, trailblazer, a man who fought for family and country? That would be Daniel Boone (the real one, not Fess Parker, although he is pretty great too).

Just as our connection with the James clan comes through marriage (the daughter-in-law of our 6th great-grandfather Abraham Bedford Venable, that is Judith Morton), the connection with the Boones comes through Jesse James' daughter-in-law.

Boone, born in 1734, was a talented hunter and pioneer who loved solitude. Feeling "crowded" he was always moving westward. When he brought his family through the Cumberland Gap, Daniel's wife, Rebecca Bryan, became the first white woman settler of Kentucky.

Although he fought the Native American's for the land he, and others, were attempting to settle (on one occasion they kidnapped his daughter, on another they murdered his son), he eventually gained their respect. In later life he settled in Missouri, living with his son, Nathan (near Defiance, Missouri). [3] It was there that he died in 1820, at the age of 83.

As you can see in the chart below, Jesse James' daughter-in-law, Stella McGowan, was the 3rd great-granddaughter of Daniel Boone.

Daniel Boone b.1734

Col. Nathan Boone b.1781

Mary O. Boone b.1822

Mary Francis Hosman b.1842
Jesse Woodson James b.1847
Alfred M. McGowan b.1860
Jesse Edward James b. 1875 married .....

Stella Frances McGowan b.1882

As we began I stated that this entry is all about "opposites" and "graves." Boone and James certainly covers the "opposites," so what about the "graves?"

At first Daniel Boone was buried near his wife, Rebecca (who passed away in 1813) in Marthasville, MO. However, today Frankfort, KY purports to be the final resting place of the great frontiersman. Folks in Missouri insist that when the Kentuckians came to dig up Boone's body in the 1840's, they dug up the wrong body. At the time of Boone's death the grave next to his wife's was already occupied, so Daniel was buried at the foot of Rebecca's grave. As a result, both states claim to be the site of Daniel Boone's grave.[4]

The question surrounding the grave of Jesse James is, "Who is buried really buried in Jesse James' grave?" For Daniel Boone the question is, "Where is the real Boone's grave?"

With today's scientific advances some of the mysteries of these graves, Boone's and James', have been clarified. Is it the body of the infamous outlaw that is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Kearney, MO? Scientists say, "Yes?" Where is the "real" Daniel Boone buried, near Defiance, Missouri or Frankfort, Kentucky? Researchers, after studying casts made of the skull buried in the Kentucky grave have concluded that the body buried there is that of "a large black man."[4] Neither decisions have quelled the debates surrounding the graves of these two men, one famous and the other infamous.


[1] The City of St. Joseph, MO website []

[2] Find A Grave, Jesse Woodson James []

[3] Daniel Boone American Pioneer and Trailblazer, 1734
- 1820 []

[4] Boone's Bones Brouhaha []

1 comment:

Deb said...

So very fascinating! Keep these posts coming Dave!!