What better way to bring attention to a great discovery than to open a museum exhibit. By exposing it to the public and the media, popular opinion would determine its fate. Upon securing an agreement with the descendants of Jere Miah James in 2003, arrangements were made to exhibit their artifacts. Never had any of the James family’s possessions come to light before in such a public way. The steamer trunk that the family discovered in a hidden closet, held a complete intact collection of Jesse James family heirlooms.
Frank and Jesse James once strolled the streets of the Delano District in Wichita’s 1870’s cowboy days.
There’s a tale that they cased the 1st National Bank but passed on a holdup due to the high security of the huge basement vault. They were acquainted with the likes of the Earps, Doc Holiday, Wm Henry McCarthy Jr. to name only a few.
Wyatt Earp was a City Marshall, responcible for collecting the legal permit fees form the saloon owners and their working gals. That all ended when Wyatt came up short turning in the money he had collected.
Cathrine McCarthy found ample housekeeping work as a maid in James & Bess Earp’s sporting house. It was located at the corner of Douglas & Seneca Ave, seen on the right in the photo above.
The cattle drives brought plenty of business for the sporting gals that worked the saloons. Jesse became acquainted with Cathrine and soon helped set her up a commercial laundry business across the street from the Wichita boathouse, at Murdock and Waco Street.
What better place for an outlaw museum then the old Cowtown Saloon and brothel district of West Douglas Avenue.
The Jesse James Museum exhibit consisted largely of heirlooms from the estate of Jere Miah James, of Neodesha, Kansas. They were discovered in a closet hidden away behind a pantry cabinet, in the home of Daisey James, the last surviving child of Jere Miah, the real Jesse Woodson James.
There was another Daisey in Jesse’s life. He never went anywhere without his trusty detective style pistol in the chest pocket.
The next item is called a holster broach, which can be seen in the single most famous photo of Jesse James. The outline of a white daisy can be seen against the white shirt. The eye of the daisy is in the center just above the holster broach. This is considered a self authenticating artifact and requires no provenance. But since it comes from the estate of Daisey James it has a direct provenance to Jesse James.
The broach was part of the estate handed down to Daisy from her father, Jesse James. Some of the pieces go back to the Civil War when Zerelda hid two steamer trunks under the porch when federal troops were confiscating all of citizen’s personal belongings.
Another item linked to Jesse was a lucky horseshoe watch fob and chain. Jesse is seen wearing the watch fob and chain below, posing with his sister Susan Laviania James.
In this commonly known photo of Zerelda she is wearing jewelry like two of the items Jesse left to Daisy in the trunk. Zerelda probably owned more than one in her long lifetime.
There is a legend that Jesse James stole a Louis XIV watch from a governor in a train robbery. Among the personal affect left by Jesse to his daughter Daisy, was this Louis the 14th pocket watch. This is merely a circumstantial coincidence and has no weight until a record of the actual watch surfaces from the estate of that governor. The watch itself is a link in the chain of evidence as we connect each of the heirlooms and artifacts with a historically know connection to Jesse James.
This photo of the Younger brothers is from the personal affects of Jere Miah James. The direct link to the original owner, namely Jesse W. James make this a reliable base line sample for matching other photos. These four men match the subject in all of the photos on the YOUNGER BROTHERS tab above.
Another item in the Jere Miah James collection of heirlooms and artifacts is the Odd Fellows lapel pin of the three linking rings. Jere Miah has it on his lapel in his family group photo, enlarged below.
Also note horseshoe pin in the box with the three chain links pin. Martha Jane is wearing it in at least one of her photos.
This next point of evidence comes in the form of a genetic duplicate in the living person, Jeremiah James. Observe the striking similarity between the two men and consider that he is the direct descendant of the old man above, Jere Miah James.
History will recognize what an enormous debt of gratitude we owe Daisy James for secretly preserving the truth for posterity.
Late in 2004 the James family decided to end the exhibit in Wichita. The last video on our security cameras was the painstaking process of checking each item off the inventory list as it was packed away by Chuck and Jeremiah James. What has become of the collection since then is anyone’s guess. There are stories of court battles among the family and lifestyle issues.
Ultimately, these heirlooms should make their way back to the James Farm Museum in Kearney, MO for safekeeping.