Paranormal Yakker with your host Stan Mallow

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Season 2 Episode 2

Daniel & Teresa Duke. Authors of The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James
Daniel and Teresa Duke are the great-great grand-children of the famed outlaw Jesse James. In their interview with Stan Mallow, the Paranormal Yakker, Daniel and Teresa discuss the book they wrote about him, The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James. The book is based on family records, forensic evidence, and his personal journals. They talk about the many myths, misconceptions, and outright falsehoods told about Jesse James and set the record straight by separating the lies from the truth. Daniel and Teresa speak about the obstacles they encountered in their search to prove they are related to Jesse James, and why they think certain people did not want them to know the truth about their family connection to Jesse James. Daniel and Teresa reveal little known facts about the early childhood of Jesse James, the circumstances that occurred in his life which pretty much gave him no option in life other than to pursue the road he took, that being to form a gang that was notorious for robbing banks, trains, stage coaches, and stores. They also go into detail on how Jesse James, considered America’s Robin Hood faked his own death, employing the help of friends, family and fellow gang members to pull it off. Further, they speak about Jesse James life after his faked death and his interest in secret societies such as The Masons and The Knights of Templar.

Transcript of video Interview

Stan Mallow
Hi everyone. I'm Stan Mallow. Welcome to "Paranormal Yakker." My guests on today's show are Daniel and Teresa Duke. Great-great-grandchildren of Jesse James. I'll be discussing with them a book they wrote about him "The Mysterious Life And Faked Death Of Jesse James." Daniel and Theresa Duke, welcome to "Paranormal Yakker."
Daniel Duke
Thank you.
Teresa Duke
Thank you.
Daniel Duke
Pleasure to be here.
Teresa Duke
Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it.
Stan Mallow
The book you've written about your great-great-grandfather Jesse James, is based on family records, forensic evidence, and his personal journals. I read it from cover to cover, I found it a fascinating read and learned so much from it. You really set the stage for the book and I was impressed by that. At the very beginning, where in the acknowledgement section you give an Old Texas Ranger quote, your mother, Betty Dorset Duke, lived by that being and I love this. No man or woman in the wrong can stand up against a fellow or lady that's in the right and keeps on acomin. There's so much wisdom in that. Your mom had to be one heck of a wonderful woman.
Daniel Duke
She was a powerful woman.
Teresa Duke
She was. She was an amazing woman.
Stan Mallow
Over the years, there have been many myths, misconceptions and outright falsehood told about your great-great-grandfather. Could you set the record straight and tell my viewers what things said about him have no validity at all.
Daniel Duke
Well there are so many things, a lot of people- that's a good question and it actually gets very deep. A lot of people think of him as just an outlaw and he was much more than just an outlaw. Most people don't get deep into the history, so they don't understand, why he was an outlaw, why he was forced to become an outlaw. After the civil war, he was a civil war guerrilla fighter. They weren't granted amnesty at the end of the civil war. He tried to turn himself in and it was shot to the lung when he was riding into Lexington, Missouri, somehow he lived, he got lucky and lived, but he had a choice. They were either hunted down and executed or they became outlaws or he could have left the country but for some reason he didn't choose that path. He decided to live up to the outlaw name. He didn't go looking for trouble, but he did rob banks. I mean, he wasn't an angel by any means, but he's a highly misunderstood figure in my opinion. I don't think he was violent or reckless unless he had to be. And in those kinds of situations, I'm sure you could get pushed into all sorts of behaviors . But he always steered clear of trouble if he could. And he didn't go through-
Stan Mallow
Absolutely, and in your book, you read certain things about him. Like you can understand the direction he took. 'Cause he was only 14 years old when the militias from one side came and wanted him to reveal where his brother Frank was, he said no. And they really tortured him.
Daniel Duke
They did, they tortured him. And, they tortured, they pushed his mother around they hung his stepfather, Dr. Reuben Samuel.
Teresa Duke
He was left for brain, his stepfather, they hung him. He had brain damage after the fact, like he was never the same again. I mean, they did a lot of damage went past that day that they came and raided him. I mean, they did a lot of damage.
Stan Mallow
You're going into detail about that and anybody reason that they fully understand why, you may want to do the things that he did, that people perpetrated those horrible things on him and his family. What allegiances does he have to them? I mean, that's the way I looked at it.
Daniel Duke
That's true.
Stan Mallow
Now, in your book you mentioned that in your search for the truth about Jesse James and his connection to your family, you came up and it surprised me with a number of brick walls and that some people who had the information that proved your connection to Jesse James tried to withhold it from you. What do you think was your reason for not wanting to share that information for you?
Daniel Duke
I think there were various reasons. Some people, I believe their reason was money. Like the James Farm and Museum, for example, in the late 90s, they brought in about approximately seven million a year from tourist money. I could see their motivation was probably mostly money. And then there were other groups, we even had members of our own family trying to put a stop to it. One side of the family had basically sold out Jesse they'd given and sold information to the people connected with the James Farm and Museum in Missouri. So they sold out in exchange for keeping their mouth, keeping quiet. And there was a lot of- It dealt with money also there were some relatives, so we're ashamed to be extended from an outlaw. They didn't like it. But at the same time, those same relatives enjoyed fruits of his labor if that makes. On one hand they enjoyed the fruits of his labor but on the other hand, they were ashamed of it. So they didn't want to admit it. He bought all of his children a farm and a house. They were all comfortable and taken care of yet on the same hand, they didn't want to admit who he was.
Teresa Duke
In some eyes he was infamous in the other eyes, he was like Robin Hood. So I guess it just depends on the person's perception.
Stan Mallow
Exactly, and not to be repetitive again you said it in the very beginning when you know how he was treated and what happened to him, you can understand why people are gonna rebel or say, these are not nice guy. I mean, he waved the flag to truths and they still did bad things to him.
Teresa Duke
Oh yeah.
Stan Mallow
Terrible.
Daniel Duke
Exactly.
Stan Mallow
Now since
Teresa Duke
Yeah, he tried to surrender
Stan Mallow
I know.
Teresa Duke
And got shot.
Stan Mallow
I've read that story. This is there in the history books. Happily written in history books now. Since here we exist, which paper articles from the time and photographs that show Jesse James in an open casket, surrounded by family and friends at his funeral, many believe if he did indeed die as a result of being shot by Robert Ford, how were you able to prove the man in the casket was not Jesse James and the entire funeral was a fake, orchestrated by Jesse James himself?
Daniel Duke
That's a good question and that's a long story. It took many years and a lot of research, but over trying to put this quickly when Jesse was allegedly killed in 1882, what most people don't realize is before Jesse was allegedly killed, his cousin "Wood" Hite who bore a strong resemblance to Jesse and also rode with the gang. He was involved in a love triangle with Bob and Charlie Ford sister, Martha Bolton. Well, she was also involved with her farmhand, a man named Jim Gibson. So "Wood" Hite and Jim Gibson, I believe had words. It resulted in a shootout at Marcus Bolton South, both men died. "Wood" Hite killed Jim Gibson and I believe one of the Ford brothers killed "Wood" Hite. I'm not sure which Ford brother, I think it was Bob, but I'm not sure. Historians still to this day, disagree on when that happened. Some people claim it happened in December of 1881 and others claim happened shortly, in late March, of 1882. They're not sure they haven't been able to pin it down we believe it happened in late March, shortly before the alleged. And I think they took that opportunity to claim it was Jesse and not "Wood" Hite. There's a lot of detail in that statement that I won't go into right now but that would take forever just to explain it all. Trying to keep it short, We believe it was "Wood" Hite. Jesse was allegedly killed. Nobody knew what Jesse looked like except for his family and his relatives and his gang member, fellow gang members. It was a small close knit group that knew his identity. The law who was after him for 15 years had no clue as to what he looked like. It was easy and the people who verified that it was Jesse were his family and fellow gang members. So, they would, of course lie for him. It goes deeper than that, at the Coroner's Inquest, the lady he was supposedly married to Ze Mimms and had children with allegedly, she didn't know how old he was or which finger was supposedly missing on which hand and he was supposedly missing the tip of one of his fingers. She had no clue as to which finger was meant for his age. And this was a guy she was married to for several years and had children with didn't know any details about him yet she knew fine details of every piece of jewelry she owns that was left in the house. And then you fast forward to the funeral. Jesse's mother Zerelda was quoted by reporters at the time of saying, his aunt came up and said, "That's not the Jessie I knew." And his mother leaned over and hushed her and said, "That's my rabbit's foot. It doesn't even make sense, really, other than, that was her lucky charm just keep quiet about it. And it goes on from there, the 1990-
Teresa Duke
Excuse, what are the quiz, the fact that when Jesse James was purportedly killed, they were at the same time looking for, they found his cousin's body and then they were doing the inquest on his cousin's body, who was a known James he rode with the gang members and the history states that he had a striking resemblance to Jesse James cause they were cousins. It's just, there's just so much there that that's what kind of led us also to believe that it was "Wood" Hite.
Stan Mallow
Your book is filled with a number of amazing photographs and one of the most astounding ones being one that you Teresa discovered that shows your great-great-grandfather taken at his supposed funeral in 1882. And in that photograph, standing in clear view is Jesse James himself. That had to be a shocker when you saw it. What was your reaction?
Teresa Duke
It was shortly after my mum passed away and me and Danny both made a vow to my mum that we would carry the research on for her, when she passed on and we were just kind of at a brick wall and I was up one night and I was like, I wish I could just find something to continue the search. We need a kickstart. I just found it when I was looking around on the internet and saw it and my heart just kind of like, I was like, okay, this is the kickstart we needed again. I had to tell Danny the next day I was like, Oh my God, I'm so excited. I need your opinion before I get too excited. But I found this, what do you think about it? And he said the same thing. And he's like, Oh my God, this is crazy. So it was really exhilarating.
Stan Mallow
Now in the journal you found and share with your readers, you share so much with them, that's great, which was written by your great-great-grandfather in details, his day to day life from 1871 to 1876. Do any entries stand out and perhaps surprised you when you read it?
Daniel Duke
There were quite a few entries, sir. There were entries where he mentioned his fellow known gang members of the James gang. Tom McDaniels, and others. There were other entries where he would write, he wrote his name, Jay James on one page, on another page he signed his initials, J.W. Jay, which, his name was Jesse Woodson James. And then on the inner cover and on the back cover of the book on the inside, he'd written the name, James L. Courtney, over and over, like he was practicing writing his new name. That stood out because it seemed kind of fishy if he was really James Lafayette Courtney, why would he write his name over and over and over? Then there was one story I love telling. A lot of his gang members lived in the area of central Texas around his area. It was almost like they created a buffer for each other they watched each other's backs. And also several former Quantrill's Guerillas. So any way to make a long story short, I could ramble on there's so many rabbit holes I could go down. They all went on a trip to Shreveport, Louisiana they rode a train to Shreveport from Shreveport they hopped a steam ship called the Emilie Labarge and they rode the steam ship to Natchitoches Louisiana. They disboarded in Natchitoches and then on the Louisiana side, they rode back North, along the red river. And they stopped at a man's house named Gervais Fonteneau. And I wondered who's Gervais? I needed to know more about this guy. So I researched him. I stumbled across his family tree and Gervais Fonteneau was a retired US marshal at the time. And I thought that's kind of odd that they would stop and stay the night at a retired US Marshall's house. Well, found out later Gervais was the nephew of the pirate Jean Laffite the famous well known pirate, Jean Laffite. And I thought this is odd. It almost hints at a deeper network of criminals, more like a criminal network, instead of just a couple of outlaws riding around, shooting their guns. It hinted at something much bigger than I had originally thought. And that was one of my favorite parts of the diary.
Teresa Duke
I think mine, like Danny said, there's just so many. He would hint, like people would come to his farm and they would introduce themselves. And he had a pattern of like little hints of like paranoia. He would say, so-and-so arrived today or so they say. That always struck me as like, okay, he's still a little paranoid.
Stan Mallow
Now, reviewing your book, Jesse James interaction with secret societies, such as the Freemasons and the Knights of Templar. What was there about these societies that you think attracted him to them and what was his involvement with them, Would you know that?
Daniel Duke
After he changed his name, he joined the Freemasons here in Texas, under his alias, James Lafayette Courtney. There were masons who lived next door to him, owned farms and ranches near him and they all knew what his real identity was. Some of their descendants we've met. And they have said, their grandfather told them it was a Masonic secret. They would ask about Jessie and they said, that's a Masonic secret and they would just leave it at that. Digging through the years you find that a lot of his fellow gang members I know he was a mason there were other Freemasons involved with him. And I think that ties in to deeper connections with when it comes to the treasures that they had buried. A lot of their treasures, and in my first book, I had discovered a grid system that they had buried all of their treasures on. Jesse buried his treasures on them and that's what I was originally searching for. We had a treasure map that had been passed down through the family. We had always wanted to find that treasure, who wouldn't? In looking for that, throughout the years, we ended up discovering that it was much more than just a simple outlaws treasure. It was a network of treasurers that died into Freemasonry and back before the founding of the United States, the entire new world tied back to the Templar. That amazed me. And then when I got up for my first book, I had an endorsement, a great endorsement from the current Knights Templar, grand master Timothy Hogan. And he gave me a great endorsement on that. That made my whole year.
Stan Mallow
Now, even though your great-great-grandfather along with his older brother, Frank and the gang of outlaws, are notorious for robbing banks, trains, stage coaches throughout the Old West when the name Jesse James comes up, it's usually said, it's been my experience with awe and respect. He's part and parcel of the "Fabric of America." How does it feel to know that his DNA is within you? I'd like to know how each of you feel about that.
Teresa Duke
I Personally, I'm proud of it. I know again, there's different perspectives on if he was hero or infamous, but I'm proud of it. With any his research, he took it to a new level that proved he's not just an outlaw there was a higher purpose. That just instilled a lot of pride in me. So I like it.
Stan Mallow
Absolutely. And you also talk about some of the people that we think are good guys, are really bad guys, like the pinkertons and the people set a bomb in his house killing his younger brother, his mom losing an arm from that. I mean, that's having the movies who we hear about them.
Teresa Duke
Oh, yeah.
Stan Mallow
I'm just wondering about this, have any of you connected with the descendants of Jesse James brother, Frank? And if you did, what was that like? Cause if you did, it had to be one heck of a family reunion.
Teresa Duke
No, I would love to find some information on Frank's family.
Daniel Duke
We haven't connected with them. We've met several of the younger, the descendants of the Younger family.
Teresa Duke
And Bob Ford's family.
Daniel Duke
Yeah, Bob Ford's family. That was very interesting.
Teresa Duke
Oh, yeah.
Daniel Duke
The members of the Ford family, had the same story we've heard over the years. And, they knew that Jesse had faked his death they were happy to see someone come along and find that, other than just them saying it. Cause of course they could say it, but not many people would believe it, because people would think, Oh, you're just trying to clear your family's name . But they were very happy that we we'd come out with this information.
Stan Mallow
I'd like to ask this question to you separately. First you Daniel, and then you Teresa. When it comes to the legacy left, by your great-great-grandfather, Jesse James is there one thing about him above all others that you would like to release out of your book did take away with them?
Daniel Duke
He didn't die as history said he did. That would be the most important one in my opinion. He lived a long life. He wasn't shot in the back of the head in a cowardly manner and there was a lot more to him than people realized.
Stan Mallow
You do that, you pull all of that out. And we know, him 100%, that little pieces of the puzzle of him, but the whole thing, which is great. And Teresa, what about you?
Teresa Duke
I think just that he wasn't just a bank robber. He had a higher purpose. And like Danny said, he was a very mysterious, intriguing man.
Stan Mallow
Absolutely.
Teresa Duke
There's just a lot of pieces to the puzzle that we still need to figure out.
Stan Mallow
Let me tell you that. Now, should my viewers want to order your book, "The Mysterious Life And Faked Death Of Jesse James," how do they go about doing it 'cause some of strong element he would like that book.
Daniel Duke
It's available anywhere in the world that books are sold. I mean, it's literally everywhere. It's in Europe, Canada, the US, Mexico. I've even heard it's in several countries in Africa. So there's a lot of different places you can get it. I think the only places that you probably couldn't find it would be the Antarctic in North Korea. So .
Stan Mallow
All I gotta say, Daniel and Teresa, I've been thinking about this and I have no doubt that right now your mother, Betty Dorset Duke and your great-great-grandfather, Jesse James, are looking down on you from heaven and are proud as they can view your book. I wish you both much deserved success with it.
Teresa Duke
Thank you.
Stan Mallow
Daniel and Theresa Duke, I thank you for being my guest on "Paranormal Yakker" it's been an absolute pleasure interviewing you and the two of you are all great, and this is really a part of Americana history. Thank you for sharing.
Daniel Duke
Thank you. Thanks for having us.
Teresa Duke
It's been a real honor for being on your show, so thank you.
Stan Mallow
Hi everyone, I'm Stan Mallow host of "Paranormal Yakker," an exciting free YouTube series that explores everything from ghosts to UFOs. To view this series, just click on any of the photo thumbnails below. I would greatly appreciate it. If you subscribe to my free YouTube channel, all you have to do is click on the subscribe for free button at the top of this page, thanks.