We are the Family of Frank and Jesse James
We speak out against fake historical photos and artifacts, fake family, and fake history. After 23 years of sharing our research and findings freely with family and friends, we now are sued in the District Court of Guadalupe County, Texas, 25th Judicial District, over a tintype claimed to be Jesse James that we can prove is a fake. The tintype promoters want to muzzle the free speech we use to defend our family, our history, and our own genetic physical identity. We need your help.
We Are the Defendants
We three defendants in the lawsuit are (1) Stray Leaves, the official website for the family of Frank & Jesse James, offering over 56,000+ web pages of our family history, data, and information. Our "leaf blower" is (2) Eric F. James, our genealogist & family historian. He is writing and publishing an epic five-volume history of our family, Jesse James Soul Liberty, based on our primary family resources and three decades of intensive research. For educational purposes, the research archives of our (3) James Preservation Trust provide museums, libraries, historical & genealogical societies, and people like you with vast amounts of our electronic records, photos, documents, investigation, and analysis. We help people like you to know and understand history, family history, and genealogy, and maybe to learn about your own family.
Continuing our good work is now at risk. What we provide now can be stopped if we do not prevail in this case.
The Fake Jesse James Tintype
Most people know Jesse James from his wedding photo shown here. Few authentic photos of Jesse James exist.
That scarcity hasn’t stopped countless fraudsters from trying to manufacture new pictures of Jesse James. Their goal is to create an entirely false image, claim it is Jesse James, promote it as Jesse James, and cash in on a projected windfall when their newly discovered historical artifact of Jesse James is sold.
We, the James family, stand watch for such events. To us, the theft of the physical identity of Jesse James amounts to the theft of our own genetic identity.
One such event of identity theft came to our attention in the fall of 2015. A party presented us with a tintype image she believed to be Jesse James. We informed the party that no one in the tintype was Jesse James. Absolutely nothing existed to support the claim that a figure in the tintype was Jesse James. The owner made no claim of kinship to the Jesse James family. No provenance was attached to the claimed tintype.
In January of 2017, the image suddenly appeared for auction in New Braunfels, Texas in January 2017. The image was said to have been “authenticated.” No one could be found who had seen or read the authentication. The image was touted to fetch $50,000 to $1 million.
This surprise Jesse James photo appeared out of nowhere. Historically, we know that no image of Jesse James ever has sold for any more than a few thousand dollars. We also know that most every authentic image of Jesse James came from the Jesse James family or from close family friends, complete with a chain of provenance. Most every Jesse James artifact in private hands is owned by someone known or closely associated with the Jesse James family. The number of collectors is small.
Moreover, the physical genetic identifiers of Jesse James and the James family are known and recognized, as shown in the following video. They have been documented covering more than 200 years of James family history.
At the auction, the tintype sold for a paltry $45,000. The court of public opinion just didn’t buy the hype.
An unsolicited and independent scientific authentication of the false tintype image, executed in the United Kingdom, confirmed the assessment of the Jesse James family, showing in technical-scientific detail why the auction claim of authenticity was not true.
The ongoing events surrounding the highly controversial tintype of Jesse James and his assassin Robert Ford were widely publicized. The auction house promoted video coverage of the event. At the auction, the tintype authenticator mingled with prospective bidders. Stray Leaves reported on the events to the Jesse James family and their friends.
Suspiciously, the buyer at auction, like the tintype, appeared out of nowhere. The buyer was unknown to the auction house regulars. He also was unknown to the known collectors of Jesse James artifacts.
The Resulting Lawsuit
We three now are the defendants in a defamation suit for the public opinions and findings we researched, documented, and stated.
The lawsuit alleges that our public reporting of a public event conducted by self-proclaimed public personalities regarding the auction and sale of a tintype said to be a public figure famous in American history defeated the $1 million-dollar auction windfall the litigants projected for their tintype.
Disregarding our Constitutional First Amendment civil right to free speech, the litigants now seek over a quarter-million dollars plus from us. They ignore the court of public opinion that did not reward their claims as they expected in a free marketplace auction.
“I took the contract to take down a bully, plain & simple."
These are the words of the disgruntled litigant auctioneer, in retaliation. He stated to us in writing that his actual intent in holding the tintype auction was to bring down Stray Leaves, Eric F. James, and the James Preservation Trust.
Over a year ago, through his lawyers, we gave the auctioneer a chance to have his grievances addressed. Instead, he waited until a year after the auction. He then filed suit with different lawyers.
Why We Need Your Help
Normally, the cleanup of fake Jesse James imagery is left to negotiations conducted by our leaf blower, Eric F. James. He has addressed this tintype issue, and numerous others, for several years. However, advancing age and his infirmity are taking their toll. Travel to Texas for appearances in this lawsuit has become an impossibility. An attorney is needed on-site in Texas to take the suit through the discovery phase, the settlement, or forward to trial. Without our physical appearance in court, all are at risk of forfeit.
Our immediate costs for attorney’s fees and related legal costs for the litigation now in progress are expected to be about $15,000. In the event this lawsuit is not settled, then a trial will follow. Added costs for a trial and related expenses to follow can rise to $50,000 or more.
We Invite You to Join Us
We invite you to contribute and join us in our legal defense. Protect free speech. Defend true family identity. Protect Jesse James' imagery and history that is honest and true.
We are the family, friends, and supporters of the Jesse James family with a very serious interest in history that is authentic. Join us. Let’s Go Fund Jesse James.
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