Thursday, February 11, 2010

A James Family Connection? or How did this get so out of hand???

I've heard a story that my gg grandaunt, Melvina Hicks was married to William James, son of Drury Woodson James and cousin to Frank and Jessie James, the outlaws. 

It seems that this story started when a Hicks researcher (who is unknown to me) found a marriage certificate/document in Tombstone Arizona for a Melvina Hicks and a William James.  I have not seen this document and the Hicks family researcher that I was in touch with (Not the researcher that found the marriage certificate.), had not seen the document either, as far as I could tell.
What we do have is a marriage certificate for a marriage in Schuyler county, Missouri on 11 February 1874 between Melvina Hicks and James H. Dunn. 
 Click to enlarge photo.
Source Information: Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Missouri Marriage Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.

This fits the timeframe and place for Melvina Hicks, daughter of Andrew Hicks and Rebecca Lasley. 
Click to enlarge photo. 
Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Fabius, Schuyler, Missouri; Roll  M593_804; Page: 307A; Image: 619; Family History Library Film: 552303.
Source Information: 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data:1870 U.S. census, population schedules. NARA microfilm publication M593, 1,761 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.
Melvina would have been about 16 years old when she married.  

Reportedly, the "Tombstone, AZ" marriage certificate was dated a short time later, maybe a month or so.  This led to the speculation that this was the same Melvina and that due to his involvement or relation to the "James Gang", Mr. William James changed his name to James H. Dunn while he was in Missouri.  The couple then went to Tombstone, AZ to be married because having used an assumed name, they were not legally married in Missouri.

The story behind the chosen name of James Dunn goes something like this:   James was his real last name and his mother was a Dunn, thus the name James Dunn. (I have no idea how to explain the H. for the middle name.)
So there you have it James H. Dunn becomes the cousin of Frank and Jessie James, William James.

But this simply can not be the case if the James family information on William James is correct.

Yes, there was a William James who was the son of Drury Woodson James and Mary Louisa Dunn and the cousin of Frank and Jessie James but according to the James family genealogy website (S T R A Y  L E A V E S    A James Family in America since 1650) William Alfred "Willie" James was born in 1869 in San Luis Obispo, CA.

He would have been 5 years old when he married Melvina.  That just does not work!

I think James H. Dunn was simply James H. Dunn.  No connection to the James family.

As for the Melvina Hicks who married William James in Tombstone, AZ, she remains a mystery. 

Copyright © 2010 Regina De León. All rights reserved.

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