Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jesse James Was One of His Names

Posted by: Philip K. Kromer

The following information is from a book which is out-of-print and has become very difficult to obtain. Whether or not the information presented below is true, I will leave to the reader to decide. However, if it is true, the information is so important that it needs to be available to researchers. Because of the extreme rarity of the information, I feel I am justified in posting it here for the benefit of those who otherwise would not be able to access it except with great difficulty. I have left quite a bit of the account out, but the really important parts have all been included. If you need the complete account, you will have to obtain the book somehow. There are a few copies of the book available in public libraries, scattered across the U. S. Also, the Library of Congress owns a copy.

The following is information quoted directly from the book titled "Jesse James Was One of His Names" ( Arcadia, CA: Santa Anita Press, 1975 ), by Del Schrader ( with Jesse James III ). Chapter 8 - The Odyssey of John Wilkes Booth ( pages 133 - 142 ):

( page 134 ):

"The Knights of the Golden Circle, the top Confederate underground organization headed by another 'dead man,' Col. Jesse Woodson James, had another version.
Prior to the Civil War, J. Wilkes Booth ... had attended a military school, but had been bounced because he was too impetuous. When the war broke, Booth volunteered for the Confederate Army, but an officer was impressed with his intelligence and ability to interchangeably 'talk like a Yankee and a Southerner.' It was decided Booth could do more than shoot a gun.
After a short training course, Booth was soon moving back and forth through Union and Confederate lines with valuable military information for the South. At times, he used the name John Botha, the last name of a Russian-Jewish ancestor who settled in England. Posing as a drummer ( salesman ), he sold materiel of war to both sides.
While he was a competent enough spy, Booth had some traits which bothered his superiors. He asked too many questions about Confederate plans, and he enjoyed gathering gossip about Rebel generals. At times, the Confederates had Booth under surveillance, believing he could be a double agent. Despite their suspicions, Booth continued to deliver damaging information on Union moves, and he did it in record time."

( pages 134 - 135 ):

"In spite of his service, Booth was never able to advance above The Knights of the White Camellias, the third-ranked Confederate secret organization. He brought ill-conceived schemes to kill President Lincoln, Gen. U. S. Grant and other high-ranking Union officers, to his superiors. Put down as a 'loner,' Booth boasted of personal friends who would help him commit the acts. Confederates doubted his leadership, and some of his friends were checked out and denied membership in any of the Southern secret organizations....
The final year of the Civil War when things were going badly for the South, Booth did less spying and more plotting on his own. He reported to his Confederate superiors, 'A representative of the European Rothschilds called on President Lincoln and offered him money at 27 1/2 per cent interest, but was thrown out of his office.'
A few years later, while gathered in the Confederate Underground Capital in Nashville, Tenn., The Knights of the Golden Circle heard a report from one of Booth's superiors in which he alleged the Rothschilds incident might have been the turning point in the spy's frustration. 'Gentlemen,' he said, 'I personally think that John Wilkes Booth went to work for the Rothschilds and assassinated Mr. Lincoln in their behalf.'
Most Southerners were shocked by the senseless assassination of President Lincoln. The war was over for all practical purposes, and their cause was lost. The Knights of the Golden Circle moved quickly to get Wilkes Booth to safety - he knew too much. Near a village in Maryland, the haggard assassin, his leg broken, was hidden in a wagon-load of chicken coops, the first leg of his journey to the Free State of Van Zandt, Texas."

( pages 135 - 136 ):

"William S. ( Wild Bill ) Lincoln, a distant cousin of the President, reported in a sworn statement: 'Our branch of the Lincoln family was never satisfied with what really happened to Booth, and I spent fourteen years of my life runnung down the true story. Strangely enough, I learned it from Jesse W. James, head of the Confederate underground. I was present at Booth's real death.'
'... Colonel James ... told me ... that the Confederate underground had no love for Booth - he had shot the President after it was too late. However, the organization protected him and put the lazy bastard on a $3,600 a year pension as long as he behaved himself and caused them no trouble; but Booth couldn't stand fetters.' Because of strict Confederate underground surveillance, Booth pulled up stakes and moved to Glen Rose, Texas, where he operated a distillery. He managed to get into difficulty with Federal authorities over a special U. S. permit and tax and sent his lawyer to the Federal District Court in Paris, Texas. Deserting his distillery, Booth moved to Granbury, Hood County, Texas, where he built the city's first stone business building at the southwest corner of Courthouse Square, now used as a restaurant.
He also returned to the stage, a direct violation of his agreement with the underground. Texas Rangers and lawmen, mostly former Confederate soldiers, filed reports with The Knights of the Golden Circle telling about the strange behavior of John Wilkes Booth, alias James St. George. The actor-assassin was drinking heavily, bragging about being the man who shot Lincoln, and boasting about his knowledge of Confederate underground secrets."

( pages 136 - 137 ):

"The Golden Circle held a meeting and sentiment was strong for executing Booth, but Jesse W. James, who by this time was building an empire in the West, suggested, 'I kind of agree with you about shutting his big mouth for good, but let's let him make a tour of theaters in the West. We'll send along two agents to ride herd on him.'
Meanwhile, ... Booth had hired a lawyer to write a book about his secret life and how and why he shot President Lincoln.... Then one night in 1902 or early 1903, Wild Bill was sitting in Colonel Jim McDaniels' ( Jesse James ) hotel room in Guthrie, Oklahoma, when a book was tossed his way. McDaniels ... said, 'Believe it or not, Wild Bill, that book was written by one of your men in the White Camellias, old John Wilkes Booth, alias Edwin Booth, alias James St. George ... The Knights of the Golden Circle bought up most of his press run, but there's a lot of dynamite in the book. We're still preparing for the Second Civil War and Booth is busy revealing a lot of our secrets. He knows more than any of us ever thought.'"

( pages 137 - 138 ):

"In a sworn statement at Zephyrhills, Florida, on October 1, 1950, William S. ( Wild Bill ) Lincoln said, 'While trying for years on my own to run down the John Wilkes Booth mystery, I landed right in the middle of the Jesse Woodson James mystery without half trying.'

In the spring of 1903 ... McDaniel said ... 'The end is coming for that scoundrel, John Wilkes Booth.... I've spared that rascal's life many times. The Golden Circle just had a meeting down in Texas, and we voted to execute Booth.... We know he's registered at the Grand Avenue Hotel in Enid [ Oklahoma ] tonight under the name of James St. George.'"

( page 139 ):

"A half block from the Grand Avenue Hotel that night a young Indian boy was selling lemons from a small basket.The Colonel stopped and said to Wild Bill, 'Have this kid make you about a quart of lemonade, pronto, while I duck into this drug store.'
Four Golden Circle agents sat in the lobby while the other three joined the two agents already surrounding the hotel - just in case Booth made a run for it. 'Mr. St. George expects us,' the Colonel told the desk clerk and he started up the steps, followed closely by Wild Bill with a jar of lemon juice. The door was unlocked and the two men could see the shape of a man lying on the bed."

( page 140 ):

"'... Being a hot night, Mr. Booth, we brought you something cool to drink. Now, Wild Bill, you talk to Mr. Booth while I fix up his drink.' Jesse went over to the wash stand with the jar of lemonade. Hastily, he pulled two bottles from his pocket and poured pure arsenic into the jar. Then he stirred the mixture with a table fork. He poured the loaded lemonade into a glass. Approaching the bed, Jesse said, 'Now, Mr. Booth, I think you've had enough alcohol for tonight. This lemonade will really fix you up. I personally guarantee it.' ... Booth gasped, went into almost a stage fall, but hit the floor with a thud. Jesse James bent over and felt his heart. 'Deader than a mackerel,' he said. 'Wild Bill, stay here. I'm sending up the four agents in the lobby to go through Booth's luggage. I'll be back in a few minutes.'

( page 141 ):

" ... The six men were amazed at the records Booth had kept through the years. After they had finished sorting it, Jesse said, 'You know, men, I'm just glad Booth didn't put all this in that crazy book his lawyer wrote - he could have put a noose around all of our necks!'
Colonel James then directed his men to plant just enough evidence around the room so that the U. S. Marshals could identify the dead man as John Wilkes Booth. Then they took the trunk and departed.... Late that afternoon from Guthrie, Jesse had an agent send a telegram to the U. S. Marshal's office telling them John Wilkes Booth was dead and where his body could be found."

( pages 141 - 142 ):

" ... Three days later, Jesse, accompanied by Wild Bill and two agents, went back to Enid.... The clerk said, 'Whole bunch of lawmen were here yesterday morning up there in Mr. St. George's room, but his body is still there in the bed. It's starting to turn black-like and is tough as leather.' 'Don't worry, son,' Jesse said, 'we're relatives and we've come to claim his body.'
... Carting the body of Booth back to Guthrie, Jesse looked up a doctor friend and asked him for a diagnosis.'It would appear that this man swallowed so much poison, probably arsenic, that he is permanently preserved. He's like a damn Egyptian mummy!'
Through a friendly town marshal, Jesse learned that the federal men had checked out John Wilkes Booth's body and papers in Enid and reported some transient posing as Booth had committed suicide. The report listed the dead man's name as James St. George.
Wild Bill wrote years later, 'Was the Booth case still too hot to touch in 1903? I'm sure Dr. Samuel Mudd along with others would have been vindicated, and it would have exposed the earler ill-conceived, hysterical investigation, but the U. S. Marshals just turned their backs on the case. Maybe the U. S. government by 1903 had uncovered the real facts in the Booth case and was too ashamed to admit the big blunders made by the government in 1865.'
Under Jesse James' direction, the leathery, mummified body of John Wilkes Booth was put in a special coffin and several of his men took it on an exhibition tour all over the United States. Jesse James III reports the Booth body was owned by a Glencoe, Minnesota, jeweler named Jay Gould, a relative of the financier, who had it stored. 'This was in 1955 and I believe Gould has passed away. What happened to the body? Who knows? Perhaps John Wilkes Booth, hated by both the North and the South, is destined to lie forever unburied and unwanted.'"

Notes to the above by Philip K. Kromer:

For a very detailed account of the Abraham Lincoln-Rothschild-Booth connection, read the book titled "Lincoln Money Martyred," by R. E. Search. Another book along these lines is titled "Rothschild Money Trust," by George Armstrong ( = Andrew Fabius ). Booth hired a lawyer to help him write his life's story. The name of the lawyer is Finis Langdon Bates, and the title of the book he wrote is "Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth." To the best of my knowledge, this book was first published in 1907. Actually, it was published in 1907 by 3 or 4 different publishers, under slightly different titles. Del Schrader's account has Jesse James referring to the book as though it had already been published by 1902-1903. Whether or not this book had actually been published prior to the well-known and authenticated editions of 1907, I so far have not been able to determine.
As to the Knights of the Golden Circle, here is more information from Del Schrader's book, but I will not be giving the page numbers, and the information will not be in any particular order: "The Knights of the Golden Circle, perhaps smarting from backing a loser in Mexico, closed down and sealed the records in 1916. But The Organization run by Jesse James still flourished in 1923 and in fact in years later....Old Jesse did a tremendous amount of meddling in international affairs and perhaps God alone knows the amount of mischief caused by the outlaw and the Golden Circle underground.... One of the deadliest, wealthiest, most secretive and efficient spy and underground organizations in the history of the world was The Knights of the Golden Circle, which operated over the globe for sixty-five years ( 1851 - 1916 ). Ranking below the Golden Circle in this order were The Knights of the Golden Stirrup, The Knights of the White Camellias, The Knights of the Inner Circle, The Knights of the Outer Circle, and The International Anti-Horse Thief Association ( TEXYS ). The original Ku Klux Klan was the military arm of The Knights of the Golden Circle. There were several dozen "front" organizations, but only a few received any publicity. Some of the craftiest, finest brains in the South directed activities of The Knights of the Golden Circle. The group was heavy on ritual, which was borrowed from the Masonic Lodge and later The Knights of Pythias. A couple were members of the Rosicrucians. The 13-man Inner Sanctum which ran the Golden Circle in the years immediately following the Civil War elected Colonel Elbert DeWitt Travis, alias William Clarke Quantrill and Charley Hart, as its chief. He served until his death in the middle 1890s. Secretary of the Inner Sanctum was "Uncle George" Payne, while Jesse James was elected treasurer and comptroller in 1867 when former Emperor Maximilian donated $12.5 million to the group. The other ten members were General Nathan B. Forrest, John Patterson ( Jefferson Davis ), Bud Dalton, Professor B. E. Bedeczek, Lewis Dalton, George Baxter, Captain John James, Coleman Younger, General J. O. Shelby, and Jack ( Brac ) Miller. As members of the Inner Sanctum died or became too old to serve, they were replaced up to 1916.... Old Jesse James was the head of the Golden Circle when its executive body decided there wasn't going to be a Second Civil War and sealed the records in 1916.... Old Colonel James admitted in 1949, "Well, the Copperheads, Sons of Liberty and Order of American Knights were all tied in with The Knights of the Golden Circle and they rendered a certain help to the Confederate cause. Trouble is, there weren't enough of them. And a lot of them were just misguided, negative nuts who would have rebelled against the Confederacy and aided the North if they had been living in the South. I never figured this type of person too reliable and I sure as hell wouldn't have wanted to have ridden into battle with any of 'em." ... With Lee's surrender, The Knights of the Golden Circle membership increased rapidly, along with the subordinate organizations. The Golden Circle moved into an old building on Fatherland in Nashville. The old building stood where "The Grand Ole Opry" got its start.... Before the call came from Quantrill to report to Oak Grove, Louisiana, to map the rescue of Shelby's men, Quantrill had sworn him [ Jesse W. James ] into The Knights of the Golden Circle, saying, "The day will come, Jesse, when you'll head the Golden Circle. The South shall rise again, and you will lead the way!" ... Concerning the KKK, Jesse admitted, "It was the secret military police of the Old South, but the Golden Circle really rode herd on their activities. We began folding up the KKK a few years after the Golden Circle sealed its records for fifty years in 1916. We oldtimers had absolutely nothing to do with the modern KKK, which is a different breed of cat. Not many people in either the North or South knew that right after the end of the Civil War we recruited twenty-thousand Negro KKK members. They were the most intelligent and reliable blacks we could find. Our theory was that Negroes would take orders easier from other Negroes. They weren't burning crosses or flogging, they were giving counsel and even financial help to the freed, but bewildered slaves. They kept busy knocking stupid ideas out of Negro heads put there by unscrupulous Carpetbaggers." ... Only a handful of Golden Circle records remain today. In the first place, not much was written down. It was committed to memory. Jesse James III, who was raised at his grandfather's [ Jesse W. James ] knee from the age of 10, probably is the greatest living authority on the Golden Circle and he is close-mouthed. "Many secrets, which I learned from Grandpa, will die with me. Why muddy waters? Many fine Southern families today have ancestors who did violent and expedient things while serving the Golden Circle. I'll let sleeping dogs lie. ... At today's prices, the buried Confederate treasure would probably be worth at least $100 billion dollars. ... In later years, the Golden Circle was run by thirteen of the best and wealthiest men in the South. The Master sat on the Throne of the East and gave out his wisdom and directions to twelve so-called Disciples, who in turn each had twelve disciples. The only way one could get into the Inner Sanctum or Inner Circle was when one of the Master's Twelve died off or retired. There's a lot more involved in the Golden Circle, but that's all I'll reveal. As far as I'm concerned, the rest belongs to the ages!"