Jesse James in Cowboy Wine Country

by Buffalo Benford


In 1885, Jesse James is shot in Nashville.  After a gun fight with a militia that had come

to his mom's house he decided to head for the West Coast to hide out.  Frank James, his

brother, took the train, and Jesse took a steamer around the Horn from New York, because

of his gun shot to the lungs the train or horseback would have been too hard on the ailing

outlaw.  In California his uncle Drury James owned a hot springs in the new town of Paso

Robles.  Story goes he first came to El Paso De Robles in 1951 on a cattle drive, where

he visited the Hot Springs Hotel, which was at the Stage Coach stop.  In 1865, Drury be-

came a partner in the Paso Robles Inn buying a percentage of the resort.


Drury James hid out the outlaw Jesse and his brother Frank, and story goes that Jesse came

a few times a week to the hot springs from his uncles ranch, and healed his gunshot wound

 in the hot sulfur waters that had been healing springs since the Salinan Indians lived there,

and ancient tribes prior...then came the Spanish and established Casa del Paso de Robles. 

In 1813 they built a shelter over the springs.  Meanwhile back at the Springs...


After Jesse had healed his wounds and was getting restless in the small town, he and Frank

took the steamer again back to New York.  Still seen as a hero and a "Robin Hood" of

sorts, Jesse James was assassinated in 1882 by "...the coward Robert Ford."  More on

that movie down the page folks...

to be continued...

Jesse James

Paso Robles -- "pass of the oaks" -- so named for the

clusters of oak trees scattered throughout the rolling hills.

It was established in 1870 by Drury James, uncle of

outlaw Jesse James (who reportedly hid out in tunnels

under the original Paso Robles Inn on Spring Street.



At a reunion of the Jesse James family in 2002 in Paso Robles, California, the start up of the

James Family DNA Project was announced.  It was hosted by a great grandson of Jesse

James, James R. Ross, a retired Superior Court judge.  Two other great grandsons of the

outlaw and other family lines also attended from  all over the country. In 1995 Judge Ross

employed DNA technology in the exhumation of Jesse James' body.  DNA then proved the

body to be that of Jesse James, and disproved claims of a family relationship by others.


At the same time the James family was able to find the true members.  Over history and the

years the James family had become disconnected.  The times including westward migration, the

Civil War, and many in the James family after his death not wanting to be known as kin to the

outlaw, found the family being lost. 


Joan Beamis, a James family member, put together the first genealogy, disseminated to other

James family, and In 1970 she published "Background of a Bandit" with William E. Pullen.

"They were dangerous men and killers, but, they were always kind to the poor people and often helped them. One story I like was when they stopped at a farm and asked for supper to be made. In those days that was common and the meals were paid for. The woman said she didnít have much in the house to cook as she was just a poor widow who was about to lose her farm to the local banker. She cooked what she could find and the boys asked more about her plight. She said she owed the banker $800.00 she didnít have and he was coming at 4:00p.m. that afternoon to get it. Jesse asked her what this man looked like and how he would be traveling to get to the farm. She told him and after the meal Jesse gave her $800.00 he said was a loan. Frank made out a receipt she was to copy in her own handwriting and told her to be sure to get the skinflintís signature on that paper before handing over the money as that was the right way to do business of that sort.
You can see the rest coming! After the skinflint left the farm with his money the gang waylayed him and took back their $800.00. The woman had her farm and another banker had been hoodwinked."
quote taken from:

"Paso Robles is sometimes referred to as the wild west of the California wine industry, but ironically Paso Robles does have a connection to the wild west that most people don't know about. The famous outlaw Jessie James had more than one relative who lived and owned property in the area.  Dury James, Jesse's uncle lived on a ranch in the Adelaida District from 1868 to 1909. Another relative, Dr. Woodson James, operated a hotel at the Sulfur Hot Springs in town. History has it that Jessie and his brother Frank were frequent visitors at the Dury Ranch, which was known as La Ponza Ranch. One such visit had Jessie laid up at the Sulfur Hot Springs , recovering from a gunshot wound he sustained during a train heist. The old timers in town remembered him as drinker and gambler that was rumored to hang out at the Saloons in Paso Robles. Jessie felt safe knowing that the maze of tunnels under the old inn allowed him ample escape routes if the need ever arose. In spite of the nationwide manhunt to capture Jessie, he managed to allude the best of them, and escape back to Missouri with a new identity, only to be shot in the back by one of his friends."

Quoted from:

Brad Pitt plays the outlaw Jesse James in  "The Assassination of Jesse

James by the Coward Robert Ford," he will join a formidable fraternity

of celebrities who have stepped into the shoes of the legendary outlaw,

Jesse James.  Leading the list of Hollywood infamy are Robert

Duvall, Macdonald Carey, Rob Lowe, Colin Farrell. James Coburn,

Wendell Corey, James Keach, Kris Kristofferson, Hugh Beaumont and

James Drury.


The two most provocative names among the James impersonators, however,

are namesakes James Dean and Jesse James, Jr. Dean, whose brief acting

career and premature death earned him a celebrity arguably on a par with

that of the Missouri outlaw, played James in a 1953 segment of the "You Are There" TV series entitled "The Capture of Jesse James."


Jesse James and James Dean connect to Paso Robles...  stay tuned


James Jr., a son of Jesse James who grew up to be a Los Angeles attorney,

played his father in two 1921 silent films, "Jesse James as the Outlaw" and "Jesse James Under the Black Flag."

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford'' apart from two dozen or so other films about the legendary outlaw.  The lingering close-ups, absence of big shootouts and emphasis on psychology over action will probably disappoint viewers expecting a traditional Western, but the cerebral style is also what makes it a distinctive American classic.

The film is based on a novel by Ron Hansen about the final year of James's life and his relationship with Robert Ford, a young man who idolized James, joined his gang and ended up shooting his hero in the back of the head. It's a complex tale, told by screenwriter/director Andrew Dominik with originality, striking cinematography and sterling performances by Brad Pitt as James and Casey Affleck as Ford.

James was smart, cunning, moody and ruthless. Toward the end, he also was extremely paranoid. Pitt manages to convey all those aspects of James's personality without caricature or cliche and with minimum dialogue. In this movie, what's going on inside James's head is more significant than what he's doing with his fists or his pistol.      


Paso Robles


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