“A Confederate Rarity of the First Magnitude” (Parrish)
70. JAMES, Jason W. Two titles: (1) Memorable Events in the Life of Captain Jason W. James. [Roswell, New Mexico?, 1911]. 150 pp., one plate (photograph of author). 8vo, original gilt-lettered grey cloth. Light soiling to cloth, otherwise very fine. Inscribed and signed by James: “To Mr. R. B. Slight, With the compliments and best wishes of the author. Jason W. James, Altura Ranch Tex., April 28th 1914.” Exceedingly rare. (2) Memories and Viewpoints. Roswell: Privately printed, 1928. 183 [1 blank] pp. 12mo, original gilt-lettered grey cloth. Small snag on lower spine, otherwise fine. Uncommon.
First edition of both vols. The 1911 work is exceedingly rare. The only sales records we trace for the 1911 volume are the Norris copy in 1948 and a copy sold privately by Jenkins for $1,750, the latter described by Michael Parrish as “a Confederate rarity of the first magnitude.” Parrish describes James’ work as “a straightforward, literate reminiscence, filled with details about his service in the Missouri militia in the Trans-Mississippi under Sterling Price early in the war, and his subsequent experience as a Confederate partisan cavalry officer operating along the western side of the Mississippi, mainly in Louisiana under Captain J. C. Lea. Fighting invading Yankee detachments as well as outlaw guerrillas, James’ men had a special taste for attacking units of Black Federal troops stationed at various points along the river.” The 1928 title forms a companion volume to the preceding work. Some of the same events are covered, but different points are brought out and some experiences are new or greatly expanded. First title:Dornbusch II:2863. Flake 4315a: “Hauled freight to Camp Floyd in 1858; recounts the Mountain Meadows massacre.” Howes J45: “Companion volume to item below [Howes J46] covering boyhood, civil war and ranger activities, ranching.” Norris 3901. Second title: Adams, Herd 1148: “Scarce.” Graff 2190. Flake 4316. Howes J46: “Buffalo hunting; ranching on the Rio Grande; with Johnston’s Utah expedition in 1858; etc.” Not in Mattes (Platte River Road Narratives) or the Eberstadt modern overlands list.
In 1858 at the age of fifteen the author (b. Missouri 1843-d. Uvalde, Texas, 1933) travelled overland from Missouri to Salt Lake to haul 6,000 pounds of freight to supply General Harney’s troops engaged in the “Mormon War.” After reaching Provo and Salt Lake City, James joined with Russell, Majors, and Waddell to Fort Leavenworth. On this arduous trip James’ feet were frozen when the party was forced to lay up for three days between Fort Bridger and South Pass. He recovered at Fort Laramie and describes trading with Sioux and Cheyenne to obtain a pair of moccasins, the only type of footwear his injured feet could tolerate. The following year he witnessed the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush when he travelled to Fort Bridger. In 1861 James enlisted with Kirtley’s troops to drive the Kansas Jayhawkers out of Missouri and rode with Quantrill, giving an officer’s eye-witness account of the Lawrence Massacre and Baxter Springs. During the latter part of the War, James served in Mississippi and Louisiana, and was one of the last officers to surrender (June 27, 1865).
During Reconstruction in Louisiana James helped organize the “Ku Klux,” White Camelias, and Bulldozers (“we had to work in such a way that no evidence could be found against us”). He bluntly outlines the intimidation and violence, including deadly shootouts he and his men inflicted on white Republicans and their Black allies. He herded sheep in Colorado Territory in 1874, and in 1883 drove a herd of cattle from Delhi, Louisiana, to Orange, Texas. He joined Gillespie’s Texas Rangers the following year assisting in the apprehension of murderers, horse and cattle thieves, and fence cutters. He later worked on the railroad in East Texas and Louisiana. In 1892 he relocated to Roswell, New Mexico, supervising the Roswell Land and Water Company. In a chapter on “Ranching in Texas,” James tells how in 1904 he purchased from Ranger Capt. James. B. Gillett the Altura Ranch in Brewster County (fourteen miles from Alpine, next to A. S. Gage’s ranch). He describes the transition from open-range to fenced ranching and the attendant violence. His rousing and frequently violent ventures conclude prosaically with chapters on his Masonic activities and boating and hunting on the Texas Gulf Coast.Among the expanded and new material in the 1928 volume are his 1858 buffalo hunt in Nebraska; apprehending counterfeiters in Paris, Texas, around 1890; ranching on the Rio Grande in 1883-1884 at Myers Canyon in the brush country thirty miles above the mouth of the Pecos River; relocating to Murphyville (now Alpine) in 1894; diary of the first boat trip to make the run from Galveston to Port Aransas and return through the Intracoastal Canal (1913); involvement with the New Mexico Military Institute; dispute of the Great American Desert theory; “The Paramount Aim of the Klan”; “New Mexico’s Future”; etc. 2 vols. ($1,500-3,000)
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