Location: Humphreys County, Tennessee
Surname/tag: James, Howard
Work In Progress
Historical marker placed at Jesse James twins' graves
The News-Democrat, Humprey County, TN
- The Humphreys County Historical Society hosted a ceremony on Sunday, August 29 to unveil a historical marker at the sight of Jesse James twin's grave site.
- Family members of the Link and James family were present as well as members of the Friends of Jesse James and James Unger group.
- Rep. John Tidwell was the guest speaker and related historical events surrounding Jesse James and his family while in Humphreys County.
- The grave site of Gould and Montgomery James is located at the Link farm on Old State Route 1 in the Plant Community and have been in Humphreys County since the twin's deaths in 1878.
- The James brothers, Jesse and Frank, made their way to Tennessee after giving up their life as outlaws in the 1870's.
- Jesse and his family probably arrived at the county seat of Waverly in August of 1877. They came from the north, the direction of Clarksville. Jesse lodged his wife and son at the Nolan Hotel and proceeded to check the lay of the land. Sizing things up, Humphreys County appeared to be good cattle country for his new career as a farmer.
- In the southwestern part of the county, about ten miles from Waverly, was an area known as Big Bottom. The Big Bottom was actually the flood plain of the Duck River near its confluence with the Tennessee River.
- It was in this area that most of the planting was done by local farmers, who lived on less fertile land farther to the north, near the community of Plant.
- Using the name John Davis (Dave) Howard, Jesse rented some property owned by W.H. Link north of the bottom land. When the James family moved, there was only a small cabin on the place, although in later years post cards claiming to show the home of Jesse James would picture another house that was built on the property after their departure.
- Before moving to the Link place, there were a few loose ends to be taken care of. Jesse bought some items at a store owned by Dan Goodrich, who in later years remembered, "Mr. Howard as a rather agreeable fellow". Jesse also made the acquaintance of Henry Warren at Box's Station (now called Denver), a short distance from the town of Johnsonville on the railroad line from Nashville.
- Jesse had ordered two carloads of goods, apparently from Nashville, and when he lacked the money to pay the freight, Warren offered to loan the amount to him. Jesse never forgot this, and soon the railroad agent and the outlaw were close friends.
- Apparently, Jesse, alias Dave Howard, was trying to downplay his image in public. The Mr. Howard of Humphreys County behaved quite differently from the Mr. Howard who had lived in Nashville two years before. A number of stories were related in later years about the Howards and provide a closer glimpse of Jesse, although it is impossible to weigh with accuracy when these events occurred.
- During the stay in Humphreys County, Jesse assumed the roll of gentleman farmer and grain speculator, at least as far as his means allowed. He and Zee were known to give a number of parties, and they attended church socials, always bringing plenty of food to the latter. According to Waverly merchant Dan Goodrich, "There was no finer family anywhere. Mrs. Howard or Mrs. James . . . was an excellent lady, friendly to everyone and especially attentive to the sick."
- No doubt Zee was tired of running and wanted to live some sort of normal life for a change.
- Jesse is said to have lain off a racecourse on the Link property where he showed off his prize possession, a racehorse named Red Fox. The horse was admitted by all to be the fastest in the county and one of the fastest in the state.
- Few realized that there was a better reason for owning such an animal than everyday racing. Whenever he rode into Waverly, Jesse kept Red Fox close at hand. The story also went that Jesse would sleep in the barn at the Nolan Hotel if a single room was unavailable.
- Supposedly, Jesse always tried to keep people from coming up behind him and sat or stood with his back to a wall whenever possible.
- In February of 1878, Jesse's wife, Zee, gave birth to twins named Gould and Montgomery after the two attending doctors. The twins lived only a short while, a week by one account, and were buried in a grave behind the Link place at the bottom of a hill.
- The graves were marked with plain boulders. A popular story grew later that Jesse had carved the headstones with his own hands and placed them over the graves, but such was probably not the case.
- Soon after the twins' deaths, Jesse moved his family to Nashville where his brother, Frank was living.
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