Re: Transcript of Inquest, Buchanan Co Historical Society Atten. Lou
Dear Marsha Swope:
On this particular point, it is my understanding that there were one or more fires at the Buchanan County Courthouse over the years ( since 1882 ), and that some of the official records concerning Jesse James MAY have perished in those fires. This information about the courthouse fires was divulged by a clerk at the Buchanan County Courthouse in a letter ( dated, I think, in the 1950s or 1960s ) to someone who was inquiring about these same inquest records. It is also possible that someone STOLE the copy of the inquest records from the courthouse, and the courthouse officials ( then and now ) don't want to admit this, so they have instructed the courthouse clerks to lie about this and tell people that any such inquest records NEVER EXISTED. Alternatively, it is possible that thecourthouse clerks who are NOW working at the courthouse and who are NOW being questioned about the existence of the inquest records were never informed about the courthouse fires ( OR the possible THEFT of the inquest records ), so they merely reply ( when questioned about these records ) that there are no such records and NEVER WERE ANY ( without knowing that the records may have existed at one time but were possibly destroyed in a courthouse fire or STOLEN by someone ). On the other hand, like I already said, it is also possible that the current courthouse clerks know about the fires ( or possible THEFT ), but have been instructed by SOMEONE (for some unknown reason ) to deliberately lie about this and to DENY that any such inquest records EVER existed.
It is quite possible that SOMEONE at the Buchanan County Historical Society knows the REAL TRUTH about all these matters and might be willing to talk about it, whereas NO ONE at the Buchanan County Courthouse is currently willing to do so, and/or has been INSTRUCTED NOT TO ( for reasons unknown ). It is quite possible that the Buchanan County Historical Society obtained a copy of the inquest records from the Buchanan County Courthouse sometime BEFORE the records perished in one of the courthouse fires or were stolen by someone. Therefore, those interested in this question should contact the Buchanan County Historical Society and ask the following questions:
1) Were there ever any fires at the Buchanan County Courthouse? If so, precisely when ? Precisely WHICH records perished in the fire(s) ? Did any of the official records pertaining to Jesse James or his family perish in the fires ? To the best of their knowledge, were any of the official records pertaining to Jesse James or his family ever STOLEN by anyone from the Buchanan County Courthouse ?
2) What year did the Buchanan County Historical Society receive a copy of the Jesse James inquest records ?
Did they receive these records directly from the Buchanan County Courthouse, or from some independent source ? Does the Buchanan County Historical Society STILL have copies of the Jesse James inquest records available for sale ?
I have searched in my files for the information from the Buchanan County courthouse clerk divulging the info about the courthose fires and the Jesse James inquest records, but I have been unable to locate it to date. This info may also still be on the internet somewhere, and researchers may be able to locate it there. It is definitely worth a try.
My feeling about this matter is that there WAS an official inquest into the murder of Jesse James, conductedon April 3-4, 1882, just as reported in most accounts. At this time I DO NOT BELIEVE that this inquest was FICTIONAL, as some researchers claim.
Most Sincerely yours,
Philip K. Kromer