James, Jesse – Revolver Provenance

The Revolver and Holster Rig of Jesse Woodson James, American Outlaw

The James family history regarding this Colt Model 1860 revolver, belt & holster rig is mostly well-documented. When Jesse James was killed his wife Zerelda notified his cousins Rufus, Babe & Lamartine Hudspeth who were living near Lake City, Missouri, of Jesse’s death and asked them to come assist with the funeral. They immediately drove to St. Joseph, Missouri to help Zerelda and were called on to identify the body. After the funeral Zerelda told the Hudspeth Boys that “Jesse’s trunk was hid in the attic and that Jesse would want them to have it”, that there were some of Jesse’s things in it.

When they returned to Lake City they looked into the trunk (p4A item # D9737834) and discovered this Colt revolver, belt & holster rig. Consignor states that he recalls that he was told that Jesse’s old Confederate uniform was also in the trunk but that it was moth-eaten and unusable so it was thrown away. Babe Hudspeth took possession of the Colt, belt & holster rig with Rufus taking the trunk. Rufus died in 1895 and the trunk was passed down through his family eventually to consignor’s niece who has consigned it to be sold following the Colt.

Before Babe Hudspeth died he gave the Colt, belt & holster rig to consignor’s grandfather, Robert R. Elsea, who passed away in 1924. In about 1938 consignor’s father asked consignor’s grandmother if he could have Jesse’s gun to which she agreed. Consignor states that he remembers as a child, often seeing “the gun” in a bedroom dresser drawer was told “don’t you boys touch Jesse James’ gun”.

In 1938 when consignor’s father took possession of the Colt he was living in Wetumka, Oklahoma and removed the Colt to that town with him. In about 1940 consignor’s father moved to Henderson, Nevada where he lived for the next thirty years or so working at a defense plant during the war and later as a deputy sheriff. He also owned ‘The Victory Club’ in Henderson, NV which he sold in 1969. Consignor states that Jesse’s gun & rig were displayed in the club until too many customers insisted on buying it, so his father removed it and put it into a lockbox in the Bank of Nevada.

In 1969 consignor’s father moved to Independence, Missouri and left Jesse’s gun & rig in the bank vault in Nevada. In 1973 he moved back to Wetumka, OK and in 1974 asked his stepdaughter and her husband to bring Jesse’s gun to him. They complied, which is attested to by sworn affidavit, and he put the gun & rig into the vault in Holdenville, OK. Consignor’s father passed away in March 2002 with the gun & rig still in the vault in Holdenville.

In 2005 consignor’s stepmother Rozelle Elsea, after serious illness had given power of attorney to her eldest daughter, Jodell Kilcrease. While visiting his stepmother in a nursing home in 2005, Jodell said “Jesse’s gun was still in the vault and that it rightfully belonged to me”. She said the next time I was back there I could pick it up from the bank vault. Consignor states he took possession of the Colt & rig in November 2006 and that it has remained in his possession until being consigned to this auction.

Also accompanying this lot is a signed notarized statement from Jodell Kilcrease identifying herself as the stepdaughter of Robert R. Elsea (and therefore the stepsister of consignor) and states that on Nov. 8, 2006 she and consignor went to the bank vault in Holdenville, Oklahoma and she relinquished possession of this Colt revolver, belt & holster rig, which she identified by serial number. She also gave a brief statement regarding the history of the items which coincides with the history above. Another notarized affidavit is from Roberta Ruth Elsea of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, wherein she states that she owns a Hudspeth family Bible dated 1868 which was given to her by Frances Miller Elsea, consignor’s mother on Dec. 25, 1984 and that the original picture of Babe Hudspeth and his cousin, Oscar Thompson was in the Bible when she received it and that on Aug. 20, 2007 she gave this picture to consignor.

Additionally accompanying this lot is a 3-ring binder containing a large volume of historic and family genealogical information proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the consignor is a direct descendant from the Hudspeth family and is directly related to Jesse James through his mother, Mary Frances Miller, through the Massie Woodson and Mims (or Mimms) line and through his father, Robert R. Elsea, who was the son of Robert R. Elsea & Mary Amanda Hudspeth who helped to raise consignor. Consignor states in part of his family narrative that there is a family photo that he currently cannot locate, which shows consignor’s father as a baby sitting on Frank James lap. Consignor states that the photograph was taken in the house where he was born and that the house still stands.
This lot, most importantly is accompanied by the original CDV-sized photograph of two men in period clothing with one having a beard and wearing a frock, coat who can clearly be seen wearing this exact belt, with holster mounted backwards. The reverse of the photo is inscribed “Cousin Oscar Thompson” on one side behind the gentleman on the right in the photo and the other side is inscribed “Uncle Babe Hudspeth”. The photograph was taken at Winans’ Photography Rooms, Independence, Missouri and is so printed on the back.

Given the absolute historical family connection to the James family with this set never having left possession of the Hudspeth descendants, there can be no doubt whatsoever that this is an authentic Jesse James owned and used Colt, belt & holster rig and the following facts combine, clearly, to prove this:

1) The order of descendancy from Jesse James to the consignor:

2) There is an extraordinary photograph (or CDV) from approximately 1886 of Babe Hudspeth wearing this exact belt & gun, identifiable in the photograph.

A) Jesse James’ widow Zerelda, gave Jesse’s trunk containing this Colt, belt & holster to Rufus & Babe Hudspeth, Jesse’s cousins, immediately after Jesse’s funeral. Rufus kept the trunk and Babe took the Colt, belt & holster rig.

B) Before Babe’s death in 1907 he gave the Colt, belt & holster rig to consignor’s grandfather, Robert R. Elsea who was married to Mary Amanda Hudspeth, Babe’s favorite niece.

C) Consignor’s father, also named Robert R. Elsea, received the Colt, belt & holster rig in 1938 from his mother after consignor’s grandfather had died in 1924.
D) The Colt, belt & holster rig were stored by consignor’s father, first displayed in his father’s “The Victory Club” in Henderson, NV, then in the Bank of Nevada.

E) Consignor’s father’s step-daughter, Connie J. Morris, and her husband, Delmer Morris, In June 1974 removed the Colt, belt & holster rig and transported it to consignor’s father in Wetumka, Oklahoma as is attested to by a notarized statement from Connie J. Morris. Colt, belt & holter rig were then placed into the bank vault in Holdenville, Oklahoma.

F) Consignor took possession of the Colt, belt & holster rig on Nov. 8, 2006, as is attested to by a notarized affadavit of Jodell Kilcrease, who is the stepdaughter of consignor’s father, dated April 17, 2008.

3) Jesse James’ full signature which is scratched on belt tab and belt keeper.

4) A signed & notarized statement from current owner and direct descendant of Babe Hudspeth dated May 8, 2009.

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