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James Reed

James Reed

James Reed was born in County Aramagh, Ireland, on 14th November, 1800. As a young man he emigrated to the United States and settled in Virginia. Later he moved to Springfield where be became involved in the furniture trade. Reed established his own company and by the time he married Margaret Backenstoe in 1835 he was a faily wealthy man.

Reed decided to move to California. In April, 1846 Reed, his wife, four children and his mother-in-law, joined with a party led by George Donner. The Reed-Donner wagon train, now made up of twenty vehicles and hundred people, arrived in Independence, Missouri, in May, 1846. Later that month, the party left for Sutter's Fort. Later that month, James Reed's mother-in-law died next to the Blue River in Kansas. The Donner-Reed party followed the Oregon Trail until they reached Fort Bridger on 28th July.

At the fort the party met Lansford Hastings. He was busy attempting to persuade Oregon-bound emigrants to go to California by way of what became known as the Hastings Cutoff. Hastings claimed that his route would remove 300 miles from the distance to Sutter's Fort. His cut-off involved crossing the Wasatch Mountains, round the Great Salt Lake to the south, then due west to the Humboldt River in Nevada, before returning to the main trail from Fort Hall.

Hastings told people that the desert was only 40 miles across and that they would find water after 24 hours. It was in fact 82 miles wide and water was only to be found after 48 hours of travelling. Hastings told Reed and George Donner that three wagon trains had already opted for this route.

The Donner Party had made poor time so far and was already some way behind most of the other wagon trains travelling from Independence to Sutter's Fort. They knew they had to cross the Sierra Nevada before the snowfalls that would their path to Sutter's Fort. This usually happened in early November. Although they were on schedule to reach the mountains by late summer they were worried about other delays that could mean being blocked by the winter weather. They therefore made the decision to take the advice of Lansford Hastings and take the proposed short-cut.

On 31st July the Donner Party left Fort Bridger. They did not come out of the Echo Canyon until the 6th August. What they expected to take them four days had actually taken them seven days. They found a letter from Lansford Hastings advising them to camp at the Weber River and to send a man ahead to find him so he could show them a new route to California. Reed and Charles T. Stanton went off in pursuit of Hastings. When they found him he refused the offer of becoming the personal guide to the Donner wagon train. Instead he drew a rough map of the new route.

The Donner Party entered the Wasatch Mountains on 12th August. They soon discovered they had to chop their way through aspen, cottonwood and tangled undergrowth to make a route for the wagons. Over the next few days they had to dislodge boulders and build causeways across swamps in order to reach the valley of the Great Salt Lake. The twenty-three wagons of the Donner Party was now joined by the Graves family and their three wagons. As Virginia Reed later recorded the new group consisted "of Franklin Graves, his wife and eight children, his son-in-law Jay Fosdick, and a young man by the name of John Snyder."

It was now the 27th August and they still had to cross the Salt Desert. Members of the party now realised they were in serious trouble and now had only a small chance of crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains before the winter snows blocked their route. The faster wagons pushed on ahead and the slow, heavily laden wagons of the Reeds and Donners were by now falling further and further behind.

The Donner Party reached Pilot Peak on 8th September. To enable them to keep up, the Reeds and Donners had to abandon some of the heavy goods they were carrying. They also abandoned three wagons and increased the number of oxen pulling the remaining wagons. Members of the party were also having doubts about whether they had enough food to last them before they reached California. It was therefore decided to send two men, Charles T. Stanton and William McCutcheon ahead to Sutter's Fort in order to purchase provisions for the wagon train.

The Donner Party now started out towards the Humboldt River. On the 30th September they reached the main trail from Fort Hall to Sutter's Fort. However, by this time the rest of the 1846 wagon trains had long gone and were already in California. The Donner Party now had trouble from the Paiute. They stole two oxen and two horses. They also fired several arrows at the wagon train and wounded some of the animals.

On 5th October, 1846, another disaster struck the Donner Party. Reed and John Snyder had an argument about one of the wagons. Snyder lost his temper and hit him over the head with a bullwhip. Reed drew his knife and stuck it into Snyder's body. Snyder mumbled: "Uncle Patrick, I am dead." His prediction was correct and Lewis Keseberg immediately began to set up a wagon tongue as a makeshift gallows. William Eddy used his gun to insist that Reed would not be lynched. The others agreed and after much discussion it was decided that Reed should be banished from the wagon train. He was forced to make his way to Sutter's Fort on horseback without weapons. To many in the party this was equivalent to sentencing Reed to death.

Soon afterwards Keseberg ejected one of his employees, Hardkoop, from his wagon. He was never seen again and it is not known whether he died of starvation or was killed by local Native American tribes. This was followed by Joseph Reinhardt, and Augustus Spitzer who robbed and murdered a man called Wolfinger.

The Donner Party now had to cross a 40 mile desert. Over the next three days the wagon train suffered repeated attacks from groups of warriors. During this time they stole 18 oxen, killed another 21 and wounded many others. Since most of their animals were now dead or stolen, the party was forced to abandon their wagons. The wagon train reached the Truckee Lake at the end of October.

On 19th October Charles T. Stanton arrived back from Sutter's Fort with seven mules loaded with food. William McCutcheon had been taken ill and had been forced to stay at the fort. However, Stanton had brought back with him two Indian guides to help them get to California. Stanton also brought news that James Reed had successfully reached Sutter's Fort. On 20th October William Foster killed his brother-in-law in a shooting accident.

The Donner Party now began its attempt to cross the the Sierra Nevada mountains. A few snow flurries made them realise they were in a desperate race for time. In the distance they could see that the peaks were covered in snow. On 25th October a Paiute warrior opened fire on what was left of the wagon train. He hit nineteen oxen before being killed by William Eddy.

The migrants ploughed on but when they got to within three miles of the summit they found their way blocked by five-foot snowdrifts. They were now forced to turn back and seek cover in a cabin they had passed at the foot of the mountain. The surviving members of the wagon train now set about constructing a camp next to what later became known as Donner Lake. Patrick Dolan, Patrick Breen and his family moved into the cabin whereas Lewis Keseberg built a lean-to against one of the walls. William Eddy and William Foster built a log cabin. So also did Charles T. Stanton which was to house the Graves family and Margaret Reed and her children. Donner constructed a primitive shelter for his family.

Reed managed to get through to Sutter's Fort and waited patiently for the arrival of his family. When this did not happen he organized a relief party with William McCutcheon. However, loaded down with provisions, he could not get past the head of Bear Valley and was forced to return to Sutter's Fort.

The surviving members of the wagon train now set about constructing a camp next to what later became known as Donner Lake. William Eddy, William Foster and William Pike built a log cabin. Donner constructed a primitive shelter for his family.

The Donner Party was desperately short of food. The remaining animals were killed and eaten. Attempts to catch fish in the river was unsuccessful. Some of the men went hunting but during the next two weeks they were only able to kill one bear, a coyote, an owl and a grey squirrel. It was clear that if they stayed in the camp they would all die of starvation and on 12th November thirteen men and two women made another attempt to get to Sutter's Fort but found their way blocked by a 10 foot snow drift.

The party rested for a few days and then a party led by William Eddy and Charles T. Stanton made another attempt to reach safety. On 21st November they returned to camp defeated. Soon afterwards Baylis Williams died. This motivated the stronger members of the party to make another attempt to cross the mountains.

On 16th December fifteen members of the party left the camp and headed for the summit. This became known as the Forlorn Hope group. Aided by better weather, this time they managed to cross the mountain pass. On 20th December they had reached a place called Yuba Bottoms. The following morning Stanton was not strong enough to leave the camp. The rest were forced to leave him to die.

William Eddy now took responsibility for leading the group to safety. On 24th December they were out of food and too weak to go on. The group came to the decision that the only way they could survive was to resort to cannibalism. That night Billy Graves and a Mexican called Antoine died. The following day Patrick Dolan also passed away and on 26th December they began cooking Dolan's arms and legs. At first only three members of the party, Eddy and the two Indian guides, refused to eat the meat. However, over the next two days they succumbed to temptation and resorted to cannibalism. They now had a fourth body to consume as Lemeul Murphy died that night.

On 30th December the party, much stronger after their cannibal feast, set off again. However, the weather deteriorated and they were once again forced to halt and make a camp. Out of food, the group began talking about murdering Luis and Salvador, the two Indian guides. Eddy argued against this idea and he secretly told Luis and Salvador that they were likely to be murdered if they remained. That night, while the others slept, they left the camp.

William Eddy and Mary Graves now volunteered to go out hunting. Eddy managed to kill a deer but by the time they got back to the camp Jay Fosdick had died. This supplied more meat for the six remaining members of the group.

The next day the party found the dying bodies of Luis and Salvador. Eddy was unable to stop William Foster killing the two men. This created conflict between the two men and it was decided that they could no longer work together. The group now split up: Foster, his wife and sister, Harriet Pike made up one party whereas Eddy travelled with Mary Graves, Sarah Fosdick and Amanda McCutcheon.

On 12th January, Eddy's group reached a Paiute village. They took pity on the travellers and gave them a acorn meal. This gave them the strength to move on and five days later found another village. This time they were given a meal of pine nuts. Eddy then paid a warrior a pouch of tobacco to act as a guide to Paiute. This he agreed to do and after a further six mile walker, Eddy reached his destination. James Reed quickly organized a relief party to go back and find the rest of the Forlorn Hope group.

Johann Sutter and Captain Edward Kern, the commanding officer at Sutter's Fort, offered to pay $3 a day for anyone willing to form a relief party to rescue those still camped at Donner Lake. Only seven men agreed to accept this dangerous task and on 31st January the small team led by Daniel Tucker left the fort.

James Reed successfully brought back William Foster, Sarah Foster, Harriet Pike, Mary Graves, Sarah Fosdick and Amanda McCutcheon. He now began preparing a second relief party. He organized a public meeting where he raised $1,300. He used this money to buy supplies and to hire six more men. William Eddy also agreed to guide the team and after a long struggle they reached Donner Lake on 27th February. Reed was able to rescue his wife and his last two remaining children.

Later that year Reed purchased land near San Jose. He also became involved in the Californian Gold Rush. Reed invested his profits in property in San Francisco.

One of his daughters, Virginia Reed, who was only twelve years old in 1846, wrote one of the most important accounts of the Donner Party wagon train. Her account, Across the Plains in the Donner Party, was published in 1891.

James Reed died on 24th July, 1874.

Never can I forget the morning when we bade farewell to kindred and friends. The Donners were there, having driven in the evening before with their families, so that we might get an early start. Grandma Keyes was carried out of the house and placed in the wagon on a large feather bed, propped up with pillows. Her sons implored her to remain and end her days with them, but she could not be separated from her only daughter. We were surrounded by loved ones, and there stood all my little schoolmates who had come to kiss me good-by. My father with tears in his eyes tried to smile as one friend after another grasped his hand in a last farewell. Mama was overcome with grief. At last the drivers cracked their whips, the oxen moved slowly forward and the long journey had begun... Many friends camped with us the first night out and my uncles traveled on for several days before bidding us a final farewell. It seemed to be strange to be riding in ox-teams, and we children were afraid of the oxen, thinking they could go wherever they pleased as they had no bridles.

Nothing of much interest happened until we reached what is now Kansas. The first Indians we met were the Caws, who kept the ferry, and had to take us over the Caw River. I watched them closely, hardly daring to draw my breath, and feeling sure they would sink the boat in the middle of the stream, and was very thankful when I found they were not like Grandma's Indians.

The road at first was rough and led through a timbered country, but after striking the great valley of the Platte the road was good and the country beautiful. Stretching out before us as far as the eye could reach was a valley as green as emerald, dotted here and there with flowers of every imaginable color, and through this valley flowed the grand old Platte, a wide, rapid, shallow stream... Exercise in the open air under bright skies, and freedom from peril, combined to make this part of our journey an ideal pleasure trip. How I enjoyed riding my pony, galloping over the plain, gathering wild flowers! At night the young folks would gather about the camp fire chatting merrily, and often a song would be heard, or some clever dancer would give us a barn-door jig on the hind gate of a wagon.

My first appearance on the wilds of the Nebraska as a hunter, was on the 12th (June) when I returned to camp with a splendid two year old elk, the first only only one killed by the caravan as yet. I picked the elk I killed, out of eight of the largest I ever beheld, and I do really believe there was one in the gang as large as the horse I rode.

We have had two Buffalo killed. The men that killed them are considered the best buffalo hunters on the road - perfect "stars." Knowing that Glaucus could beat any horse on the Nebraska, I came to the conclusion that as far as buffalo killing was concerned, I could beat them. Accordingly, yesterday I thought to try my luck. The old buffalo hunters and as many others as they would permit to be in their company, having left the camp for a hunt, Hiram Miller, myself and two others, after due preparation, took up the line of march. Before we left, every thing in camp was talking about Mr so and so, had gone hunting, and we would have some choice buffalo meat. No one though or spoke of the two Sucker hunters, and none but the two asked to go with us... we saw a large herd.... On we went towards them as coolly and calmly as the nature of the case would permit. And now, as perfectly green as I was I had to compete with old experienced hunters, and remove the stars from their brows; which was my greatest ambition, and in order too, that they might see that a Sucker had the best horse in the company, and the best and most daring horseman in the caravan. Closing upon a gang of ten or twelve bulls, the word was given, and I was soon in their midst... At last I loaded, and soon the chase ended and I had two dead and a third mortally wounded and dying... A short distance off we saw another drove of calves. Again the chase was renewed, and soon I laid out another fine calf upon the plains.

Antelope and buffalo steaks were the main article on our bill-of-fare for weeks, and no tonic was needed to give zest for the food; our appetites were a marvel. Eliza soon discovered that cooking over a camp fire was far different from cooking on a stove or range, but all hands assisted her. I remember that she had the cream all ready for the churn as we drove into the South Fork of the Platte, and while we were fording the grand old stream she wen on with her work, and made several pounds of butter. We found no trouble in crossing the Platte, the only danger being quicksand. The stream being wide, we had to stop the wagon now and then to give our oxen a few moments' rest.

At Fort Laramie was a party of Sioux, who were on the war path going to fight the Crows or Blackfeet. The Sioux are fine looking Indians and I was not in the least afraid of them. They fell in love with my pony and set about bargaining to buy him. They brought buffalo robes and beautifully tanned buckskin, pretty beaded moccasins, and ropes made of grass, and placing these articles in a heap alongside several of their ponies, they made my father understand by signs that they would give them all for Billy and his rider. Papa smiled and shook his head; then the number of ponies was increased and, as a last tempting inducement, they brought an old coat, that had been worn by some poor soldier, thinking my father could not withstand the brass buttons!

On the sixth of July we were again on the march. The Sioux were several days in passing our caravan, not on account of the length of our train, but because there were so many Sioux. Owing to the fact that our wagons were strung so far apart, they could have massacred our whole party without much loss to themselves. Some of our company became alarmed, and the rifles were cleaned out and loaded, to let the warriors see that we were prepared to fight; but the Sioux never showed any inclination to disturb us... their desire to possess my pony was so strong that at last I had to ride in the wagon, and let one of the drivers take charge of Billy. This I did not like, and in order to see how far back the line of warriors extended, I picked up a large field-glass which hung on a rack, and as I pulled it out with a click, the warriors jumped back, wheeled their ponies and scattered. This pleased me greatly, and I told my mother I could fight the whole Sioux tribe with a spyglass,

We did not see no Indians from the time we left the cow village till we come to Fort Laramie. The Sioux Indians are going to war with the Crows and we have to pass through their fighting grounds. The Sioux Indians are the prettiest Indians there is. Pa goes buffalo hunting most every day and kills 2 or 3 buffalo every day. Pa shot an elk some of our company saw a grisly bear... We have hard from uncle (Robert Keyes) several times since he went to California and now is gone to Oregon.

We have arrived here safe with the loss of two yoke of my best oxen. They were poisoned by drinking water in a little creek called Dry Sandy, situated between the Green Spring in the Pass of the Mountains, and Little Sandy. The water was standing in puddles. Jacob Donner also lost two yoke, and George Donner a yoke and half, all supposed from the same cause.

I have replenished my stock by purchasing from Messrs. Vasques & Bridger, two very excellent and accommodating gentlemen, who are the proprietors of this trading post. The new road, or Hastings' Cut-off, leaves the Fort Hall road here, and is said to be a saving of 350 or 400 miles in going to California, and a better route. There is, however, or thought to be, one stretch of 40 miles without water; but Hastings and his party, are out ahead examining for water, or for a route to avoid this stretch. I think that they cannot avoid it, for it crosses an arm of the Eutaw Lake, now dry. Mr. Bridger, and other gentlemen here, who have trapped that country, say that the Lake has receded from the tract of country in question. There is plenty of grass which we can cut and put into the waggons, for our cattle while crossing it. We are now only 100 miles from the Great Salt Lake by the new route, in all 250 miles from California; while by way of Fort Hall it is 650 or 700 miles - making a great saving in favor of jaded oxen and dust. On the new route we will not have dust, as there are about 60 waggons ahead of us. The rest of the Californians went the long route - feeling afraid of Hasting's Cutoff Mr. Bridger informs me that the route we design to take, is a fine level road, with plenty of water and grass, with the exception before stated. It is estimated that 700 miles will take us to Captain Sutter's Fort, which we hope to make in seven weeks from this day.

Arriving at Fort Bridger, I added one yoke of cattle to my teams, staying here four days. Several friends of mine who had passed here with pack animals for California, had left letters with Mr. Vasquez, Mr. Bridger's partner, directing me to take the route by way of Fort Hall and by no means to go the Hastings cutoff Vasquez, being interested in having the new route travelled, kept these letters.

A large number of Oregon and California emigrants encamped at this creek, among whom I may mention the following: Messrs. West, Crabtree, Campbell, Boggs, Donners and Dunbar. I had, at one time or another, became acquainted with all of these persons in those companies, and had traveled with them from Wokaruaka, and until subsequent divisions and subdivisions had separated us. We had often, since our various separations, passed and repassed each other upon the road, and had frequently encamped together by the same water and grass, as we did now. In fact, the particular history of my own journey is the general history of theirs. The greater number of the Californians, and especially the companies in which George Donner, Jacob Donner, James F. Reed, and William H. Eddy, and their families travelled, here turned to the left, for the purpose of going by way of Fort Bridger, to meet L. W. Hastings, who had informed them, by a letter which he wrote and forwarded from where the emigrant road leaves the Sweet Water, that he had explored a new route from California, which he had found to be much nearer and better than the old one, by way of Fort Hall, and the head waters of Ogden's River, and that he would remain at Fort Bridger to give further information, and to conduct them through. The Californians were generally much elated, and in fine spirits, with the prospect of a better and nearer road to the country of their destination. Mrs. George Donner was, however, an exception. She was gloomy, sad and dispirited, in view of the fact, that her husband and other could think for a moment of leaving the old road, and confide in the statement of a man of whom they knew nothing, but who was probably some selfish adventurer.

He (James Reed) says that his misfortunes commenced on leaving Fort Bridger, which place he left on the 31st of July, 1846, in company with eighty-one others. Nothing of note occurred until the 6th of August, when they had reached within a few miles of Weaver Canyon, where they found a note from a Mr. Hastings, who was twenty miles in advance of them, with sixty wagons, saying that if they would send for him he would put them upon a new route, which would avoid the Canyon and lessen the distance to the great Salt Lake several miles. Here the company halted, and appointed three persons, who should overtake Mr. Hastings and engage him to guide them through the new route, which was promptly done.

We were seven days in reaching Weber Canyon, and Hastings, who was guiding a party in advance of our train, left a note by the wayside warning us that the road through Weber Canyon was impassable and advising us to select a road over the mountains, the outline of which he attempted to give on paper. These directions were so vague that C.T. Stanton, William Pike, and my father rode on in advance and overtook Hastings and tried to induce him to return and guide our party. He refused, but came back over a portion of the road, and from a high mountain endeavored to point out the general course. Over this road my father traveled alone, taking notes, and blazing trees, to assist him in retracing his course.

Leaving Fort Bridger, we unfortunately took the new route, traveling on without incident of note, until we arrived at the head of Webber canyon. A short distance before reaching this place we found a letter sticking in the top of a sage bush. It was from Hastings. He stated that if we would send a messenger after him he would return and pilot us through a route much shorter and better than the canyon. A meeting of the company was held, when it was resolved to send Messrs. McCutchen, Stanton and myself to Mr. Hastings; also we were at the same time to examine the canyon and report at short notice.

Next morning ascending to the summit of the mountain where we could overlook a portion of the country that lay between us and the head of the canyon, where the Donner party were camped. After he gave me the direction, Mr. Hastings and I separated. He returning to the companies he had left the morning previous, I proceeding on eastward. After descending to what may be called the table land, I took an Indian trail and blazed the route where it was necessary that the road should be made, if the company so directed when they heard the report. When McCutchen, Stanton and myself got through Webber canyon on our way to overtake Mr. Hastings, our conclusions were that many of the wagons would be destroyed in attempting to get through the canyon. Stanton and McCutchen were to return to our company as fast as their horses would stand it, they having nearly given out. I reached the company in the evening and reported to them the conclusions in regard to Weber canyon, at the same time stating that the route that I had blazed that day was fair, but would take considerable labor in clearing and digging. They agreed with unanimous voice to take that route if I would direct them in the road making, they working faithfully until it was completed.

Only those who have passed through this country on horseback can appreciate the situation. There was absolutely no road, not even a trail. The canyon wound around among the hills. Heavy underbrush had to be cut away and used for making a road bed. While cutting our way step by step through the "Hastings Cutoff," we were overtaken and joined by the Graves family, consisting of W.F. Graves, his wife and eight children, his son-in-law Jay Fosdick, and a young man by the name of John Snyder.

Finally we reached the end of the canyon where it looked as though our wagons would have to be abandoned. It seemed impossible for the oxen to pull them up the steep hill and the bluffs beyond, but we doubled teams and the work was, at last, accomplished, almost every yoke in the train being required to pull up each wagon. While in this canon Stanton and Pike came into camp; they had suffered greatly on account of the exhaustion of their horses and had come near perishing.

On the afternoon ... they started back with Mr. Reed and Mr. Graves, for the wagons of the Messrs. Donner and Reed; and brought them up with horses and mules, on the evening .... One of Mr. Reed's wagons was brought to camp; and two, with all they contained, were buried in the plain.

They arrived at water and grass, some of their cattle having perished, and the teams which survived being in a very enfeebled condition. Here the most of the little property of which Mr. Reed still had, was buried, or cached, together with that of others. .... Here, Mr. Eddy, proposed putting his team to Mr. Reed's wagon, and letting Mr. Pike have his wagon, so that the three families could be taken on. This was done.

We started to cross the desert traveling day and night only stopping to feed and water our teams as long as water and grass lasted. We must have made at least two-thirds of the way across when a great portion of the cattle showed signs of giving out. Here the company requested me to ride on and find the water and report. Before leaving I requested my principal teamster, that when my cattle became so exhausted that they could not proceed further with the wagons, to turn them out and drive them on the road after me until they reached the water, but the teamster misunderstanding unyoked them when they first showed symptoms of giving out, starting on with them for the water. I found the water about twenty miles from where I left the company and started on my return. About eleven o'clock at night, I met my teamsters with all my cattle and horses. I cautioned them particularly to keep the cattle on the road, for that as soon as they would scent the water they would break for it. I proceeded on and reached my family and wagons. Some time after leaving the man one of the horses gave out and while they were striving to get it along, the cattle scented the water and started for it. And when they started with the horses, the cattle were out of sight, they could not find them, or their trail, as they told me afterward.

Receiving no information and the water being nearly exhausted, in the evening I started on foot with my family to reach the water. In the course of the night the children became exhausted. I stopped, spread a blanket and laid them down covering them with shawls. In a short time a cold hurricane commenced blowing; the children soon complained of the cold. Having four dogs with us I had them lie down with the children outside the covers. They were then kept warm. Reed and myself sitting to the windward helped shelter them from the storm. Very soon one of the dogs jumped up and started out barking, the others following making an attack on something approaching us. Very soon I got sight of an animal making directly for us; the dogs seizing it changed its course, and when passing I discovered it to be one of my young steers. Incautiously stating that it was mad, in a moment my wife and children started to their feet scattering like quail, and it was some minutes before I could quiet camp; there was no more complaining of being tired or sleepy the balance of the night.

We realized that our wagons must be abandoned. The company kindly let us have two yoke of oxen, so with out ox and cow yoked together we could bring one wagon, but, alas! not the one which seemed so much like a home to us, and in which grandma had died. Some of the company went back with papa and assisted him in caching everything that could not be packed in one wagon. A cache was made by digging a hole in the ground, in which a box or the bed of a wagon was placed. Articles to be buried were packed into this box, covered with boards, and the earth thrown in upon them, and thus they were hidden from sight.

Mr. Eddy went out hunting... At noon he came up with the company, which had stopped to take some refreshments, at the foot of a very high and long sand-hill, covered with rocks at the top. At length they commenced ascending the hill. All the wagons had been taken up but Mr. Reed's, Mr. Pike's, and one of Mr. Graves', the latter driven by John Snyder. Milton Elliot, who was Mr. Reed's driver, took Mr. Eddy's team, which was on Mr. Reed's wagon, and joined it to Mr. Pike's team. The cattle of this team, being unruly, became entangled with that of Mr. Graves', driven by Snyder; and a quarrel ensued between him and Elliot. Snyder at length commenced quarreling with Mr. Reed, and made some threats of whipping him, which threats he seemed about to attempt executing. Reed then drew a knife, without, however, attempting to use it, and told Snyder that he did not wish to have any difficulty with him. Snyder told that he would whip him, "anyhow;" and turning the butt of his whip, gave Mr. Reed a severe blow upon the head, which cut it very much. As Reed was in the act of dodging the blow, he stabbed Snyder a little below the collarbone, cutting off the first rib, and driving the knife through the left lung. Snyder after this struck Mrs. Reed a blow upon the head, and Mr. Reed two blows upon the head, the last one bringing him down upon his knees. Snyder expired in about fifteen minutes. Reed, although the blood was running down over his face and shoulders from his own wounds, manifested great anguish of spirit, and threw the knife away from him and into the river. Although Mr. Reed was thus compelled to do as he did, the occurrence produced much feeling against him; and in the evening Kiesburg proposed to hang him. To this, however, he was probably prompted by a feeling of resentment, produced by Mr. Reed having been mainly instrumental in his expulsion from one of the companies, while on the South Platte, for grossly improper conduct. Eddy had two six-shooters, two double-barreled pistols, and a rifle; Milton Elliot had one rifle, and a double-barrreled shot gun; and Mr. Reed had one six-shooter, and a brace of double-barreled pistols, and rifle. Thus Mr. Reed's comrades were situated, and they determined that he should not die. Eddy, however, proposed that Mr. Reed should leave the camp. This was finally agreed to, and he accordingly left the next morning; not, however, before he had assisted in committing to the grave the body of the unhappy young man.

We had a rule in traveling which we always observed, and that was, if one wagon drove in the lead one day it should fall in the rear the next, so as to allow every one his turn in the lead. This day of a terrible tragedy my father was in the lead, Jay Fosdick second, John Snyder third, and Reed fourth; arriving at the foot of a short steep hill, my father's team was not able to pull the wagon up, so Fosdick took his team, doubled to father's and went up, then took both teams back and started up with Fosdick's. Snyder said that his team could pull up alone; just then Reed had got another team to double to his wagon, and started to pass Snyder's oxen. Reed at this time was on the opposite side of the oxen from Snyder, and said to Snyder, "you have no business here in the way;" Snyder said "it is my place." Reed started toward him, and jumping over the wagon tongue, said, "you are a damned liar, and I'll cut your heart out!" Snyder pulled his clothes open on his breast and said, "cut away." Reed ran to him and stuck a large six-inch butcher's knife into his heart and cut off two ribs. Snyder then turned the butt-end of his whip stock and struck at him three times, but missed him the third and hit Mrs. Reed, who had in the meantime got hold of her husband. Snyder then stared up the hill and went about ten steps, when he began to stagger; just then I got to him and kept him form falling; by laying him down easy, where he died in five minutes. We then went a little ways to a place where we could camp, and held a council to find out what to do with Reed and took affidavits form the witnesses with the view of giving him a fair trial when we got to civilization... Some of the company were opposed to allowing Reed to travel in the company; so they agreed to banish him.

On the Humboldt river, J. F. Reed and a man named Snyder quarreled and Snyder was killed; some thought Reed was to blame others that Snyder was in the wrong at all events Reed left the company on horseback and alone leaving his family with the company, I have always thought that this was a misfortune for the whole party as Reed was an intelligent and energetic man, and if he had remained the party might of got through. He said that he would go before and endeavor to send help back as provisions were now getting scarce. Now the truth is that the team was "Stalled" on a sand bank on the Humboldt river; it was Reed's team; Snyder was driving Graves team next to Reeds behind Reed was on the off side of his team assisting his man to get the team to pull. Snyder came up on the nigh side also to assist. Soon there was an altercation between Reed and Snyder. When Snyder called Reed some name and attempted to strike him across the tongue between the oxen and the wagon, Reed jumped across the tongue and stabbed him, Snyder died in a couple of hours. Reed had nothing to do with the affair and if she had Snyder would not strike her, for he would not strike a woman at all; He was too much of a man for that. Snyders loss was mourned by the whole company; Still Reed was not blamed by many.

At this point in our journey, we were compelled to double our teams in order to ascend a steep, sandy hill. Milton Elliott, who was driving our wagon, and John Snyder, who was driving one of Mr. Graves's, became involved in a quarrel over the management of their oxen. Snyder was beating his cattle over the head, with the butt end of his whip, when my father, returning on horseback from a hunting trip, arrived and, appreciating the great importance of saving the remainder of the oxen, remonstrated with Snyder, telling him that they were our main dependence, and at the same time offering the assistance of our team. Snyder having taken offense at something Elliott had said declared that his team could pull up alone, and kept on using abusive language. Father tried to quiet the enraged man. Hard words followed. Then my father said: "We can settle this, John, when we get up the hill." "No," replied Snyder, with an oath, "we will settle it now," and springing upon the tongue of a wagon, he struck my father a violent blow over the head with his heavy whip-stock. One blow followed another. Father was stunned for a moment and blinded by the blood streaming from the gashes in his head. Another blow was descending when my mother ran in between the men. Father saw the uplifted whip, but had only time to cry: "John, John," when down came the stroke upon mother. Quick as a thought my father's hunting knife was out and Snyder fell, fatally wounded... My father was sent out into an unknown country without provisions or arms--even his horse was at first denied him. When we learned of this decision, I followed him through the darkness, taking Elliott with me, and carried him his rifle, pistols, ammunition and some food.

It was here suggested that I go in advance to California, see what had become of McCutchen and Stanton, and hurry up the supplies. They would take care of my family. That being agreed upon I started, taking with me about three days provisions, expecting to kill game on the way.

On the 19th of October, while traveling along the Truckee, our hearts were gladdened by the return of Stanton, with seven mules loaded with provisions. McCutchen was ill and could not travel, but Captain Sutter had sent two of his Indian vaqueros, Luis and Salvador with Stanton. Hungry as we were, Stanton brought us something better than food - news that my father was alive. Stanton had met him nor far from Sutter's Fort; he had been three days without food, and his horse was not able to carry him. Stanton had given him a horse and some provisions and he had gone on. We now packed what little we had left on one mule and started with Stanton. My mother rode on a mule, carrying Tommy in her lap; Patty and Jim rode behind the two Indians, and I behind Mr. Stanton, and in this way we journeyed on through the rain.

When I arrived (at Sutter's Fort) making known my situation to him, asking if he would furnish me horses and saddle to bring the women and children out of the mountains (I expected to meet them at the head of Bear Valley by the time I could return there), he at once complied with the request, also saying that he would do everything possible for me and the company. On the evening of my arrival at the Captain's, I found Messrs. Bryant, Lippencott, Grayson, and Jacobs, some of the early voyagers in the Russel Company, they having left that company at Fort Laramie, most of them coming on horseback.

I remained at Sutter's Fort .... On the 28th October, Mr. Reed, whom I have before mentioned as belonging to the rear emigrating party, arrived here. He left his party on Mary's river, and in company with one man crossed the desert and the mountains. He was several days without provisions, and when he arrived at Johnson's, was so much emaciated and exhausted by fatigue and famine, that he could scarcely walk. His object was to procure provisions immediately, and to transport them with pack-mules over the mountains for the relief of the suffering emigrants behind. He had lost all of his cattle, and had been compelled to cache two of his wagons and most of his property. Captain Sutter generously furnished the requisite quantity of mules and horses, with Indian vaqueros, and jerked meat, and flour. This is the second expedition for the relief of the emigrants he has fitted out since our arrival in the country.

Starting with seventeen horses, they (James Reed and William McCutcheon) proceeded to cross the mountains. As they advanced the snow became deeper; they reached the depth of four feet when the horses sank completely exhausted, and it was found impossible to proceed with them. Messrs. Reed and McCutcheon determined to use every effort to reach their friends. Choosing the best horses, they urged them forward - but alas! - they were obliged to leave the poor animals completely buried in snow. They then attempted to pursue their journey on foot, but for the want of snow shoes, were obliged to abandon all hope of passing the huge barrier of snow, which separated them from their families; and gathering their horses together, they returned to the valley.

A number of the relief party remained here, while Messrs. Miller, McCutchen, and one of the men and myself, proceeded to the camp of the Messrs. Donner's. This was a number of miles further east. We found Mrs. Jacob Donner in a very feeble condition. Her husband had died early in the winter. We removed the tent and placed it in a more comfortable situation. I then visited the tent of Geo. Donner, close by, and found him and his wife. He was helpless. Their children and two of Jacob's had come out with the party we met at the head of Bear valley. I requested Mrs. George Donner to come out with us, as I would leave a man to take care of both Mr. George Donner and Mrs. Jacob Donner. Geo. Donner positively refused, saying that as her children were all out she would not leave her husband in the situation he was in. After repeatedly urging her to come out, and she as positively refusing, I was satisfied in my own mind that Mrs. Donner remained with her husband for pure love and affection, and not for money, as stated by Mrs. Curtis. When I found that Mrs. Donner would not leave her husband, we took the three remaining children of Jacob Donner's leaving a man to take care of the two camps. Leaving all the provisions we could spare, and expecting the party from Sutter's fort would be in in a few days, we returned to the camp of Mrs. Graves, where all remained during the night except McCutchen, Miller, and myself, we going to the cabin of Mr. Breen, where two of my children were. Notice was given in all the camps that we would Start on Our Return To Sutter's early the next day."

Christmas was near, but to the starving its memory gave no comfort. It came and passed without observance, but my mother had determined weeks before that her children should have a treat on this one day. She had laid away a few dried apples, some beans, a bit of tripe, and a small piece of bacon. When this hoarded store was brought out, the delight of the little ones knew no bounds. The cooking was watched carefully, and when we sat down to our Christmas dinner mother said, "Children, eat slowly for this one day you can have all you wish." So bitter was the misery relieved by that one bright day, that I have never since sat down to a Christmas dinner without my thoughts going back to Donner Lake.

When Milt Elliott died - our faithful friend, who seemed so like a brother - my mother and I dragged him up out of the cabin and covered him with snow. Commencing at his feet, I patted the pure white snow down softly until I reached his face. Poor Milt! it was hard to cover that face from sight forever, for with his death our best friend was gone.

On the evening of February 19th, 1847, they reached our cabins, where all were starving. They shouted to attract attention. Breen, clambered up the icy steps from our cabin, and soon we heard the blessed words, "Relief, thank God, relief!" There was joy at Donner Lake that night, for we did not know the fate of the Forlorn Hope and we were told that relief parties would come and go until all were across the mountains. But with the joy sorrow was strangely blended. There were tears in other eyes than those of children; strong men sat down and wept. For the dead were lying about on the snow, some were even unburied, since the living had not had strength to bury their dead.

A number of the relief party remained here, while Messrs. Notice was given in all the camps that we would Start on Our Return To Sutter's early the next day.

I have not written to you about half of our trouble. But thank God we have got through and the only family that did not eat human flesh. We have left everything but I don't care for that. We have got through with our lives. Never take no cut offs and hurry along as fast as you can.


A retired municipal bond lawyer, James R. Ellis never held public office, never headed a major corporation, and was never rich. Yet, as a citizen activist for more than half a century, he left a bigger footprint on Seattle and King County than perhaps any other single individual. He was a leader in the campaigns to clean up Lake Washington in the 1950s to finance mass transit, parks, pools, and other public facilities through "Forward Thrust" bonds in the 1960s to preserve farmlands in the 1970s to build and later expand the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in the 1980s, and to establish the Mountains to Sound Greenway along the I-90 corridor in the 1990s. He was known for his tenacity when taking on an issue: most of these projects became realities only after years of opposition. He was slammed from the right as a Communist and from the left as a lackey for the business community. He was much honored, including a First Citizen award from the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors in 1968, a national Jefferson Award in 1976, and a Lifetime Achievement award from American Lawyer in 2005.

An Indefatigable Visionary

"When you think of the legacy of the Northwest," said former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, "and all we have -- a cleaned-up Lake Washington, the green open space, even the viability of downtown Seattle, Jim Ellis' name is at the top of the list. He truly is a visionary who has dedicated himself to bettering his community" (Columns).

"Visionary" is a word often associated with Ellis, along with "venerable" and "indefatigable." Even his critics acknowledged the innate political skills that allow him to turn many of his dreams into realities. Admirers such as former Washington Governor (and later U.S. Senator) Dan Evans, who appointed Ellis to the University of Washington’s board of regents in 1965, praised his ability to listen calmly to divergent points of view, find common ground, and build support for his ideas. Microsoft founder Bill Gates once said he wanted to do as much good for his community as Jim Ellis had. Bob Gogerty, a political consultant who was an aide to former Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman in the 1970s, predicted Ellis will "go down maybe as the most significant man in this community ever" (The Seattle Times, 1987).

Ellis himself tends to minimize his accomplishments, saying "If I ever do a book, it’s going to be called ‘Friends Along the Way’ -- about all the people who didn’t get credit for all this stuff. It was not a one-man job" (Ellis interview). And he accepts the criticism along with the praise. "I don't say I don't get angry when people lay it on me in some fashion," he told a newspaper columnist in 1986, during a time of particularly acrimonious debate over the Convention Center. "But I'm getting to a point where I say, okay, I'm willing to listen. I've been wrong enough times that, if I don't listen, I've really gotten stupid. But also, I've been right enough times that if I haven't got the guts to keep moving, then I should get out of the kitchen" (The Seattle Times).

Lessons in Self-Reliance

James Reed Ellis was born on August 5, 1921, in Oakland, California, the first of three children of Floyd and Hazel Reed Ellis. His father, a native of Dayton, Washington, was trained as a lawyer but became an import-export businessman instead, specializing in trade with China. His mother, who grew up in Spokane, was a housewife. The couple lived in California for a few years in the early 1920s. After the birth of a second son, Robert, in 1923, the family returned to Washington state, settling in the Lakewood neighborhood of Seattle. A third son, John, was born there in 1928.

All three sons attended John Muir Elementary School and Franklin High School. The family had a close relationship from the beginning but Jim and Bob, only two years apart in age, were inseparable. Their bond was cemented during the summer of 1937, when their father decided they needed a lesson in self-sufficiency. He deposited them on five acres of woodland that he had bought along the Raging River, near upper Preston, with a ton of groceries, two dogs, and instructions to build a log cabin. Jim was 15 Bob, 13. (Eight-year-old John stayed home with their parents).

It rained nonstop for the first four days, thoroughly soaking the boys and all their gear. But by the end of the summer, they had a serviceable cabin. The only help they got came from a mason, sent by their father to camp with them for two weeks. He built the fireplace, using rocks the boys hauled from the river.

The brothers continued to work on the cabin for three years. Ellis still uses it. "That was a wonderful experience because we learned to do things by ourselves," he said. "But it was very hard work. We had to do everything by hand, and it took much longer than we expected. We had to figure everything out by ourselves." The experience taught him lessons that have served him well. As a writer for the University of Washington alumni magazine, Columns, pointed out, "Ask anyone about Jim Ellis, and one thing everyone will tell you is that Jim Ellis always comes thoroughly prepared." Dan Evans agreed: "He puts in so much work ahead of time, he has answers before you have questions" (Columns).

Love and Loss

Jim and Bob Ellis enlisted in the military on the same day, after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II in 1941. Jim, who had graduated from Franklin High School in 1939, was a senior at Yale University. He was accepted into the Air Force, but told to complete his degree before reporting for duty. The two brothers were called to active duty on the same day in March 1943. The Army took Bob, made him an infantryman, and eventually sent him into combat in Europe. The Air Force sent Jim to a cadet training program in meteorology. The repercussions of that chain of events would play a major role in the evolution of Jim Ellis as a local civic legend.

Ellis graduated from Yale in 1942. That summer, he fell in love with Mary Lou Earling, daughter of a mining engineer in Alaska. Mary Lou had grown up in Nome and Fairbanks. When she reached high school age, her parents sent her to Seattle to attend the elite, private Bush School. Ellis met her for the first time while they were both still in high school, at a gathering arranged by his mother, but he initially paid little attention to the woman who would become the love of his life. "I had terrible reverse snobbery for people who had money and went to private high school," he said. "We lived in a big house in Lakewood, surrounded by smaller houses, and I developed great sensitivity to that during the Depression" (Ellis interview).

The two reconnected during the summer of 1942. As Ellis tells the story, they were on a date, driving along Lake Washington, and he was quizzing her about an engagement she had recently broken off with a young Air Force pilot. To change the subject, Mary Lou bet him that she could climb a madrona tree faster than he could. To this day, he thinks she let him win. And then: "We got back in the car and I’m thinking I really want to kiss this girl. She didn’t say anything but she moved one half inch in my direction, and boom! From that time on, there wasn’t any other girl for me" (Ellis interview).

They were married on November 18, 1944. Their first home was the Mountain Home Air Force Base in southern Idaho, where Ellis -- who had finished his military meteorology program after college -- was serving as a weather forecaster for bomber groups in training. Mary Lou completed pilot training, intending to become a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) organization however, the WASP program was terminated just after she graduated.

In February 1945, less than three months before the end of the war in Europe, Robert Lee Ellis was killed by an artillery shell that exploded on a battlefield near Trier, Germany. Jim Ellis was devastated by the death of his beloved younger brother. "I could not understand how God could permit something like that to happen," he said. His grief was tinged with guilt: "I’m sitting in a hanger in Idaho thinking I’m not doing anything for the war effort, while Bob was carrying more than his load" (Ellis interview). In a self-destructive rage, he demanded to be sent to the front lines, vowing revenge.

Finally, Mary Lou told him: "You have to get hold of yourself. You’re trying to throw your life after his. Why not make your life count for his?" The idea of "doing something extra" -- to make up for what his brother might have done if he had lived -- was a powerful thought, one Ellis hung on to through all the years to come. It became "the seminal drive for my public service life" (Ellis interview).

In turn, Jim Ellis set an example for his youngest brother, John, who built an impressive civic resume of his own. The former head of Bellevue-based Puget Sound Power and Light (now Puget Sound Energy), John W. Ellis is best known for leading the effort to keep the Mariners in Seattle and build the team a new baseball stadium. He also served as chairman of the board of regents for both Washington State University and Seattle University has been actively involved with the Bellevue Boys and Girls Club, and played a major role in creating a city park in downtown Bellevue. The two brothers shared the A. K. Guy Award for Community Service, given by the Young Men’s Christian Association of Greater Seattle, in 1992. "Both of us were influenced by our parents," John Ellis says, "but if I had an example, it was my brother Jim" (John Ellis interview).

Political Baptism

Jim Ellis graduated from the University of Washington School of Law in 1948. After passing the bar exam the next year, he joined the law firm of Preston, Thorgrimson and Horowitz (later Preston, Gates & Ellis). Acting on a vow to devote one quarter of his time to public service in honor of his brother, he became a member of the Municipal League, Seattle’s leading progressive reform organization. He quickly became involved in his first major civic undertaking, supporting the League’s attempts to rewrite the King County charter.

In April 1952, a League-backed slate of newly elected "freeholders" (citizen volunteers) hired Ellis as their attorney to help draft a new charter. The goal was to modernize and professionalize city and county government, in an effort to reduce patronage and corruption. Ellis took a leave of absence from the law firm and technically became an employee of prosecuting attorney Charles O. Carroll, who strongly opposed the proposed reforms. It was, Ellis said, "a hostile environment," made worse by the fact that on his first day on the job, a lawsuit was filed that challenged his appointment and halted his salary. He and Mary Lou, with three children by that time, were down to their last $20 when the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the appointment was valid.

The proposed charter would have replaced the three-member partisan Board of County Commissioners with a seven-member, nonpartisan County Council and an appointed County Administrator (or "Dictator," according to critics). It was opposed by both major political parties, by organized labor, and by many courthouse employees from the prosecutor on down. Ellis said two deputy sheriffs followed him to every meeting where he spoke in defense of the measure, laughing at the wrong times and leading the applause for the opposition. In November 1952, voters rejected the proposal by a margin of nearly two to one.

"Losing can be a good teacher," said Ellis. "While licking our wounds a few of us asked ourselves whether we had been on the right track. I asked myself whether improving the internal structure of county government would make much difference to the congested traffic, polluted water, and sprawling developments which were spreading across the boundaries of cities and counties, beyond the control of either" (Ellis, 5). That soul-searching led to what Ellis considers his greatest contribution to civic life, the creation of the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (Metro) and the cleanup of Lake Washington.

"Father of Metro"

In November 1953, Ellis walked into a forum sponsored by the Municipal League at the YMCA in Seattle, carrying a brown leather briefcase. The briefcase -- a gift from his grandfather -- would become Ellis's signature accessory, carried everywhere, usually bulging with papers. This time, it contained a speech that called for the creation of a new kind of government -- a federation of municipalities -- to improve water quality, garbage disposal, transportation, parks, and land-use planning in King County. The central theme was that regional problems required regional solutions. Ellis hoped to convince his audience that "effective answers to certain urban problems required area-wide action and that our effort as citizens could ignite that action" (Ellis, 7).

The primary impetus was the pollution of Lake Washington. In the 1950s, more than 20 million gallons of raw and partially treated sewage were being discharged into the lake every day. Pollution-fed algae was so thick that an eight-inch white plate could not be seen three feet below the surface of the water. Popular beaches were posted with "No Swimming" signs. The Municipal League and the League of Women Voters put their considerable clout behind the effort to end the discharges. Even so, it took more than five years and one defeat at the polls before voters approved a slimmed-down Metro -- focused only on sewage collection and treatment. Transit was not added until 15 years later.

The experience taught Ellis important lessons about perseverance and strategy. The initial Metro ballot measure, presented in March 1958, carried in Seattle but was defeated in the southern suburbs of King County. It was his wife, Mary Lou, who suggested that the smaller cities take the lead in promoting a revised plan, so that it wouldn’t look as if "big-boy" Seattle was bullying them. The narrower proposal, approved in September 1958, passed in the suburbs with an even greater margin than it did in Seattle.

Ellis became known as the "father of Metro," a label he wears proudly, even though at one point critics said what he had fathered was a Communistic exercise in big government. "People could see that we were just cleaning up sewers," he said (Ellis interview).

Forward Thrust

Encouraged by the success of Metro in cleaning up the lake, Ellis and some of his fellow reformers developed the most ambitious plan for public works ever presented to King County and its cities. Ellis again served as point man, outlining the plan in a speech to the Rotary Club in Seattle on November 3, 1965. In it, he challenged the region’s leaders to prepare for the future with a "forward thrust" of capital improvements, including parks, fire stations, swimming pools, a domed stadium, an aquarium, a modern zoo, improved streets and storm sewers, low-income housing, and rail rapid transit. The wish list added up to more than $815 million, to be financed by voter-authorized municipal bonds.

In February 1968, after countless committee meetings, hearings, and exchanges of opinion pieces in the local newspapers, King County voters approved seven of 12 individual "Forward Thrust" bond propositions. Among them were measures to build a $40 million multi-purpose domed stadium (the Kingdome), the Seattle aquarium, and 25 county swimming pools. One of the propositions set aside $118 million to develop new parks and trails, including Discovery, Freeway, Gas Works, Waterfront, Marymoor, and Luther Burbank parks and the beginning of the Burke-Gilman Trail. Voters also approved bonds to improve Woodland Park Zoo and Sea-Tac Airport. They rejected a low-income housing levy and bonds to help build a rapid transit system.

The transit measure won 50.8 percent of the vote -- far short of the 60 percent "supermajority" needed for passage. Concerned over the prospect of losing more than $600 million in federal funds that had been earmarked for the project, Ellis and other transit backers resubmitted it two years later. This time, with unemployment soaring as a result of the so-called "Boeing Bust," only 46 percent of the voters accepted the measure. In 1995, voters defeated a third effort to develop regional rail rapid transit. (A scaled down "Sound Transit" plan was adopted the next year.)

The failure of these early rapid transit measures was a bitter disappointment for Ellis. The original Forward Thrust referendum, with its approved federal match, "would have saved us $6 to 8 billion," he said. "It would have been in place in 1985. It would have built more track than Sound Transit is doing. The last bonds would have been retired in 2006. You know who got our share of the federal money? Atlanta. And they built a beautiful light rail system" (Ellis interview).

Bones of Convention

Ellis devoted much of his energy in the 1970s to the issue of farmlands preservation, helping to win passage of a $50 million county bond measure to protect farms and green belts threatened by development. With that victory, in 1979, he turned his attention to the most contentious public works project he would ever be involved with: the construction and then the expansion of the Washington State Convention & Trade Center.

Seattle boosters had been dreaming of a convention center for nearly 20 years, hoping to duplicate the success of the 1962 World’s Fair in milking cash from visitors. A convention center was initially on the list of projects to be financed by Forward Thrust bonds, but it was dropped before being presented to voters in 1968. The recession of the 1970s revived the idea of a convention center as a "cash cow" that would ease the region’s economic woes. But debate over where it would be located and who would pay for it kept the project stalled for years.

In 1982, the Legislature agreed to help finance what was supposed to be a $90 million convention center. Three sites were under consideration: the Seattle Center an area adjacent to the Kingdome and a location that would straddle Interstate 5, next to Freeway Park (which had been championed by Ellis and built with Forward Thrust funds in 1976). Downtown business leaders favored the freeway site virtually every other interest group opposed it, including Seattle’s city government. The downtown faction prevailed, but the controversy "aroused virtually every political rivalry in the area: boosterism vs. anti-growth, downtown business vs. the neighborhoods, developer vs. housing advocate, Republican vs. Democrat, Seattle vs. Eastside and the state" (The Seattle Times, 1988).

Ellis was initially reluctant to get involved in the battle. His much loved wife, Mary Lou, was terminally ill from the complications of diabetes, and he was spending most of his free time with her. He had, however, been following the issue in the newspapers and had called then-Governor John Spellman to complain about something he had read. Spellman responded by asking him to take charge of the project. Ellis said he was sitting on Mary Lou's bed, talking to the governor on the phone and telling him "No," when "Mary Lou pulled on my arm and said: ‘You can’t resign from the human race just because I’m sick.’ And then I got so deep into it I couldn’t get out" (Ellis interview). He ended up serving first as vice-chair and then chairman of the center’s board of directors, for a total of nearly 20 years.

The State Convention and Trade Center was completed in 1988, at a cost of $186 million -- more than twice the amount originally budgeted. Ellis said it was a "smashing" success and "worth all the pain" (The Seattle Times, 1988). Yet within just a few years, he was campaigning to double its size.

The proposed expansion engendered even more enmity than the original project, particularly from advocates of low-income housing. The Church Council of Greater Seattle and the Seattle Displacement Coalition demanded that new housing be found for the poor and the elderly who would lose their homes to the center’s appetite for more space -- likening the center to a hog wanting a bigger pen. Ellis seemed genuinely hurt and puzzled to find himself being heckled by people who accused him of displacing the poor in order to cater to business interests.

Court challenges blocked expansion plans for several years. Construction did not proceed until the center’s board promised to replace all low-income housing lost to the project. The expansion was completed in 2001, at a cost of $195 million. Ellis pointed out that the center ended up building or rehabilitating three units of low-income housing for every unit it demolished, and repaid, with interest, all the money borrowed from the state general fund to finance construction.

Citizen Ellis

In 1990, Ellis took on another major civic commitment: the chairmanship of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to preserving the scenic, environmental, and historic qualities of a 100-mile stretch of Interstate 90 from Puget Sound east to Thorp, in Kittitas County. By the time he retired as board president in 2001 (as of 2009 he remains on the board), the Trust had sparked land exchanges and purchases that moved nearly 125,000 acres of land along the I-90 corridor from private to public ownership.

Of all the projects he’s been involved with, Ellis said, this one would have been closest to his brother Bob’s heart. For the more than 15 million drivers a year who cross Snoqualmie Pass, it will mean green vistas instead of strip malls along the highway. For the cougar, elk, and other wildlife in the forests, it will mean safe passageways above and below the highway. For schoolchildren in generations to come, it will mean easy access to a living environmental laboratory. Still, Ellis did not expect miracles to result from this work. "We're going to make modest gains along the edges," he said. "We're not going to change the world, but we may teach. And the people we teach may change it" (The Seattle Times, 1994).

The cleanup of Lake Washington, the dozens of parks created through the Forward Thrust bond initiatives, the Convention Center: Ellis said "the psychic rewards" of his involvement in these and other civic endeavors "have been huge." At the same time, "the costs were heavier than I wanted them to be." He regrets, above all, that "I didn’t put the time in with my children that I should have. I’m trying to make up for that now but it’s hard. That’s a price that’s paid that bothers me to this day" (Ellis interview).

Jim and Mary Lou Ellis had four children: Robert Lee Ellis II (named for his uncle), born in 1946, a teacher at the Bellevue International School Lynn Earling Erickson, born in 1951, a teacher and historian in Olympia and Steven Reed Ellis, born in 1955, a beekeeper and environmentalist in Barrett, Minnesota. Another daughter, Judy, born in 1948, was killed in a car accident in 1970, along with her young husband and their nearly full-term baby.

The death of his daughter was a second devastating blow for Ellis, after that of his brother. It was followed in 1983 by the death, at age 62, of Mary Lou, his wife, partner, and inspiration for some 40 years. "Untimely death has haunted me," he said. "It’s just stalked me. It’s just hard to take" (Ellis interview).

When Ellis received the Isabel Colman Pierce Award for Excellence in Community Service from the Young Women’s Christian Association in 1985, he asked that it be shared with his late wife. "Mary Lou’s ideas and unwavering support multiplied my effectiveness by more than a factor of two," he said. "Any person who goes on point for a public cause needs to gain emotional strength from family support. I remember coming home tired and discouraged on many occasions, but by the next morning Mary Lou always had me cranked up and ready to charge" (Ellis, 14).

Harvey Manning, veteran hiker and trail-guide author, once called Jim Ellis "a certifiable public saint" (The Seattle Times, 1994). But Ellis also encountered many skeptics over the years, including some who accused him of pushing public works so he could make money by selling the municipal bonds required to finance them. Ellis agreed that he and his law firm profited from his work as part-time counsel for Metro for 21 years, from 1958 to 1979. On the other hand, the firm billed Metro for much less than it billed its private clients. And beginning with Forward Thrust, he donated to charity any money that he earned through the sale of bonds on projects he supported.

"Life is interesting," he said. "If you just refuse to become cynical, it's really quite fascinating. And, in some degree, it's inspiring to see all our differences and to see that the system -- hopefully, hopefully -- can still function" (The Seattle Times, 1986). As for himself: "I’ve had a wonderful life. I was married to an unreal, wonderful woman. I had fabulous children. And I’ve known some wonderful people as a result of my civic work" (Ellis interview).

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Jim Ellis at 85th Birthday, Snoqualmie Valley, August 8, 2006

Photo by Terry Seaman, Courtesy Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust

Jim and Mary Lou Ellis, 1970s

From left: John, Bob, and Jim Ellis with parents (seated) Hazel and Floyd, 1943

Jim and Bob Ellis's cabin near Preston, Washington, 1948

Sign over cabin built near near Preston, Washington, by Jim and Bob Ellis, ca. 1940

Jim Ellis outside cabin, near Upper Preston, 1997

Courtesy Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust

Jim and Mary Lou Ellis with children Robert and Judy, ca. 1949

University of Washington regent Jim Ellis talks to UW students, Seattle, 1960s

Mountains to Sound Greenway co-founder Jim Ellis, Cedar River Watershed Education Center, October 2, 2001

Jim Ellis's famous bulging briefcase, Seattle, July 6, 2006

HistoryLink.org Photo by Walt Crowley

Jim Ellis, Seattle, July 6, 2006

Photo by Walt Crowley, Courtesy History Ink

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Jim Ellis, interviewed in Seattle by Lorraine McConaghy, 1988, on the origins of the Forward Thrust campaign

Census records can tell you a lot of little known facts about your James-reed ancestors, such as occupation. Occupation can tell you about your ancestor's social and economic status.

There are 3,000 census records available for the last name James-reed. Like a window into their day-to-day life, James-reed census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 642 immigration records available for the last name James-reed. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 1,000 military records available for the last name James-reed. For the veterans among your James-reed ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

There are 3,000 census records available for the last name James-reed. Like a window into their day-to-day life, James-reed census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 642 immigration records available for the last name James-reed. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 1,000 military records available for the last name James-reed. For the veterans among your James-reed ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

Very little is known about James' early life in England other than it’s implied he started practicing his art at a young age. He has a vast knowledge of metals, both common and precious ones. He’s also acquainted with alchemists and their beliefs. He had to kill men in the past, and their voices still haunt him.

James makes clear his wish to call on Alice Kett in the future for her to become his wife.

When Verity Bridges is looking around Jamestown for her betrothal, Meredith Rutter, she inquires the blacksmith. James replies that Rutter is in an entire different world and points to the tavern. The next day, James calls for Alice Kett, asking what name the Sharrows gave to their plantation. He introduces himself and offers her a basket made from a helmet to get her started in her farm. He notices the marks along her wrist and asks her how she came by that. Alice lies, saying it was a perilous journey from England to Virginia but James doesn't believe her. When Alice sets off to find Verity on her own, she’s followed by James Read that later saves both women from a pack of wolves and escorts them back to Jamestown.

James implies to Silas Sharrow that he murdered his own brother to take his bride, Alice Kett

After hearing the news of Henry Sharrow's presumed death, James expresses to Alice his sorrow and envy for the deceased men for he had all the land he wished for and the prettiest bride. James asks if he can call upon Alice in the future for her to become his wife. Alice, however, declines his offer and states her loyalties lie with the Sharrows. When the townsfolk gather in front of the new governor of Jamestown, Sir George Yeardley, James Read offers himself to buy Alice since her betrothal is dead and the debt for her purchase needs to be paid to Master Massinger. Silas Sharrow intervenes and states he wishes to wed Alice himself but Marshal Redwick declines for he has no money. The Marshal does not refuse Read’s proposal but says he has to consult with the agents of the Virginia Company for they provide the women while Alice herself interjects against it. At her own request and to prevent Alice from wedding the blacksmith, Silas speaks with James and asks him to ship himself a wife and to quit his claim on Alice. James says he wants Alice and that he sees clearly that Silas is in love with her as well, then proceeds to imply he murdered his own brother just to have her. Silas attacks Read for his accusation and their fight is only broken up by the arrival of the governor. Later, James stops Alice in town and wishes to give her a bell he made for her. She refuses the gift and states she will never love him, but the blacksmith believes she will come around with time. Then, he once again implies that Silas killed his own brother just to marry her, but Alice doesn’t believe him and Read urges her to ask him.

James is displeased with Alice and Silas Sharrow wedding.

Indians surround Jamestown during nighttime and Meredith Rutter is caught up in the fight but is saved by James Read. An Indian named Chacrow carries a musket and Master Massinger blames Silas Sharrow for it and the man is locked up in jail. Alice speaks with James and makes it clear she knows he’s hiding something about the musket. The blacksmith admits he has been suspicious of Silas ever since he returned to Jamestown without Henry and suggests he might receive justice after all. Verity Rutter chats with James and admits any woman would be lucky to have him. She also notices the way he looks at Alice and recognizes his feelings for her. Late at night, James visits Alice and tells her about Donovan Hamble, who used to work for Master Massinger and went missing around the same time as the musket was stolen. He implies that Massinger killed the boy and buried his body. After Silas is set free, he thanks Read for his help.

James clashes with the governor over his refusal to allow him to marry Alice and suffers a harsh punishment.

With Jocelyn Castell’s help, Alice Kett weds Silas Sharrow and James is the only one who doesn’t celebrate their marriage. During their wedding party, Read watches Silas and Alice dancing, hugging and kissing and his jealously begins to intensity. In the morning, Sir George Yeardley asks Read to repair his horse’s shoe but the blacksmith declines and the governor advices him to watch his tongue. Read proceeds to accuse Yeardley of favoring Silas Sharrow over him and when the governor pushes him for disobedience, the blacksmith strikes him. James Read stands on trial and claims to be a man possessed by jealously for his right to wed Alice was denied to him. Read accuses Marshal Redwick and Secretary Farlow of promoting his violent act against the governor. The Marshal proceeds to convict and sentence Read to death by hanging for striking the governor. When James is about to be executed, Silas Sharrow tries to persuade Sir George Yeardley to change his mind but the governor refuses to listen. The wood is kicked out from under Read but the rope is too long, so his feet touch the ground. Alice quickly speaks with the governor and recalls the blacksmith’s value to Jamestown. The governor agrees to spare Read, as long as he apologizes and becomes obedient. He agrees and the noose is removed from his neck. James confesses Alice his love for her.

James sets off in search of Henry Sharrow.

James apologizes to Alice for his previous behavior and she inquires if he was the one who killed her cow. Read seems frustrated by the accusation and insists he will set out to prove her that he is not the villain. Read takes a boat and while he’s going up the river, he finds Silas and Alice by the water and explains to them he’s going to hunt for Henry Sharrow, since no one else will. Later on, James finds the remains of Henry’s boat. James Read returns to Jamestown with proof that Henry is alive and has been taking care of by the Appomattuck. Silas claims it to be impossible for he has seen his older brother burning.

James helps Alice saving her crops.

After Silas set off to find his brother, Alice argues with James Read and he admits his only wish is for her to see him as a respectable man and reminds Alice that Silas has chosen Henry over ver.  After talking with Verity Rutter and dreading Henry’s return, Alice visits Read’s shop and asks him to made her the sharpest dagger he possibly can but the blacksmith refuses, worrying she might use it for the wrong reason. Later, he explains himself and suggests killing a man is a horror that she’ll never forget. Instead, Read encourages Alice to speak with Marshal Redwick and Sir George Yeardley about the rape. He also offers to confront Henry Sharrow himself. Alice finds a hornworm among the Sharrows crops and Pepper Sharrow urges to town in search for help. Alongside the townsfolk, they manage to save the crops. Alice then thanks James for his help and, in return, he agrees to make her the dagger for no woman should live in fear of any man.

James builds Henry Sharrow an oven of brick and clay to refine his presumed silver.

Henry Sharrow returns to Jamestown with presumed silver found in Virginia. Meredith Rutter aligns with him and the men plan on get James Read involved in their scheme for they believe the blacksmith can help them smelt the silver and he starts building an oven. The blacksmith agrees under the condition that Henry stays away from Alice. After being threatened by Alice with her dagger, Henry takes the blade to James and promises he’ll pay for it. Through his new oven, Read manages to turn Henry’s metal into a silver coin but while the entire town celebrates, the governor does not. Sir George Yeardley follows Henry and asks him if he allows Christopher Priestley to test it. When the doctor tests Henry’s metal it is discovered that the metal is worthless. Silas tries to comfort his brother but Henry unleashes all his anger on Silas, until James pulls him off.

James tells Alice he he's to buy himself a wife to come to Jamestown in the next ship.

James escorts Alice to his shop where he burns the bell he made for her and tells her he intends on having a wife shipped off. However, he assures Alice she’ll always have his assistance. Marshal Redwick visits James’ shop and commissions chains and while Read questions him about the nature of such enterprise he concludes it’s for imprison people. Later on, the governor also visits Read and asks for Redwick’s commission and the blacksmith insists the Marshal has not ordered shackles yet. After the assembly, where the tobacco prices were fixed, the townsfolk dances and enjoy themselves. However the party becomes silent when Master Massinger passes by with his new negro slaves. James Read follows them visibly disturbed with his task.

James isn’t pleased with his new task of putting men in chains.

Samuel Castell is found dead by the Sharrows. Later on, Meredith Rutter speaks with James and confidences to him about seeing Castell hours before he died. Castell said he was doing the governor’s business. Read counsels Rutter to remain quiet about what he heard. Master Massinger is having trouble with a disobedient negro slave called Pedro. The man is brought before the council of Jamestown and Marshal Redwick determines he’s to be chained to a tree during the night. James is force to help but is clearly troubled with his job. Pedro helps Read chain him to the tree while the blacksmith asks him why he won’t save himself from trouble. Pedro proudly claims himself as a Kongo warrior and that his ancestors would spit on him if he bow to the likes of Massinger. That night at the church, James Read finds Jocelyn Castell by her husband’s coffin and with catholic totems in her hands. She says they belong to her deceased husband, and although she had never loved Samuel, to place them inside his coffin is her last act of loyalty towards him. Read tells her not to put the beads in the coffins, because they will be found. The night after Samuel’s funeral, Jocelyn thanks James for remaining silent and spare her from a perilous fate. Read makes a remark about Jocelyn’s black dress, claiming it becomes her and it makes her appear witchly. Jocelyn slaps him and the blacksmith says he’ll only be slapped for just reason and by a just soul.

The next morning, Pedro is released from his chains and tries to convince Massinger to sell him to the governor. The man orders James Read to lock him up again. Pedro asks the blacksmith to convince Jocelyn to help him. Back in town, Alice Sharrow becomes distressed and sits her baby down and walks off in a stupor. James gets the babe and gives it back to her. Alice confesses to him her fear of her husband being executed as a traitor. The blacksmith counsels her to say nothing or all hell will open up. James meets with Jocelyn to return her husband’s poetry portfolio. Jocelyn comments he saw him giving comfort to Alice Sharrow, and the blacksmith replies that giving comfort to any woman who might need it is in his nature. He apologizes for his remark about her mourning dress the night before and encourages her to persuade governor Yeardley to buy Pedro. Jocelyn slaps him several times but the man says nothing. Jocelyn takes Samuel’s poems before the council and pretends Pedro stole them. She forces the governor’s hand by pretending she wants Pedro to face the worst punishment. Yeardley eventually convinces Master Massinger to give him Pedro in exchange for two men. Later that night, Jocelyn visits Read’s shop and he thanks her for convincing Yeardley to take Pedro. James calls it an odd but kind gesture from her part, that was also a benefit to himself. The blacksmith then kisses her and she kisses him back.

James stares at Jocelyn during mass.

During church, James stares at Jocelyn and Christopher Priestley catches his long gaze. After Christopher tells her that the blacksmith can’t keep his eyes off her, Jocelyn approaches him and insults Read in the streets. Meanwhile, Alice and Silas’s babe disappeared. Jocelyn visits Read and asks him why he’s not alongside the other men searching for the child. She implies it’s because he doesn’t believe the baby was taken, but Read denies it. Jocelyn shows that she’s jealous of James’s feelings for Alice, claiming that the blacksmith finds her perfect in every way and it must pain him that he cannot have Alice. James discards her assumptions and Jocelyn guarantees she just wishes for the child to be found.

James mourns the death of his betrothal, Corinna.

Verity urges James that the ship carrying his betrothal, Corinna, is sighted off the coast and will arrive within an hour. The blacksmith fears the maid won’t like him and Verity helps him by washing the dirt off his face and giving him a silk red doublet. Verity, alongside Meredith Rutter and Alice Sharrow await in the wharf to meet the couple. However, Read and Silas Sharrow appear carrying Corinna’s corpse for the maid had died one day from shore. After bringing her body to the church of Jamestown, James opens the shroud to behold Corinna’s face and remarks she’s beautiful while kissing her forehead. While leaving the church, Sir George Yeardley spots him wearing a garment above his social status and urges him, alongside Marshal Redwick, to take it off. Jocelyn intervenes on his behalf and the governor states that if he shall see the blacksmith wearing the doublet again there will be a reckoning.

Jocelyn and James spend the night together.

Later that night, Read confesses to Jocelyn his loneliness and unfulfilled lust. The blacksmith advices her to leave him be for his spirit is dangerously broken. Jocelyn takes his hand and they have sex in the barn with the promise that Read won’t fall in love with her. The next morning, Meredith Rutter asks James to take the doublet off but he refuses. Verity warns him to be careful and she doesn’t just mean the doublet for she found Jocelyn asleep in the barn. Before Corinna’s funeral, Jocelyn meet James at the church and confronts on why he left her alone in the dark after their lovemaking the night before. He replies she was safe enough but Jocelyn informs that Marshal Redwick found her asleep there and she has to gain the governor’s favor. Read confesses he couldn’t bear for her to see him weeping. Jocelyn says their night together was a mistake and urges him to forget, but he says he won’t.

James is publicly whipped by the Marshal for wearing clothes above his station.

Later that day, the governor approaches the town and Jocelyn rushes to James for him to take the doublet off in order to avoid a severe punishment. Read eventually listens to her pleas and begins to take the garment when the governor calls him. James is flogged by Marshal Redwick for wearing clothing above his social rank. While Christopher Priestley tends to his wounds, Read asks him if he wishes to marry Jocelyn. The doctor replies it’s not his place to ask such things. James then proceeds to talk about how he fantasized about Corinna for months. Later that night, James witnesses Jocelyn entering Christopher’s apothecary. Mercy, who followed her mistress, says to him she expects Jocelyn didn’t woke up out of the kindness of her heart and she surely needs medicine for visiting the doctor at such an hour. Read agrees but doesn’t share the same opinion. The servant girl claims to have told her mistress that James isn’t mourning Corinna, he’s mourning love. Read replies he relished the silk against his skin and with the doublet on his back he was in love, so he didn’t wanted to take it off for fearing he might lose that feeling.

James threatens Silas Sharrow because he spoke ill of Jocelyn.

When Secretary Farlow arrives at Jamestown alongside a comely fellow named Simeon Peck, Jocelyn is rather curious to learn about their dealings. Silas Sharrow remarks to James Read that he had never seen a woman so meddling around men’s business as Jocelyn, and the blacksmith tells him that, despite whatever falsehood Jocelyn has upon her, she’s no traitor to her own people. James proceeds in telling that Silas’s betrayal will also impact his wife and family. Meanwhile, Farlow and Peck visit his shop and ask for lean metal for an experiment Simeon is conducting. Jocelyn also arrives but Farlow dismisses her and leaves alongside Simeon. She asks Read if they require lean metal and the blacksmith replies with why should he answer to her questions. Jocelyn claims to know he witnessed her visiting Christopher after dark and wishes to explain but the blacksmith replies she’s no business of his and the only thing he wishes to know is if she’ll marry the doctor. Jocelyn says she knows that Christopher will eventually propose to her but her answer will be no. Read then explains to her the process of alchemy, that some people believe common metal to be imperfect but through a process of purity it is possible to find the richness within. Jocelyn says she only wanted to offer him comfort but James states comfort was not worth tasting. Alice visits James and confronts him on why he used the secret she confined in him to attack Silas. James replies it was a twisted sense of chivalry. Alice realizes his feelings for Jocelyn and warns him to shake it off for it will bring him only pain and suffering. She even compares it to the feelings he once held for her. Read states his feelings for Alice were an innocent’s man heart while his feelings for Jocelyn are madness and it appears he wants to be mad. Simeon Peck agrees to perform the alchemic ritual alongside Secretary Farlow, Christopher Priestley, James Read and Jocelyn Castell. Simeon claims to have made liquid gold. Later, Sir George Yeardley discusses with Read if he believes that Simeon can create gold to which the blacksmith admits he doesn’t, because if such was possible, gold would be of no value. Yeardley asks Christopher when he will marry Jocelyn and the doctor says she seems to relish being a widow. Yeardley claims they need to take that comfort away from her.

James Read comforts a terrified Jocelyn.

Sir George Yeardley informs Jamestown the Spanish can invade them at any time so they must prepare for attack. Redwick orders James Read to forge swords and helmets. Jocelyn Castell approaches Read and he says it’s the perfect time for men to prove their courage. Jocelyn implies he wishes to prove his bravery to women and not to a king that has never set foot on the colony nor a governor that tried to hang him and flogged him. Jocelyn confesses that, when she asked him not to love her, it was not because he’s a blacksmith but because he’s a man. Verity Rutter wants to fight against the Spanish but Redwick mocks her. She asks James to teach her how to forge a sword. Meanwhile, Samuel Castell’s body is haunting Jocelyn and Mercy. A dreadful storm of wind and lightning happens, and the townsfolk believe it’s Samuel’s spirit doing. James enters Jocelyn’s house alongside Alice Sharrow and Maria to find both Jocelyn and Mercy terrified. Jocelyn throws herself into his arms, trembling, and James comforts her. Later, Alice wants to perform a ritual to speak with Samuel’s body. At night, alongside Jocelyn and Mercy they spot James at the window. Jocelyn goes outside to speak with him. James states that if Samuel returned because of what happened between them, he’s ready to face any demon. Jocelyn confesses there are times, when she looks at him, she wishes to make love with him again. James says she can’t because she’s to wed Christopher Priestley. Jocelyn recalls she wishes to live as a widow. James informs her that the governor has other plans. Meanwhile, James teaches Verity how to use a sword but warns her that killing a man is a dreadful thing, specially the sound a man makes when he dies by the sword. Later, James sees that Verity’s sword is blooded. She looks terrified and confirms the sound men make when they die is, indeed, the worst.

James has sex with Jocelyn at the storehouse once again.

James Read arrives to the tavern and tells Verity Rutter and Maria that Pedro has escape. The blacksmith goes searching for Pedro and saves him from drowning. While sailing back to Jamestown, Read runs into Henry Sharrow. Henry becomes suspicious and asks about what’s in James’ boat. Read says he has food, provision and weapons. Henry demands him to come closer but the blacksmith denies, stating he won’t have Henry searching on his boat. James takes Pedro to the tavern and he reunites with Maria. She apologizes for stabbing them and they agree to turn themselves in to Yeardley for he’ll be merciful. When Yeardley brands Maria’s face, Read is deeply displeased. The next day, Jocelyn Castell faces a Skimmington to shame her for failing to remarry. That night, James meets with her at the barn. He shares his concern for her welfare because of what happened earlier. She begins to undress and says she refuses to be tamed. She kisses James and undresses him while promising that she will be as open as she wishes to.

Christopher Priestley forces James to duel him because of the blacksmith’s affair with Jocelyn.

At the tavern, Christopher Priestley confronts James about the rumors he heard from the Chickahominy that Silas Sharrow has been giving secret information about Jamestown to the Pamunkey. James denies it as gossip and states that the doctor must have misunderstood what has said to him. James also advices him not to gamble in politics. Christopher hints that he knows about James and Jocelyn's affair. James asks Alice Sharrow if Silas is still giving information to the Pamunkey. She swear it’s over. Later, Christopher visits Read’s shop and commissions for two rapier swords. James asks him the purpose of the weapons and the doctor assures there is time for explanations later. Jocelyn Castell meets James Read at the wharf and asks him if he’ll work as her overseer. He declines and tells she has proven herself capable of mastering any man. She mocks him for his sensitive nature and James points out her cold heart. Jocelyn eventually says she needs him but James states that perhaps her curse is that she doesn’t need anyone. Later on, James gives Christopher the swords he ordered. The doctor tells him that one of them is his and challenges him for a duel because of James’ affair with Jocelyn. Read doesn’t wish to fight him because he’s a proven swordsman while Christopher is not. The doctor insists for them to meet at Ridgewater at dust otherwise he’ll reveal the blacksmith’s affair with Jocelyn to the entire of Jamestown. Christopher shares his belief that Jocelyn doesn’t wish to marry him because of James. The two men meet but Read refuses to fight the doctor. James eventually fights and bests him. He says the doctor has his honor and is the only man in Jamestown that does. That night, Jocelyn’s farm gets burned to the ground. In the morning, James shows that he has found Pamunkey items in the field. Sir George Yeardley and Marshal Redwick waste no time in blaming the natives for the fire. Meanwhile, Christopher informs them that Silas has been giving information to the Pamunkey. James overhears and urges the Sharrows to run.

James warns Jocelyn about her dangerous schemes.

James witnesses as Silas Sharrow and Chacrow perform a ritual. Silas asks what is he doing there and James assures he means no disrespect. Chacrow informs James of Silas’s new name: Kukupunkway. James goes to the Sharrow Hundred and Alice Sharrow asks him what news. Henry Sharrow says there are no news for her but Alice demands to know the truth. James reveals he saw Silas and that he’s Pamunkey now. James says Silas wants to meet with Henry. Alice wants to go along but Henry disagrees because the mere sight of her would be a torment for Silas. Alice says she wants Silas back but James recalls her of Silas’ betrayal of Jamestown. But Alice won’t give up so easily. Meanwhile, Nicholas Farlow is beheaded by the governor. Later, it is noticed that Farlow’s head is missing. Yeardley asks who would dare to challenge his authority and promises he will not be defied. Jocelyn and James exchange looks. Jocelyn approaches James Read and asks if he knows who took Farlow’s head. James noticed Jocelyn being close to the governor once again and asks if she’ll be granted with more land to farm. Jocelyn says she wonders about him often and why the men who have came to Virginia with him are making themselves rich while he remains a blacksmith. James assures he prefers to remain honorable than being tainted by ambition and wealth. Jocelyn recalls he has more social advantage than her because he’s a man. James says her schemes are dangerous even if they are justified.

Willmus Crabtree talks to James about Jocelyn.

At the tavern, Tamlin Appleday steals James' drink. James asks if he doesn’t know respect but is pushed by the boy and falls. James gets back on his feet and pushes the boy against the wall and tells him to pick fights he can win. Tamlin throws a clay pot to his head. James says he’ll die a coward’s death and tells Verity Rutter to keep the boy away from him. Redwick asks James if he’s the one who took Farlow’s head. Willmus Crabtree questions for what crime was Farlow executed but Redwick scorns his hunchback. As Redwick leaves, Willmus talks about Jamestown wealth with James. He talks about Jocelyn and says he noticed James staring at her. He tells Jocelyn must be tamed by a man who sees her truest loveliness and tells James he’ll show him how it’s done. Meanwhile, James warns Verity that Tamlin stole a knife from his forge. Verity doesn’t want James to act on it because she never saw Meredith so happy but promises she’ll talk to Tam about it. At the church, Verity is praying but is disturbed by James Read. She stands up for Tamlin all the same. James says nothing and kneels by her side and they pray together. Redwick removes the spike. James Read warns Jocelyn about Willmus and tells her he saw him entering Yeardley’s house when everyone was looking at Farlow’s head. James says Redwick knows who took the head: Yeardley.

James Read observes Jocelyn and Yeardley.

By the river, Willmus discovers Farlow’s burned skull. James observes the skull. Willmus says no one has yet told him what Farlow’s crimes were. James says Willmus already knows because he saw him going into the governor’s house in the night of the beheading. Willmus says he discovered a note – Jocelyn promising payment to Farlow – next to the secretary’s body. James asks why a merchant would take interest in this matter. Willmus replies that if James has perceived him as more than a mere merchant it was because he allowed it. Later, James observes Jocelyn and Yeardley talking. Meanwhile, Yeardley falls into a bear trap prepared by Silas but is saved by Pedro. Back in Jamestown, Pedro doesn’t know why he saved the governor. James Read says it was his good heart while Meredith proposes perhaps his spirit is broke in servitude to the governor. Pedro lashes out to Meredith but is stopped by James.

Jocelyn reveals to James the real content of her letter.

Meanwhile, Maria and Pedro plan to escape to England. Verity warns James that Jocelyn has written a letter after Tamlin told her about Maria's plans. He goes to confront the widow. Jocelyn shows him the true content of the letter: it’s addressed to her sister, Elizabeth, so she would provide shelter for Pedro and Maria. Jocelyn asks James to deliver the letter to them. James informs her that Willmus has the promissory note she wrote for Nicholas Farlow and that he considers proof of her corruption. Meanwhile, a golden horse appears in Jamestown and is craved by Yeardley and Jocelyn alike. Jocelyn approaches James about his famous hunting skills. James asks Jocelyn why she persuaded the whole town to find the golden horse when it’s her wish that he should be the one to catch it for her. James says he’ll find the horse for himself to reclaim his manhood. Jocelyn smiles as he leaves.

James searches for the golden horse.

James goes to the tavern to ask Meredith where did he witness the horse but he’s lying on the floor, drunk. Verity says it was behind the Blackwood. She tells James about Tam and Meredith’s conflicted relationship. She believes Meredith can’t live up to Tam’s expectations because of how he left his own son to die. She asks James to fetch the horse so Meredith will know a bit of pride in himself. James follows a trail of horse droppings and runs into Maria and Pedro. They reveal they don’t want to find the animal because Yeardley believes Maria saw the horse by magic. Pedro wants Yeardley to stop plaguing Maria. But James keeps pursuing the horse. They manage to track the horse on a field. Silas Sharrow and Tamlin watch as James tames it. However, Tamlin makes a noise that scares the horse, making him run away. The next morning, Meredith is incredibly drunk. Tamlin says he saw the golden horse but Meredith calls him a liar. James Read interrupts and asks Tam if he’s the one who scarred the horse. Meredith relished that Tam also saw the animal and calls him a fine lad.

James wants to take the golden horse back from the Sharrows.

Meanwhile, Silas catches the golden horse. James goes to the Sharrow Hundred. He tells Henry that he wants to speak with Silas. Henry pretends he doesn’t know about his brothers’ whereabouts but James knows he’s there. He asks about the golden horse and recalls how he helped the Sharrows when Silas’ life was in danger. However, Henry dismisses him. James spies on the Sharrows and the golden horse. James steals the horse. Henry and Pepper Sharrow want to retrieve the horse. James says it belongs to Maria. Henry informs that the horse will allow Silas to return to the farm and be hunted no more. Pedro recalls it was Henry who delivered them to the governor so he might put a brand upon her cheek. Maria, however, chooses to give the horse back to the Sharrows.

Jocelyn tells James he might know her again if he promises not to love her.

Jocelyn visits James's blacksmith shop. She's distressed but tells him about Crabtree’s ring and how she must find it because it could reveal the truth about this man. One night at the tavern, Willmus and James talk about the White Lion, the vessel that brought Pedro and Maria to Jamestown. Willmus reveals the African slaves were stolen from the Spanish and no one knows who commissioned the pirates to raid the vessel. The White Lion was sunk and the crew vanished into Virginia. James doesn’t believe these men can be found. Willmus insists James was once a huntsman. James says he doesn’t want to go. Willmus promises he will. Jocelyn visits James at his shop and reveals her intentions of stealing Crabtree’s ring that night. James is certain she’ll succeed. Jocelyn says he might know her again if he promises not to love her.

Jocelyn tries to persuade James to make the journey upriver and search for the mariners who brought Pedro and Maria to Jamestown.

Pedro shows James the object he found at the wharf and asks him about it. James informs it’s a timepiece called the pocket dial. Pedro asks James to fix it but the blacksmith believes it should be returned to its owner, Willmus. Pedro agrees. At the blacksmith’s shop, Verity talks to James about Meredith’s illness. She says a coward’s death would suit him but then he wouldn’t pay for the crimes he has done and it won’t bring Tamlin back to Jamestown. Pedro arrives and asks James to fix the timepiece. The blacksmith agrees. Jocelyn visits James’ shop. She observes the chains and James asks if she intends on buying them. Jocelyn wonders if those were the chains that bounded Maria and Pedro as they set foot on Jamestown, and tells James about the English ship that illegally carried the African slaves: it was sunk and its crew vanished into Virginia. Jocelyn says they need to bring these men into justice and prove Yeardley's corruption. She tries to persuade James in going upriver to find them. James, however, refuses.

James and Verity make the journey upriver to find the seamen.

James goes to Yeardley’s farm and presents the fixed timepiece to Pedro. He explains how it works. James says he hopes Pedro will always be his friend. Pedro confronts James about why he hid the truth. In a fit of anger, Pedro almost drowns the blacksmith in a barrel. James says he didn’t tell him because he knew Pedro would try to seek them out when they might never be found and he would obsess over them. Pedro believes even James doesn’t seen him as man. James promises he loves Pedro. Pedro says he doesn’t want love, he wants freedom and respect. The next morning, James asks Meredith where the mariners who stole his gold went to. He says they went to Gloaming Creek. James goes to the garrison to tell Willmus he’ll go upriver to seek out the mariners. Willmus says the mission has already taken up with Pedro and Jocelyn. James decides to go after them. Verity decides to go along as well to seek out Tamlin.

James searches for the mariners upriver alongside Pedro, Verity and Jocelyn.

James and Verity find the wrecks of Jocelyn and Pedro’s boat as they travel upriver. Not far from shore, they find Jocelyn with an arrow pierced in the side of her stomach. James urges Verity to boil water and cloths for him to remove the arrow. James cuts the arrow out of Jocelyn’s skin and heals her wound as she cries in pain. At night, Pedro runs into James Read and Verity. James is upset with Pedro for bringing Jocelyn upriver. Verity orders them to calm down and Pedro to sit down and eat. Pedro tells James and Verity they were attacked by a white man shooting arrows from the river bank. He says he chased the man to kill him but he was able to escape. Meanwhile, he lost sight of Jocelyn and went into hiding. Pedro is hurt with James because he went upriver because of Jocelyn. James wants to return to Jamestown for Jocelyn to receive proper medical care. Pedro and Verity want to go on to find the mariners and Tamlin Appleday. Jocelyn wants to go on as well because they can prove Yeardley’s role in bringing slaves to Virginia. James reluctantly agrees. He says there is a lead mine ahead and two former mariners are now working at Gloaming Creek. Pedro assures he’ll recognize the men when he sees them and takes the first watch. Meanwhile, they continue their journey upriver. James is afraid Pedro will kill the mariners when they find them and recalls they are to be returned to Jamestown. Pedro says the men will face the touch of justice

Jocelyn wants to prove to James she’s not frail.

They are on their way to the lead mines when they stop to make camp because they widow is too tired. James says he and Pedro will go to the mine and search for the mariners. Verity begs Pedro to hold his temper when he meets the mariners for they can know where Tam is. Pedro says he has no idea how he will be when he reunites with those men. James and Pedro spy the lead mines. Pedro says the mariners aren’t there and they leave. James and Pedro return to the camp. James says he will return to the mine tomorrow and enquire about work. Verity begs him not to forget to ask about Tam. James asks Jocelyn how she’s feeling. The widow thanks him for coming upriver for her. James says he came upriver for Pedro and justice but Jocelyn doesn’t believe him. She wants to prove she’s healing and asks for his assistance getting up. She walks to demonstrate she’s healing. She asks him to promise that he will not love her but he doesn't reply. James visits the mine and introduces himself. The workers are armed. One worker says he know who is it that James is looking for and gives him Tam’s hat. Later, James tells Verity that Tam worked on the mine for a time until he stole some food and was caught. Verity is beginning to lose hope.

Jocelyn says James lied because she saw love in his eyes.

They are heading towards the mariners’ shack. James proposes he should approach the shack alone in fear that Pedro might kill the men. However, when they arrive at the mariners’ shack they discover them dead inside. Verity asks who would kill the mariners. Jocelyn says it’s Yeardley’s doing. Their mission has failed so they decided to return to Jamestown. While on their way home, Jocelyn is shot when she’s telling James the mariners are still alive because they attack her and Pedro by the river. Pedro tries to help Jocelyn while Verity fires back. James, however, kills the mariner with his dagger. While on their way to Jamestown, Jocelyn accuses James of lying to her because he’s in love with her. Jocelyn says it’s fools, dupes and weaklings who love. James says they have a long way home so Jocelyn has plenty of time to convince herself of that, implying she feels the same way about him.

Jocelyn declares her love to James when she learns he intends to leave Jamestown.

James sells his forge to the new blacksmith because he wants to leave Jamestown and move to another settlement upriver. Jocelyn confronts James Read about him leaving Jamestown. James says he sent word to England about his wiliness in selling his forge to the highest bidder when they return from upriver. He reveals he’ll leave tomorrow. Jocelyn gives him a token - the gem from her necklace - for him saving her life. James is arrested by Redwick and his militia for stealing Jocelyn’s brooch. He gives them the gem and is taken to the garrison. Jocelyn visits him and declares her love for James so he must remain in Jamestown. But he says he’ll leave anyway because he will always be her prisoner. Jocelyn leaves crying. James is released from prison. He’s preparing his boat to leave Jamestown when Silas asks him about Chacrow. Meredith arrives and asks him for advice to deal with Tamlin.

Jocelyn gives up her quest for revenge and power to be with James.

Mercy and Pepper Sharrow are married and the townsfolk celebrate. James arrives at the feast and Jocelyn approaches him. He says he turned back to ask Jocelyn if she would come with him to discover new land and so they might find a beautiful place to live and raise their children. He declares his love for her. Jocelyn eventually agrees to leave Jamestown with him. James Read and Jocelyn prepare to leave when Henry warns them about the Pamunkey attack and they run back to Jamestown. The gates of the settlement are closed and locked. They are last shown holding hands and looking at each other.

Reed, 42, was arrested on October 15 for threatening the lives of Biden and Harris.

He left a note and was caught on a Ring door camera delivering it to a home that supported the Democratic party, according to the New York Times.

Someone who knew the man saw the footage and confirmed it was him.

The letter had “WARNING. ” in large red letters at the top, before going on to alert the reader that they will be “targeted” if they support the duo.

“We have a list of homes and addresses by your election signs. We are the ones with those scary guns, We are the ones your children have nightmares about,” the threat continues.

The graphic letter goes into detail the sodomizing of Harris and the beating of “Grandpa Biden” before executing them on national television.

James Dale Reed, reportedly wrote a letter in which he threatens to beat “Grandpa Biden”, to rape Ms Harris, and to target supporters of the Democrats with violence, according to The Baltimore Sun.

We have a list of homes and addresses by your election signs. We are the ones with those scary guns, We are the ones your children have nightmares about. The Boogeymen coming in the night,” Mr Reed allegedly wrote.

He was caught on a home security camera delivering the letter to a home in the middle of the night. He was arrested last week by Frederick Police and is being held without bail.

After US Secret Service agents asked Mr Reed for his fingerprints and a handwriting sample, he reportedly confessed to writing the letter. In the charging documents, Mr Reed said he wrote the letters because he was upset by the political situation in the country.

The federal criminal complaint alleges that “the defendant, James Dale Reed, knowingly and willfully threatened to kill and to kidnap and to inflict bodily harm upon Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris, who are major candidates for the office of the President and Vice President of the United States.”

Incidents of politically-motivated threats have increased as the 2020 US election draws near.

A number of militia members are accused of plotting to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan who is often singled out for abuse by Donald Trump, and put her on “trial”. The suspects were reportedly upset at the measures she had brought in to try and halt the spread of the coronavirus.

In Baltimore County, a man was charged with assault for allegedly shooting a shotgun last week towards supporters of Donald Trump.

The man, Douglas Kuhn, 50, was placing a “Black Lives Matter” sign in his yard when a truck with a Trump campaign sign drove by and honked at him. Mr Kuhn allegedly grabbed a shotgun and shot it once. There were no injuries.

In Medina County, Ohio, individuals with signs supporting Mr Biden and Ms Harris had their signs stolen and their mail boxes blown up. They also received letters from neighbours that called them “anti America” and “anti God” among other allegations.

Medina County Democratic Chairperson Mike Kovack said they had received 150 reports of stolen political signs.

James Dale Reed Letter

The letter written by James Dale Reed
The letter written by James Dale Reed Randi Bass He told prosecutors that he was “upset by the political situation” and explained that “this will happen … because of the political climate.”

Maryland US Attorney Robert Hur said he takes such threats “extremely seriously.”

“Conduct like this that threatens leading candidates and fellow citizens only undermines our democracy and the principles on which America was founded. We will not tolerate threatening behavior that seeks to intimidate, harass or discourage Americans from exercising their right to vote, ”he said in a statement.

The incident comes just weeks after the feds destroyed plans by militia groups to kidnap Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.


Randall, Peter E. "James Reed." In New Hampshire: Years of Revolution. Edited by Peter E. Randall. Portsmouth, N.H.: Profiles Publishing, 1976.

revised by Frank C. Mevers

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Knuckledusters Were the Friends Of James Reid and Gamblers, Too

Sam Colt did not actually invent the revolver, but in 1836 he did patent the first revolver mechanism that worked when it was supposed to. After that, his Colt company, along with Smith & Wesson and Remington, led the way in producing multishot pistols in the United States. But others besides the big three also made revolvers, especially after Colt’s patents for cap-and-ball revolvers expired in 1857, and after the Smith & Wesson/ Rollin White patents for cartridge revolvers expired in 1869. And one of the strangest revolvers was James Reid’s “My Friend” knuckleduster, a unique pepperbox designed as a pocket hideout gun that also turned out to be an ideal frontier gambler’s “friend.”

Born in Belfast, Ireland, on April 9, 1827, James Reid was a successful “iron turner” (machinist) in the cotton mills of Glasgow, Scotland, when he immigrated to the United States in late 1856. In Jersey City, N.J., he started a prosperous machinery-making business that in 1861 he moved to New York City, where the 1862 directory lists it as the James Reid Manufactory. And, according to Taylor G. Bowen in his definitive book James Reid and His Catskill Knuckledusters, “Reid began making his first pistols at this time.”

In 1860–61 Reid made about 100 small single-shot, .22-caliber cap-and-ball pistols for inventor Rollin White (who had sold his cartridge revolver patents to Smith & Wesson). And from 1861 to 1865 Reid produced about 3,000 pocket-sized .22- and .32-caliber rimfire revolvers, including some 1,200 that could be used as either cap-and-ball or cartridge revolvers that technically didn’t infringe on the Smith & Wesson/ Rollin White cartridge revolver patents.

Doctors diagnosed Reid’s 9- year-old daughter, Annie, with an unnamed lung disease and advised him to move her to an environment with “cleaner air.” So in 1864 Reid moved 100 miles north to the village of Catskill in the Catskill Mountains, bought an old gristmill and for the next three years operated the mill while also setting it up as his new gun factory.

Reid had begun developing the My Friend knuckleduster at his New York factory, and at the end of 1865 he received a patent for it. Modern dictionaries define “knuckledusters” and “brass knuckles” as the same thing. But in his 1989 book Bowen expands the meaning: “The knuckleduster is best described as a pocket-sized handgun of sturdy build with the option of using the fist, which holds the weapon, to strike a solid blow on an assailant rather than shoot him, without damage to hand or gun.” (Pepperbox pistols consisted of elongated barrels that were joined side by side lengthwise and revolved together, whereas Colt’s revolvers consisted of a revolving cylinder with separate chambers that fired through a single barrel as the cylinder rotated.) So Reid ingeniously combined all of those components into a short-barreled cartridge pepperbox that was basically a revolver without a barrel, with a grip that was a brass knuckle. As such, the guns didn’t infringe on the Smith & Wesson cartridge revolver patents.

Reid’s first knuckleduster was a seven-shot, .22-caliber single-action “pepper box,” usually engraved. They were instantly popular, and between 1868 and 1882 he made 10,690 of them. His next most popular knuckleduster was a five-shot, .32-caliber rimfire pepperbox that was just like the .22 but larger. He produced about 3,100 of the .32s between 1870 and 1882. He also came out with a still larger five-shot, .41-caliber rimfire knuckleduster in 1870. Calling all of his knuckledusters the My Friend was a clever marketing strategy, and because of its pocket size and larger bore, Reid also gave the big .41s even more appeal by marking them J. Reid’s Derringer. But he only made about 150 of them before production was dropped in 1872, probably because they were too heavy to carry as a pocket revolver. The retail prices of all of Reid’s knuckledusters ranged over the years from $8 to $12.

Back-to-back economic depressions from 1873 to the middle 1880s hit Reid’s gun business hard. In 1875 he brought out a five-shot, .32-caliber rimfire knuckleduster with a 3-inch barrel added to it, but he made only 250 of them. In 1877 he made 100 more of them with a 1 ¾-inch barrel. And in 1883 he made about 360 “New Model” five-shot, .32-caliber rimfire knuckledusters with lighter-weight fluted cylinders before production was finally dropped on all knuckledusters. “By 1880 Reid’s entire workforce consisted of just his three sons, one old hand and a boy helper,” Bowen notes. In 1882 and 1883 Reid produced about 400 small five-shot, spur-trigger pocket revolvers in .32- and .41-caliber rimfire before all of his gun production finally came to an end.

Many of Reid’s knuckledusters found homes in the coat pockets of Old West gamblers, but when the popular pepperbox revolvers were used in a shooting or a fistfight, the newspapers usually only referred to them as “derringer revolvers.” In 1869 William Beck advertised the My Friend as one of the revolvers he sold at his Sportsmen’s Emporium in Portland, Ore. And Pittsburgh firearms distributor James Bown & Son, in business as Enterprise Gun Works since the 1850s, advertised the My Friend as one of the more popular pistols that they sold on the frontier. Reid’s small-caliber knuckledusters may not have packed the big punch that a .44- or .45-caliber Colt did. But they did pack a detriment to a gunfight or a fistfight: As an old-time wrangler, quoted in firearms historian Charles Worman’s classic book Gunsmoke and Saddle Leather, explained, “To the far Westerner there is nothing so humiliating as to be threatened with or shot by a small caliber revolver.”

In March 2012 one of Reid’s rare .41-caliber knuckledusters in unfired condition brought a whopping $35,650 at a James D. Julia firearms auction in Maine. But James Reid, inventive genius, died penniless, of heart failure, in Watervliet, N.Y., on May 28, 1898. He had gone back to working as a machinist at a local mill until three months before his death.

“It can be said that Reid’s invention of a simple protective knuckler was a humane answer to one of the great social problems of the post–Civil War era,” Bowen writes in his book. “Many years later a motto of his was quoted by [his grandson] Charles T. Reid, who recited, ‘Never shoot a man if you can knock him down.’ There is perhaps no better expression of James Reid’s philosophy, and it reveals a compassionate side of his character often overlooked amid firearm production statistics.”

And labeling his knuckleduster the “My Friend” was a brilliant Reid marketing ploy that apparently not even the flamboyant Sam Colt himself had thought of when he was promoting his own famous six-shooters.

Art History News

The Fairfield University Art Museum in Fairfield, Connecticut, announces the major gift of the James M. Reed Print Collection. Assembled over several decades by artist, collector and master printer James Reed, the collection, which will be given in its entirety, consists of over 1,500 prints spanning the 16th through the early 21st centuries. The great strength of the Reed collection is 19th-century French etching and lithography. Géricault, Delacroix, Daumier, Manet, Redon, and Fantin-Latour are among the major artists of the period represented. Over 30 old master prints dating from the 16th-18th centuries are also included.

The second concentration of the collection is a significant group of over 50 German Expressionist prints, including woodcuts and lithographs by Emil Nolde, Ernst Kirchner, and Max Beckmann among others. James Reed has also collected modern prints by iconic names including Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, and Jim Dine, as well as lithographs, etchings and woodcuts by established contemporary printmakers, many of whom he has collaborated with as master printer at Milestone Graphics, the fine printmaking studio he owns and directs and which is an important institution for artists working in Connecticut and the Northeast. This part of the collection includes examples of Mr. Reed’s own work as an artist and printmaker, which is represented in more than 20 public collections around the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. The modern and contemporary prints in the James M. Reed Print Collection are promised to the museum as a bequest.

Linda Wolk-Simon, Frank and Clara Meditz Director and Chief Curator of the Fairfield University Art Museum, called the gift of the James Reed Print Collection “truly transformative.” Explaining its significance for the museum she noted, “Unlike our peer institutions, whose foundational holdings typically comprise rich collections of prints—long an important resource in the teaching of art history in addition to being artworks to display on the walls—Fairfield has lacked a collection of works on paper. Though we have made small strides to rectify this, acquiring a handful of old master and contemporary British prints since our founding seven years ago, this lacuna seemed hopelessly insurmountable. The situation has changed, literally overnight, with the glorious gift of the James M. Reed Collection, which provides an endlessly rich font of marvelous works on paper for both display in the museum and for teaching across multiple disciplines. We are profoundly indebted to James Reed for this truly historic gift, and for the extraordinary generosity of spirit it represents.”

An exhibition celebrating the gift of the James M. Reed Print Collection and featuring some 50 highlights drawn from the full range of old master, 19th-century, German Expressionist, and modern and contemporary prints will open in the museum’s Walsh Gallery on March 14, 2019 and remain on view through June 8. Several programs will be organized in conjunction with the exhibition, including a conversation and printing demonstration with James Reed, and an exhibition publication will be produced. The exhibition and programs are free and open to the public dates and other information will be posted on the museum’s website in the coming months (fairfield.edu/museum). As a long-term project, the museum plans to catalogue the entire collection as part of the online collections database.

James Reed has taught printmaking as an adjunct professor of fine arts for over 30 years. He studied at the University of Missouri, Kansas City San Francisco State University Tamarind Institute and the University of New Mexico, and had a curatorial and conservation internship at the Achenbach Foundation in San Francisco. He was a curatorial assistant for the print collection at San Francisco State University and is currently Manager and Curator of the Gabor Peterdi International Print Collection at Silvermine Art Center in New Canaan, Conn. Mr. Reed has received a Ford Foundation Fellowship and a Rockefeller Research Grant. His art has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Institute Tecnólogico in Monterey, Mexico, the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, and Goat Shed Gallery in Brooklyn, and he has participated in more than 150 invitational group exhibitions in the United States, Latin America and France.

Oral History with James "JR" Reed (Rྍ)

In this oral history interview, James Reed (R&rsquo81) sat down with Johnnette Johnson (&rsquo20) and Cole Richard (&rsquo21) on June 11, 2019, in Boatwright Memorial Library. Over the course of the one-hour interview, Reed spoke about his time as a football player and founding member of the University of Richmond&rsquos first black fraternity Phi Beta Sigma. A DC native, Reed reflects on the mindset he carried upon matriculation and the lessons he learned upon graduation. He also searches to connect his experience to current students&rsquo lived experience in terms of cultural inclusion.

James "JR" Reed, Jr. was born at Andrews AFB, right out of Washington DC. JR grew up in the Southeast section of Washington DC, in the Hillcrest neighborhood. He attended Archbishop Carroll High School, located in the Northwest section of DC. He played football and ran track during his four years there. JR graduated from Carroll in 1977 with a scholarship to play football at the University of Richmond (U of R). During his 4-year tenure at the U of R, he played football, he was a four-year ROTC cadet, and he started the first predominately Black fraternity at the U of R, (Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, INC.). He graduated in 1981 with a undergraduate degree in Business Economics and a US Army commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Military Police Corps. During his 22 years of service, Reed also earned a Master's Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Information Systems from Troy State University. After retiring from service, Reed worked another 14 years within the Department of Defense, as a Contractor and Civil Servant. Presently, JR owns his own business as a Real Estate Investor. Currently, he resides in the Chesapeake, VA.

Watch the video: How to Hire the Perfect Staff. James Reed CEO of REED Recruitment (January 2022).