“My Dear Beloved Z.E.C.”

Letters on Display at the James Farm


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Friday, February 14th, 2014 at The Jesse James Farm and Museum will open an exhibit of love letters from Reverend Robert James to Zerelda Elizabeth Cole.  One of the letters was written during the couple’s courtship in 1841, while Robert James was attending Georgetown College.   They married and later moved to Clay County in 1845.  Their children were Frank, Jesse, and Susan James. 

Other letters in the collection were written by Robert James after he left Clay County and headed west to the gold mines of California, to preach to the miners.  These letters offer details about his travels and some of the men traveling with the group.  They reveal the hardships of travel by wagon train through rough terrain and how illnesses easily overtook the camp. 

There are also philosophical essays included in the collection. They were written by Robert James as a student at Georgetown College,most likely to be used as sermons.  These offer the soon to be Reverend James opinions on various topics, one of which he titled “Party Spirit”.  In this essay he cautions against partisanism.  He begins by saying, “No greater judgment can befall any country, than for it to be divided, by party spirit…..”

This collection was acquired by the Friends of the James Farm, an organization that supports and promotes the Jesse James Farm & Museum.   Visitors can view an enlarged copy of the romantic letter.  A book containing copies of the original letters and essays, as well as typed transcriptions will be available for visitors to browse through.

Given the loving tone of the letters, the exhibit’s opening is scheduled to coincide with Valentine’s Day.  Admission rates apply.  For more information, contact Elizabeth Gilliam Beckett, Superintendent, Historic Sites, (816)736-8502.

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contact us

Public Services Division
Historic Sites

Elizabeth Gilliam-Beckett

Clay County Historic Sites
21216 James Farm Rd.
Kearney, Missouri 64060

phone: (816) 736-8500
fax: (816) 736-8501

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