Daniel Duke, the great-great grandson of Jesse James, grew up surrounded by stories of lost outlaw treasures.
For more than two decades he has researched the mysteries involving his family, Freemasonry, and the Knights Templar.
ED: First and foremost, as we’re all dying to know – you are the great-great grandson of infamous outlaw Jesse Woodson James? That is exceedingly cool, but also fascinating.
Can you tell us more about how/what you and your siblings were first told about Jesse when you were children?
What are peoples’ reactions when they find out – having an (in)famous relative must bring its problems along with the intrigue?
DD: That is correct and thank you. Growing up, our mother would occasionally mention that we were descended from Jesse James, and we heard the same story from our grandmother and other relatives throughout the years, but they didn’t get very detailed about Jesse James and his life until we were older.
I suspect the lack of details when we were young, may have been an attempt to shield us from any negative ideas.
We were usually just told that Jesse changed his name and lived the rest of his life in Texas.
Every once in a while, they would mention stories of his buried gold.
When others find out about our relationship to Jesse, most reactions are that of interest and people oftentimes love to share their family stories as well, which I have always enjoyed.
Occasionally we run into a negative reaction or two, and those few negative reactions have been a little hair raising so to speak, but for the most part, it’s usually an enjoyable experience.
ED: You have, along with your sister Teresa, written several books about Jesse, which I’ll ask more about shortly. But I believe it was your mum who began looking into the truth about him and his connections?
She was a talented and diligent researcher and writer, when did she start looking into the family history?
She discovered some incredible facts, and also for some, some very inconvenient truths – what was the reaction to all this?
DD: Our late mother, Betty Dorsett Duke, began looking into the family stories and legends of Jesse James more than two decades ago.
She grew up hearing the same stories about Jesse and wanted to find out once and for all, who was right, our family stories or the traditionally accepted history of Jesse James.
After all of the discoveries our mother had made; and later presented to the public in three separate books, she was met with scepticism from many people which we fully expected.
Anytime traditionally accepted history is , but when people actually looked at the evidence she presented, and compared that evidence to the lack of evidence backing the traditionally accepted history of Jesse, it apparently caused quite a stir in the traditional camp.
So much so, that she received death threats from a group of her most ardent detractors.
Fortunately, the FBI cleared that up and the man our detractors put up to sending those threats formally apologized and named everyone involved.
Betty Dorsett Duke
Dan and Teresa’s mother and the great-granddaughter of Jesse James
Books by Betty Dorsett Duke
ED: Your books: first up is Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure – this is amazing, it includes everything needed for a Da Vinci Code-esque adventure – faked death, robbery, secret diaries, coded treasure maps and just to add to the mix, Freemasonry, the Knights Templar, Founding Fathers and Jewish mysticism/kabbalah. I’ll let you explain a bit more…!
DD: I often say its much like ‘The Da Vinci Code’ meets ‘National Treasure’, and I sometimes feel as if I should pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.
Jesse James played an important role in this story, yet his was just one small part in a long list of people who have contributed to it throughout the centuries.
I’m still amazed at not only how many people were involved through the years but also at what they accomplished, and while there are many well-known historical figures in the story, there are still more who we will likely never know about.
People who put their lives at risk to follow something larger than themselves. That is one reason I view many of them; along with the societies they belonged to, as heroes. Various groups of people, throughout the centuries who at times and for different reasons, were outlawed or persecuted for their beliefs, many of whom lived in a time when just the mere act of speaking their mind could literally cost them their head.
Coming together, forming various societies such as the Rosicrucian Order and Freemasonry, and using their resources not for personal wealth but to help create something which I believe they intended to use for the purpose of enlightening mankind. I would think anyone would be hard pressed to find a more noble and glorious goal than that.
ED: You teamed up with your sister Teresa to write the next book, The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James: Based on Family Records, Forensic Evidence, and His Personal Journals.
This is the culmination of 20 years’ research and you have managed to prove the previously accepted theory about Jesse’s death to be wrong.
That must have been an incredible moment when your family was vindicated by debunking the myth created by others.
When did you find the definitive proof that Jesse faked his death, was it when you found the photo of him at his own ‘funeral’? This kind of thing is a researcher’s dream.
Co-author of The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James: Based on Family Records, Forensic Evidence, and His Personal Journals.
DD: Finding the photo of Jesse at his own funeral was definitely a dream come true.
We remembered our mother talking about rumours and reports of Jesse attending his own funeral, and how sometimes she would mention how wonderful it would be to find a photo proving that he was actually there.
We never thought that would happen, and then when my sister Teresa Faye Duke actually found that photo, we were ecstatic to say the least.
Jesse attending his own funeral along with the photo that our mother acquired, showing Jesse and the James family at his home in Blevins, Texas went a long way in helping to prove our story, but overall, we would have to say that it was the cumulation of evidence; acquired over the last twenty plus years, that helped to prove our family story.
I also can’t help but mention that the tactics employed by our detractors to derail our efforts, only served to help us in the long run, so for that, we have to thank them as well.
ED: You recently joined Freemasonry, was that a direct result of the research into your first book? How has your experience been so far?
DD: I have – Liberty Hill Lodge #432 – and I couldn’t be happier about it. My decision to apply was in large part, due to the research I had done over the years, and I have to say that I am very happy to have been accepted into such a wonderful organization.
ED: Having chatted to you previously about things metaphysical, and also from looking at your website, your knowledge of the kabbalah and other mystical traditions is pretty wide. Is this something you have always had an interest in?
DD: It is something I have always been fascinated by. As a child I remember reading the Bible and having questions which most people around me were either unable to answer or unwilling to delve into.
I never liked unanswered questions and have always been driven to do my best to find the answers.
That search is what led me to explore alternate beliefs, in an attempt to find those answers, which I eventually found seem to always lead to even more questions.
Since then I’ve come to realize that it’s not always finding the answers; but the search for them, that helps us grow. That said, I enjoy continuing that quest for answers.
ED: I’m excited to know if there are any plans to make a film about Jesse based on your book, it would make a fantastic documentary or better still, a blockbuster action film!
DD: There has been more than a little interest expressed by several outfits wanting to make something based on the books.
I know I’m biased on this topic, but I do believe the books would make for not only a very interesting documentary, but also a very good feature film, if done by the right people.
ED: Aside from your books, you are a keen environmentalist; you keep bees and spend a lot of time in the countryside at your home in Texas.
I guess the pandemic has not made much impact on your simple life, except perhaps stalling your Masonic progression.
How have you been over the past six months – I know you have been busy writing your next book, how’s that going? Can you give us a sneak preview of what it’s about?
DD: At first, the Covid epidemic didn’t really seem to bother me much because as you stated, I live a fairly simple life.
That said, I think the knowledge that I can’t do certain activities, whether I want to or not, tends to make me feel a bit confined, and that is an uncomfortable feeling.
Writing my third book has done a great job of helping me to keep my mind off of the Covid crisis.
In my first book I wanted to concentrate on the treasures that Jesse was involved with.
In the second book, Teresa and I illustrated how the traditional history of Jesse James was incorrect, and we provided his true story.
In the third book, part of it describes how Jesse James had connections with not only several well-known Old West outlaws, but also had connections with and was related to; in various ways, the very people who were allegedly involved with trying to capture him.
Jesse was related to Kansas City police commissioner H.H. Craig, Governor of Missouri, Thomas T. Crittenden, and even Sheriff James H. Timberlake.
In addition to that, Jesse was related to several other high-profile people and organizations which include both famous and infamous figures in our not too distant past.
I wanted to write the third book about Jesse James so as to demonstrate that he and several other Old West outlaws were much more than just wild cowboys who rode around randomly robbing and shooting, but were actually organized, and part of something much larger.
ED: Huge thanks to Dan for taking time out from his writing deadline to answer our questions – best of luck with the new book (at time of writing the title is secret!).
The whole subject area of his books is fascinating and will no doubt become the definitive works on Jesse James.
Article by: Philippa Lee
Philippa Lee (writes as Philippa Faulks) is the author of eight books, an editor and researcher.
Her specialism is ancient Egypt, Freemasonry, comparative religions and social history. She has several books in progress on the subject of ancient and modern Egypt. Selection of Books Online at Amazon
Books by Daniel Duke
Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure:
Secret Diaries, Coded Maps, and the Knights of the Golden Circle
An investigation into the lost treasures of Jesse James and the Freemasons and their connections to the Templars, Rosicrucians, and the Founding Fathers
• Explains how Jesse James used techniques involving sacred geometry, gematria, and esoteric symbols to hide his treasures and encode maps
• Provides instructions for using the encoding template employed by Jesse James and the Freemasons to hide and recover treasure and sacred relics
• Shows how the encoding template confirms the existence of treasures on Oak Island and Victorio Peak and can be traced to a 16th-century book containing a secret map of the New World and the “hooked X” of the Knights Templar
Jesse James left behind secret diaries and coded treasure maps. Working to decrypt these maps, Daniel J. Duke–the great-great-grandson of Jesse James–reveals hidden treasures yet to be recovered as well as connections between the infamous train robber and Freemasonry, the Knights Templar, the Founding Fathers, and Jewish mysticism.
The Mysterious Life and Faked Death of Jesse James: Based on Family Records, Forensic Evidence, and His Personal Journals
A deep investigation into historical documents that prove the notorious outlaw Jesse James faked his own death
• Presents the legend of Jesse James and counters it with the real story, based on family records
• Provides photographic evidence, a journal of Jesse James’s, and historical records that prove James faked his death, verified by experts and civic authorities
• Debunks the 1995 DNA test results of James’s supposed remains
The story of the notorious outlaw Jesse James’s assassination at the hands of Robert Ford has been clouded with mystery ever since its inception.
Now, James’s great-great-grandchildren Daniel and Teresa Duke present the results of more than 20 years of exhaustive research into state and federal records, photographs, newspaper reports, diaries, and a 1995 DNA test in search of the truth behind Jesse James’s demise.