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About the Editor

Dear Cousin,

This work has proven to me that we are all cousins, we just need to discover how. Let me introduce myself. I have worked on the Jessee family genealogy for over thirty-five years. My Chico, Butte Co., California branch of the family is descended from my gggg-grandfather, John Jessee (1750-1815), and Frankey Lea (1752/61-1836) of Cobb's Creek, Caswell County, North Carolina and Carr's Creek (today Mill Creek) in Reed's Valley, Russell County, Virginia. Most of the Jessee cousins with whom I correspond are descended from this John and Frankey Jessee. All of us living at this time who are their descendants are about fifth or sixth cousins, or even closer kin.

Of their 15 children, my ggg-grandfather is their first son, John JESSEE Jr. who married Mary ARMSTRONG of Caswell County, NC, then their first son Joseph Jessee who married Cynthia SMYTH (SMITH), then their first son John Tivis Jessee who married America Elizabeth BICKLEY, all of Russell County. John Tivis and America Bickley moved with several other Russell Co. families to Champaign Co., Illinois after the Civil War.

My great-grandfather John Tivis Jessee, was one of Robert E. Lee's officers and served under Lee with his two brothers, Ephraim Kiser and Timothy Jessee, in the 29th Virginia Volunteers. John Tivis was badly wounded and Timothy died from wounds received in combat. John Tivis surrendered with Lee at Appomattox. He named his first son Robert E. Lee Jessee, who became a doctor and prominent figure in Philo, Champaign Co., Illinois history.

There is a family belief that Frankey Lee/Lea was a close kin of Robert E. Lee. This is doubtful by virtue of the Robert E. Lee family genealogy which does not appear to have a Frankey or Frances Lee at the right time and place to be our ancestor. Dozens of Jessee family members fought throughout the Civil War under Robert E. Lee in various Virginia regiments, and many gave their lives. The family reverence for him is unquestioned, whether we can prove kinship through our Frankey Lea or not.

John Tivis' youngest son, Norval Clarence (N. C.), married Blanche Hester RICHMAN of Douglas County, Illinois. They moved in 1908 to Chico in Butte County, California. Chico is 172 miles north of San Francisco in the Sacramento Valley. N. C. Jessee was an orchardist; he pioneered almond farming, water well drilling, and farm equipment manufacturing in Butte County. They had eight sons whose descendants add substantially to the California Jessee representation.

Their seventh son, Earl Wilson Jessee, married Frances Sylvia BROWNFIELD of San Francisco, CA, whose BRAUNFELD and SHLOMKOWICZ family from Czestochowa, Poland are but a few family survivors of the Holocaust. My folks met and married in Chico, shortly after W.W. II, then had me and my sister, Julie Ann Jessee. My father was a farm laborer, my mother a nurse, and I grew up on the Jessee Home Ranch, where I was much surrounded by uncles, aunts, and cousins as a child.

I am James Wilson Jessee and married to Nelda Faye MELINE whose family is also deeply rooted in Butte County's history. We have two children Earl Wilson and Emma Elizabeth Jessee. By virtue of my mother, I venture to guess that my own family may be one of very few Jewish Jessee families in America. I would be greatly interested to learn of another.

Besides my avid interest in local history, I have visited Russell County a few times in 25 years. This only whetted my appetite for exploring, even living in that beautiful country. This is one of my ambitions for retirement--still too far away. My many years of research into the family history of Russell County make me feel at home there. I also have Bickley family in Castlewood, on the Clinch River, and Richmond family in the beautiful Hinton area of West Virginia on the New River.

I research my immediate ancestors: the BICKLEY, ARMSTRONG, SMYTH/ SMITH, PORTER, DUNCAN, RICHMAN/RICHMOND, and BARRICK families; and other families who have intermarried with the Jessees and come from this area of the country including: the BANNER, BROWNING, BURK(E), COUNTS, FULLER, GOSE, KISER, STONE, AND VERMILLION families.

I have an abiding interest in family history. That is why, in part, I like to do this work. I am the editor of a Jessee Family Newsletter. Through this newsletter, I volunteer to facilitate the exchange of information and copies of significant documents. As part of this effort, I will edit this newsletter, maintain the mailing list, and enter all genealogy information provided into a Jessee Family Data Base (over 43,000 records now). I will share the mailing list, charts, or data files with you when asked.

I would like to discover and record all of the descendants of the 15 children of John Jessee and Frankey Lea to the fullest extent my time and resources will allow. We now have descendants of 13 of John Jessee's children represented on our mailing list. This is admittedly a monumental chore. I am giving myself the rest of my life to accomplish it, and may he live so long! The fun is in the learning and the friendships I develop along the way. I am rewarded all the time by the visits, conversations, and correspondence I have with you.

I am asking you, if you haven't done so already, to subscribe to this newsletter. I provide it free to those who request it, but do need help with donations to sustain this effort. Many send me a donation after they check out the newsletter or other information I can provide. I welcome your own contributing materials, and, of course, information about your own branch of the family. If you are not interested or do not have the time, please give this to someone who does.

I do my work with Ancestral Quest on a PC computer. I can provide and receive genealogy information using the GEDCOM format on IBM or Mac diskettes and by electronic mail via Internet. I am available on Internet at Jim@Jessee.Org, and welcome correspondence via this medium. There are a considerable number of Jessee descendants using Internet via America On-Line, Compuserve, and other services. I welcome their participation in this newsletter as well.

1272 Hobart Street
Chico, CA 95926
530-342-2652 Home
530-898-4535 Work

Editor: "Jessee Family Newsletter"
Researching all ancestors and descendants of the following:

Adams Elmira Salinda Adams (1846-1932//IL>Butte Co. CA
Armstrong Joseph Armstrong (abt 1700-1760)/1840/Cumberland Co, PA>Caswell Co, NC>Russell Co, VA
Barrick Peter Barrick (1762-1841)/1895/Frederick Co. MD>Licking Co, OH>Douglas Co, IL
Bartee Evaline Bartee (1832-1896)//IL
Bickley Thomas Bickley (1480-?)/Now/England>VA>Russell Co. VA>Champaign Co. IL>CA
Brownfield Israel Brownfield (1890-1968)/Now/Czestochowa, Poland>San Francisco, CA
Camper William Camper (1801-1844/Now/Fincastle,VA
Chaler Susanna Chaler (1784-1841)//VA>Douglas Co, IL
Deporte John Deporte (abt1460)//Hampshire, England
Dunkin Thomas Dunkin (abt 1725)//Russell Co, VA
Hatler Sebastian Hatler (abt 1725)/1820/French Canada>Vincennes, OH>Russell Co, VA
Jarrett Nancy Jarrett (1822-1852)//IN>Crawford Co, IL
Jessee John Jessee (1750-1815)/Now/Russell Co, VA>Champaign Co, IL>Chico, CA
Lea Frances "Frankie" Lea (1752-1836)//Caswell Co, NC>Russell Co, VA
Meline Simon Meline (1828-1880)//France>IL>Butte Co., CA
McDowell Nancy J. McDowell (1824-1888)//Crawford Co, IL
McKama Mary McKama (abt1780-1825)//Crawford Co, IL
Pequot Virginie Pequot (1838-1918)//France>IL> Butte Co., CA
Porter Samuel Porter (abt1750-1847/Russell Co. VA
Reed Rebecca D. Reed (1836-1875)/Now/Yuba Co., CA
Richman William Riley Richman (1841-1907)/Now/Villa Grove, IL>Chico, CA
Richmond William Richmond (1752-1850)/Now/PA>WV>Douglas Co, IL>Chico, CA
Schlomkowitz Esther Schlomkowitz (1890-1967)/Now/Czestochowa, Poland>San Francisco, CA
Seaney Mary "Polly" Seaney (1803-1882)//Ashville, NC>Douglas Co, IL>Wise Co,TX
Smyth John Smyth (abt1750)/1897/Russell Co, VA
Sonnford Elinor Sonnfford (abt 1505)//England
Stever Elizabeth Stever (1805-1847)/Now/Fincastle, VA Tolbert Lucy Tolbert (1739-1813)//Caswell Co., NC
Tuck Josiah H.L. Tuck, Prof. (abt 1820-1890)//New England>IL>San Francisco, CA
Ware Henry Ware (1848-1912)/Now/Butte Co., CA
Winch Sir Humphrey Winch (abt1650)//England