Frank James Was Not My Neighbor

So, I was doing some research last night and, thanks to Google Books, came across Frank and Jesse James by Ted P. Yeatman.  As you may recall, the big claim to fame of Whites Creek is that Frank James lived out here while he was hiding in Tennessee.

Well, using Yeatman’s book to map out just where it was that Frank and his wife were hiding, while they clearly lived in the area of Whites Creek the creek, they did not live near Whites Creek the quasi-town.

When James first came to the Nashville area, he lived with Ben Drake, who lived somewhere along Hyde’s Ferry “miles from Nashville,” but close enough to the other places that James moved that Yeatman can say “nearby” every time James switches farms.  So, if I had to guess, I’m going to guess that Drake lived near where Ashland City Highway and Drake’s Branch Road [See?!  Drake… Drake’s…] intersect.  Then the James family spent some time at Drake’s sister’s place.  She was the Widow Ledbetter.  I’m not sure where she was but obviously nearby.  Then, after recovering from malaria, James moved his family onto a cabin on the Walton Place.  According to Yeatman, the Waltons lived roughly where King’s Lane and Drake’s Branch Road cross.  And the cabin was down closer to White’s Creek.  Then, he lived for a while at the Felix Smith place, which we know was on a slight rise which overlooked Clarksville Pike and was on Hamilton road.  And then Frank and Jesse both spent some time at Jeff Hyde’s place, which, judging by Google street view is still standing!

I don’t know if this linking will work, but I tried to map it all out for you on Google Maps.

Anyway, the very cool thing is that, when you’re driving down Clarksville Pike, all the lands that Frank James used to farm are still fields (I imagine because they’re the flood plain for Whites Creek) and you can see them just by looking out your car window.  Which, considering that they’re in a fairly populated part of the city, is pretty damn incredible.  If the city were smart, they’d look to snap all that up for greenway and historic reasons.  Think of the tourist potential.  I mean, yes, you’d have to get people’s heads out of their asses about getting out and walking around a predominantly black part of town.  But when they opened Shelby Bottoms did not everyone talk about how “dangerous” that was as a code for saying “A lot of black people live there and use the park”?  Yes they did.  And, miracle of miracles, white people use the park, too, and none of the white people have died from black people cooties.

You could have an awesome greenway right along Whites Creek and bring the tourists who want to see where Frank James lived and worked, even in Bordeaux.  And it would be cool as hell, even if it meant that Frank James didn’t live in my town.


6 thoughts on “Frank James Was Not My Neighbor

  1. You and Barry Mazor are going to have to argue this one out, because IIRC he thinks he has located where Frank and Jesse lived waaaaaay over in East Nashville not nearly that far north.

  2. Jesse did live in East Nashville, on Fatherland, and Frank may have lived for a few months towards the end of his stay here on the next block.

    But for the majority of his time in Tennessee, he was up where I’ve put him.

    And I’ll fight Mazor about it, with my fists.

    Ha. Clearly, I will not do that.

    Jesse is the East Nashvillian or Nashvillain in this case. Frank was in Bordeaux. Interestingly, they both came down to what is now Centennial Park to race horses.

  3. “Think of the tourist potential.”


    Another shrine celebrating violence and death.


    And you can now bring your own gun too!

  4. Well, actually, since Frank never killed anyone while he was living in Tennessee, it would be more a shrine to farming, having babies, and celebrity. But either way.

  5. OK, I may have been mixing up the brothers’ homeplaces in my head. I thought it was the other way around. And if they had started out in the races to begin with, they might never have killed anyone.

  6. My family goes back on Drakes Branch road (north of Bordeaux) to the 1860s and my GG Grandather passed down the story of seeing Jesse ride on horseback thru the area.

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