From Chapter 4: Outlaws with a Higher Purpose
Both Jesse and Billy faked their deaths and relocated to Texas, but did they change? Did they quit their outlaw ways and live upstanding lives or did they just change tactics? I believe they changed their tactics, in a sense, and toned down their actions. But that brings to mind another set of questions: Were they on a mission? What was their goal? Based on treasures Jesse was known to have buried, he had more than enough wealth to live comfortably for the rest of his long life and set his children up so that they could live comfortably. I hinted in my first book, Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure, at possible reasons for the treasures and what they could have been used for. In this chapter I will expand on that as well as discuss how getting away with faking their deaths in addition to the activities that Jesse James, Billy the Kid, and a few other outlaws were involved in, would have required some form of protection.
One source of protections was the Freemasons. Jesse James, under his alias of James Lafayette Courtney, “belonged to the Carolina Lodge in the Carolina Community, No. 330, District 17 from 1876-1884 when he demitted to join the Mooreville Lodge, number 639, probably because it was closer to his home in Blevins [Texas].”1
So, we know that Jesse was James L. Courtney and under that alias he was a Freemason. Was he a Freemason under his real name of Jesse James? That is a question we may never know the answer to. One bit of information came to my late mother through Freemason and retired Texas game warden Don Jackson. Mr. Jackson’s grandfather was a neighbor to Jesse a.k.a. James L. Courtney in Blevins, Texas, and in Mr. Jackson’s family it was passed down that James L. Courtney was Jesse James and that it was a “Masonic Secret.”2
In Jesse James’s diary, he stated that while in Louisiana with his gang, all under aliases of course, yet coinciding with several robberies in the exact places they had traveled and at the same time, he stayed overnight with a man named Gervais Fontenot. Upon further research I found that Gervais was, at that time, a retired U.S. marshal. Now, upon first glance, it seems strange that an outlaw would be associating with a U.S. marshal but when one takes into consideration that more than a few Texas Rangers and other lawmen in the Old West had been known to have been outlaws prior, during and/or after serving as lawmen, it doesn’t seem quite as strange. What did shock me when researching Gervais though, was when I found out that he was the nephew of the infamous pirate Jean Baptiste Lafitte. That’s right, Jesse James stayed the night at the home of the nephew of Jean Lafitte, the pirate!
What does that have to do with anything other than an interesting side note? On researching Jean Lafitte, I found that, in the words of The Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana: “When General Andrew Jackson arrived in New Orleans in 1814 and prepared the city against a British invasion during the end of the War of 1812, he came as a Freemason; attending Lodge with Governor Claiborne and holding masonic communications with pirate Jean Lafitte and his brother, General Dominique You.”3
It only stands to reason that Jean Lafitte couldn’t have had masonic communications with General Andrew Jackson (or anyone other than a Freemason) unless he himself were a Freemason. That is very interesting indeed, and while I have not yet found proof that Gervais, Jean Lafitte’s nephew, was a Freemason, he was Lafitte’s family and he did host Jesse James for the night while Jesse and his gang were on a robbing spree in Louisiana. With Jean Lafitte being a pirate, and a successful one at that, it definitely lends credence to the idea that Jean Lafitte may have also been involved in the Templar Treasures I had written about in my first book, Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure. I would go further to suggest that if Jean Lafitte was involved with the acquisition of and burial of treasures, as Jesse was, and being a Freemason as Jesse was, that the two men were involved in the same activities, namely that of taking gold and other wealth and information and redepositing it for use by someone or some group of people at a later date. I strongly believe that someone, or a group of people, was most likely the Freemasons, thus linking the two famously infamous characters.
Could or would a group like the Freemasons also provide the protection men like Jesse and Lafitte would have needed in order to pull off certain heists and later vanish? In endorsing my first book, Timothy W. Hogan, the current Templar Grand Master, explained that Templar treasure from Jerusalem had been moved to the Americas to help establish a free nation. He wrote, “There have always been those who have sought to shape history to ensure that freedoms and artifacts could be preserved in the Americas.” Perhaps Jesse was one of those men.
Hogan’s endorsement does a wonderful job at illustrating why men like Jesse James, Jean Lafitte, and others would have buried treasure. They were much more than just mere outlaws or pirates, riding or sailing around robbing people for their own benefit. Their efforts, and the treasures they had obtained, were to be used for a higher purpose and, hard as it may be for some people to believe, that purpose involved helping to secure freedom and liberty, then and now. What’s more, it helped to ensure that certain sacred and ancient artifacts were preserved.
In the beginning, research pointed toward the Knights of the Golden Circle, or KGC, the secretive pro-Confederate organization founded in the mid-1850s with the goal of preserving slavery and creating an empire based on agriculture with labor provided by slaves. The KGC were “a secretive organization created in 1854, proposed to establish a slaveholding empire encompassing the southern United States, the West Indies, Mexico, and parts of Central America. Centering on Havana, this empire would be some 2,400 miles in diameter--hence the name Golden Circle. Leaders of the KGC argued that their empire would have a virtual monopoly on the world’s supply of tobacco and sugar and perhaps cotton and have the strength to preserve slavery in the South from constant attacks by northern Abolitionists.”4 The group was said to have included men such as Albert Pike, John Wilkes Booth (assassin of President Abraham Lincoln), and Jesse. I have yet to see any evidence that Jesse or Albert Pike were members.
After the American Civil war was over, the KGC were said to have gone underground and began planning ways to fund a second civil war. In doing so, they are said to have been involved in burying vast sums of gold and silver and to have employed the use of a template that would be overlaid on a map and used to locate the treasures later, when needed. This template is usually referred to as a KGC treasure template.
While researching any treasures associated with Jesse James and the KGC, I came across a story of a treasure that had been recovered, partially, from a small mountain in New Mexico called Victorio Peak by a man named Doc Noss. Some claim this treasure to have been placed there by the KGC, but further research into that revealed that the treasure likely predated the KGC by several centuries. It is believed by some to have been part of the treasures of Cibola, one of the legendary Seven Cities of Gold searched for by Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. This treasure hinted at possible connections with the Catholic Church via Pope Pius III. If the connection with Pope Pius III is true, it would date the treasure back to at least the thirteenth century, and if the stories of Cibola have any truth to them, then that could date the treasure back to at least the eighth century. The story of Victorio Peak has something to it as it was mentioned in the Watergate hearings in 1973 when “John Dean, the former lawyer for President Richard M. Nixon, mentioned that Attorney General John Mitchell had been asked to pull strings to allow some searchers to look for the gold.”
Another treasure legend said to be connected with this story is that of the Bruton vault at the Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, Virginia. In researching the treasure legends of the Bruton vault, Marie Bauer Hall, wife of 33 degree Freemason, author, lecturer, and scholar, Manly Palmer Hall, discovered anagrams on several tombstones in the cemetery at the Bruton Parish Church. Detailing more codes she had found, not only on tombstones but also in books, she connected Sir Francis Bacon to these and essentially painted him as the mastermind responsible for the Bruton vault and other amazing feats. The contents of the vault are said to hold the answers to secrets that would be of great value to both the world in general and to Freemasons.
It seemed the treasures had more in common with Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism than the KGC. I believe Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, A Worke Unfinished was written not only as a means of expressing his desire for a free, democratic society and universal education but also as a call to action from like-minded souls. The vehicles in which they chose to accomplish this great work may have been Freemasonry and other associated societies.