hammer of freedom
the henry family

by Dennis E. Power


    James West II’s real name was James Douglas Henry, born in Ohio 1840. His father was a legendary railroad worker, his mother Polly Ann Douglas, daughter of James Douglas, slave of the Widow Douglas of St. Petersburg, Missouri.

There was however more to his father's tale than merely being a gigantic, super strong man who beat a machine in a steel driving race, no, his Father and consequently James West II was a member of the Wold Newton family.

Mr. Farmer states that in the famed world traveler William Clayton 1799-1902. Traveled through South Africa in 1818. Farmer mentions his adventures here in brief, one incident tells of him almost dying of thirst in the Kalahari desert and being chased by twelve natives for five days in which he slew ten out of the twelve. What Farmer does not mention was that during his travels he was given a slave girl by a chief of one the Ugandan tribes. The girl was from a Northern tribe (at that time) called the Waziri and her name was Bafia. He had barely enough time to learn her part of her language, and of course bed her,  before a rival tribe set upon his encampment intent on his supplies and bearers

Bafia went down with an arrow in her back; Clayton and the others were forced to split up. Twelve of the raiders pursued Clayton.

Bafia was not dead but merely had the wind knocked out her, the arrow had not penetrated the skin. She was captured and chained. Her captors were slavers. She shipped to the West Indies surviving the horrendous Middle Passage despite finding herself pregnant. Once in the West Indies she was put ashore because of her hugely gravid condition. She gave birth to a boy in mid-1819. Shortly after her son's birth she was put on another ship that sailed into Charleston. She either made it to America shortly before the African Slave Trade became illegal or was given false papers. Justin Henry bought her.

The boy child was named John by Mr. Henry. In the mid thirties, Henry sold his small holdings and moved to Ohio. John was growing up to be a tall, strong young man, which is no surprise his father having been described as a "young Apollo with the strength of Heracles"

Henry invested in railroads and farmed out John as a railroad laborer. In 1837, he bought John a wife from a Widow Douglas in St. Petersburg, Missouri who was strapped for cash.

In 1858 was the famed contest between the steam driven spike driver and John Henry. John Henry bargained for his freedom and his family's freedom if he won. He did win but at a terrible loss. He suffered a stroke and was in a coma for months. During this time his wife, took the family and travel farther north. John Henry recovered from the stroke but not entirely, he had lost some function in his arms and legs.

James Douglas Henry was not allowed to enlist in the United States Army until after 1863 but he proved his worth prior to this by going behind enemy lines and acting as contraband in order to gather needed information.

The film and the novelization of the book has him as Captain James West of the 9th Cavalry which fought the Confederates in a battle that turned into a massacre during the civil war. This information is pure disinformation designed to disguise his true identity and activities.

We can tell this by two very pertinent facts; the United States Army did not have any African-American Officers until 1872. The 9th Cavalry was not organized until 1866 and did not see much action until the mid-1870s. The 10th organized at the same time duties consisted primarily consisted of providing guards for workers of the Kansas and Pacific Railroad, strung miles of new telegraph lines, and to a large extent built Fort Sill. Throughout this period, they were constantly patrolling the reservations in an attempt to prevent Indian raids into Texas. In 1867 and 68, the 10th participated in Gen. Sherman's winter campaigns against the Cheyenne, Arapahos, and Comanches. Units of the 10th prevented the Cheyenne from fleeing to the northwest, thus allowing Custer and the 7th Cavalry to defeat them at the decisive battle near Fort Cobb, Indian Territory.

    One man, albeit corrupt and manipulative, saw James Douglas Henry's gift for intelligence work and with outside aid trained him to be an operative much like James West was trained. This man was Lafayette Baker, whom the second James West thought was a great man; until showed evidence that proved that Baker was training him to be a disposable tool.

    We can gather that James Douglas Henry did see volunteer combat probably in one of the volunteer Ohio militias, that he began working as an intelligence operative during this time, that his talents were recognized and encouraged by Lafayette Baker for his own purposes. No doubt as a true member or a stand in member of a Colored Troop he did see action. James West II was present at the Massacre brought about by Arliss Loveless' Juggernaut; a steam powered tank fitted with machine guns and cannon.

    After the War West did indeed join the Tenth Cavalry and did see action against the Indians but his talents for tracking down outlaws gave him a special status and he was often AWOL while performing missions for the Secret Service.

    In 1870, while the first James West and Artemus Gordon were occupied with dozens of special threats, the second team of West and Gordon was created to firstly deal the returned threat of Arliss Lovelace, a crippled Mad genius who had lent his talents and heart, and many body parts,  to the Confederacy.

    The implementation of the second James West identity was also partially political in origin. In order to placate Radical Republicans who desired the swift and immediate integration of the African-American into government service.  However as time wore on the Radicals fell from leadership and from favor. Racism reared its ugly head and segregation and separatism became not only the law of the nation but the norm of society. Therefore, to save itself from embarrassment and to escape from notoriety, the exploits of James Douglas Henry were "whitewashed" and attributed to James West.
        While the first team of West and Gordon worked together for several years, the second team probably did not, for one simple basic reason; they simply did not get along with one another.

     The singular oddest fact about the two James West’s, there was a relationship between them that neither knew about, they were distant cousins, each being descended from Long John Silver.

    At the end of Treasure Island, Long John Silver escapes from hanging with a bag of gold. Stevenson says "that he returned to his old Negress, and perhaps still lives in
comfort with her and Captain Flint" Yet Mr. Farmer states that Silver had gone to New
York married the widow of a young Hudson River patroon and gained a fortune by
 smuggling during the revolution.

     We can only guess that the Crown seized Mr. Silver’s assets when he was sentenced to hang, which included the Anchor Inn in Bristol and possibly his Wife and their children. If they were still slaves, selling them off in West Indies. Or his wife may have fled to an appointed place in the West Indies where she and the children were seized and sold as slaves.

     Mrs. Silver and her children were sold off in America. Silver followed their trail as best as he could but found no trace of them. Although I am still researching what happened to most of Long John Silver’s descendants of African descent, I have been able to pinpoint a few, among whom is his grandson James Douglas, slave of Widow Douglas of St. Petersburg, Missouri. Although Jim is in the book Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer Mrs. Watson's slave, after Mr. Watson died Jim's possession passed to that of Widow Douglas. Despite the report of him having gained his freedom at the end of Huckleberry Finn, due to the draconian nature of the the Slave codes, this report was sadly premature. Jim was of course famed as the character "Nigger Jim" of Huckleberry Finn. Widow Douglas however was a reluctant and kind slaveowner, she helped Jim to reunite as much of his family as possible. His grandson of course was James Douglas Henry (James West II)

    James West II either embarked on a law enforcement career in the West or stayed on as a operative of the Secret Service, possibly both but his further career has yet to be revealed.

    His grandson Will Everett, became a renown athelete who  won medals at the 1936 Olympics in Munich.  However society was closed to many African-Americans so far as opportunities were concerned in the forties and when he took a promising job Everett found himself an unwitting henchman for the master criminal known as the Ultrahumanite. Everett helped defeat the Ultrahumanite and used his athletic skills to fight crime under the sobriquet Amazing Man.

    James Douglas Henry’s siblings and cousins also and their progeny were some interesting characters.

    Aristotle Henry became one of the first professors at Tuskagee University. His daughter married Bernard Collier. Their son, Barney Collier became the gadgeteer of the IM Team. This tradition was continued by Barney's son Grant.

    His cousin, son and name sake of James Douglas was thoroughly embittered by his Father’s befriending of their slave owner’s ward, using the name Jemal David, he became a bounty hunter whose adventures were chronicled in the 1968-1969 TV series, The Outcasts. After tiring of the hard life of a bounty hunter, Jemal David settled down and married another former slave, a female missionary named
Topsy St. Claire.

Among Jemal David’s descendants are Alexander Scott (I-Spy), Hump Evans of Ralph Dennis’ Hardman detective series, Virgil Tibbs of John Ball’s Virgil Tibbs series and Touissant Moore of Ed Lacy’s Room To Swing. Although not generally known Margo Lane, the associate and possible paramour of the Shadow was also a descendant of Jemal David and Topsy St. Clair.

James Douglas Henry’s sister married an Indian named William Lonefeather and their son, James Lonefeather, served in the 10th Cavalry from 1878-1886. After which he became a bounty hunter using the alias of Lord Bowler. He eventually became the "faithful companion" and partner of Brisco County Jr. first as bounty hunters tracking down time criminal John Bly and secondly as government agents working directly for President Cleveland

Another one of James Douglas Henry's sisters married a man named Newton, their son’s son was Joshua Newton, who became one of Richard Benson’s the Avenger’s operatives Their daughter married a man named Shaft, their son being the private dick who is a sex machine to all the chicks, John Shaft.



© 2000 Dennis Power