• Henry James Makes Good

      One of the most curious stories I have run across in the time I have been obsessed with Dyer County history is the story of Henry James. Henry was a black field hand in Dyer County at the end of the civil war. I don't have any corroborating evidence for this other than a couple of newspaper stories of the day, so take it for what it is worth.

      It seems there was a single man who had moved to Dyer county some time in the mid 1800's. He was originally from Mississippi, but that is about all that people knew about him. When the war broke out, he enlisted with the confederacy. He died in battle.

      Now, Henry James lived close to this man's farm. Henry found a tree that was perfect for a back log for his fire. He cut the log and took it home. At some point he got around to using this log. He had made note that it was the heaviest log of its size he had ever seen.

      Once the fire was going strong, he noticed a yellow liquid puddling in the hearth under the log. Putting the fire out and investigating further, he found a secret compartment in the log and it was full of gold coins. The find was noted in the local paper and it was also noted that the person finding the stash was going to be entitled to keep it.

      Henry, on advice of friends, took his gold to Memphis and sold it for approximately $4,000. He invested this money and stayed in Memphis for a time. The story goes on that Henry started educating himself while in Memphis, learning to read and write as well as taking up the barber trade. Now it seems that Henry was a good barber because he was able to continue to save money and hadn't touched his original loot. Henry moved farther south and took up residence in New Orleans. Cutting hair, he met a former Confederate General that was not in good health. He supposedly accompanied this General as an aide to Paris, France. There, Henry opens a bar.

      Keep in mind that all of this took approximately 18 months. Again, I make no claim as to the authenticity of the story, but true or not, it is quite a story. However, if you go to Google Maps, enter 37, Rue Castiglione, Place Vendome, Paris, France, the street view takes you to the intersection of Rue Castigblione and Rue St. Honore, near the Vendome Plaza. There is a bar there just off that intersection named La Castiglione. Probably just a coincidence, but still another intriguing part of the story.

      See the clippings attached.Attachment 23Attachment 24