Jessee Genealogy Service
We are all cousins, we just need to discover how.


Passion. Experience. Diligence.

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 fifty-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 many times over 50 years. This always whetted my appetite for exploring, even living in that beautiful country. 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 was  the editor of a Jessee Family Newsletter, which I published for 20 years. Back issues are available for fee on the home page. Through this newsletter, I facilitated the exchange of information and copies of significant documents. I continue today to do the same through this Webpage, Jessee-List, and sharing my database on Ancestry and RootsWeb.

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 had descendants of 13 of John Jessee's children represented on our mailing list at one time. 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, email and correspondence I have with you.

I do my work with Family Tree Maker and Ancestry on an Apple computer. I can provide and receive genealogy information using the GEDCOM format on by electronic mail via Internet. I am available on Internet at Jim@Jessee.Org, and welcome correspondence via this medium. 

Please Join the JESSEE-List at RootsWeb

The main means of sharing and seeking genealogty help with me is by joining the Jessee List of like minded Jessee and related family members. Subscribing: Click on one of the shortcut links below and follow the email instructions. To join JESSEE-List: send email to with the single word subscribe in both the message subject and body fields. To unsubscribe: send email to with the single word unsubscribe in the both the message subject and body fields.


Family Research Lines of Interest:
Earliest Ancestor (Dates) / Migration

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