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I have been doing genealogy for 30 years. My Great Aunt Ella introduced me to this fascinating adventure when I was a teenager and boy did I get hooked. She inspired me and taught me the importance of my roots and where I came from.

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Monday, January 8, 2018

James Otto Byars

James Otto Byars was born 5 Feb 1925 in Missouri to John Thomas Byars (1901-1935)  &  Elsie Augusta Storms (1907-2000). John was a mail carrier in Arizona and died from tuberculosis 21 Apr 1935 in Tempe, Arizona He was only 33 years old. In 1939 Elsie remarries to a Nathan Odell Staley. 

James has a Sister named Helen L Byars she was married twice and had 3 children. 

James grandparents on his dads side must have been close to him, they lived in Missouri also, and moved to Arizona. His grandfather Otto Byars was a farmer in Arizona and lived to be 72 years old b 4 Jan 1879 Audrain County, AZ died 10 Jan 1951 Avondale, AZ
His grandmother Nancy Jane Lockridge born 11 aug 1882 in Benton City, MO died 25 oct 1924 in AZ they had 6 children his father was the oldest. She died of tuberculosis at age 43.

James lost two people close to him, and for whatever reason he ended up in California along with his sister Helen and his mother  Elsie Augusta Storm she was born 30 Dec 1907 in New Jersey and died 15 June 2000 in Beaumont, CA. My assumption is they moved there because of Elsie's new husband.

As I did some more digging I found his great grandparents on his father's side.

His great grandfather Elijah M Byars  born abt 1798 in Virginia and died 26 mar 1853 in Columbia, MO  His great grandmother Martha Frances Bradley born 1818 in Virginia and died 1906 in MO. Martha was the daughter of Thomas and Frances Minter Bradley. She married Elijah M. Byars on July 22, 1840 in Audrain Co., Missouri. Elijah married Mary Tate on August 12, 1822 in Louisa Co., Va. He married Martha Frances Bradley on July 22, 1840 in Audrain Co., Mo.


Elijah Byars

Martha Frances Bradley

Unfortunately I could not find any photos of his parents or sister. 

In 1940 I found James in the Preston reform school for burglary
 for 13 months for grand theft minority and burglary.  The charges were from L.A. County.



Scary looking to a child, right?

The Preston School of Industry, also known as Preston Castle, was formerly one of the oldest and best-known reform schools in the United States. It is located in Ione, California, in Amador County.

The institution was opened in June 1894 when seven wards (minors under the guardianship of the state, but not necessarily juvenile offenders), were transferred there from San Quentin State Prison. The original building, known colloquially as "Preston Castle" (or simply "The Castle"), is the most significant example of Romanesque Revival architecture in the Mother Lode  It was vacated in 1960, shortly after new buildings had been constructed to replace it. The abandoned building has since been named a California Historical Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Source: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
He appears again 1942 in Folsom Prison for Burglary ID #70381 this number will be his until 1950 when I find the last record.

Name: James Otto Byars
[James Otto Staley]
Birth Date: 25 Feb 1925
Birth Place: Missouri
Record Date: 13 Apr 1944
Place of Crime: Los Angeles, California, USA
Institution Place: Folsom, Sacramento, California, USA

Age: 19
Prisoner Number: 24815
Name: James Otto Byars
[Harry Johnson]
Birth Date: 5 Feb 1925
Birth Place: Missouri
Record Date: 27 Nov 1945
Place of Crime: Los Angeles, California, USA
Institution Place: Folsom, Sacramento, California, USA

Age: 20
Prisoner Number: 70381
NAME: James Otto Byars
RECORD DATE: 10 Sep 1943
PLACE OF CRIME: California, USA
INSTITUTION PLACE: San Quentin, Marin, California, USA
PRISONER NUMBER: 70381

Notice his age of 19








He had a trade a mechanic stated on his prison card.

He also has tattoo of L.O.V.E. across his fingers on his life hand. He escaped and was charged with that along with Burg. 2nd degree in 1943 he was sentenced to 4 & 4 yrs to run consecutively. But it seemed every time he got out he was in trouble again and this was his life for many years. Finally passing away on 3rd of April 2005 in Hemet, CA at the age of 80.



I don't know if he ever married or had children. I do hope he let go of his pain and ended his days with happiness and forgiveness. The later always being hard to do for ourselves. 



I made a Findagrave memorial for him to honor him in death and to let him know he has not been forgotten. 



MEMORIAL ID 186473773

May we all remember that none of us is without sin.



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