BELLE BANNON SERIES: Historical Vignettes

Real history figures play key parts in the Belle Bannon mystery-thriller series. Occasionally, I’ll offer a vignette of some of the most interesting such characters. Each character will provide key clues to Belle as she attempts to solve a mystery and save the day.


James E. Amos

Belle Bannon book #2 (Still searching for a title)


James Amos was born in 1879 in Washington D. C. Educated in the D.C. public schools, his father was a Capital Police Officer.

James spent seven years as President Theodore Roosevelt’s personal valet and most trusted confidant. The president’s bond with Amos was a bit surprising as Amos was African-American, and in the early part of the Twentieth Century racism against blacks and Asians was commonplace. When Roosevelt left office he became a member of the Burns Detective Agency. After the president’s death, Amos became one of the first African-American FBI agents, where he excelled. James was a key player in bringing Murder, Inc. and a Nazi spy ring to justice.

In 1927 James published a 162 page book, Theodore Roosevelt, Hero to his Valet. Among the most touching parts of the book is James’s description of Roosevelt’s last days. On Christmas day, 1918, Roosevelt left the hospital where he’d spent the previous month recovering from inflammatory rheumatism and returned home to Sagamore Hill on Oyster Bay. On January 4, Mrs. Roosevelt called James who lived and worked in New York City at the time and asked him to return to Sagamore to help with the president’s recuperation. James readily agreed.

That night, at Roosevelt’s request, James turned the president’s chair toward an open window. Though it was dark outside, the president stared out in the direction of Center Island, no doubt lost in memories of the long lazy days he’d played on that island as a boy. The next night, James lifted the president into bed at about eight o’clock. At eleven, Mrs. Roosevelt entered to give Teddy a good-night kiss. Soon after she left, the president turned to James and said, “James, please put of the light.” Those were his last words as about seven hours later Roosevelt died of a blood clot on his lungs.

James’s book is short and offers fascinating insights into the everyday life of a man whose visage would be one of only four carved into Mount Rushmore. I recommend it.

And in Belle #2, James posthumously provides a key clue to help Belle find her kidnapped sister.

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