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Granbury, Texas

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Jesse James

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Introduction

Visitors to Granbury usually come back. At least, Jesse James did. Or so they say.

granbury texas

Forensic anthropologists are conducting DNA testing on the bones of one J. Frank Dalton, who just prior to his 1951 death in Granbury claimed to be the notorious outlaw Jesse James. History currently purports that James died in 1882 in Missouri, gunned down by a member of his own gang. But revisionists in Granbury have long claimed that James came to their town in the 1880's to work on the railroad. They say he assumed the alias of Frank Dalton and soon became smitten by a woman. They further claim that Dalton (a.k.a. James) also fell in love with Granbury and moved back to the Brazos River town during the late 1940's.

Whether the outlaw did or didn't, only modern-day science can tell. But it would come as no surprise that James loved Granbury enough to want to be buried here. In fact, quite a few famous folks have been attracted to grand ole' Granbury, albeit for some radically reasons. According to the local newspaper, an axe-wielding Carrie Nation came to town in 1905 to wreak havoc in all the many saloons.

And speaking of newspapers, Ashley Crockett, the grandson of Alamo hero Davy Crockett, became Granbury's first newspaper publisher in the early 1870's. Davy's widow, Elizabeth, and his son, Robert, moved to Granbury in the 1850's, setting the stage for Ashley, Robert's son, to one day chronicle the town's rich history.

Then there was John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin. Like Carrie Nation, he evidently spent a lot of time in Granbury's saloons. And like Jesse James, Booth evidently assumed an alias. Old-timers claim the fugitive changed his name to John St. Helen before moving to Granbury in the 1870's to bartend. St. Helen confessed on his deathbed to being Lincoln's assassin and has, with time, emerged as a Lone Star Legend.

But such is only a smattering of the colorful characters that make Granbury so intriguing. Its history unfolds like an episode from Ripley's; and just like Jesse James, visitors to Granbury fall head over heels with its Texas charm. So they return again and again....and again.

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Written by Gary Hancock

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