The Outlaw Syndrome
This past May some of the residents of Granbury, Texas, along with Bud Hardcastle; a
Oklahoma-based researcher, attempted to exhume the remains of J. Frank Dalton
to do some DNA testing on the remains to try and prove that he was Jessie James.
Before his death in 1951, Dalton had claimed that he was Jessie James. This attempt
of proof backfired when the wrong body was exhumed.
In addition to Dalton’s claim to being Jessie James; some locals say John St. Helen, a
one time Granbury bar owner, had claimed to be John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of
President Lincoln and some people say that bandit queen Belle Starr once lived in the
Now, this past Labor Day weekend Granbury had a Bonnie and Clyde celebration with
a Bonnie and Clyde look-alike contest, re-enactment’s from their bank robbing career
plus a one-woman play based on Bonnie Parkers life. Everyone in the town of Granbury
seems to be infatuated with the outlaw lifestyle and their notoriety has spread far
Last April, 1999, we were vacationing in New Mexico and stopped in Ft Sumner to
visit the Billy the Kid Museum. While there we visited the small cemetery in the back
where Billy is supposed to be buried. After going back inside the museum I was
reading a newspaper clipping about the tombstone being stolen from Billy’s grave in
the late 1960’s and being found about 10 years later in the front yard of a house in
Granbury, Texas. No charges were filed as the tombstone was returned to its rightful
Was this done as a publicity stunt or was someone actually trying to claim Billy the
Kids burial spot for Granbury? We’ll probably never really know.
Later, while talking to the museum curator, I mentioned that I lived about 35 miles
from Granbury. He paused for a minute, looked me straight in the eye and said: “With
everything you have to brag about in Texas, why do you come out here and steal the
only thing that we have to brag about?”
What could I say to that? I don’t understand it either.
Billy The Kid Museum in Fort Sumner, NM.
Stagecoach at Billy The Kid Museum in Ft Sumner, NM.
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