Billy the Kid.
Billy the Kid.

Outlaw Relocation Program

Granbury, Texas

Granbury is one of those vortices, like the Bermuda Triangle, where authority-questioning ripples in the continuum slide and wobble, and you must toss logic's playbook out the window.

Granbury is where America's most notorious outlaws -- John Wilkes Booth, Jesse James, and Billy the Kid -- came to die, because they didn't die the first time.

For example, the Jesse James Wax Museum in Stanton, Missouri, is dedicated to the proposition that Jesse James didn't die at the hand of the coward, Robert Ford, in 1882. Rather, he died of natural causes in 1952 at the age of 104. DNA tests done in 1995 aside (they can be wrong one out of 300 times), Jesse's ears give it away.

Granbury Cemetery entrance.

Where did he live out his peaceable last seventy years? In Granbury, as J. Frank Dalton. His headstone reads, "CSA - Jesse Woodson James. Sept. 5, 1847-Aug.15, 1951. Supposedly killed in 1882." [More on the Grave of Jesse James]

When Sheriff Pat Garrett supposedly killed Billy The Kid in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, in 1881, he really shot a patsy named Billy Barlow, then covered it up to make himself look good.

The real Billy The Kid moved to a town near Granbury named Hico ("Hico - Where Everybody Is Somebody"), where he lived to be 90. He attended Jesse James' 102nd Birthday Party in 1949.

Soon after the real Kid died of a heart attack in 1950, the fake Kid's supposedly real gravestone was stolen from New Mexico and not found until 1976. It was found in Granbury.

John Wilkes Booth mural at The Nutshell.
John Wilkes Booth mural at The Nutshell.

Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth (1838-1865?), renamed himself John St. Helen and tended bar in a saloon in Granbury long after he was officially dead. He finally confessed to the capital crime in the late 1870s. After escaping the Feds with the help of his co-conspirators, he made his way to Texas through a sympathetic South. He is not buried here, because after his death he was mummified and displayed in traveling shows until 1972, when the mummy vanished.

The building where Booth tended bar is still there on the courthouse square, now repurposed as a bakery named The Nutshell. On its wall are painted murals of Booth tending bar and Jesse James about to shoot a bear. Neither is identified in the paintings. Yet these -- along with the tombstone -- are the only physical clues to the mind-blowing goings-on here.

The square does have one statue, but it is of a local woman named Mary Lou Watkins. And a few miles away is the grave of Davy Crockett's second wife. They are distractions, a mere veneer of history.

No, there has to be something big that celebrates the one-of-a-kind white hole that is Granbury. Perhaps a large statue portraying the scene at Jesse James' birthday party, with the three old villains wearing pointy birthday hats, The Kid and Booth posed in mid-"Happy Birthday" as James ponders his cake.

We also note that Granbury is spitting distance from the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, which has proof positive that man and dinosaurs walked the earth together. Some places you just can't explain.

John Wilkes Booth did not die! Murals

Address:
137 E Pearl St., Granbury, TX
Directions:
Downtown Granbury, SE corner of courthouse square in the Nutshell.
Phone:
817-279-8989
RA Rates:
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RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

103-Year-Old Jesse James' Grave

Granbury Cemetery

Address:
N. Crockett St., Granbury, TX
Directions:
Granbury Cemetery, N. Crockett and Moore Sts.
Phone:
817-573-1622
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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April 17, 2014

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