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Archiver > JESSE-JAMES > 2000-06 > 0960312870


From: David Hedgpeth <>
Subject: [JESSE-JAMES-L] J. Frank Dalton Exhumation
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 12:34:30 -0500


To:James Rootsweb List
Re:Grandbury Texas Exhumation of J. Frank Dalton
Date: June 6, 2000

At noon on May 29 I attended a gathering of about 50 or so Jesse James
enthusiasts who converged in Godley to meet and eat at Richard Hite's
cafe. Although many were of different opinions everyone was congenial.
Afterwards we went to Grandbury and most of us stayed at the Day's Inn.
Groups of us met and discussed our viewpoints during and after supper.

Many of you know the J. Frank Dalton story. For those who do not I will
quote Kent Biffle, a writer for the Dallas Morning News, who wrote a May
30, 2000 article titled, "Digging for the Truth." (19A, 21A)

"J. Frank Dalton claimed until his death in 1951 that he was really the
outlaw Jesse James and faked his death some 69 years earlierDalton who
had moved to Grandbury shortly before his death, is buried in the Rash
family plot, and his tombstone reads: "Jesse Woodson JamesSupposedly
killed in 1882."
But while in Grandbury, Dalton let folks know that he was a major piece
of history-and among other things a Rebel raider with William Quantrill,
a Texas Ranger and a soldier for the U.S. ArmyEventually in May
1948,the Lawton Constitution made him a big story saying: 'We have
ironclad evidence this man is Jesse James. Otherwise, we wouldn't be
giving him the ride we are.'"

The Grandbury Convention & Visitors Bureau provided background on the
exhumation:

"Bud Hardcastle, who is an amateur historian from Oklahoma, is working
with two grandsons of Jesse James: Jesse Quannah James and Charles A.
James. Attorney Steven J. Reid of Grandbury applied for the exhumation on
February 11, 2000 on behalf of these two James grandsons. Hood County
Linda Steen granted the exhumation request on February 17, 2000."

A 1966 issue of the Hood County News-Tablet, related a most interesting
interview:

"Oran C. Baker, former sheriff of Hood County, feels sure that the man
who died here in 1951 is the real Jesse James'On August 15, 1951 I was
called to the Estes Funeral Home at the request of the family to hold a
post mortem examination which I did. Jesse, lying flat on his back
measured 5 foot, 81/2 inches, big broad, square shoulders. I counted what
I consider to be bullet wounds. I counted 32 from his forehead to his
knees. These scars resembled the eyes on an Irish potato. I would say
there was a scar from a rope burn around his neck. Both his feet had been
badly burned. The end of his index finger was missing. There was a tattoo
on the inner side of his forearm 'Tex Ys'"

At 8:30am on Tuesday, May 30 we all met at the Grandbury Cemetery. TV
reporters covered the event from Fox, NBC, CBS, 60 Minutes, as well as
local and Missouri representatives. Local area newspaper reporters were
also present.

Among the people were Bud Hardcastle and his family, Betty Duke and her
family, Richard Hite, Bob Brewer, Chuck James, Vincel Simmons, Marsha
Swope, Lou Kilgore, Fain McDaniel, Jesse James III, and many others. It
was great to visit everyone. We missed seeing the colorful Phil Stewart.
The event was well managed with a limited spectator group.

Betty was interview by all the major TV stations including the Missouri
TV station. The digging went on from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm in 96-degree
heat. The event was orderly as certain invited guests and James families
were allowed in the area. During the dig a wooden coffin was discovered
alongside the Dalton grave. Some said it may have been Dalton's
sweetheart and others suggested that was the real Dalton grave. Oh, well,
we'll see.

Kent Biffle also commented on the Grandbury exhumation project:

" Dr. David Glassman and his team from Southwest Texas State University
in San Marcos worked all day to dig down to the steel vault containing
the wooden Dalton casket. Dr, Glassman declined to say where the remains
were taken but said they will be reburied by Wednesday evening...Dr.
Glassman said he and his associates volunteered to remove the body from
the grave and perform DNA tests as a public service. 'We became involved
to assure that the exhumation was conducted in a professional and
systematic way that is respectful to the deceased,' Dr. Glassman said.
Tuesday night, he planned to gather a tooth, an upper arm bone and a bone
from the hands or feet, These samples were requested by anthropology
professor David Glen Smith of the University of California in Davis.
Dr. Smith's DNA analysis could take about 12 weeks. Mr. Hardcastle has
said samples from Grandbury will be compared to DNA of Oklahoma City
lawyer, Robert Jackson, a great-great grandnephew of James'.
At the same time, Dr. Glassman will study the remains to make sure they
are those of DaltonThe tests are expected to help settle a long-standing
dispute between the traditional James family faction and those who push
the theory that Dalton was Jesse James."

Mr. Biffle summarized the controversial 1995 Exhumation in Missouri:

" The Dalton faction contends that James was not slain by his associate
Robert Ford in 1882. They say that a proxy corpse was put in Jesse's
casket in Kearney, Mo. Some say that the man who lies in Jesse's grave
was outlaw Wood Hite. Others insist it was another desperado named
Bigelow.
A 1995 study of the Kearney grave remains was conducted by forensic
science professor James Starrs of George Washington University in
Washington D. C. A DNA analysis was performed by Dr. Mark Stoneking at
Penn State University.
Both tests were supposed to lay the question to rest-literally. Not so.
The scientists stopped short of stating with certainty that the man
buried in James' grave was Jesse James. Conspiracy supporters focused on
this bit of scientific doubt.
'My participation here [in Grandbury] is completely unbiased as to
whether this may be the Jesse James in question or whether the Missouri
team did an accurate enough job in demonstrating their case, ' Dr.
Glassman said."

A couple of interesting tidbits came out of the visit.

1. On April 3, 1882, when Jesse was supposedly shot and killed, he was
tall enough to straighten a picture without standing in a chair. In fact
the ceiling was so low that if he had stood in the chair he would have
had to bend his neck. Hummm.
2. Treasure was found from the maps that J. Frank Dalton had provided.
(Note: The same was true for James L. Courtney.)

I will conclude with a bit of humor. After the diggers uncovered the
burial vault, Betty and I watched as it was loaded into a transport van.
I jested to Betty, "So what if J. Frank Dalton is proven to be the real
Jesse James?" She smiled doubtfully and said, "Well at least the title of
my book would still be correct, Jesse James did live and die in Texas!"

Till next time.

David

Note to readers: You may review all the past and present correspondence
on the Jesse James/James L. Courtney Debate at
<http://freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~ivyplace/index.html>; or
<http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~ivyplace/hedgpethg.html>;
Also you may contact David Hedgpeth at to be added to (or
deleted from) the e-mail list ("Dave's Updates") or for direct
comments/questions.
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