Is outlaw Jesse James buried in Granbury Residents have to agree that Hood County has some fascinating legends.
The Jesse James legend is just one of them. Legend has it that Jesse James was not killed at his Missouri home in 1882 by a fellow outlaw, but came to Granbury under an alias. He died in August 1951 at the age of 103 under the alias of J.W. Gates, says the legend . Gates is buried in the Sam Rash plot in the Granbury Cemetery on North Houston Street.
Researchers hope to open the grave some time in 1996 to determine if the notorious 19th century outlaw is indeed buried in Granbury.
When the legendary outlaw came to Granbury, the · legend goes, lames took the alias of a railroad contractor named J.W. Gates. He was befriended by Granbury resident Sam Rash and visited Rash's home in later years. When Gates died, he was buried in the Rash family plot.
A tombstone on the grave reads "Jesse Woodson James, Sept. 4, 1847, Aug. 15, 1951. Supposedly killed in 1882." The stone was erected in 1984 by a New Mexico woman who claims to be a cousin of James.
Jesse James researchers are now seeking court permission to open the grave in the Granbury Cemetery. They want to obtain materials for DNA testing to prove if the body is James.
Bud Hardcastle, Jesse James researcher from Oklahoma, has believed for years that Jesse James is actually buried in Granbury instead of Missouri, as historical accounts report. He represents James' three reputed grandsons--Dale, Jesse and Charles James-- in the project.
Hardcastle and the men have been busy since October 1995 making preparations for opening the grave. The James brothers are the sons of Jesse Cole James who died in February 19&4. Hardcastle can show documents indicating the brothers' father is Jesse James son. DNA testing of body materials in the Jesse James grave in Kearney, Mo. in 1996 were inconclusive a· to if the outlaw's body was in that grave, say: Hardcastle. That makes it even more important to exhume the Granbury grave, he states.
The James brothers have also obtained the blessing of three other people who claim to be James' great- grandchildren, Hardcastle says. The great-grandchildren believe Jesse lames is buried in Granbury, says their attorney, Austin lawyer Waggoner Carr.
Granbury attorney Jan Barto is in the process of putting together the legal documents to seek district judge Tom Crum's permission to open the grave.
Hood County historian Mary Kate Durham has followed the Jesse James legend for years.
From Hood County News, Saturday, May 4, 1996