The Fate of Jesse James
Today, there are people
who do not believe that Jesse James was shot and killed by Robert Ford at his
home in St. Joseph Missouri in 1882. Search on the web and you're sure to find
As some might already know, in 1995 the grave of
James in Kearney Missouri was opened and the body exhumed. The circumstances
that brought forth this rare event was a court order. sought and won by a J.
Starrs. One reason this is remarkable is that at the time of Jesse Jame's death
in 1882, he was positively identified including a part missing finger. In other
words, in 1882 there didn't seem to be a question about who was shot and the
newspapers of the day reported as much.
The 1995 DNA testing on the remains took several
days reportedly because of the poor nature of the remains. The result was that
no usable DNA was found in the remains of bone fragments.
DNA Testing and the James Cousin
Tests from teeth and hair recovered in 1978 from
the original burial site on the James farm did produce usable mtDNA. Testing
showed that this ample was identical to the mtDNA of two maternal relatives of
James.The report stated that the odds would be enormous that a non relative
would have the same mtDNA. Also, it was said that a Clay County Missouri
official announced that the positive DNA match had a 99.7 degree of certainty.
Case closed. Not really. Although there should be no reason to doubt the
maternal DNA match, the doubters contend that the scientific findings are not in
complete agreement with other scientific findings. If this sounds confusing, it
is. One story floated about is that the body buried in Missouri was a cousin of
Jesse James either died or was shot at the same time and that because the cousin
was from the maternal side the DNA would certainly match. The problem here is
that i haven't found any information that a cousin died at that time. I would
have expected to see some record of this from 1882.
Without getting too scientific because the report
issued by the doubters is quite lengthy, the question centers around the sample
of a supposed James relative the DNA was tested against. Whoever was used as a
comparison profile would have been several generations removed, however if the
relatives were indeed from the maternal side the DNA sample should be
The belief of the conspiracy theorists is that
contrary to popular opinion, someone else was shot in 1882 and that Jesse James
lived a long life and fathered more children. This of course goes against the
story of Robert Ford shooting James as he was adjusting a picture on the wall.
This scenario was also portrayed in the movie of several years ago. James was
living at the time under the assumed name of Thomas Howard. The body that was
taken to Kearney Missouri for burial was that of Thomas Howard at the time. If
indeed it was James, and people at the scene have confirmed that, he was known
at the time as Thomas Howard.
If the above isn't enough, there are still people
residing in Granbury Texas, just southwest of Fort Worth, who claim the real
Jesse James was none other than former Granbury resident, J. Frank Dalton.
Dalton passed away in 1951 at the alleged age of 104. J. Frank Dalton's
headstone reads "Jesse Woodson James". There's also an inscription on the grave
marker that say "Supposedly Killed in 1882". A judge in Hood County Texas
ordered the exhumation of Dalton (James?) in the year 2000. DNA testing in
Granbury did not produce a match. Regardless, there still seems to be many in
Granbury Texas who still believe that Dalton was really Jesse James. One reason
this is so is that a grandson of the Granbury man was supposedly a dead ringer
for Jesse James when the grandson was younger. It has also been said that after
dalton's death in Granbury, some family photos and artifacts were found that
convinced them. The problem here is that, if indeed these photos, etc existed,
I'm sure they would have been displayed and i haven't seen them or know where
they might be.
To add to the controversy, and I'm not entirely
sure what this means, but allegedly, and it's on the web, that the late sheriff
of Hood County Texas who examined Dalton's body after his death stated that he
counted 32 bullet holes from his forehead to his knees. Of course the people who
run the Jesse James Museum in Kearney Missouri totally disagree with the
Granbury Texas assertions. I also don't understand how a man of 104 had those
many, or any, bullet holes.
The KGC in the United States
Many may already know what the letters KGC stand
for. For those who don't, KGC stands for Knights of the Golden Circle. This was
a secret society tied to the Confederacy with a membership that included Jesse
James, William Quantrill of Quantrill's Raiders infamy, Bloody Bill Anderson, a
close friend of both James and Quantrill, and many others throughout the south
and lower midwest. In essence, it was a group that proclaimed that the south
would expand it's slave empire to include Mexico and parts of the Caribbean.
.Historians contend that the organization began in Kentucky in 1854. Supposedly
the Knights of the Golden Circle has secret codes, passwords, etc. Some have
even tried to tie it to Freemasonry.
Members of this group were not only people like
Jesse James. Indeed, there were some prominent names that have been attributed
to this group. President Franklin Pierce was accused of being a member as was
Sam Houston, John Wilkes Booth, and politicians from states such as Ohio,
Indiana, Missouri and several other states along the north-south border. In
general, the group, which changed it's official name several times was pro
slavery, strong states rights proponents and during the Civil War, anti draft
and pro peace. They deplored the fact that Civil War commenced. As part of this
platform they of course were anti-Lincoln in just about every
There are many rumors on the web and other places
which contend that the Knights of the Golden Circle buried money and weapons all
around the United States to use later during a war. Believers of this point out
the massive wealth of many of it's members. Many also contend that Jesse james,
a KGC member, may have contributed some of his loot to these supposedly hidden
caches. With Booths alleged membership with this group it didn't take long for
some to blame the KGC for Lincoln's assassination.
As of this writing there are people and groups
searching for this treasure. It wasn't uncommon for some to bury their valuables
during the American Civil War and there are those out there today who have
admitted (if true) that they found hidden treasure. Where any terasure has been
located is a mystery. I haven't found any information where an actual site has
been mentioned.If you search online you may come across some sites which show
rough drawn maps. You'll also find other treasure maps whose accuracy or
believability might be questionable.
As far as the Confederacy burying gold, I was under
the impression that the South was running quite low on funds near the end of the
war and I'm not sure that there would be vast treasures of gold buried or hidden
by them. Regardless, there remains believers that the KGC and Confederacy buried
millions of dollars in gold in about a dozen states. In the late 1970's, a man
from Arkansas believed that carvings he found on trees in that state have some
connection to the Confederacy and the KGC and possibly buried
Some who believe that the shooting of Jesse James
was a hoax, as mentioned above, contend that in later years he drew from his
hidden caches. If you believe in conspiracy theories, it doesn't take long to
draw a connection between Jesse James and the alleged KGC treasure. If the
buried treasure scenario is true as well as the shooting hoax, then you might
think that the man who lived in Granbury Texas until 1951 may have drawn from
this treasure. There is no information that that ever occurred.
As of this writing, there is a question among many
as to what really happened to Jesse James. Although DNA testing seems to
conclude that the remains in Kearney Missouri are truly those of Jesse James,
many people in Granbury Texas still believe they have proof that their past long
time resident was indeed the real outlaw. As far as the KGC treasures are
concerned, some people today are still searching for them.