Meet A Very Determined Woman...
This lovely lady is Mary Lou Watkins (1917-2001),who singlehandedly fought to have Granbury's town square preserved, then listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For that effort, she is duly honored on grounds near the Hood County Courthouse.
I only wish I had taken this photo earlier, when the statue was NOT in the shade. Watkins was a relative of the Nutt Brothers, prominent businessmen of Granbury. (Please see my tip on the Nutt House)
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Hood County Named for General
Granbury sits within Hood County, named for General John Bell Hood who led "Hood's Texas" the most renowned Confederate Brigade in the Civil War. This photo was respectfully displayed at the Old 1885 Hood County Jail museum.
FYI: John B.Hood was born in Kentucky and was a West Point Graduate.
He adopted the Lone Star State when he served in the army on the Texas frontier. He resigned from the US Army in 1861 to serve in the South.
He commanded the 4th Texas Infantry and rapidly rose to Lt. General.
Hood was known as the Fighting General for his leadership in the Army of Northern Virginia.
At the Battle of Chickamauga he lost a leg, but went on to become commander of the Army of Tennessee.
- Museum Visits
Is it Granbury or Granberry?
Mystery surrounds the spelling of the town's namesake, H.B. Granbury. His name originally was spelled Granberry, but as he matured H.B. changed it to Granbury. In fact, his headstone residing at the Old Granbury Jail reads Granberry.
Nautie Granberry Moss, H.B's sister, was interviewed at the time of his reinternment in 1893 at the Granbury cemetery, saying "The name had always been spelled Granberry, but because of some peculiar whim, General Granbury insisted on spelling his name "Granbury" at a later point in his life.
As one historian stated, "General Hiram Brinson Granbury was one of the most popular and colorful leaders in the Confederate Army."
John Wilkes Booth
Another legend of a Granbury man who loved to quote Shakespeare. Many believe the John St Helen that lived in Granbury was in fact John Wilkes Booth who assassinated Abraham Lincoln in Washington. He was supposed to have broken a leg after jumping from the theatre onto the stage to escape. History books say that federal troops killed Booth 12 days after the President was killed. However other stories say that Wilkes actually escaped to Texas and assumed the alias name of John St Helen. Some conspiracy theorists conclude that government conspirators helped Booth escape.
John St Helen showed up in Granbury during the early 1870's and walked with a limp. He also quoted Shakespeare as did John Wilkes Booth who was an accomplished Shakespearean actor. St Helen worked as a saloon keeper in Granbury and was also known to get drunk every April 14 which marks the anniversary of Lincoln's assassination. He was said to have taken off when approached by a Federal Marshal in Glen Rose where he lived for 2 or 3 years in a small cabin before moving to Granbury. He left Glen Rose without packing as soon as he heard that a local woman was to marry a US Marshal and several other Marshals would attend the wedding.
St Helen was supposed to have confessed on what he thought was his deathbed. He told a priest and several others that he was in fact Abraham Lincolns assassin. He also told them where they could find the gun that he used to kill the President. The gun was later found wrapped in newspaper detailing Lincoln's death. St Helen didn't actually die at that time and survived. Because of his confession, he left Granbury in a hurry. Later in 1903 in Enid Oklahoma, a man named David George claimed to be John Wilkes Booth and also claimed to have changed his name the first time around to John St Helen. He then committed suicide and the mystery was never really resolved. However TV. series 20/20 and "Unsolved Mysteries" have provided enough corroborating evidence to assume that maybe the legend is true.
It is said that Jesse Woodson James did not die at the hand of the coward, Robert Ford, in 1882 and buried in Kearney, MO. Rather he moved to Granbury as J Frank Dalton and died of natural causes in 1952 at the age of 103.
Billy The Kid who lived in the nearby town of Hico TX where he lived until 90 years of age, was said to have attended Jess James’ 102 birthday party in 1949. It is said in 1951, the Hood County Sheriff Oran C. Baker was summoned to identify a blind Granbury man (J Frank Dalton) who had just died from a bout of pneumonia. One look at the body left Baker certain the man was 103-year-old Jesse James. He noted several sure-fire identifying marks which included 33 scars left by bullet wounds, a conspicuous scar on Dalton's neck which Baker claimed was the same type of scar that would have been left by the rope that a 16-year-old James had briefly hung from before making a amazing escape. Also, the body had several burn marks on his feet, which would back up stories that the Yankees had charred Jesse James' soles in a tormenting effort to have him reveal where his brother Frank might be hiding. Sheriff Baker provided the final word on identification and the court house filed a certificate listing the deceased as Jesse Woodson James.
Some 50 years later forensic anthropologists exhumed Frank Dalton's bones from the Granbury Cemetery and conducted a DNA testing which determined that J. Frank Dalton was indeed the notorious Jesse James.. There will always be people in Missouri however that will dispute that fact.
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