A Lawton, Oklahoma Man Once Claimed To Be The Real Jesse James
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the tales and stories about one of the most famous bandits in Wild West lore, you can assume that you’re at least familiar with the name Jesse James. Especially in Southwest Oklahoma.
His SWOK shenanigans are as famous as Bonnie & Clyde’s visits to Medicine Park. There’s even a kind of museum in Cement dedicated to him. With connections and wild stories stretching from Anadarko to Marlow, the Wichita Mountains to Altus, I think most people learn the stories at a fairly young age.
If you are unfamiliar, the story goes on… After the Confederate States of America decisively lost the Civil War, there were so many people in the South, or among the Southern sympathizers, who thought they had a shady hand, many of they continued to fight for their faith by targeting their political rivals, targeting companies owned and interested in those who identify as Unionists and Republicans.
At least that’s what Wikipedia says about the beginnings of the notorious Jesse James.
The stories about his hooliganism are the things that make the people of the Wild West look at him with a romantic attraction. Bank robberies in the Midwest, rampant shootings, buried treasure and secret stashes in the mostly disorganized Oklahoma Territory. It all supposedly ended when he was shot dead in his home in 1882 by the latest recruits of his legendary gang… or was it?
The story seems to stick to that story, but there were shenanigans.
In 1948, a Lawton man named J. Frank Dalton came forward and claimed that he was the real Jesse James, then in his 100s.
Given his surprisingly accurate facial features, steel-blue eyes, and a story that actually fitted the legend’s narration, he stated that he had set up an impostor to be killed in his stead to put his life back in order since he tired of always looking over his shoulder.
The story went viral and it’s no wonder the local paper always rushed the story to sell newspapers. About 30,000 people even came to town just to get a glimpse of what they thought was the real deal, Jesse James.
It was a quick little footnote in Lawton’s story, but one I hadn’t been aware of before, and it’s honestly a nice little topic to casually toss around the dinner table.
Since I already know you’re wondering and searching the internet for this… According to the official records, it was allegedly proven that Lawton’s J. Frank Dalton wasn’t Jesse James. It took DNA to prove it much later in modern times, but it was only buried as an old man looking for a little attention long after the real James had been laid to rest… but then again, facts given in a Time prior to our current technology are rarely 100% accurate.
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