Legacies and Legends
As soon as you make the turn into the historic Downtown Granbury Square, it’s easy to see why Granbury’s motto is “Where Texas History Lives.” From the grand Hood County Courthouse, front and center, to its well-preserved and maintained 19th Century storefronts, Granbury’s pride for its past is on full display.
Where Texas History Lives
Founded in 1860 the town was named for Brigadier General Hiram B. Granbury (also spelled Granberry), commanding officer of Granbury’s Texas Brigade in the Confederate States Army. Over the years, the town has been home to colorful characters, past and present, real and rumored. As a frontier town, Granbury counted among its residents Elizabeth Patton Crockett, widow of David Crockett who perished in the Battle of the Alamo. She moved to the area with her son Robert to take advantage of land grants provided to the heirs of those who fought for Texas. Descendents of the Crocketts still live in the area to this day.
According to legend, President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth, and outlaw Jesse James were also both Granbury residents. Although both had been declared dead, some say they actually cheated death and lived in Granbury under assumed names. Following his assassination of Lincoln, it was rumored that a Booth look-a-like was actually killed while Booth fled to Granbury where he lived as John St. Helen and worked as an actor and bartender. Booth—or St. Helen—was said to favor his left leg thanks to an injury that was whispered to have occurred when he leaped from the balcony onto the stage below after shooting the president. Following an illness, he reportedly made what he thought was a deathbed confession, only to escape death once again and, upon recovery, beat a hasty retreat from Granbury for good. Like Booth, legend says that the body of an associate of James was mistaken for the outlaw’s, and James escaped to Granbury where he lived out his life as J. Frank Dalton, only declaring his true identity right before dying (for good, this time) in 1951. An autopsy was conducted and Hood County Sheriff Oran Baker alleged that the man who died in Granbury was the real Jesse James.
Living Texas History
More of Granbury’s rich history is revealed at its 40-plus historic sites, including its iconic downtown, which was the first town square in Texas to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.