In the realm of gun slinging outlaws, his name tops the list. Jesse James, the notorious Old West outlaw known for robbing banks and trains and killing anyone who got in his way, is alleged to have been shot by a member of his own gang on April 3, 1882. However, now 133 years after the alleged assassination, one Four Corners family is coming forward with proof that may suggest the famous outlaw lived a lot longer.
“Grandpa died August 15 at 6:45 p.m.” reads the first line of the letter, written in old-timey cursive.
Dated August 20, 1951, the missive could have been written about anyone.
“So Jesse Woodson James at age 107 went to his death still answering questions,” the second to last paragraph fully identifies the dead relative in question.
Yes, it is the famed outlaw Jesse James who is written about in this letter. Proof, says the letter’s owners, which could re-write the history books.
“No doubt,” Patricia Brock said. She says they found the letter amongst love letters from her father to her mother. The letter is purported to be to Brock’s grandfather, Albert Connie, of Stanley, New Mexico and is from his cousin, O. Lee Howk, of Granbury, TX.
Now first let’s rewind.
Here’s what the history books say, after an illustrious career as a bank and train robber, the gang leader and all around bad guy , Jesse Woodson James was shot in the back of the head by gang member Bob Ford on April 3, 1882.
Legend says the man was after a bounty placed on James’ head. Instead of dying that day, though, this letter claims that Jesse James lived in Granbury, Texas until the age of 107.
“Wow!” laughs Brock, who claims to be James’ distant cousin, “Wow, wow!”
As incredible as it may seem, a newspaper clipping from 1966 talks about the former sheriff of Hood County Texas sharing the very same details about a man’s body he examined and found to be James. The article also includes a picture, alleged to be the aging James.
“I would have loved to [have] met him, but I understand he had 78 aliases,” Brock said.
The family tells us that they have authenticated a signature on the envelope to be that of Jesse James, probably signed before his death. The seal of the envelope also bears three symbols, allegedly used by James when he hid treasure.
“When he wrote, he printed, Jesse James did,” Brock said as to confirm the printed name on the flap.
And they have authenticated the hand writing in the letter to be that of O. Lee Howk–alias of Jesse Woodson James’ grandson, Jesse Lee James III.
“In Granbury, Texas I don’t know why anyone would go to that length,” Brock said.
Leaving this family – who claims to be distantly related to Jesse James – excited to share this proof of his long, albeit crime-ridden, life.
Full-text of the letter as seen in the pictures
August 20, 1951
Mr. Albert Connie
Grandpa died August 15th at 6:45 pm. For an old man age 107 past, he died his best. He would have lasted perhaps another year or so–questions, questions by the 10’s of thousands which he answered just simply shortened his life.
I’m sorry he isn’t here to answer yours too. Frank & Jesse James made dozens of trips from Alabama, Tennessee to Texas and back. We were in Nashville, Tennessee 2 weeks in 1948. Two weeks in Atlanta, 1 week at Selma, Alabama, one week at Pensacola, one week at New Orleans. In June and part of May 1948 we were at Rye & Pueblo, Colo. Not too far from the New Mexico line. Wish you could have come up.
We flew over NM twice in July 1948, crossed your state again on or about Nov. 1st 1948 & JJ came back across in March 1949 on the train. JJ went to Oklahoma twice in 1948, Chicago, Texas and on a hospital stretcher with a paralyzed rt. Side & a broken rt. hip. Could you or Shane done it even now let alone past 100 years of age?
Where is Stanley? I may have some work to do out there one of these days & I would like to hear your story.
So Jesse Woodson James at age 107 went to his death still answering questions-some authentic like yours.
Will you please mail the clipping of the paper you save so I can add it to JJ scrap book, please? God bless you all– Jesse was buried here Sunday among friends & kinfolks–old cowboys, etc.
O. Lee Howk