Dead, Just Like Jesse James

In this, one of my ‘dead or alive‘ posts, the question isn’t whether Jesse James is still alive or not.

He’s quite obviously dead, having been born 162 years ago, in 1847.

There were, however, some big question marks over whether he actually died when the history books said he did.

A treasure seeker in Lawton, Joe Hunter, had long suspected that Jesse James had not died in 1882.


Whilst discovering some of the James gang’s hidden loot he eventually tracked down a man called Frank Dalton who then admitted to being the famous outlaw.

The year was 1948 and Dalton claimed to be a hundred years old.

It had long been believed that Jesse James had been killed by Robert Ford but Dalton convinced Robert Turilli, an expert on James, that he was indeed the man himself.

Dalton claimed that Ford had actually killed another outlaw, Charlie Bigelow, a claim which was given some level of credence by the fact that when James’ mother was initially shown the body of the man that Ford had shot, she exclaimed that, ‘No, gentlemen, that is not my son.’

Dalton went on to say that immediately after the shooting he had informed his wife and had instructed her to identify the body as being his so that they could start a new life.

Furthermore Dalton,a.k.a. Jesse James, claimed that he attended his own funeral and even acted as a pallbearer!

Public opinion of Dalton’s claims was mixed with perhaps a slight majority believing that he really was Jesse James.

When Frank Dalton died in 1951 a post mortem was undertaken and it revealed that he had 27 bullet wounds.


In 1995 the body buried in Jesse James’ grave was exhumed and was DNA tested, revealing that he at least belonged to the James family.

Curiously, the body of Dalton was also DNA tested which revealed that he wasn’t a member of the Dalton family.

Is it possible that Dalton was Jesse James and that another family member was placed into the outlaw’s grave?

I don’t think so but what do you think?

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. catherine says:

    @lou so interested in your information its mind blowing would love to hear more.

  2. lou kilgore says:

    Just by Coincidence, noticing you mention Elvis…I’ll share this. Jackson Kilgore was my Grandfather In Law, Ginger Alden’s mother is my husband’s first cousin. This story happened a short distance from my home.

  3. lou kilgore says:

    The many things that I have concerning the J. Frank Dalton story is far to much to explain in any short commect. I have been studying who he may have been and examined people connected to the story and now have some possibnle conclusions although I am still working on it. I still hope to prove who he was for sure. I also have a new address…
    I firmly believe that Jesse James was not killed by Bob Ford in 1882.

  4. Lou Kilgore says:

    I do think Jesse James faked his death, but exactly who J. Frank Dalton was remains to be seen.
    I think this for various reasons. one being that there are no records to prove Jesse James married Zee Mimms or that Frank married Annie Ralston.
    There is no record to prove there was an offical post mortem was done either [Oh, I know what all the books say] try getting a record of it.
    For the “mysterious stranger” that no one seemed to know, see “Jesse James Was My Father, by Jesse Edward James. He joined the Cortege, served as a pallbearer. Who woulkd know better that Jesse’s son?
    There is much, much more to prove Jesse James very likely faked it again, the first time being in 1879 when George Sheppard and Marshall Liggett said they killed him. A casket actually arrived in Clay Co. The Sheriff said he gave his body to friends.
    Jesse had to do it again because someone was robbing and openly saying “I’m Jesse James”.
    Jewelry taken in a Kentucky robbery was planted with Zee Mimms to prove it was Jesse. Even though the Miss Roundtree whom that Jewelry belonged to and was on that stage was given the Jewelry back. It was left at an old Hotel on the way out of the area as Frank and Jesse left.
    I might add that the day before the robbery, Frank , Jesse and Miss Roundtree spent the day together touring a cave.
    Further research reveals she was related to Frank and Jesse as well.

    • Thanks for such a comprehensive piece Lou, I’d love to hear more about the detailed research you seem to have put in on Jesse James and the associated stories/rumours.

      • lou kilgore says:

        I have known several people who personally knew J. Frank Dalton and I am related to the family of Joe Vaughn of Wayton, Newton, Ark. who left a manuscript saying he was the only Frank James there was. I have been privelidged to have heard comments and stories from many individuals about these claims.
        So far as I know there has been no DNA done for J. Frank Dalton. I was at Grandbury for the exhumation and know the people involved there.
        I have a couple of idea’s about who J. Frank Dalton really was. I’m still working on it.

  5. Didn’t Frank Dalton also claim that Lincoln’s killer had survived too? I’m not sure he was too credible.

    • Yeah I think that was one of many other claims he made.

    • lou kilgore says:

      If I remember correctly it had been prtoven that the man killed as Lincoln’s killer was not John Wilkes Booth by DNA.

      • I wasn’t aware that it had been confirmed by DNA but I’ve certainly read plenty of conjecture that Wilkes Booth was NOT the assassin.

        • lou kilgore says:

          DNA evidence did not confirm that it was Jesse James buried in that Grave at Kearney.
          The tooth from which the DNA was extracted did not come from that grave. There was no DNA from the grave.The tooth that DNA came from had been picked up someplace on the old farm. It could have came from some other person other than Jesse James, besides the family who lived there may not have been a James at all but the “stand in ” family.
          The place designated as “The Old James Farm” is really the Old Samuel place. See the legal descriptions of the place Robert James owned, compared to that farm known as the James farm today.

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