Heritage, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1988 Page: 27
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by Carol Hillman
O ld folks in Hood county tell a tale
handed down to them about a local
resident who was one of history's
most despicable characters. Some residents
of Granbury are convinced that John
Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President
Abraham Lincoln, fled to this city shortly
after taking Lincoln's life, took the alias of
John St. Helen, and became a local bartender.
This story is generally discounted
by historians, but it's still interesting speculation
among the townsfolk. Some resemblance
can be seen when comparing photographs
of John St. Helen and John Wilkes
Booth, which adds to the mystery.
Local legend follows the premise that
Booth wasn't killed by federal troops when
cornered in a barn in Northern Virginia 12
days after the assassination. Rather, a conspirator,
who had returned to an earlier
hideout to retrieve Booth's lost pocketbook,
was mistakenly shot.
In an intriguing drama written by Joann
Miller, Managing Director of The
Granbury Opera House, and John Simms,
a local author, the plot is expanded and
dissected to present a convincing portrayal
of the later years of Booth's life in "John
Wilkes Booth-the Myth and the
THE GHOST OF GRANBURY
A visit to any community with large,
turn-of-century buildings offers the possibility
of intrigue. Strange unexplainable
occurrences and things that go "bump" in
the night form the basis for supernatural
tales. Granbury is no different. Bobbie
Jordan, manager of the Lake Granbury
Area Chamber of Commerce, has experienced
the "ghost" in the Old Hood County
Jail, home for the Chamber of Commerce
and Granbury Visitor Center. "I feel he
must have been a caretaker here at one
time and he's still at it. He's friendly but
seems disturbed that we're here. He's wearing
khakis and a wide-brimmed felt
hat...but I've never seen him!" she relates.
"...there's this feeling of some 'presence'
...especially when I'm here working alone.
It's sometimes very oppressive."
Aerial view of Granbury, showing the Courthouse
Square (center) and Lake Granbury in the foreground.
"I was upstairs conducting a tour of the
jail and I could hardly breath; it was almost
claustrophobic," adds Janelle Tuuk, past
president of the Lake Granbury Area
Chamber of Commerce. The Old Hood
County Jail could have several ghosts, if we
believe that those who die in a building
have the option of "hanging around" if
they so desire.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1988, periodical, Summer 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45434/m1/27/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.