The simplest answer to that question is “not”. I could end this article here and let it be that but I know a lot of you wouldn’t appreciate that, so here goes.
J. Frank Dalton may have been many things but Jesse Woodson James was not one of them. It would be simple to point out the discrepancies in the stories told by Orvus Lee Howk, a.k.a. Jesse Lee James III because he went way over the top when telling his stories of Jesse James. It would also be simple to point out all of the discrepancies in the names, dates and places that were allegedly given by J. Frank Dalton during the time he claimed to be Jesse James. The fact is, most of that has already been brought forward in several venues, including this one and has either been ignored, which doesn’t really make sense to a logical person, or the information has been subjugated with even more falsehoods and outright lies.
For those that refuse to see the problems with the information coming from Orvus Howk and J. Frank Dalton and don’t want to do any independent research then I would consider you a hopeless cause. For those of you that are on the fence or are open to changing your mind if the information warrants it then please read on.
We all know about the exhumation of Jesse James’ grave in Kearny, MO and we all know that it ended in a rather unsatisfying way, with several questions still unanswered properly because of where the DNA for testing was actually derived from. Most of us also know that the exhumation in Granbury, TX of J. Frank Dalton ended badly and didn’t resolve anything.
Scientifically, the best evidence I can point to that anyone could look at themselves is a show on the Discovery Channel last year about Jesse James. This two-hour show looked at the history of Jesse James and even did some research into the alleged faked death in 1882. Of particular interest was a retired F.B.I. forensic scientist who was an expert in face recognition and photograph comparison. In his comparison of a photo of J. Frank Dalton to a known photo of Jesse James it was determined these were two very different people. The comparative analysis showed very real and obvious differences between these two people. These differences were based on things that don’t change in a person with age such as bone structures and distances between immovable parts of the face. The differences were so obvious it is my opinion that any logical person looking at the same photos objectively could come to the same conclusion on their own. To me, a logical person, this would end the debate on whether or not J. Frank Dalton was Jesse James. The differences were that obvious.
Someone could go to the trouble and expense of exhuming J. Frank Dalton, now that they now exactly where he is, and do a DNA test if they wanted but for some reason none of the people who adamantly believe that J. Frank Dalton was Jesse James is in a big hurry to do that.
Now for a curve ball most of you probably weren’t expecting. The same forensic specialist compared a photo of the man that was identified as Jesse James killed in 1882 to the same photo known to be Jesse James. It turns out that the dead Jesse James and the photo of a live Jesse James weren’t the same people either. The differences in these two people weren’t as obvious as the differences between Dalton and Jesse James but there were differences. That leaves us with the conundrum of just when did Jesse James die and where is his body? And I might add, just who the hell was that in the death photo that was supposed to be Jesse James? I would grant you that there is a small amount of evidence that would indicate Jesse James didn’t die in 1882 but there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that J. Frank Dalton was not Jesse James.
This article won’t solve the problem of when did Jesse James die but in my opinion it should put to rest the argument of whether or not J. Frank Dalton was Jesse James, he was not.
I will take this opportunity to restate some information that was previously posted. That information has to do with some of the affidavits that Orvus Howk used to “prove” J. Frank Dalton was Jesse James. Some of those affidavits were purchased from another Jesse James want-to-be when his attempt to prove he was JJ failed. That imposter went to prison for shooting someone after it had been proven he wasn’t really Jesse James.
Will the real Jesse James please stand up? Or roll over, which is what he’s probably doing in his grave right now, where ever that is.
Just to recap, Orvus Howk purchased fake affidavits from another Jesse James imposter to prove that the imposter he was promoting was Jesse James. So when Orvus Lee Howk changed his name to Jesse Lee James III he knew he wasn’t related to the famous James boys. This would make Orvus Howk a con man in my book. Scientific evidence proves that J. Frank Dalton wasn’t Jesse James.
This brings us to the billion-dollar question. Since J. Frank Dalton was not Jesse James and Orvus Howk wasn’t related to the famous James boys then where oh where did all of the “secret” information about the Knights of the Golden Circle come from? Was this from the imagination of J. Frank Dalton or did Orvus Howk invent the “depositories” on his own? Maybe Howk took some fabricated stories from Dalton and embellished them on his own. I seriously doubt we will ever know the complete truth about Howk and Dalton because they both changed their names and moved from place to place more often than most of us by new pants.