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Jesus in Cowboy Boots

Approximately 40,000 graves in Evergreen Cemetery, and the headstone of a small-town furniture maker gets all the attention. Word of mouth brings people from near and far just to find the grave they’ve heard so much about. They don’t know who’s buried there, they just know what’s supposed to be standing over him. They want to know if the rumors are true. They want to see the Jesus in the cowboy boots.

Willet Babcock, the man underground, was originally from New York. He owned two factories, one in Paris, Texas, the other in nearby Clarksville.

A pioneer in plant automation, Babcock was instrumental in turning Paris into the cabinetmaking center of Texas in the 1870s. Plus, he reportedly helped charter the Paris and Great Northern Railroad Company, for which he sat on the first board of directors. He was also a board member for Evergreen Cemetery, according to an employee there, where Babcock retired for good in 1881. His wife Belinda was interred next to him 28 years later.

Of course, nobody’s aware of any of this because … well, it all falls by the wayside once you stick Christ in a pair of snakeskins.

The truth is, no one’s sure that’s actually Jesus up there on the Babcocks’ pedestal. Some think he looks a little too feminine. Besides, closer inspection shows the individual isn’t carrying a cross, just leaning on one.

According to Jim Blassingame, superintendent at Evergreen, a lot of people think the figure is just an angel. Since the cross appears to be standing atop its own pedestal, it looks as though he – or she – is mourning over a grave.

Also, adds Jim, there’s a local historian with the theory that it’s really a Shakespearean character up there, as Babcock was supposedly an admirer. Which character that would be is unclear.
Regardless, none of those folks would typically be the sort to buy their footwear at Sheplers. So, what’s the story?

There are a few who think the Babcocks were atheists. Evidently, theirs is the only marker in the cemetery with a statue that isn’t facing east. Plus, being that anything upside-down is a sure sign of godlessness, the atheism theorists like to point out the inverted torches carved into the pedestal’s base. The Justin Ropers are apparently the kickers, so to speak––just a final act of blasphemy, like putting the Virgin Mary in a Stetson.

Superintendent Jim has his own hypothesis. “I think the man had a sense of humor about the whole thing and that’s why he set it up that way, so it would give everybody something to work on. … Had the man died today, you would probably see the same statue up there with Nikes. He was just a pretty cool guy.”

Weird Texas


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