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“Jesus in Cowboy Boots”

“Jesus in Cowboy Boots”
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FORT WORTH STAR TELEGRAM (no date recorded)- 'BOOTED, BUT... JESUS?- By Mike Menichini- Star-Telegram Writer. Paris- In Paris, Texas, they call it the 'Jesus in Cowboy Boots.' But it is debatable whether the marble sculpture in Evergreen Cemetery is really meant to be Jesus Christ. What is not debatable, however, is that the otherwise typical Biblical figure depicted is wearing cowboy boots and boot-cut pants. 'I don't think it's Jesus,' said Elizabeth Booth, Paris historian who has become the unofficial authority on the monument. 'It's just a Biblical figure, not Saint Michael or any of those but probably, an angel But everybody calls it Jesus in Cowboy Boots.' The figure, with its long hair and flowing gown, is leaning against a sculptured cross. It has a sullen, weary expression. The monument was commissioned for the Babcock family plot by Willet Babcock in 1880. The monument is believed to be the work of Gustov Klien, a German immigrant who worked here for the North Texas Marble Works. Klien's name is carved into the base of the monument, Mrs. Booth said. The work which cost the Babcock family $2,500 was completed in 1882, one year after Babcock died, she said. 'But why he put the boots on there I can't tell you. I just couldn't associate cowboy boots with the man (Babcock),' she said. Babcock, who was 52 when he died was a prominent business and civic leader. He was a dealer in fine furniture, and built the Babcock Opera House In 1880, a year before he died. The upper floor was used for performances, the lower for display of big furniture. 'Only the sure-enough cowboys wore boots in those days,' Mrs. Booth said. 'As one of those (business leaders), you wouldn't think he would wear boots.' (Please see Historian on Page 2. Continued from Page 1) HISTORIAN DOUBTS STATUE IS CHRIST- Jim Blassingame, 39, is assistant director of the cemetery. Blassingame's father is the director, as was his grandfather and great-grandfather. He said Babcock commissioned the work after his brother, Caleb, died in 1880 at the age of 48. But it is uncertain whether Babcock had the boots added to the sculpture as some unknown testimonial to his brother or if Klien added them himself after Willet Babcock died. 'I wouldn't even try to guess on that,' said Mrs. Booth. Blassingame said there are other things about the monument that has piqued curiosity. 'It is the only Biblical figure in the cemetery that faces a direction other than east,' he said. It faces, a generally northern direction. 'Some people say that meant they were atheist, but they weren't. Mrs. Booth said those rumors may have started because the Babcock Plot is located near a plot of an avowed atheist. Residents may have the two confused, she said. Gustov Klien died in 1884. He also was buried in Evergreen Cemetery. His monument also has a Biblical figure, but without cowboy boots. His employer provided the monument for less than $100, Mrs. Booth said. Shortly after World War One, Paris Mayor J. W. DeWees received a letter from some people in Germany who claimed they were Klien's relatives. They said the war had left them destitute and asked the city to sell Klien's monument and send them the proceeds. Their request was denied, but a collection was taken up and an undetermined amount of money was sent to Germany, Mrs. Booth said. The Babcock monument has suffered more at the hands of souvenir hunters than the weather over the years, Blassingame said. 'They're the same kind of people that go to Pike's Peak and pick up rocks,' he said. Several years ago, the monument even served as the drop point for a drug deal. Arrests were made in the incidence Blassingame said. Mrs. Booth, 60, became interested in the Evergreen Cemetery monuments while researching her husband's genealogy in 1969. Her interest grew, and she began gathering material on other families with roots in Paris' history. She also has given lectures on the town's history and helped to catalog a history of the county for the public library. 'It's something that's been going on for a long time in the East and up North, but around here it was still pretty new,' she said. Her hobby was considered somewhat unusual then- like cowboy boots on Jesus.'
Date: 2018-01-05 01:32:00

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