History

Jesus in Cowboy Boots: The Most Unusual Grave Marker in Texas?

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Evergreen Cemetery is located in Paris, Texas. Of the 40K grave markers located there, one stands out, not simply due to its height, but due to the fact that the 15-foot tall statue, which many people say represents Jesus, is wearing cowboy boots. It’s impressive by any standards, but so much more because it’s a Texas gravesite for a non-Native Texan. It belongs to Willet Babcock.

Babcock was originally from Ithaca, New York, and fought for the Union side as a lieutenant in the Civil War. His livelihood, however, was making furnishings and caskets. He was a well-respected man of his trade who established his factory and store in Paris. Around town, he was known for his humor and his love of entertainment and fun. Doubling as the town Opera House, his furniture store could seat 1,200 on its second floor. Prior to his death, in 1881, Babcock ordered the remarkable memorial from Gustave Klein, a German immigrant to Texas who was a master stone carver. He had a reputation for carving some of Evergreen Cemetery’s more decorative grave markers. It seems he went above-and-beyond for Babcock, who ordered a little something reflective of his love of the Lone Star State. His Jesus figure was carved wearing cowboy boots.

Jesus in Cowboy Boots: The Most Unusual Grave Marker in Texas?

Photo: Facebook/Daughters of the Republic of Texas

Now, some debate as to whether the statue truly is the likeness of Jesus. There’s even a question as to whether it’s a man or a woman, due to the lack of facial hair. In addition, as opposed to carrying the cross, the statue is leaning on it. But whomever the robe-clad grave marker of Willet Babcock truly represents, it has long had the moniker of “Jesus in Cowboy Boots.” If you’re curious and would like to see the final resting place of the man who loved his life, his work, and his community, you can visit the Evergreen Cemetery on the south side of Paris, Texas. His gravesite is hard to miss. In so doing, the cemetery requests that you remain respectful of your surroundings but hopes that you enjoy this monument as much as those many others who have become fond of it.