Jesus in Cowboy Boots

by Jessica on January 6, 2012

There are 40,000 gravestones in the Evergreen Cemetery of Paris, TX, each one telling a bit of the story of the life and death of the owner.  There is no story more intriguing, though, than that of Willet Babcock.  Mr. Babcock was a bit of a Renaissance man in the small town of Paris.  Remembered as a prominent businessman who revolutionized the automated cabinet making process, he was also the city’s first fire marshal and a board member of the Evergreen Cemetery.    He was not just a business man though, and in an effort to bring a little culture to the west Texas town, he repurposed the second floor of his furniture store as the city Opera House. 

 

Not a single one of these facts is what makes Mr. Babcock memorable.  Like many great men, he is remembered more in death than in life, but in this case, it is his gravestone choice that makes him the stuff of Texas legends.  The 100 year old gravestone is one of the largest and most ornately decorated in the cemetery.  But it is the cowboy boot wearing Jesus that really makes it stand out.

It’s said that Willet Babcock almost certainly never even owned a pair of cowboy boots, but that is just the beginning of the mysteries and speculation about his gravestone.  Some people believe the face of the statue is too feminine to belong to Jesus and that it actually an angel, while others believe the statue to be a Shakespearean character in honor of Mr. Babcock’s love of theatre.   The Babcock marker is the only marker in the cemetery that faces to the west rather than the traditional east, leading many to postulate that the Babcocks were atheists.  The marker also contains upside down torches in the carvings, further proof, according to these theorists, that the boot bedecked Jesus is a kick in the teeth of religion.

Whatever your theory, you have to agree that a statue of Jesus wearing cowboy boots in the middle of a cemetery is just plain weird, even for Texas.   Which makes me wonder if that wasn’t the simple purpose that Mr. Babcock had in mind all along.

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{ 14 comments }

Barbara January 6, 2012 at 10:12 am

Jesus in cowboy boots must definitely be a sight go see!

Steve January 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm

People love to read into everything don't they? I don't know what the thought pattern behind the marker was, but Jesus in cowboy boots is pretty cool, whyever he did it.

Lisa January 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm

He must have been quite the character to commission a gravestone marker like that – I expect it was rather scandalous at the time!

Lucia January 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Quite a unique and memorable marker! I love wandering in cemetaries. It's always interesting to see the different cultural and religious traditions, but I've never come across Jesus in boots before. I'd love to see that in person one day. Thanks for sharing this and for your recent blog comment. And yes, I think you are right…there are certainly more barriers around Mona Lisa than when I first saw her over fifteen years ago.

Buckeroomama January 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Like Lucia, I find cemeteries so interesting. What an intriguing character he must be to have such a marker!

Sabrina February 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Haha! Seriously, only in Texas! Still haven't mad eit to Paris, Texas, but if I do I'll pay him a visit. That, and the tiny Eiffel Tower :) Is there anything more to see in Paris, TX?

Laurel February 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I was going to say "only in Texas" and then I saw Sabrina's comment, I agree, definitely strange!

Cathy Sweeney February 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Very intriguing about this Babcock guy! It can be very interesting to visit cemeteries — you never know what stories or mysteries you'll find.

RyukyuMike February 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Well, I guess cowboy boots keep ya from stubbing yer toes!

Mary @ The World Is A Book February 10, 2012 at 12:41 am

What an interesting guy and quite a sight to see. It actually looks like a pretty cool statue =)

Sophie February 10, 2012 at 11:10 am

Paris, Texas already sounded intriguing before Jesus in cowboy boots.

Dick Jordan February 10, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Heck, Jesus in Cowboy Boots would be weird even here in California!

Ayngelina February 12, 2012 at 11:20 am

Texas seems like a completely different country from the US.

Jenna February 13, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I agree with Dick; Jesus on cowboy boots would be odd anywhere. :-)

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