Search for the grave of William Preston Longley, Hanged Texas Gunfighter

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William Preston Longley was one of the most notorious out-laws in Texas when he was finally tracked down, arrested, and convicted for shooting a boyhood friend. Since he had cheated death before, contemporaries easily believed Longley's hanging in October 1878 was a hoax that allowed him to live and raise a family in Louisiana under an alias. The ultimate test of the hoax hypothesis would be to find Longley's grave and expose either his remains or a weighted coffin. In fall 1992 and spring 1994, a team of scientists used electrical resistivity and magnetometer surveys to locate unmarked burials in areas where historical research indicated Longley's grave may be located. Team members hoped a grainy historic photograph of the marked gravesite could be correlated with a position in the cemetery. The team determined the approximate location of an unmarked grave that could be Longley's. Excavation uncovered the remains of a tall white male, which fit his description, and artifacts recovered from the grave were consistent with those known to have been buried with Longley. Finally, a mitochondrial DNA comparison with his living maternal relative produced a very high probability match.

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Historical Archaeology

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