By David May
Sometimes when you step into a spotlight, it can shine too bright.
That is what James Bishop is learning, and might explain his initial reluctance to be associated with what is being hailed as the “Alvis Delk Cretaceous Footprint” discovery.
Amateur archeologists and experienced Indian artifacts hunters Alvis Delk, 72, a former Mineral Wells resident who now resides in Stephenville, Texas, and Bishop, 70, also of Stephenville, were reportedly on one their hunts in July 2000 when Delk came across a large piece of limestone alongside a creek off the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas.
Delk saw a dinosaur track in the stone, so he and Bishop carried it off. Delk said he placed the stone off to the side and essentially ignored it for eight years, when this past May he brushed it and uncovered a human footprint in the stone. More than that, the prints indicate the human print was made first, and the dinosaur print second, with the dinosaur print stepping and intruding into the human print.
If genuine, the stone would overturn virtually all conventional scientific thinking and theories that say man and dinosaur did not walk the Earth together, separated in existence by tens of millions of years.
The stone seems to have passed one test - that the prints were not made by etching or carving them into the rock. That, at least, is the contention of the man now in possession of the rock, Carl Baugh of the Creation Evidence Museum, based on CAT scan images made at Glen Rose Medical Facility. Last week, the head of Palo Pinto General Hospital's radiology unit, Dr. Charles Myer, agreed that the scans show the rock's material was compressed when it was soft, leaving the question of - when was it soft?
Delk and Bishop were celebrated and applauded at an Aug. 2 lecture at the Creation Evidence Museum.
Then a column in Sunday's Fort Worth Star -Telegram mentioned in one quick sentence that Bishop was convicted of murder in Eastland County. The column gave no other information about the conviction.
Contacted by the Index on Monday, the 70-year-old Bishop acknowledged the murder conviction, and said its revelation in the Star-Telegram “was not good.”
Bishop admitted he was convicted in September 1970 of murder. In fact, according to Eastland County documents, he was convicted of murder “with malice and forethought” and sentenced to 55 years. Bishop said he served 17 years and was paroled. He emerged from prison in 1987.
“In a nutshell, I went rabbit hunting late one evening, and was goofing around, and my gun went off and I shot a man. I got scared and tried hide the body,” Bishop told the Index. “I got picked up for something else and I told them about it. I felt it was a good time to tell them about it.”
Because he initially tried to conceal the incident, Bishop said authorities would never believe him when he said he tried to tell the truth.
He said he was hunting alone, and when the gun went off, “the bullet went through (the man's) house. When I went to apologize to the people, and I found him dead.”
Bishop, though, said inside the man's house was evidence it had been ransacked. He said authorities did not attempt to prove whether it was actually Bishop's gun that killed him.
“If it was me, I accidentally did it,” he said.
Bishop said he has been discharged from his parole. He said when he went to prison, he had two daughters, one about 5 years old and the other a baby.
“They were grown and married and had kids when I got out,” he said. “I've lived it down. I've made a good name for myself.”
Meanwhile, Delk on Monday explained to the Index similar comments by two people who came forward with stories about the man who said he lived in Mineral Wells from 1950-69 and whose family owned land adjacent to the Elmer Seybold ranch.
Both individuals who spoke to the Index said when Delk - known growing up as “Chief” - was a teenager he was not only an avid hunter of arrowheads, he was a great maker of arrowheads, known as knapping. They said Delk would make arrowheads to appear authentic - including burying them in the ground for short periods - and sell them as real, including duping Seybold into thinking he was buying authentic Indian arrowheads. Both said Delk bragged about it.
But Delk denied those stories. He said he and Seybold were very close.
“Elmer Seybold was like a dad to me. He took me under his arm,” said Delk. “Lord no. I was liked by everybody in that town.”
Delk didn't deny he was pretty adept in his knapping skills.
“I could make them pretty good when I wanted to, when I would heat them,” he said.
Delk said what actually happened is the late Seybold, as he awaited a new round of out-of-town or out-of-state guests to his ranch just northwest of Mineral Wells, he would ask Delk to make some arrowheads and throw them out along horseback riding trails to let them find, take home and use as conversation pieces, about the real Indian arrowheads they had found.
“He would say, 'Chief, make me up about 20 or 30. I want to give them to people.' I was making them for people coming out of Dallas or Fort Worth. They were people coming from all over, from Dallas, or Washington state.”
This was a time when Mineral Wells still experiencing a healthy tourist trade as a health spa resort.
“He told me to go throw them around so they could find them,” Delk said. “The last time I threw any out was in 1956. They found them out here in Wild West Texas. I never charged Mr. Seybold, oh no. I just made them for the fun of it.”
He said he rarely sold or gave away any of the real arrowheads he found, and now claims to have a collection of more than 40,000 arrowheads. “I kept them, but I'd give them to friends. Most of the time I'd give them to kids.”
Delk said he was known as “Chief” because he never wore a shirt or hat. “I was red as an Indian. My mother was Cherokee and Choctaw.”
He said Seybold use to ask him to take groups horseback riding along the Brazos. “But I never rode a horse. I'd run. I use to run everywhere.”
He said he knows that he and Seybold were close to each other - like father and son. “You had to be something to have Elmer Seybold like you. I wish he was here so he could tell you.”
Delk said he has known of Bishop since the early 1960s, but he said they became good friends after Bishop was released from prison and they have hunted for arrowheads, fossils and other artifacts together since.
“Treat a person with respect is what I've been told,” he said. “He'll tell you the truth. Friends trust friends. That's how I was raised.”
Delk said neither story about he or Bishop take away from what he says is the truth - he found the limestone with the prints and he and Bishop carried it off. He has no doubt the stone is legitimate and not a fake.
“I don't think so, because of where it come from and the way the water had pushed it up from that big old pile of (rocks),” he said. “The same kind of rock is down there and shows it to be the same color of rock.”
He took Baugh to the place where he said they found the stone, and Baugh and a team of volunteers conducted more excavations in the area hoping to find similar prints.
“They were looking for some more of them,” said Delk. “I think we found some more, but the man who owns the property has fenced it off and put a no trespassing sign up. But now when Dr. Baugh goes down there he pays the man so he can go on the property and look.”
Mineral Wells Index, August 12, 2008
By David May
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