LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A correction has been made to this story. It was previously reported that John Wayne’s grandson attended the signing of the True Grit Trial bill at the State Capitol. This was based off a photo tweeted by State Representative Mary Bently (R-Perryville).
Pretty special to have John Wayne’s Grandson John T. Wayne at the bill signing for our True Grit Trail Bill today! #arleg #DardanelleYellCounty pic.twitter.com/kn1DhEyVUw— Mary Bentley (@MaryBentley73) March 21, 2019
According to the secretary of John Wayne’s Birthplace Museum, the man pictured is Terry Hammock, who is not related to the famous actor John Wayne. He says Hammock uses the story that he is Wayne’s illegitimate grandson to sell western books he authors.
In an email, the secretary says, “I work regularly with Wayne’s actual daughter Aissa Wayne on our board of directors and she has confirmed he is not related. Even Mr. Hammock’s own family members acknowledge his story is a complete falsehood.”
The True Grit Trail bill, also known as Act 469, approves the renaming of the portion of Arkansas Highway 22 between Dardanelle and Fort Smith as the True Grit Trail.
True Grit, a novel written by native Arkansan Charles Portis, is considered by some critics to be one of the great American novels.
The novel follows the story of a tenacious young girl as she travels in Arkansas from the Dardanelle area to Fort Smith where she hires a United States Marshal to help her avenge her father’s death.
Since its publishing, the novel has been adapted into screenplays for two popular movies of the same name. The popularity of the tale and the attention it has brought to the state made a compelling case for renaming the portion of Arkansas highway.
According to the bill, the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) will erect appropriate signs along Arkansas Highway 22 between Dardanelle and Fort Smith designating the route as the True Grit Trail. If funds are not available for the project, lawmakers approved ARDOT to accept and use gifts, grants, and donations received from private, public, and nonprofit sources; including without limitation to a city street department or a county road department for acquiring and installing the signs required and maintaining, replacing or reconstructing the signs required.