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Tombstone's Boot Hill

 

Tombstone, Arizona Boot Hill Graveyard

Tombstone's Boothill, 1940.

 

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Clanton and McLaury Graves, Tombstone Boot Hill

McLaury and Clanton Graves at Boot Hill Graveyard, Kathy Weiser.

This image available for photographic prints HERE!

 

 

One of the most famous cemeteries in the country, Boot Hill Graveyard was originally platted on a slight hill just northwest of Tombstone in 1878 and called the "Tombstone Cemetery."  It was used for all burials until 1884, when a new " Cemetery” was built at the end of Allen Street, when it then took on the name, the " Old Cemetery.”

 

   

Like other cemeteries of the day, it had separate locations for the Chinese and Jewish to be buried. It was during these years, that Tombstone was in its heydays, and also at its most lawless. More than 300 people were thought to have been buried here, though only about 250 graves appear today. Here, the markers tell a partial story of Tombstone's lurid past with the graves of Frank and Tom McLaury, and Billy Clanton killed at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, as well as "Old Man" Clanton who headed the Cowboy faction.

Also here are Marshal Fred White, Tombstone's first marshal, who was accidentally killed by a blast from Curly Bill Brocius’ gun; an unfortunate soul by the name of George Johnson who was hanged by mistake; five men hanged for the vicious killings labeled the "Bisbee Massacre;" gunfighter, Charlie Storms who was killed by Luke Short; and dozens more, ranging from prospectors, to outlaws, lawmen, and prostitutes. Of some who were laid to rest here, their names were never known or were only known by a nickname.

When the "new” cemetery was opened, a few continued to be buried here, but the vast majority were laid to rest at the newer graveyard. After a period of time, the old cemetery fell into disrepair and its graves neglected. It’s original grave markers, made of wood with carved or painted inscriptions, decayed under the elements. Others were stolen by souvenir hunters.

It wasn’t until 1923, that the city began to contact several residents to help locate and identify the graves and a boy scout troop was tasked with cleaning up the cemetery. However, it wasn’t until the town's first Helldorado Days, around 1929, the the old cemetery began to be referred to as the Boot Hill Graveyard, called such for the many men who died with their boots on. Still, though many of the graves had been identified, it wouldn’t be until the 1940’s when a real effort began to restore the cemetery. New grave markers were made, including several steel markers which continue to stand. The "new” markers were also made of wood and as near as possible, duplicated the original markers. Since that time, they have been kept or replaced as needed.

 

Today it is one of Tombstone's most popular tourist attractions. According to the legends, it is also haunted, but that’s another story. See HERE!

Continued Next Page

 

 

©Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated March, 2013.

 

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From the Rocky Mountain General Store

Old West PostcardsOld West Postcards -   If you love collecting postcards of the Old West, you're going to love these. Each one of these is unique and, in many cases, we have only one available, so don't wait. To see them all, click HERE!

 

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