Boothill Graveyard (Tombstone, Arizona)

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Boothill Graveyard
Tombstone-Boothill Graveyard-1878.jpg
Boothill Graveyard
Tombstone, Arizona[1]
CountryUnited States
Coordinates31°43′12″N 110°04′13″W / 31.7201°N 110.0703°W / 31.7201; -110.0703Coordinates: 31°43′12″N 110°04′13″W / 31.7201°N 110.0703°W / 31.7201; -110.0703
No. of intermentsAt least 250
Websiteofficial website - part of the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce

Boothill Graveyard is a small graveyard of at least 250 interments located in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona.[2] Also known as the "Old City Cemetery", the graveyard was used after 1883 only to bury outlaws and a few others. It had a separate Jewish cemetery, which is nearby.[3]

"Boot Hill" refers to the number of men who died with their boots on. Among a number of pioneer Boot Hill cemeteries in the Old West, Boothill in Tombstone is among the best-known, and it is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions.[3]


Originally called Boothill Cemetery, the graveyard was founded in 1878.[4] After a new city cemetery was built elsewhere, the old cemetery stopped accepting new burials in about 1883 (save for very few exceptions) and fell into disrepair until the 1940s, when the city began to restore and preserve it.[3]

Notable interments and grave markers[edit]

Boothill Graveyard in 1940, before it was fully restored
  • Marshal Fred White, killed by Curly Bill Brocius on October 30, 1880.
  • Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury, and Billy Clanton, killed in the O.K. Corral shootout on October 26, 1881.
  • Dan "Big Dan" Dowd, Omer W. "Red" Sample, James "Tex" Howard, William E. "Billy" Delaney and Daniel "York" Kelly, perpetrators of the Bisbee massacre, legally hanged on March 28, 1884. John Heath, accused of organizing the robbery leading to the massacre, has a grave marker nearby but his body was actually returned to his hometown in Terrell, Texas.
  • Jack Dunlop aka "Three Fingered Jack" died of wounds on February 24, 1900 after an attempted holdup.[5]
  • China Mary a.k.a. Mrs. Ah Lum. According to True West Magazine China Mary managed a well-stocked general store where she dealt in both American and Chinese goods. Mary was also a money lender and she used her own judgment to determine borrower’s credibility. When Mary died of heart failure in 1906, the town folks had a large turnout for her service. She was buried in Tombstone’s Boothill Cemetery.[6]

Notable grave markers but fictitious burials[edit]

In order to attract tourists, some of the Boot Hill grave sites are falsely marked, and fictitious claims of burials have been made by the cemetery's various operators over the years.[citation needed]

  • Lester Moore, with the famous epitaph "Here lies Lester Moore, Four slugs from a .44, No Les No more." Lester Moore was purportedly a Wells, Fargo & Co. station agent in the border town of Naco who died in a shootout with Hank Dunstan over a mangled package.[4] There was never anyone named Lester Moore who was killed in Arizona Territory,[citation needed] and there is no evidence to indicate where Dunstan (who also died in the purported shootout) was buried.[4]
  • George Johnson, with epitaph "Here lies George Johnson, hanged by mistake 1882. He was right we were wrong. But we strung him up and now he's gone."
  • John Heath, accused of organizing the robbery that led to the 1883 Bisbee massacre, has a grave marker near the grave of the five perpetrators of the massacre. John Heath was arrested and convicted, and was later removed by a mob from the Tombstone jail and lynched on February 22, 1884.[7] However, he was not buried in Boothill Cemetery; his body was returned to his estranged wife in Terrell, Texas, and was buried there in Oakland Cemetery.
  • Thomas Harper is another badman supposedly buried in Boothill Cemetery. He was a friend of Curly Bill Brocius and was hanged for murder by Sheriff Bob Paul in Tucson on July 8, 1881.[8] Harper was buried in Tucson, not in Tombstone.
  • Federico Duran, spelled as "Fiderico Doran" on the grave marker, who was claimed to have been killed by Sheriff John Slaughter after the Agua Zarca train robbery in 1888. In fact, Duran and train robber Jack Taylor were executed by firing squad in Guaymas, Mexico in December 1889.[9] Slaughter had nothing to do with their deaths and Duran was not buried in Tombstone.

Images of notable graves[edit]

The following are the images of some of the notable graves in the historic Boothill Graveyard.


  1. ^ "GNIS Detail – Boothill Graveyard". Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  2. ^ Weiser, Kathy (March 2013). "Tombstone Arizona Vintage Photograph-Boot Hill". Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Tombstone's Boot Hill". Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Tombstone's Cemetery: Boothill". History Magazine. June 12, 2006. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  5. ^ The Copper era., March 01, 1900, Page 4, Image 4
  7. ^ The Austin weekly statesman., February 28, 1884, Page 7, Image 7
  8. ^ Wilson, R. Michael (2010). Legal Executions in the Western Territories, 1847-1911: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-7864-4825-8.
  9. ^ Boessenecker, John (2012). When Law Was in the Holster: The Frontier Life of Bob Paul. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 367. ISBN 978-0-8061-4285-2.

Further reading[edit]

  • Britz, Kevin (October 1, 2003). "'Boot Hill Burlesque': The Frontier Cemetery as Tourist Attraction in Tombstone, Arizona, and Dodge City, Kansas". Journal of Arizona History. Arizona Historical Society. ASIN B00E428MGY.