Boothill Graveyard

As we continued down Highway 80, it wasn’t long before we saw the sign for the Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone, Arizona. This was the only site Al and I were truly interested in visiting in Tombstone.

Tombstone Cemetery

The Boothill Graveyard aka the Tombstone Cemetery or the ‘old cemetery’

So much of the good and bad of early Tombstone lies buried here.  Quite often referred to as ‘the old cemetery” it lay neglected for years until some interested local citizens helped to preserve this historic site.  Buried here are outlaws with their victims along with general Tombstone citizens.  Many of the grave markers were labeled as “unknown”, which I found rather sad.

Many of the death’s were the result of shootings or hangings – legal or not.  Quite a few were suicides.  Drowning, diphtheria, accidents, and killings by Indians were other popular causes of death.

Tombstone graveyard cemetery

As Al and I strolled up and down the rows reading the grave markers, it became clear these were hearty folks who lived during exciting times, but also during a time where it was common for illness to easily take a life.

Here’s a few markers that we found of interest;

Tom Waters; shot, 1880
He was the father of Eva Waters and shot over the color of his shirt.

Chas Helm; shot 1882
Shot by William McCauley.  Two hot-tempered ranchers who disagreed over the best way to drive cattle – fast or slow.

Holo Lucero; 1882
Killed by Indians

Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury
Murdered on the streets of Tomstone 1881.  Tragic results of the O.K. Corral battle, which took place between the Earp Brothers with Doc Holliday and the cowboys.  Three men were killed and three were wounded.Tombstone graveyard cemetery

James Hickey; 1881 shot by William Clayborne
He was shot in the left temple by Claybrone for his over-insistence that they drink together.

A. Deloach;  1882
Margarita stabbed by Gold Dollar
Two dance hall girls quarreling over a man and Gold Dollar won.

John King; 1881 Suicide by strychnine

Mrs. Stump; 1884
She died in childbirth from an overdose of chloroform given her by the doctor

Lester Moore; Here lies Lester Moore, four slugs from a .44, No Les, no more.
Moore was a Wells Fargo agent at Naco and had a dispute with a man over a package.  Both died.

Dutch Annie: 1883
Sometimes called Queen of the Red Light District

John Heath; 1884
Taken from county jail and lynched by Bisbee mob Feb. 22, 1884. He was called the leader of the five men who were legally hanged and was said to have planned the robbery. He was hanged from a telegraph pole a short distance west of the Court House.

Douglas Lilly; killed 1881
A driver for the Sycamore Water Co. was thrown from the wagon, trampled by the horses and died instantly when the wagon ran over his head.

Tombstone cemetery graveyardAfter spending a good hour wandering around the cemetery, it was time to continue down the road to the town of Bisbee.  Oh, I guess you want to know why we didn’t spend more time exploring the town of Tombstone?  Well, unfortunately Tombstone (this is my personal opinion) has turned into a commercialized tourist destination which Al and I have experienced plenty of in the past.

So we forgo the OK Corral shoot out reenactment or the numerous other little venues that would leave us with a lighter wallet and little to show for it.  I hear there are some interesting buildings and museums to see that some might find of interest and if you’ve never seen one of these western reenactments then I would encourage you to experience it at least once….could be fun.Boothill graveyard cemetery

We were satisfied with the graveyard tour and although free they do encourage a $3 donation and in return you’re given a printed pamphlet letting you know who’s buried in which row and the cause of death.  The fee goes toward the maintaining of the grounds.  Al and I didn’t mind the three bucks (total) to tour the grounds and hey that pamphlet came in handy while writing this post.  We were glad we stopped.Boothill graveyard cemetery

Next up Bisbee….


Tombstone – The Director’s Cut (Vista Series)

Tombstone (Images of America: Arizona)

Arizona Road and Recreation Atlas

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55 thoughts on “Boothill Graveyard

  1. What a fascinating place Ingrid! At the risk of sounding totally macabre, I’ll admit I love visiting old cemeteries. I think I’m drawn to both the history and the architecture. This one has such a rich story!

  2. Graveyards are cool places to visit – at least to a history buff like me…. I get reflective – especially when it is local. Many years ago, my step mom tool me to Pere la Chaise in Paris… Interesting graves and monuments – no fee to get in but we spent an hour or so wandering (and wondering) the grounds. Kept seeing ‘this way to Jim’ painted on headstones and markers…. So followed them and ended up at Jim Morrison’s gravesite. There were several folks hanging around the grave – sort of like a cult hangout… there was a distinct aroma in the air… Sounds like you had fun – and it was sunny! Take care and keep getting better.

  3. Nice update. I have to let you know!!! We had the BEST Reuben sandwich ever at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon in Tombstone just in case you might like them as well.
    And we did the mine tour in Bisbee and the Trolley tour. Both were worth while we thought.

  4. Ingrid I am amazed by the causes o death being on the tombstones. Are they the original markers or do you think that has been added as a commercial touch?

  5. HA HA HA I was just there and will do a post on the Tombstone Graveyard soon!!!! AND I AGREE with you…”over commercialized” is an understatement. However, we stayed over night in a log cabin not too far away… and we walked into town and ate dinner where all the Outlaws did as well. We did not pay the $$$$$ to do the various shows etc. but enjoyed the ambiance of the place. The graveyard was interesting to say the least! I sure hope you are feeling better.

    • Thanks and yes I’m finally starting to feel better. We enjoyed the graveyard and may go back one day to walk around town and check out the buildings. Look forward to your post on Tombstone.

  6. I’ve had trouble leaving replies, so I hope this goes through. Pete and I watched the shoot out at the OK Corral and you were wise to pass it by. Once you’ve seen one of these reenactments, you’ve seen ’em all.

  7. We spent a ton of time in Boothill Graveyard. So glad that is has been preserved for us to enjoy.

    I think being the “Queen of the Red Light District” was rather flattering back then…lol

  8. We’ve also avoided Tombstone because of the commercialism and have chosen instead to hang out in Bisbee and the nearby wildlife refuges — but your visit to the cemetery was fascinating. Wow, there sure were lots of “colorful” ways to get oneself shot! You’ve inspired us to stop there when we travel through in early May. I’m also fascinated by life in the Wild West — and also life in “Cracker Florida,” since this is where we’ve spent the winter.

    • Should be toasting up around AZ in May. I was disappointed I didn’t feel up to visiting the wildlife refuges. Our neighbor at the RV Park said the one southeast of Benson had a bunch of Sandhill Cranes.
      I always get a kick out of the term “Cracker Florida”…..I’m originally from the Chicago suburbs and that term would have a whole other meaning 😆

  9. We haven’t been to Tombstone since our Harley riding days so this was a fun trip down memory lane for me. We loved the cemetery as well and also found Tombstone to be too commercial for our tastes.

  10. I would love to visit that grave yard… the historical records must be fun to read… one old grave yard we visited at the site of Fort Tuli had a headstone of a man killed by a lion, they story went in an inebriated state, he rose in the night for a call of nature, met a lion and thought it a dog, so he kicked it… big mistake…

    • Guess he learned not to kick dogs 😉 That’s quite the story. I’ve really come to enjoy 1800’s history especially in the wild west!

      • Yep we have a saying “never kick a dog, in case its a cat”
        I must say I love our historical places as well, it’s just they aren’t as old as the rest of the world…

  11. Another great post/review. The town of Tombstone has done a great job of placing historical markers in front of various buildings which makes a self guided tour really fun and interesting. Due to Fires and age/renovations only one building can claim near total original un touched status, The Bird Cage Theater, that one made the grade and was quite worthwhile. The rest of the buildings are only partly original some more than others. If you have not been there in a while it would be worth a stop.

    • Thanks Wayne. We may stop there again next season and check out the buildings. Because of my health, we didn’t get to see as much of southern AZ as we wanted.

  12. Good info…love the pics. I love graveyards. We go to St Augustine a lot and always walk through the graveyards. We have even thought about volunteering to do maintenance work.

  13. While it is kind of cheezy and commercialized, I would recommend walking around there a bit. But honestly it’s probably the kind of place you would want to go to shop for old west types of clothes at hiked prices. Many of the old buildings are now shops, and you can walk around them for free. The information on the history of the buildings is still there and still free. And there are shows to be had for free as well… depending on when you go there. The trick is, keep your wallet tucked and just enjoy.

    Of course, not feeling well can cause the experience to be less than stellar.

    • Thanks….I did not know about the information on the history of the buildings. That alone may have me returning and good advice on keeping the wallet tucked away LOL. I do enjoy browsing shops and every now and then we find some hidden bargains which is always fun.

      • Since you enjoy hunting for bargains, you may want to head up to Jerome. It also has some history there. The hotel there used to be the hospital, and is supposed to be one of the most haunted places… Heh you could make a day of it by hitting the railroad in Clarkdale, and afterwards hop up to Jerome. There are some really neat crafts for sale in Jerome.

  14. Interesting facts and great pics! I agree with you on the commercialization of Tombstone, but it will always have a special place in my heart. When my son graduated from the Human Intelligence MOS at Fort Huachuca a couple of years ago, I got to spend two days alone with him before he headed to his first assignment. We left Sierra Vista and headed to Tuscon with a stop in Tombstone. Yes, it was kind of cheesy, but seeing as I had only seen him for a week or so that entire year, it was a wonderful two days. Thanks for the fond memories 🙂

    • I can totally relate to special times of one on one with your son. My son and I did a couple of road trips together 2 years ago that will always hold special memories for me. Glad I could bring about those fond memories 🙂

  15. For us too the cemetery was what we wanted to see the most, we walked through town but didn’t go to any shows.

    • We probably would’ve walked around Tombstone if I had been feeling better, but don’t feel a need to return. Glad we toured the cemetery though.

  16. Having lived in a cemetery, I LOVE going to old ones. My Dad inherited the job of keeping the “death book” when he took over the caretaker’s job. That book was a huge book, used to locate graves. It listed all the people bured there and dated back to 1860’s..Cause of death was often, “kicked by horse”, “hiccups”, “vapors”, …soooo much history in these old cemeteries. FYI, there is another Boot Hill Cemetery In Deadwood, SD. The real name of it is Mt. Moriah Cemetery. The men killed at the “Gunfight At the OK Corral” are buried at that one.

    • We’re contemplating going to the Buffalo Roundup in Custer SP in September and we just may have to go check out Deadwood SD. Al and I really enjoy 1800’s history especially out west. So I already know next winter we have a bunch of stops planned like Goliad TX….giddy up!

    • I wish I had your talent for writing because I would write a book centered around the mid 1800’s in a western location…..exciting times indeed.

      • That would be cool. With all your knowledge of the actual settings and history, you could do a good job if you ever ventured into the writing a book realm.

    • Thanks Renee. This graveyard was interesting. The cemetery in Lamar, TX (where we were camped in Jan.) isn’t commercialized and had grave stones from Civil War soldiers.

  17. “Drowning, diphtheria, accidents, and killings by Indians were other popular causes of death.”
    How funny are you, exactly? I have watched the Kurt Russel Tombstone movie 50 times. Can’t quite seem to get enough of it. “I’m your huckleberry”…
    Glad you are feeling better and thanks for this sad, funny, historical, and hysterical post.

    • How does one write about a visit to a cemetery anyway? I’m not sure I was trying to be funny….just kind of matter of fact. I struggled with words on this post. Sure am glad you enjoyed it 🙂 and I’m super happy to finally start feeling better. The desert is starting to bloom and I need to hit the trails before heading back to CO.

  18. We haven’t heard much in the positive way of reviews for Tombstone. People have said Bisbee is much better. I know John would enjoy the cemetery and the stories that go with it. Thanks for sharing!

    • The cemetery is definitely worth a stop. I have mixed emotions about southern AZ. My experience probably wasn’t the greatest because I started coming down with the flu and nothing seemed of interest to me. However, there are some wildlife refuges I wouldn’t mind visiting. I heard the one southeast of the SKP Park had a bunch of sandhill cranes.

      • Thanks, Ingrid:) Not feeling well does take the luster out physical activity. Hopefully, you will make a trip back in the future when you are feeling 100%. Hope you are on the mend:)

  19. Enjoyed reading all about the historic cemetery and loved your great pictures. Aren’t “unknown” cemetery markers so sad? We ran across some last year in a little cemetery in Buffalo Gap that were likely from the 1800’s, too. Just makes you wonder who it was and how they died to not even get a marker with their information on it. Will look forward to your next post from this area!

    • Thanks…. Yeah, it is sad for one to be forgotten. I never used to be into history until we started traveling to some of these fun places. Now I’m fascinated by what life was like in the wild west.

  20. When we were there the cemetery was covered in snow. With you and Al as my guide I had a free tour. Now I can see/read whose who on those tombs. We did not watch the reenactment as well but the museum ( hope you went there) was worth a stop.

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