Boothill Graveyard (Tombstone, Arizona)

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]

Boothill Graveyard
Tombstone-Boothill Graveyard-1878.jpg
Boothill Graveyard
Tombstone, Arizona[1]
CountryUnited States
Coordinates31°43′12″N 110°04′13″E / 31.7200580°N 110.0702618°E / 31.7200580; 110.0702618
No. of intermentsAt least 250
Websiteofficial website – part of the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce

"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 markersEdit

Boothill Graveyard in 1940, before it was fully restored
  • Marshal Fred White,[5] 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.[6]
  • 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.[7] 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"[5] died of wounds on February 24, 1900 after an attempted holdup.[8]
  • China Mary a.k.a. Mrs. Ah Lum.[9] 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.[10]
  • John Slaughter Swain, former slave of Judge Slaughter, who became a cowboy and notable multi-decade resident of the town and one of the last burials in the graveyard.

Notable grave markers but fictitious burialsEdit

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."[11] 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,[12] and there is no evidence to indicate where Dunstan (who also died in the purported shootout) was buried.[4]
  • 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.[13] John Heath was arrested and convicted, and was later removed by a mob from the Tombstone jail and lynched on February 22, 1884.[14] 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.[15] He was a friend of Curly Bill Brocius and was hanged for murder by Sheriff Bob Paul in Tucson on July 8, 1881.[16] 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.[17] Slaughter had nothing to do with their deaths and Duran was not buried in Tombstone.

Images of notable gravesEdit

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


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Boothill Graveyard
  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. ^ a b [ Tombstone Chamber of Commerce
  6. ^ Gunfight at the OK Corral, Tombstone Chamber of Commerce
  7. ^ Bisbee Massacre Hanging, Tombstone Chamber of Commerce
  8. ^ "The Copper era". Arizona State Library. Clifton, Graham County, Ariz: Library of Congress. March 1, 1900. p. 4. Retrieved 27 October 2019 – via Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.
  9. ^ True West Magazine
  10. ^ Shueh, Sam; Chen, Eric (December 2006). "Chinese Residents in Tombstone". Tombstone Times. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  11. ^ Lester Moore, Tombstone Chamber of Commerce
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 January 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ John Heath, Tombstone Chamber of Commerce
  14. ^ The Austin Weekly Statesman, February 28, 1884, Page 7, Image 7
  15. ^ Thomas Harper, Tombstone Chamber of Commerce
  16. ^ 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, NC: McFarland and Company, Inc. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-7864-4825-8.
  17. ^ Boessenecker, John (2012). When Law Was in the Holster: The Frontier Life of Bob Paul. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 367. ISBN 978-0-8061-4285-2.

Further readingEdit

  • Britz, Kevin (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. ISSN 0021-9053. JSTOR 41696788.

External linksEdit