One cannot visit Tombstone, Arizona, without making a stop by the legendary Boothill Graveyard.
This cemetery is full of curious characters- known and unknown – and legends alike. Join me as I checkout this interesting final resting place.
The Difference Between a Cemetery & a Graveyard
The very first thing that strikes me about Boothill is that it is called a graveyard. This is odd because, technically, a graveyard is associated with a church. A cemetery, on the other hand, is not.
Over time the terms have become synonymous with one another. But, given the Wild West ways of historic Tombstone, I am a little surprised they chose the term graveyard!
Strangely enough, the original name, when constructed in 1878, was Boothill Cemetery. Approximately 250 call the cemetery their final resting place.
Legends Lost to Time
Boothill Cemetery, founded in 1878, commonly accepted burials until 1884. During those six years of operation, it was the City's only cemetery.
In 1884, the city built Tombstone Cemetery and resorted to burying outlaws, paupers and a select few others at Boothill.
After closing to burials in 1884, Boothill was lost to time. Most of the markers there were made of wood and deteriorated in the hot deset sun. Vandals stole notable memorials and the city ceased to maintain the grounds.
In the 1940's, a forward- thinking group of citizens decided Tombstone's legacy, and that of it's founders, should be preserved.
Boothill Graveyard is one of Tombstone's most visited attractions. And the most commonly photographed grave is none other than Lester Moore.
The Tombstone Chmber of Commerce shares the story behind Lester Moore's famous epitaph and you can read it here.
In fact, The Tombstone Chamber of Commerce has done a fantastic job of preserving the permanent legacy of occupants at Boothill.
Below I have added some memorials I found to be interesting and I have linked to their stories on the Chamber's website.
Oh, the story of John Heath. Before you click on this link, you should know that the information contained is graphic. In fact, I debated whether or not to share it. However, for the sake of history and intrigue, I decided to.
The fate of Frank Bowles is a sad story shared by his daughter here.
You might read Mr. Bowles' epitaph and think it to be original. However, it is not. In fact, it is a nod to the Latin epitaph found on historic stones in the UK, “Memento Mori”.
This phrase has religious roots and even it's own symbol. To learn more, checkout my previous blog post here.
Six-Shooter Jim is basically an unknown person. He was shot by Burt Alvord, who I was able to track down on Findagrave.com.
The only memorial made of stone- the only memorial that is truly permanent- in Boothill Graveyard, is that of John Swain.
Mr. Swain is not listed on the Tombstone Chamber's Boothill Graveyard registry. However, I am able to track down information on him. And that information has left me wanting to know more!
You will definately want to read about this man and his incredible legacy here.
Have you been to Boothill Graveyard? If so, whose memorials stuck out most to you? Drop me a line and let me know!