Poor Guy best viewed large so you can read the headstone

Penny Fawver

Liverpool, United States

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Taken with a Sony point and shoot
Tombstone AZ.

Although many towns use the name “Boot Hill”, the first graveyard named “Boot Hill” was at Dodge City, Kansas.1 The term alludes to the fact that many of its occupants were cowboys who “died with their boots on,” the implication here being they died violently, as in gunfights or by hanging, and not of natural causes. The term became commonplace throughout the Old West, with some Boot Hills becoming famous, such as Dodge City, Kansas, Tombstone, Arizona, and Deadwood, South Dakota.


The most notable use of the name “Boot Hill” is at the Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone, Arizona. 31°43′11.6″N 110°04′13.6″W Formerly called the “Tombstone Cemetery”, the plot features the graves of Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury and Tom McLaury; the three men who were killed during the famed Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.2

Located on the northwest corner of the town, the graveyard is believed to hold over 300 persons, 205 of which are recorded. This was due to some people (especially Chinese and Jewish immigrants) being buried without record. There is a separate Jewish cemetery nearby with some markers restored, and there are also marked graves of Chinese. However, most of the loss was due to neglect of grave markers and theft of these wooden relics as souvenirs.3 For example, when former Tombstone Mayor John Clum visited Tombstone for the first Helldorado celebration in 1929, he was unable to locate the grave of his wife Mary, who had been buried in Boothill.

The Tombstone “boothill” cemetery was closed in late 1884, as the new “City Cemetery” on Allen Street opened. Thereafter, Boothill was referred to as the “old city cemetery” and neglected. It was used after that only to bury a few later outlaws (some legally hanged and one shot in a robbery), as well as a few colorful Western characters and one man (Emmett Crook Nunnally) who had spent many volunteer hours restoring it.4

Currently, the Boothill Graveyard is open to the public without fee, and is a popular stop for tourists visiting Tombstone.

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Artwork Comments

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