Is Anyone Really Buried In Boothill Graveyard?

Boothill Graveyard EntranceAre there really any bodies buried in Tombstone’s Boothill Graveyard? Isn’t Boothill just a tourist trap with fake headstones? Weren’t all the bodies disinterred and moved to a new cemetery?

We’ve been asked theses questions, or ones very similar, many times over the years. So often, in fact, that we were beginning to doubt that Boothill Graveyard is an authentic cemetery for the dearly departed in the Old West’s most famous mining boomtown. So we decided to dig a little deeper, so to speak. Here’s what we found.

Boothill is authentic. It was Tombstone’s first City Cemetery, established in 1879. It wasn’t called Boothill until the 1920’s, probably as a result of Hollywood westerns or dime novels.

After the new City Cemetery was established in 1884 at the end of Allen Street, what became known as Boothill was referred to as the Old Cemetery. Most Tombstoners wanted their loved ones buried in the New Cemetery, so there were few burials at Boothill after 1884.

In fact, after the New Cemetery was established, many locals had the bodies of their loved ones disinterred and moved to the New Cemetery. Presumably, they didn’t feel comfortable with their deceased family members spending eternity next to thieves, murderers, rustlers, prostitutes, and Chinamen.

But Boothill is also a re-created cemetery. By the 1920’s, Tombstone’s boom years were long gone. Most residents had moved away and there was almost no one left to tend to the graves. Read More

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