ask-the-marshallAre there real bodies buried in Tombstone, Arizona’s Boot Hill? I’ve heard the markers are fake.

Sam Boyd
Via the Internet

Tombstone obituaries are Troy Kelley’s hobby, and he tells me Boot Hill once stretched all the way down the hill. He knows of 250 people buried there, but nobody knows for sure how many bodies were there originally because in the 1920s, “The Broadway of America” (U.S. 80) went through part of the cemetery.

Billy Clanton and Tom and Frank McLaury are buried in the right spot, says Ben Traywick, Tombstone historian and author of Boot Hill. Other bodies in the correct location are M.R. Peel, murdered in Charleston (10 miles south of Tombstone); the five men hanged in 1884 for the Bisbee Massacre—Arizona’s largest mass hanging; some ladies from the red light district; and a few Chinese citizens. Everyone else is just speculation.

In the early 1880s, some “good folks” refused to have their family members buried alongside the notorious people in Boot Hill. Instead, they built a cemetery at the west end of town.


Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His books include The Arizona Trilogy and Law of the Gun.

If you have a question, write:

Ask the Marshall,

PO Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327

or e-mail him at

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