Is Tombstone home to two Boothills?
Michael C. Westlund — Clarkdale, Arizona
Boothill—originally called the Tombstone Cemetery—was the final resting place for locals from 1879 to 1884. The new grounds—the City Cemetery—opened for business that year on the west end of town, but it wasn’t referred to as “boothill.”
The first site was left untended until 1929, when the town was planning its first Helldorado Days to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tombstone’s founding.
Old-timers, including former mayor and newspaperman John Clum and ex-deputy sheriff Billy Breakenridge, were among the guests.
The town resurrected Boothill for the ceremony, but it was in bad shape—grave markers were gone and exact burial locations had been forgotten.
In the early 1930s, the town created and planted new markers in the same general area, mostly to encourage tourism. They dubbed the site “Boothill,” borrowing the name from the cemetery in Dodge City, Kansas.
Today, the City Cemetery is the forgotten spot. That’s too bad. Several Tombstone pioneers, including photographer C.S. Fly, are buried there.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.