Boot Hill – the very name screams Old West. And the very first Boot Hill sprang up outside another emblem of those days, Dodge City. The first grave was dug there in 1871. The dubious distinction of first man killed and buried in Boot Hill belongs to Jack Reynolds shot six times in September of 1872. Over eight years the city council interred about 34 of what it called drifters, troublemakers and unknowns there (according to a marker at the site). In 1879 it had all of them removed to make room for an expanding town.
Why Boot Hill? Some say it is because the unfortunates buried there died with their boots on instead of abed. A more accurate idea is probably that these poor folk had no coffins and the only comfort they received was to have their boots removed and place under their heads for a makeshift pillow. Whatever the truth, the fact that Dodge City’s Boot Hill lasted so short a time did little to diminish the popularity of the name. No less than 38 graveyards across the west have been named Boot Hill. The best known, in Tombstone Arizona, holds the bodies of Frank and Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton all shot dead by the Earps at the OK Corral.
But the fame of the place springs mostly from the epitaphs found there. Perhaps the funniest is that of Lester Moore:
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