Yeah, Go Ahead and Bury Me On The Lone Prairieby John Scott on May. 09, 2012, under Uncategorized
Cemeteries in Old West Arizona paint a picture of the hardships the pioneers had to endure. Looking at the markers and their dates, one can only imagine what took the lives of some of these folks. Indian ambushes, sickness, gunfights, hangings, childbirth, and suicides were all very routine for settlers in Arizona Territory. Back then medicine was still somewhat primitive. If you cut yourself shaving and didn’t take medical precautions, you could end up dead. You’d better hope there’s some medicinal whiskey around to cleanse the wound, ‘cause Bactine® ain’t comin’ around for awhile.
The term “Boot Hill” became synonymous with graveyards in the Old West. If a gunslinger died by lead perforation, this violent passing earned the expression, “he died with his boots on.” Tombstone’s Boot Hill has probably the most famous grave markers in the country. The folks who came up with some of those epitaphs certainly were witty. We’ve all heard the famous: Here Lies Lester Moore. Four slugs from a .44. No Les. No More. Another amusing one that tickles me is: He was right, we was wrong. But we strung him up, and know he’s gone.
Incidentally, Tombstone’s Boot Hill is probably one of the most photographed places in Arizona. Many of the players in the Earp/McClaury/Clanton incident are buried there, as well as other notable shootists. You will also find markers that lack important information: Two Cowboys, drowned. Ironically, there are thousands of pioneers and immigrants whose graves have been lost to time, yet these two nameless swimming-challenged drovers were lucky enough to be immortalized.
I’ve visited cemeteries in Fairbank, Adamsville, Pinal, Dos Cabezas, and Florence. In some of the old ghost towns, the bone yard is all that remains. Sadly, time has taken its toll on the markers. Unless they are made of stone, they’ve all but crumbled away. Adamsville, neighboring Florence, basically washed away due to the flooding of the Gila River in the 1800’s. The cemetery remains, and in 1996, a young man named Phil Hawkins cleaned it up and set up a method of identifying the graves. Thanks to his dedication, many relatives can now pay respects to their ancestors. Some of the markers there date back to 1877.
I encourage you to visit the graves of some of these Arizona trailblazers. For me, it solidifies their existence, and punctuates the history. Take some photos; maybe come up with your own whimsical epitaph. Here Lies John. He was not the machine, but merely a cog. Died at his keyboard, typing a blog.
Yeah….I’ll work on that.