Tombstone – The Real Wild West By Sierra Jackson

Almost everyone at some point during their lifetime goes through a cowboy phase, whether it’s playing Cowboys and Indians with their siblings or watching Clint Eastwood’s Western films. Some never grow out of that phase and the call of the Old West remains strong. In Arizona lies the famous mining town of Tombstone; it was one of the last frontier towns in the Old West, but instead of its mining, it’s more famous for its rowdy group of cowboys.

Just like in the 1993 movie Tombstone, Ike and Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers, Frank and Tom, were giving the Earp brothers a run for their money. These groups were often at odds with each other, and many added to the population of the nearby Boothill cemetery; a graveyard that’s occupied by many cowboys who “died with their boots on.” An interesting thing about visiting the cemetery is that it makes you realize that these historical people were real people—a message that simply isn’t conveyed from watching a movie.

Who can forget the, “I’m just fucking with you, Fred,” scene from Tombstone where Curly Bill, high on opium, murders Marshall Fred White in the street. “Shot by Curly Bill” is scratched in White’s tombstone. And according to Dick Toby’s grave marker, he was shot by Sheriff Behan—a pompous asshole in the movie and apparently no more respectable in real life.

Marshall Fred White

Marshall Fred White

The most famous scuffle is arguably the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which ultimately ended up with the McLaurys and Billy Clanton joining White on Boothill. When visiting the cemetery, the markers tell the story of frontier life, or perhaps death, as one after another reads, “shot,” “murdered,” “stabbed,” “killed,” “hanged,” or “killed by Indians,” with “death by natural causes” being the exception instead of the norm.

 

Some of the more interesting grave markers include Lester Moore, “four slugs from a 44, no Les, no more,” and George Johnson who was “Hanged By Mistake: He was right, we was wrong, but we strung him up and now he’s gone.”

Some headstones also convey attitudes you wouldn’t see in today’s society, such as the ones for “Chink Smiley,” “Two Chinese,” and the one for “Rook” who was “Shot by a Chinaman.” John Heath was “Taken from County Jail and Lynched By Bisbee Mob.”

If you inner cowboy calls, know that there are places like Boothill where real life and legend intersect. Just don’t be surprised if you find real life even wilder than a movie. More pictures below.

Scott Mayer & Sierra Jackson

www.tacticaltshirts.com

“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

 

 

Scott Mayer

Scott Mayer

Writer at John1911
Mayer began his outdoor industry career in 1993 on the NRA Technical Staff where he became American Rifleman magazine first Shooting Editor. Mayer left NRA and entered the business end of publishing in 2003 as Advertising Account Executive for Safari Club International SAFARI Magazine and Safari Times newspaper. In 2006, Mayer was named Publisher of Shooting Times magazine where he was also tasked with launching and leading Personal Defense TV, the first television show of its kind.

In 2008, Mayer returned to the editorial side of publishing, this time in the digital field, as Editorial Director for Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handguns and Rifleshooter online magazines. After a brief stint in 2011 as the Digital Media Director for an ABC TV affiliate, Mayer returned to the outdoors industry and Safari Club International where he is currently Assistant Publisher and Multi-Media Communications Editor.
Scott Mayer

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  • Mikial

    I haven’t been to Tombstone, although it is on my bucket list. I’ve read a lot about that era and Wyatt Earp is one of my personal heroes.

    But I have extensively explored ghost towns in the deserts of Southern California, Utah and Montana. Montana has got to be the crown jewel of ghost towns. One, Silver Dollar City, is now a park with rangers and tours but most, such as Elkhorn City, are amazing gems that sit deep in the hills at the end of rugged dirt road treks, and are amazingly well preserved. You just drive over a hill and there is the town, some quite large, filled with homes and mines and saloons and graveyards, and not a soul around. They are hard to find, but I have been to well over 30 and it is worth the effort.

    Trust me.