Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wonderful Old Hearse

 I had to post this blog now, since I posted the photos of this wonderful old hearse on my personal blog. Situated outside the entrance to Tombstone's Boot Hill Graveyard ( technically it is a Cemetery as there has never been a church yard associated with it) is an independent gift shop not associated with Boot Hill's own gift shop. In front of this independent shop was this beauty! I was so taken with it, I spent a good 20 minutes photographing it! Here are a few of those photos.  I just LOVE this thing, bullet holes and all!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Boot Hill Cemetery- Tombstone Arzona

What visit to Tombstone would be complete without a visit to Boot Hill Cemetery. Once again due to the famous gunfight, this Boot Hill although very well known isn't the only cemetery known as Boot Hill. Boot Hill is the name for any number of cemeteries, chiefly in the American West. During the 19th century it was a common name for the burial grounds of gunfighters, or those who "died with their boots on". Also, Boot Hill graves were made for people who died in a strange town without assets for a funeral, known more formally as pauper's graves.

The cemetery for all its historical significance is somewhat of a disappointment. Even an amateur cemetery buff can immediately see that 98% of the markers that are in place are far from original, and sadly there was more effort put toward placing markers that would last for many years, but not be too costly, then there was toward at least making them good replicas of what once was there.

Reading up on the cemetery in both the Tombstone historical society's own literature as well as other independent articles, One has to appreciate that the volunteers have done their best to accurately mark the graves of those buried there. They even have a list of names of folks that were buried there but whose grave locations are not known. Also I was able to verify one of my own suspicions, that the cemetery was originally much larger than it currently is, but nature has simply reclaimed what once was taken from her. There is also a small Jewish section connected by a small dirt path at the bottom of the cemetery.

Also many of the graves are marked with the manner in which it's occupant passed on. This was a common practice in the 1800's and prior, where records could be so easily lost in boom towns such as Tombstone. I have included a little wikihistory also.

The most notable use of the name Boot Hill is at the Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone, Arizona

Formerly called City Cemetery, the plot features the graves of Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury and Tom McLaury; the three men killed during the famed Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Currently the Boothill Graveyard is open to the public and a popular stop for tourists visiting Tombstone. Located on the northwest corner of the town, the graveyard is believed to hold over 300 persons, 205 of which are recorded. This was due to many Chinese and Jewish immigrants being buried without record.

Tombstone's famous "Boothill Graveyard" was originally plotted in 1878 and was first named "The Tombstone Cemetery". It was used as the city's main cemetery until the current cemetery, "Tombstone Cemetery" at the end of Allen Street was opened up in 1884. Afterwards, additional burials would be added from time to time.

There was a section for all the Chinese and another area for the Jewish. It is believed some 300 persons in all were buried here. It was common for bodies to be found in various parts in and ouside of town, with no one ever being able to identify them, and they were interred with no markings, or as "unknown".

After the new cemetery was opened up, Boothill Graveyard went neglected. The original grave markers were all made of wood, with painted inscriptions, and withered away under the elements. Some markers were stolen by souvenir hunters. In 1923, the city contacted several of its residents to help locate and identify graves. A boy scout troop had also set about to clean up the cemetery. In the 1940's, Emmett Nunnelly, a Tombstone resident, organized and effort to restore the cemetery to its original state. Harry Fulton Ohm, owner of the famous Bird Cage Theatre, donated new steel markers from his plant, which are the same markers that remain today.

Lynching in the United States was the practice of killing people by extrajudicial mob action in the United States of America, chiefly from the late 1700s through the 1950s. This type of murder is most often associated with hanging, although it often included burning and/or various other methods of torture, and only rarely were lynchers punished, or even arrested, for their crimes.

Only one lynching ever took place. As indicated by the gravestone, John Heath was taken from the county jail and lynched by a Bisbee mob in Tombstone on February 22, 1884, a short distance from the court house. Heath was the alleged leader of a gang who shot up a store in nearby Bisbee during an armed robbery in December, 1883. Four innocent bystanders were killed.

Legal justice was swift for the rest of Heath's gang. The five men were hanged simultaneously on March 8, 1884, in the court yard of the Tombstone Court House. Capital punishment was a function of county government until Arizona became a state in 1912.

Perhaps the most famous Chinese person in Tombstone was China Mary (nee Sing, aka Ah Chum), a plump woman from Zhongshan county. She usually wore brocaded silks and large amounts of Asian jade jewelry. She was influential among Whites and people of other nationalities, and in Hoptown her word was as good as that of a judge or banker. The Whites, who preferred Chinese domestic labor, soon learned that Mary was resourceful in finding workers. She guaranteed the workers' honesty and workmanship. Her warranty was "Them steal, me pay!" All work was done to the employer's satisfaction or it would be redone for free. Payments, however, were made to China Mary - not to the employee.

China Mary managed a well-stocked general store where she dealt in both American and Chinese goods. White men and Asians were both allowed to play in the gambling hall behind her store. They had to abide her rules. China Mary seems to have been an astute investor; she was involved in a number of businesses, Opium Dens,  several hand laundries, houses of Ill Fame and a restaurant owned by Sam Sing. Mary was also a money lender, and she used her own judgment to determine borrower's credibility. China Mary is also remembered as a generous lady who helped those in need of money or medical care. No sick, injured, or hungry person was ever turned away from her door. She once took a cowboy with a broken leg to Mary Tack's boarding house and paid the medical bill herself. 

When Mary died of heart failure in 1906, the town folks had a large turnout for her service. A death certificate showed that "Ah Lum" died on December 16, 1906, at the age of 65. Although local official John E. Bacon typed the wrong name (AH-overstrike C(hina) Lum), the date matched the cemetery marker for China Mary, and the certificate was clearly meant for her. China Mary was buried in Boothill Cemetery beside her friend Quong Gu Kee, who died of natural causes on April 23, 1893.

One of Tombstone's madams earned the title "Queen of the Red Light District." She was "Dutch Annie," the belle of silver boomtown and friend to everyone. Although she was a soiled dove Annie was looked upon as a camp angel. Numerous times she was known to take a miner down on his luck and give him a new start in life.

When she died all Tombstone mourned and turned out to bury her in Boothill with dignity and splendor. Prominent business men and citizens, along with members of the underworld and girls of the red light district attended her funeral. Over a thousand buggies followed her to her final resting place. Like almost all Tombstone's ladies of sin, no one ever knew her real name. Consequently, her grave is marked with a simple epitaph which reads "Dutch Annie 1883."

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Bird Cage Theatre

My most favorite part of Tombstone was the Bird Cage Theatre. This Saloon, Theatre and House of Ill Fame has lots of original furnishings and objects, that really give a wonderful sense of what it must have been like in its heyday. The Bird Cage has been featured on several ghost hunting shows and is said to be certifiably haunted. When Angelina, Jeff and I took the self guided tour ( a little pricy at $10 per person) we were the only ones there. Jeff and Angelina went ahead of me, and I was able to spend time alone in the front and back stage areas. I can tell you that the place felt wonderful and friendly to me. If you go to Tombstone and you are very into history, I wouldn't miss it!

Here is a little history about the Bird Cage Theatre

The Bird Cage Theatre originally opened as The Elite Theatre on December 25, 1881, during the height of the silver boom in Tombstone, Arizona. Consisting of the theater, a saloon, a gambling parlour, and a brothel, it operated continuously – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – for the next 8 years. It gained a reputation as one of the wildest places in Tombstone, prompting The New York Times to report in 1882 that "the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast". The numerous bullet holes in the building lend credence to this claim.

Many famous entertainers of the day performed here over the years, including Eddie Foy, Sr., Lotta Crabtree, Lillie Langtry, and Lola Montez. It is reported that the popular song, "She's Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage" was written after a conversation occurred between Eddie Foy and songwriter Arthur Lamb concerning the ladies at the Elite who performed in 14 cages suspended from the ceiling in the main hall. Shortly thereafter, the owner changed the name to The Bird Cage.

Left side cribs

The basement poker room is said to be the site of the longest-running poker game in history. Played continuously 24 hours a day for eight years, five months, and three days, legend has it that as much as 10 million dollars changed hands during the marathon game, with the house retaining 10 percent. Some of the participants were Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Diamond Jim Brady, and George Hearst. When ground water began seeping into the mines in the late 1880s the town went bust, the Bird Cage Theatre along with it. The poker game ended and the building was sealed up in 1889.

Right side cribs

The building was not opened again until it was purchased in 1934, and the new owners were delighted to find that almost nothing had been disturbed in all those years. It has been a tourist attraction ever since, and is open to the general public year-round, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily.

The theater is said to be haunted and has been featured in the paranormal investigation shows Ghost Hunters in 2006, and Ghost Adventures in 2009.

Stage and original piano

Close up of the wonderful piano

Tombstones original Black Mariah with original curved glass

Infants Display casket. Such a casket would be borrowed for the display of the dead lying in state by those who could not afford more than the plain pine coffin that they would likely be buried in.

Adult display casket

Backstage photos and playbills for some of the Bird Cage's previous performers

More lovely ladies

This display casket including dummy was hanging out behind the stage

One of the 'best girls' rooms located downstairs by the private high rollers gaming tables. These girls were more expensive and often had 'specialties'

adorning the walls outside the best girls rooms

High rollers game tables

the row of 'best girls' rooms

(later known as Little Egypt)

[real name Farida Mazar Spyropoulos]
The original painting of Fatima who was an Oriental Belly Dancer, she played the Bird Cage in 1881. This was a gift from her to the Bird Cage to hang in the bar. It has hung in this spot since 1882."

The painting is one of the main eye catchers in the front room of the Bird Cage. The stairway just to the left of the pumpkin ( we were there on November 2nd) is the stairway to the upstairs cribs that you saw above.

Stairway to the upper cribs

Bar chandelier

Original Bar light

Thursday, November 19, 2009


This wonderful cactus on the road to Tombstone was about 20 feet tall.

Earlier this Month Jeff, my Daughter Angelina and I went on what we called our 'Wild West' road trip. Jeff and I had been wanting to go on a road trip for our second anniversary and the opportunity came to make this trip, so off we went. This is the first blog of perhaps six about that road trip. I will also include a bit of wiki-history about Tombstone.

Tombstone is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin in what was then the Arizona Territory. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 1,569. In the summer of 1877 prospector Ed Schieffelin was working the hills east of the San Pedro River in the southeast portion of the Arizona Territory, when he came across a vein of very rich silver ore in a high plateau called Goose Flats. When Schieffelin filed his mining claim he named it "The Tombstone", after a warning given him by a passing soldier. While telling the soldier about his rock collecting experiences, the soldier told him that the only rock he was likely to collect among the waterless hills and warring Apaches of the area would be his own tombstone.

St David is a tiny town on the road to Tombstone, but of course we found its cemetery!

Almost there!

Old Wagon Wheel in the center of town

The town of Tombstone was founded in 1879, taking its name from the mining claim, and soon became a boomtown. Fueled by mineral wealth, Tombstone was a city of 1000 by the beginning of 1881, and within another year Tombstone had become the seat of a new county (Cochise County) with a population between 5,000 and 15,000, and services including refrigeration (with ice cream and later even ice skating), running water, telegraph and limited telephone service, and a newspaper aptly named the Tombstone Epitaph. Capitalists and businessmen moved in from the eastern U.S. Mining was carried out by immigrants from Europe, chiefly Ireland and Germany. An extensive service industry (laundry, construction, restaurants, hotels, etc.) was provided by Chinese and other immigrants.

Some medical instruments from the 1800's used in Tombstone

The Gallows are located behind the Tombstone courthouse, in a walled in courtyard.

The main Courtroom

Assayers instruments circa 1880's

The original fire dept.

Without railroad access the increasingly sophisticated Tombstone was relatively isolated, deep in a Federal territory that was largely unpopulated desert and wilderness. Tombstone and its surrounding countryside also became known as one of the deadliest regions in the West. Uncivilized southern gangs from the surrounding countryside, known as "cow-boys", were at odds with the northern capitalists and immigrant miners who ran the city and mines. On October 26, 1881 this situation famously exploded in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, leading to a continued family and political feud that resulted in multiple deaths.

The Tombstone Epitaph

The Tombstone Epitaph is a Tombstone, Ariz.-based monthly publication that serves as a window in the history and culture of the Old West. Founded on May 1, 1880, The Epitaph is the second-oldest continually published newspaper in Arizona. It long has been noted for its coverage of the infamous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral on Oct. 26, 1881, and its continuing research interest in Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and their cowboy adversaries. In 2005, for example, it presented for the first time a sketch of the O. K. Corral gunfight hand drawn by Wyatt Earp shortly before his death.

The national historical monthly is published by Tombstone Epitaph, Inc., an Arizona corporation. A separate biweekly edition of The Tombstone Epitaph, which contains local news, is published by the University of Arizona Journalism Department under a use agreement between the Epitaph corporation and the university. Although they bear the same name, there is no editorial connection between the two publications.

In addition to publishing the historical monthly, The Epitaph office in Tombstone's historical district welcomes visitors from 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. Inside of Tombstone's oldest continually operated business, visitors can watch a free video presentation on printing in the 1880s, view a Washington flat bed press on which early issues of The Epitaph were printed, explore a large museum devoted to the era of "hot metal" printing, see rare photographs and other early Tombstone newspapers, and learn much about the life of John Philip Clum, the frontiersman who started The Epitaphafter Tombsstone burst on the western mining scene after silver was discovered by Ed Schieffelin in 1877.

The Buford house is said to be one of the most haunted houses in the country.

The Tombstone Historic District is a National Historic Landmark District. The town's focus on tourism has threatened the town's designation as a National Historic Landmark District, a designation it earned in 1961 as "one of the best preserved specimens of the rugged frontier town of the 1870s and '80s.

Since Tombstone was in the desert, a company built a pipeline to supply the town with water. No sooner was this pipeline built than Tombstone's silver mines struck water.

As a result of relative lack of water and quick wooden construction, Tombstone experienced major fires in June 1881 and May 1882. The second fire was particularly destructive and signaled the end of the classic old boomtown mining city. After the mid-1880s, when the silver mines had been tapped out, the main pump failed, causing many mines to be flooded with deep groundwater, and Tombstone declined rapidly. The U.S. census found it had fewer than 1900 residents in 1890, and fewer than 700 residents in 1900.

This sign was over the door where we had lunch in Tombstone

The Tombstone Marshal's Black Horse

The famous gunfight at the OK Corral did not really happen inside the corral as is often portrayed, but near there, on Fremont St.
The next blog will be on the Famous Bird Cage Theatre Stay tuned!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin