Boot Hill Cemetery

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The original Boot Hill was located in Hays not Dodge City, as many people believe. In fact, when Dodge City was founded in 1872, the Hays City Boot Hill was well populated. Mrs. Elizabeth Custer spent the summers of 1869 and 1870 near Hays with her husband, Lt. Col. George Custer. In her book, Following the Guidon, she states that there were already 36 graves in the cemetery before she left.

Estimates of the number of people buried there vary from 37 to 100, but the most reliable evidence shows there were approximately 79 graves. When homes were built at the site, many bodies were moved from Boot Hill to the Mount Allen Cemetery. Records, however, were incomplete and therefore the whereabouts of these are lost in history. Not all of those murdered in Hays City the first six years were buried here. Several were soldiers, probably buried at the Fort cemetery.

Hays is famous for being a frontier city and its colorful history features the legendary “Wild Bill” Hickok, “Buffalo Bill” Cody and General George Custer. Hays City was founded in the fall of 1867 when the Union Pacific Railroad reached the military post of Fort Hays along the banks of Big Creek. Because many of the first citizens were railroad workers, saloon owners, soldiers and even desperados, the early days of Hays City were wild and dangerous. During several months in 1869, “Wild Bill” Hickok served as the acting sheriff after several incidents prompted the citizens to form a vigilante committee. Many of the outlaws were buried at the original boot hill cemetery, which was located on a hill just north of Hays City.

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