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Boot Hill Cemetery


category : Cemeteries
Boot Hill Cemetery Since cowboys generally were buried with their boots on, the first cemetery in the area was aptly named Boot Hill. It was Ogallala's only official burying ground during the "end of the trail" decade, from 1874 through 1884. A hundred or more people were rolled in canvas and dropped into a shallow grave during that time, a remarkable death rate for a settlement that never exceeded 130 permanent residents.

There are few records that have come down to present times of the burials there. Indeed, few records were kept during the time of its use. Ogallala's other cemetery, presently in use, has been used since at least 1885. Some graves were moved from Boot Hill to the present cemetery during the 1880s. Markers and headstones that once existed deteriorated and disintegrated over the years until no graves are marked exactly in the present day.

* In May, 1867, the first bodies were buried on the hill. They were three Union Pacific tracklayers killed in an Indian raid a mile east of what is now Spruce Street.

* Robert Webster, a drover, was shot to death August, 1875, while bathing in the North Platte River.

* Sarah Miller, the young wife of a local rancher, was buried with her newborn baby. A perplexing mystery surrounds the discovery of the petrifaction of Mrs. Miller?s body and not that of her child, when her body was exhumed 30 years later for reburial in the "new" cemetery.

* The county commissioners paid $5 to bury one of Dull Knife's brave band who had died traveling north during the Cheyenne Outbreak of 1878-79.

* Joseph Hayden won $100,000 gambling with Texas cattle barons one night and tried to escape east on the 2 am train with a suitcase of gold coins. William Bland and a gang of cowboys took him off the train at Alkali (now Paxton) and somehow Hayden was shot three times trying to escape.

* Tom Lonergan, the young brother of Phil Lonergan, superintendent of the Union Pacific (cattle) loading facility at Ogallala, was killed in the spring round-up, 1877, when his horse and the Texas steer he was chasing tangled. Lonergan's neck was broken in the fall.

* A 14-year old cowboy on his first trip up the trail woke up one morning behind the Crystal Palace Saloon. Ogallala's other establishment, lying between "two fellows with their heads bashed in."

There is a historical marker on the site and chronological records of the burials in the cemetery.


Hours: Open Year Round for viewing.
Address: West 10th and Parkhill Drive (West of the Mansion on the Hill)

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