The Tombstone City Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 1800 of our citizens who have died since 1884. The land was provided to the city free of charge by John Escapule, one of our city’s pioneers, with the only stipulation that any citizen of Tombstone could be buried there at no cost. The cemetery is on portions of what was originally the Jennie Belle, Little Tom, and New Year’s Gift mining claims. The Escapule family has lived in and around Tombstone for more than 100 years and are community leaders to this day.
The cemetery contains the graves for 97 soldiers, with service from the Civil War to Vietnam; three of the soldiers have bronze stars and 11 have purple hearts. There are 104 babies buried here. People died from accidents, alcoholism, burns, cancer, cardiac problems, consumption (tuberculosis), diabetes, disease, gunshot, drug overdose, old age, pneumonia, poisoning, stillborn, stroke, suicide, and war. There were a few unusual causes, including mining accidents, animal bites (Gila Monster), and a bad cold.
Here are a few of the more interesting stories from the cemetery, in no particular order.
- Ah Lum was the husband of China Mary, one of the leaders of the Chinese community. He was the Worshipful Master of the Chinese Masonic Lodge and co-owner of the Can-Can Restaurant.
- Nino Cochise was the grandson of Chief Cochise. In another post I discuss the questions about this man’s life and claims.
- George, Ellie, and Eva Bufford were George Bufford’s children who died of diphtheria or whooping cough in the early 1880s. He built the Buford house on Safford that was a bed-and-breakfast until recently and is a private residence today. The family name is spelled both “Bufford” and “Buford” in different places.
- Samuel Barrow and Albert Blair were children who died in an early morning fire of unknown origin at the home of the adult Samuel M Barrow. They were sleeping in a back bedroom and did not get out in time.
- James C Burnett, known in Charleston as “Justice Jim,” where he was the Justice of the Peace. He was shot and killed near the OK Corral by William Green who blamed Burnett for the death of his child.
- George Milton Goodfellow was Dr. George Goodfellow’s child. Dr. Goodfellow was a prominent physician and surgeon in Tombstone in the early days.
- Camillus S Fly (“CS Fly”) was a famous photographer whose studio was on Freemont Street behind the OK Corral, bordering the site of the Gunfight at the OK Corral. His photographs can still be seen at the OK Corral. He was also the Cochise County Sheriff between 1892 and 1896.
- George W. Atkins won George Warren’s copper mining claims in Bisbee when Warren bet he could outrun a horse and lost.
- Alice Brees is reputed by local legend to be Mrs. Sitting Bull and that she and their son, Little Bull, are buried here.
- G. E. Daves is likely the “George Daves” who took his own life over the affection of Petra Edmunds. While the marker is not clear about the name or date of death of the person buried here, George Daves was buried in Tombstone after his death and it seems reasonable to assume that this is his grave.
- Petra (Edmunds) Lombardi, the woman who was shot by George Daves before he took his own life in 1888. Petra survived her injury and lived to be more than 89 years old.
- William Harwood was the first mayor of Tombstone, 1879-1880, a Postmaster, and was instrumental in the construction of Schieffelin Hall.
- Ethel and James Macia. He was the foreman of the Tombstone Consolidated Mining Company and she owned the Arcade Hotel, now the Rose Tree.
- Rosa Schuster was Tombstone’s “beloved lady,” who nursed the sick during a diptheria epidemic in 1886.
- George Augustine Bryan Berry served in Mexican War, owned the Old Guard Mine, and was wounded by the same bullet the killed Morgan Earp at the Campbell and Hatch in 1882.
Finally, there are said to be two animals buried in our cemetery. However, these seem to be only legends since neither of the graves are marked and there is no location given in any of our archives. These are the stories of those two animals, just presented here for what it’s worth.
- Sprinkles was a cat who is supposed to be buried just inside the western fence.
- Dewey was a Modoc stage horse for 20 years, beloved by all, especially the children. He had a friendly personality and as children passed him every day they slipped him fruit or any tidbit of food that they had. When he died his owner started to drag him out into the desert to leave him for the buzzards, but he was met by a mob of crying children and irate adults. To escape their wrath, he agreed to take Dewey to the city cemetery and bury him with a suitable funeral.
Sometimes, late at night, there are reports of hearing a dog or coyote howling inside the cemetery. While no one has ever actually seen such an animal there the stories are common enough that there is, no doubt, something in there making that sort of noise. Orbs, vortexes, and plasmas are all regularly photographed at this location.
The Tombstone Cemetery is on west Allen Street, near the edge of town. The daytime historical trolley route passes the cemetery and I tell some stories about it as we pass by. It is also part of the Tombstone After Dark Ghost Tour where we stop and give our guests an opportunity to leave the trolley to get pictures of the cemetery after dark from the front gate.