Thursday, February 9, 2012

Boot Hill Cemetery

This part of Texas is a lot of wide open land dotted here and there with tiny communities. This little Post Office in Callahan is an example.
You wouldn't think of most of these towns as a destination for tourism. The neighborhoods reflect the struggle against poverty. People raise pigs and chickens in their yards.

So what is it that drew us to the tiny town of Tilden, you ask? A place where the sheriff deputies wear jeans and black cowboy hats and drive pick-up trucks?
A place where businesses are multi-purpose? This one houses a motel, gift shop, Cafe, and grocery store.
Well, it wasn't really Tilden that we came to see, but Frio Rio, as the settlement was known when it came into existence in 1858. A town exemplary of the wild, wild west as we think of it. What's left of that old town (which later was named Dogtown, and finally Tilden) is the history that lies in its cemetery known as Boot Hill.
Boot Hill Cemetery, one of only two authentic cemeteries of its kind in the Southwest, was named Boot Hill because so many of those interred there died violently, "with their boots on." After years of neglect, the local garden club cleaned up and restored the cemetery in 1955, adding this masonry boot mounted on a petrified palm stump, the sign, and Historical Markers.
Occupants included victims of suicides, murders, accidents, gunfights, and those that died of Cholera.
Epamindondas M. Crain had made a trip to San Antonio in 1869 when the cholera epidemic was raging, contracted the disease and died a few days after reaching home.  His headstone reveals that he was born in 1816 and died in 1869.  He served during the Civil War and was a private in the 29th Brigade Texas Troops Confederates States Army.  Three other cholera victims were also buried here during this time, but their identities are unknown.  All the graves of the cholera victims were completely sealed with rock tombs.   The story that has been handed down is that the citizens of Tilden were so terrified of cholera that they were afraid it  might work up through the soil and infect others, so they sealed these graves in rock tombs.  How true the story is, no one knows. 
Simeon Glenn Greer (Decemeber 07, 1848 - November 09, 1874) a young man, said to be seeking adventure, came to Dogtown in 1874.  He was thrown and killed while trying to ride a half tamed horse.  His grave is still evident today, as his family was notified of his death and they sent a iron railing and marble slab for his grave. 
Other notables include:
Dick Gossett was wounded in a gun battle at Fort Ewell and buried here in 1869.  Known as one of the most noted outlaws of this area, a confederate deserter and a ruthless cold blooded killer.  Dick's brother, Malachi, and their partner, Tom Green, tried to get him to Tilden for help, but he died before they reached town.  Note: No headstone located.

A stranger arriving in town on the stage coach had the bad judgment of walking around town in a top hat.  Some men from a local Dogtown saloon took notice of the tall hat and jokingly decided to put a bullet through the crown.  Clabe Young, one of the pranksters, had bad aim, shot too low and the unfortunate stranger was killed instantly.  Note: No headstone located.

John Smithwick was murdered in 1870 while he was being held prisoner of the law.  The murderer thought Smithwick knew too much and this might be brought out during the trial.  Evidently the murderer was later shot by another person seeking revenge for the murder of Smithwick.  Note: No headstone located.
Simba has learned the grass in these parts has sand spurs. He refuses to walk, and waits for me to carry him. Smart dog.
This marker gives a little history of how the settlement began, and the founder who was killed defending the town from an Indian raid, was once buried here, but his body later moved. Guess his family didn't want him buried with the riffraff.
Tilden was established as the county seat in 1877. This is the McMullen County Courthouse.
And just outside of town, a house with a picket fence that oil money can buy.
So how did I find out about that obscure little cemetery in a tiny town? It wasn't this little birdie that told me, but I did finally get a good picture of the American Kestrel.
It was because a Geocache is hidden there. It was small...only a log to sign, but sometimes the place a Geocache is hidden is more interesting than the cache itself.

Birdie and I are now at Corpus Christie State Park, where we will get-together with some other RVing friends this week, and check out what this area has to offer.


  1. Great blog post. You can find something of interest everywhere. Hope you get some decent weather there and are having fun.

  2. Thanks for all those great pictures..bringing me back to when I visited this area...of course no one took pictures. By the should have added that Strawberry Cake picture here for our treat after the show... Keep em' coming I'm so enjoying this ride...God Bless Zeee and Critters 3