Boot Hill Cemetery

When Hays City was founded in the fall of 1867, a hill that was approximately ½ mile north of town served as the location for the first burials. It became known as the Boot Hill cemetery and estimates on the number of people buried there vary from 37 to 100. The most reliable evidence shows there were approximately 79 graves. Even though the early days of Hays City were wild and dangerous, the first few deaths were actually from natural or accidental causes. The first recorded death on November 5, 1867, which was due to an accident where a teamster was kicked in the head by a mule, followed by a fever and an unknown fatal ailment. In the next several years, many of the interments on Boot Hill were due to violence such as shootouts, mob hostility, alcoholism, suicides and racial strife. The last recorded burial on Boot Hill was on November 9, 1874.

As Hays City grew further to the north and homes were built in the area and near the site of the cemetery, many of the grave sites and bodies were relocated to Mount Allen Cemetery, which was further to the north of Boot Hill. Records however were incomplete and therefore the whereabouts of all the grave sites were lost in history.

Cemetery Location

Visitors to this site, which is located on the northeast corner of Fort and 18th Street, can see a marker called "The Homesteader" a statue by local artist Pete Felten. The statue commemorates the first cemetery of Hays City. The Boot Hill Cemetery in Hays, the oldest west of the Mississippi, was named because many of the inhabitants "died with their boots on."  By 1872, when the town of Dodge City, KS was founded, the Hays City Boot Hill was already well populated with 36 grave sites. Therefore, the original Boot Hill was located in Hays, not Dodge City as many people believe.