their arrival in Arizona Territory in the late 1870's, brothers Tom
and Frank McLaury became "fast friends" with Billy Clanton. New York
born Tom and Frank set down stakes in the Territory intending to make
their fortunes in the cattle business. Old Man Clanton was the owner
of the largest cattle ranch in the area, so it was inevitable that
they would meet. Despite the McLaury brothers once being tempted to
join the law profession as their father did once their family moved
to Iowa, and their older brother did in Texas, Tom and Frank went
another direction entirely, inherently and physically.
Alongside Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank got into a mess of trouble
in Arizona and on many occasions. It didn't take long for them to
develop their reputations as outlaws. As much fun as they may have
had when it all first started, they probably never dreamed they'd
spend an eternity, interred side by side with their friend Billy,
paying for the mistake of going up against the likes of Wyatt Earp
and Doc Holliday.
There are several famous "Boot Hill" graveyards across the United
States, but the one located in Tombstone, Arizona will be the focus
of this fifth Phillips Collection
article. It is within that graveyard (that was simply known as the
Tombstone Cemetery until the trendy name change in the 1920's) that
Tom and Frank McLaury and the notorious Billy Clanton are buried.
After these three men were gunned down by the Earp brothers and Doc
Holliday during shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone on October
26, 1881, their bodies were displayed in matching decorative caskets
in the undertaker's front window for the residents of Tombstone to
view. The bodies were then carried in one of the largest and most
elaborate funeral processions that Tombstone had ever seen, ending
at their final resting place depicted below.
Boot Hill 1
300 people are believed to have been buried in the Tombstone Cemetery,
but only 205 of them were actually recorded. Once the "New Cemetery"
was established on Allen Street in 1884, the dead were then interred
at that location, making the previous cemetery the "Old Cemetery"
until the colorful name change to Boot Hill.2
Boot Hill was severely neglected, likely until it was discovered that
it could be capitalized on for tourist dollars when "Old West" enthusiasm
took a firm hold in the U.S. That enthusiasm spread to other countries,
firmly establishing Old West characters as legendary.
This is the
entrance to Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone. 3
Photo courtesy of Google Earth
|As fun as it
might be to meander through the Boot Hill Graveyard in Tombstone and
imagine what it might have been like in days long past, you won't
view anything except for a few piles of rocks and wooden markers.
It does little to bring you any closer to the McLaury brothers or
Billy Clanton. But, photos from the Phillips Collection can do that
comparison purposes, the photo on the left is of Frank McLaury courtesy
of Wikipedia. The photo on the right is of Frank McLaury from the
following photo of both Tom (on left) and Frank McLaury (on right)
is taken from The McLaury's in Tombstone, Arizona - An O.K. Corral
Obituary by Paul Lee Johnson:
for comparison purposes, the photo on the left is of Tom McLaury borrowed
from Wikipedia. The photo on the right is of Tom McLaury from the
|The photo of
Tom McLaury from the Phillips Collection was taken by Herbert N. Gale
who set up what would become a very successful photography studio
in Bristol, Connecticut in 1878.
comparison purposes, the photo of Billy Clanton on the left is borrowed
from Southern Arizona Guide. The photo on the right is a photo of
Billy Clanton from the Phillips Collection.
from the Phillips Collection was captured by a young photographer
named Arthur Mitchell who was actually only a few months older than
Billy. Before1880, Mr. Mitchell, at the young age of 19, had already
set up a photography studio at No. 4 Brewer Block in Westfield, New
following photo of Billy Clanton (in his death pose) on the left is
borrowed from Wikipedia and is again provided for comparison purposes.
The photo on the right is of Billy Clanton from the Phillips Collection.
|This photo of
Billy Clanton from the Phillips Collection was taken by Reed & Bock
in Circleville, Ohio who were in business in the 1870's.
the photographs of Tom and Frank McLaury were taken, the two young
men didn't look anything like outlaws. If it wasn't for meeting up
with the Clanton family, they may have stayed on the right side of
the law. But, fate insisted that it be otherwise. The McLaury brother's
association with the Clanton's led to mistakes that would cost them
their lives. The three men became legendary, but nevertheless, reluctant
and early residents of Boot Hill Cemetery.
Hill. (2015, July 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved
16:00, July 6, 2015, from
July 6, 2015
3 Google Earth, July 6, 2015
McLaury. (2015, April 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved
17:12, July 6, 2015, from
5 The McLaury’s
in Tombstone, Arizona – An O.K. Corral Obituary by Paul Lee Johnson,
University of North Texas Press, Denton, Texas, 2012
6 Tom McLaury.
(2015, May 21). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:15,
July 6, 2015, from
July 8, 2015
Clanton. (2015, April 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved
19:34, July 8, 2015, from