Friday, August 11, 2017

Doc Holliday & The Man That's Not Him

Dear Friends,

John Escapule is not Doc Holliday. Mr. Escapule's photograph is very often mistaken as being a photo of John Henry "Doc" Holliday. And though often mistaken, the picture of John Escapule is not a picture of Doc Holliday.

Mr. Escapule was born on December 16th, 1856. His place of birth was France. He migrated to the United States from France. He settled in Tombstone in 1877, actually two years before the town was established. His first business in Arizona was when he owned the State of Maine Mine on the edge of Tombstone. He also had an assay office next to the O.K. Corral.

As for his generosity? He was known as a man who would be there for a friend and help in ever way possible those in need. His generousness also extended to the town of Tombstone as well. In fact, he donated land to the city of Tombstone. That land became the "New Cemetery" for the city of Tombstone.

It's true. Because Tombstone was growing fast and the town started to outgrow it's cemetery that we know today as Boothill, there was a need for a new cemetery. The need was answered when John Escapule donated the land. The transfer of the donated land is said to have been sealed with a handshake. That land where the Jennie Belle, Little Tom, and the New Year's Gift mining claims sat at the west end of Allen Street, was gifted to the city for the "New Cemetery" by John Escapule.

The famous Boothill, which now charges visitors $3 to enter, has about 250 people buried there. Among them is Tom and Frank McLaury, Fred White, the now famous Lester Moore. Boothill was used until late in 1884. After that, the New City Cemetery on Allen Street came into use.

It is said that most folks in Tombstone wanted their loved ones buried in the "New Cemetery". In fact, after the "New Cemetery" opened, it's said that quite a few locals living in Tombstone actually had their loved ones disinterred and moved to the "New Cemetery".

Some say the reason for their wanting their family moved had everything to do with who was buried in Boothill. It is said that many who moved their loved ones, simply didn’t like the idea that their family members would be spending eternity along side horse thieves, cattle rustlers, murderers, prostitutes, and "Chinamen".

As for other who were buried in Boothill after it closed, there are actually a few people who were buried in Boothill after 1884. Usually, they were granted special permission prior to their deaths.

Here's a couple of things that I found pretty interesting. Tombstone's Boothill Graveyard was not called "Boothill" until the 1920s when Hollywood gave it that name. Prior to the 1920s, and after 1884 when it closed, Boothill was referred to as "The Old Cemetery."

As for the condition of Boothill over the years, because a great number of residents had moved away after the mining boom went bust, there was almost no one left to tend to the graves.

Of course because Boothill was neglected for years, nature reclaimed a lot of the old cemetery over the years. And besides nature taking it over, the original wooden markers either rotted away or were used for campfires. And if you're wondering if someone would steal a grave marker, some of the wooden makers were indeed stolen by souvenir hunters.

All in all, Boothill became an overgrown garbage dump trampled by free-range cattle. This was so much the case that even former editor of the Tombstone Epitaph as well as former Tombstone Mayor John Clum was appalled by the condition of the old cemetery when he returned to Tombstone in 1929. The story goes that he went to the old cemetery to pay respects to his wife, Mary. When he could not find her grave, he is said to have became visibly distraught.

In the 1930s, some of Tombstone's remaining citizens decided that the old cemetery needed to be cleaned up. It's said they actually called on the local Boy Scouts of America, and gave them the task of clearing the brush, the trash, and other debris. It was then that people tried to recall where various individual’s graves were located.

Some were known and others weren't. As for a few of the more famous people buried in Boothill Graveyard, it is said that there is reasonable certainty that their markers are either at or near the location of their graves.

For example, China Mary was the undisputed ruler of "Hoptown" which was what townsfolk called the Chinese neighborhood in Tombstone. She was granted special permission prior to her death to be buried in Boothill in 1906. Her tombstone is believed to be the actual site of her grave. Dutch Annie was a popular madam who gave generously to many worth while causes as well as to many men who were down on their luck. She was known as the "Queen of the Red Light District." She is believed buried where her marker sits.

Fred White, Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, are supposedly buried where their headstones indicate. All five of those legally hanged for the Bisbee Massacre are buried in the old cemetery. Their graves are said to be at the approximate location where their marker sits.

As for John Escapule, in December of 1903, a couple of outlaws named Burt Alvord and Billy Stiles escaped from the Tombstone Jail and broke into Jim Rock's Dry Goods store . A young boy by the name of "Percy Bowden" was asleep in the store when Alvord and Stiles broke in.

The outlaws held the boy hostage while they robbed the store. And after fleeing the scene, the outlaws actually stopped at John Escapule's ranch to steal two of his horses to help them make their getaway.

John Escapule died on October 11th, 1926. He died of Stomach Cancer. He was buried on October 12th, 1926. At the time of his death in 1926, he was known as a retired Cattleman.

So as you can see, John Escapule is not Doc Holliday. And though Mr. Escapule's photograph is mistaken as being a photo of Doc Holliday, the picture of John Escapule is not a picture of Doc Holliday.

John Henry "Doc" Holliday is buried in Colorado. John Escapule is buried in the "New Cemetery" in Tombstone, Arizona. Yes, the very land that he himself donated to the city of Tombstone.

Tom Correa


  1. John Heath, the man lynched for allegedly masterminding the Bisbee Massacre is not buried in Boothill. His father came and got the body and took it back to Texas. Heath is lies in an unmarked grave beside other family members in the Oakland Memorial Park in Terrell, Kaufman County, Texas. He is not in Boothill.
    Just for information purposes.

    1. True...and there are other suspect markers where individuals have been moved to other cemeteries as well or didn't ever exist. Lester Moore comes to mind. You can also find Les in Boot Hills at both Dodge City and Hays Kansas (with differing back stories), and even at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.

  2. And before anybody starts asking, no. Doc Holliday is NOT buried in Tombstone. He is buried in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. He died there of tuberculosis on November 8, 1887. He was 35.


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