History of Boothill Cemetery

Tilden, Texas

Submitted by Renee Smelley

History of Boothill Cemetery

Boot Hill Cemetery, one of the only two authentic cemeteries of its kind in the southwest, was named Boothill because so many of those who were interred there died violently, "with their boots on."  Many of the early graves were those of people killed in accidents, murdered, died of cholera during the cholera epidemic in 1869, but some were known to have died of natural causes.  The cemetery was established sometime after Frio Rio came into existence in 1858.  Frio Rio has gone through several name changes; Dogtown, Colfax and finally Tilden when it was established the county seat in 1877.  The cemetery is located behind the bank 1/2 a block north of the courthouse plaza on highway 72 and 1/2 block east of State Highway 16. 

Tilden was on the caravan route between San Antonio, Dogtown, Fort Ewell, Laredo and Mexico.  Some time during the Civil War a stage route was also added and saloons began to spring up in Dogtown.  These all brought many undesirable characters to the town as well as men who were on the run from the law that used the surrounding area and brush to hide.  Some of these undesirables provided quite a few occupants for Boothill.

In 1877 Boot Hill Cemetery was abandoned in favor of the present Hill Top Cemetery.  Hill Top Cemetery was originally called Graveyard Hill and many early setters as well as several generations of their descendants have been buried in Hill Top.  Hill Top Cemetery still serves the community today.

Boot Hill Cemetery was neglected for more than half a century.  During this time the "old timers past away, the markers deteriorated, fell down, became lost and more and more of the Boothill lore and history went with them.  In 1955 when the Cenizo Garden Club was organized they began at once to clean up and restore the cemetery.  They cleaned the plots, cleared out the brush, and located as many graves as possible.  The grounds were enclosed by a low border of native stone and the Boothill Cemetery Sign with a large boot made of masonry mounted on a huge slab of a petrified palm stump was added to the cemetery grounds.  They were also instrumental in obtaining a Historical Marker, which stands at the entrance of the cemetery.

Sources: McMullen County History (McMullen County History Book Committee, 1981), Rural Coastal Bend Private Industry Council (A Public/Private Partnership Helping to Develop A Literate and Skilled Workforce in the Coastal Bend Area)          


Boothill Cemetery began with grave of a suicide.  Some occupants are: Dick Gosset, killed in Ft. Ewell gunfight, Feb. 1869.  E. M. Crain, Confederate veteran; one of 4 cholera victims, 1869.  John Smithwick, murdered, 1870.  Jim------, assassinated from door of old Rock Store, 1872.  Unknown, killed in   

Boothill Cemetery Historical Marker

Thumbnail of Boothill Cemetery Historical Marker.  Click to view a larger image.

Boothill Historical Marker

gun battle while standing in front of old Rock Store, 1873.  Unknown, killed unintentionally by Clabe Young, while playing a prank.  S. Glenn Greer (12/7/1848-11/9/1874) thrown from a horse.  Unknown, a Negro drowned in the Nueces, 1875.  Unknown, murderer of James Minter, presumed to have been a Dalton gang member.  Lige Harrison, Jr., killed at age 17 in a hunting accident, 1876.  Samuel Wm. McCreery, murdered at his sheep ranch, 1877. Pemanio Palacios and Phelix Wheeler (infant), both died of natural causes. (1964)


Moses William Hindes Historical Marker

Thumbnail of Moses William Hindes Historical Marker.  Click to view a larger image.

Moses Hindes Historical Marker

Moses William Hindes, a pioneer in settling of southwest Texas. Born in South Carolina; married Mary Jane Mason. Moved in 1840's to Alabama, then to Mississippi. With wife and 6 children came in 1855 by ox-wagon and horse-drawn hack to Texas. After a year in Lockhart, moved (1856) to this area of sparse settlements. To have adequate water for cattle raising, tried living on Ash and San Miguel Creeks.  Then settled on the Frio, where in droughts "wells" were sunk in the river bed.

During the Civil War (1861-1865) Hindes and his son George were Confederate scouts. In that time Indians plundered this area, stealing children and horses. On Aug. 1, 1865, warning came of a new Indian raid. Neighbors went to Hindes' home (9 mi. sw) for safety. 6 men took turns guarding 40 horses held in the corral. At daybreak when the Indians attacked, Moses Hindes was shot to death defending his homestead. Buried at first in this Boothill, he was later reburied in Pleasanton Cemetery, Atascosa County. His heirs remain loyal to this area for which Mr. Hindes died. George, the eldest son, founded the town of Hindes, Atascosa County. The Hindes & Beever Store, Pearsall, sold first pear burner ever marketed. Every generation has had men who rode with Texas Rangers. 1968 Incise in base: Erected by great-grandchildren, Carrie Hindes Eppright and Leroy Hindes.



More History and Notable People

Buried in Boothill

Source: McMullen County History (McMullen County History Book Committee, 1981)

Photos in this section were taken on March 10, 2003

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.  (Note: When Renee Smelley visited the cemetery in July 2002 these graves were evident by the rock tombs that were on top of the ground, but were falling in and apart.)      

E. M. Crain | Rock Tombs Photo 1 | Rock Tombs Photo 2

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.

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 (July 2002), as his family was notified of his death and they sent a iron railing and marble slab for his grave.                                    Photo 1 | Photo 2 | Photo 3 | Simeon Glenn Greer's family group sheet

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.

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 to low and the unfortunate stranger was killed instantly.  Note: No headstone located. 

Phelix, infant son of Leonidas and Sarah Walker Wheeler, died of natural causes.  He was born on September 13, 1870 and died on October 16, 1870.  Note: No headstone located.

How many others are buried in Boothill Cemetery we will probably never know, but it is thought  that others were also buried here before 1877.

Boothill Cemetery Sign, Boothill Cemetery Historical Marker, Moses William Hindes Historical Marker were photographed by Renee Smelley in July 2002.