October 29, 2022 | Last updated May 18, 2023

Marker Monday: Boot Hill

Our Historical Markers across Nebraska highlight fascinating moments and places in our state’s past.

The first people buried at Boot Hill were a mother and child, but many of the others came to rest there by running afoul of the law.

Location

Boot Hill Cemetery, Park Hill Dr. & W 10th St., Ogallala, Keith County, Nebraska

Marker Text

Boot Hill was the final resting place for many early westerners who helped make Ogallala a booming cowtown in the 1870’s and 1880’s. These people, the cowboys, settlers, and drifters, came to Ogallala when the railroad and the Texas Trail opened a new market for the Texas Longhorn. Although one of the first burials here was mother and child, many came by running afoul of the law — some for stealing another man’s horse. Others were killed by re-fighting the Civil War or for questioning the gambler’s winning hand. In July of 1879 three cowhands were buried in a single day, victims of the sheriff’s guns. Another man, “Rattlesnake Ed”, was buried here after he was shot down over a nine dollar bet in a Monte game in the Cowboys Rest, a local saloon. Most were buried with their boots on, thus the name Boot Hill. Their bodies, placed in canvas sacks, were lowered into shallow graves and marked with a wooden headboard. Some of the bodies have since been removed, only the unknown or the unclaimed remain in this western cemetery.

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