Moving Boot Hill Cemetary

My grandfather Fred Kirkpatrick Sr. was born in Dodge City in 1889. He saw a lot of history there over the 95 years he lived in the area. He was also the City and County Engineer for probably over 40 years and maybe longer so he was involved with all of the street, water and sewer projects as Dodge grew from a Western Kansas cattle town to a booming stockyard and beef processing and farming community.

One such project he told about was building a sewer line west of the then current town of Dodge and it went through the empty fields out there. Due to the practice of burying people helter skelter in the early days with no permanent markers, they would often hit a grave as they dug along each day.

Now remember, this was back in the day when the ditches no matter how deep, were hand dug. That meant men were down in those trenches up to 12 hours a day digging and hauling out dirt for the sewer pipe to be installed. He told of many trenches 12 feet or more deep so this was hard hard work.

There was a man who was extremely superstitious and scared of ghosts being in the graves and he talked constantly about it. They teased him all the time and when a grave was struck, he would come out of the trench on a run. One day, the man was working in the trench without a shirt.

Barebacked and hot and tired at the end of a long day, he said the sun was chasing the horizon and the man got more and more edgy as it got darker fearing a haunt or ghost was gonna get him. SOMEONE, ALTHO my grandfather never said WHO did it, SOMEONE grabbed a black cat walking past the work site and threw it down on the mans bare back. The cat claws sunk in deep and it let out a scream only to be drowned out by the mans own blood curdling yell. The man came out of the trench in one leap and took off for town.

He never returned to the job site seeking safer places away from the haunts. The sly grin my grandfather always showed leads me to believe he may have had some hand it in.