Filed Under Virginia City

Hillside Cemetery

Virginia City Historic District

Seven hundred souls lie beneath the sod here in Virginia City’s community cemetery. Boot Hill across the ridge to the west was the first burial ground, but after interment of five road agents there in January 1864, citizens preferred to bury relatives elsewhere. Some even moved loved ones’ remains from Boot Hill to Hillside. The oldest marked grave is that of Joseph Watkins who died on March 22, 1865, but early-day graves were often left unmarked. Others buried here include Alder Gulch discoverer Bill Fairweather, Vigilantes of Montana author Thomas Dimsdale, African American businesswoman Sarah Bickford, wealthy banker Henry Elling, and many other prominent pioneers. A section at the east end accommodated Catholics. Hillside’s rich assortment of markers includes a few wooden headboards, antiquated mail-order obelisk style monuments, symbolic tree trunks—representing life cut short—and locally produced granite headstones. These illustrate the development of gravestone art in Montana. William Boyce Thompson gave the fence and gate in the late 1920s in memory of his three young siblings buried at Hillside.


Hillside Cemetery, Virginia City
Hillside Cemetery, Virginia City View looking northeast at cemetery road Source: Courtesy of Montana Heritage Commission Creator: Kate Steeley, Montana Heritage Commission Date: Oct 2019


East Douglas Street, Virginia City, Montana | Public


Montana National Register Sign Program, “Hillside Cemetery,” Historic Montana, accessed April 14, 2024,