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Daniel Buck
Re: Consecrated ground
Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:56am

Where the two San Vicente outlaws were buried, inside/outside the walled cemetery, inside/outside consecrated ground, etc., has been discussed on OWR. Search the word "consecrated."

As is so often the case with events that occurred more than a century ago, and in this case, in a foreign country, the evidence is not always consistent.

Whether the two outlaws were buried in consecrated ground or unconsecrated ground is one question. If in unconsecrated ground, whether such ground was inside or outside the walls of the San Vicente cemetery is another. A.G. Francis wrote that they had been buried in unconsecrated ground. Victor J. Hampton reported that they had been buried in the San Vicente cemetery, between/near a Swede and a German. Francis's and Hampton's accounts are not necessarily contradictory. Unconsecrated ground can be a designated area inside or outside a Catholic cemetery, or so sayeth 19th century Catholic encyclopedias I consulted. Dan

PS Below are a few of my OWR posts on the subject.
Daniel Buck
San Vicente is 14,500 feet in the Andes
Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:48am

Cemetery: Pay attention. The two men were buried the afternoon of the day their bodies were discovered. Exactly where they are buried is unknown, but presumably inside the cemetery, the cemetery as defined by what is enclosed within the four walls we see today. From our own visits there in the 1980s and 1990s and from satellite photos, there does not appear to be any burial activity outside the four walls.

Evidence re the burial itself: 1/ the judicial inquest reports they were buried the afternoon of the day their bodies were found. No indication where. 2/ A.G. Francis wrote in 1913 that he was told that they were buried in "unconsecrated ground." 3/ Victor J. Hampton, who worked in San Vicente in the early 1920s, indicated in his letters that he knew the location of the grave and took a photograph of the cemetery, writing on the photo an arrow pointing to the cemetery.

The consecrated/unconsecrated ground issue is not pivotal. Late 19th/early 20th century Catholic encyclopedias indicate that consecrated ground can be designated inside or outside a cemetery.

Daniel Buck
San Vicente cemetery
Mon Mar 9, 2015 5:16am

I'm assuming that you are referring to the photograph on p. 87, The Authentic Wild West: The Outlaws (1977), by James Horan. The photograph was taken by an American mining engineer who lived in San Vicente in the 1920s. He later gave Horan and copy, telling him that BC&SK were buried there. He said he wanted to dig up their skulls and bring them home as souvenirs, but his wife wouldn't let him.

Horan's description of the cemetery as an "Indian graveyard" is inaccurate. I suspect he assumed that anything in the Andes was Indian. The mines at San Vicente had been worked commercially since the Colonial period, and although one might presume that most of the people buried there were of Indian or mestizo background, reflecting the majority of people living in the village, there are Europeans there as well, Spaniards from the colonial period, on up to the modern era, when Germans, Slavs, Italians, etc., worked in the Andean mine camps. The 1920s engineer, for example, said that a Swede and a German were in the cemetery. I recalling seeing a Slavic plaque, Elvis somebody or other. (Yes, Elvis died in San Vicente.)

The cemetery could also be described as a municipal cemetery, serving San Vicente. (The church and state in Bolivia had long been one.) Presumably all (or part) of the cemetery was consecrated, but that doesn't mean that everyone buried there was Catholic. We are speaking of a small village cemetery high in the Andes, with irregular sacerdotal services and all of the inattention and informality that context suggests. Plus, priests cost money. During our visits there in the 1980s and 1990s, locals conducted there own burial services without benefit of clergy. Bodies are buried helter skelter, some graves with a headstone, some with a makeshift wooden cross, some with no marker at all, asi no mas,

Roger McCord was in San Vicente in 1972, and took photographs in the cemetery, including one of Gustav Zimmer's headstone, which at the time bore a plaque bearing the inscription, in German, "Here lies Gustav Zimmer after many years of hard work." No date. McCord said that no one he interviewed in 1972 knew anything of the outlaws, a shootout, etc. He told the locals the BC&SK story, and they later presumed the grave McCord photographed must be that of BC&SK (why else was McCord taking photos, they probably asked themselves), and the plaque and other accouterments were stolen as souvenirs. By the time the NOVA documentary crew showed up in the early 1990s, legend had become fact: BC&SK were buried in Zimmer's now plaque-less grave.

By the way, a couple of weeks after the 6 November 1908 shootout, the bandits were disinterred in San Vicente by the Tupiza authorities, and Carlos Pero identified them as the pair who had robbed him. Exactly where they are buried, I do now know. The 1920s engineer said, two versions, they were buried between a Swede and a German or near a Swede and a German. Was the German Gustav Zimmer. Don't know. Regardless, a reasonable conclusion is that the two outlaws are buried in the cemetery.

Most of this is discussed in Digging Up Butch and Sundance (rev. ed. 2003), by Anne Meadows. Dan

Daniel Buck
custom vs. practice
Thu Feb 9, 2012 9:58am


Whatever your understanding may be about Roman Catholic burial customs, they vary over time and geography, and as we have discussed here, what people say they do and what they in fact do are two different things.

The Andes in particular are a world apart. As for the SV cemetery, all the graves are inside the cemetery walls and, as I mentioned earlier, anyone can haul a body in there and bury it without so much as a nod to anyone. Consecrated ground or not, informally, it's called "un cemeterio popular."

Daniel Buck
this & that
Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:13am


Most of your questions, e.g. number of dead soldiers, disposition of the payroll, are dealt with in Anne Meadows's book, Digging Up Butch and Sundance, or in articles accessible on our website,

Not "dead soldiers" plural: Only one soldier, Victor Torres, died. Where he was buried I don't know/recall, and is not particularly relevant to the question. Either in San Vicente or perhaps in Uynui, where he was stationed. Both bandits, however, were buried in San Vicente. A week or two after the shootout, Carlos Pero, the man they held up, came to San Vicente, the bandits were exhumed, and he identified them as the pair that held him up. Presumably they were put back in the grave from whence they came.

Theoretically, their grave could have been outside the walls of the cemetery, but an American miner in San Vicente in the 1920s said they were buried in the cemetery between or near (two versions of his story) a German and a Swede. I doubt that the Vatican's rules on consecrated ground reached up into the Bolivian Andes. In fact, even today, the San Vicente is open to anyone with a shovel and a cadaver in need of a home. Colloquially it's known as a "cementerio popular," a people's cemetery.

  • Consecrated groundjim lynch, Tue Apr 10 7:23pm
    I believe it was Pat that introduced the idea that consecrated graveyards would not have allowed robbers to have been buried in a consecrated graveyard therefore it would have been likely that they... more
    • Re: Consecrated ground — Daniel Buck, Wed Apr 11 2:56am
      • concept and practice Mark Mszanski, Thu Apr 12 5:27am
        Dan As an adder - A priest can concentrate the ground of a burial. A grave yard can also have two sections within its walls for consecrated ( pre blessed) or unconsecrated grounds. IE: - One section... more
        • Re: concept and practice Daniel Buck, Thu Apr 12 5:45am
          Mark, Yes, all of those are possibilities. We have two accounts, both second-hand. A.G. Francis said he had heard the two bandits were buried in unconsecrated grounds. Victor J. Hampton said that... more
          • Concept and Practice Mark Mszanski, Thu Apr 12 6:03am
            Dan, Yes, These two options can occur within the walls of the cemetery. Thanks -
        • Mark*ChrisV, Thu Apr 12 5:32am
          How do you know all this stuff Mark* when you can't answer a Yes or No question about where you've been and what you've seen?
      • This is the keyVince Garcia, Wed Apr 11 3:06am
        "Bodies are buried helter skelter, some graves with a headstone, some with a makeshift wooden cross, some with no marker at all, asi no mas," "anyone can haul a body in there and bury it without so... more
        • GreatPat, Wed Apr 11 7:44am
          Bring out the national guard and wall off the surrounding area. . Bring in a dozen bulldozers. Dig up the whole cemetery and surrounding area. Look for anyone with ugly faces and beards or blond... more
          • Thanks to alljim lynch, Wed Apr 11 10:39am
            So it appears to me to be just a matter of money, time and some organization to mount a search for los gringos, aliens or whoever is planted there. On the tv every week is some reality show like the... more
            • Oh Jim!Pat, Wed Apr 11 11:43am
              This is Bolivia.!!!! Dan you give the logistics of how to get the Bolivian gov to do this. Not to mention the people of SV who would truly resent this . Now that they have Zimmer's bones installed as ... more
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