Woodlawn Cemetery is located on North Las Vegas Boulevard along the “Pioneer Trail” a six mile tour of some of Las Vegas, Nevada’s important historical sites. It is one of the oldest Cemeteries in Clark County. Until 1914, when the railroad donated land for a city cemetery, people buried their dead in small family plots or on the public land just north of the railroad-owned Las Vegas Ranch–located just east of Las Vegas Boulevard.
The Woodlawn Cemetery information sign reads, “In pre-railroad times, the Paiute Indians and the few local ranchers set aside graveyards for family use. Other deceased were places in an informal burial ground just north of Las Vegas Ranch. The markers for these graves eventually disappeared, and the burials were forgotten.”
Several local women persuaded the railroad to donate ten acres of Las Vegas ranch—just south of the ‘unofficial’ graveyard to be dedicated as the city cemetery. Since 1914 any early burials discovered outside the cemetery boundaries have been re-interred in Woodlawn Cemetery. Bodies were not interred at Woodlawn until early 1915. The city fathers approved the 10 acre land gift in March 1914—Woodlawn’s recognized date of establishment. There are many individuals with interesting historic backgrounds buried in the now 40 acre cemetery that is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places (2006). Nearly every pioneer family that resided in Las Vegas during the formative years has burial plots in Woodlawn.
Some of the famous burials are of William H. Briare and Fred Hesse, former mayors of Las Vegas; Billy Guy, a musician with the group The Coasters; Cyril S. Wengert, a banker; Charlie Harris, the founder of the Harris Group who owned 20% of Las Vegas. The cemetery includes a few colorful characters such as Nick “The Greek” Dandolos. It is said “Nick the Greek” gambled an estimated $500 million during his lifetime. He died penniless in 1966 at age 83. His good friend Hank Greenspun, publisher of the Las Vegas Sun, paid Dandolos’s funeral costs.
One of Woodlawn’s most interesting ‘residents’ is Jackson Lee “Diamondfield Jack” Davis (1864-1949. This gun-slinging outlaw and cattleman narrowly escaped the hangman’s rope at age 33. Davis was convicted of killing two Idaho sheepherders in 1896. He was sentence to hang June 4, 1897. The day before he was to be executed, he was reprieved due to the confessions of two other men to the murders. He served time at the Idaho State Penitentiary and the Cassia County Jail. He was later pardoned by Idaho’s governor in 1902. He headed for Nevada where he made his fortune in the dangerous profession of gold and silver mining. After surviving the noose (and a number of brushes with death), Davis’ luck finally ran out in 1949 at age 85. As Davis tried to cross a busy Las Vegas street, he was struck and killed by a taxicab. The only sure thing about luck is that it will change…as Davis soon learned.
Visit Woodlawn Cemetery and get a taste of Las Vegas history.
1500 N Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89101