"There is a difference between the prospector and mining man. A prospector is marked by his love of the search of precious metals, whereas the miner is he who takes over that what the prospector locates. Ed Schieffelin (d. May 12, 1897) was primarily a prospector. He was at Signal when he had a chance to go through Indian infested southeastern Arizona with some military men. Not himself a soldier, Schieffelin packed his few belongings and set off. In the fall of 1877, he was at Camp Huachuca, at that time in the heart of Apache land, and bloody land it was. The bare, richly colored hills to the northeast looked good to Schieffelin, and his prospector's dreams made him disregard the warning that if he went alone to find mineral wealth, he would find his tombstone. Schieffelin was careful. Cautious and alone, he camped at night without fires. He made no move without searching the landscape for Apaches. At night Schieffelin crawled silently to the seep where he got water, then crept back again among the boulders to sleep.
"In February 1870, Ed Schieffelin hit his first strike and named it Tombstone. Needing help, he hurried north to Signal to have the ore assayed by Richard Gird and to enlist the aid of his brother Al Schieffelin. Gird reported that the find was a rich one and he, AL , and Ed left for the latter's location. Once in southern Arizona, they settled their new belongings at a place which in 1879 was called Gird Camp. Soon the boom was on. Miners streamed in from Signal where the word spread that Schieffelin had struck it rich. A comity began to row up near what was called Tank Hill, about three miles from the present Tombstone.
"The lack of water was a major problem. There was a running stream at Tank HIll, and one after another concrete foundations for tent houses appeared. On the hill there was a big tank for storing water. Near the base of the hill was a community known as Watervale; from it water was pumped to the tank. At its best Watervale was a temporary community. It lacked room for building permanent structures, and hordes of newcomers sought a level place for a town. Tombstone was the result.
"The indefatigable John B. Allen, who seems to have established stores in mining communities throughout southern Arizona, was referred to in 1879 as the "founder of Tombstone City" where he was once again in the van of those creating a community. By the end of 1879 Tombstone had about one hundred permanent residents, plus at least one thousand others camped on nearby hills. A year and a half ;later Tombstone was emerging as one of the largest cities in the West. The badmen whooped it up at Tombstone but their noise was nothing compared to the ruckus they created at nearby Charleston or far across the valley at Galeyville. While it is true that badmen flocked to Tombstone's saloons and gambling houses and that the Earp-Clanton feud is a famous one, it is often overlooked that Tombstone was probably the most cultivated city in the West and Southwest. Tombstone was at that time larger than San Francisco and whatever cultural opportunities were in the West they could be found in Tombstone. With a population of 15,000 the community erected an opera house where the best of the world's musicians and actors could be heard.
"Ironically, it was water which drowned Tombstone's hopes and plans. As the mining shafts plunged ever deeper into the rich earth, moisture began to appear. When the shafts reached five hundred feet, it became necessary to begin pumping.This was of little avail. To add to difficulties, the surface pumps at the Grand Central and Contention Mines burned in 1886 and in 1887, and the mining shafts filled rapidly with water. As the mines flooded, the town began to shrivel. By 1890 Tombstone was nearly dead. In 1901 the everlasting water penetrated the boilers, extinguising the fires, and again the mine shaft flooded. The prohibitive cost precludes abstracting the rich ores known to be hundred of feet deep in Tombstone's earth. Tombstone, however, did not die. For years it led an anemic existence, barely tottering along. As the past has receded, the town has become of increasing interest to the present, and today Tombstone is a flourishing tourist attraction known as the "Town Too Tough to Die".
As for Ed Schieffelin, his life came full circle when his body was buried near where years before he had crept at night to obtain water. He once said that the two most glorious nights he had ever known were those during which he had slept on the hill where he is now buried, and he left a written request in his records that he be buried at that spot. Ever the prospector, he had long since wandered to other fields and in one of them in the Northwest he died, his body being brought back for burial to the place he loved.
In 1881 Tombstone became the county seat for Cochise County. It continued to be so until 1929 when the seat was moved to Bisbee."
P.O. est. December 2, 1878. Incorporated Jan 3, 1881.
Barnes, Will C.; Granger, Byrd (ed.) Arizona Place
Names University of Arizona Press. 1960.
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Arizona Department of Commerce Community Profiles Tombstone Arizona
Local Government Website, Tombstone Arizona
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Tombstone Public Library
P.O. Box 218 Tombstone, AZ 85636
Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park
219 E. Toughnut Street, Tombstone, Arizona
Open daily, 8 am to 5 pm
For a Description of the Museum click Here.
The Bird Cage Theatre
517 E Allen TOMBSTONE AZ 85638
O K Corral
Allen TOMBSTONE AZ 85638
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Books/Manuscripts found in the ASU Library Catalog
History Books for Reference
The chronicles of tombstone / by Ben T. Traywick.
F 819.T6 T727 1986
The town too tough to die.
F819.T6 T727 1986
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References recommended for Wyatt Earp and Tombstone
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Back to Cochise County
Last Updated: July 28, 2002
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