Arizona, one of the most lawless mining camps in the
American West, was soon dubbed "The Town Too Tough to Die.”
The mining camp was born when a
prospector named Ed Schieffelin looked out on the mountains from where
he stood at Camp Huachuca,
Arizona. Thinking that
the rich colors of the mountains looked like a promising place to
prospect, he commented on this to a nearby
soldier. However, the
soldier was quick to warn him that the area was controlled by the
and responded him "All you'll find in those hills is your tombstone."
However, Schieffelin was not deterred,
and the next year, in February 1878, he set out to hills alone in
search of his fortune. After hiding for two nights from
Apache Indians, he spied what looked like it might be a silver vein on a
ledge high above his hiding place. Climbing to the ledge, he
pried out several pieces of pure silver and was elated when he
estimated the vein to be some fifty feet long and twelve inches
wide. Remembering the soldier's warning he called his vein,
which would later become a mine, "Tombstone.”
Ed collected a bag of samples and put up two claim
markers – the second claim, he called "Graveyard.” He then
traveled to Tucson to file his claim, and afterward struck out for
Signal, Arizona (now a ghost
town,) where his brother lived, hoping for a grub stake.
When Ed’s brother, Al, wanted no part of
such a wild venture, the disappointed Ed took a job for a short time
in the McCracken Mine. However, he continued to search for help.
Soon, he took his samples to Richard K.
Gird, a Signal assayer, who pronounced that Schieffelin’s ore was very
rich. Gird immediately offered to finance the development of a
mine for a 1/3 interest in the claim. Brother Al, quickly
changed his mind, upon finding out this information, and also became
involved, the three becoming equal partners.
On the way back to the mountains Ed found
two more sites laden with silver ore, registering the claim as "Lucky
Cuss” and "the Toughnut." All of Ed’s claims would soon become
mines. In no time at all, word spread that silver had been
discovered and other prospectors began to search the area. Before long, more mines began to open including, the Grand Central,
the Charleston and the Contention mines, and a mining camp was born
named after Ed’s first claim – Tombstone.
post office was established December 2, 1878 and has never been
discontinued. On March 5, 1879 an official town site was laid out
and lots were sold on Allen Street for five dollars each. Soon, Tombstone
had some 40 cabins and about 100 residents.