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Tombstone's Riches

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Tombstone, Arizona, Allen Street, 1882

Tombstone , Arizona  in 1882.

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Discovery of Tombstone's Riches

Fortunes of Ed Schieffelin

Consolidation of the Tombstone Mines


Discovery of Tombstone's Riches


There was nothing prosaic about the richness of Tombstone's mines. They were founded on romance and excitement , both of which,  dominated the days of their operation. The romance there was in their location.


Ed Schieffelin, in the winter of 1877-78, after a short civilian service with a company of soldiers, was employed to do assessment work on the Brunckow Mine, about a mile north of the site of Charleston . This was the only mine then known in that locality. It had been located in 1858 by a Polish scientist, who had given the claim his own name. But, the mine was valueless. Schieffelin's idle time was spent in the hills prospecting. He was probably the only man in the camp who cared to prospect, for the hill slopes were uninviting, and it was known that they contained Apache Indians. As he started on one particular expedition, a companion queried, "Where are you going, Ed?" "Just out in the hills to look for stones, was the reply, and the parting observation as he tramped away was: "The stone you will find will be your tombstone.


Possibly that very day, at a point a short distance below the present town, he traced some rich silver "float" to a ledge on which he set his foot and cried, "At last I have found my tombstone!" This claim, which he named the Tombstone, he recorded at Tucson on September 3, 1877. It was several miles from the later camp of Tombstone and about four miles from the San Pedro


His work on the Brunckow Mine finished, Schieffelin went to Silver King, where he learned that his brother, Al, had gone to Signal in Mohave County. He journeyed there and showed his "float" to Dick Gird, assayer at the time in the Signal Mill. Much interested, Gird and Al Schieffelin accompanied him back to Southern Arizona, and soon letters arrived in Signal telling they had struck it rich, causing an exodus of much of the male population of that camp bound for the new strike. The original location, the Tombstone , did not prove of much value, but much better success attended the development of a number of claims staked out on the very site of the town shortly after it was established. These claims included the Tough Nut, Goodenough, Lucky Cuss, East Side and West Side.


Soon after the arrival of the Schieffelin Party, the upper mineral section of the district was accidentally stumbled upon by Ed Williams and Jack Friday. In the night, their mules had broken loose from a dry camp that they had made, and struck out for water along an Indian trail. In the morning, the men tracked the mules who had made their trail clear by dragging a chain attached to one of the animals.








Ed Schieffelin

Ed Schieffelin


Following the chain trail, Williams noticed the bright gleam of metal where the iron had been dragged, and discovered what would become the Contention Lode, the richest location ever made in the district. The mules were followed over into the Schieffelin camp, where the new mine received its logical name in the contention that arose over its ownership, for Schieffelin was none too well pleased that a stranger had discovered mineral almost under his very nose.


The quarrel was settled; however, by the division of the ground, the Schieffelin interests taking the lower end -- the Contention, and Williams and his partner the other, which was called the Grand Central. Gus Barren, a skilled miner and friend of Schieffelin, then was called up from Mexico to supervise the development.  


Soon after discovery, the Contention Mine was purchased by J.H. White and S. Denson, who represented W.D. Dean of San Francisco . The price was $10,000, considered exorbitant by the sellers themselves, who could not foresee the future production of millions of dollars.


Continued Next Page


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