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Ed Schieffelin

Ed Schieffelin

Ed Schieffelin 1

In 1877, the City of Tombstone was founded by Ed Schieffelin. At the time, there was a scouting voyage in Tombstone against the Chiricahua (chir-i-cow-uh) Apaches. Ed was part of this mission and was staying at a place called Camp Huachuca (wa-chu-ka) . During his stay, he would leave the camp to look for rocks within the wilderness despite the fact that fellow soldiers at his camp warned him not to.

The soldiers told him that he wouldn’t find stones out in the wilderness and would only eventually find his own tombstone. Fortunately, for Ed, he did not find his tombstone, but he did find something: silver.

Taking the advice his fellow soldiers gave him, his very first mine was named The Tombstone.

Word quickly spread about his silver strike. It wasn’t long before homesteaders, cowboys, speculators, prospectors, lawyers, business people and gunmen headed to the area. Known as Goose Flats back then, a town site was situated near the mines in 1879 and was named Tombstone due to the first claim of silver mining by Ed Schiefflelin.

The popular in Tombstone increased to approximately 7,500 by the mid-1880s. However, this figure only consisted of the white males over the age of 21 that were registered vote. The figure that consists of women, children and other ethnicities, the population was at least 15,000 and possibly as much as 20,000. Tombstone was considered to be between San Francisco and St. Louis as the fastest populating city. Tombstone was home to more than 100 saloons, a multitude of eateries, a huge red-light district, a larger popular of Chinese, newspapers, churches, schools, and one of the original Arizona community swimming pools, which is still being used today.

Schieffelin Monument

Schieffelin Monument 1
Schieffelin Monument

The Schieffelin Monument is the last resting place of Ed Schieffelin, the prospector who discovered the mineral deposits that triggered the Tombstone silver boom in 1877. Located in the beautiful high desert just northwest of Tombstone, the Monument is now part of the Tombstone Courthouse State Park. It is a place where you can feel a direct connection to the Old West days of Tombstone, “the town too tough to die.”

Edward Schieffelin was born in 1847 in Pennsylvania. In 1856, he moved to California with his family to follow his father who had gone west as part of the California gold rush. The family ended up as farmers in Oregon, but Ed soon followed his father’s footsteps and in 1864 left home to work as a prospector. By 1877, he was in Arizona prospecting, sometimes working as a scout for the Army. He used Fort Huachuca as his home base. He told a soldier that he was confident he would find something and he received the famous reply, “Yes, you’ll find your tombstone.”

Well, he did find something – several outcroppings of rich minerals. In August of 1877 he filed claims, named the Tombstone and the Graveyard. He formed a partnership with his brother Albert Schieffelin and Richard Gird. Together, these three returned to southeastern Arizona and began to develop the claims. Other deposits were located: the Ground Hog, the Owl Nest, the Lucky Cuss, the Tough Nut, and the Contention. These claims made them rich. In 1880, Ed sold his share of the claims for $500,000. These mines provided the economic basis for a new town, facetiously named “Tombstone.”

Wealth could not change Ed. He continued to prospect, including a trip to Alaska. In 1897 he was found dead in his Oregon cabin, where he was still searching for another strike. As specified in his will, his body was returned to Tombstone where he was buried in prospector’s clothing, with a pick and canteen on a hill near the site of his first camp. A monument 25 feet high, shaped like a prospector’s claim, was built over the grave. An inscription reads “Ed Shieffelin, Died May 12 1897, Aged 49 years, 8 months, A Dutiful Son, A Faithful Husband, A kind Brother, A True Friend.”

You can visit the Monument during daylight hours. It is located on Allen Street, about two miles northwest of Tombstone. There is a picnic table, a short trail, and amazing views of the desert terrain where Ed Schieffelin found treasure. For more information, contact the Tombstone Courthouse State Park at (520) 457-3311.

Schieffelin Hall

Schieffelin Hall

“Respectable” individuals in the town went to Schieffelin Hall for entertainment. In June of 1881, the Schieffelin Hall was opened and built by Al, the brother of Ed Schieffelin.

It was used as more than a theater, as it was also a recital hall as well as a meeting venue for citizens of Tombstone. In the Southwest U.S., it is this building that is considered the largest adobe structure standing.

Wyatt and Morgan Earp were both at a performance at the Schieffelin Hall when Morgan was shot dead by the bullet of an assassin. This building is still used today by civic groups and city government.