Tombstone: Legend began with Schieffelin

Legendary Tombstone began with Ed Schieffelin

Wyatt Earp and Tombstone might not have been the stuff of legends had it not been for a shrewd prospector named Ed Schieffelin.

Tombstone City Historian, Don Taylor, tells the story of Ed Schieffelin in this guest post. You’ll see how the “town too tough to die” got its name and how mining changed the landscape of Apache country that we now know as Cochise County.

Ed Schieffelin: prospecting in the Arizona Territory

A second generation prospector, Schieffelin came to Arizona, following after his father had headed west during the Gold Rush era in 1852. For years, Schieffelin looked for mineral wealth in California, Montana, Utah, and Nevada. He made a living at various jobs: he was a miner, a stagecoach driver, a teamster, and a wood cutter.

But he was always prospecting.

Schieffelin spent time in Mohave County in the Arizona Territory, but he became disenchanted with it. He chose to explore the Apache-infested lands to the south. He wasn’t so naive as to enter the region alone. He joined a party of Hualapai scouts who were relocating to Camp Huachuca (what is now Fort Huachuca, still an active Army post) to pursue renegade Chiricahua Apaches. The group reached their destination on May 29, 1877.

Using Camp Huachuca as a base, Schieffelin trailed several scouting parties, but this didn’t give him enough time for prospecting. He struck out on his own.

Schieffelin ridiculed
As is often the case when it comes to visionaries who see beyond the conventional wisdom of the day, many people thought Ed was odd. You can imagine the soldiers making fun of him as he went about prospecting. Day after day he came back empty handed.

Each time he returned, the soldiers asked him what he had found. Schieffelin admitted he hadn’t found anything that day, but said he soon would. This always tickled the soldiers, and they would reply that the only thing he would find in these hills was his tombstone.

Watch for the next post: "Schieffelin finds his 'Tombstone'"