Ed Schieffelin and Tombstone Arizona

Tombstone City Historian Don Taylor continues his story about Tombstone founder, Ed Schieffelin. In today’s post, you’ll learn about Schieffelin’s mining ventures and his partners.

Schieffelin finds his ‘Tombstone’
In summer of 1877 in the hills east of Brunkow’s cabin, Schieffelin found ledges of silver chloride and sulfide. On August 1 of that year, he staked his first claim and called it “Tombstone.” His sense of humor didn’t stop there. He staked two more claims and called them “Graveyard No. 1” and “Graveyard No. 2.” He needed his samples assayed to see if his instincts were correct. Off he went to Tucson.

When Schieffelin arrived, no assayers remained. He showed his samples to Sydney DeLong, one of the owners of the Brunkow mine. DeLong said the samples were inferior. Besides, he told him, he already had enough mining interests. Schieffelin would not be deterred. He returned to the hills to continue prospecting. For months he lived on deer and other game while avoiding the Apaches.

Albert joins the ‘family business’
With only 30 cents to his name, he set off to find his brother Albert. The last address he had was the Silver King Mine in Pinal County. When he arrived, he found Albert had left for Mohave County. Almost destitute, Ed took a job as a windlass operator (a windlass is a device used to haul workers, ore and equipment up and down mine shafts) for $3 per night until he could re-supply and re-outfit himself.

He reunited with Albert at Signal Mill and Mining Complex, south of what is now Kingman, Arizona. Ed took a job mucking ore and tried to convince Albert to join him in mining his new claims. Albert introduced him to Richard Gird, the civil engineer and assayer for the Signal Mine.

Ore samples show promise
Gird tested Ed’s samples. One sample assayed for $40 per ton; the second for $600 per ton; and the third for $2,000 per ton. Gird had seen enough. He offered to finance the party’s expedition back to the Tombstone Hills. The three entered into a partnership with the understanding that no one could know where they were going, and any and all profits would be split three ways for the duration of the partnership. On February 25, 1878, the trio reached Brunkow cabin and selected it as their base camp.

They staked a number of claims:

  • The "Groundhog" claim on Feb. 27
  • On March 1, the "Owl’s Nest"
  • The "Lucky Cuss" on March 15
  • And, on March 22 “Tough Nut.” The name was chosen because of the difficulty they had tracing the silver vein.

Just after the trio staked the Lucky Cuss, two other prospectors, Oliver Boyer and Hank Williams, showed up. Gird shrewdly offered to assay any of their samples on the condition that any finds be split with Gird and the Schieffelin brothers. The new partners agreed. For several days, Boyer and Williams searched the area in vain. The richest sample they found was assayed at $70 per ton. Gird convinced them to keep searching.

On March 27, Boyer and Williams found several promising ledges about a mile from the Tough Nut and promptly staked their claim, the Grand Central, without any provision for the other three. Gird was irate and confronted them. Boyer and Williams couldn’t deny their violation of the pact and reluctantly cut off 50-100 feet of their claim. Because of the controversy involved, the Schieffelins and Gird dubbed this one “Contention.” The 5 partners stayed together long enough to submit bylaws with the Pima Country Recorder’s Office to form the Tombstone Mining district, recorded in April 1878. Soon after, Williams sold his interest in the Grand Central to investors back east and retired to New York. Boyer shot and killed a man in June of that year and tried to escape to Mexico. He was captured and tried and eventually sentenced to life in Yuma Territorial Prison. 

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