Ed Schieffelin

Edward Lawrence Schieffelin was born in 1847 in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. His family eventually ended up in Rogue Valley, Oregon Territory. Where at an early age, he began to prospect.

Ed Schieffelin began his search for gold and silver in about 1865. From Oregon, he went east to Coeu d’Alene, then searched across Nevada into Death Valley, back into Colorado and then New Mexico. He would eventually end up moving to California in 1887 at the age of 30. He had also surveyed the Grand Canyon area as well. Thought the years of prospecting, Ed was unsuccessful.

Schieffelin enlisted as in Indian Scout for the U.S. Army which was trying to establish a camp from the threat of Chiricahua Apaches. On March 3, 1877 the army established Camp Huachuca at the foot of the Huachuca Mountains in Pima County, Arizona Territory.

Schieffelin went on a few adventures while scouting for the Army. In 1876, Ed Schieffelin was on a scouting expedition and his party had been attached by Apaches. A man in his group named Lenox had been killed. But with prospecting in his blood, he continued to so in his spare time. He would travel the hills east of the San Pedro River in dangerous territory.  An estimated 12 short miles away where the ever dangerous and famous Chiricahua Apache Indians lead by Cochise, Geronimo, and Victorio. Schieffelin would eventually decide to stay in the east hills and explore full-time.

A friend of Schieffelin, who was a fellow Army Scout by the name of Al Sieber found out what Schieffelin was up to, was quoted as telling him, “The only rock you will find out there will be your own tombstone”.

Schieffelin used an abandoned cabin to survey the land that was built by a mining engineer named Frederick Brunckow that had discovered a small silver deposit in the hills of Cochise County in 1858. In September of 1860, Brunckow had a crew of three white men and a reported twelve Mexican miners working for him. That year Brunckow was murdered by two of the white men. He was found in a mine with a rock drill through him. And because of the hostile territory the mine and cabin were abandoned until 1877 when Ed Schieffelin decided to use the cabin for his base camp.

The Brunckow’s mind influenced Schieffelin to prospect the rocky outcropping northeast of the cabin. After many months, Ed east of the San Pedro River when he found some silver ore in a dry wash high on the plateau called Goose Flats. Over several more months to find the source of the ore. When Ed found it, he estimated the vein to fifty feet long and twelve inches wide. The vein was so pure, Ed was able to press a coin into it and retained the impression of the coin. Schieffelin filed his first mining claim on September 21, 1887, he fittingly named his stake Tombstone. The claim was near the grave site of his former friend and  indian scout Lenox.

With no money in his pocket Ed was unable to pay for the legal paperwork to file the mining claim, and persuaded William Griffth to put up the money and pay for the paperwork required to file a mining claim.

Schieffelin set out to find his brother Al who he believed was working the Silver King mine about 180 mile to the north in central Arizona. Schieffelin had not seen his brother in four years but Schieffelin learned that Al had moved to the McCracken Mine in Signal City, Arizona, another 300 miles north.

With the 30 cents, Schieffelin bought tobacco and found a job as a hoist operator at the Champion Silver mine for fourteen days and hoisted up to a dozen tons of ore every night by cranking a hand windlass to be able to afford to travel.

Ed finally found his brother in February of 1878. Al asked the foreman that he was working with at the McCraken mine to look at Ed’s ore specimens. The foreman thought the specimens were mostly lead. Ed then took the samples to 30 others who had some expertise and they all thought the ore was not worth much. Frustrated, Schieffelin threw his specimens out his brother’s door except for three.  Ed would stay for about a month and worked at the McCracken Mine.

Richard Gird recently signed on as the new McCraken assayer and had a reputation as an expert. Schieffelin asked Gird if his samples were worth assaying. Gird took the samples and said that he would get back to him. A few days later Al shook Ed out of his bunk and said that Gird wanted to see him now. When Ed went to see Gird he had told Ed that he valued the best of the ore samples at $2,000 a ton. Ed, Al, and Gird formed a partnership on the spot. Gird offered his expertise, connections, and a grubstake. They shook hands on the three-way partnership on an Gentlemen’s agreement. There was never a signed contract. But the partnership would bring millions of dollars to all three men.  Gird resigned and his employer offered to make him a general superintendent of the mine to persuade him to stay but he refused.

Gird bought a second-hand blue spring wagon and loaded it with supplies, his assay equipment, and a mule. Ed, who already had a mule, would depend on the two to haul the wagon. Gird wanted to time to wind up his affairs and to wait for spring for better traveling weather, but Ed wanted to depart immediately. Al hesitated to leave his well-paying job of $4.00 a day.  Ed and Grind didn’t wait for him and left that day. Al reconsidered and joined them that night. Reaching Arizona Territory and despite the reports of continued Apache raids and the murder of miners and ranchers in the area, the three men returned to Cochise County and set up camp at the Brunckow cabin, The deaths of several locals at the hands of the Apache Indians were testified by the fresh graves near the cabin.

Ed, Al, and Gird formed the Tombstone Gold and Silver Mining Company to hold title to their claims. Gird who built an essay furnace in the cabin’s fireplace, had found that the initial finds of silver ore that Ed had discovered was valuable. After a few weeks of mining the vein, they quickly found out that the vein was only about three feet deep. Not feeling the same of Al and Gird, Ed was optimistic he could find more ore deposits.  For many weeks Ed was determined along with the love for mining would keep him going. One day  Al and Gird screaming Ed’s name were excited about another sample of float ore Ed had discovered. Al had told Ed that he was a Lucky Cuss and that name of one of the richest mining claims in the Tombstone District. The ore samples assayed at $15,000 a ton. Shortly afterword Ed identified another claim, the Tough Nut rich with silver.

On June 17, 1879, Schieffelin showed up in Tucson driving that second-hand blue spring wagon carrying the first load of silver bullion valued at $18,744 which is estimated about $461,839 today.

When the first claims were filed, about 100 residents occupied tents and shacks at Watervale. Former territorial Governor Anson P.K. Safford offered financial backing for a cut of the men’s mining claims. The Schieffelin’s along with their partner Richard Gird formed the Tombstone Mining and Milling Company and built a stamping mill.

On March 5, 1879 U.S. Deputy Mineral Surveyor Solon M. Allis finished laying out a new town site on a mesa named Goose Flats, just above the Tough Nut mine. It was large enough to support a growing town. The town would be named Tombstone.

One night prospectors named Ed Williams and Jack Friday tracking one of their mules that had gotten away. The mule ended up in the Schieffelin camp. Williams and Friday noticed an ore vein. Both camps argued on whose claim the ore belonged to. Both parties eventually agreed to split up claim. Williams and Friday filed the their claim under the name Grand Central and because of the argument, Schieffelin named his Contention.

The Lucky Cuss, Tough Nut, and the Contention claims where very profitable in Tombstone. The mines assayed $15,000.00 a ton.

The Tombstone Mining and Milling Company would sell their interest in the Contention for $10,000.00 and then half-interest of the Lucky Cuss. Eventually the Schieffelin brothers would go on sale their two-thirds interest in the company. These transactions would make the Ed and Al Schieffelin millionaires.

Al had stayed in Tombstone for a while. In 1885 he died of consumption at a Los Angeles home Al and Ed had purchased together.

Ed would move to other boomtowns. In 1883 Ed had traveled to San Fransisco where he met Mary E. Brown. They were married shortly after in Colorado then ended up in California across from the San Fransisco Bay in Alameda where Ed had a mansion built. In 1897 Ed Schieffelin had purchased a ranch where his brothers lived in which now is called Rogue River Oregon and continued to prospect.

On May 12, 1897, after Ed had not shown up for supplies, and was checked on by a friend. He was found face-down in his cabin. Ed Schieffelin was dead. He had died of a heart attack.

At Schieffelin’s request, he wanted to be buried in Tombstone, Arizona. He was laid to rest where he originally found his silver ore. A monument was erected right where he is buried. It was built in the formation of rocks that the prospectors would build to locate their claim.


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