Edward Schieffelin, one of Arizona’s most famed prospectors was born in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, in 1847.
Schieffelin’s penchant for prospecting began in the Pacific Northwest in 1864. A decade later, Schieffelin scoured Arizona for riches around the Grand Canyon, Mineral Park and Irataba districts.
He journeyed farther south, investigating potential riches around Prescott, and eventually relocated to southeastern Arizona at Camp Huachuca in 1877.
Ignoring the copper carbonate found often in southeastern Arizona, gold and silver were the primary metals on Schieffelin’s quest. It was outcrops of silver chloride that drew Schieffelin to the Tombstone Hills.
Previously employed as a guard for an assessment crew at the Brunckow Mine — located 5 miles west of Tombstone — Schieffelin relied on his rifle as protection against Apaches while he used his field glasses to observe distant mountains for faults, synclines and other indicators of potential mineralization.
Earlier mineral exploration by Prussian prospector Frederick Brunckow, an engineer of the Sonora Exploring and Mining Co. of New York, included a silver mine and adobe reverberatory furnance in 1859.
Brunckow was murdered by Mexican employees that same year while working his mine known as the “Bronco” and later the Dean Richmond claim.
In the heart of Apache territory, the soldiers stationed at Camp Huachuca warned Schieffelin that his stalwart prospecting would earn him a tombstone.
From that statement, Schieffelin would go on to name his first claim the “Tombstone,” which he discovered that same year 4 miles east of the San Pedro River.
Keeping with the prevailing theme, he would name additional claims “Graveyard No. 1” and “Graveyard No. 2.”
The samples Schieffelin gathered from these claims did not secure confidence from Tucson investors, including Sydney DeLong, an owner of the Brunckow Mine who considered them low-grade. The local mercantile of Tully & Ochoa would not loan Schieffelin credit for mining supplies because they considered his operation in Apache territory precarious.
Persistence paid off for Schieffelin, who found temporary employment as a windlass operator at the Champion Mine northeast of Globe, thus obtaining the necessary funding to sustain his travels in search of his brother Albert.
After reuniting with his brother, who was employed at the Signal Mill in Mohave County, they rendered the services of Richard Gird, a renowned assayer.
Gird assayed Schieffelin’s ore samples, discovering high values of gold and silver ranging from $40 to $2,000 a ton.
All three journeyed to the San Pedro Valley, staking claims in 1878, including the Owl’s Nest, Lucky Cuss, Toughnut and Goodenough. They would later sell the Contention Mine, named after a grubstake dispute and subsequent lawsuit, for $10,000.
Arizona Territorial Governor Anson P.K. Safford, a noted mine speculator, contributed finances toward the Schieffelin venture by building a 10-stamp mill on the San Pedro River in exchange for a quarter interest in the Toughnut claim.
With the help of Safford, the Schieffelins and Gird founded the Tombstone Gold and Silver Mill and Mining Co., valued at $5 million, including 80 acres of mining property.
By July 1880, the Schieffelin brothers cashed out their 244,000 shares of stock valued at $600,000 to a Connecticut syndicate.
Ed left for California and reinvested some of his profits in an Alaska venture. Journeying along the Yukon River in 1883 on a steamboat in search of a great mineral belt, he discovered traces of gold in the Lower Ramparts though the harsh environs of the Arctic —including temperatures of 40-below — deterred Schieffelin from claiming the bonanza discovered 13 years later in the Klondike gold rush.
Passing away on May 14, 1897, at his cabin near Canonville, Oregon, Schieffelin was laid to rest as stipulated by his will with his pick and canteen in the town of Tombstone that he had founded.
A 25-foot-high granite monument over his gravesite was erected in his honor, and sculpted by M.W. Jones.