When you hear the word Tombstone, what comes to mind?
To me, the first thought was where one is buried and an inscription over the site is written in stone.
Next, I think of Tombstone, Arizona. Have you been there?
Also, my mind goes to the movie “Tombstone.” According to Wikipedia: “Tombstone is a 1993 American Western film directed by George P. Cosmatos, written by Kevin Jarre (who was also the original director, but was replaced early in production), and starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, with Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, and Dana Delany in supporting roles, as well as narration by Robert Mitchum.
The film is based on events in Tombstone, Arizona, including the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the Earp Vendetta Ride, during the 1880s. It depicts a number of Western outlaws and lawmen, such as Wyatt Earp, William Brocius, Johnny Ringo, and Doc Holliday.” Here is a YouTube link to a short clip of the movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTWYKf5hXIg
Well, this post is primarily about Tombstone, Arizona.
During our travels through Arizona we ventured south through Tucson. I had previously been to Tucson and enjoyed the area then so due to time constraints we decided to visit Tombstone.
According to Wikipedia, Tombstone is a historic city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States. It was founded in 1879 by prospector Ed Schieffelin, who was briefly a scout for the U. S. Army headquartered at Camp Huachuca. He frequently searched wilderness areas looking for valuable ore samples. Before the Tombstone name was developed the area was called Pima County, Arizona Territory.
In 1877, Schieffelin used Brunckow’s Cabin as a base of operations and began surveying the area. After many months he found pieces of silver ore. It took months to find the source. According to reports, Schieffelin’s legal mining claim was sited near a grave site. In September 1877 he filed his first claim and named the stake Tombstone. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tombstone,_Arizona for details.)The town was established on a mesa (flat-topped hill) above the Goodenough Mine. Within two years of its founding Tombstone had a bowling alley, four churches, an ice house, a school, two banks, three newspapers, and an ice cream parlor, alongside 110 saloons, 14 gambling halls, and numerous dance halls and brothels. I’m sure the ice cream parlor was the favorite.
Tombstone became one of the last boomtowns in the American frontier.
The businesses were situated among, and on top of a large number of silver mines. The gentlemen and ladies of Tombstone attended operas presented by visiting acting troupes at the Schieffelin Hall opera house. Miners and cowboys saw shows at the Bird Cage Theatre and brothel.
The town grew significantly into the mid-1880s as the local mines produced millions in silver bullion, the largest productive silver district in Arizona. Population grew from 100 to around 14,000 in less than seven years.
At the Santa Rita mines in nearby Santa Cruz Valley, three superintendents had been killed by Indians. When friend and fellow Army Scout Al Sieber learned what Schieffelin was up to, he is quoted as telling him, “The only rock you will find out there will be your own tombstone”, or, according to another version of the story, “Better take your coffin with you, Ed; you will only find your tombstone there, and nothing else.”  [references through Wikepedia)
Tombstone’s Courthouse today provides a good collection of authentic interpretive exhibits, including: the period Sheriff’s Office, artist drawings and interpretations of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Wyatt Earp, mining exhibit area, saloon and gaming room, period lawyers office and courtroom, ranching, and residents of Tombstone. (More information at https://tombstonecourthouse.com/history-of-the-courthouse/)
Life was similar to what one would think as reflected in the western movies. I imagine Tombstone was pretty rough with the mix of the rowdy, criminal, mischievous and law-abiding guests and residents. Additionally, the town was far removed from larger towns where the “rule of law” prevailed.
Eventually, with the wildness of the territory, there becomes a showdown. The next post will highlight that historical event.
Love and blessings,
Beebe, Lucius Morris; Clegg, Charles. The American West: the Pictorial Epic of a Continent.
“Across Arizona”. Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. 66 (364). March 1883.
Bishop, William Henry (1888). Mexico, California and Arizona. New York and London: Harper and Brothers. p. 468. Retrieved May 29, 2012.