Tombstone, Arizona became the booming city in the west and was only 30 miles (48 km) from the U.S.–Mexico border.
It was an open market for cattle stolen from ranches in Sonora, Mexico by a loosely organized band of outlaws known as The Cowboys, who began increasing their influence on the town and causing problems.
As one would anticipate, with the wild west growing, combined with treasure hunting and town entertainment, tensions would rise.
Many of the ranchers (like the Clantons) were also rustlers or other types of criminals. Compounding efforts to keep local groups under control were political differences as well. There seemed to be no effective law enforcement to curtail the growing problems.
The Earp brothers—Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan—as well as Doc Holliday, arrived in December 1879 and mid-1880. Basically, the Earps wanted to get away from the wild life and become involved in business in Tombstone. However, they met much resistance with Cowboys Ike and Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury, and Billy Claiborne.
The Cowboys repeatedly threatened the Earps over many months until the conflict escalated into a shootout on October 26, 1881.
The historic gunfight is often portrayed as occurring at the O.K. Corral; however, it actually occurred a short distance away in an empty lot on Fremont Street.
I’m glad our society has become more civilized since these old wild-west-days, aren’t you?
Hopefully we are not seeing a resurgence of these historical days.
So, Tombstone is best known as the site of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and presently draws most of its revenue from tourism.
Below is the Part 1 video I prepared from our visit to the live reenactment of the famous gunfight at O.K. Corral. This was a performance before a live audience and provides some good insight about some of the historical event.
The entire reenactment video is 16 minutes long so I divided it into three parts. Parts 2 and 3 will be posted this week.
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.