Edward Lawrence Schieffelin, a rugged and determined prospector, carved his name in the annals of American history as the man who discovered silver and founded the legendary mining town of Tombstone, Arizona. Born on May 7, 1847, in the small town of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, Schieffelin embodied the spirit of adventure and exploration that characterized the American West during the late 19th century. From his humble beginnings as a prospector to his eventual success in striking it rich, this biography delves into the life and achievements of Ed Schieffelin, shedding light on his extraordinary journey and his enduring legacy in the American mining industry.
Early Years and Adventurous Spirit
Edward Lawrence Schieffelin, known as Ed, was born into a family of eight siblings. Raised in a modest household, he developed a strong work ethic and a sense of wanderlust from an early age. Ed’s adventurous spirit led him to leave his hometown in pursuit of opportunities out West when he was just a teenager. Inspired by stories of the California Gold Rush, Schieffelin set out on a quest for fortune and adventure into California, Death Valley, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.
In 1877, at the age of 30, Schieffelin arrived in Arizona Territory. The region was known for its hostile terrain, inhabited by hostile Native American tribes and infested with outlaws. It was an untamed and dangerous land, yet Schieffelin saw the untapped potential hidden within the rocky mountains and rugged landscapes.
The Discovery of Tombstone
Undeterred by the challenges, Schieffelin embarked on a solo prospecting expedition in the southeastern part of Arizona Territory. Despite being warned by soldiers at the nearby Fort Huachuca about the “all he would find would be his own tombstone,” Schieffelin remained undeterred and ventured into the wilderness.
After several months of searching and enduring hardships, Schieffelin struck silver in 1877. His find, located in the area that would become Tombstone, Arizona, ignited a rush of prospectors and speculators. Schieffelin named the mining district “Tombstone” in response to a friend, Al Sieber who predicted he would only find his own tombstone.
As the news of Schieffelin’s discovery spread, the town of Tombstone boomed with activity. Miners, gamblers, and businessmen flocked to the area, transforming the once desolate region into a thriving mining town. Schieffelin, known for his eccentric personality and adventurous spirit, became a legend in his own right.
The Legacy of Tombstone
Tombstone, under Schieffelin’s influence, rapidly grew into a bustling frontier town. The rich silver veins of the area attracted numerous mining companies, turning Tombstone into one of the wealthiest towns in the West. The town quickly developed essential infrastructure, including saloons, theaters, banks, and a newspaper, the “Tombstone Epitaph,” which chronicled the tumultuous events that unfolded in the region.
Schieffelin, though he had made his fortune, continued to lead the life of a prospector, always searching for the next big strike. However, he faced his fair share of challenges and setbacks. The mines faced legal disputes, water shortages, and labor conflicts, which took a toll on the town’s prosperity. Despite the challenges, Tombstone remained a symbol of the American frontier spirit and resilience.
Ed Schieffelin Monument
A 25 ft tall monument is erected near to spot of Ed Shieffelin original claim in Tombstone. The monument represents the type of marker a miner makes in claiming a strike. A plaque on the monument reads, “Ed Shieffelin, died May 12, 1897, aged 49 years, 8 months. A dutiful son, a faithful husband, a kind brother, and a true friend.” The monument is located just to the East of Ed Schieffelin Monument road, north of the town of Tombstone.