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At last, one of the soldiers at Brunckow’s asked him, “why do you go off into them hills?” “To collect rocks,” Ed Schieffelin replied. “You keep fooling around out there amongst them Apaches and the only rock you’ll find will be your tombstone!” the soldier blurted. [READ MORE]
Tombstone, February 1, 1882
Major C. P. Dake, United States Marshal, Grand Hotel, Tombstone. [READ MORE]
The old Boothill Cemetery boasts graves of Clantons, McLaurys and other legendary Tombstone characters–not to mention some of the world’s most famous (and funny) epitaphs.” [By Ben Traywick] [READ MORE]
Although known for her charity, Nellie Cashman was a dedicated and knowledgeable miner who searched the west for the “Big Bonanza”. By Don Chaput
Gold rushes, stampedes, and boom towns attracted hundreds of thousands of people–and hundreds of different personality types–to the American West. Many of these stampeders were gamblers, men of the green cloth; some were lawyers and officers of the law; and others were dreamers, teachers, speculators, clergymen, merchants, or women of easy virtue.
The Earp brothers rushed to Deadwood, Tombstone, Nome, and Goldfield. E. J. “Lucky” Baldwin, Tex Rickard, Dave Neagle, Rex Beach, Jack London, and “Arizona Charlie” Meadows were in the forefront of Western mining rushes. But these people and their ilk were pikers, short-timers, compared to the Irish immigrant named Nellie Cashman.
Equally at home in the Nevada desert, San Francisco, British Columbia, Baja California, the Klondike of the Canadian Yukon, and north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska, Nellie began her stampede days in 1872 and did not end them until she died 53 years later. Few who followed the lure of precious metals in the West could match Nellie’s enthusiasm and optimism, and no other earned such glowing praise from fellow prospectors and miners.
Nellie was born in Midleton, in Ireland’s County Cork, to Patrick Cashman and Frances “Fanny” Cronin in 1845. When she was about five years old, Nellie, her younger sister Fanny, and their now-widowed mother arrived in the United States, refugees from Ireland’s potato famine. After 13 or 14 years in Boston, the Cashmans headed west in the late 1860s, settling in the vibrant community of San Francisco, where Irishmen were numerous and influential.
In 1872, Nellie and her elderly mother traveled to the new silver-mining district of Pioche, Nevada, opening a boarding house about ten miles from the camp. At Pioche, they found a wild environment, with thousands of boisterous miners and millmen–most of them Irish–living in a situation where filth, gun fights, and altercations between owners and employees were commonplace. The throbbing life of this mining and milling center must have appealed to Nellie; in the coming decades, she would consistently move to similar communities.
There is no evidence that Nellie engaged in mining during her first experience at living near a mining camp. But during her two years at Pioche, she did become very involved in the affairs of the local Catholic church, participating in bazaars and other money-raising efforts.
When Nellie moved from Pioche, she left her mother with her sister Fanny and her family in San Francisco and traveled alone to northern British Columbia. There, for a few years in the mid-1870s, she operated a boarding house in the Cassiar District, on the Stikine River, not far from modern Juneau. She also worked gold-placer ground, becoming familiar with elementary mining geology.
In the winter of 1874-75, Nellie’s reputation as an “angel of mercy,” for which she is best known today, was born.
While on a trip to Victoria, Nellie heard that a severe winter storm had hammered her fellow miners in the Cassiar diggings and that no one could get through. She immediately purchased supplies and sleds, hired six men, sailed to Fort Wrangell, Alaska, and headed inland through heavy snows. Her success at reaching the miners with the needed medicines and food became the talk of the West, as hundreds of miners considered her their savior.
The Victoria Daily British Colonist of February 5, 1875, in describing the rescue attempt, compared it to other efforts by famous prospectors and woodsmen, and declared that “Her extraordinary freak of attempting to reach the diggings in midwinter and in the face of dangers and obstacles which appalled even the stout-hearted Fannin and thrice drove him back to Wrangell for shelter is attributed by her friends to insanity.” If Nellie had done nothing else for the rest of her career, that incident alone would have guaranteed her place in mining lore and tradition.
In 1879, Nellie headed south and opened a restaurant in the new railroad center of Tucson, Arizona Territory. Within a year, however, she moved on to a new silver camp at Tombstone. Although she is linked to the legendary Arizona town from 1880 to 1887, Nellie left for brief periods to prospect and mine or run hotels in Baja California; New Mexico; and several mining areas within Arizona.
Nellie’s career in Tombstone is the most familiar phase of her life; she was one of the fabled town’s leading personalities during its glory years of 1880 to 1883. However, because she was in and out of town many times, owned or managed six different enterprises, worked many gold and silver claims, and bought and sold claims regularly, Nellie’s financial success during her years in Tombstone is difficult to gauge.
Nellie’s charitable activities there, however, are easier to assess. She helped to establish the town’s first hospital and its first Roman Catholic church. And, following the 1881 death of her brother-in-law, Tom Cunningham, she took care of her sister Fanny and their five children. When Fanny herself died of tuberculosis three years later, Nellie became the sole spiritual and financial support of her nieces and nephews.
In 1883, when news of a gold strike in Baja California spread over the West, Nellie organized a prospecting expedition that consisted of Milt Joyce, owner of the Oriental Saloon; Mark Smith, an active young lawyer who would later become a U.S. Senator; and 19 other hopefuls. They took a train south to the Sonoran port of Guaymas in Mexico, sailed across the Gulf of California, then tracked inland to the deserts of Baja California, around Mission Santa Gertrudis. But this was a “gold rush” that should never have occurred. The finds were pitifully small, and the Cashman party, like all the others lured by the prospect of riches, failed to find gold. Instead, they were almost killed by the extreme heat and the lack of water before giving up and returning to Arizona. What was noteworthy about this expedition was the willingness of the 21 Tombstoners–all frontier veterans–to put themselves under Nellie’s leadership.
In 1884, five convicted hold-up men, two of whom were Irish, were scheduled to be hanged in Tombstone. Nellie believed the authorities were making the executions too much of a public spectacle. According to popular accounts, she coerced a group of miners into tearing down bleachers intended for the many “ticket holders” expected to be on hand for the necktie party. The miscreants were hanged on schedule, but with a little less hoopla than had been anticipated.
Late in the summer of that same year, miners involved in a bitter labor dispute reportedly tried to lynch E.B. Gage, superintendent of the Grand Central Mining Company. Legend has it that Nellie, seeking to head off violence, took a buggy to Gage’s home and spirited him away. Nellie’s alleged role in this incident has become part of Tombstone lore despite evidence that Gage was out of town and that the man involved in keeping the lid on things was Charles Leach, the Grand Central foreman. This and other misinformation about Nellie came in large degree from her nephew, Mike Cunningham, who became a prominent banker in Cochise County and who was a great admirer of “Aunt Nellie.” Other
unsubstantiated “facts” can be traced to John Clum, the ex-mayor of Tombstone who wrote an account of Nellie in 1931 for the Arizona Historical Review. It was Clum’s account that gave cohesive form to the notion of Nellie as “The Miner’s Angel.” Unfortunately, much of what Clum wrote was hearsay or exaggeration. He left town in 1882 and knew practically nothing first-hand of the events about which he later wrote. When Clum saw Nellie in Dawson some years later, she was again soliciting funds for the church. This second encounter reinforced his image of her as a philanthropist.
In 1888-89, Nellie was in the gold camp at Harqua Hala, in western Arizona, near the California line. She supplied the new camp with groceries and equipment, purchased mainly in Phoenix, and may have operated a boarding house there for a month or two. Mostly, though, she was mining. She owned one of the better Harqua Hala claims, thoroughly prospected the region, and almost married Mike Sullivan, one of the original discoverers.
During this period, the Phoenix and Tucson newspapers published hundreds of articles about the Harqua Hala rush, some of them quite detailed. The best by far was written by Nellie for Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star. In the piece, which appeared in the March 6, 1889 edition, she discussed the history of the camp, its problems, current progress, and future. She also commented on geological details, mining methods, richness of ore, assays, surface equipment, types of claims, and leading personalities in the field.
During the next several years, Nellie tried her luck at mining camps in Sonora, Mexico; Globe, Jerome, Prescott, and Yuma, Arizona; and several points in Montana. It was while she was in Yuma in 1897, operating the Hotel Cashman, that Nellie heard of the gold strike in the Klondike. She closed shop, arranged some financial backing, and headed north, making the difficult trek over the Chilkoot Pass to Dawson.
By the time she arrived in the Klondike in 1898, Nellie had worked gold in British Columbia and Arizona, and had owned and worked silver mines in Arizona and New Mexico. In the Klondike, she worked her claims and, for a constant source of funds, operated restaurants.
For much of the time in the Yukon, Nellie had an assistant–her nephew, Tom Cunningham. Together they cooked, served meals, and did the dishes, then prospected and worked claims; when they had the time, they counted their net worth. Nellie made and lost a considerable amount of money in the Yukon. When a major strike paid off, she would invest in further claims and, as she had done everywhere else, she contributed money to the local church and hospital.
By this time, Nellie was a major donor to the Sisters of St. Ann, having given money to their first hospital in Victoria, British Columbia, back in 1875. In Dawson, her social life pretty much consisted of visiting with the Sisters or with the local and visiting priests. Although her business contacts were drunks, gamblers, miners, prostitutes, confidence men, and the hangers-on in one of the world’s liveliest mining communities, she was able to maintain her dignity and self-respect.
Generous though she was, Nellie had a harder edge that often was at odds with the popular depiction of her as an angel of mercy raising a cup of soup to a poor miner’s lips. The reality was that Nellie was a miner, willing and able to push interlopers away from her claims. Feisty, aggressive, and proud, she became entangled in several major law suits while in the Yukon. In pursuing these cases, she did not hesitate to use all the weapons available to her, even deliberately stretching the truth from time to time or acting on rumor or information known to be false. She won some of the disputes and lost the others, but everyone knew that Nellie was no pushover.
By 1904, mining in Dawson had peaked. Nellie began to hear of excitement on the Chena and Tanana rivers–the site of modern Fairbanks, Alaska. Moving there in late 1904, she opened a combination store and mining-supply center. And once again, she raised money for the local hospital.
Nellie did very well in Fairbanks, until she heard her last call. In the distant north, hundreds of miles away, on the Koyukuk River basin of Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle, prospectors were bringing in great specimens, and there was wild talk of a huge strike.
She first went to the Koyukuk country in 1905, prospecting along Nolan and Wiseman Creeks. One of the first to file claims there, Nellie would eventually file more than twenty during the next two decades. She seriously worked at least six of the sites and was making plans to bring in larger, more effective equipment when she died early in 1925. Truly at home in Koyukuk country, Nellie spent most of the last twenty years of her life on Nolan Creek, then the farthest north of any mining camp in the world. She and the from one- to two-hundred others there were really on the edge of the world in a harsh climate, with no amenities, forgotten by just about everybody. Some have called the residents of the Koyukuk country “losers,” “escaped criminals,” the “flotsam of the world.” Of the eight or nine women in the vicinity, most were prostitutes. One was a clergyman’s wife, another a temporary visitor. And there was Nellie Cashman–resident, miner, employer, equipment purchaser, and without doubt one of the steadiest mining personalities in the North.
In this fierce environment, where strength and a variety of talents might allow one to succeed–if one did not fall to venereal disease, frostbite, alcohol, or a mining cave-in–Nellie mined, mostly the placer or alluvial ground on Nolan Creek. Nellie did take some trips south during her years on the Koyukuk. She visited Arizona four or five times to see her friends and her nephews and nieces, who were like her own children to her. She also went on purchasing trips to Seattle, San Francisco, once even to New York. During a typical year she would leave Nolan Creek at least once for supplies and equipment, traveling the hundreds of miles to Fairbanks by boat, sled, or wagon, depending on the season.
There are no mining ledgers for Nellie’s Koyukuk years, but she must have been doing well. She was always working ground, filing more claims. She never lacked for what she needed and always had sufficient funds to travel within Alaska or to the “outside.” An intelligent, knowledgeable prospector and miner, she stayed in this harshest of environments because she was having luck and enjoyed it. And like all inveterate miners, she hoped that one day she would hit the “Big Bonanza.”
The Koyukuk country was the fulfillment of her dreams. Here, among mankind’s forgotten, Nellie worked her claims personally, usually with the help of a few hired hands. Near the end of her life, she even organized a firm, the “Midnight Sun Mining Company,” with herself as trustee. The stock certificates proclaimed “No Offices” and “No Officers.” Fifty thousand shares in the company went on sale at $2.00 each. Late in 1924, Nellie realized that she had severe health problems. Gradually, she worked her way down to Fairbanks, Juneau, and then Seattle. Finally, she requested to be sent to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Victoria–the very hospital she had helped fund almost forty years earlier. She was there for several weeks under the care of the Sisters of St. Ann and Doctor W. T. Barrett, who had also been her physician in Dawson.
Nellie died on January 4, 1925, of “unresolved pneumonia.”Over the years, Nellie’s career had made good copy because she was a female seemingly succeeding in a male environment. Inevitably, some of the newspaper notices she received cited her good works; she was, after all, a prime mover in building hospitals and churches in Pioche, Nevada; Victoria, British Columbia; Tombstone, Arizona; Dawson, Yukon Territory; and Fairbanks, Alaska.
Now, because she had been so well known, newspapers across North America printed obituaries. In the East, the New York Times published a few paragraphs that emphasized her reputation as a “champion woman musher” and noted her service as a nurse to needy miners. On the West Coast, newspapers in Tucson, Los Angeles, and San Francisco also pointed out her many travels, her use of dog sleds, and other apparently “non-female” activities. Even the Engineering and Mining Journal-Press succumbed to the same type of assessment, noting that she “was held in high regard by a very wide circle of acquaintances,” but failed to give her credit as a miner.
Nellie started off in her first mining camp knowing absolutely nothing about mining or geology. In each successive locale, she absorbed herself in gaining knowledge of terrain, geology, equipment, and people. Then, her apprenticeship served, she spent the last 25 years of her life ably prospecting and mining.
Nellie’s great consideration for her fellow man, which led to her lending a helping hand and funds when needed or coercing her frontier neighbors into contributing to churches and hospitals, has obscured her long, fascinating, and mostly successful mining career. But Nellie Cashman was indeed a true pioneer, who could face any challenge that the elements or man placed in her path.
Don Chaput, Author of Tucson:
Westernlore Press, 1995
In 1879, Tombstone had 40 cabins and 100 people, and lots on Allen Street sold for $5. By June 20, 1880 there were 3,000 people in the town and by late 1881 there was over 7,000 people in town and more gambling houses, saloons, and a larger graveyard and “red light” district than any town in the southwest. Population increased rapidly from that time, and in the 1890’s it had reached 15,000.
“The Town too Tough to Die”:Edward Schieffelin. In March of 1877, a prospector by the name of Lewis wandered into the dry washes, coming down out of the Tombstone Hills into San Pedro Valley. He discovered several pieces of horn silver and followed them to an outcropping of high grade silver ore. On the strength of the specimens that he had brought out with him, A.M. Franklin and Marcus Katz of Tucson agreed to grubstake him for a share of his claim. Lewis returned to the dry washes of the San Pedro confident that he could go straight to the ledge of silver. However, apparently he had not pinpointed the location very well as he was not able to find it again.For long, weary weeks, Lewis, combed dry wash after dry wash, but he found no trace of silver.
Meanwhile, another prospector arrived. The newcomer had trailed into the country with a company of Hualapai scouts late in the summer of 1877 and had then used Brunckow’s cabin as his base of operations. The prospector was Edward Lawrence Schieffelin, and he materialized from the desert a tall and wild figure. Although he appeared fifty years old, he had not reached thirty years yet. Ed was of a large and powerful build, a type of the physically perfect man, his bronzed face and flowing brown hair and beard, and his clear blue eyes told of his free and open life of the plains and the mountains. He stood five feet eleven and one-half inches tall and weighed about one hundred ninety pounds. Ed had been born in Tioga County, Pennsylvania in October of 1847.
For over ten years he had been seeking a rich ore deposit, but success had always eluded him. He had begun his search in the Coeur d’ Alenes of Idaho, then across Nevada into Death Valley and into Colorado and New Mexico. Finally, his search had led him to into the San Pedro Valley of Arizona.The tough desert men and the soldiers who stopped at Brunckow’s accepted him without question because they knew he was a close-mouthed prospector. Shieffelin looked upon the place as a haven of rest, safety and comfort, secure from the Apache.
Ed minded his own business and, at first light, he was up and gone into the endless wasteland that leads to what is now known as the Tombstone Hills and the Mule Mountains. At dusk , he reappeared , ate his supper, then climbed into his bedroll to await another day. Through all the daylight hours, he searched the dry washes and outcroppings for evidence of ore. On several occasions, he sighted bands of Apaches near him and carefully kept out of sight until they moved on.The miners and soldiers who occupied Brunckow’s cabin saw him ride out each day and watched for his return at night. Other men had come there, ridden out alone just as Schieffelin did. The other men had not returned. Soldiers would find what was left of them after the Apaches had ridden on. At last, one of the soldiers at Brunckow’s asked him, “why do you go off into them hills?” “To collect rocks,” Schieffelin replied. “You keep fooling around out there amongst them Apaches and the only rock you’ll find will be your tombstone!” the soldier blurted.On one occasion, it was too near dark for Ed to return to Brunckow’s. He chose a round-topped hill further up the wash for his camp and settled in for the night among some big rocks. After a nervous, restless night, Ed was up at break of day and headed straight for the (Tombstone) hills. All along the wash he found scattered pieces of silver float. Moving up the wash, he saw the red and black ledge of silver ore. He estimated the vein to be fifty feet long and twelve inches wide. Ignoring the cactus spines and sharp rocks, Ed climbed to the ledge. Breathless , he reached it, ran his hand lovingly over its rough surface than sunk his pick into it prying our several pieces. They were dark and heavy with pure silver! He had found it! A real strike! After searching for over a decade, he had found a bonanza! All the years he had wandered through the lonely desolate mountains and deserts; starved, blistered and frozen and faced death so many times, were as nothing. Now the wealth he sought was in his grasp! The vein of silver that he had exposed was pure and soft and a coin pressed into it , left a clear imprint.Ed smiled to himself as he thought of the words, “All you’ll find out there will be your tombstone.” If the Apaches had found him he probably wouldn’t have needed one. Recalling the warning, he mused over the word “tombstone.” Yep, he liked it! Might make a good name for his claim.”Schieffelin did not realize it at the time, but he had named a mine, the hills where it lay, an entire silver lode, and a town yet unborn. It would be a town whose fame and riches were soon to astound the world!
Ed collected a bag of samples, put up claim markers, then headed across the desert for Tucson. When he had completed filing his claim, he started for Globe. His brother Al had a good job up there and would have some cash money. In return for that badly needed cash, Ed would make him a full partner.In Globe, Ed was dismayed to discover that Al had moved to Signal, Arizona. He wasted no time as it was a long trip across the mountains and desert. Brother Al was not particularly impressed with the story or Ed’s bag of ore samples. He was not about to put his hard earned cash into such a “wild venture”. His advice to Ed was to forget all about that silver ledge and go to work! Ed would not give up so easily, however, so Al brought a foreman to examine Ed’s ore samples. The foreman looked at them and pronounced them “worthless”.Schieffelin could do no more, so he took a job in the McCracken Mine. Even after several weeks of mine work, Ed still could not believe that his ore was of no value. Finally, he met Richard Gird, the assayer at Signal and Gird agreed to assay his ore samples.
Gird was astounded to find that Ed’s ore showed that he had found a rich strike, with values running over $2,000 a ton. The assayer immediately offered to finance development of the mine in return for a one-third interest. Al was also to come in as a partner with a one-third share, the other equal share to be retained by Ed. The three men bound their agreement with a handshake, nothing was ever put into writing and all three men kept their verbal agreement even though it involved over a million dollars.Richard Gird bought mules, wagon, guns, food, mining tools, a transit, level and assaying equipment. When their supplies were loaded, they set out on the trip to the very center of Apache land. They arrived in Tucson in the late Spring and stopped at Bob Leatherwood’s Corral for a few days to rest. They could easily have been daunted as every day reports were coming in , telling of Apache raids and murder in the very area they were about to enter. Such news did nothing to change their plans. The decision was made to ride alert with rifles in hand. One of them stood watch at all times. Two of them watched from the ridges while the other packed and hitched the mules.
They traveled south up the San Pedro River and made a wide circle around the Mormon settlement of St. David. Permanent camp was set up at Brunckow’s where several fresh graves were mute testimony to recent Apache raids.Ed led the way up the dry wash to his ledge of silver. The three partners began to remove ore from the vein immediately. Dismay struck when they found out that it pinched out three feet down. The claim was apparently not worth working. Gird and Al were keenly disappointed and complained about giving up good jobs at Signal. The distant hills seemed to mock him but Ed said nothing. He knew that silver was there somewhere. Several weeks of fruitless prospecting followed. Ed searched each and every wash for the elusive ore body, meanwhile keeping an eye out for Apaches. Frequently, signal smoke rose from the Dragoon Mountains and answering columns of smoke climbed from the ridges of the Whetstones. Each new day brought new dangers but Ed continued to draw on that inner strength he had paid for with nearly ten years of his life prospecting.
Then, just as when discouragement was beginning to set in, Ed discovered a new outcropping! “You’re a lucky cuss!” Al told him. Ed must have agreed , for that is how the famous “Lucky Cuss Mine” got its name.When Gird assayed the samples from it, they ran to $2,000 a ton!
Three days later, Henry Williams and Oliver Boyer also discovered a ledge of rich silver. Gird claimed that this discovery was on a claim already posted by he and the Schieffelin brothers. This disagreement grew into an involved argument. Afraid that they would lose out entirely, Williams and Boyer finally agreed to share the claim. They named their end of the claim “Grand Central” and, because of the quarrel over it, Gird and the Shieffelins named their parts the “Contention”. These two mines were destined to become the richest in the Mining District.The City of Tombstone was built on a flat mesa, surrounded by the Whetstone, Mule, Burro, Huachuca, and Dragoon Mountains. Early in 1879, Allen Street lots sold for $5 each and the town had forty cabins and a population of 100. A year later. in 1880, four town sites were thriving in the mining district. Tombstone, the largest, was near the Toughnut Mine; Richmond was one and a quarter mile southwest, and Charleston and Contention were on the San Pedro River, eight miles away.
In two short years the population of Tombstone was to soar to over 5,000 people. The town grew rapidly and by 1881 the population reached 10,000. The new growth caused the naming of a new county, Cochise County.In 1883, the Cochise County Courthouse was built in Tombstone, within the same period of time, the Bird Cage Theatre, five local newspapers, the Crystal Palace and Oriental Saloons were also built,. The courthouse represented law and order and included the offices of sheriff, recorder, treasurer, and board of supervisors. The cost of the courthouse was nearly $45,000.One of the most famous events that took place in Tombstone was the Freemont Street Gunfight on October 26, 1881.
The battle pitted the McLowery group and the Clanton clan, who had a sideline as cattle rustlers against the U.S. Marshall, Wyatt Earp, his brothers and Doc Holiday, a notorious gunfighter. When the dust cleared, three men from the Clanton clan were dead and two of the Earp brothers were injured. It was a fight that was known throughout the West and historians continue to debate the events of that fateful day. As the investors moved in, the Schieffelin brothers sold their mining claims. Only 35 years old, wealthy and famous, Ed wanted to see how the rest of the country looked. He visited New York, Chicago, Washington and numerous large cities. He stopped at the most famous hotels and dined in the finest restaurants. Wherever he went people gathered to stare at the man who had found a whole Mountain of Silver.However, civilization could not dim his fond memories of the old days in the deserts and mountains. Ed longed for the peace and solitude where he could spend weeks on end alone and never see a human being.
In 1883, he sailed a boat up to Alaska and prospected up the Yukon. No rich ores were found so Ed returned to San Francisco. That fall, he married a Mrs. M.E. Brown, a native of Virginia, but a resident of San Francisco. The marriage took place in La Junta, Colorado. Part of that winter the couple spent in Salt Lake City and in the spring of 1884 they went to Alameda, California where they bought a home. After $37,000,000 worth of silver had been mined and ten years of active life had passed, the mines took a turn. Water began steeping into the mineshaft. Pumps were used to get the water out, yet to no avail. The mines were flooded up to the 600-foot level and the mines were closed down. By 1886, the combination of collapsing silver prices, town fires and the flooded mines led to the town’s decline.The bad news continued. In 1929, an election revealed that the county seat would be moved to Bisbee, where it remains today.
Unimpressed with city life, Ed bought a ranch near his brothers, Eff and Jay, in Oregon. In September, 1896, for some unexplained reason, he returned to Alameda and made his Last Will and Testament. In his will he divided his worldly goods between his wife, Mary , and his brother, Jay: “I give my wife, Mary E. Schieffelin, all interests, both real and personal properties – in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties, California – also fifteen $1,000 University of Arizona Bonds. All other properties, both real and personal, I give to my brother, Jay L. Schieffelin.”Once more, the love of prospecting drew him back into the mountains. There in Douglas County, Oregon, he found his peace and contentment in a remote cabin on a ridge above Day’s Creek. It was here that his nearest neighbor, a man named Jackson, found him dead on May 12, 1897. Though only 49 years old and presumably in good health, Ed Schieffelin was gone.The Sheriff was brought from Canyonville and an inquest was held at Ed’s cabin. The coroner ruled that Ed had died of a heart attack.
There is still raging a controversy over whether he discovered yet another bonanza. Reports exist that say the last entry in Ed’s diary read, “Found it at last! Richer than Tombstone ever hoped to be!” Ore samples lying in the cabin assayed at over $2,000 to the ton. Schieffelin was buried near his cabin, 20 miles East of Canyonville. He was not to lie there long, as his last wishes were found among his papers. They were: “It is my wish, if convenient, to be buried in the dress of a prospector, my old pick and canteen with me, on top of the granite hills about three miles westerly from the City of Tombstone, Arizona, and that a monument, such as prospectors build when locating a mining claim, be built over my graveyard or cemetery.”
When Ed’s wished were known, his brother , Charles, telegraphed them to Tombstone on May 17, 1897.Mayor Emanuel made all the funeral preparations and Colonel William Herring prepared to deliver the eulogy. Ed Schieffelin was laid to rest on Sunday May 23, 1897, with his wife, mother, brother and a huge crowd of friends present. They gave him the largest funeral in the camp’s history. Saloons, stores and offices closed and people came from all over the country to take a last look at the man who had found a Mountain of Silver worth $85,000,000. His body was dressed in his old red, flannel shirt and his faded prospector’s clothes. Beside him were placed his pick, shovel, the battered canteen he had carried the day he had made his strike.
The plaque on the gigantic miner’s monument (with a sixteen foot base diameter and twenty-five foot height) 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."
Taken from “The Chronicles of Tombstone” by Ben T. Traywick
Tombstone, February 1, 1882
Major C. P. Dake, United States Marshal,
Grand Hotel, Tombstone
In exercising out official functions as deputy United States marshals in this territory, we have endeavored always unflinchingly to perform the duties entrusted to us. These duties have been exacting and perilous in their character, having to be performed in a community where turbulence and violence could almost any moment be organized to thwart and resist the enforcement of the process of the court issued to bring criminals to justice. And while we have a deep sense of obligation to many of the citizens for their hearty cooperation in aiding us to suppress lawlessness, and their faith in our honesty of purpose, we realize that, notwithstanding out best efforts and judgment in everything which we have been required to perform, there has arisen so much harsh criticism in relation to our operations, and such a persistent effort having been made to misrepresent and misinterpret out acts, we are led to the conclusion that, in order to convince the public that it is our sincere purpose to promote the public welfare, independent of any personal emolument or advantages to ourselves, it is our duty to place our resignations as deputy United States marshals in your hands, which we now do, thanking you for your continued courtesy and confidence in our integrity, and shall remain subject to your orders in the performance of any duties which may be assigned to us, only until our successors are appointed.
Very respectfully yours,
Virgil W. Earp
Wyatt S. Earp
Tombstone was a boom and people poured in from all over the country; most hoping to find riches in the silver lode beneath the town. Others realized the real money was to be made in providing refreshment to the hundreds of miners and the droves of gamblers, merchants, soiled doves and others who followed the boom camps throughout the west.
Jim Vizina and Benjamin Cook built a one story commercial building on the choice lot at the northeast corner of Fifth and Allen Streets. The building was partitioned and soon rented to eager businessmen. Fronting on Fifth Street was the Safford, Hudson & Co. bank; the corner was leased by Milton Edward Joyce &; Co., for a saloon the center store facing Allen was taken by Charles Clover & Co., a men’s furnishing group from San Francisco; and the last section was used by L. Meyer & Co. as a dry goods store.
Milton Edward Joyce arrived in Tombstone in 1879 with interests in mining but by June 1880 he was working to open a saloon and restaurant. The gaming concession was run by a group of San Francisco sporting men headed by Lou Rickabaugh and William C. Parker and Bill Harris from Dodge.
In her column in the San Diego Daily Union on August 10, 1880 Clara Brown wrote, in part, “Saloon openings are all the rage. The ‘Oriental’ is simply gorgeous and is pronounced the finest place of the kind this side of San Francisco. The bar is a marvel of beauty; the sideboards were made for the Baldwin Hotel; the gaming room connected is carpeted with Brussels, brilliantly lighted, and furnished with reading matter and writing materials for its patrons. Every evening music from a piano and a violin attracts a crowd; and the scene is really a gay one but all for the men. To be sure, there are frequent dances, which I have heard called “respectable”, but as long as so many members of the demi-monder, who are very numerous and very showy here, patronize them, many honest women will hesitate to attend.”
Contrary to the version in the movie Tombstone it was Dr. John Henry “Doc” Holliday who fought with Johnny Tyler at the Oriental. Joyce forced Tyler to leave and tried to reason with the drunk Doc. He gave up and tossed Doc out the front door. Doc came right back in through the side door and demanded his revolver, which was refused. Doc got another gun from his room and returned to open fire. Joyce got off a shot and missed but then bravely beat Doc not realizing he had been shot in the hand. His partner, E. P. Parker was shot in the big toe. Joyce filed a complaint and Deputy Marshal Virgil Earp arrested Doc two days later, Oct. 10, 1880.
The next altercation at the Oriental occurred on Feb. 25, 1881. Luke Short was running a game when he and Charles Storm argued over the turn of a card. They were separated by Bat Masterson and things seemed to settle down. However, Short and Storm met again later when Storms demanded satisfaction and ended up dead. The public opinion was that it was justifiable.
Again, on March 1, a drunk and a sporting man with the gambler receiving a wound. Clara Brown commented in her March 9, article that “it is a marvel that no innocent parties are injured by stray bullets when so many people are constantly on the street, and a little excitement draws a crowd of hundreds.”
In his diary of March 3, Parsons claimed the “Oriental a regular slaughter house now. Much bad blood today. Pistols pulled. Games at Oriental Closed by Joyce.”
On June 22, 1881 the elegance of the Oriental was caught in the fire that took out much of the business district. The fire started at the Arcade Saloon, three doors above the Oriental and burned so fast Joyce was unable to get his cash from the safe. He reported $10,000 in damages and the Rickabaugh Club Room reported $5,000.
The corner was quickly rebuilt and expanded to the full 120 foot length of the lot and storage was set up in the vacated bank building.
In late 1881 Joyce sold the saloon and gambling concession to Lou Rickabaugh who continued the tradition of high-class surroundings. One of the main attractions was Miss Emma Howe a talented piano player from San Francisco. Wyatt Earp had a gaming concession in the Oriental and Virgil Earp was leaving that place on the night of Dec. 18, 1881 when he was ambushed.
Milton Joyce regained his ownership of the Oriental in January 1882 and the Epitaph claimed “Outside of San Francisco there is not a nicer place in the country than the Oriental.” (Jan. 11, 1882.)
The elegance was again threatened in May 1882 when another fire raced through the business district. The firemen pulled the overhang down and kept the building wet so Joyce received only moderate damage to his establishment. He plied the gallant firemen with liquor in thanks. Things were soon back to normal when “Buckskin” Frank Leslie and James Floyd got in to an argument. They were tossed out and Leslie went to beat Floyd over the head when his gun discharged. Leslie was arrested for firing a gun but it appears all charges were dropped when Floyd withdrew his complaint.
Frank Leslie was also involved in an altercation on November 14, 1882 Leslie and others were having a friendly conversation when William “Billy” Claiborne tried to force his way into the group. Leslie told him to leave but soon heard that the hot-headed Claiborne was gunning for him. As Claiborne stood by the front door Leslie slipped out the center side door and walked towards him. Claiborne got off a quick shot with his Winchester and missed. Leslie fired and the self claimed “Billy The Kid” fell to the ground and soon died.
Richard Heitchow took over the Oriental in February 1883 and later that spring another altercation occurred. This time it involved a scorned woman. Mrs. Woodman, alias the “Road Runner” had been living with Billy Kinsman for about two years. It was tumultuous relationship and after an especially violent altercation Woodman promised to kill him. When they met the next morning at the Oriental (some sources say it started in the saloon and others in front) Woodman carried through with her threat. A witness later stated Woodman confronted Kinsman and then suddenly pulled a gun from her cloak and fired. Kinsman turned and headed around the corner when Woodman followed him and fired a second shot just as Officer Coyle tried to grab her. Young Kinsman was taken to his parent’s house where he soon died.
May Woodman was convicted of manslaughter and sent to the territorial prison in Yuma. It was soon learned she was pregnant and a petition was started asking for her pardon. She was released on March 15, 1884 when she boarded a train for California and disappeared.
In the fall, Tombstone gained gas lighting and the Oriental was one of the businesses to take advantage of the new bright lights. In 1885 the saloon again changed hands and long time saloon owner Joseph “Charley” Mellgren took over. He remained in charge until the spring of 1886. The Oriental went through a number of owners until 1888.
The Prospector announced on May 12, 1887 “just received at Nardini’s store, on Allen street, some very stout Limburger cheese. A reporter saw some at a distance to-day and from the odor it was strong enough to stand alone. The lovers of this luxurious cheese had better call at Nardini’s and purchase some before it walks off.”
In September 1888 Nardini moved his store, along with the Limburger cheese, to the Oriental building. The newspaper commented, “This is the first time in its history that it (the Oriental) has been occupied by any other than a saloon man, and if Nardini makes one-half the money that Joyce made out of it, he can rest satisfied.”
G. Nardini & Co. were dealers in liquors, cigars, staples and fancy groceries. Nardini sold out sometime before 1896 when he was reported on his sick bed near Healdsburg, California and not expected to live more than a few weeks.
In 1921 Mr. O. Lillybeck moved his pharmacy business to Tombstone and located it in the Oriental building. He had formerly been in Columbus, New Mexico and the store, was named the Columbus Drug Company. The company handled the Rexall line and, also carried Kodak cameras and supplies, Waterman’s Fountain Pens, Kant-Leak Rubber Goods, Klenze Dental. products and the Coty and Pompeian imported lines of toilet articles.
By 1924 their slogan of “Only The Best” carried over to the soft drink department where they had installed, a modern twelve-foot Liquid Carbonic sanitary fountain, the only one in town. There were fountain tables, and individual booths with a seating capacity of thirty-five people.
In April 1929 there was a bit of excitement when somebody broke the glass in one of the side doors and broke in to steal about $15.00. Although good fingerprints were found the culprit was unknown.
Mr. Lillybeck also owned the Russ’ House and displayed relics found during the rmodeling in the window of the Columbus Drug Store. One of these was “a well worn satin strip, bearing the rules that governed the hotel and the advertisements of many Tombstone firms that are long since defunct.”
On April 20, 1944 the Epitaph reported a reincarnation of “Buckskin” Frank Leslie. A pair of traveling salesmen stopped at the Columbus Drug Store for a drink and then started complaining loudly to the soda jerk, Jack Cook. Insults flew until Cook tried to take himself away to cool off, but the ranting followed him around the store. Cook returned to his post, filled a double-malted glass with water and proceeded to throw it in the face of the abusive peddler. As a group of high school sports stars happened on the scene at that moment the salesman wisely chose to leave. He probably never knew how lucky he was “Buckskin” Frank hadn’t actually reappeared behind the counter.
Excitement of another type occurred on the Oriental corner in 1945. Thursday afternoon, a freakish accident occurred on Main street. A lady from Willcox, driving east down Main street, attempted to turn left at the Drug store corner. She drove up onto the sidewalk, went between three posts and hit the corner of the drug store building, breaking the large window and smashing in the wood part below the window. No damage was done to the truck and no. one was hurt. (Epitaph, Sept. 13.)
Even though the corner of Fifth and Allen Streets doesn’t, get as much fanfare as the O.K. Corral, it was surely the deadliest corner in Tombstone.
DURING THE WILD and lawless years of the settling of the West, some sort of graveyard could be found near almost every town or camp. Because many of the people in those settlements died rather quickly and unexpectedly, usually with their boots on, and were buried with their boots still on, these cemeteries became known as “boot hills.” The first and most famous of them all is Tombstone’s Boothill, which was laid out as a burial plot in 1878 and was originally called the Tombstone Cemetery. On that rocky hill at the edge of town lie many of the legendary characters of the “Town Too Tough To Die.”
When the rest of the world heard in the late 1870s that Ed Schieffelin had found a mountain of silver worth $85 million in the middle of Apache country, newcomers flocked in droves to the new boom town in Arizona Territory. Tombstone had no law except that of the gun and knife, and Boothill’s population grew quickly. Then as today, Boothill lies thickly covered with mesquite, cactus, ocotillo, and crucifixion thorn. Narrow piles of rocks mark the final resting places facing the Dragoon Mountains. At the head of each grave stands a small marker with an epitaph giving the name of the occupant, the date he or she ceased to be, and sometimes the cause of death. Naturally, there are a multitude of reasons as to how the occupants came to lie under these narrow mounds of rock on this wind-swept hill.
A number of graves are marked “UNKNOWN,” and there is no possible way to identify who lies in them. In most cases the identities were unknown at the time of burial. Tombstone was the wildest of boom towns, and strangers poured into the area daily. They carried no identification cards and often used aliases. The stories of these unknowns have been forgotten, but there are plenty of “knowns”; in Boothill whose stories live on. Here are some of them:
John Hicks claimed his plot in Boothill early in the game. He had the distinction of being the first man buried there in a white shirt. During an 1879 gunfight with Jerry McCormick and a miner named Jackson, John Hicks was killed and his brother Boyce was wounded in the head and blinded for life. John Hicks did not live to see Tombstone reach its peak. In just two more years, it would grow to have more saloons (110), more gambling halls (14), and more untimely deaths than any other town in the nation.
On July 24, 1880, T.J. Waters did two things; he bought a new black-and-blue plaid shirt and then he got drunk. Little did he realize that the brightly colored shirt would cause his death. Friendly comments about his shirt from the men on Whiskey Row raised Waters’ ire. Finally, he said, “Now, if any man here don’t like my shirt, let him get up. I’m boss here, and I’ll knock any man down who opens his mouth about my shirt again! Unaware that these words had been spoken, E.L. Bradshaw entered the saloon, smiled and commented about the shirt. Waters struck him a powerful blow, rendering him unconscious. Bradshaw recovered and found a gun. He located Waters in the doorway of Corrigan’s saloon and shot him four times. Waters was falling at the second shot and was dead at the fourth. Bradshaw was arrested and brought before Judge Gray, but the times being what they were, he went free. Waters went to Boothill.
In 1887, gunman “Buckskin Frank” Leslie found himself a new girlfriend, buxom Mollie Williams. There was just one problem–her current boyfriend was E.L. Bradshaw. The problem seemed to he solved one morning when Bradshaw turned up in an alley with a hole through his head. Many believe that Leslie had killed him to get Mollie. Buckskin Frank never denied shooting him…but he never admitted it, either. Bradshaw took his place in an unmarked grave in Boothill, and no more was ever said about the incident.
Johnny Blair was a member of the “Double” Dobe Gang. He was out rustling cattle when he contracted smallpox. Two of his outlaw friends took him to a Mexican woman who was immune to the dreaded disease. She cared for him about a week before she proclaimed him “very dead”. One of Blair’s friends went out to Boothill and dug the grave. The other rode up to the cabin and dropped a rope over the feet and around the ankles of the dead man. When he was certain the rope was secure, he dallied its other end around his saddle horn, and spurred his horse to start the funeral procession. It was quite likely the fastest ever seen in the old silver camp. At his waiting grave, Blair was hastily covered with a foot of Arizona dirt and rock. His epitaph tells the story all right: “JOHNNY BLAIR. DIED OF SMALLPOX. COWBOY THREW ROPE OVER FEET AND DRAGGED HIM TO HIS GRAVE.”
Charley Storms was rated by Wyatt Earp as one of the deadliest guns in the West. What caused his dispute with Luke Short in Tombstone lies forgotten in the musty records of history. Short was frequently called the “undertaker’s friend.” He did not stay long in Tombstone but was there long enough to send Storms on his way to Boothill. At the time of the gunfight on February 25, 1881, Short was dealing faro at the Oriental. Storms appeared, drunk, waving a loaded pistol about. After a brief argument with Short, he called him out into the street, telling him he was going to kill him. When the two met in front of the Oriental, both were rated as top-notch gunmen. Charley Storms was considered better with a six-shooter than Short…until their duel. Storms offered Short the shot and Short took it, shooting him twice through the chest. Down with a fatal wound, Storms still managed to fire several times, but not accurately enough. Luke Short holstered his gun and returned to his interrupted faro game, leaving the corpse in the street. The losing gunman now sports a marker that simply reads: “CHARLEY STORMS, SHOT BY LUKE SHORT 1881.”
Billy Claibourne, 19, shot and killed James Hickey in nearby Charleston on October 1, 1881. Hickey was drunk, feeling mean, and reckoned the kid would add an easy notch to his gun. Consequently he followed Claibourne around, daring him to fight. Billy left Ben Wood’s Saloon and crossed the street to J.B. Ayer’s Saloon, with the taunting Hickey right behind. Again Claibourne left because of Hickey, and headed toward Harry Queen’s Saloon. Hickey stopped him before he could enter Harry Queen’s. Claibourne said, “Stay away from me!” With those words he pulled his six- shooter and fired. A blue hole appeared between Hickey’s eyes, and he slumped to the board sidewalk. Constable Clark arrested Claibourne, who stood trial in Tombstone, but was acquitted because of Hickey’s harassment.
“Old Man” Clanton and five other men were bringing a herd of cattle up from Mexico in August 1881 when they were ambushed. Only two men escaped with their lives; the rest were shot down. Clanton and the other dead men were taken to Cloverdale and buried. Early the next spring, Ike and Phin Clanton moved their father’s body to Boothill so that he would be near their brother Billy Clanton. Billy met his end on October 26, 1881, when three of the Earp brothers–Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil–and Doc Holliday met near Hafford’s Saloon, walked down Fourth Street to Fremont Street,and into the bloody pages of Tombstone’s history. A confrontation with Tom and Frank McLaury and Ike and Billy Clanton occurred in the vacant lot beside Fly’s boardinghouse. Guns roared and thundered for 30 seconds, leaving Billy and both McLaurys dead. On the opposing side, Morgan Earp was shot through, shoulder to shoulder, and Virgil Earp had a painful wound in the calf of his leg. The dead men were given an impressive funeral and were laid to rest in Boothill.
Another marker up there reads: ‘Margarita, STABBED BY GOLD DOLLAR’. The latter was the business name of a prostitute known as Little Gertie, the Gold Dollar, who was blonde, pretty, petite, and particularly fond of pretty coins. She was living with a dance hall cowboy named Billy Milgreen. Another prostitute, dark-eyed, sultry Margarita, tried to cut in on Billy, and succeeded in taking him away from Gold Dollar. Little Gertie kicked up a fuss about losing her man, and Margarita turned nasty. Gold Dollar slid a hand under her skirt and came out with a wicked-looking knife that she planted just below Margarita’s wishbone Then all there was left to do was hold the funeral and put up the marker.
Possibly the most remarkable epitaph in Boothill reads: “M.E. KELLOGG, 1882. DIED A NATURAL DEATH.” Not many who did likewise are to be found in Boothill.
When Morgan Earp was murdered in a Tombstone pool hall on March 18,1882, a coroner’s jury determined that the murderers were Frank Stilwell, Indian Charlie, Pete Spencer, Joe Doe Freis and an unidentified Indian. Wyatt, infuriated at the killing of his younger brother Morgan and the earlier crippling of his older brother Virgil, rode a bloody trail of revenge. Wyatt and his posse killed Stilwell in Tucson on March 20, 1882. Two days later they rode to Pete Spencer’s woodcutter camp at South Pass in the Dragoon Mountains. Spencer was not at the camp, but Florentino Cruz was. Wyatt and his posse shot him full of holes and left him there. Taken into Tombstone, he was buried in Boothill. Billy Claibourne, who in October 1881 had killed James Hickey and witnessed the O.K. Corral gunfight, had a deadly enemy in Buckskin Frank Leslie. One morning Claibourne stood outside the Oriental, waiting with rifle in hand for Leslie. Instead of going out the front, Leslie stepped out a side door on Fifth Street and shot Billy in the side. Claibourne’s rifle fired once but only chewed splinters from the boardwalk. Buckskin Frank Leslie’s most recent victim earned a bit of immortality under the marker that says, “WM. CLAIBOURNE SHOT BY FRANK LESLIE 1882.”
Two years earlier Leslie had put a new grave m Boothill by shooting Mike Killen. He had met Mrs. Killen, the Commercial Hotel housekeeper, at a dance. She was separated from her husband, but he still objected to Leslie escorting her home late at night. When he found the two together on the front porch, he objected loudly. His objections earned him a long rest under a marker: “KILLEN 1880. SHOT BY LESLIE,” and Buckskin Frank Leslie married the buxom widow a few days later.
One mound is marked with the simple epitaph reading, “DUTCH ANNIE 1883.” The words don’t reveal very much, but quite a story lies beneath those rocks. As frequently is the case, no one ever knew her by any name other than Dutch Annie. Many a miner, broke and desperate, was grubstaked by this friend to all. When she went to her eternal rest, more than 1,000 people followed the coffin, paying tribute to Dutch Annie–Queen of the Red Light District!
On February 23,1883, William Kinsman was standing in front of the Oriental Saloon on Allen Street when May Woodman walked up and shot him. Some wag had put a notice in the Epitaph that Kinsman intended to marry Woodman, with whom he had been living. Kinsman had countered by running his own ad in the Epitaph, stating that he had no intentions of marrying May Woodman. Big mistake. Woodman was sentenced to five years for killing Kinsman–but she apparently was so hard to deal with in the Yuma Territorial Prison that the acting governor pardoned her after she had served less than one year. Her victim resides in Boothill.
Lester Moore was employed as a Wells, Fargo Co. station agent in the border town of Naco. Hank Dunstan showed up to claim a package one afternoon. He received it, but it was thoroughly mangled. An argument ensued, and both Moore and Dunstan reached for their six shooters. When the smoke cleared, Les Moore lay dead behind his window with four .44 slugs in his chest. Dunstan, too, lay dying, a hole blasted through his ribs by the one shot Moore had been able to get off before he collapsed. Les Moore was given a space in Boothill and an epitaph that has made him famous: “HERE LIES LESTER MOORE, FOUR SLUGS FROM A 44, NO LES NO MORE.” There is no evidence to indicate where Dunstan was buried.
On December 8, 1883, Dan Dowd, C.W. Sample, Dan Kelly, William Delaney and Tex Howard held up the general store in Bisbee. While two of the five robbed the store, the other three shot up the street outside, killing several people. It was discovered that John Heath, a Bisbee saloon owner, had masterminded the robbery. Eventually all six men were arrested and wound up in the Tombstone calaboose. The five robbers were sentenced to hang. However, Heath, who demanded a separate trial, was given life in the Yuma pen. At this sentence, the whole county became enraged.
Early on the morning of February 22, 1884, 50 armed men rode up to the Tombstone jail and took the prisoner Heath from Sheriff Ward. Half an hour later the lynch mob departed, leaving Heath dangling from a telegraph pole on Second Street. The other five were left in jail to let the law take its course. The five of them have one common epitaph that states they were legally hanged March 8, 1884. Heath’s epitaph relates that he was taken from the county jail and lynched by a Bisbee mob.
In 1886 a Mexico-Arizona train was held up a short distance out of Nogales. The bandits shot the train crew. Two of the outlaws, Manuel Robles and Neves Deron, decided to hide out at the camp of Manuel’s brother Guadalupe Robles. An honest, hard-working woodcutter, Guadalupe had his camp in French Joe Canyon in the Whetstone Mountains. Reluctantly, he agreed to hide the two until they could leave the country.
Cochise County Sheriff John Slaughter was a man who received a great deal of information, and it was not long until he knew where the two he sought had gone into hiding. Slaughter, Burt Alvord and one other deputy raided the hide-out one morning at daybreak. In the uncertain light, the lawmen shot at anything that moved. Consequently, when Guadalupe Robles and Deron ran out of the camp toward him, Slaughter shot them both. Manuel Robles was seriously wounded by Alvord’s shots, but still managed to get to a horse and escape. His innocent brother, Guadalupe, was planted in Boothill along with Deron.
One Boothill headstone and epitaph is a little different. It is the grave site of a former slave who outlived most of the good, the bad, the ugly and any others who happened along the streets of Tombstone. The old black man was Sheriff John Slaughter’s servant, and his epitaph reads: ‘JOHN SWAIN (SLAUGHTER) BORN JUNE 1846, FORMER SLAVE WHO CAME TO TOMBSTONE 1879, DIED FEB. 8,1946. ERECTED BY THE PERSONNEL AT FORT HUACHUCA AND FRIENDS OF TOMBSTONE IN MEMORY OF A WORTHY PIONEER.’
China Mary was the wife of Ah Lum, co-owner of the Can-Can Restaurant with Quong Keel Ah Lum was also the “Worshipful Master of the Chinese Masonic Lodge.” China Mary was the absolute ruler of “Hoptown” and all its denizens. She not only ruled them but also virtually owned them body and soul. Her word and her decisions were undisputed law, and none disobeyed. It was extremely unusual for a woman, any woman, to occupy such a position in the American West. No Chinese could be hired except through China Mary; none could be paid: except through China Mary. She also controlled Chinese prostitution and all the opium trade in town. She owned an interest in most Chinese businesses in Tombstone, too. In spite of all her shady operations and the fact that she was Chinese, Mary was respected and well-liked in Tombstone. She would lend money to anyone who impressed her as honest and hard-working. No sick, injured or hungry person was ever turned from her door. She once took a cowboy with a broken leg to the Grand Central Boarding House and paid the bill until he recovered. At her death, a large number of people attended her burial in the Chinese section of Boothill. Her funeral had all the pomp and ceremony of a lavish Chinese extravaganza.
Three legendary characters of Tombstone who avoided spending eternity in Boothill were Doc Holliday, John Slaughter and Wyatt Earp. Holliday, probably Tombstone’s most cold-nerved gunman, died of tuberculosis in Glenwood Springs, Colo., six years after the Freemont Street gunfight. As he lay dying, he said,”This is funny.” Likely he meant it was funny for him to die peacefully in bed rather than in the midst of roaring guns. Slaughter also died peacefully in bed. He had served four years, 1886-1890, as sheriff of Cochise County. During that time very little was spent on prisoners because Slaughter very seldom brought any back. Mostly, he left them lying where he found them. His quick gun turned the county from a haven for two bit outlaws to a place of law and order. Just before he died in Douglas, Ariz., in 1927,Slaughter said: “Don’t bury me in Boothill. I don’t want to be buried there because Tombstone will be a ghost town.” His wish was granted, and he lies in the Douglas cemetery. Wyatt Earp lived in many places after leaving Arizona Territory in 1882. He settled in Los Angeles m 1906, dying there on January 13,1929. He was cremated, and his wife, Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, had his ashes buried in a family tomb in a Jewish cemetery at Colma, Calif., near Oakland. In fact, none of the Earp brothers are buried in Tombstone.
Ed Schieffelin, the man who brought Tombstone into existence, was another who did not wish to be buried in Boothill. He left instructions to bury him on a nearby hill where he had first found traces of rich silver ore. His pick, shovel and canteen are buried beside him amid the cholla and prickly pear.
Boothill was used until late in 1884, at which time the new “City Cemetery” on Allen Street came into use. For a while after that, Boothill was called “the Old Cemetery” and was almost totally neglected. Much of it was soon reclaimed by nature. The original markers were round-topped wooden slabs that eventually either rotted away, were burned in tramps’ campfires, or were stolen by souvenir hunters. In 1923, the City of Tombstone contacted old-timers who could tell them where their relatives and friends were buried. New wooden head markers were placed at the graves they indicated.
During the 1940s, Emmet Nunnelley saw the historic value of Boothill and requested that the City Council allow him to restore and preserve it. Metal markers were used to replace the old wooden ones that had, for the most part, disappeared. Harry Fulton Ohm, owner of the Bird Cage Theater, provided the new steel markers from his plant in Indiana. As the new markers were placed, each grave history was checked with relatives, friends, older residents and historical society records for accuracy. Tombstone’s Boothill has been preserved as it is seen today through the hard work of several Tombstone citizens, especially Nunnelley, who asked that he be buried there. His request was granted.
Ben T. Traywick wrote “Tombstone’s Boothill”, which was first published in 1971 but has since been updated several times.
On August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia, John Henry Holliday was born to Henry Burroughs and Alice Jane Holliday. Their first child, Martha Eleanora, had died on June 12, 1850 at six months of age. When he married Alice Jane McKay on January 8, 1849, Henry Burroughs was a druggist by trade and, later, became a wealthy planter, lawyer, and during the War between the States, a Confederate Major. Church records state: “John Henry, infant son of Henry B. and Alice J. Holliday, received the ordinance of baptism on Sunday, March 21, 1852, at the First Presbyterian Church in Griffin.”
Alice Jane died on September 16, 1866. This was a terrible blow to young John Henry for he and his mother were very close. To compound this loss, his father married Rachel Martin only three months later on December 18, 1886. Shortly after this marriage, the Holliday family moved to Valdosta, Georgia. Major Holliday quickly became one of the town’s leading citizens, becoming Mayor, the Secretary of the County Agricultural Society, a Member of the Masonic Lodge, the Secretary of the Confederate Veterans Camp, and the Superintendent of local elections.
Because of his family status, John Henry had to choose some sort of profession and he chose dentistry. He enrolled in dental school in 1870 and attended his first lecture session in 1870-1872. Each lecture session lasted a little over three months. John wrote his required thesis on “Disease of the Teeth”. He served his required two years apprenticeship under Dr. L.F. Frank. On March 1, 1872, the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in Philadelphia, conferred the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery upon twenty-six men, one of whom was John Henry Holliday. Upon completion of his training and graduation, Dr. Holliday opened an office with a Dr. Arthur C. Ford in Atlanta in 1872. The Atlanta Constitution on July 26, 1872, ran the following item:
“I hereby inform my patients that I have to attend the session of the Southern Dental Association in Richmond, Virginia, and will be absent until about the middle of August, during which time Dr. John H. Holliday will fill my place in my office. Office: 26 Whitehall Street – Arthur C. Ford, D.D.A.”
John was a good dentist, but shortly after starting his practice, he discovered that he had contracted tuberculosis. Although he consulted a number of doctors, the consensus of all was that he had only months to live.
However, they all concurred that he might add a few months to his life if he moved to a dry climate. Following this advice, Doc packed up and headed West. His first stop was in Dallas, Texas, the end of the railroad at the time. The date was October 1873, and Doc soon found a suitable position as an associate of Dr. John A. Seegar. He hung out his shingle and prepared for business, but his terrible illness was not through with him.
Coughing spells wracked his thin frame and often occurred at the most embarrassing times, such as in the midst of filling a tooth or making an extraction. As a result, his dental business gradually declined. John soon had to find other means of earning a livelihood.
It became apparent that he possessed a natural ability for gambling and this quickly became his sole means of support. In those days, a gambler in the west had to be able to protect himself, for he stood alone. Doc was well aware of this and faithfully practiced with six-gun and knife. On January 2, 1875, Doc and a local saloon keeper, named Austin, had a disagreement that flared into violence. Each man went for his pistol. Several shots were fired, but not one struck its intended target. According to the Dallas Weekly Herald, both shooters were arrested. Most of the local citizens thought such a gunfight highly amusing, but changed their views a few days later when Doc put two large holes through a prominent citizen, leaving him very dead.
Feelings ran high over this killing and Doc was forced to flee Dallas a short distance in front of a posse. His next stop was Jacksboro over in Jack’s County, where he found a job dealing Faro. Jackson was a tough cow-town situated near an army post.
Not to be outdone, Doc now carried a gun in a shoulder holster, one on his hip, and a long, wicked knife as well. Reports confirm the fact that he was becoming an expert with these weapons as he was involved in three gunfights in a very short span of time. One of these left another dead man to Doc’s credit. Since this was a pretty wild section of the West at that time, no law action was taken against him. During the summer of 1876, Holliday again became a participant in a gunfight. On this occasion, he was careless enough to kill a soldier from Fort Richardson. The killing brought the United States Government into the investigation.
Doc hit the trail again, but this time his back trail was cluttered with the Army, U.S. Marshals, Texas Rangers, and local lawmen and citizens, who were anxious to collect the reward offered for him. Holliday knew that if he was captured, his neck would be stretched with very few preliminaries, so he headed straight into Apache country for Colorado, eight hundred miles away. Stopping for short periods at Pueblo, Leadville, Georgetown and Central City, three more men went down before his guns before he reached Denver. There he went by the name of Tom Mackey and was practically unknown until he was involved in an argument with Bud Ryan, while dealing Faro at Babbitt’s House.
In the ensuing fight, Doc came very near to cutting Ryan’s head off. Ryan, who was a well-known gambling tough, survived the vicious slashing, but his face and neck were horribly mutilated. Although his victim did not die, public resentment forced Doc to flee again. He drifted on to Wyoming, then to New Mexico, and from there to Fort Griffin, Texas. It was there that Doc met the only woman who was ever to come into his life. She was known as “Big Nose” Kate, a frontier dance hall woman and prostitute. It was quite true that Kate’s nose was prominent, but her other features were quite attractive. Her ample curves were generous and all in the right places. Tough, stubborn, fearless, and high tempered, she worked at the business of being a Madam and a prostitute because she liked it! She belonged to no man or no Madam’s House, but plied her trade as an individual in the manner she chose.
Doc met her while he was dealing cards in John Shanssey’s saloon. It was also at Shanssey’s that he met Wyatt Earp, another person who was to have a great deal of influence on his life. Earp rode in from Dodge City on the trail of Dave Rudabaugh, who was wanted for train robbery. While Doc was helping Wyatt gain the information he needed, they became fast friends. Holliday had already gained the reputation of being a cold-blooded killer. Many believed that he liked to kill, but that was not true. He was simply a hot-tempered Southerner who stood aside for no man. Bat Masterson said of him: “Doc Holliday was afraid of nothing on earth”. Doc could be described as a fatalist. He knew that he was already condemned to a slow, painful death. If his death was quick and painless, who was he to object! Actually, he expected a quick demise because of the violent life he lived.
A bully boy of Fort Griffin sat down in a poker game with Holliday. His name was Ed Bailey and he had grown accustomed to having his way with no one questioning his actions. Doc’s reputation seemed to make no impression on him whatever. In an obvious attempt to irritate Doc, Bailey kept picking up the discards and looking through them. This was strictly against the rules of Western poker, and anyone who broke this rule forfeited the pot. Holliday warned Bailey twice, but the erstwhile bad man ignored his protests. The very next hand Bailey picked up the discards again. Without saying a word Doc reached out and raked in the pot without showing his hand, Bailey brought a six-shooter from under the table, while a large knife materialized in Doc’s hand. Before the local bully could pull the trigger, Doc, with one slash, completely disemboweled him. Spilling blood everywhere, Bailey sprawled across the table.
As he felt that he was obviously only protecting himself and in the right, Doc stuck around town and allowed the Marshal to arrest him. That was certainly a mistake, for once he had been disarmed and locked up, Bailey’s friends and the town vigilantes began a clamor for his blood. “Big Nose” Kate knew that Doc was finished unless someone did something and quick. Likely as not, the local lawmen would turn the slim gunman over to the mob. Kate went into action by setting fire to an old shed. It burned so rapidly that the flames threatened to engulf the town. Everyone went to fight the fire with the exception of three people: Kate, Doc, and the Officer who guarded him. As soon as the lawman and his prisoner were left alone, she stepped in and confronted them. A pistol in each hand, she disarmed the startled guard, then passed a pistol to Doc and the two of them vanished into the night.
All that night they hid in the brush, carefully avoiding parties of searchers. The next morning they headed for Dodge City, four hundred miles away, on “borrowed” horses. The couple registered at Deacon Cox’s Boarding House in Dodge City as Dr. and Mrs. J. H. Holliday. Doc felt he owed Kate a great deal for rescuing him from a hang tree in Fort Griffin and was determined to do anything in his power to make her happy. Kate gave up being a prostitute and inhabiting the saloons. Doc gave up gambling and hung out his shingle again. All of Doc’s good intentions were totally unappreciated and did not endure for long. Kate stood the quiet and boredom of respectable living as long as she could. Then she told Doc that she was going back to the bright lights and excitement of the dance halls and gambling dens. Consequently, the two split up, as they were destined to do many times during the remainder of Doc’s life.
September found Doc back dealing Faro in the Long Branch Saloon. A number of Texas cowboys had just arrived in Dodge City with a herd of cattle. After many weeks on the trail, they were a wild, salty bunch, ready to “tree” Dodge. Word was brought into the Long Branch that several of the trail drivers had Wyatt Earp cornered and were boasting that they intended to shoot him down. Doc leaped through the door, gun in hand. When he arrived, two cowboys, Morrison and Driscoll, were holding cocked revolvers on Wyatt, goading him to draw before they shot him down. About twenty of their friends also stood nearby, taunting and insulting the enraged, but helpless, Wyatt. Holliday loosed a volume of profanity and, as the self-styled bad men turned to face Doc, Wyatt rapped Morrison over the head with his long barrel Colt. Then he set about relieving the other cowboys of their guns. Wyatt never forgot the fact that Doc Holliday saved his life that night in Dodge City.
Kate and Doc soon had another of their frequent, violent quarrels and Doc, in a furious mood, saddled his horse and rode out to Trinidad, Colorado. Shortly after he arrived in town, a young gambler, known as “Kid Colton”, wishing to make himself a reputation, badgered Doc into a fight. Doc’s gun roared twice and Colton collapsed in the dust of the street. Under such circumstances, Doc did not wish to linger around, and rode on into New Mexico. In the summer of 1879, Doc tried his hand as a dentist for the last time in Las Vegas, New Mexico. It was a very weak attempt and ended in a short time when he bought a saloon on Center Street. A few weeks later, he got into an argument with a local gunman, named Mike Gordon, who, by all evidence, was rather popular with the locals. Not one to mince words, Doc politely invited him to start shooting whenever he felt like it and then shot him three times in the stomach. A mob quickly gathered and began plans for decorating a hang tree, using Doc as an ornament. Wisely, Doc disappeared like smoke. Since he had to move on again, Doc knew the one place he would be safe in was Dodge City. After all, Wyatt Earp was his friend. But when he rode back into town, he discovered that Wyatt had gone to a new silver strike, in a place called Tombstone, Arizona.
There was nothing to hold him in Dodge City with Wyatt gone, so Doc headed West, bound for Tombstone. Without Doc knowing it, he would soon get to know more of the Earp family, for all of the Earp brothers were bound for Tombstone. Morgan was coming in from Montana, Wyatt and James from Dodge City and Virgil from Prescott, where Marshal Crawley Dake had just made him a Deputy U.S. Marshal. Virgil left Prescott for Tombstone without Holliday , who was having a fantastic run of luck at the poker tables.
“Big Nose” Kate, also en-route to the new boom town of Tombstone, caught up with Doc in Prescott while he was still winning at poker. The two of them reached Tombstone in the early summer of 1880 and Doc, with $40,000 of the Prescott gamblers’ money in his pockets, found Kate very happy to be in his company.
In Tombstone, Doc found Kate’s living quarters sandwiched between a funeral parlor and the Soma Winery on the North side of Allen Street, at Sixth Street. Kate was quick to realize opportunity and, soon after her arrival in Tombstone, went into business and was soon making a sizable income. She purchased a large tent, rounded up several girls, a few barrels of bad, cheap whiskey and operated Tombstone’s first “sporting house”.
The outlaw gang in Tombstone had things their way for quite some time and they resented the arrival of the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. “Old man” Clanton, his sons, Ike, Phin, and Billy, the McLaury brothers, Frank and Tom, Curly Bill Brocius, John Ringo and their followers lost no time in expressing their displeasure. Doc had become quite famous as a gunman by the time he had reached Tombstone. Several men had died in encounters with him. At any rate, Holliday was a welcome addition to the Earp’s fight with the “Cowboy” faction.
Johnny Tyler and Doc had a dispute in the Oriental Saloon, early in October, 1880. Tyler left as quickly as possible but Doc and Milt Joyce, the saloon owner, continue to argue. The argument turned into gun play and Doc drunkenly fired several shots. Finally, Milt struck Doc on the head with a pistol. When the affair ended Joyce had been shot through the hand, Parker, his bartender, was shot through the toe on the left foot and Holliday had a lump on his head from the pistol-whipping by Joyce. Doc was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. He was found guilty by Justice Reilly and fined $20 for assault and battery and $11.25 costs.
Once they were settled in town, Holliday and “Big Nose” Kate took up where they had left off. Although they lived together , Doc went back to drinking and gambling and Kate to her operation as a prostitute. Their arguments were frequent, but not really serious until Kate got drunk and abusive. Doc, at this point, decided that enough was enough and threw her out. As fate would have it, four masked men attempted a hold up on a stagecoach near Contention on March 15, 1881. In the attempt, they killed two men: Bud Philpot, the stage driver, and Peter Roerig, a passenger. The Cowboy faction immediately seized upon the opportunity and accused Doc Holliday of being one of the holdup men. Sheriff Behan and Deputy Stilwell found Kate on one of her drunken binges, still berating Doc for throwing her out. They sympathized with her and fed her more whiskey, then persuaded her to sign an affidavit that Doc had been one of the masked highwaymen and had actually pulled the trigger on the shot that killed Bud Philpot.
While Kate was sobering up, the Earps began to round up witnesses who could verify Doc’s whereabouts on the night in question. When Kate realized what she had done, she regretted her actions and repudiated her statement. Since witnesses and Kate’s new stand exposed the Cowboy frame-up, Doc was released. The District Attorney labeled the charges as ridiculous and threw them out. Doc gave Kate some money and put her on a stage leaving town. As far as he was concerned, his debt to her was paid in full. “Big Nose” Kate was a far different woman than most of the people in Tombstone realized. She had been born Mary Katherine Horony, in Budapest, Hungary on November 7, 1850. During her long life she was to use many last names: Elder, Melvin, Fisher, Holliday, Cummings and Howard. She did not travel far on the stage, only to Globe. Evidently, she made two or three trips back to Tombstone to visit Doc as she claimed to be a witness to the gunfight. She may have been, as she and Doc were staying in a room at Mrs. Fly’s.
Most likely that is why the Cowboys were in a vacant lot next door near the corral. They may have been waiting for Doc to come back to the room they shared where they would have an opportunity to kill him.
Kate was apparently in Colorado from 1882 to the early part of 1888, although there is no information that she was living with Doc any of those years. She married a blacksmith, named George M. Cummings in 1888 and with her new husband moved to Bisbee, Arizona, only a few miles from Tombstone. They also lived for a time in Pearce, Arizona. In 1889, Kate left her husband and moved to the tiny railroad town of Cochise. (Cummings committed suicide in Courtland, Arizona on July 7, 1915. The coroner’s jury report said that he killed himself because he had an incurable cancer of the head.) Cochise had been born in 1886 as a railroad station and post office at the junction of the Arizona Eastern and Southern Pacific railroads. John J. Rath hired Kate to work in his Cochise Hotel in 1899, although the customers never knew her true identity. She left the Cochise Hotel in the summer of 1900, and moved in with a man named Howard, from the mining town of Dos Cabezas.
She lived with him until 1930, and when he died she inherited some property. In 1931, she wrote to the Governor of Arizona, George W.P. Hunt, requesting admission to the “Arizona Pioneers Home”. Being foreign born, she was not eligible but she claimed that she had been born in Davenport, Iowa. So Hunt gave her permission for admission to the home and she stayed there until her death on November 2, 1940.
On January 17, 1882, came the famous confrontation between Wyatt, Doc and Ringo. Many writers would say that Ringo challenged all the Earps and Holliday. Not true. Virgil and Morgan were incapacitated with painful wounds. Ringo wasn’t running much risk as there was little chance that they would accept his challenge. They knew that Ringo had been drinking heavily and that the Whiskey was talking. In addition, they had troubles enough from the aftermath of the Fremont Street Gunfight. Ringo was well aware of all this.
On March 18,1882, the assassins struck again. Morgan was playing pool with Bob Hatch at Campbell and Hatch’s Saloon and Billiard Parlor, on Allen Street between Fourth and Fifth Street. A shot was fired from the darkness of the alley. That shot struck him in the back and snuffed out his life. Morgan’s body was dressed in one of Doc Holliday’s suits and shipped to the parents in Colton, California for burial.
The Earp party encountered Frank Stilwell and Ike Clanton at the Tucson Station. Wyatt chased Stilwell down the track and filled him full of holes. The date was March 20, 1882. A Tucson Coroner’s Jury named Wyatt and Warren Earp, Doc Holliday, “Texas Jack”, and McMasters as the men who had killed Stillwell. A Tucson judge issued warrants for their arrests. As far as Wyatt Earp was concerned, the man who shot Virgil and killed Morgan were dead men, only living until he found them. The killing of Stilwell was just the beginning of his bloody trail of vengeance, and Doc Holliday rode beside him all the way. Wyatt received word that Pete Spencer was at his wood camp in the Dragoons. The “federal posse” rode there and found: not Pete Spencer, but Florentino Cruz. Frightened, he named the men who had murdered Morgan, himself included. The Earp posse shot him to pieces. The date was March 22, 1882.
The Earp posse was riding along a deep wash near Iron Springs when they encountered Curly Bill Brocius and eight of his men. In the fight that followed, Curly Bill was killed and Johnny Barnes received a wound that eventually killed him. The date was
March 24, 1882.
In a little more than a year, the list of Cowboy outlaws that had been eliminated was astonishing: “Old Man” Clanton, Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury, Frank Stilwell, Indian Charlie, Dixie Gray, Florentino Cruz, Curly Bill, Johnny Barnes, Jim Crane, Harry Head, Bill Leonard, Joe Hill, Luther King, Charley Snow, Billy Lang, Zwing Hunt, Billy Grounds and Hank Swilling. Pete Spencer, volunteered for the penitentiary for his own safety. Doc Holliday accounted for more than his share of the Cowboys, and when he and Wyatt Earp left Tombstone for good, they rode their horses to Silver City, New Mexico, sold them, rode a stage to Deming, and boarded a train for Colorado.
Doc was arrested in Denver shortly after his arrival. The arresting officer was a man named Perry Mallan. (Some believe that he was actually a brother to Johnny Tyler, a foe of Holliday and would-be gunman, that Doc ran out of Tombstone). While Doc was in jail the Denver Republican of May 22, 1882, ran the following: “Holliday has a big reputation as a fighter, and has probably put more rustlers and cowboys under the sod than any other one man in the west. He had been the terror of the lawless element in Arizona, and with the Earps was the only man brave enough to face the bloodthirsty crowd which has made the name of Arizona a stench in the nostrils of decent men.”
Mallan remarked in the paper that he was standing along side when Curly Bill Brocius was killed. Doc related his thoughts as to that: “…eight rustlers rose up from behind the bank and poured from thirty-five to forty shots at us. Our escape was miraculous. The shots cut our clothes and saddles and killed one horse, but did not hit us. I think we would have been killed if God Almighty wasn’t on our side. Wyatt Earp turned loose with a shotgun and killed Curly Bill. The eight men in the gang which attacked us were all outlaws, for each of whom a big reward has been offered…If Mallan was along side Curly Bill when he was killed, he was with one of the worst gangs of murderers and robbers in the country.”
Doc’s troubles, concerning extradition to Arizona, ended and the following article was in the Rocky Mountain News, May 30, 1882: “Doc Holliday’s case was finally disposed of by Governor Pitkin yesterday, his Excellency deciding that he could not honor the requisition from Arizona. The District Attorney’s Office was represented by Honorable I.E. Barnum, Assistant District Attorney, who was accompanied in his visit to the Governor by Deputy Sheriff Linton and Sheriff Paul of Arizona. Among others present were Deputy Sheriff Masterson (Bat) of Trinidad and several friends of Holliday.”
Doc left Denver and went to Pueblo and from there to Leadville. It was there that he ran into two old enemies from Tombstone, Billy Allen and Johnny Tyler. Friends advised Doc that Allen had threatened him and was looking for him with a pistol. Around 5 PM on August 19, 1884, Doc strolled into Hyman’s Saloon, and placed himself at the end of the bar near the cigar lighter. As Billy Allen crossed the threshold, Doc leveled his pistol and fired creasing Allen’s head. Reaching over the tobacco counter, Doc shot him again through the left arm below the shoulder. Holliday would have shot him again, but bystanders disarmed him. Allen was much larger than Doc and had obviously threatened him publicly so Doc was acquitted of the shooting charges.
Doc Holliday claimed he almost lost his life a total of nine times. Four attempts were made to hang him and he was shot at in a gunfight or from ambush five times. In May, 1887, Doc went to Glenwood Springs to try the sulfur vapors, as his health was steadily growing worse, but he was too far gone. He spent his last fifty-seven days in bed and was delirious fourteen of them. On November 8, 1887, he awoke clear-eyed and asked for a glass of whiskey. It was given to him and he drank it down with enjoyment. Then he said, “This is funny”, and died.
Doc Holliday had come West years before, knowing his days were numbered. Long before his death he had maintained that he would not die in bed coughing his guts out. He always believed that he would be killed by a quicker, easier death than that planned for him by destiny. He often said that his end would come from lead poisoning, at the end of a rope, a knife in his ribs, or that he might drink himself to death. That’s why he considered it funny when he died peacefully in bed. Doc was the best of the Western gamblers and he lost his biggest bet when he died of tuberculosis. The greater part of his years had been lived on borrowed time. His remains were buried in their final resting place in the Glenwood Cemetery (Old Hill Cemetery), Colorado.
So passed Tombstone’s
most deadly gun!
From the book “The Chronicles of Tombstone” by Ben T Traywick