Everyone and their pack mule knew the vast desert along the Mexican border in what was then Pima County, A. T. (Arizona Territory) was literally ‘dripping’ with rich mineral deposits. The problem was the Apache. They were angry. They were fierce, and they were often fatal. Several ill-fated expeditions to Goose Flats, where everyone knew there was bonanza in silver, always ended in disaster. In 1879 Ed Schieffelin, a prospector who was working as an army scout out of Fort Huachuca (the same one) announced he was going to head over to the Goose Flats area to see if he could strike it rich. Someone told him he would only find his tombstone.
He struck it rich and found his Tombstone. The silver vein he tapped into was one of the richest discovered to date. The original town was planned for Goose Flats but it was not workable.
In order to understand the situation in Cochise County during the Earp Era, one must understand how much money was changing hands.
Use of it with out the author’s permission is prohibited.
Why Southern Arizona?
The Tombstone Mining District is located in a small group of hills some six miles north of the San Pedro River, and about a one hour drive from Tucson.
There are several different estimates of the amount of ore that came out of Tombstone. Most of it came out during a five to seven year period from 1879-86. A conservative estimate states that approximately forty million dollars worth of ore was mined, with nearly twenty million coming out during those first seven years.501 While it isn’t the eighty-five million assayed, it is still a huge amount of money, nearly two-thirds of a trillion dollars, or half a trillion dollars .502 When one considers you can build a new space shuttle for around five billion, an aircraft carrier for twenty or so billion dollars, and the recent tax cut was for around 1.4 trillion dollars, one can get the idea of the vast amount of wealth floating around the streets of a little, backwater mining town.
Geologically speaking, the Tombstone mining district is a mess. Along with silver, gold, lead, pyrite and quartz, rocks in the area include schist, granite, limestone, dolomite, shale, sandstone, and tuff. Eon after eon, these rocks piled on top of one another. They metamorphosed, eventually turning into the quartzite, and hornfels that lead to the vast deposits of silver. This though, followed an earlier mineralization phase that included the development of silver chloride, lead, zinc copper carbonates, manganese, galena, tetahedrite, and sphalerite. While silver was the predominate mineral, vast amounts of gold were produced, with a ratio of six dollars for gold to one dollar for silver. Well over forty-five million tons of lead has also been mined from the area.503
Tombstone is located on an irregular plateau with an elevation of 4,530 feet. It was originally called Goose Flats. From the base of the Tombstone Hills, the land slops westward toward the San Pedro River. The area around Tombstone is mountainous, the most famous mountain range being the Dragoons.504
Limestone mines as early as 1881. Early on, there was no water available for the extraction of minerals from the ore. The high-grade ore had to be taken to mines built along the San Pedro in Charleston, Contention, and Fairbank. The discovery of water at the five hundred and twenty foot level in the Sulphuret mine was a godsend. Ore could now be extracted in Tombstone.
Unfortunately, by 1886, all that wonderful water began seeping into the mines at such a rate, that the great boom was over. For the rest of the century, miners fought a battle with the water. Finally, in 1911, the battle was lost. Phelps Dodge bought most of the remaining mining interests, but did little with them. By 1930, mining had basically ended in Tombstone. 505Periodically, brave individuals will acquire the rights to a mine, and try their luck, only to be defeated by the water.
The only advantage to the water problems was to the streets. Tombstone was one of the few southwestern towns to have enough water to water down the streets on a regular basis, keeping down the level of dust and dirt that would eventually blow indoors. There was also enough water to help fight the periodic fires that would flare up and destroy much of the town.”
This is from a footnote on p. 159
There is still no concrete estimate of the true amount of ore and monetary value taken from the mines in Tombstone. Tombstone is avarice gone mad. The assayed amount of $85,000,000 in FY 1879 is a huge amount of money, even by today’s standards. Today, it would be somewhere along the line of 1.4 trillion dollars. (A space shuttle costs somewhere in the neighborhood of five billion dollars. An aircraft carrier costs around twenty-five billion dollars.) We can go to Mars and build a permanent settlement for fifty billion dollars. A Major League Baseball team costs maybe five hundred million dollars.
With such staggeringly large amounts of cash at stake, it is easy to understand why certain elements were attracted to Tombstone. Add the propensity for corruption in the A.T., and the actions of the Earps vs. the Cowboys were pre-ordained. If it hadn’t been the Earps, some other group would have been forced to step in and put a stop to their activities. If it hadn’t been the Cowboys, some other group of outlaws would have filled the void. There are a few rare times in history when we look back on the course of action and realize what occurred was inevitable. Cochise County was one of those times.
There is a woman’s magazine that publishes 101 ways to make a certain food. They will have three columns of ingredients, then list a half-dozen lines of other ingredients. You come out with the basic recipe, only done differently. This was Cochise County. Make a list of four columns across, and a half dozen down, then start writing names. Any combination would achieve the same results, only differently.
This cannot be stressed enough. With such staggeringly huge sums of money in play, the things that occurred in the early 1880s were inevitable. If things had been different, it would have been entirely possible that the McLaurys, Ringo, and Brocius would have been the good guys. Remove the Clantons from the mix and there could have been a different outcome. Put another territorial governor in office, and Wyatt Earp probably would have been the first sheriff of Cochise County. You can change names, situations, and incidents, and the corruption, robberies, and insurrection would probably have occurred. Only, the names and faces would have been different. There was just too much money.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
Do not take your eye off the money. Mining, running Mexican cattle, and stage robbery was to Cochise County in 1880-1882 what the drug runners are to Cochise County today. It is always about the money and NOTHING MORE.
The Earps arrived in Tombstone in early December of 1879. Virgil Earp rode into town as a Deputy US Marshal. Wyatt soon landed a job as a deputy sheriff for Pima County, as the county had yet to split into Cochise. Morgan went to work as a part-time deputy when Wyatt needed him. It wasn’t long before both Wyatt and Morgan were also working as guards for Wells, Fargo, & Company. I am absolutely positive Wyatt arrived in town as a Deputy US Marshal. I can find no documentation to back up my theory other than he was constantly referred to as a Deputy US Marshal by the Tombstone Nugget, a newspaper devoted to the activities of the criminal element and considered Wyatt’s faction ‘the enemy’.
REMEMBER: We are dealing with what would be a TRILLION DOLLARS TODAY. Now, think about the drug runners, coyotes, and illegal migrants who are coming across into Cochise County today. I have a source who tells me he is positive the Border Patrol is seriously over-inflating the number of illegals arrested. Why? FOLLOW THE MONEY. The local law enforcement does not want the BP arresting illegals. Why? FOLLOW THE MONEY. What ever agency does the arresting gets to keep the spoils (vehicles, buildings, money).
CHARLESTON YESTERDAY & TODAY
By this time John Slaughter is running a butcher shop in Charleston, now in ruins. Charleston is maybe 9 miles from Tombstone. When my source and his son were hiking through the region last November, he encountered a tremendous amount of debris left over from illegal migrants who were hiding. Charleston is located on the San Pedro. Bordering the ruins is BLM land. The BLM land had absolutely no trash on it. My source found that to be rather puzzling. He also found traces where illegals have lit fires, and appear to be living in the huge drain pipes along the San Pedro. While hiking the area, my source felt that he and his party were being watched. He wasn’t worried. He was armed to the teeth.
John Slaughter remained under the radar the entire time the Earps were in Tombstone. He purchases the McLaury Ranch, which is next door to the Clanton Ranch. He does not like Ike Clanton, but deals with him. By early in the year 1880, Tombstone has boomed into a town of 1000 or so residents. (It’s not much larger than that today). It was the fastest growing city in the southwest, larger and more sophisticated and wealthier than LA. It had a prodigious appetite for beef. There were dozens of restaurants. Vegetables, with the exception of potatoes, cabbage and expensive canned goods were almost non-existent. So was fish, poultry, lamb, and just about anything else but – beef. Rumors began circulating that the beef being consumed in Tombstone was “Mexican cattle” – stolen out of Mexico, and quite a bit of it moving through John Slaughter’s butcher shop in Charleston.
APACHE WERE LIKE ILLEGALS
The Apache were still very active in the region, especially along the border. It was not safe for anyone but the most daring riders, in a large group, and heavily armed to cross into Mexico. But – times were changing. As each day passed, the Army tightened their grip on the region, collecting more and more Apache and consigning them to the reservations. They would periodically escape. The atmosphere was one of terror and rumor. Even people living in the confines of Tombstone or Bisbee were sure they were going to be murdered in their sleep by marauding Apache.
The residents of Cochise County during those years were absolutely terrified of the Apache. They looked at the Apache the way Illegals are viewed today, only with more trepidation and terror. Take the current atmosphere where the anti-immigration wonks are absolutely positive terrorists are crossing the border from Mexico into Cochise and multiply that 1000 times and you will understand Cochise County while the Earps were there.
The Apache scouts would go into the high peaks scattered around Tombstone and Cochise along the border. There they would watch for the Army and for ill-advised travelers who were ripe for the plucking. They were merciless. Unfortunately today’s politically correct culture does not allow for an “oppressed minority” to be evil and commit atrocities. The average Apache was only out to protect their family from a rapidly changing way of life. But, like any other group of people, there were psychopaths who delighted in killing. The Apache were a fierce, proud people who gave no quarter and showed no mercy. They expected none to be shown to them. Consequently, the ever growing population of Cochise county was absolutely terrified of them.
By the spring of 1881 the Tombstone Rangers, complete with all the Earps, were founded. Over the next few years there would be various incarnations of the Tombstone Rangers. Indeed, today’s para-military group The Cochise County Militia http://www.ranchsupportservices.com/ is a play on the old Tombstone Rangers. They were founded primarily to protect the citizenry from the Apache (think illegal migrants). As the Army out of Fort Huachuca gradually ‘tamed’ the region, it became less dangerous to travel in smaller groups. It became safe for the Cowboys to being their reign of terror on Cochise County.
BORDER CROSSING DIFFERENT
There was not Border Patrol. The agency was not founded until 1924. The precursor, founded somewhere along 1904 was stationed out of El Paso. Their duties were not to follow illegal Mexicans or illegal immigrants. There was no such thing. They were created to keep the Chinese out of the US and to prevent them from crossing into the US illegally. There was a massive smuggling ring operating out of El Paso at the time. The irony of the whole situation is the fact that John Behan – yep, the same one – was the head of customs at the time, and was probably up to his ears in kickbacks. It wasn’t the Mexicans who were bad during this time frame. The Chinese were feared.
The Border Patrol was founded on May 28, 1924 as an agency of the United States Department of Labor to prevent illegal entries along the Mexico–United States border. Additional operations were established along the Gulf Coast in 1927 to perform crewman control to insure that alien crewman departed on the same ship on which they arrived. Additional stations were temporarily added along the Gulf Coast, Florida and the Eastern Seaboard during the sixties when Cuba came under dictatorial control and entertained ideas of establishing USSR missile bases there….”
This has nothing to do with the border along Mexico. It is about the Chinese. In Tombstone, during the Earp era, John Behan was the head of the Anti-Chinese league. The whole idea was to keep the Chinese out of the country. Get it?
There were no rules.
There were no customs agents.
There was no “border crossing post”.
There was no ICE, no Border Patrol. Get it – they did not exist.
Anyone who wasn’t Chinese was allowed to cross the border between the US and Mexico.
There was no one monitoring the border.
There were no immigration quotas.
Anyone who wasn’t Chinese could come into the country.
There were no immigration laws.
No one cared.
The first immigration law in the US was passed in 1924. It was called the Immigration Act of 1924, designed to keep the Chinese, Catholics, and Jews out of the US. When people like O’Reilly harp on how their family came in legally, THAT IS A LIE. There were no laws. The first laws were basically racist in nature, promoted by the KKK.
The Pioneer Fund comes on the scene in 1937.