Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Midas Touch

By Paisley Kirkpatrick There's a tale that old-timers used to tell along the sun-baked streets of old Tombstone -- the thrilling tale of Ed Schieffelin's gold. Millions of people have read about him and seen the monument to him on the highway near Tombstone.
Ed loved the thrill of working his hands in the earth exploring for the elusive gold. He traveled to California first, and then, after a few years, headed into the Grand Canyon area. As if searching for gold was no longer of interest, he joined a group of scouts who were fighting the Apaches and ended up going with them into southern Arizona. Not happy with what he'd gotten into, he quit the fighting to prospect in the Huachuca Mountains. He stayed in the vicinity of a solders' camp. When one of the soldiers asked him what he was looking for, he answered, "Oh, just some stones."
The soldier guffawed. "The only stone you'll ever find in this country will be a tombstone."
The first claim that Ed staked out was named Tombstone, and from it the town took its name -- which also led the town's first newspaper to be named the Tombstone Epitaph.
The Tombstone claim didn't prove very rich, nor did his next claim named the Graveyard. His luck changed when he worked The Tough Nut. He became rich in both silver and gold. He, his brother, and a third partner traded part interest in the mine to men with money. These men built a mill to refine the ore. In 1879 the mine was bringing in $50,000 a month. For a while, Ed Schieffelin hauled the bullion from his mine to Tucson, but when he became restless, he went back to prospecting again.
In 1880 he and his brother sold the mine for $600,000 -- $300,000 each. Ed returned to what he enjoyed most -- prospecting. When their third partner sold out for a real fortune later on, he subtracted $300,000 for himself from the sum and divided the remainder equally between himself and the two Schieffelins.
In 1897 Ed bought a quality outfit in San Francisco: wagon, mules, tools, especially fine cooking utensils, and plenty of provisions before he struck north. At Grants Pass, Oregon, he saw an eighteen-year-old boy named Charlie Williams working in a blacksmith shop and asked him if he'd like to go into the mountains with him. The boy was eager to go. Ed was happy he now had a helper in his new project. They stopped at Day Creek and camped in an abandoned cabin. Ed told Charlie they couldn't go any farther in a wagon, so while he prospected in rough country they would make this place headquarters. He also told Charlie that he could go off for a few days and do as he pleased since he himself would be away from camp a while. Both left.
When Williams returned to the cabin, he found the dead body of Ed Schieffelin. Ed had apparently been sitting while breaking stones with a hammer when he died. The rocks were found to be very, very rich in gold. The camp seemed not to have been molested by anybody, but some of the new cooking utensils were missing. A theory developed that Ed had taken the utensils himself and made a kind of sub-camp near where he had struck the rich ore.
Prospectors hunted for the location from which Ed brought in samples. For a long time they hoped to find the missing cooking utensils as a marker. Any camp would have been made convenient to water. When no cooking utensils could be found. The prospectors searched everywhere for the gold near the old cabin on Day Creek and far out from it. They never located the site. Its whereabouts died with Ed Schieffelin.
True West, October, 1958 issue -- presented by J. Frank Dobie

10 comments:

  1. Hero and I knew a man who searched for lost treasure much of his adult life. He never found any and has recently died. Those tales of lost mines are magnets for some people. J. Frank Dobie is a favorite of ours, too.

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    1. Thank you, Caroline. I thought it an amzazing story to share.

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  2. Thanks, Paisley for another fascinating historical story of a prospector's treasures, both found and lost. Amazing to read of the wealth some of them achieved through perseverance and determination ... and yes, luck too!

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    1. He certainty had the Midas touch but seemed happier looking for it than spending it. Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Very interesting. So many 'lost' mines that have yet to be found. Doris

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    1. We lived where the 49er gold rush happened. All those years later, people still searched for that amazing gold nugget.Thanks for your post.

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  4. Ed certainly seemed to have a fascination with death since he used the names Tombstone and The Graveyard. LOL I loved the mystery there at the end where Ed had died with a big secret mine.
    A marvelous post, Paisley.

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    1. I hadn't thought about the death scenario, but you're right, Sarah. He was definitely an interesting man. Thank you!

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  5. Gold fever with a good dose of wanderlust is hard to resist. That belief (hope) of striking it rich led many a prospector down the garden path, so to speak. *wink*

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  6. Yes, I do believe wanderlust will go on forever. People are still digging for fortune. Thanks for your post.

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