And It Is No Graveyard Tale, Either.
FINDING OF ARIZONA MINES.
The man who discovered the rich silver mines at Arizona, whose persistency and pluck and belief in himself led to their development, whose discovery caused the building of the famous mining city of Tombstone, who gave that city its name, died this month and now lies buried on the summit of the granite hills three miles west of Tombstone. What follows here are extracts from a story of the life of Edward Schieffelin and the events attending the discovery of the Tombstone mines, written by E. E. Bowles.
----"You'll find your tombstone over there instead of your fortune; you'd better stick with us, Ed.," said the grizzled old captain of Arizona scouts to Edward Schieffelin, one of his best men. That was along in the spring of 1876, and the scouts had for months been alternately dodging and fighting those fiends incarnate, those outlaws from Hades, the Chiricahua Apaches. Schieffelin was a pioneer prospector, frontiersman, mountaineer and scout, at home on mountain, mesa or valley; a big, honest, open-hearted man, brave as a lion, standing six feet two and carrying his 195 pounds easily; strong-limbed, broad-shouldered and deep-chested, a good man to have at your back or shoulder in any kind of trouble. He was a prospector by nature and instinct, and had joined the scouts for the sole purpose of exploring that alleged garden of hell, Southeastern Arizona, from which the military arms of two nations had failed to expel Cochise and his murderous bands.
The scouts had dodged and fought their way back from the Dragoon and Mule mountains, down the San Pedro Valley, and were now on their way to the military post at Fort Huachuca to report. The captain had learned to like (as everybody did) that big, quiet, good-natured young fellow, Ed. Schieffelin, who could laughingly draw his belt up another hole when rations were short, whose eyes never wavered between the sights of his rifle, and whose nerves never faltered although a horrible death in the form of hideous Chiricahuas might be lurking behind the next clump of mesquite, or the heap of boulders beyond. The scouts were on a spur of the Huachucas, and Schieffelin, with a powerful glass, was examining the ground over which they had passed, when he expressed the determination to leave the command and prospect the country, he having told the captain when passing the buttes between the Mule and Dragoon mountains that the country abounded in good mineral signs, and then the captain expressed his opinion as quoted above. But Ed. carried out his determination, and time has proved both correct, for he found his fortune.
----Edward Schieffelin, the central figure, was born in Western Pennsylvania in ; his father removed to Oregon when Edward was ten years old and settled on Rogue River. [The Schieffelins were in Oregon in 1855.] The lad had no affinity for farming and stock-raising, but loved the mountains and acquired a desire to prospect; the sands of Rogue River and the adjacent mountains were prospected by him for gold, and before he was thirteen he knew every foot of the country for miles around and nearly every gulch and sidehill in the vicinity were marked by his prospect holes. In his eighteenth year he spent six months building a flume to carry water from Rogue River to some placer ground he had discovered, but the first cleanup was so discouraging that he abandoned his workings. A short time afterward the great mining boom in Nevada attracted his attention, and after fulfilling every duty to the kind and indulgent parents who had allowed him full scope to follow the bent of his inclinations, he engaged his services to a stockman and started with a cattle outfit for Nevada. It was on this trail that he was initiated into the first degrees of Indian warfare, but nature was an open book to him; he had a practical mastery of her secrets, and the lessons were easily learned.
Arriving in Nevada, he secured employment in the mines, where he worked until he had learned to follow an ore body underground as well as on the surface; there is a vast difference which you will learn if you ever engage in mining. Having acquired the necessary craft as a miner, young Schieffelin, with the money thus earned, bought an outfit and started into the hills of Arizona and Nevada, generally with one or more partners, but he early learned to place more reliance in his own judgment than that of others, especially after having deferred to the opinions of men older than himself they were obliged to fight their way out of very close quarters, sometimes with the loss of a man or two and sometimes losing only their pack animals and outfit. After a few experiences of this kind he determined to travel alone; this he did for nearly ten years, and those [were] ten years of ceaseless work and travel through the wilds of Arizona. The complete record of toil, suffering and privations, the single-handed fights and hairbreadth escapes of that lone prospector, his deeds of daring and heroism when opposed to bands of murderous Apaches, will never be known. He knew not the meaning of the word "fear"; he was never a communicative man, and it was only occasionally that he would talk of his experiences to members of his own family. But at that time Arizona was infested with hordes of bloodthirsty Ishmaelites whose hands were against every white man, and up to that time the records show that over 1000 men, women and children had been murdered and tortured by those fiends. By the water holes, by the lonely trail and public stage road, behind rock, bush and tree, the red assassins lay in wait for their victims, and the complete list will never be known until that "last great day." It was under such conditions that Ed. Schieffelin carried on his explorations, traveling by night, by day studying the formation of the hills through his glass or turning it back to watch the movements of Indians following his trail, thirsting for the blood of this hated Americano who was among the first to penetrate their mountain fastnesses.
----Schieffelin returned to the post, drew his wages, left the command and started across the mountains to Tucson. There he purchased an outfit and began packing for his dangerous trip.
A few days' crawling about the buttes proved to him that he had found that for which he was seeking. Simple tests of the ore, such as prospectors make in the field, showed the ore to be fabulously rich. He made no locations, having sufficient confidence in himself to keep his find secret and conscious of the fact that few, if any, would have the temerity to follow his trail; then, besides, the erection of monuments would inform the Indians of his visit and probable return. Taking a few pounds of the float, or surface ore, in his pack, he started across the territory for the Silver King mine, miles and miles away over trackless deserts and rugged mountains infested by hordes of hostile Indians. At the Silver King mine his brother Albert, or "Al." as he was familiarly known, was employed. Al. had about $5000 in ready cash, and Ed. hoped to interest him in his find. He arrived there in time, weary and worn with nights of travel and days of ceaseless watching, but was made heartsick by Al. refusing to even look at his ore.
"You are always going around with your pockets full of rocks, and you have never found anything yet. You have been at it for ten years and what have you got? You had better stay here and go to work."
Smothering his disappointment, Ed. did as suggested and went to work for wages, hoping his brother would, as time passed, be induced at least to sample the ore. But he was in error; both were of the same stock, and each had a will of his own. A year and more passed, and the brothers were still at work at the mine, Ed. chafing at the delay, fearing that someone might stumble onto his find. Then it was that the new superintendent came to the Silver King mill, Dirk Gird. Ed. and Dick struck up an acquaintance at once. There seemed to be an affinity between the two men, and it was not long until Ed. was telling him all about his find down in the Chiricahua country, and going to his cabin brought some of the ore up to the mill for Dick to assay. It did not pan out very well, but they were not discouraged. The characteristics of the ore was different from that which yielded readily to the process they tried, so a few days later they treated it by a different process--result, $9,000 silver per ton. That settled it. Al. was interested right away, and it was not many days until the three intrepid miners were on their way to the site of what is now the flourishing mining city of Tombstone. They were in too much of a hurry to use great caution but were well armed and all good Indian fighters, so they went "through" instead of "around." The result was that the very first night at Ed.'s old camping ground on the San Pedro River they were "jumped" by a band of Chiricahuas, and a long, hard fight followed. The superior weapons and marksmanship of the white men won; the redskins were not educated up to the magazine rifle by which "white man load gun in morning, shoot all day." The Indians drew off, but not before they had stampeded the horses. The animals crossed the river and stopped to graze. They were still within easy range of the rifles the Indians had learned to respect, so under their cover Ed. swam the river and returned with the horses. The approach of a scouting party from Fort Huachuca drove the Indians back to the dragoons, and the three prospectors began their explorations. In a few days they ascertained they had a "big thing" and staked off the Contention, Tough Nut, Lucky Cuss, Goodenough, Graveyard and one or two other claims, all of which have since become world famous. They constructed a rude arrastra, and with the crude appliances at their command took out in a short time $10,000 in silver bullion. This they sent to San Francisco, and invested the entire amount in improved machinery for the reduction of silver ores.
The report of their rich discoveries spread like wildfire to every camp east and west of the Rocky Mountains, and an army of adventurers flocked to the new silverado. Thousands of locations were staked out, a city sprang into existence as if by magic, reduction works were erected, and a steady stream of bullion began to find its way out of the camp. When law and order organized against disorder the founder of the camp was called upon to christen it, and thinking of the old captain's prophecy, he suggested "Tombstone," and Tombstone it was and is, famous as one of the greatest producers of silver bullion the world has ever known.
The Ledge, New Denver, British Columbia, July 22, 1897, page 3
ED SCHIEFFELINEd Schieffelin was a prototype of the indomitable prospector who is pulled by an irresistible magnet and never stops seeking the seductive treasure waiting around the next bend of the creek. In Schieffelin's case The Search became such a compulsion that, even after he had found the Big, Big Boodle, he continued the pursuit.
THE FOUNDING OF TOMBSTONE, ARIZONA . . .
& THE STORY OF THE RED BLANKET MINE
The obsession probably began during his early childhood in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. When he was only five years old, his father, Clinton Schieffelin, became intrigued with the tales of wealth to be found in the seeking, and the boy was given the full treatment when he was at his most impressionable. At last when Clinton could no longer resist the lure of the gold fields, he joined forces with his brother-in-law, Joe Walker, and the two of them sailed for California early in 1852, coming through the Straits of Magellan. They moved in with the multitude mining along the Feather River, but the news of the extravagant discoveries at Jacksonville and Rogue River drew them on to Southern Oregon. In 1853 they bought a land claim along the Rogue and filed for a donation land claim near Jewett's Ferry on the river. The two men made a pretty good thing of mining and farming, and in 1857 Clinton's wife and children--six boys and two girls--crossed the plains and joined them in Oregon. The Schieffelins were an affectionate family who were deeply loyal to each other and had strong family ties. They became solid citizens of the valley and soon gained the respect and admiration of their neighbors.
Ed was not ten years old when he arrived in the West, but he soon began panning for gold on his own. His brothers shared his interest and joined him in his search from time to time, although their fever was not so acute as that which seized Ed. As a boy he regularly took pick, shovel and gold pan and wandered alone into the hills, following the ravines and gulches. He was always seeking color, and even when he was occupied with his farm chores he would stop to break quartz into pieces and then examine those pieces for gold. He tried hs luck in every likely looking spot in the valley: Jackson Creek, Forest Creek, Grave Creek, Foots Creek, the Sterling Gulch, the Applegate River, the Illinois Valley and even the Umpqua country.
By the time he was a young adult he had missed very few places in Oregon. He had sometimes joined up with experienced sourdoughs and had tested nearly every productive spot, including regions of the McKenzie and the Calapooia rivers. He had also gone south to try his luck in the famous gold lodes of California. Stories of the fabled lost gold mines--the Blue Bucket, Massacre Lake, and the Lost Dutchman--were as familiar to him as his primer, and by perseverance, study and experience he gained a background that few prospectors acquire.
When he was twenty-one (1869) he wrote in his journal: "I'm getting restless here (Rogue River) and want to go somewhere that holds wealth for the digging of it. I can't say that I care to be rich--it is not that. If I had a fortune I suppose I'd not keep it long. I like the excitement of being right up against the earth trying to find her gold." (His writing skill is exceptional, particularly at a time when most prospectors were illiterate, and many could only sign their names with an X.)
Leaving his home and family, he began a roving existence which took him to Surprise Valley and the Pioche country in Nevada, the Salt Lake district in Utah, and back up to the Snake River and into the Boise Basin.
His trek led into Idaho during the coldest time of the year. It would seem that if one were going to wade around muddy river banks at random, he might pick a more agreeable climate in the winter months than that found in Idaho. Perhaps he too drew this conclusion, because he soon left the area and headed south through Nevada to the Grand Canyon and on into Texas.
His persistence was remarkable in the face of the adverse fortune he encountered at almost every step. A miner spurred with a little less insistent lust for gold would have yielded to despair early in the game. Almost always he was flat broke. While he was in Utah he wrote that his funds had run out "and I sold my saddle mule and put my blankets on my back." He had to beg a stranger for the twenty-five cents fare to cross the Colorado River, and in Texas he chopped wood to get eating money. Eventually he became seriously ill and returned home, arriving with only $2.50 in his poke.
At the end of three weeks he was longing to go back to the creeks. He borrowed $100 from his father and set out for Arizona. By the time he reached southeastern California, the money was gone and his blankets were again on his back. He was obliged to find a job, and he worked for fourteen months to save money enough to buy another outfit: a pair of mules, saddles, guns, food and mining equipment.
In January, 1877, he again set off for Arizona. After prospecting in the Grand Canyon country with no success he joined up for protection with some scouts who were patrolling the Apache territory of southern Arizona. At Camp Huachuca he found traveling with the army too slow for his liking, and he began making prospecting trips alone. The soldiers warned him repeatedly about the danger he faced, but he continued on his daily solitary trips. He assured the men at the fort that he would surely find something in that vast country. "Yes," said one of them, "you'll find your tombstone."
He was not more than thirty miles north of the Mexican border one day when he saw a geologic formation that attracted his interest. Examining it more closely, he drove his pick into the black ore. Scooping back the top earth, he uncovered a streak of almost pure silver. He could scarcely believe his eyes. This was it! All of a sudden he had found his treasure. He had always known he would find it; that was a sure thing. But this was like a plunge into an icy river. You think you're ready but . . . YOWEE! Remembering the soldier's admonition, he shouted, "I'll call it Tombstone," and piled up some rocks to mark his discovery. He gathered samples, assured himself he could find the spot again and made his way to Signal, Arizona, where his brother Al was working in the McCracken mine.
Ed waited outside the mine until his brother came off shift. Al scarcely recognized this dirty, ragged, unkempt man as his brother Ed. He was overjoyed to see him, but no amount of argument and logic could convince him to invest his savings in Tombstone. He was not going to give up a steady job for a risky mining venture.
Disillusioned, Ed went to work in the mine at Signal alongside his brother Al. Eventually, however, Richard Gird, the mining and mechanical engineer of the Signal mine, heard of Ed's strike, and, impressed with his considerable knowledge of geology, and the plausibility of his story, agreed to become a partner. Upon hearing of Gird's decision, Al relented and the three of them joined forces, although Al was still reluctant to put his money into the scheme. They arrived at Tombstone in February 1878. Richard Gird soon had a crude assay furnace in operation, and after examining the ledge at Tombstone, he concluded that the ore was rich but shallow. A second discovery was also only so-so, but a third ledge, the Tough Nut, was extremely rich in silver and gold. Ore samples assayed $15,000 to the ton.
The three of them returned jubilantly to Signal, filed their claims and forged back to Tombstone with equipment and personnel. The rush was on. Overnight a tent city appeared, and before a year had passed Tombstone had become a rowdy, roughneck town. The Schieffelins and Gird traded off part interest in the mine to men who put up a mill to refine the ore. In 1879 the mine paid over $50,000 a month.
In a May, 14, 1879 issue of the Oregon Sentinel the editor wrote:
LUCKY BOYS"The friends of C. Schieffelin and family will be glad to learn that his three sons have struck it rich in Arizona and are on the high road to prosperity. [Ed had rounded up another brother and invited him to join the project.] The eldest, E.L., left here in 1873, and in 1878, after many vicissitudes, having been twice run out of the mountains by Apaches, discovered the Tombstone silver mine, eighty miles south of the San Pedro River, in the Pima District. Taking in with him his brother, A. E. Schieffelin, who arrived in 1877, and a man named Gird, they secured several claims on the ledge, one of which they sold for $7,500. Other claims they have bonded for $100,000 and have sold one quarter of their first location on the ledge for a ten-stamp mill, which has just been put in running order. 'Effingham,' the youngest of the boys, went down last October, and is a sharer in the fund. The boys have sent a large amount of rich specimens to their parents, and their energy and pluck have evidently been well rewarded."
In 1880 the Schieffelin brothers sold their interest in the claim. They were wealthy men--rich beyond their dreams. Leaving Tombstone, they prepared to enjoy their new money at their well-earned leisure. Unfortunately, brother Al., who died in 1885, lived hardly long enough to become accustomed to his new status.
Ed was only thirty-two years old when he set out to see how the very rich do their thing. He patronized fashionable stores and ordered expensive hand-tailored suits. He seemed to be a little kinky for elegant, knee-high boots, and he preferred them with a high gloss.
He was surely an impressive figure as he visited the big cities in the East--Washington, Chicago and New York. He stayed in the most cosmopolitan hotels and dined in the finest restaurants. He was an easy spender and became a popular celebrity. Although his biographers wrote that he soon became bored with high living, he appears to have devoted a couple of years to it, so he couldn't have found luxury all that unpleasant. Even a sourdough of the first water might enjoy a stint as Man of the Hour.
Looking for gold, however, was his reason for being, and he ultimately spent a large sum of money to build a sternwheeler steamer for a prospecting trip to Alaska. He and several companions spent the summers of 1882 and 1883 on the Yukon, but they made no lucky strikes.
In the meantime Mary Brown, a young lady from San Francisco, entered his life. A little time on his hands gave him an opportunity at last for romance. In the fall of 1883 they were married, and the next year they settled in Alameda, California, where Ed purchased a mansion. In addition he bought a large home in Los Angeles and an orange orchard for his parents.
Ed was at the high spot in his life. He was a big man, weighing 200 pounds or more, with curly dark hair and beard. A representative from the Bancroft Company of California, who interviewed him about the beginning of Tombstone, described him as "large, bronzed, with keen blue eyes . . . a physically perfect man."
Marriage did not lessen his chronic gold fever. From time to time he made short trips in which he panned for gold, and he was continually planning his next expedition into big pay dirt country.
One night when he was half asleep, he suddenly remembered a spot in Southern Oregon which he felt he had failed to probe sufficiently; he had not explored carefully enough at the bedrock level. The thought that he had overlooked a Big One began to nag him, and around 1890 he returned to the Rogue River Valley which he had always regarded as his home.
Having left the area twenty years before as a penniless miner with no apparent prospects, he returned in grand style wearing an elegant Stetson, city duds, fancy-stitched calfskin boots which came up over his knees and a $450 watch with tiny bells that chimed the hour and the quarter hour. He arrived in a deep blue thoroughbrace coach with leather springs and yellow running gear, drawn by four perfectly matched sorrels. The folk in Woodville had never seen anything quite so splendid, but when they recognized him as a longtime friend they gave him a warm welcome. He visited boyhood friends, fished in the river, and sat for portraits at Peter Britt's studio in Jacksonville.
At Woodville he hired Charlie Warren, a young man of eighteen with no permanent job, to be his teamster and campmaker. For $20 a month Charlie would do the cooking, tend the horses and the outfit, and do the driving. He would also receive a cut of any gold Ed discovered. They set forth in a seemingly aimless manner, prospecting here and there, all the way from Coquille down to California, over to Nevada and back to Roseburg. Several times Ed found strong indications of gold but he passed them by. He was looking for another bonanza, even though the odds against two rich strikes in one lifetime were not in his favor.
In September, 1896, after dismissing Charlie Warren temporarily, he returned to Alameda and made his last will and testament. He left half of his estate to his wife Mary and half to his brother Jay. His brother Charles and his wife were named co-executors of the estate. Early in the spring of 1897 he headed back to Oregon, and, picking up Charlie Warren, he decided to try his luck again in Douglas County.
Finding an unoccupied cabin in the hills, he moved in, having left his valuable horses and his wagon with a rancher who lived near the mouth of Days Creek. He gave Charlie Warren some time off to return to Rogue River to visit his parents, and he settled into the cabin alone.
After a couple of weeks the rancher who was keeping his team became uneasy. Ed had said he'd be down for supplies at a specified time, and he failed to appear. When the local sheriff, Alex Orme, rode by the house, the farmer expressed his concern, and the sheriff, having a strong sense of foreboding, rode off at once to investigate. He found Ed Schieffelin dead, face down on the floor of the cabin.
He had been sitting at a table, breaking ore with a hammer, when he suddenly died--apparently from natural causes. The ore was later assayed at $2,000 a ton; it would [have] made its finder a fortune. The last entry in Ed's diary was "Struck it rich again, by God!"
Sheriff Orme wrapped him in a blue blanket--the only one in the cabin--and buried him under a tree not far from the doorway.
Charlie Warren said that Ed had traveled with two heavy wool blankets, one red and one blue. If his prospecting took him on an overnight trip, he always carried one of these blankets along. At his death the red blanket was not found in the cabin. Charlie deduced that the new strike was far enough away so that Ed had stayed overnight and had left the red blanket there, expecting to return. Wherever the red blanket would be found, there would be Ed's incredible rich last find--the Red Blanket Mine. Hundreds of hopeful prospectors have combed the hills around Canyonville, but, in true lost mine tradition, the fabulous treasure has never been found. The more persevering are still looking.
Excerpts from the last will of Ed Schieffelin:
"I give my wife, Mary E. Schieffelin, all interests, both real and personal properties . . . in Alameda and Santa Clara counties, California. Also 15 $1000 University of Arizona bonds. All other properties, both real and personal . . . I give to my brother, Jay L. Schieffelin. I have no children, but should anyone at their own expense prove to the satisfaction of my executors . . . to be a child of mine, to each I give the sum of $50.
"It is my wish . . . to be buried in the garb 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 a monument such as prospectors build when locating a mining claim built over my grave . . . and that none of my friends wear crepe. Under no circumstances do I want to be buried in any cemetery or graveyard."
Ed Schieffelin was disinterred and shipped to Tombstone, where he was buried with his pick, shovel and canteen, just as he had requested. The pile of stone, his marker, is still there, three miles west of Tombstone, which like so many other boom towns has seen its glamor and glitter fade away. Yet Tombstone, "The Town Too Tough To Die," stands today as a living monument to Ed Schieffelin, who knew from the very first that one day he would make it big.
Table Rock Sentinel, Southern Oregon Historical Society, January 1983, pages 13-18
CLINTON SCHIEFFELINClinton Schieffelin was born in 1823 in New York City. When he was two years old his parents took him to Mexico City, where his father went into business as a druggist. The father soon developed considerable enthusiasm for the apothecary trade but little appreciation for the charms of Mexico, and about a year later brought his family back to New York, where he continued with the pharmacy business. In the city, however, he met with great competition, and after a few years of little profit determined to move to a more advantageous location before he faced bankruptcy. The family then moved to Tioga County, Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania he extended his business interests to include agriculture, and young Clinton grew up on the family farm.
As a boy he worked for his father and for people on neighboring farms. When he was about twenty he got a job in a lumber mill at a regular salary, met Miss Jane Walker and began courting. In 1845 they were married and soon started raising a family.
In 1849 news that gold had been discovered in California ushered in a period of restlessness. Many young men headed west as soon as they could, and those who stayed behind were nagged by the thoughts of sudden wealth as their fancies were sparked with persistent tales of rich strikes in the gold fields.
Clinton Schieffelin resisted the enticement for several years, but in 1852 he could no longer ignore the yen to go. Leaving his wife and children, he joined his brother-in-law, Joe Walker, and the two sailed for California, passing through the Straits of Magellan. He had decided that after he had struck it rich and had tamed a little patch of the wilderness, he would return to Pennsylvania and fetch his family.
He and Joe Walker tried their luck along the Feather River, but that region was pretty well exhausted and they had no luck. Hearing the tales of the glories of Southern Oregon, they headed north, reaching the Rogue River Valley early in 1853, just at the beginning of the rebellion of the Rogue Indians.
Much to his credit today, "Scheff," as he was familiarly known, told the settlers he was not "stuck after" killing people. He did his best to avoid any participation in the fighting, but to disprove a charge of cowardice, took part in the battle of Hungry Hill, where the Indians were the easy victors and the armies of volunteers and regulars were forced to make a hasty and humiliating retreat.
In 1853 Scheff and Joe Walker bought a land claim along the Rogue and at the same time filed for a donation claim near Jewett's Ferry. They combined mining and farming and met with considerable success in both endeavors.
By 1857 Jane Walker Schieffelin and her six-children--four boys and two girls--crossed the plains and came to Oregon. Whether Scheff went to fetch them as planned or whether she bundled up her young ones and made the trip without him is not recorded. The children were Ed, Jay, Al, Charles (Effingham), Lizzie and Lottie. Two more boys were born at Rogue River.
Jan and Clinton Schieffelin were from sturdy stock, industrious, devout and sociable. There children were taught to live by the same rules, and they possessed the same qualities.
As they grew older they became attractive, popular young people, held in high regard and warm affection by their many friends in the valley and particularly in the Rogue River area.
News items about the family frequently appeared in the Oregon Sentinel and the Democratic Times, reporting that Lottie and Lizzie had visited Jacksonville for shopping or to attend a party or a wedding or that one of the boys had made a lucky strike while prospecting.
The sons, who dutifully helped their father with farming chores, were all interested in mining and when they found time diligently panned for gold, often making lucrative finds in the areas around Foots Creek and Evans Creek. Ed, the oldest, however, was obsessed with prospecting, and before he was ten years old had ranged far and wide seeking veins of pay dirt and sometimes had surprising successes. The fact that he eventually found a legendary fortune was probably less luck than expertise which was gained by his years of experience with a gold pan and a pick.
In 1879 the editor of the Sentinel featured a series of biographies of Southern Oregon's outstanding first citizens. Of Clinton Schieffelin he wrote: "He is a Republican of the old solid type, hard to swerve from his convictions. His sterling character can be appreciated when it is related that when [he was] Justice of the Peace, one of his sons violated the game law by killing a deer and was fined twenty-dollars by his father, who had to pay the fine out of his own pocket." The editor concluded that "no more need be said of his integrity and sense of justice than this, and if there is a man in this whole country who can relate a mean act of 'old Scheff' we do not know him.
Over the years the farm flourished and Clinton Schieffelin acquired considerable capital and property, and by the time he was fifty he had become a venerable citizen. The children had left home and, the Sentinel declared, were "paddling their own canoes and paddling them well."
In 1879 Scheff returned to Pennsylvania to visit his aged parents and made an extended stay of three months. He was almost sixty at the time, and his parents must have been enchanted to see him again after so many years of separation.
This was the time that Ed made his famous find at Tombstone. After he, his brother Al, and their associate, Richard Gird, began their operations, the mine paid over $50,000 a month, and when it was sold in 1880 the men received money beyond their wildest dreams. Ed, always close to his family, at once decided that all of them would share his fortune. Three of the boys, Ed, Al and Effingham, having worked the mine, received shares, and Ed gave Lottie and Lizzie and the other three brothers generous gifts, presenting C.L., the youngest, with a hotel in Los Angeles. He bought an orange orchard in Southern California for his parents.
Perhaps Clinton Schieffelin should have realized his roots were deep in Rogue River soil and that at sixty he might better prepare for a comfortable retirement than a complete change of occupation, but he was probably caught up in the excitement of Ed's sudden wealth, and he agreed to relinquish his prosperous farm with its fields and stock and set out for another new world. Not willing for the family home to go to strangers, Effingham paid his father $9,000 for it and assumed its operation.
In less than a year Scheff became dissatisfied with life as an orange orchardist. In January 1881 Effingham came back from a family reunion in Los Angeles with the news that Clinton and Jane Schieffelin were homesick and were planning to return to Rogue River in time for spring planting.
Reports then began appearing in the local newspapers that Clinton was not in the best of health. In April, he was unable to make his return trip to Southern Oregon. He was suffering from pneumonia and "at one time was so low as to cause alarm." A couple of months later a newspaper item revealed "the old gentleman was afflicted with the mumps."
Selling the orange orchard, Clinton Schieffelin bought a new home in Los Angeles. He may have decided against the return to the farm because such a move would not be fair to Effingham. By fall of the year, Jane Schieffelin, weary with her exile, accompanied her son, C.L., on a visit to Southern Oregon, but she soon returned to Los Angeles because she was concerned about Clinton's health.
The Oregon Sentinel of April 19, 1884, contained the announcement: "A telegraphic dispatch was received by the secretary of Jacksonville Lodge No. 10, I.O.O.F., conveying the sad intelligence of the death of Clinton Schieffelin at his home in Los Angeles, April 15."
In the next issue, April 26, additional details were given:
"Clinton Schieffelin, father of Ed Schieffelin, the discoverer of the Tombstone and the explorer of the Yukon River, committed suicide . . . by shooting himself with a revolver, the ball entering the forehead and passing through the back of the head. The deceased had been complaining of feeling ill several days, but as he was of a genial disposition the rash act takes all of his friends by surprise. He was a native of New York City and 61 years old."
Suicide is hard to accept. Those close to the victim are usually beset by eternally unanswered questions: What did I do that I shouldn't have done? What did I fail to do that I should have done? How could I have prevented it? Grief is accompanied with guilt. After the first shock of surprise and sorrow, the Schieffelin family began to rationalize. Could it have been an accident? Surely Papa couldn't have willingly left us. What is the reasonable and more easily accepted cause of his death?
In the June 7, 1884, issue of the Sentinel Reverend J.W. Ellis presented his conclusions about the death. After much methodical thinking, he became certain it was no suicide. His thesis is kinder by far than the harsh story which had been presented as truth.
THE LATE CLINTON SCHIEFFELIN"This sad event is relieved by the fact that it was the result of an accident . . . which might happen to anyone.
"It was not even momentary insanity. He spent the preceding evening aiding the youngest grandson in the family in his mathematical studies, and was more than is usual cheerful and happy, and slept all night soundly, and not to exceed five minutes preceding his death talked intelligently to his wife about the state of his health, and was in the act of dressing for breakfast when the accident occurred.
"His business affairs were in a satisfactory condition. He was in excellent spirits. His family was a source of gladness rather than sadness. He was treated with love and respect.
"The circumstances show conclusively that it was an accident. The revolver was one left in the house by an absent son. He was not familiar with it. There had been a recent burglary in the vicinity so he purchased some cartridges, loaded the weapon and placed it under his pillow. Mrs. S., being timid, removed it to the stand drawer without his notice of knowledge. On the morning of his death he had occasion to open the drawer for some medicine and in the early twilight was surprised to lay his hand upon the weapon. The stand and the bed are so close together that when the body fell the space would not admit the prostrate form, but left it in a bowed state. Surprised by touching the weapon, he seems to have stooped to look into the drawer, at the same time lifting the weapon. The attitude of his head was such as to bring it in the line of the muzzle of the weapon, which was a self-priming revolver, and being unfamiliar with it, the discharge was accidental and the result fatal. The facts relieve the family, friends and community of this deep sorrow. It is but an act of justice to the memory of the dead that these facts be made public."
Reverend Ellis' essay may indeed be fact rather than fiction, but it doesn't quite quell all the nagging doubt. But if one repeats it often enough, it may in time acquire the ring of truth.
Table Rock Sentinel, Southern Oregon Historical Society, November 1983, pages 19-23
Last revised May 10, 2017