Portrait of a Prospector: Edward Schieffelin's Own Story

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University of Oklahoma Press, Nov 9, 2017 - History - 130 pages
Edward “Ed” Schieffelin (1847–1897) was the epitome of the American frontiersman. A former Indian scout, he discovered what would become known as the legendary Tombstone, Arizona, silver lode in 1877. His search for wealth followed a path well-trod by thousands who journeyed west in the mid to late nineteenth century to try their luck in mining country. But unlike typical prospectors who spent decades futilely panning for gold, Schieffelin led an epic life of wealth and adventure. In Portrait of a Prospector, historian R. Bruce Craig pieces together the colorful memoirs and oral histories of this singular individual to tell Schieffelin’s story in his own words.

Craig places the prospector’s family background and times into context in an engaging introduction, then opens Schieffelin’s story with the frontiersman’s accounts of his first prospecting attempts at ten years old, his flight from home at twelve to search for gold, and his initial wanderings in California, Nevada, and Utah. In direct, unsentimental prose, Schieffelin describes his expedition into Arizona Territory, where army scouts assured him that he “would find no rock . . . but his own tombstone.”

Unlike many prospectors who simply panned for gold, Schieffelin took on wealthy partners who invested the enormous funds needed for hard rock mining. He and his co-investors in the Tombstone claim became millionaires. Restless in his newfound life of wealth and leisure, Schieffelin soon returned to exploration. Upon his early death in Oregon he left behind a new strike, the location of which remains a mystery.

Collecting the words of an exceptional figure who embodied the western frontier, Craig offers readers insight into the mentality of prospector-adventurers during an age of discovery and of limitless potential.

Portrait of a Prospector is highly recommended for undergraduate western history survey courses.


List of Illustrations
Early Life 18471866
Up the Colorado 1872
Southwestern Wanderings 18721877
The Discovery of Tombstone 1878
Alaskan Adventures 18821883
Ever a Prospector 18831897

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About the author (2017)

R. Bruce Craig is an independent historian and biographer. A former national park ranger and second winner of the prestigious Freeman Tilden Award for Outstanding National Park Interpretation (1982), Craig also served as Northeast Regional Director of National Parks Conservation Association, and in stints as Executive Director of the Association of National Park Cooperating Associations (now Association of Partners for Public Lands), the National Parks Trust, and the National Coalition for History. Today he lives in Atlantic Canada, where he teaches American History at the University of Prince Edward Island. Craig is the editor of the fiftieth anniversary edition of Freeman Tilden’s classic work, Interpreting Our Heritage, and author of Treasonable Doubt: The Harry Dexter White Spy Case and The Apprenticeship of Alger Hiss.

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