Cochise County was set apart from Pima County and organized in 1881, and was named for the famous Apache chief, Cochise, who, with a band of Chiricahuas, made his stronghold on the Dragoon range of mountains, and, like an European robber-baron of the ‘Middle Ages, swooped down on those who passed along on the plains below and robbed and murdered without mercy. So bold was he in his depredations, and such terror did he inspire in the breasts of all, that no one finally dared venture within striking distance of the raids of this terrible mountain bandit. Indeed, it was not until he was starved out of his stronghold and happily hanged, that anything like an attempt was made to settle up the county, now called by his name, or to develop its varied and valuable resources.
Little was done in this section of the Territory prior to the Civil War, save a few settlements on the San Pedro and at minor points. Hence the history proper of this county may be said to have begun with the discovery of the mines in the Tombstone district in 1878, antedating the organization of the county by the space of three years.
Prior to 1878 the country beyond the San Pedro was given over to a domination of the Apache outside of the one traveled wagon road to the east. The grassy plains and hills were bare of cattle, and its mineral treasures were but in the imagination of the curious. In February, 1878, Ed Scheffelin, a prospector, who had tramped much of the territory in vain, stumbled across the droppings of what is now known as the Toughnut mine and located several claims upon the ledge. It was about the time that the Comstocks and Bodie were showing signs of collapse, and the miners of the coast flocked by the hundreds to the new discovery. A city of tents sprung up and by June 1879 a stampmill was in operation. The mines had not been overrated: they were veritable bonanzas. and (luring their season of activity have produced over $25,000,000, about $5,000,000 of which took the form of dividends to the stockholders. Full $7,000.000 more was spent upon hoisting plants and milling machinery. Up to 1885 was the busy time, when the burning of the hoisting works of the Grand Central mine cast a gloom over the camp, and the water gained upon the miners, and the main properties were closed down for a long season of inactivity. The ore on the lower levels is of high grade, and there yet remain vast quantities of it. But to reach the ore it would be necessary to inaugurate a combination pumping plant that would cost in the neighborhood of $1,000,000, and this expense the mine owners are not inclined to put upon themselves until assured of the future of silver. With a combination of capital the mines will yet be cleared of water, and operations resumed on as grand a scale as ever before.
Mr. John Montgomery, one of the early correspondents of the “Citizen,” writing from San Pedro, A. T., February 7th, 1871, gives the following description of the settlement and subsequent growth of the San Pedro valley, and the afflictions they endured at the hands of the remorseless Apaches up to that time. It will be appreciated by many of the old-timers:
“The lands here were first located December 15. 1865, by Mark Aldrich, John H. Archibald, F. Burthold, Jarvis Jackson, John Montgomery and H. Brown. of Tucson. A crop of wheat and barley was planted. In February, 1866, the work was commenced on the ditch to convey water to the land. By April 25 all were ready to plant a corn crop. Houses had been built and land secured. The detachment of soldiers that had been promised us to be permanently stationed here had