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VERY Rare and ORIGINAL, June 16th, 1881 issue of a most highly sought after Western Americana Newspaper titled the "Tombstone (Arizona, Territory) Epitaph" containing a treasure trove of News, Opinion, Advertisements, Government Proclamations and “Wild West Happenings” related to the "wide open" frontier Silver Mining Boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona. Included in this issue is a front page story headlined "Murderous Exploits of Billy The Kid".
This fantastic, "Wild West" Newspaper measures approx. 18” by 24” and contains 4 pages printed in 7 columns. In 1881 the Daily Tombstone Epitaph was one of two daily Newspaper in Tombstone and has become an iconic symbol of this quintessential "Wild West" mining boomtown - a chronicle of gunfights, stagecoach robberies, western justice, cowboys, Indians and most of all "everyday happenings" in the aptly named town of Tombstone, Arizona.
Offered here is Volume II, Number 131 of the Daily Edition of the Tombstone Epitaph. Published by "The Epitaph Printing and Publishing Company" under the management of the newspaper's founder John Clum. Clum had been publisher of the "Tucson Citizen" (another influential Arizona daily) before deciding to move to the "wild and crazy" boomtown of Tombstone in 1880. When Clum announced the move to Tombstone his associates chided him saying that he would be writing his own epitaph and not a newspaper if he went to the seemingly lawless town thus inspiring him to call his new venture the Tombstone Epitaph.
The issue offered here includes a spell binding, front page article detailing the "Murderous Exploits of Billy The Kid" - in fact, that is the headline of the story. The article is sub-titled: "A report from Santa Fe, N.M. detailing William Barry's (alias "Billy The Kid") three newest murders subsequent to his escape from the Lincoln County jail on April 30". The article reads in part: "According to this report, 'The Kid' approached 4 cowboys at a cow camp, gunned down 3 of them, and sent the fourth with a message for John Chisum, who he had fought for during the Lincoln County War. Having never been paid the $5 a day which he was promised, Billy The Kid's message is that he intends to kill Chisum's men wherever he meets them, giving Chisum credit for $5 every time one is killed until the debt is paid". The article further states that "heavy rewards are out for the Kid, but there seems to be but one man... with nerve enough to follow the Kid; that is the Sheriff, Pat Garrett".
If this front page article was not enough, this issue also includes a report of terrible storms (cyclones, hail storms, hurricanes and folks struck by lightning) in the western states; a call for the removal of John C. Freemont as Governor of the Arizona Territory; a report of an explosion at the Bechtel Mine and an article about the use of "Gila Monsters" by Mormons, who "boil them and skim off the oil" which is then used in a religious ceremony.
While the above mentioned content would appear to be more than enough to catapult this Newspaper into the realm of "simply amazing", throughout the Newspaper there are dozens of short “tidbits” regarding happenings around town - one could almost mistake Tombstone for any small town in Connecticut until you come across reports of murders, robberies, gunfights, mining accidents or Indian troubles.
There are a large number of advertisement that in and of themselves paint a fascinating picture of life in a frontier boomtown. Included are ads for saloons, gunsmiths, stage coach lines, whiskey, boots and mining equipment, horse corrals, blacksmiths, beer, patent medicines, and many more. A number of the advertisements are illustrated and interspersed with these “western” subject adverts are ads for lawyers, physicians, accountants, assayers, mining brokers, real estate agents, civil engineers, notary publics, etc. There are also some wonderful “caution notices” calling attention to various persons and businesses that were in one way or another bilking customers and citizens.
This exceptionally rare and important, 1881 Tombstone Arizona Territory Newspaper is in good to very good condition - complete but split at the spine and exhibiting edge chipping and a number of tight edge tears. There is significant damage at the bottom edge of the front page with some text loss (see scans below). The printing on the back page is a bit light in areas but readable everywhere. The Newspaper is fragile but stable as it was deacidified in 1995 by a professional conservator and is stored in an acid free, polyester folder for safe, long term storage. The Newspaper will be shipped flat to avoid any further damage.
Again we must stress that this is NOT a reprint or reproduction but the original June 16th, 1881 printing of this important Western Americana Newspaper. Sold, as always, without reserve and a 100% lifetime guarantee of authenticity
A very rare and fascinating, original relic of the Old West - the June 16th, 1881 issue of the Tombstone Epitaph - published just 4 months before the Gunfight at the O K Corral and during the “cow-boy troubles“ that led up to that legendary confrontation, containing a simply amazing front page article about Billy the Kid and a fantastic addition to any Collection!!
A Bit About the “Tombstone Epitaph” of 1880 to 1882:John Clum was no stranger to southern Arizona when he decided to relocated from Tucson to Tombstone in 1880. In Tucson, Clum had published the Tucson Citizen, another landmark Arizona newspaper that soon may cease publication. Prior to taking over the Citizen, Clum had been the U. S. government appointee in charge of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. While there, Clum had the distinction of being the only U. S. authority to capture Geronimo the renegade Apache. Geronimo later was released. He did not finally surrender to the U. S. Army until 1886, thus bringing the Apache War period to an end.
Chided by associates who said he would write an epitaph and not a newspaper, Clum was inspired to call his new publication The Tombstone Epitaph. Setting a tone followed by several subsequent owners and editors, Clum sang Tombstone's praises when he launched what he initially saw as a mining journal. As mayor of Tombstone and publisher of its Republican paper (the rival Italic Nugget provided the Democratic counterpoint), Clum was among the group of townspeople who supported the Earp brothers as they attempted to enforce law and order in Tombstone in the early 1880s. Tensions between the factions—the Earps and the "cowboys" -- escalated to a violent showdown near the O.K. Corral in 1881. In an explosion of gunfire, the Earps and their eclectic friend, Doc Holliday, killed three young cowboys—Frank and Tom McClaury and Billy Clanton. Personal, professional and political disagreements found their outlet on that cold October afternoon, producing an event that continues to inspire historical research and debate.
Although an inquest into the shootout determined the shootings were justified, public opinion in Tombstone was with the outlaw Cowboys. The Earps soon left Tombstone, as did Clum, who traveled to Washington, D. C., to accept employment with the U. S. Post Office. Ironically, ownership of The Epitaph fell to former political adversaries. After Clum left, The Epitaph remained a going concern, though it could never regain the standing it had prior to 1886, the year Tombstone's silver boom began to crumble as silver prices fell and the mines filled with water. Subsequent editors predicted a return to the heady days of the 1880s, but such a turnaround in the town's financial fortunes never occurred.
A Bit About the Wild West Boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona:Tombstone, Arizona is a historic western city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin in what was then Pima County, Arizona Territory. It was one of the last wide-open frontier boomtowns in the American Old West. The town prospered from about 1877 to 1890, during which the town's mines produced USD $40 to $85 million in silver bullion, the largest productive silver district in Arizona. Its population grew from 100 to around 14,000 in less than 7 years. It is best known as the site of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Within two years of its founding, although far distant from any other metropolitan city, Tombstone boasted a bowling alley, four churches, an ice house, a school, two banks, three newspapers, and an ice cream parlor, alongside 110 saloons, 14 gambling halls, and numerous dancing halls and brothels. All of these were situated among and on top of a large number of dirty, hardscrabble mines. The gentlemen and ladies of Tombstone attended operas presented by visiting acting troupes at the Schieffelin Hall opera house, while the miners and cowboys saw shows at the Bird Cage Theatre, "the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast."
Under the surface were tensions that grew into deadly conflict. The mining capitalists and townspeople were largely Republicans from the Northern states. Many of the ranchers in the area were Confederate sympathizers and Democrats. The booming city was only 30 miles from the U.S./Mexico border and was an open market for beef stolen from ranches in Sonora, Mexico by a loosely organized band of outlaws known as The Cowboys. The Earp brothers—Virgil, Wyatt, Morgan and Warren Earp—arrived in December 1879 and the summer of 1880. They had ongoing conflicts with Ike and Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury, and other Cowboys. The Cowboys repeatedly threatened the Earps over many months until the conflict escalated into a confrontation that turned into a shootout, the now-famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. In the mid-1880s, the silver mines penetrated the water table and the mining companies made significant investments in specialized pumps. A fire in 1886 destroyed the Grand Central hoist and pumping plant, and it was unprofitable to rebuild the costly pumps. The city nearly became a ghost town only saved from that end because it was the Cochise County seat until 1929. The city's population dwindled to a low of 646 in 1910 but in 2010 the population was 1,380.
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