Prospectors in Bisbee area as early as 1865

I saw this article almost 20 years ago, then laid it aside and haven’t been able to find it again. Till now.

The Bisbee Daily Review tells the story in 1905 of three prospectors who came up the Sulphur Springs Valley “forty years ago” and camped at a site that is now Erie Street in Lowell.Skeleton of a pioneer exhumed

The paper recalled the story of one George Leach, told around the community two years earlier. Leach, who was thought to reside in Tucson, said he was one of a party of three who camped out in the foothills of the Mules late one afternoon. Leach and one of his companions left the third man to make camp while they went hunting. When they returned about two hours later, it was dark and they found the other man “lying dead and scalped by the embers of a dying fire he had built.

“Hastily digging a grave for the body they placed it in the ground and without further loss of time left the vicinity, retracing their steps to Benson.” (At that time, it wasn’t yet Benson, founded in 1880, or even Ohensorgen, since those brothers didn’t arrive till 1871, but just the San Pedro River Station.)

When Leach was in the Bisbee area about 1903, he told his story and pointed to the Lowell Drug Store as “about the place he thought the fatal camp had been made.” The body had been buried nearby.

Construction unearths skeleton

The tale was made current, the Review said, because the “bones of one of these men were a few days ago unearthed by the contractor for the foundation of the new Tovrea Company building. Nine feet of earth covered the skeleton.” Undoubtedly, considerable amounts of fill dirt had been moved around during earlier construction projects in Lowell.

The drug store building, the paper said, is “immediately next [to] the site of the Tovrea building and not ten feet from the point at which the skeleton was unearthed.” That the recently excavated skeleton and the victim of the Apaches were the same person was “almost fully established by the story” of Leach, the paper added.

In 1905, the bones were reburied where they were found, below the level of the foundation, and the new building “will probably be the only monument they will ever know unless some arrangement is made for their removal to the cemetery, where they might appropriately be marked as those of one of the hardy pioneers who sacrificed life in the making of Arizona.”

While the timeline of prospectors’ visit to the district is vague, it seems to be at least a decade before Tony Rucker and Jack Dunn visited the Mule (Pass) Mountains, finding lead ore and staking a claim that would lead to the development of Bisbee and the fabulous Warren Mining District.

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