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The Dean Richmond Mine Story

Last Updated: 25th Nov 2015

By Rolf Luetcke

The Dean Richmond Mine Story
By Rolf Luetcke

The story begins with a friend giving me a flat of micro mineral specimens. He was not fond of micro specimens and knew I was. He said the specimens had been organized at one time but had gotten mixed up so I had some work to do to try and reorganize them. Some were in micro plastic boxes, already mounted but most were in loose groupings.
The box of minerals had been collected by Richard Bideaux when he was visiting old mines in Southeastern Arizona. I don't know when the material was collected and since he had passed away there was no way to find out. In the box was the name of a mine, Dean Richmond, near Tombstone. Some of the minerals had been identified but many were just labeled unknown blue or green.
When I got the minerals home I started looking at the small boxes with specimens mounted with tac. I recognized the species with no trouble and they were just the kinds of minerals I collected. The more I looked the more I thought that the material looked familiar. There were great little leadhillites, linarite, wulfenite, mimetite, anglesite and more, all things I knew from the area around Tombstone. I had collected specimens that looked almost identical at the Gallagher Mine south of Tombstone and at first I thought that this was the location they had come from. Under the Gallagher mine was not an older name of Dean Richmond so maybe it was not from here.
After the first look I started looking in my books to see if I could find anything about the Dean Richmond mine. I went through all the books I had on Cochise County and there was no mention of the mine at all. Next I went online and searched for quite some time and again nothing came up. I found a lot of people named Dean Richmond but none led to a mine near Tombstone.
I gave up for the moment and emailed a German friend about my search with no results. About an hour later there was an email and he had found a reference concerning the mine and Dean Richmond. It was an August 1882 Washington Law Reporter write up. I read through the information in the report and a story started to unfold. There were a few pages concerning this legal wrangling and I read the whole report with interest. The email was stored for further reference but then something happened and the computer with the information crashed and the email was lost. This happened a couple of years after the discovery of the article by my German friend and when I tried to search for the journal, fortunately I had written it down, there was nothing. I searched for hours online and nothing. I finally found a couple of libraries that supposedly had copies of all the issues of the Law Reporter. Finally the Howard University got back with me but with bad news, that the one I was looking for couldn't be found. The other institution never even returned my email. The German friend also tried to look up the paper he had discovered with no luck this time. The other mines in the Charleston area did come up in searches and since Fredrick Brunckow was the one that had gotten the claim I searched that name. It was then that I discovered the Wikipedia report on the Brunckow Cabin with many of the details of the history of the cabin and the area. I had finally connected all the dots and knew that what I actually was looking for was the Brunckow mine.
So, I have to go here with my memory of what had happened from my reading of the story in the Law Reporter. It goes back to the 1850's when the early prospectors came into Southern Arizona looking for riches. Since the San Pedro River had the only water in the area they often wandered up and down close to the river. From here they took forays into the close by mountains, looking for signs of ore. It was in 1858 that a vein of mineralization was discovered in the small hills on the East side of the river. The man who supposedly discovered the vein was named Dean Richmond. Here is where there is a bit of discussion as to whether he or Fredrick Brunckow actually discovered the ore. As I remember, Richmond was the original discoverer and since there was only foot or horse travel, it took some time for him to get to Tucson about 50 miles away to file a claim. This is where the story was even a bit muddy in the Law Reporter story. The government agent in Tucson knew Brunckow personally and had a bit of control over the filing paperwork and it seems that even though Richmond had filed, the agent actually put the claim in the name of Brunckow. This brought on a legal battle for the control of the claim. The Law Reporter wrote that the Federal agent in Tucson was fired by the President of the United States who controlled the agents for the government in charge of filing mining claims. Apparently corruption in that field was taken very seriously at the time and the agent was fired. Dean Richmond seems to have vanished into the folds of history at this point and his name was only loosely attached to the mine until I got the box of minerals with his name on the mine.
Brunckow went down to the claim and built a store and small cabin at the mine and started mining. There were several people with Brunckow when he started the store. The individuals were John Moss or Morse, a chemist, David Brontrager, a German born cook, James and William Williams, miners and Mexican laborers to do the mining. The mining went on while the legal battle for ownership took its time. In those days nothing happened quickly. Brunckow was a mining engineer originally from Germany coming over to America in 1850, working for the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company. In 1858 he came to the Charleston area to start his own mining venture. The workers had promise of pay but worked hard and saw no money. They finally got fed up with working for no pay and from the stories I had read, murdered Brunckow and two of the others for the money and supplies he had and disappeared back into Mexico.
Others having heard of the mine went to see and from here it is again a bit fuzzy but Richmond never did actually work the mine from what I read but moved onto other things. At this time Tombstone had not yet been discovered but it seems other prospectors found the Brunckow cabin very useful for a base.
The cabin was used by many who came this way and over the early years it appears the claim was the site of many a murder and in the end 21 people were killed at the Brunckow cabin, the most over any single mining claim in Arizona. The claim changed hands a number of times and one old lawman named Milton B. Duffield was owner of the claim at one time but was killed by a James Holmes who also claimed ownership. Holmes was arrested for the murder since Duffield was unarmed and the claim was again unoccupied. Ed Schieffelin set up base at the cabin in 1877 and from there did his exploration which led to the discovery of the silver ores of Tombstone.
My first thought was that the box of specimens had come from the area of the Gallagher mine and it was not far from here that the Brunckow mine was actually located. On the internet I found a report of people having visited the mine itself and posting photos of it and the story that goes along with the mine. The internet site Wikipedia has a whole report on the Brunckow cabin.
Having collected in the area I had found very similar mineralization at both the Gallagher Mine and the Manila Mine closer to the San Pedro River. One day we were collecting at the Manila Mine when a vehicle parked by ours. My wife went to see what the people wanted and it was a ranger from the San Pedro Riparian area, a sanctuary with a sign about half a mile toward the river from where we were collecting. I had collected at the Gallagher and Manila Mines for close to 40 years and always thought it was on public land. The ranger said I was collecting minerals illegally since I was within the boundary of the riparian area. I pointed out the sign a half mile away and said I thought the boundary was there.
He said that he was pretty sure the Manila Mine was within the reserve. I asked him how one could tell. He actually had to call his office and the calls went back and forth until someone from his office came on who had the coordinates of the boundary. It seems even the ranger was not exactly sure where the boundary was and had to call his home base. He told us while we waited for his supervisor to get back with him that there had been a land swap about 5 or 6 years ago where the land with the Manila Mine became the property of the sanctuary. I asked him why the actual boundary was not posted and he said that they had tried that and the signs they posted were removed or shot up. I looked at him and asked how that was our fault for collecting where we had been collecting for nearly 40 years. He saw our point but after the supervisor called back with coordinates that the boundary went zig and zag in an odd way and the Manila happened to fall into the boundary. The Gallagher Mine, where we had also been collecting for years was on public land.
Something had happened about three years prior to this ranger episode. I had taken an English geochemist friend, Rob Bowell, to the mines in preparation for an article in Rocks and Minerals magazine in 2015. A ranger also stopped while we were at the Manila Mine and asked what we were doing there. He had seen our friend Rob over at an old historic cabin on the hill across the wash from the Manila Mine. He wanted to be sure that nobody was messing with the structure since it was under antiquities protection. Rob had gone over to take photographs. When we said we were collecting minerals at the mine he said that was perfectly OK and then went on his way. It seems he was a ranger for a different agency and had no actual idea about the riparian area jurisdiction. I told this to the riparian ranger and he wanted to know the name of the ranger but we didn't remember. Those are a few of the situations one runs into when collecting at old mine dumps. Sometimes ownership is not clear. 40 years of collecting went without incident but the ownership changed and nobody in the public was made aware of this. The agencies do not post the boundaries either so it is up to guess work whether one is on public land or not. Even the maps they sell at the ranger stations are not accurate enough to be able to tell the boundaries. The riparian ranger was friendly with us and I didn't think he was at all unpleasant but it was a learning experience for us both.
From this event we discovered that all the mines and prospects from the road named Brunckow Lane toward the San Pedro River was within the San Pedro Riparian and was off limits to collecting. The Brunckow Mine falls within this boundary now and is off limits to collecting. Since even the ranger didn't know the exact boundary we were not held liable for having been out collecting but the bags of specimens we had collected we were not allowed to take. I had just unearthed the nicest wulfenite I had found at the Manila Mine and told the ranger that it was a nice specimen. He said it was going back to the office, where the geologist working with them would study the material. I have a belief that the piece I mentioned went home with someone working at their office.
The material we had at home from the Dean Richmond/Brunckow Mine was collected prior to the Riparian land swap and was safe. We had found similar ore at the Gallagher mine and many of the same minerals so the vein system seems to contain many of the same mineral species.
We were co-authors of an article about the Gallagher and Manila Mines not long ago and in the study we found over fifty minerals at both mines. The same minerals could also be at the Brunckow which is on the same vein system.
My wife Mary has always said that for so many people to have been killed over a claim that had virtually no ore was hard for her to understand. Tombstone was a bonanza discovery but the early prospects contained only hints of what was later to be found and certainly were not rich enough for so many people to die over the claim.
I have found the story of the Dean Richmond interesting and the story took several years to come together.

Article has been viewed at least 3149 times.


I admire your tenacity, Rolf, in hunting down the information! Interesting history.

Alfredo Petrov
5th Dec 2015 10:31am

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