Tombstone and The Epitaph ®
The Making of the Old West’s Most Famous Newspaper
By Frederick Schoemehl
Editor, National Edition
Note: The author wishes to acknowledge several published accounts used in the compilation of this narrative history. These include a retrospective by Wallace E. Clayton that appeared in The Tombstone Epitaph in May 1980; a special historical edition on John P. Clum, published by The Epitaph in 2006; a special historical edition on the O. K. Corral gunfight reissued by The Epitaph in 2007; several “Hall of Fame” biographies prepared for the Arizona Newspaper Association; Arizona’s Territorial Newspapers by Sam S. Webb; and Newspapering in the Old West by Robert F. Karolevitz. Other material was drawn from The Epitaph files.
For their obvious interest in developing the western frontier, newcomers also were interested in transferring Eastern institutions to the West. Settling, the process of physically adapting to new places, was accompanied by settling down, the companion process of bringing order and stability to the West. The goal was to ensure that new settlements would mirror the old through the prompt creation of political forms, schools, churches, stage lines, post offices and newspapers.
Frontier newspapers did several things. By the second half of the 19th century, newspapers were a ubiquitous part of America’s print culture. The development of telegraphic communication permitted information to move quickly from point to point. But there needed to be a means of handing off the “news” to the consumer. Newspapers became the transfer medium in a new information age. In 1886, for example, The Epitaph used its “Telegraphic” and “Special Telegrams” columns to provide readers reactions in Washington, D. C., to Geronimo’s final surrender to Gen. Nelson Miles. At that same time, Old West newspapers were an essential element of political and marketing cultures. Through editorial positions, newspapers communicated with different constituencies on local, regional and national issues. By discussing, dissecting and defending different ideas, they sought to shape public opinion. By carrying advertising, their readerships learned about who did and sold what. This was important information in boom towns where new arrivals needed to know about stage schedules, fine cigars, quality spirits and life’s other necessities. Finally, western newspapers were heralds, often unabashedly so. They were often the chief champions of what their locales were “destined” to become.
Newspapers were hardly beacons of objectivity. News was served up with equal helpings of politics and passion. When The Tombstone Epitaph was founded in 1880, John Philip Clum did not discuss the need to report the goings on in Tombstone without fear or favor, or about being “fair and balanced.” What mattered to Clum were Puritan ethics and the blessings of capitalism. Echoing John Winthrop’s words upon the founding of Massachusetts, Clum called the bustling silver camp “a city upon the hill.” The comment surely captured Clum’s belief that religion was necessary in the process of settling down. Clum said the new paper would be “a representative mining journal,” a vehicle for enhancing Tombstone’s founding industry.
Clum had little need to mask his bias in the biggest story of his newspaper career – coverage of the October 1881 gunfight at the O. K. Corral. The gunfight broke the town’s “quietness and good order,” Clum wrote, a solitude that law enforcement had brought over the previously “fractious” and “dreaded cowboys.” With three cowboys dead and the Earp brothers walking tall, Clum immediately concluded, “EARP BROTHERS JUSTIFIED.” With references to “the best class of citizens” and “all good citizens” and “the better portion of our citizens,” Clum’s view of the matter was settled. That he repeatedly used the word “citizen” conveyed special meaning. To Clum, cowboys were not citizens; citizens had settled down and respected law and order. The cowboys’ decision to come into town while armed was sufficient evidence they were not behaving as citizens in a well-ordered city on a hill. If there was an alternate explanation of the day’s events, a different side to the story, it was not going to be part of The Epitaph’s immediatecoverage.
Why? As a representative mining journal, the paper’s job was to align itself with the forces that were intent on consolidating mining capital in a land that was posed for economic growth.In the leapfrog nature of western development, California’s Sierra foothills represented capital’s first big mark on the West. That was followed by the smaller impression made by Nevada’s Comstock. Did Ed Schieffelin’s silver discovery mean that Arizona was next in line? Moreover, parked in the mind of every person associated with western mining was the idea that livestock and pastoral activities were becoming quaint. Clum was a Republican. And Republicans of the early 1880s believed in several things – an industrial plant and transportation system fashioned of iron and steel, a money supply backed by precious metal, and a laissez fair market economy. This was at some remove from the older, Jeffersonian view of a nation of free-holding agriculturalists who tended crops and animals, bartered face to face in local market towns and whose nature was more communitarian than commercial. To Clum and the western modernizers, that was just so old school.
By the time he reached Tombstone in 1880, Clum knew much about new school. Born in New York in 1851, Clum came to Santa Fe, N. M., in 1871 and initially worked in the new information industry by sending weather observations to Washington, D.C., by telegraph. As a new face in the countryside, Clum was schooled in one of the biggest problems in the West, the continuing unrest between native people and the newcomers. Drawing on his government service and his Dutch Reformed Church faith, Clum decided he might succeed in finding a way to achieve peace between the newcomers and Apaches in the Southwest. Direct orders backed up with physical force, the way of the U. S. Army, had not brought peace to Arizona’s San Carlos Indian Reservation or lands beyond. While Clum was sympathetic to Apache concerns, his was a paternal sympathy. Clum did not believe in Indian rights to self-determination, as the term is used today. He envisioned Indians settling down. The approach was to relocate Indians to reservations where they would have limited self-government under the watchful eye of the Office of Indian Affairs. But the comforting idea of a settled reservation was thwarted by off-reservation Apaches, including Geronimo, who were not ready to give up traditional lifeways just because it fit the agenda of settlers and the federal government.
Clum had been the only government agent – civilian or military – to capture Geronimo, and had recommended unsuccessfully that Geronimo be executed for numerous killings. Clum, however, was on his way out of the Indian business. In 1875, the Army decided it would take a tougher line at San Carlos. What would happen to the Indian police force that Clum had appointed? Stung by the criticism heaped on his idea of using Apaches to police Apaches, Clum began his move toward the exit, and finally left in 1877. After San Carlos, Clum moved in two directions. He studied law and quickly was admitted to the bar in Pinal County, Ariz. With other businessmen, he purchased a seven-year-old newspaper, the Tucson Citizen, renamed it the Arizona Citizen, and moved it to Florence. It was not Arizona’s first paper – that honor goes to the Weekly Arizonian, which was launched in Tubac, then in New Mexico Territory, in March 1859.
Clum’s first venture into newspaper publishing was not particularly notable, save his use of the Citizen’s pages to justify his paternal approach in dealing with the Apaches – as opposed to the Army’s tougher strategy. Florence did not prove to be the newspaper town that Clum envisioned. Within two years, he moved the publication back to Tucson, took back its old name and switched to daily circulation.By 1879, two years after Schieffelin’s silver discovery southeast of Tucson, Clum’s attention was drawn to the razzle-dazzle of Tombstone. Clum sold his interest in the Citizen in January 1880, moved to Tombstone, and launched the iconic Epitaph with an afternoon issue on Saturday, May 1, 1880. Now more than 130 years old, The Epitaph is the oldest continuously published newspaper in Arizona.
Not that the start-up was very easy. Clum had to purchase printing equipment, land and building material, and support his wife and son. Two partners, both printers, joined him in the new enterprise. In a wonderful turn of a phrase, Clum declared, “no Tombstone is complete without its epitaph.” While true epitaphs are just so much gloss about a decedent’s life, Clum’s first Epitaph read as prophecy. Clum saw Tombstone as a wealth-producing engine of change. “Millions In It!” he exclaimed in the first issue. The town’s underground riches would attract investment capital that would set the stage for continued growth and development. The city would mature to that “city upon the hill” and become a beacon as bright as “ancient Rome.”
The problem with most beacons is that they sometimes flicker or go dark. Tombstone’s early years were marked by mudslinging, gunslinging, murky land dealings, and the ill effects of water and fire in the wrong places at the wrong times. In two years, Clum went from Tombstone mayor to a position in the U. S. Post Office’s inspection department in Washington, D.C. What had gone wrong? Boomtowns moved at a boomtown’s pace – those on the ground floor were anxious to preserve their position at all costs – and Clum wanted to apply the brakes. When Clum arrived, a townsite was in the making under federal land laws. Townsite lots were to be sold by the village of Tombstone to legitimate occupants, with proceeds used to underwrite public services. Clum’s contention was that the mayor, Alder Randall, illegally transferred more than 2,000 town lots to some close chums, James Clark and Michael Gray. In rapidly developing conditions, squatters had taken to some lots, while others had been sold by people who claimed to the rightful owners. Based on the deed from Mayor Randall, “Clark, Gray and Company” asserted it was the only lawful land broker. Clum and others saw the situation much differently. “Tombstone has been handed over to the speculators,” Clum asserted. “Our citizens are being ousted from their homes.”
Now doubling as postmaster and an editor-publisher, Clum ventured farther into the political arena. Having gone to court to end the town lot sales by Clark and Gray, Clum decided to run for elective office. As a mayoral candidate under the newly former Citizens Protective Party, Clum sought a settled town in which he would “defeat corruption” while bringing “peace and prosperity to our city.” He was elected mayor on Jan. 4, 1881.
Now wearing three hats, Clum faced the challenge of what he labeled “the county ring.” When Cochise County was made a freestanding political jurisdiction, several Democrats won covered appointed offices doled out by the territory’s Republican governor, John C. Frémont. In essence, Clum broke ranks with the territory’s best-known Republican figure. In addition, Clum drew a close association between the “ring” and local ranchers who were allied with outlaw elements. Thus, Tombstone cleaved into two factions. In one, Clum, The Epitaph, local Republicans, mining capital and the Earp brothers; in the other, the rival Nugget, local Democrats, the ranch trade and several so-called cowboys, including the Clantons and McLaurys.
If the former group won the battle on a cold afternoon in October 1881, Clum’s vision of a settled and prosperous Tombstone remained elusive. Eight months before the infamous gunfight at the O. K. Corral, The Epitaph reported, “water has been struck in one of the leading mines of the district.” This was not a cause for concern, the experts said, because good water meant good silver could not be far behind. Five years later, Tombstone’s silver mines were silenced by water in volumes too great to pump away. And four months before the shootout, Tombstone’s core – “largely made up of combustible material” – was destroyed by fire. Fire safety ordinances, which Clum had supported editorially, hadn’t been adopted. It took a second fire, 11 months later, to bring fire protection.
By mid-1882, Clum had enough. Whatever role The Epitaph had played in helping Tombstone to settle and settle down, it was not enough to hold Clum’s interest. He had lost a wife, a daughter, and, in an undignified move by superiors, his job as postmaster. With his term as mayor also over, Clum was left with The Epitaph, which he sold – ironically, to interests in the “ring” he had fought since arriving in Tombstone in 1880.
One needs a scorecard to log the names associated with The Epitaph after Clum’s departure. His immediate successor was Sam Purdy, a Yuma newspaperman and Democrat. Purdy apparently did not stay long in Tombstone, consigning day-to-day duties to Charles Reppy, a Clum associate, through 1883. That left the Nugget, which had been Clum’s chief rival. Once fire destroyed the Nugget’s plant, it ceased publication. Reppy and partner W. D. Crowe distanced themselves from The Epitaph by taking over the Tombstone Republican. The following year, in 1884, a merger ensued, producing the Daily Epitaph and Republican, with Reppy as editor. In 1885, another consolidation occurred, when the Cochise Record, under editor David F. Cooper, and the Daily Epitaph were combined into the Daily Record-Epitaph. During this period, Clum, who had returned to Tombstone as postmaster, worked for the Record-Epitaph. It was one of two Republican papers in Tombstone. The other, the Daily Tombstone, was decidedly anti-Clum. Editor J. J. Nash derided Clum an “imbecile,” an “egotistical ass” and a “sop.” Editorial jockeying continued in 1886, when Harry Brooks became editor of the Record-Epitaph, only to be followed nine months later by J. O. Dunbar, a political maverick who had been one of the founders of the defunct Nugget. The Daily Tombstone kept at the heels of the Record-Epitaph until the end of 1886. Reppy reemerged to take the helm of The Epitaph, now free of its association with the old Record, and to pick up what was left of the old Daily Tombstone. By this time, The Epitaph had switched to weekly publication, a reflection of the depth of Tombstone’s troubles underground. Now the only paper in Tombstone, The Epitaph was accused by many residents of being too cozy with politically powerful officials in Cochise County. One way of putting heat on the county cabal was to give The Epitaph some healthy competition. That is what happened in late 1887, when four men, meeting at Martin Costello’s saloon, agreed to launch the Tombstone Daily Prospector. The men were Andy Ritter, Joe Pascholy, James Reilly and Stanley C. Bagg.
As Bagg recalled in 1929, the Prospector’s mission was “to combat the powerful group which ruled the roost at the court house.” Combat duty was turned over to editor Jimmy Nash, who did what Bagg called a “poor job.” So Bagg stepped in to give the county ring a real fight. A showdown ensued when both papers submitted bids for what Bagg later called “the velvet of the business at the time” – the printing contract for Cochise County government. Both papers bid on the contract; it was awarded to The Epitaph even though Bagg’s bid was much lower. Denied the velvet, Bagg sued the county, only to lose the case before District Judge W. H. Barnes. Unwilling to let the matter rest, Bagg’s Prospector attacked the decision in print – a move that landed Bagg back before Judge Barnes on a contempt charge. Bagg was given a choice – a $300 fine or 300 days in jail. Confident that the public would rally behind him, Bagg chose jail. Attorneys sidestepped the case, figuring any association with Bagg would be a death knell if they had to appear in Barnes’ court on a future matter. Sheriff John Slaughter was ordered to treat Bagg like in any other inmate, which meant Bagg couldn’t sleep in the sheriff’s office. The matter was finally settled when two men, Gus Tribolet and Sol Israel, raised contributions to cover the fine. In the end, Bagg was released after spending three days in jail.
In 1891, Bagg solved the rivalry problem by purchasing The Epitaph. He returned it to weekly status as a Sunday week-in-review publication. Having been the butt of Epitaph commentary, none of it too complimentary, bagging The Epitaph must have been sweet for the five-foot tall furniture store owner and son of the founder of the Detroit Tribune. Having taken control of Tombstone’s incredibly shrinking media empire, Bagg turned his attention to other matters, including positions with various prison, immigration and press commissions and associations. Like editors before and after him, Bagg extolled the wealth trapped below the surface at Tombstone. But by 1895, Bagg was forced to concede that Tombstone’s future simply was not especially bright. Bagg sold his papers and his Tombstone mining interests, and moved to California. He became active in the Rand Mining District in the Mojave Desert while maintaining a home in Santa Barbara. He died in 1931.
Bagg’s successor was William Hattich, who arrived in Tombstone in 1881 at age 9. “Willy” had known the likes of John Henry “Doc” Holliday, had hawked papers on street corners and had darkened his hands as a printer’s devil in the town’s back shops. Having lived through the glory days, Hattich was an unabashed booster. When he took over the daily Prospector and weekly Epitaph, Hattich wrote, “Like the courage, perseverance and hope characteristic of the sturdy Arizona prospector in his diligent search for the precious metal, the new Prospector starts out with sharpened tools, new energy and honest and conscientious convictions to prospect on the highways of success.” Standing above the factionalism of a previous decade, Hattich said, “Merchants, cattlemen, ranchers, miners and laborers…will find the Prospector a defender, well-wisher and ready and willing champion of their interests.” Hattich was exuberant when E. B. Gage, former superintendent of the Grand Central Mine, returned to head the Tombstone Consolidated Mines Company, an outfit that would finally drain the water from the mines and pump up the local economy. In 1901, The Epitaph declared, “prosperity has superseded depression.” Two years later, it was equally ecstatic when the El Paso & Southwestern Railroad arrived in Tombstone. Slow as actual progress was underground, Hattich wrote optimistic headlines: “Glowing Prospect of Tombstone District,” “Encouraging Showing Below the Water Level,” “Rich Ore Body Encountered,” and “Future Looks Bright.” Even when the mining company was in trouble, Hattich used the fact that machinery was not being brought to the surface as evidence that "no abandonment is contemplated." That was in 1911. Two years later, on the Prospector’s 25th anniversary, Hattich announced his retirement and soon moved to Southern California. He maintained his Tombstone connections, providing much behind-the-scenes help as Tombstone planned its first Helldorado celebration in 1929.
The Giragi family picked up where Hattich left off. Having lived in Congress, Metcalf and Pearce before settling in Tombstone, the Giragis had a fair taste of Arizona. Two sons of Frank and Sarah Giragi, Columbus and Carmel, became friends with Hattich. Columbus took the route of printer’s devil, while Carmel did advertising work. When Hattich retired, the young Giragis used their meager savings to acquire the Prospector and Epitaph. Wallace Clayton, a later Epitaph editor, wrote in 1980 that Hattich essentially gave the papers away as a mark of his friendship with the Giragis – and his pessimism about Tombstone’s future.That future certainly was on the Giragis’ minds when they wrote, “We firmly believe that a reorganization of the mines will bring about prosperity as never witnessed before and confidently believe same is at hand.” People believe as they chose; in reality, the Giragis could not escape the continuing declines of Tombstone’s fortunes; in 1924, they closed the Prospector. Tombstone now was down to one weekly, The Epitaph. Appearing on Fridays, the “county-wide weekly,” as the Giragis called it, would carry with it “more prestige, more confidence and more real advertising value than any other newspaper medium.” They held The Epitaph until 1926, when it was sold to William B. Kelly, owner of the Bisbee Daily Review, 25 miles down the road.
The Giragis’ newspaper careers did not end in Tombstone. They saw better prospects elsewhere, taking over papers in Winslow, Holbrook and, later, Flagstaff. Columbus Giragi was known for a pithy column, “Sparks from the Grindstone,” and an irascible yet lovable personality. A former employee said Columbus was “witty, cynical, caustic, profane, sarcastic, but generally good humored, and always at the finish line, wise and fair.” Long after leaving Tombstone, Columbus Giragi was the low-key sponsor of a grave marker for one of Tombstone’s best-known Chinese residents, Quong Kee, the long-time owner of the Can Can Restaurant. In a private communication, Giragi wrote that he wanted to do something to mark the generosity that Quong Kee had shown him decades earlier.
Two men named William Kelly – father and son – owned The Epitaph between 1926 and 1930. William B. Kelly, who had held interests in several Arizona newspapers, carried The Epitaph for two years. His son, William H. Kelly, then a student at the University of Arizona and editor of the campus paper, The Wildcat, took over in 1928.The younger Kelly was among the first to sense that Tombstone’s future might be found in the town’s history and setting instead of its flooded and dormant mines. Several events seemed to coincide. Writer Walter Noble Burns was researching a book, Tombstone: An Iliad of the Southwest. With its attention to the gunfight at the O. K. Corral and other slices of southeast Arizona history – such as John Slaughter’s rearing of an Apache orphan, Apache May – Tombstone caught the eye of national publications. Consistent with a dramatic change in American culture in the 1920s – automobile tourism – Kelly sensed the ingredients were right for Tombstone to showcase itself on the 50th anniversary of the town’s founding. “Helldorado,” drawn from the title of a book by Billy Breakenridge, was the name given to the 1929 event. The Epitaph and the city underwrote the cost of the event, which was both popular and marginally profitable. It even drew Epitaph founder Clum, who quipped that he was “armed only with a fountain pen – sometimes the mightiest of weapons.”
For its success in drawing attention to Tombstone’s place in the history of the Old West, Helldorado was not enough to keep Tombstone from economic decline. Copper, not silver, was the metal in demand in the 1920s and 1930s. With nearby Bisbee emerging as a copper capital, the economic, demographic and political centers of gravity had shifted away from Tombstone. In November 1929, Cochise County voters decided that the county seat should be moved from Tombstone to Bisbee.
Perhaps sensing that Tombstone could not be rebuilt any time soon, the younger Kelly sold The Epitaph to Walter Cole, a south Los Angeles resident with 25 years in the newspaper business. On its 50th anniversary, May 1, 1930, The Epitaph announced the sale. Cole paid about $4,000 for the Epitaph Publishing Company, securing the debt with two lots in Seattle, Wash. That done, Kelly returned to Tucson. He later received a Ph. D. at Harvard University, and then became the first director of the University of Arizona’s Bureau of Ethnic Research, where he specialized in study of Indians of the Southwest.
At the start of their tenure, Walter and Edith Cole blissfully called for a “bigger and better Tombstone.” But what indelibly etched Cole’s name on The Epitaph’s composing stone were early comments. “The spirit of Tombstone is to never say die,” Cole wrote. Summoning the image of the little town that could, Cole said Tombstone was “the town too tough to die.” Just a few words, but they seemed to capture Tombstone’s place in the history of the Old West – standing tall in the face of adversity. In words, the phrase mirrored the silhouette of Wyatt Earp, standing unscathed, as the gun smoke cleared after the gunfight at the O. K. Corral.
Cole tirelessly promoted Tombstone during the Great Depression. Hardly a disinterested editor, he became personally involved in subsequent Helldorado celebrations, mining ventures, Hollywood film production, an early effort to rehabilitate the vacant and decaying Tombstone courthouse and an idea to seek national monument status for the historic silver camp. At one point, he suggested that Tombstone simply put itself up for sale for $75,000. He talked of “Tombstone the Beautiful” and heralded the healthful benefits of the desert environment. Clum visited with Cole during a final trip to Tombstone in 1931. Clum applauded the “plan of exploiting the attractions and advantages with which nature has so generously endowed your section.” Unfortunately, Cole’s correspondence shows that his efforts never gained traction. As early as 1936, he was trying to sell The Epitaph. Having guided the paper during what he called “the most trying times in the history of this camp,” Cole sold The Epitaph in 1938. A new motto that found its way to the front page of The Epitaph -- “Tombstone – Metropolis of Cochise County 1940” -- was not realized.
If anyone might reasonably claim the title “Mr. Tombstone,” the honor could well go to Clayton Smith, who was The Epitaph’s longest-serving editor – a 26-year run that ended when Smith died in a 1964 airplane crash. Editing a weekly paper might be enough for most; for Smith it was just the start. He also served as a school board member, justice of the peace, volunteer firefighter, Boy Scout leader and champion – in print and in person – for the preservation of Tombstone’s historic structures. A North Dakota native, Smith came to Tombstone in 1936. After he purchased the paper from Cole, he followed the thread that Kelly had initiated in the late 1920s. That effort lay in promoting Tombstone’s “wild and woolly” frontier period. As more and more time separated the Old West as experienced from the Old West as artifact, Smith believed that it was in the town’s best interest to embrace those days. Smith used the pages of The Epitaph to present historical sketches on Tombstone’s past. He encouraged researchers to use The Epitaph’s files – an open-door policy that produced Douglas Martin’s award-winning book, Tombstone’s Epitaph. And he took a leading role in later Helldorado celebrations that featured re-enactments of Tombstone’s memorable moments.
In the immediate aftermath of Smith’s death in January 1964, his widow, Mabel, published the paper for several months. Then an important period of transition began. Detroit, Mich. investors, headed by attorney Harold O. Love, purchased The Epitaph along with several other landmarks in Tombstone, including the O. K. Corral, the Crystal Palace and Schieffelin Hall. For the next decade, The Epitaph was capably edited by Wayne Winters, an Arizona newspaperman, with extensive background in both printing and mining. During his tenure, Winters nominated one of his predecessors, William Hattich, to the Arizona Newspaper Association’s Hall of Fame. Other Epitaph names on that list include Stanley Bagg, the Giragis and Clayton Smith.
In 1974, Love and his colleagues, including Wallace Clayton, a Detroit advertising executive, began planning a new edition, a historical journal of the Old West. While it would never lose touch with its Tombstone roots, the National Edition would take the entire West in the second half the 19th century as its canvas. At the same time, the weekly Epitaph would continue to bring local news to Tombstone’s 1,500 residents. As part of the restructuring, The Epitaph hired E. Dean Prichard, a veteran newsman and writer, to edit the new National Edition and Frederick A. Schoemehl, then a reporter at a California daily newspaper, to edit the weekly edition and to assist Prichard with the monthly. Within a year, the weekly editor’s job had been assumed by Don Cantrell, another Southern California newsman. Then came a novel turn of events: the corporation met with the University of Arizona Department of Journalism to discuss a partnership whereby journalism students would produce the local edition. This would give students practical experience in all aspects of newspaper production, including reporting, writing, editing, photography, design and printing. Journalism students continue to publish The Epitaph’s local edition, on a bi-weekly basis, during the school year.
Between 1975 and the late 1990s, editorial management of the National Edition, with subscribers throughout the United States and many foreign countries, passed from Prichard to Clayton and then back to Prichard following Clayton’s death in 1998. From Tombstone to Virginia City; from the “Last Stand” at Little Big Horn to the Massacre at Wounded Knee; from Pat Garrett to Billy the Kid; from Wyatt Earp to Pinkerton detectives; from the photography of Evelyn Cameron to the Bassett sisters of Brown’s Hole, Colo., the National Edition has continued to bring a lively mix of stories and photographs drawn from the history and culture of the Old West. For Clayton, the high point of his editorship was the addition of The Tombstone Epitaph as a national journalistic landmark by Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists.
Prichard’s 33-year association with the National Edition ended tragically in August 2006 when he suffered serious, irreversible injuries during a fall at his Arizona ranch. After Prichard’s death in March 2007, The Epitaph turned to Schoemehl, who holds a doctorate in U. S. history, to become editor of the monthly edition. Having lost a close friend, Schoemehl helped establish a journalism scholarship in Prichard’s name at the University of Arizona. In taking the reins of the Old West’s most famous newspaper, Schoemehl said, “My goals are to showcase the history of the Old West in as accurate, entertaining and readable ways as we can. I want our readers to receive a monthly package that reflects the depth and breadth of the West, as it was experienced in its frontier period and as we remember that period today.” Schoemehl is also working to improve The Epitaph’s visibility through tombstoneepitaph.com and marketing initiatives that are coordinated by Gary Ledoux, a western history author and long-time Epitaph contributor.
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