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Country: United States
City: Tombstone, Ariz.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 322
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 1,290
Earliest Date: 1 September 1885
Latest Date: 7 December 1886
The Tombstone Epitaph took its first breath of life in 1880 as a Republican paper under the operation of John P. Clum, Thomas Sorin, and later that year, Charles Reppy. Clum chose the name for the paper because he felt that every tombstone had to have an epitaph. According to William H. Lyon, in his book, Those Old Yellow Dog Days, Frontier Journalism in Arizona 1859-1912, Clum’s friends “thought the name alone would kill the paper,” yet “Clum took pride in his morbid creation” and felt that the Tombstone Epitaph would serve as a journal which represented and built up mining, Tombstone’s founding industry.
In 1881, as postmaster and mayor of Tombstone, as well as the editor and publisher of the Epitaph, Clum ventured farther into politics with a self-proclaimed goal of ridding the town of corruption while creating peace and wealth for its citizens. One of his first orders of business was addressing what he called “the county ring,” a group of crooked officials and local ranchers who Clum claimed were allied with outlaw elements. This alleged alliance served to fracture the town of Tombstone, resulting in the formation of two opposing camps. On the one side were Clum, the Epitaph, local Republicans, mining interests, and the Earp brothers. On the other were the rival Weekly Nugget, local Democrats, ranchers, and several so-called “cowboys”--men who were not exactly law-abiding citizens. The infamous October 1881 shootout between the Earps, Doc Holliday, and the Clanton and McLaury brothers at the O.K. Corral, as well as Clum’s coverage of this event in the Epitaph, is a testament to the extreme political division among Tombstone’s citizens at that time.
Added to the mix, another Republican paper entitled simply the Tombstone was created in 1882. It ran every day except Sunday under the editorial direction of James J. Nash and later became the Daily Tombstone, renamed in 1886 the Daily Tombstone Epitaph. In 1882, the Tombstone Epitaph began publishing both a daily and a weekly paper, the Tombstone Daily Epitaph and the Tombstone Weekly Epitaph, respectively. The Epitaph went through various changes during this period. It turned Democrat when Harry Woods took over as editor in 1883. The following year, it became Republican when it consolidated with the Tombstone Republican as the Tombstone Daily Epitaph and Republican. A Democratic judge, George Berry then combined the Cochise Record and the Tombstone Epitaph to become the Daily-Record Epitaph in 1885. Berry employed the help of John O. Dunbar, a Republican, as editor. This newspaper was replaced by the Daily Tombstone Epitaph later that same year, before changing its masthead back to the Tombstone Daily Epitaph in 1887.
The original title, Tombstone Epitaph, was resurrected as a weekly publication when Charles Reppy once again took over the editorial reins with George Peck in 1887. The paper became an independent periodical in 1891 with Stanley C. Bagg as publisher and editor. Bagg also owned the rival daily Tombstone Prospector, and in 1893 the weekly edition of the Epitaph became the Sunday edition of the Prospector.
On March 7, 1924, the Prospector, which included the Epitaph’s Sunday edition, changed its daily masthead to become the Tombstone Epitaph. Arizona’s oldest continuously printed newspaper, the Epitaph is still in circulation today.