The Haunting of Tombstone, Arizona - Part One

Town of Tombstone – Cochise County, Tombstone, Arizona

Photograph ©Library of Congress

The town of Tombstone is known for violence; gunfights, hangings, stabbings, outlaws, intoxication, barroom brawls and prostitution. Would it be any wonder that the entire place is said to be plagued with restless spirits! Even the streets of this once violent town are said to be haunted by MANY apparitions!

Marshall Fred White, the first marshall of Tombstone, is said to roam these streets. Marshall White was accidentally shot by Curly Bill Brocius in 1880. Many have spotted the Marshall’s apparition close to the Birdcage Theatre on East Allen Street; apparently this is where he was shot and killed.

Another apparition dressed in black has been seen crossing Fifth Street in the area where an assassination attempt was made on Virgil Earp, leaving him with a gunshot wound in his left arm that crippled him for life. The specter is said to get halfway across the road and then he disappears into thin air! Many believe that this is in fact, the spirit of Virgil Earp; however, some argue this theory because Virgil actually died in the state of Nevada in 1905, after battling a bout of pneumonia.


Photograph ©Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress



The Birdcage Theatre


Photograph ©Fredrick D. Nichols, 1937

The Birdcage Theatre is known to be one of the oldest buildings in Tombstone, it is also said to be one of the most haunted.

The Birdcage is now a museum that displays the Black Moriah Hearse; the same carriage that took those who were killed in the famous O.K. Corral gunfight, to their permanent resting place in the Boothill Graveyard. Today, this famous hearse is said to be worth nearly two-million dollars.


Photograph ©Legends of America

This Theatre, turned museum, also displays the Faro Card Table where Doc Holiday shuffled and delt.


Photograph ©Legends of America

Paranormal happenings have been reported at the Birdcage for many, many years. It has even been claimed that the Birdcage houses over thirty ghosts; this is really no surprise since there were at least 26 deaths that took place there! Someone even took the time to count all of the bullet holes; the unofficial count was 140!

Many full-bodied apparitions wearing eighteen-hundreds clothing, have been spotted here by patrons, as well as, employees. One of these apparitions, a former stage hand, is seen quite frequently crossing the stage and then he disappears.

Many who have passed the establishment after hours, claimed they heard music and laughter coming from inside. Others have heard a woman singing, but could not make out her words. Some have heard a piano playing but no one was sitting at the antique piano at the time. Also, the sounds of cards shuffling and glasses clinking have been heard here but could not be explained.

Other happenings in the Birdcage Theater include; strange noises coming from the balconies, the smell of cigar smoke or suddenly being engulfed in cigar smoke when no one was smoking, strange elusive shadows, being touched by unseen hands, thumping or knocking noises under the floor, items that go missing only to appear somewhere else in the building, large and heavy objects being moved to a new location sometime during the night, the heavy sounds of cowboy boots walking the floors, and this list goes on and on and on!

In researching the hauntings of the Birdcage, I came across one very interesting story that I’d like to share:
A statue of Wyatt Earp was placed up in one of the cribs that overlook the theatre.


Photograph ©Legends of America

Every morning for about six months, staff members would come in to find Wyatt’s hat lying on the floor. Day-after-day this happened. Then, one day when the Birdcage was opened, they found Wyatt’s statue facing the back of his crib instead of facing the stage! Finally, the owners were informed by a historian, that they had mistakenly placed Wyatt in the crib that was usually reserved for the Clanton gang. Wyatt’s statue was then moved again, to his familiar crib and the hat never fell off again!

Address:
The Birdcage Theatre
517 East Allen Street
Tombstone, Arizona 85638



Aztec House Antique Shop


Photograph ©Nevada Spirit Seekers

Many believe that apparitions are drawn to the Aztec House because of the antiques that are sold there. The most witnessed apparition in the place is a woman dressed in white. It is believed that she committed suicide after her young child died of yellow fever; an acute viral disease.

Most sightings of the female specter have been outside. She is often seen standing in front of the Aztec House and has been known to actually block traffic with her presence. This apparition has also been seen roaming up to nine miles out of town!

Address:
The Aztec House
220 East Fremont Street
Tombstone, Arizona 85638



Nellie Cashman’s Restaurant


Photograph ©Fredrick D. Nichols, 1937

Many customers and employees of this restaurant have reported hearing crashing sounds that were unexplainable; nothing was thrown, broken or found to be the source of the disruption. Other noises, such as muffled voices, have been heard here as well but their source is never found.

As with many hauntings, the lights unexplainably turn on and off and cold spots are often found throughout the establishment.

Address:
Nellie Cashman’s Restaurant
117 South Fifth Street
Tombstone, Arizona 85638



Schieffelin Hall


Photograph ©Library of Congress

The sounds of boot spurs have been heard here. Once, an entire group that was touring the building heard these sounds. At first they said the sounds seemed as if they were coming from around the corner and then the sounds seemed to come from within the building. Consequently, orbs are often caught on film here, as well as, the rest of the haunted buildings in Tombstone.

Address:
Schieffelin Hall
Corner of Fremont and Fourth Streets
Tombstone, Arizona 85638



Old Wells Fargo Stage Stop


Photograph ©Andy & Frank

Apparitions of stagecoach drivers and cowboys have been spotted roaming the street near this building. The sounds of footsteps and spurs have also been heard in this area. The smell of cigar smoke and whiskey have also been reported here.

Address:
Wells Fargo Building
210 East Fremont Street
Tombstone, Arizona 85638



Big Nose Kate’s Saloon/Former Grand Hotel


Photograph ©Gary S.

Many paranormal claims have been made in this restaurant and saloon. The building itself was, at one time, the three-story Grand Hotel. This hotel was built in 1880 but fire swept through and gutted the structure in 1882.

The damage the fire caused is a shame; the Grand Hotel must have been very grand in deed. The place was said to be luxuriously furnished with solid walnut furniture and expensive, stunning d├ęcor. The hotel apparently had sixteen comfortable rooms; these rooms and the bar area were popular after the hotel opened and they were graced with the presence of such names as Doc Holiday, Wyatt and Virgil Earp, and the Clanton gang.

After the fire, most of the building lay in a heap in the basement. Some of the grand arches were salvageable and two of the long bars were saved. One of the long bars still stands in the saloon today; the other is located in the Birdcage Theatre. Can you imagine, standing at a bar where Doc Holiday and the Earp brothers once stood? Amazing! Big Nose Kate’s Saloon now stands proudly in place of the Grand Hotel and it’s haunted as ever!

During the days of the hotel, there was a janitor whom everyone called Swamper. Swamper spent his days doing handyman work in the hotel and in return, the hotel provided residence for him in the basement. Swamper’s room was humble but it was, at least, a roof over his head. Swamper learned that his room was not far from the tunnels in the silver mine. So, when he would finish his work for the hotel each day, he would then go to his room in the basement and dig for hours. He did finally reach the mining tunnels. It is assumed that he collected quite a bit of silver but, none of it was ever found after he died. Swamper’s spirit is believed to haunt the basement of Big Nose Kate’s. His self-dug tunnel still remains there, in tact and moaning has been heard coming from inside.

Many have seen the fleeting apparitions of cowboys standing at the bar or in doorways. Many witnesses have heard singing or talking in empty rooms. Items have been unexplainably knocked off of shelves or tables. Doors have been witnessed to open and close on their own and lights turn on and off without any help from the living.

The mannequins on the false balcony are said to be moved around or tossed over the railing by some unseen force. Cold spots and gusts of cold air have been felt in many areas of the building.

In the basement, one woman claimed to have felt hands around her throat. Also, many women have been shoved while going down the stairs. Voices and footsteps are heard in this area, as well.

Address:
Big Nose Kate’s Saloon
417 East Allen Street
Tombstone, Arizona 85638

Click here to go to Part Two of this story.