Contributed by Cochise County Clerk of the Superior Court
Cochise County Territorial Court Documents
In May of 1881, just three months after Cochise County was formed out of southeastern Pima County, district court sessions began in Tombstone, Arizona. The 652 page collection contains brief notations by the district court clerk of matters and proceedings taken up by the judge – in the order they were presented. Aficionados of Cochise County Territorial history will enjoy “seeing” the characters of the day make their appearance in court – and getting a sense of the cadence of court business procedures from a time long past.
Criminal cases, jury empanelment, mining company lawsuits, divorces, the granting of U. S. citizenship, and the admission of attorneys to practice law in the county make up the bulk of these minutes. District Judge W. H. Stilwell and Associate Justices Wilson W. Hoover and D. H. Pinney preside over the likes of C. S. Fly, John Clum, Phineas Clanton, John Behan, J. H. "Doc" Holliday, Thomas Jeffords, John Ringo, William Claiborn, Frank Stilwell, George Hearst, Pete Spencer, Zwing Hunt, Ah Chung and Wyatt Earp.
Original documents from the court files have been scattered to the winds, some have disappeared from the public domain, others can be found in public repositories. In some cases, these minutes are the only remnants of what occurred that day in court. With the ink in the book fading and this way of doing business having been replaced by computer technology, we knew we must act to preserve this piece of history by microfilming and digitizing. University of Arizona South intern Rebecca Hidalgo, working under the professorship of Dr. Todd Lutes, performed all the metadata input which was invaluable in making this collection possible for the Arizona Memory Project. Overall direction for this project was provided by Denise Lundin, Clerk of the Superior Court.