Abraham Hyman Emanuel was an Easterner who made his fortune in gold and silver mines and mining towns of the American West.
He was born about 1838 (the exact date is unclear) in Philadelphia, the son of a well-to-do family. At the age of 12, lured west by stories of gold strikes in California, he and a classmate, Cornelius Vanderbilt, the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, ran away from a New Jersey preparatory school to seek their fortune.
They got as far as Panama where they ran into the old commodore himself. Emanuel ran away again and finally reached California. (His fiend apparently stayed with his grandfather.) In California, he received additional education and was given a job as a clerk by one Judge McAlister, a friend of his father.
Ten years later, Emanuel moved to Virginia City, Nevada, where the huge Comstock Lode had just been discovered. He became mine foreman at the Yellow Jacket Mining Company and opened a Virginia City livery stable and freighting business, which among other things hauled ore and supplies from the McCracken Mine in Wickenburg, Arizona.
When Emanuel learned of the silver strikes in southern Arizona, he left Silver City for Tombstone and spent the next 30 years in Cochise County.
He worked as superintendent of the Waterville Mill and Mining Company and the Tombstone Water, Mill and Lumber Company. He purchased large wagons and hauled ore to the mills at Millville, Charleston and Contention.
Emanuel speculated in stocks. In 1880, he sold the Comstock and Grasshopper claims of the Vizina Mine to Wyatt and Virgil Earp.
When Cochise County was formed on February 1, 1881, Tombstone was named the county seat. Territorial Governor John C. Fremont appointed Abraham Emanuel to serve as a Cochise County supervisor. Emanuel was a Republican. The Territorial Legislature, which was mostly Democratic, disliked the governor’s appointments and offered their own slate of supervisors.
The governor responded with a new slate of Six Republicans and five Democrats, but the Legislature refused those, too, and Emanuel withdrew his name under pressure.
A year later, the Arizona Daily Star reported that Emanuel was off to San Francisco to acquire capital: “Mr. Emanuel is one of the most thoroughly posted men on mines in Arizona, and makes a success of anything he undertakes. He has for the past seventeen months been superintendent at the Vizina Consolidated Mining Company of Tombstone, which outside business caused him to resign. He is one of the most popular of Tombstone mining men, and we have no doubt his trip to Frisco will result in more capital for the district.”
In 1889, Judge Richard E. Sloan appointed Emanuel clerk of the Cochise County Court. Seven years later, he was elected mayor of Tombstone and was subsequently re-elected for two additional terms.
Even during Tombstone’s difficult decline, Emanuel’s Pioneer Carriage and Blacksmith shop thrived. The company built two new wagons for the copper mine at Nacozari, Sonora, Mexico.
During that time, Emanuel purchased the Oak Knoll Ranch in the Huachuca Mountains and tried his hand at ranching. At his Tombstone house, he greeted visitors wearing a two-carat diamond in his shirt and expensive boots. That and an expensive piano caught the eye of the assessor who increased his taxes in 1899.
In 1902, Mayor Emanuel succeeded in getting Ordinance 69 passed, which granted mining man Charge Cage the right to develop the Tombstone Light and Gas Works.
That was too much for the citizenry and he lost a close mayoral election to A. Wentworth that year. In his departing speech, Emanuel graciously welcomed the new mayor, while reminding the citizenry of his own administration’s successes.
After the election, Emanuel moved to Tucson and lived there for several years. Around 1910, he left for Los Angeles where he died on March 9, 1915, without any surviving relatives.
This Times Past article was originally published on May 11, 2001.
Photo courtesy Abraham Chanin; research by Jane Eppinga. ©Arizona Capitol Times.