‘Arizona’s Bloodiest Cabin': The Brunckow Legend
"THE BLOODIEST CABIN IN ARIZONA HISTORY"
Have you heard the chilling legend of Brunckow Cabin? The bloody reputation began as an unassuming outpost for miners in the 1800s just outside of Tombstone.
A HISTORY OF UNINTERRUPTED VIOLENCE AND MURDER!
A history of “…uninterrupted…violence and murder!” proclaimed Prescott’s Arizona Democrat regarding Brunckow Cabin in 1881.
Since that creepy moniker was ascribed to this location, local ghost hunters and history buffs have spent hair-raising nights seeking the spirits of the departed in the ruins of this storied adobe structure. Legends and rumors have been whispered among the citizens of Cochise County for more than a century, but are the rumors true? And if so, what started this little outpost's reputation for violence?
SETTLING AT BRUNCKOW CABIN
It all began when Frederick Brunckow arrived around 1858. Brunckow, an emigrant from Germany, settled in the shadow of Tombstone after founding the San Pedro Silver Mine, located about 8 miles southwest of what would eventually become the town of Tombstone near the San Pedro River.
Brunckow didn’t go alone. He arrived with a crew, John Moss who was a chemist, his German cook David Bontrager, and two miners, cousins James Williams and William Williams, plus laborers who’d come up from Mexico. Together they built a supply store and the soon ill-fated cabin which they used as sleeping quarters. The simple structure was fashioned from adobe and topped with a tin roof.
A GRISLEY DISCOVERY
On the morning of July 23rd, 1860, William Williams set off for Fort Buchanan to pick up supplies. When he returned later in the day, Williams discovered the storehouse had been ransacked. As he walked around, he noted an unsettling smell.
That’s when Williams came upon a grisly discovery: his cousin James had been murdered and was lying on the ground in the ransacked storehouse. Williams did not stick around but fled back to Fort Buchanan to inform the soldiers of his gruesome discovery.
The following morning, Williams and the soldiers returned and found two more bodies lying just outside the camp. But that wasn’t all. The exact location he met his end has been lost to the detail of history, but Frederick Brunckow’s remains were also discovered, his body lying either just outside the entrance to the mine or just inside it. And he’d been murdered with his own rock drill.
The cook, David Brontrager, the Mexican laborers, and the livestock were all missing, along with about $3,000 worth of goods and supplies.
Brontrager later turned up at Camp Jecker armed with a story. He said he’d been kidnapped by the Mexican laborers and later released near the border because “they believed him to be a good Catholic”.
Brunckow and the others were buried near the cabin.
The killers were never found.