A colorized postcard of George Warren. The front caption in blue at the top and bottom reads: “M.E. Fly, Souvenir, Tombstone, Ariz. Geo. Warren, Discoverer, of the Copper Queen Mine, Bisbee, Ariz.” The postcard is unused, and the publisher is unknown.
George Warren was one of the first prospectors in Bisbee and Warren, the first planned suburb in Arizona, was named after him. He was born in 1835 in Massachusetts. After his mother passed away, his aunt raised him until he was old enough to join his father who worked in New Mexico as a teamster. While he was out on the range with his father, they were attacked by Apaches and his father was killed. George Warren was held captive for 18 months until the band came across a group of prospectors who traded him for 15-20 pounds of sugar. He learned the trade of prospecting from his rescuers and when he grew older, he headed out to the Mule Mountains when Jack Dunn’s discovery of mineralization became known. Jack Dunn filed the Rucker claim and asked George Warren to grubstake other potential claims as Dunn was too busy working with scouts tracking Apaches. Warren failed to do so and gambled away the grubstake. He found other investors at Fort Huachuca for prospecting but didn’t mention Dunn. Warren filed a claim for the Mercy Mine on September 27th, 1877 and later held a one-ninth interest in the Copper Queen Mine. Bisbee’s first smelter, a Catalonian furnace, was built in 1878 by David B Rea, Warner Buck, and George Warren operated with hand bellows. The trio tried making copper matte with the ore from the Hendricks Mine, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Warren later built a cabin at the base of Castle Rock in 1883. The famous western photographer Camillus Sydney Fly or CS Fly operated studios in Tombstone and Bisbee. He took two photographs of George Warren, one sitting and a second with Warren leaning on a pickax. The second photograph was later displayed in the Bank of Bisbee . What is most remembered of his life is that he lost his stake of the copper mines in a drunken bet he could outrun a horse. George Warren argued with his friend, George W. Atkins, that a man could out run a horse under specific circumstances: in a 100 yard race, 50 yards to a post and 50 yards back with the thought that the man could be quicker on the turnaround. On July 3rd 1880 the race took place, not in Bisbee, but in the nearby town of Charleston that once lay east of the San Pedro River near Tombstone (and is today a ghost town). Warren lost the race and his claim in the Copper Queen Mine. Atkins later conspired with Judge J.H. Lewis to declare Warren insane and locked him away while the rest of his mining stakes were sold. Only after this, he was once again declared sane and freed. Warren’s attempts to find mining claims in Mexico led him to selling himself into peonage. His friends purchased his freedom and brought him back to the United States. Warren worked odd jobs around the camp and was given a small pension from the Copper Queen Mining Company until his death. An odd bright spot in his later life was discovering a diamond ring while cleaning that reportedly had belonged to Horace Mann. George Warren died from heart failure likely on September 13, 1893 (though the year of his death varies) and was buried in a paupers grave in Evergreen Cemetery. The wooden marker on his grave didn’t even have his full name; only “G.W. 24” . Years later, the fraternal organization the Elks exhumed Warren’s body and re-interred him into a fitting resting place for the Father of the Camp. They build a large monument of white marble with a plaque depicted him in CS Fly’s photo and the inscription: “George Warren-Born Unknown-Died in 1932-Poor in Purse-Rich in Friends”. When the state seal of Arizona was being designed, his iconic photograph was still hanging in the Bank of Bisbee and it was decided that Warren would be immortalized the state seal. Long after his death, George Warren became an emblem of the masculine, self-reliant prospector in a bygone era of Arizona.