History

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The population boomed to 3000 people with independent miners flocking in to try to get a piece of the action. The company had some hired fighting men on their payroll to keep these independent miners off. The rich silver mined out very rapidly but then the rumor began to circulate that diamonds had been discovered on Lee's Peak west of town. The Hired Fighting men stayed on the payroll, the stages kept running, and the town boomed until sometime in 1872 when the diamond swindle was revealed as a hoax all over the country. Most people left town for fear of being implicated in the crooked work and the town almost emptied of people.


In 1879 Colonel William G. Boyle got hold of most of the good claims and renamed the town Shakespeare to eliminate memories of the earlier swindles. With financing coming from St. Louis this time he started the Shakespeare Gold and Silver Mining and Milling Company and the town enjoyed a second boom. More men brought their families and the place settled down to some extent but it never got a church , a school, a newspaper, or any real law. Occasionally there would be a serious fight and some of the losers might be hanged to the timbers of the Grant House dining room.

The railroad missed Shakespeare by about 3 miles and the beginning of the new railroad town of Lordsburg was the death knell for Shakespeare. Businesses gradually moved down to the new town to be closer to the source of supplies. The depression of 1893 caused the mines to close and most people moved away to find jobs elsewhere. People often took the roofs and
of the town. The reliable water sourceRita Hillother salvageable material off of their houses and left the walls to crumble in the weather. In 1907 a new copper mine about a mile south of Shakespeare started to work and some of those miners rented remaining buildings in the old town. Many ghost stories date from this era when the older residents seemed to come back to haunt the newer ones. In 1935 the town and buildings were purchased by Frank and Rita Hill for a ranch. They maintained the buildings as well as they could with limited resources.

Shakespeare was declared a National Historic Site in 1970. Frank Hill passed away in 1970, Rita in 1985, and Janaloo in 2005. They are buried at the top of the hill overlooking the town. Janaloo's husband, Manny Hough, continues to work toward preserving the town as a monument to the Real Old West.

Many of Shakespeare's more "colorful" residents, prospectors, and regular citizens of Shakespeare have their final resting place at Shakespeare Cemetery, You'll see the cemetery on the left side of the road on your way to Shakespeare.

Read about the early days in the Southwest from a first person account by J.C. Brock

Read the next account about our Outlaws & Lawmen.

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