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The Wild West & Cochise County
Joanna Brady, Cochise County, Arizona's only sheriff, encounters lots of modern-day murder and mayhem, which is right in line with Cochise County's colorful past. The famous and the infamous, from Coronado, to Cochise and Geronimo, to Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, have taken part in Cochise County history.
Cochise County is named for the great Apache chief Cochise (co-cheze), whose name comes from "cheis," an Apache word for wood. Beautiful and dramatic, most of the county is covered in desert grasses, mesquite and oak trees.
Cochise County's ancient history shows that the Anasazi, forerunners of the Pueblo Indians, lived along the San Pedro River about 13,000 years ago. Other Native American tribes in the area included the Hohokam and the Solado (who were driven out by the Apaches around 1700.)
Don Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, the Spanish conquistador, was the first European to enter what would become Cochise County in 1540, searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola, "whose streets were paved with gold." Finding that not to be the case, the land was left to the natives, who were soon confronted with Catholic missionairies trying to convert them. The Apaches drove away nearly all the settlers and the area was considered too dangerous until the mid 1850s, when the U.S. army and railroad companies created outposts.
The "Wild West" chapter of Cochise County history begins with the movement of American settlers into the area, and their frenetic clashes with the Apache. After valiant efforts to protect their land, the last Apache warriors, under the great chief Geronimo, surrendered in the late 1880s.
After the railroad's completion, tough mining camps (many of which are now ghost towns) like Charleston, Contention City, Dos Cabezas, Paradise, and the most notorious, Tombstone, flourished, along with fabled figures like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.
Today, Cochise County is a thriving area with its economic roots in ranching, agriculture and mining. Tombstone and the rest of Cochise County are growing tourist attractions. The beauty of the land and its romantic, violent and contentious past continue to draw new visitors and residents alike.


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