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The town of Pearce was discovered by and named after Cornishman, James Pearce, miner and cattleman, 1894.   Pearce and his wife had originally been in Tombstone where Pearce was a hard rock miner and Mrs. Pearce managed a miner's boarding house.  After saving some money over a period of years they moved to the Sulphur Springs Valley with their two sons and daughter, starting a cattle ranch.  One day Mr. Pearce was out riding the range and decided to take a break on the top of a small hill.  After dismounting, he sat down and relaxed.....idly picking up a rock and hitting on a
nearby rock ledge.  It broke, and the break showed gold!  Taking it to Tombstone to be assayed showed a high ore content of both gold and silver, upon which Mr. and Mrs. Pearce and their 3 children immediately filed claims and started working the claims.  Thus was born the Commonwealth mine.....said to be one of the richest mines ever found in Arizona, producing over fifteen million dollars in gold.  Shortly after the mine started producing Pearce's two sons became dissatisfied and wanted to go back to ranching.  John Brockman from Silver City finally convinced Pearce to sell the mine, however Pearce put in a stipulation.  Brockman was to have 90 days to work the mine.  At the end he was to pay Pearce  $250,000 cash, or leave all the work and ore as it was.  Inside of 60 days Brockman took out enough to pay the $250,000 and some still left on the dump.  Money was  divided into five equal shares, a fifth for each.  Mrs. Pearce however had a stipulation also and refused to sign until the mining company met her demands.  She demanded and received an exclusive on the hostelry business in Pearce.  Running a
boardinghouse was an extremely prosperous business, profitable to the extreme without the risks of the mining business.

Overnight seemingly the town of Pearce sprang up.  The General Store pictured at the top of the page and here was built in 1896 and the Post office was established on March 6, 1896.  The Railroad Station opened in 1903.  The community that grew up around the mine rapidly became a fair-sized city, with some of the families and businesses moving their homes and businesses, (literally) from Tombstone to the "new" boom town.  Peak production at the Commonwealth Mine was reached in 1896 and Brockman built a 200-stamp mill and operated it for four years, until 1900 when it burned to the ground.  Another was built, and mining activity continued.  Two years later Brockman sold the mine.  The mine was operated until 1904 when a cave-in caused it to shut down.  In the late 1890's, besides its mining activities, Pearce became a rip-roaring cowboy town, and was headquarters of the Alvord-Stiles gang.  To frustrate outlaws, gold bouillon in the form of bars too heavy to be carried out on horseback were transported to the Cochise station in ordinary farm wagons.

By 1919, Pearce had a population of 1,500, a school, restaurants, boarding houses, saloons, hotels, a motion picture theater and other businesses.  People began drifting away in the 1930's as the Great Depression took its toll and the railroad pulled up its tracks. Today only a store or two remain however, there is a "revival" of sorts going on in Pearce.   The old store is being re-furbished and will be opening again this fall.   Several other old houses have also been restored and have various businesses in them such as Old Pearce Pottery.

Old Pearce Store - Pearce, Arizona

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