James (Jimmy) Pearce, a Cornishman, and his family arrived in Tombstone in the 1880s, where he worked as a miner while his wife operated a boarding house. They left in 1893, moving to Sulphur Springs Valley and starting a small cattle ranch. On a morning in 1894 while herding his cattle, Jimmy found gold on Sixmile Hill. He quickly staked the Commonwealth claims for his family, and ore was recovered there that assayed as high as $80/ton in silver and $20/ton in gold. Soon, the small camp of Pearce developed near the base of the hill.

It wasn't long before Jimmy sold the Commonwealth mine to John Brockman, for the price of $250,000 and with the stipulation that his wife have exclusive rights to lodging in town (running a boarding house was a very lucrative business). A 60 stamp mill was built in 1898, and by the turn of the century it was putting out some $100,000 per month. A fire in June 1900 destroyed the mill, but by January an 80 stamp replacement was up and running. By May 1903, the town was even reached by the Arizona & Colorado Railroad.

Following a cave-in and flooding in 1904, the Commonwealth was leased to Andrew Young Smith and David Swatling. Under their leadership, the mill was remodeled to 120 stamps. On March 24, 1910, however, it was destroyed by fire. Swatling died in April, and the Commonwealth was sold to the Montana Tonopah Mining & Milling Company shortly thereafter, with Smith as manager. That company built a 350-ton cyanide plant.

Pearce reached its peak in 1919, when it was home to around 1500 with an array of businesses, a school, churches, fraternal organizations, and a golf course. Pearce held on until the Great Depression and the Commonwealth's closure in 1930, after which the town was left with only thirty residents. The railroad was abandoned in 1932. The Commonwealth was worked intermittently by lessees until 1942 when those operations ended due to World War II.

Today, Pearce is a small hamlet with just a handful of residents and a few historic buildings. The post office holds on, though it is now located in (and also serves) the nearby community of Sunsites, established around 1961 by the Horizon Land Company of New York. Often, the two communities are referred to as Pearce-Sunsites.

Ghost Town Trail