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A Story of Brothers Working on the Railroad
Another instance of good fortune, unattended with any alloy, is as follows: About 1845 two brothers, who were wereking on the Georgia railroad, decided to visit Dahlonega and try their luck in the mining business. They were hardworking Irishmen, and understood the science of digging to perfection. They leased one or two lots in this vicinity, and are now reputed to be worth $15,000. "And now that it has come into my mind, I will mention another lottery anecdote, which was related to me by an old resident. By way of introduction, however, I ought here to mention that this region is famous for the number and size of its rattlesnakes, and that our hero had an utter abhorrence of the reptile. Among those who obtained prizes at the great drawing, before alluded to, was an individual from the southern part of the State, who drew a lot in this vicinity. In process of time he came to the north to explore his property, and had called at the house of a farmer near his land, for the purpose of obtaining a guide. In conversing with the farmer, he took occasion to express his dislike to the rattlesnake; whereupon the farmer concluded that he would attempt a speculation. Remembering that in going to the land of a stranger he might pass through an out-of-the-way ravine which abounded in the dreaded snake, the farmer beckoned to the stranger, and they took their way towards the ravine. After they had arrived at the spot, hardly a rod did the pedestrians pass without hearing the hiss of a snake or seeing its fiery tongue, and the stranger was as completely frightened as any one could possibly be by a similar cause. In his despair he turned to his companion and asked if there were plenty of snakes in the country and was told that one neighbor near Dahlonega had killed over a hundred last year.
Source: Letters from the Alleghany Mountains by Charles Lanman (1849).
If you see the word "miner" on the 1850 census as the occupation, what you have is a relative who was sniffing out the trail of gold discoveries in Georgia. Do not be surprised to notice that this adventurer moved about in the mountains of North Georgia. In Lumpkin County, the rush began in 1829 and spread rapidly throughout the region. In fact the word spread so quickly that newspapers caught wind of it. Of the uncounted gold mines which are found in this region, the most fruitful at the present times lies about twenty-five miles from here, in a northerly direction, and is the property of Mr. Lorenzo Dow Smith. And the success which has ever attended Lorenzo is worth recording.
Lorenzo Dow Smith
An old book written in 1849 by Charles Lanham contains an interesting letter from Lorenzo Dow Smith while in the Alleghany Mountains. "I was born in Vermont; I came into this Southern country twenty-four years ago as a clock peddler, where I drove a good business. I used to spend my summers among the mountains of the Cherokee country, partly for the purpose of keeping away from the fever, and partly with a view of living over again the days of my boyhood, which were spent among the Green Mountains. I made some money, and when the gold fever commenced I took it and went to speculating in gold lots, though I spent many years without finding lots of gold. I associated with bear hunters, and explored every corner and stream of this great mountain land, away to the north, and have seen more glorious scenery than any other live man. I am forty years old, unmarried, love good liquor, and go in for having fun. About four years ago, it came into my thinking mug that there must be plenty of gold in the bed of Coosa creek, which runs into Coosa river. I traded for a lot there, and went to work. I found a deposit, gave up work, and went to leasing small sections, which are now worked by a good many men, and give me a decent living. I have had all sorts of luck in my day; good luck and bad luck. When I am prosperous I always hope to be more prosperous still, and when I have bad luck, I always wish for worse luck; if it will only come. I never allow myself to be disappointed. The longer I live the more anxious am I to do some good to my fellow men. I havee passed the blossom of my life, and I do not expect to live many years longer; I have not lived as I ought to have lived, but I hope it will be well with me when I come to take my final sleep. But enough. I am going out to my mine on a visit tomorrow, and if you all go with me, I will show you some real Vermont trout, and mountain peaks which would shame the camel hump of old Yankee land." Source: Letters of the Alleghany Mountains by Charles Lanman (1849).
Georgia Journal, Milledgeville. "GOLD. A gentleman of the first respectability in Habersham county, writes us thus under date of 22d July:" Two gold mines have just been discovered in this county, and preparations are making to bring these hidden treasures of the earth to use. " So it appears that what we long anticipated has come to pass at last, namely, that the gold region of North and South Carolina, would be found to extend into Georgia."
The Macon Telegraph reported that during "the winter of 1829 and 30, when the precious metals having been discovered in great abundance upon our Cherokee soil, great numbers of people from Georgia and other States rushed to the Territory in search of its treasures."
Gold a Year Later
A year later gold was discovered in Carroll County and as well as on Cherokee lands in Lumpkin, White, Union and Cherokee Counties.
While most people were placer mining, boom towns like Auraria and Dahlonega began to appear. It was said that Dahlonega supported 15,000 miners at the height of the gold rush.
Lumpkin County Families
The Fascination with Auraria, Georgia
It is common knowledge that in Georgia the Cherokees had a number of gold and silver mines, especially in the North Georgia counties of Lumpkin, Forsyth, Hall and Paulding.
For this reason, when white settlers came into the area, they searched creek bottoms for good spots to pan gold. Ordinary folk in Paulding still speak of places where the Cherokees buried their gold (and disguised mines) before they moved West. Arrow heads are still fished out of Pumpkinvine Creek. The mining town of Auraria was established by 1830 which reached a zenith of about 1000 persons.
Templeton Reid, an Early Coinmaker in Georgia
The Reid family were from Scotland and arrived in Georgia by way of Northern Ireland and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania about 1745. A few years later, they moved southward to Rowan County, North Crolina. The father of Templeton was Alexander Reid who had four brothers who fought in the American Revolutionary War. Afterwards they all qualified for bounty lands in Georgia. So it was that five Reid families moved into Greene County between 1786 and 1792. Alexander Reid owned and operated a ferry over the Oconee Rive and a grist mill near the crossing of the Eatonton-Greensboro Road. After the death of Alexander, Templeton removed to Columbus where he advertised in The Enquirer as being the best gun maker in the United States. Thereafter, he minted gold coins in Dahlonega.
Lumpkin County Genealogy, Wills, Estates, Marriages, Church Records
Early settlers went into Dahlonega and the Blue Ridge Mountains to search for gold! This was the driving force which built this little town and caused it to thrive for years to come.
Lumpkin County was created in 1832 and named in honor of Wilson Lumpkin who served in both state houses, as Governor, in the U. S. House of Representatives and Senate. Before that time, the Cherokees and Creeks inhabited this land, having many gold and silver mines in the territory. The Creeks and Cherokees fought a battle in Slaughter's Gap on Blood Mountain near Union County which lasted for days. The result was that the Creeks had to retreat south of the Etowah River. Long before the Georgia Gold Rush which was most in Lumpkin County, precious metals were found in the mountains near present-day Dahlonega. During the 1730's Spanish miners visited the area on a number of occasions before being expelled white English settlers who cut off their supply route from Florida. Actually gold was discovered in Lumpkin County before 1830 although mining of gold in White County was already under way.
Lumpkin County Records Available to Members of Georgia Pioneers
- Lumpkin County Marriages from newspapers 1885-1886
- Minutes of Wahoo Baptist Church, Book 1, 1833 to 1873
- Membership Roll of Wahoo Baptist Church
- Lumpkin County Wills 1833-1852 (abstracts).
Indexes to Probate Records
- Index to Lumpkin County Wills, Book A, 1845-1923
- Index to Lumpkin County Annual Returns, Inventories, Vouchers 1847-1856
- Index to Lumpkin County Annual Returns, Inventories, Vouchers 1847-1873
- Index to Lumpkin County Annual Returns, Inventories, Vouchers 1855-1890
- Index to Lumpkin County Annual Returns, Inventories, Vouchers 1859-1893
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