Thursday, February 21, 2008

The North Georgia Gold Rush (part 2)

From The New Georgia Encyclopedia, by David Williams (Valdosta State University); the Georgia Humanities Council and the University of Georgia Press:

    By late 1829 north Georgia, known at the time as the Cherokee Nation, was flooded by thousands of prospectors lusting for gold. Niles' Register reported in the spring of 1830 that there were four thousand miners working along Yahoola Creek alone. While in his nineties, Benjamin Parks recalled the scene in the Atlanta Constitution (July 15, 1894):

      The news got abroad, and such excitement you never saw. It seemed within a few days as if the whole world must have heard of it, for men came from every state I had ever heard of. They came afoot, on horseback and in wagons, acting more like crazy men than anything else. All the way from where Dahlonega now stands to Nuckollsville [Auraria] there were men panning out of the branches and making holes in the hillsides.

    The sudden influx of miners into the Cherokee Nation was known even at the time as the Great Intrusion. One writer said in the Cherokee Phoenix, "Our neighbors who regard no law and pay no respects to the laws of humanity are now reaping a plentiful harvest. . . . We are an abused people." But there was little the Cherokees could do; it seemed the louder they protested, the more eagerly the miners came.
    Gold rush towns sprang up quickly in north Georgia, particularly near the center of the gold region in present-day Lumpkin County. Auraria became an instant boomtown, growing to a population of 1,000 by 1832. The county seat, called Licklog at the time, in 1833 became known as Dahlonega, for the Cherokee word tahlonega, meaning golden. Within a few months after its establishment nearly 1,000 people were crowded into the settlement, with about 5,000 people in the surrounding county.

The North Georgia Gold Rush (part 1)

from The New Georgia Encyclopedia, by David Williams (Valdosta State University); the Georgia Humanities Council and the University of Georgia Press:

    There are several popular stories of the beginning of Georgia's gold rush; but in fact, no one is really certain who made the first discovery or when. According to one anecdote, John Witheroods found a three-ounce nugget along Duke's Creek in White County. Another says that Jesse Hogan, a prospector from North Carolina, found gold on Ward's Creek near Dahlonega. Yet another finds a young Benjamin Parks kicking up an unusual-looking stone while on the lookout for deer west of the Chestatee River in 1828. Despite the popularity of these claims, no documented evidence for gold in Georgia is found until August 1, 1829, when a Milledgeville newspaper, the Georgia Journal, ran the following notice.

      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.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Virginia's Westward Expansion

from A History of Rockbridge County, Virginia, by Oren Frederic Morton, published 1920, The McClure Co., Virginia:

    The house that John Lewis built near the site of Staunton in the summer of 1732 was not within the recognized limits of any county. Until 1744 the Blue Ridge was the treaty line between paleface and redskin. The first county organization to cross that barrier was Spottsylvania, which became effective in 1721. Yet it came only to the South Fork of the Shenandoah, one extremity of the line touching the river in the vicinity of Elkton, the other about midway between Front Royal and Bentonville. Orange was created in 1734, and organized in 1735. It was defined as extending westward to the uttermost limit claimed by Virginia. Four years later, the portion of Orange west of the Blue Ridge was divided into the counties of Frederick and Augusta by a line running from the source of the Rapidan to the Fairfax Stone at the source of the North Branch of the Potomac. The present boundary between Rockingham and Shenandoah is a portion of this line.
    During the westward march of population in Virginia, the practical area of a county has always been co-extensive with its settled portion. The fact that Augusta once extended potentially to the Mississippi, did not mean that a juryman might have to travel hundreds of miles to attend court. When the first division of Augusta took place in 1769, probably not less than three-fourths of the inhabitants were living within a radius of fifty miles around Staunton. Of the other fourth, nearly all were within a few miles of a trail leading from Buchanan to Abingdon.
    The first county to be set off from Augusta was Botetourt, which became effective January 31, 1770. ...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pennsylvania: Enter the Scots-Irish

James Logan, Pennsylvania's provincial secretary, to John Penn, 1729:

    "It now looks as if [Ireland] or the Inhabitants of it were to be transplanted hither.... [We] may easily believe there are some grounds for the common apprehensions of the people that if some speedy Method be not taken, they will soon make themselves Proprietors of the Province."
(Source: Our Savage Neighbors, by Peter Silver, pub. W.W. Norton & Company, 2008)