Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Auraria & The First American Gold Rush

Etowah River, near Auraria, Georgia
Auraria is a ghost town in Lumpkin County, Georgia, southwest of Dahlonega, the county seat.
In 1828, a man walked along Findley Ridge and kicked a rock–and discovered it was full of gold. This was in Cherokee territory, and part of present day Lumpkin County, Georgia. The first American gold rush subsequently ensued. 
The Indians were dismayed at the influx of unauthorized settlers. Cherokee leader Major Ridge (aka Pathkiller II, whose maternal grandfather was a Highland Scot) long opposed U.S. government proposals for the Cherokees to sell their lands and remove to the West. However, rapidly expanding white settlement and Georgia's efforts to abolish the Cherokee government caused him to change his mind. Advised by his son John Ridge, Major Ridge came to believe the best way to preserve the Cherokee Nation was to get good terms for their lands from the United States before it was too late. On December 22, 1835, Ridge was one of the signers of the Treaty of New Echota, which exchanged the Cherokee tribal land east of the Mississippi River for land in what is now Oklahoma. The treaty was of questionable legality, and it was rejected by Chief John Ross and the majority of the Cherokee people. Nevertheless, the treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate. The Supreme Court under John Marshall forced the treaty on the Cherokees, and the Cherokee removal from Georgia began. The land east of Auraria was purchased by U.S. Vice President John Calhoun, and he established the Calhoun Mine there. The banks of Etowah River, Camp Creek, and Cane Creek had many mines (e.g., Barlow Mine, Battle Branch Mine, Ralston Mine, Whim Hill Mine, Hedwig-Chicago Mine, Gold Hill Mine, Etowah Mine).
(Source: Wikipedia)