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The Gold Seekers

Gold, Ghosts and Legends from Carolina to California

Nancy Roberts

Publication Year: 2013

This is the first book to tie together the earlier gold rush in the Carolinas and Georgia with the well-known California gold rush of 1849. It presents a history of the Southern gold rush and the legends that have grown up around it. Nancy Roberts tells how it all began in North Carolina, which supplied all the domestic gold coined at the U.S. Mint between 1804 and 1828. She tells the story of the discovery of the gold in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama and later in California and Colorado, including how the Virginia, Carolina and Georgia gold miners abandoned their mines within weeks after news arrived of the discovery of gold at Sutter's Creek. And, for a while, they were said to be the only experienced miners in the Western gold fields. Ms. Roberts recreates with gusto and suspense the experiences of real people—the adventurers and entrepreneurs, family men and rascals, immigrants and bandits, entertainers and miners—and also includes several tales of the supernatural from that period.

Published by: University of South Carolina Press


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pp. 1-3


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p. 4-4


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p. 5-5


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-9

Fact and Fiction

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pp. ix-xviii

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pp. 1-3

This is a book about the people of both the southern and western gold fields ... the southern where the gold rush first began ... and those who made the trek West where gold was discovered almost half a century later. Since the presence of human beings rarely occurs without ghost lore, there are several tales of the supernatural from the gold camps. ...


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1 The Discovery of Gold in North Carolina

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pp. 7-27

America's first gold rush began in North Carolina, not in California. It all started with John Reed and not John Sutter- by chance, each was a German immigrant. And when gold was found on their land, they both shared the same concern about their crops and were more interested in ...

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2 The Specter of the Reed Mine

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pp. 28-35

Our story begins in the early 1800s with a miner named William Mills, a good man and a sound man ... an Englishman by birth whose home was Wales. Like many other men who left Western Europe to seek riches during the Carolina gold rush, Mills had settled among a group of miners in the shacks and tents surrounding a boom town. ...

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3 The Legendary Walter George

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pp. 36-48

Let us pretend that by some time warp, it is one hundred years ago. We are in the village of Gold Hill, base of operations for Walter George Newman, one of the most colorful characters of the North Carolina gold rush; and everywhere we look are superstructures of mine shafts, huge piles of ore and the vast machinery of stamp mills. ...

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4 The Grisly Ghost of Gold Hill

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pp. 49-54

Does the violent, rowdy past sometimes stir and come alive in the isolated little village of Gold Hill? Some say the past does not rest easy in this once glittering boom town of North Carolina's gold rush days. The experience this story is based upon took place on a January night in 1954. ...

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5 The Discovery of Gold in Virginia

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pp. 55-62

... Sometime, during the Ordovician period, a volcano erupted south of what is now Quantico, Virginia. In a series of dramatic convulsions the earth rumbled and shook, cracks began to open and race like snakes across its crust, a mountain peak exhaled black puffs, trembled, and wrenched horribly. ...

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6 The Discovery of Gold in South Carolina

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pp. 63-67

Andrew Jackson was president, the final war with England was over, and the wild Indians remaining, such as the Comanche and Apache, were out West. From many aspects Colonel Benjamin Haile found 1827 a good time to be alive as he strolled along beside a stream that bordered his plantation in Lancaster County.* He was watching the ...

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7 They Called Me "Fool Billy"

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pp. 68-75

They called me "Fool Billy" and said that I would never find gold. Born the grandson of German immigrants in upcountry South Carolina, I built my plantation on Hard Labor Creek. Some folk~ thought I had lived up to the name of that creek and others thought I just got lucky. ...

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8 Scarlett O'Hara of the Dorn Mine

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pp. 76-85

The big, brawny young fellow leaned against the doorway of the pocket-size log cabin and looked adoringly at the girl beside him. Glossy black curls fell riotously about her shoulders, her skin was a luminous, creamy white and her brown eyes had sparks in them. ...

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9 The Future of Cap'n Thies

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pp. 86-97

From the vantage point of the Victorian bed where Dr. Adolph Thies was propped up with pillows, he observed with pleasure the beautiful old mahogany chest and above it his favorite Vermeer painting. On the walls were diplomas from famous schools of mining in Germany, and mementos ...

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10 The Discovery of Gold in Georgia

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pp. 98-111

The gold had lain there since nature sculpted the Appalachians, filling crevices, secreted in the pockets where metallic gas had formed and cooled within the molten rock to form the miraculous yellow metal. And above it the Cherokee Indians lived for generations-planting, hunting, and fishing-innocent of the treasure beneath their feet for ...

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11 "Free Jim"

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pp. 112-137

It was 1830 and the men streaming into north Georgia were the rowdiest, lustiest rogues imaginable. Many of the wagons were headed toward Pigeon Roost where gold had first been discovered and the clouds of dust raised by the wheels and horses hoofs left a gritty clay coating on Jim Boisclair's face as he walked along the road. ...

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12 Old Miss Mollie's Back

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pp. 138-146

... "Don't know which a these purty patterns I like best," she said, stroking a bolt of bright blue calico admiringly. The pattern on it was pink rosebuds. The clerk cringed for there was dirt in the creases of the roughened hand that caressed the fresh, clean material and the nails were jagged ...

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13 The Discovery of Gold in Alabama

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pp. 147-152

His name was Ulrich, he was German and he bought some good Alabama land for a vineyard. It reminds us of two other German settlers, a farmer named John Reed in North Carolina forty years before and ten years later, John Sutter, who planned to raise crops in California. ...


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14 The Discovery of Gold in California

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pp. 155-168

The first discovery of gold in California in any quantity was made by a Mexican sheepherder named Francisco Lopez and his helper. It occurred quite by accident for they rode out one day in 1842 from Mission San Fernando to find stray horses in the green valley. ...

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15 A North Carolinian Shapes California

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pp. 169-178

His letter to President Santa Ana asking for his release from prison went unanswered, but Brigadier General Thomas Green had known it was a gamble. It was his misfortune and one of the ironies of fate that he himself had once captured and held Santa Ana. He and the other Texans ...

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16 Off to the Gold Rush

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pp. 179-191

... I promised to write again after leaving New York. I shall now attempt to do it in my own simple way. You must know that we were all supposed to go to California together. That is our company which consists of Colonel McLemore [a Tennessean], myself, Henry Burr, and Henry May. Mr. May and myself were ready but the rest were not; consequently ...

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17 Green Russell: A Man Without Fear

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pp. 192-221

There were days in his life the tall, rawboned farm boy from Auraria, Georgia, would always remember and this would be one of them. Rising on an icy winter morning in 1833 and still shivering as he went out to feed the livestock, William Green Russell was startled by the dazzling brightness of everything around him. He looked up to see the ...

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18 Darling of the Gold Camps

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pp. 222-238

In the spring of 1853 tall, brown-haired Mary Ann Crabtree, of the schoolmarm, ramrod carriage, and her fiveyear- old daughter, Lotta, set out from the port of New York to San Francisco. They braved storms at sea, outbreaks of cholera, bandits, and the discomforts of a tiny boat on the River Chagres across the Isthmus of Panama all to join Mrs. ...

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19 The Bride of Vallecito

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pp. 239-246

East of San Diego and not far beyond Descanso and Lassiters, is Vallecito ... little valley, as its name implies. With the coming of the Butterfield stagecoach line in 1858, the town boomed and exhausted passengers on their way to the gold fields stared up at the low-lying purple mountains and the majestic Laguna range in the distance grateful to be ...

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20 The Mark of Black Bart

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pp. 247-265

It was the morning of August 5, 1877, and in a small San Francisco hotel a cool breeze moved the white lace curtain at the window. With a slender, genteel hand a man named Charles Bolton drew it back and stared down into the street below. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781611173604
Print-ISBN-13: 9780872496583

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013