John Swift's Lost Mine
Legend of Silver Lingers
By Dan Graybeal
       The author has three maps in his possession that are supposed to be copies of
  one of Swift s maps. The markings on one map fit the confluence s of the several
  tributaries of Clear Creek, a branch of Guest River in Wise Co.
       Another map shows two streams with a ridge between them. One stream has a mine
  located beside it. The other stream shows a rockhouse with buried treasure. The stream
  adjacent to the mine contains a notable waterfall. Many streams in the area have notable waterfalls.
       On this map a beaded spring is shown. A spring of Indian beans is referred to many
  times in the legends. Indian beads consist of petrified prehistoric reed that grew in the ocean
  floor. During upheavals, these plants were brought up, died, petrified and accumulated in
  pools. Often they will be found in water springs. The plants resemble a number of
  buttons growing one on top of the other., These plants are called cryonoids. The
  petrified unit contains a hole which is about a quarter of an inch in diameter. The Indians
  colored them and used them for beads. Many crynoid fossils have been found in the
  mountains of Southwest Virginia. Another story tells of the mine being
  located in a mountain on the south side of a long valley four or five miles long running east
  and west with a large mountain about three miles north of the mine. The mine was bounded
  by a quadril (a four-sided figure), on the west by a creek and spring of Indian beads, on the
  north by the large mountain, on the east by a creek and on the south by the rockhouse and a river.
       The angle in relation to north is 16 degrees east a distance of 1590 poles from the
  beaded springs. Was this distance relative to the mine or the quadril? He listed other
  information but it is too lengthy for this article. Some of the above information is
  rather ambiguous and confusing. However, ifone could find at least one definite landmark,
  the local information could be very helpful. In the High Knob section of Wise Co.,
  and the Blackwater section of Hancock Co., TN, two groups of people live quiet and rather
  secluded lives. These groups of people have been given the name of Melungeons. The word
  Melungeon is taken from the French word "melance" meaning mixture. This is probably
  a gross misapplication of a specific word since nearly every U. S. citizen has mixed blood and
  could easily be called a Melungeon. This shy, industrious, self-sufficient
  people, like many of us, have long since lost the origin of their ancestry. One theory is that
  they originated from a group of Peruvian miners that Swift brought into the area to work
  his silver mines. He could have brought in the miners  families and abandoned them when he
  departed the mines with the promise that he would return later to open up a larger operation.
       One historian stated that they were originally Portuguese or of Portuguese
  ancestry. Others have tried to associate them with the "Croatan Indians" of the Lost Colony
  of Roanoke Island. We do not know where they came from but we do know that they are
  neither Negro nor Indian. Swift may have unknowingly written a few pages in our local
  history books.
       To give a summary would require almost as much space as has been used thus
  far. the author is convinced that silver mines did and still do exist in the region. The only
  recorded document is allegedly recorded in thecounty courthouse in Frankfort, KY. John
  Filson and Robert Breckenridge petitioned the governor of Virginia in 1787 for a treasure
  warrant of 1,000 acres of land centering upon a silver mine which was improved upon by one
  John Swift 17 years earlier. This mine was supposed to be located
  about 65 miles northeast of Martin s Cabin,now Rose Hill, VA. No record was left
  regarding the consummation of the warrant. At that time, Frankfort was the county seat of
  Lincoln, a county of VA. The author feels that he has only
  scratched the surface regarding the informationthat could be gathered on this subject. But to
  publication limits, many, many details have  been deleted from the story.
       Some day the truth of the legend maybe confirmed. However, until such time the
  stories shall continue and they shall only be legends.
       The Dickenson Star, Thursday,
  April 27, 1989.

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