The Metal Matches
By Taylor Nash
       Related to Emory L. Hamilton April 2, 1941 at Wise, VA. His great-grandfather,
  Jessee Ramey, one of the first to settle in Wise Co. from the Carolinas told him this. From the
  WPA Project Papers, The Alderman Library, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.
       We was goin  through the Coeburn section along back about the year 1849 an  a
  lot of talk had seeped through this country somehow 'bout gold bein  found in the West
  somewhere an  a lot of people pulled out an  after sellin  lock, stock an  barrel started in
  that direction. I met a man one day an  first heard of Silver bein  in this country. Well,
  since then I was one my toes all the time to see or hear what I could about anything of that
  sort. Later, I come into knowin  him an  a year or so after I had met him I heard all kinds of
  tales about him. Once though, I had a experience that taught me to not make so light
  of the stories I d heard an  since then I knew what I s talkin  'bout. Well, me and some of
  the fellers from the Town of Coeburn, it wasn t that then though, an  a pal from the old
  trail country near the Carolina Line was caught in a rain storm one cold evenin  an  had
  to take to the trees fer shelter. The trees don t help much in a downpour though I guess an 
  we was ringin  wet 'fore we knowed what it was all 'bout. We stumbled 'round in the half
  darkness an  misty rain till finally come to a small cave of a sort under a big rock an  under
  it we slid. Ever 'thing we had was wet an  as the night drawed on we was awful cold an  not
  comfortable at all. I was layin  on my stomach an  felt somethin  hard beneath me but for a
  while thought it was some loose rock or shale that had fell from the top of the little cave but
  it kept hurtin  me sorta an  I twisted an  turned till I could get my han s on it. Well, Sir,
  it was some of the brown slag-like metal that had been melted somehow an  left in the
  bottom of that little cave. As I said I had by then made up my mind 'bout Swift an  his
  silver an  had it in my head that he had put some metal 'round somewhere an  shore
  'nough this looked like it was partly silver an  some kind of hard metal an  slagg of some
  kind. It was still pourin  the rain an  we had to stay there all night an  long 'bout at midnight
  I wanted to smoke my pipe an  couldn t do without it long but I knew we had to be careful
  'bout Indians but I knew they couldn t see an  it rainin  so hard and I then found that I
  couldn t light my pipe as ever thing was wet an  there I was layin  there holdin  this old
  piece of metal in my hands cussin  'cause I ouldn t smoke. I give the ole piece of metal a
  rake down over the face of the rock over our heads a what do you think happened? Sparks
  flew out of it in a streak an  when I looked at it close I saw that there was some flint of a sort
  in with the other metal. Well, we smoked but we was careful not to make too much fire an 
  I used the flint for fires when huntin  on many trips huntin  later. I told this to some people
  an  when they saw the metal pieces I had found they too thought of Swifts Silver an  all
  said they thought he had hit it in this country. I could warp that stone partly with straw an 
  swife it over a rock an  have a fire in no time to tell. I could light paper too if it was good an  dry.


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