By Nancy Clark Brown
The legend of Swift s Silver Mine, locates the mine in numerous locations: Clear
Creek in Bell Co. and Knox Co., in Kentucky; Buchanan, Dickenson and Scott Counties in
Virginia. In Wise County, among the locations mentioned were Burning Wells near Norton,
and in Stone Mountain near High Knob. However, legend has always persisted
that the Swift Silver Mine was located in the Pound River country. One possible location
mentioned was South of the Mountain (near Pound, VA).
In Russell Co., VA Land Entry Book, for November 23, 1816 is listed an entry for
Cader Powell in the amount of 50 acres on a small branch of the Pound Fork of Sandy
River, beginning below a deer lick on the line of an old lick on the north side of the branch
TO INCLUDE A PLACE OF SILVER ORE WHERE IT WAS SUPPOSED THAT
SWIFT AND COMPANY WORKED.
As far as can be ascertained, this is the only official mention of a location for the
mining operation of Jonathan Swift and Company. The exact location of Cader Powell s
property is unknown. The callings listed in the Entry Book are obscure. However, at the time
of the entry of this property, these callings would have been well-known to settlers and
surveyors of the Pound River country. Without our sophisticated surveying techniques, the
early surveyors were forced to name locations in their entries and surveys that were well
known to the pioneer settlers of that day. Were you to mention the deer lick or the old lick or
the place where Swift and Company worked, likely the pioneer would have said, "Sure, I
know exactly where that is." These were the only reference points available.
From the James Taylor Adams Collection, come the additional references to
Swift s Silver Mine and the probable location of Cader Powell s original survey.
In an interview with Boyd Bolling in 1936, Bolling stated: "The names Monde,
Gufferson (Jefferson?) and Augustus were found carved at Lick Spring on the South Fork
of Pound by Jeremiah Bolling, who also found a horse s skeleton on the head of Cumberland.
Jeremiah Bolling was the first settler of Flat Gap." Lick Spring probably took its name
from the "deer lick and old lick" referred to in Powell s survey. Bolling further told Adams: "A
charcoal pit had been burnt at Arvil Kiser s place at Dewey, when Jeremiah Bolling came
here. There were also two furnaces on Bad Branch when he came. There are seven springs
in a space of 30 yards on Bad Branch, each with a different kind of water."
Boyd Bolling found the words "Swift" cut on a rock, set up like a tombstone, on the
water of Bad Branch. Ivory Bolling, Noah Reedy and Pat Mullins were with him when he
found the carving. According to Bolling, there was a chestnut oak on Gwinett Ridge with a pine
knot through the center of it, pointing a direction. Samp Maggard dug up this oak, but
found nothing of any consequence. Noah Reedy said old Isaac Maggard
told him, "some men brought Swift to Bad Branch and he was old and feeble, wearing a
gown. He said he could locate the mine when the sun came out and it stayed cloudy all day.
He cried like a baby." Bad Branch runs into the Cumberland River north of Oven Fork and northeast of
Eolia, KY. Also there are two creeks known as Bad Creek. One heads up near the old Sandy
Quarry on Jenkins Mountain and flows toward Almira. The other, most likely the one referred
to by Boyd Bolling, is located at Gilley, between Phillips Creek and Rumley Branch,
flowing into the North Fork of Pound River. The old Gilley school was located at the mouth
of Bad Creek. It would be logical to assume that Swift had more than one mining location,
possibly numerous sites where he mined various amounts of silver ore. One of Swift s
party, Seth Montgomery, had worked in the Royal Mint in London, England. After his
arrival in Alexandria, VA, he began to engrave and cut dies for coinage of silver and gold.
This is probably an indication that Swift and Company, while engaged in mining
silver, was also involved in a large counterfeiting operation.
From The History of The Pound by
Rhonda Robertson and Nancy Clark Brown, pages 28 & 29. This volume may be
ordered from The Wise County Historical Society, P. O. Box 368, Wise, VA 24293 for
$25.00 plus 4.00 S&H.
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