Cinders From Swift s Smelter
By Taylor Nash
Related to James Hylton on April 10, 1941. From The WPA Papers, The Alderman
Library, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.
One tale that I heard about Swift s Silver interested me very much and I proceeded
to go and investigate it soon after I heard it. It had been several years ago but it just goes
along to show you that my idea about Swift having his treasure hidden in these hills in this
section of the county ain t far from wrong. Old John Conner who lived and died in the
Flatwoods section some years ago told me this himself and it corresponds very much with lots
of other information I have obtained concerning his silver that he was supposed to
have found and hidden away, where he never could get hold of it for himself or his relatives.
Everyone knows the legend that he mined it some way regardless how rude the method and
all people know that they figured things out like that in those days the best way they could.
Anyway, I was told by old John Conner before he died that he had found some slag-like metal
in the hills in the Flatwoods section and that he thought it was Swift s Silver or rather some
that had been left on the ground. He said he found it up in the hills above his home one
morning when hunting and that he come over where an old fire had been made years ago but
had burned an old stump and the stump had been preserved by the leaves and twigs that
had fallen around it. He said that he had always heard of the place and decided to hunt
it out and went to the place where he was shown. He said it looked like after he got a
pick and some other tools and dug around some that there had been some kind of furnace
there in the time long ago and that this slag- like silver metal was all around in little pieces
and that he picked out the best looking piece and kept it. He said all of the pieces looked like
they had been molded in some kind of a sand pit or something on that order and that there
were little oval like impressions in the ground where it was flat and ashy looking. He said he
had heard that a wigwam had burned at this place years before and that the white had seen
it in the night and had gotten away before the ndians could trace them. He said that his
father Jacob Conner had told him the tale about the wigwam and it had been known in
his family all along. He said that there was an old legend told around his fireside when he was
young about Swift s smelter or furnace but that he had not gotten interested in it at that
time and had just passed it from his mind for the time being.
This piece of metal is held by one of the older Conners who hid it in a tomato can
years ago and who hid it on a line fence by the old home place near Coeburn (Wise Co., VA).
The first property lines ran straight from corner to corner and it is alleged that this metal
is hidden somewhere on this old line by the Conner property since fences or later type have
been constructed since.
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