Swift's Workmen At Mine Pledged To Secrecy
By Dan Graybeal

       John Swift s trouble-plagued company departed Munday s house on May 6, 1769,
  and went by Ingle s Ferry, on the New River, through the Big Gap arriving at the mines on June 24, 1769.
       The pack train was large and progress was slow. The Indians were becoming more
  hostile and the workers were becoming more afraid. They decided to close up the affairs of
  the company and quit the operation. All the workmen were pledged to secrecy and paid
  sevenfold the agreed wage. Swift wrote, "That it came up to us to
  settle what was to be done, and seeing that we prospered beyond our expectations, and had
  gathered great riches and the hard life had taken its toll on the physical and mental
  strength of the men, we decided to abandon the hard life to the present and return later to carry
  out the great riches hidden in the great cavern
  of the Shawnees."Barrels of gold and silver had been
  stored in a room of the cave and walled up and sealed. Swift only spoke of gold one time. He
  wrote that the treasure may remain here until their return or "be hid for all eternity."
       Only a few in the company knew the location of the cache. This cave was supposed
  to be near the mines, passing from one side of the mountain to the other. Legend has it that
  the Shawnee attacked a Cherokee campsite in the vicinity of the cave. The Cherokees being
  out-numbered sequestered the women and children into and through the cave avoiding a
  bloody massacre of the village. There are a number of caves in the
  region but pinpointing this particular cave is most difficult. It is likely this cave was near
  the upper mines. On September 1, 1769, they left
  between $20,000 and $30,000 in English crowns on a large creek running near a south
  course. They marked their names on a large beech tree with symbols of a compass, trowel
  and square. Such a symbol was supposed to have been found in Wolfe Co., KY.
       Swift listed four occasions where they buried prizes of treasure amounting to several
  thousand dollars at four separate locations. The description in the journal is ambiguous.
  Since markings were placed on trees which probably have long since been felled, there can
  be little advantage in listing the details of these caches. Some of this treasure could have been
  found and used by early counterfeiters. Around 1910, a Mr. Nelson, a resident
  of Tazewell Co.; was arraigned in federal court in Charleston, WV for counterfeiting silver
  dollars. His defense lawyer Bill Payne had some of the coins assayed. The analysis
  showed that Nelson was putting $1.23 worth of silver in each silver dollar.
       With this as a defense, the judge reduced the charge of counterfeiting to a lesser
  charge of illegally making money. Nelson was placed on probation with a warning to cease
  making money. Shortly after the trial, Payne bought a farm valued at approximately one-
  quarter of a million dollars by today s standards. He paid cash for the farm and many
  wondered where ht got his money since he was one of the less fortunate attorneys in the area.
       Could Nelson have found one of Swift s buried treasures? The daughter of Mr.
  Nelson told the author s father that she had often pumped the bellows of the forge so that
  her father could melt the silver for coining. In the mid-thirties, a man by the name
  of Moore who lived in Harlan Co., KY, was convicted and sentenced in federal court in
  Abingdon, for counterfeiting silver dollars. What could of been the source of the silver he used?
       From The Dickenson Star,
  Thursday, April 6, 1989.

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