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History Corner By Pat Ross & Fran Snead


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January 02, 2008

Gold is the word!

At the Historical Center we have had quite a few patrons wanting to research the Beale Treasure or to find out exactly where the Confederate gold is now located that was once in Danville. We have had patrons bring us samples of ore or rocks that have been found near Fairystone Park and other local areas for identification. Everyone is interested in where to find gold and when 'gold fever' struck and we are asked frequently about dates of discovery.

People tend to think that the first discovery of gold in the United States was during the Gold Rush to California in 1848. Surprisingly it was on a small farm in North Carolina in 1799. This discovery led to the first extensive mining operations of gold and the story began with an 11-year-old boy named Conrad Reed who enjoyed fishing rather than attending church.

Conrad was fishing in the Little Meadow Creek on the family farm one Sunday morning while his parents were attending church. A yellow substance shining in the water caught his eye. He waded in and retrieved a wedge-shaped rock that weighed about 17 pounds. John Reed, his father, couldn?t identify the rock, but it was pretty and the family used it for a doorstop for three years. John was an honest but unlearned German immigrant who had come to settle near other Germans living in the lower Piedmont region of North Carolina. On one occasion Reed took the lump of ore to Concord, North Carolina to a silversmith for identification, but the silversmith was unable to recognize pure gold. Finally in 1802 Reed took the doorstop on his annual marketing trip to Fayetteville. He took the doorstop to a jeweler who told Reed that it was gold. Reed left the nugget with the jeweler for fluxing. On his return, the merchant showed Reed a bar of gold about seven inches long. The jeweler offered to buy the gold from him and Reed asked the ?big? price of $3.50 for the gold, which was a week?s wages for Reed. The jeweler paid him and received approximately $75,000 worth of gold in today?s market.

Reed's family soon began searching the Little Meadow Creek for other valuable rocks and in 1803 he expanded the operations, hiring three other men to form a mining partnership. They supplied the equipment and slaves to dig for gold in the creek and Reed provided the land. Any returns were to be divided equally between the men. Before the end of the first season, one of the slaves had found a 28 pound nugget. Gold mining was done in the late summer after the crops had been harvested and the stream was partially dried up. By using pans and rockers to wash the creek gravel, by 1824 the miners had unearthed a yield estimated at $100,000.

The Reed Gold Mine is now open to the public and is located in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Some information has it being located in Stanfield, while other information says Midland, but it gives the same street address. A tour of the mining area and museum there will take about two hours.

This is just one story of finding gold and I am certain that there are more stories that could be told. Do you know of someone who is or was searching for gold or do you know a story that you could share with us?

Pat Ross

'The Roots that make Us One are Stronger than the Branches that Divide Us.' Author Unknown








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