By Judge J. T. Hamilton
Related to Emory L. Hamilton on August 14, 1940. Part of the WPA Project
Papers, The Alderman Library, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
When I was a boy I remember seeing a pine tree, at the place where the Benge s
marker now is at Norton, with a cedar tree growing in the top of the pine just like it had
been grafted. The limbs of the pine were dropped down - separated from the cedar
leaving it in plain view. Old people thought this was a marker in locating Swift s mine.
I heard Billy O Neil s mother say that a beech tree once stood near this same sight
with Swift s initials cut on it and an arrow also that pointed up the trail toward Benge s Gap.
In Swift s history it speaks of a rock shaped like a saddle, with the pommel facing
the east. That could be Benge s Saddle. (Benge s Saddle is a natural rock formation,
shaped like a saddle with the pommel turned eastward, on a rock jutting out from Benge s
Gap. It is high on a cliff and one sitting in the saddle can look out upon the tall tree tops
below. The Indian half breed Benge was killed by white settlers in 1794 and legend says that
on each of his raiding trips into the Holston settlements, while returning he always climbed
into the saddle and sat for a spell. ELH) Benge is said to have been buried on
the point this side of the gap leading to Carding Machine Branch, on the right side of
the point looking down Benge s Branch. Old people thought that he knew the location of the
mine. I ve heard that he told the woman, (the one he had captured when he was killed) while
lying with his head in her lap, while resting at Benge s Gap, that if the white people knew
what he did they could shoe their horses cheaper with silver than they could with iron.
The history speaks of a "blue pond"
on the mountain where he washed his ore. ere is a blue pond on the head of Lost Creek
near the to top of the mountain. Going up the creek you pass under a natural gateway and its
between there and the top of the mountain. There is also a gateway spoken of in his
history. This gateway or pass on Lost Creek is large enough to drive a wagon through.
An old woman claimed she found some kind of a place at White Rock above the
Spout Springs. Near here was where old Martha Beverly found the bars of metal. I saw
a piece of this metal once. It was in the possession of Loge Jones. She said near the
place where she found these metal bars were grooves in a rock that looked like they had
been used for a track. Years ago near this place a Negro man
found a kettle. He ran into the Nettle Patch half scared to death, but he had hung onto the
kettle. It was a large, round bottom, old fashioned iron kettle.
Old Eli Swinney, who years ago lived at the Swinney place far back in Stone
Mountain and who was later killed in the Esserville Coal Mines told me: "One evening
he started a cow hunting in the mountain to the right of his place. He went up a branch,
through a dense laurel thicket to the end of a point and came onto an opening on the point.
Here was a grassy flat with several big trees growing here and there, that looked like second
growth timber. In front of him at the end of the flat was a big cliff. He went on facing the cliff
and right in front of it he found a furnace with a kettle setting in the furnace. He said he
examined the pot and furnace and looked around to discover an opening in the front of
the cliff. He got up to where he could see and there was a trunk setting under the
overhanging cliff. He was messing with the kettle when there was an awful storm broke,
lightning, thunder and the trees began slapping together and an awful noise like the roaring of
wind broke loose. He ran and when he got home his family said he was nearly run to
death. He affirmed he d never go back again. Just around the mountain from this
spot, Bill Baldwin found a cliff, where he said some kind of metal had been melted and
poured over the cliff. It had run down the cliff and hardened on the ground below.
Arch Mefford, a stander-by, while Judge Hamilton was talking broke in with his
say about the above story. I ve heard different people talk about
this place. Nobody s ever been able to get to it because of the awful noise. I ve heard the
trunk was mossed over, but I always heard that it was in the shape of a coffin, more n the
shape of a trunk, and that a big wind and roaring would rise everytime you tried to get to
it. They said that when you started to it such a wind would come up that it d blow you back.
The coffin is setting by in a rock cave just behind the furnace and kettle. There s a hole
leading down to it, but the wind and roaring stops anyone from getting to it. If it could ever
be got to and opened there may be something wonderful in it.
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