From BORDER SETTLERS OF
Indian Camp, located on Indian CampRun, 14 miles from Buckhannon.
About Indian Camp here hovers an interesting tradition of a "Lost Mine" and buried treasure of fabulous riches. Its original antedates the Revolution, with some apparent foundation of truth; although this region is not alone in its claim to the scene of original operations; but covers portions of Kentucky and Tennessee as well. The mine was worked by a party of Spanish and English adventurers, who were subsequently nearly exterminated by their Indian allies. It appears that they were Spaniards by the name of Petro, or Pedro, on the Upper Monongahela as early as 1777, whose descendants are still living in Randolph Co. Nothing is known of their previous history. Their presence in the settlements may, perhaps, be traced in the tradition. There were Petros in Hampshire Co., VA, in 1782, if not earlier. It is believed by some investigators that straggling bands of the early Spanish explorers of the southern tidewater, penetrated the Virginia and Kentucky wilderness. It would have been in keeping with the traditions of these insatiable gold seekers to have done so.
Near Indian Camp, in 1883, I was shown the ruins of the "Ancient mine," and also a small polished stone relic, resembling a disc, and a fragment of mossy lead, claimed to have been taken from the debris or waste of this mine. With these relics were found pieces of basketry and a buckskin moccasin. I also
examined an interesting figure carved on a large sandstone boulder in a nearby grotto, known as the "chimney rocks." Owing to the porous nature of this boulder, the figure had been nearly obliterated by vandals, and its outlines could not be accurately deciphered. In appearance, it rudely represented the
compasses. The trace of a camp fire was observed in the smoke-tinged wall at the back of the grotto.
An interesting volume could be written from data at hand, regarding the mine. The wild legends relating to its discovery and working; its subsequent forced abandonment through the hostility of the Indians, brought about by the reckless deed of one of the mines; the burial of vast treasure; the battle; the
massacre and final flight and escape of but two of the party. All are fraught with thrilling romance.
Reproduction of inscriptions thought to pertain to Swift s Silver Mine.
On July 15th, 1867, Dr. L. S. S. Farnsworth, resident dentist of Buckhannon, brought to light some legendary rock inscriptions on the head of Stone Coal Creek, which were supposed to have connection with this mine and its disastrous tragedies. These had previously been found by a squirrel hunter named Calvin Smith, who determined to seek a home in the west, revealed to Dr. Farnsworth the location of his discovery. In company with Mr. Valentine Lorentz, Dr. Farnsworth repaired to the region indicated by the hunter,
where they found in the woods on a high ridge, an immense flat stone bearing the inscription
shown in Figure 1.
About three fourth of a mile northwest of this mysterious monument, was found an upright stone, "resembling a tombs one" bearing the legend shown in Figure 2.
Reproduction of inscription thought to pertain to the location of Swift s Silver Mine
The solitary "S" is supposed to signify Silver.
Dr. Farnsworth had this relic in his office for several years, where it was seen by a number of persons. Three-fourths of a mile further northwest was found a small cave, or shelter formed by a rock projecting some ten or fifteen feet from the hillside. This grotto had at some time previous been occupied as a camp. Back from the entrance and lying on the floor was a heavy slab of stone, measuring several feet across, which had in more recent years fallen from the overhead. Carved in the roof of the cave was a rude circle, with the four cardinal points of the compass designated by the usual alphabetical characters. Across the surface of this circle, extended a well defined "pointer" not unlike the needle of a compass. The fallen
fragment of the roof had evidently carried away an inscription, as shown by the accompanying cut. (Figure 3) This stone could not be overturned for the purpose of deciphering the full inscription, but it required
but little imagination to determine that GOLD and SNATH were largely is component parts.
By the aid of his compass Dr. Farnsworth writes me, it was apparent that the "pointer" at this cavern and the finger of the inverted hand on the upright stone, indicated lines which converged at a point on the
Buckhannon River just below the crossing, or ford at the village of Sage. Afterwards four other stone "pointers or guides" were found near the Sago ford, which had apparently had connection with those on Stone Coal.
My brother, C. C. F. McWhorter, who was for many years County Clerk of Upshur County, saw and examined the inscribed stone, in Dr. Farnsworth s office. It appeared very old and weather worn, the lettering evidently had been done with a small pointed steel instrument, and, while crude, was very legible.
Mr. McWhorter has a copy of an inscribed stone, made by the late Col. Henry F. Westfall, local historian of Buckhannon. This inscription is very nearly that which Dr. Farnsworth says was on the large immovable stone (Figure 1), but its contour is very much that of (Figure 2).
SKETCH Figure 4
The accompanying cut (Figure 4) is from a photograph of the Westfall copy, which is made on the discolored fly-leaf of an old book, with no attempt at imitating the handicraft of the mysterious Snath. The
Colonel, it should be noted, places the discovery of this stone in January 1866. This may perhaps be the discovery by Smith, referred to. It is proper to state that Figures 1, 2, and 3, are copies which Dr. Farnsworth
made from memory; not having at hand the originals which he carefully executed at the time of his discovery.
Cutright says in connection with Indian Camp - "There is other data pointing to this rock as the rendezvous of the Indians. On the Buckhannon river west of Sago and Ten Mile, certain stones are planted in the shape of a spearhead, whose sharp end points in the direction of Indian Camp Rock. These rock or
pointers the author himself has observed and there may be others which aim in the same direction, evidently for the purpose of telling wandering bands of Indians where they might find a safe seclusion, sheltering protection and a temporary home.
Whether or not Mr. Cutright s theory in regard to the pointed rocks is correct, it is certain that speculation relative to the "mine" and buried treasure ran high; and not all of which was confined to local circles. Parties from across the water made fruitless quest with "chart" and "key" for the secreted bullion.
There are those still living who have not abandoned the search, and who believe that success will yet be theirs.
Mr. Cutright gives a narrative of three Frenchmen who crossed the mountains at an earlier period, perhaps in the forties, in quest of gold and camped for many years under a shelving rock on the waters of the Little Kanawha, near Rock Cave Post office, in Upshur County. One of them eventually died and was buried by his comrades, under the rock which had sheltered them so long; and where a century later a Caucasian skull was unearthed. The two survivors recrossed the mountains never to return. It is not known that these adventurers were in any way connected with the later achievements of Swartus Cnancu and Snath, but their dreams of wealth in the western wilderness was never realized.
Legends of the celebrated "Swift Mines" are linked with Indian Camp and its connecting stories of "buried treasure." One version of the original discovery of the mine, or mines, is that an Indian appeared in
Jamestown, VA, wearing arm-bands and other ornaments of silver and when interrogated, offered to pilot a party across the mountains where there was "plenty" of such metal. This he afterwards done, and on the sequel hangs the wild, weird story of Swartus Cnancu, the resourceful Snath and their unfortunate
companions in the wilderness of the Buckhannon.
While working the mine at Indian Camp, so runs the tradition, the Indians were friendly until late in the season and after a large quantity of the metal had been smelted, one of the adventurers, in an altercation with an Indian while hunting, struck the red man, which precipitated hostilities, fatal to the expedition. To avenge the insult, the Indians attacked and killed several of the miners and held the camp in a state of siege. The survivors foreseeing their probable doom, attempted to obliterate all visible traces of the mine by blasting fragments of stone from the overhanging cliff and letting them drop into the opening of the shaft, or tunnel. While this was being done and while the battle still raged, Snath managed to extricate himself from the beleaguered camp, and at various places set up stone "pointers", and constructed a "key" and "chart" by which a return to the mine could be accomplished.
A lull in hostilities induced the belief that the Indians had abandoned the wilderness and the miners prepared to return east of the mountains. They buried vast quantities of bullion and set up additional "markers" by which it could be subsequently located. In the meantime they were again set upon by the
Indians and only two, with the "chart" and "key" escaped. These instruments have been variously deciphered and seemingly applied alike to different localities.
Legends of the celebrated "Swift Mines" are linked with Indian Camp and its connecting stories of "buried treasure". One version of the original discovery of the mine, or mines, is that an Indian appeared in
Jamestown, VA, wearing arm-bands and other ornaments of silver and when interrogated, offered to pilot a party across the mountains, where there was "plenty" of such metal. This he afterwards done, and on the sequel hangs the wild, weird story of Swartus Cnancu, the resourceful Snath and their unfortunate
companions in the wilderness of the Buckhannon.
While working the mine at Indian Camp, so runs the tradition, the Indians were friendly until late in the season and after a large quantity of the metal had been smelted, one of the adventurers, in an altercation with an Indian while hunting, struck the red man, which precipitated hostilities, fatal to the expedition. To avenge the insult, the Indians attacked and killed several of the miners and held the camp in a state of siege. The survivors foreseeing their probable doom attempted to obliterate all visible traces of the mine by blasting fragments of stone from the overhanging cliff and letting them drop into the opening of the shaft, or tunnel. While this was being done and while the battle still raged, Snath managed to extricate himself from the beleaguered camp, and at various places set up stone "pointers," and constructed a "key" and "chart" by which a return to the mine could be accomplished.
A lull in the hostilities induced the belief that the Indians had abandoned the wilderness and the miners prepared to return east of the mountains. They buried vast quantities of bullion and set up additional "markers" by which it could be subsequently located. In the meantime they were again set upon by the Indians and only two, with the "chart" and "key" escaped. These instruments have been variously deciphered and seemingly applied alike to different localities.
The old "drill marks" which I examined on some blocks of stone at this "mine" appeared to resemble certain fossil imprint belonging to the carboniferous period. The same can be said of the "frying pan" done intaglio on the face of the cliff where the blasting had been done. However, the lapse of more than one hundred years might have a tendency to produce in the porous sandstone the noticeable irregularity of surface in both the "drill" cuts and the "frying pan;" this last a supposed "marker". A large "drill" groove
was also observed on the front of this cliff.
In 1883, report came to me that a few ancient looking tools, supposedly those of the "Mound Builders," had been discovered in a small cave on Grass run not far from Indian Camp. Upon investigation it was learned that the implements, whatever they were, were of iron and very rusty; and ignorant of their importance, the finder had taken them to a local blacksmith, who hammered them into articles better fitted to modern domestic use. They were described as "strange looking tools," and no one knew how they came to be placed there.
I have an old map done in ink on parchment, which tells of money or mineral in a cave on the Buckhannon River. It was given me by the late Joseph M. Wilson, of Berlin, WV, in 1891, who found it among some papers left by his grandfather who died a few years after the close of the Civil War. Mr. Wilson could tell but little about the map, further than that when a boy in his early teens, he accompanied his grandfather to Marion Co., to obtain a companion paper, or "key" to the map; and the old gentleman said to him on the return trip: "I now have the paper that I wanted and I can go directly to the cave and
find the money." The old man was soon afterwards taken ill and never recovered. I remember him distinctly.
It was more than a year after his death that the map and "key" occurred to Mr. Wilson, and he went to his step-grandmother and asked her about them. She produced a bundle of papers and among them was the map. The most diligent search failed to reveal the other paper and the inference was that it
had been destroyed. The old lady was very illiterate and acknowledged that she had "burned a lot of such trash", deeming it of no value.
Mr. Wilson, in commenting, said: "My grandfather had no doubt about the authenticity of these papers and their import; otherwise he never would have ridden across two counties, nearly to get one of them. He
told me that the map was given him during the Civil War by a party whose name I do not recall, in Monongahelia Co.; and who was then on his way to secure the treasure, but was deterred on account of the dangers encountered. Not only were contingents of both armies to be met with, but the dreaded "bush-
whacker" infested every mountain pass. He informed my grandfather where he could find the "key" with the party in Marion Co., and promised to return after the close of the war, when they would go together and find the hidden money. The man then rode away never to be seen again."
The map locates this treasure or mine, near the head of the Buckhannon River, and adjacent to a mountain on the right hand side of the stream. It is on "Wor (sic) Path" which crosses the Cheat River at the "Hoss Shoo." Both Indian Camp and Ash Camp are on an old Indian war path or trail.
Of the Swift Mines in Kentucky, the following contribution from Mr. Connelley is apropos. The mystery is only deepened by this anomalous written record, added to the unaccountable stone inscriptions of the
mountain fastness. It is hoped that some writer will enter this romantic field and rescue from oblivion the fascinating legends of the "Lost Mine" and "Buried Treasure" of the Trans- Allegheny.
The Apperson Copy
By William E. Connelley
The first account of Swift s Silver Mines that I ever saw is the following Journal. It was put into my hands when I was eleven years old. The constant reading of this paper developed in me a desire to learn and preserve all obtainable information concerning John Swift. It was the momentary impulse of a good man that placed this copy of Swift s Journal in my possession.
At the close of the Civil War the Hon. Richard Apperson, of Mount Sterling, KY, was, for a short time, the Judge, or the acting Judge, of the Circuit Court of Magoffin Co., where my father, Constantine Connelly, Jr., then lived. When in our village Judge Apperson always stopped with William Adams, the founder of the town and the pioneer settler in that part of the county. Mr. Adams had three sons near my own age, and
we were inseparable companions. Judge Apperson possessed a deep love for children. I think I can truthfully say that he made an acquaintance and friend of every boy in the village during the first week of his sojourn. He was an excellent conversationalist and an entertaining story-teller, as well as an able and popular Justice. He told stories by the score of the adventures of Kentucky pioneers. And I remember that he enjoyed our juvenile sports, and that he never failed to join our game of marbles when he had a leisure hour; we looked upon him as a friend and regarded him as a companion.
At the end of his term of Court, one of the Adams boys and myself were assisting him to gather up his books, papers, and a few articles of clothing. We were stuffing these into a pair of saddle-bags prop-story to his departure for the next county in his circuit. We requested that he tell us one more story before leaving; he readily complied. I remember that he told of Mrs. Hannah Dennis, and her escape from the Shawnees by concealing herself in a hollow sycamore log on the bank of the Scioto River. When leaving the room some one of us found this copy of Swift s Journal. Whether he did not wish to re-open his crowded saddle- bags to stow it away, or whether he did not care for the paper. I do not know. He looked it
over a minute, then handed it to me, telling me to keep it, and not destroy it nor lose it. I never saw Judge Apperson after that day.
I kept the paper twenty-nine years, and valued it much; I lost it through the stupidity of an inexperienced typewriter to whom I entrusted to copy. I did not know then of Judge Apperson s death , and wrote to him to inquire if the copy the typewriter made was accurate, and to ask him where he had obtained the paper. His brother replied, informing me of the Judge s death several years before. I received
the intelligence of his death with deep regret.
I believe the copy made me is an exact copy of the original. It follows:
Started on the 25th of June, 1761, from Alexandria, VA, and came to Leesburg; thence to Winchester; thence to Little s; thence to Pittsburg; thence to the headwaters of Wheeling; thence to the Little Kanawha; thence to the Big Kanawha; thence to the Guyandotte; thence to Great Sandy Creek; and from thence to the Great Ridge bearing in a southwesterly direction; and from thence to a large river the name of which was unknown to us; and from thence to a large and very rocky creek; and from thence to the mines, where we remained from the 18th of July to the 26th of October, 1761, when we left them and returned over the
same way we had taken to come out. And on the 28th of October our scouts discovered six savages; by altering our course we avoided them. On the 30th we were pursued by savages, but we escaped from them. We saw no more of the savages until the 9th of November, when they fired on us and shot a hole in our lading which soon enlarged and spilled the silver. We fired in return and they must have fled for we saw no more of them; we did not camp this night until after we crossed the Kanawha. We arrived at the
settlements without further conflict, December 2nd, 1761.
April 15th, 1762. We this day started back to the mines. We arrived there on the 10th day of May without accident except the spilled rum.
August 1st, 1762. We this day left the mines to return home. We came to a sudden halt and camped a short time on the 2nd of August when we were alarmed by savages. We escaped from them and camped on our creek. We were greatly pestered but came through safe; we left a valuable prize on the south of
the big Gap where we marked some trees with our names and curious marks. From this place we went to Cassell s Woods, and from that place we went to Virginia, where we remained until the next spring, 1763.
We then started on the 1st day of May, 1763, and came to New River; and from thence to the Holston; and from thence to the Cumberland Valley.
Here we set our course and went to the place where our mines are situated, arriving there on the 2nd of June, 1763.
We remained here until the 1st of September, when we set out for home. We went through Cassell s woods, and stopped with Cassellman for five days. From Cassellman s we went to the settlements, and
arrived home October 12th, 1763.
We started from home on the 1st of October, 1767, and got to the mines on the 4th of November, 1767. We stayed until the 1st of April, 1768, when we set out for home. We went by the way of Sandy Creek, meeting with nothing material on the way to the settlements.
We left Alexandria on the 4th of June, same year, 1768, and arrived safely at the mines on the 1st of July. We remained here till the 26th of October, 1768. Arrived at home on the 24th of December. Our horses stolen by the Indians was a great loss to us as we were compelled to conceal and leave their lading at
the mouth of a large creek running due east.
We left our homes in North Carolina on the 16th day of May, 1768 and started for the mines. We went by the way of the door in the Cumberland Mountains and arrived at the mines safe and sound 24th of June, 1769.
We stayed at the mines until 19th October, 1769. On that day we started home, and went by the way of Sandy Creek. At the Forks of Sandy we lost two of our horses, stolen by savages, and here we concealed their lading, a great loss to us, but we escaped with our lives, and got safe home 1st December, 1769.
I was at the place again, and came by the place where we left the two-horse loads, and the valuable prize, and found all things as we left them in 1762 and 1763. (1768)
On the 1st of September, 1769, we left between $22,000.00 and $30,000.00 in crowns on a large creek running near a south course. Close by the creek we marked our names, Swift, Jefferson, and Munday, and other names on a large beech tree with compasses, square and trowel. About twenty or thirty poles from
the creek stands a small rock, and between it and the creek you will find a small rock of a bluish color with three chops made with a grit-stone by rubbing it on the rock. By the side of this rock you will find a prize. We left here at three different times. At no great distance from the place we left $15,000.00 of the same kind, marking three or four trees with marks. Not far from these trees, we left a prize near a forked white oak, and about three feet underground, and laid two long stones across it, marking several stones close about it.
At the Forks of Sandy, close by the fork, is a small rockhouse which has a spring in one end of it, and between it and a small branch we hid a prize under the ground. It was valued at $6,000.00. We likewise left
$3,000.00 buried in the rocks of the rockhouse.
Directions to Find Swift s Silver Mines in Kentucky
The furnace that I built is on the left- hand side of a very rocky creek at a remote place in the West. To find the best ore, climb up the cliff at the left-hand side of the furnace and go a due south direction until you strike a small branch nearby. Go to the head of the branch without crossing, and you there see my
name on three beech trees. From these trees to due east to the top of the low ridge. Pass a small knob on the top of the ridge to the right- hand when you will see a big rock which has fallen from a high ledge. Behind this fallen rock we got our best ore. This vein runs northeast and southwest, lying and being in latitude 37 degrees and 56 minutes N. by astronomical observations and calculations you will find the location of both these veins of silver ore to be on the 83rd meridian of ongitude or very close to it.
Description of the Country
The creek heads southwest and runs northeast. It abounds with laurel. It is so cliffy and rocky that it is nearly impossible to get a horse to the furnace. So extremely rough is the way that we rarely took our horses nearer than six or seven miles of the place.
There is a thicket of holly a quarter of a mile below the furnace and a small lick a mile above. There is a large bufflow lick two miles form the small lick on another creek that we called Lick Creek. The creek forks, about three miles below the furnace and the left-hand fork is the furnace creek. Below the forks the
creek is a small stream of water running generally in a northeasterly direction.
Between the forks and holly thicket you will find my name on a beech tree, cut in the year 1767, and about one mile below, you will find Munday, Jefferson and Swift s names in the year 1762, 1765 and 1767.
Between the small lick and the furnace is a remarkable rock; it hangs out quite over the creek, and the water runs under it.
The mountains and hills are covered with laurel and water courses so much that a man can not get along without much difficulty where paths are not cut. Most of the mountains and hills have but little timber and are poor and barren. North of the furnace about three miles is a larger hill seven or eight miles long upon which there is good timber of different kinds, but south of it there is but little timber worth notice.
Furnace creek forks about three miles above the lick, and in the forks upon the foot of the hill you will find three white oaks growing from one stump. On each of them is cut a small notch with a tomahawk. We
sometimes went to a salt spring up the right- hand fork, and came this way back which was the cause for our marking the trees.
From the door in the Cumberland Mountains, on the top at the north, you will run north, forty degrees west, we supposed forty-one miles, and if on the right course you will find trees marked with curious marks all the way. In the course we crossed many creeks and one river.
The first company in search of these mines was composed of Staley, Ireland, McClintock, Blackburn and Swift.
We concealed much silver in bars and crowns in the Indian cave. Set your compass on the west side of the furnace under the rockhouse and go due west fifty poles, when you will find a tree in this form _________.
Set your compass at the second turn and go south twenty poles and you will find a large tree and a limb growing out of the south side near the ground; under this limb we buried four ten gallon kegs full of crowns.
Set your compass on the south side of the furnace and steer south two hundred poles
and you will find a tree that grows in this form __________. Set your compass at the second turn and go south twenty poles. Under the large limb of a big tree which leans down the creek you will find ore. You cannot miss finding the furnace if you find the __________.
The Journal ends abruptly, and I do not know whether it is because I never had all the Journal in my possession or not. A part of the paper may have been mislaid by Judge Apperson, or he may never have completed the copy which he gave me.
This copy is evidently an amplification of the preceding copy, or the original from which that one has deteriorated. The arrangement is somewhat different, but it seems clear to me that the two papers are
closely related. A more logical arrangement appears in this paper; and still it has the unfortunate tone of sincerity and want of cohesion at more than one place. I do not value it highly.
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