While Soliciting Assistance For Mines
By Dan Graybeal
After completely concealing the mines, Swift s company departed on October 18,
1769, going out by the way of Sandy Creek and Fort Pitt.
Three horses were stolen by the Shawnee Indians and their silver lading was
buried near the forks of Sandy Creek before they arrived at Alexandria on December 1, 1769.
Concluding that the silver find was so immensely rich it couldn t be abandoned, Swift
decided to go to England or France to solicit people interested in coming to America to work
the mines on a large scale. Swift and his friends did not need financial help but
apparently they were looking for people with enough political power to safely deal with the
British government.nSwift entrusted his journal and map to
a friend in Union Town, PA. He went to England carrying letters from several reputable
friends that attested to the existence and richness of the mines. Talk of war between
England and the colonies was very strong while Swift was in England. Being an
outspoken proponent of free America, he was put into prison and was not able to return to
America for 15 years. Upon Swift s return, he learned that his old friend, Munday and a party had gone to
Kentucky to obtain one of the prizes but were killed by Indians. At this point the journal
specifies Kentucky but it is likely that this was an insert made by an interpreter and not by
Swift. He could not locate the other members of his party and supposed that they had been
killed in the war.
He retrieved his journal and map and revisited the region where the mines were
located. Due to past hardships and the time spent in prison, Swift s eyesight was failing.
Several times he led a party into the wilderness, but was unsuccessful in his search.
He said that he could see the hills and valleys but, in truth, he led as a blind man.
Swift took up residence with a widow Renfro who lived near Bean Station, TN. He
died in 1800 and his journal and maps and papers were taken to Union Town, PA.
William Forward of Louisville, KY, obtained them in the 1840 s. wift s legend did not stop here. The
local historians and local residents have related several stories of Swift s adventures. The
following stories are rather short and void of details. Swift wrote that he and his guide
traveled 35 to 40 miles across mountains and through gaps full of Indians called Mecca.
They traveled up a long rocky creek in a northerly direction until they found the mine.
They mined enough for two horse loads of silver and returned to North Carolina. A
second attempt to find the mine was unsuccessful.
Another story relates that Swift, Munday, Marquette (a Frenchman), Cartright
(a woman cook), and two Shawnee Indian guides found the mines. They mined a
considerable sum of silver converting it to coins. Munday and Marquette had a fight over
the woman. Munday killed the woman and the renchman. They were buried under a
rockhouse opposite the mine in another mountain east of the mine. Later Swift killed
Munday and the Indians while they slept. Swift departed the mine, becoming blind and was
never able to return to the mines. Many local residents of Southwest
Virginia relate stories told by their ancestors of seeing an old partly blind sailor called "Sailor
John" and a few followers passing through the area around 1800. Local residents question the
validity of these stories. One story which is supposed to be an
excerpt from Swift s journal states that the mines were located 100 miles due south from
the mouth of the Guyandotte River and another 100 miles due south to the crest of the Blue
Ridge. Due to the southwesterly angle of the Blue Ridge, no other points will satisfy the
requirements of the legend. The 100 mile point on this line is located about three miles east of High Knob in Wise Co., and two miles south of Coeburn.
From The Dickenson Star,
Thursday, April 20, 1989.
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