By Henry W. Tompkins
Related to James Taylor Adams onAugust 25, 1941 by the above author from a
letter he had received from a man in Fleming Co., KY, whose name he did not reveal. The
WPA Project, The Alderman Library, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.
I do not think I know anything of the story you write about. However, I do know
considerable of a story very similar to yours. This story deals with two Englishmen,
Swift and Blackburn, about whom I think there has been quite a bit written. Swift came from
England to this country and migrated to Kentucky in search of silver. He no doubt
found a great abundance of silver as, according to Kentucky history, he returned to England
with a fortune in silver that he had mined and refined himself in Kentucky. Later he returned
to America and brought with him one J. C. Blackburn, making Blackburn a partner in his
mines. That was the last actually known of Swift, but years later Blackburn was supposed
to have been captured by the Indians, who had blinded him in an attempt to gain the secret of
the hidden silver which Blackburn and Swift had hidden. Blackburn, although blind, is said
to have escaped from the Indians and was found in a critical condition by some white
men to whom he told his story. Before he died he admitted he had killed Swift to get all the
silver for himself. He tried to lead these men to the mine and the hidden silver but being far
away from the mine and being blind, he was unable to locate any trace of either.
Many people have since spent their lifetimes seeking this fortune in vain. Some
thought it was in what is now Carter Co. Searches ranged from that part of the country
as far south as Lee Co In trying to describe the place where
the mine and silver cache was hidden, Blackburn told of a box canyon. Within the
canyon he spoke of a turtle rock from which one could look through a crevice in a huge
rock which would point to the place where three hatchet marks could be found. These
marks would point to the place where the silver had been mined, smelted and was hidden.
This is the first time "Blackburn" has been mentioned in connection with this lost
mine legend. JTA.
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