By Dan Graybeal
After the trip in 1760, Munday decided to wait on the upper Yadkin River in
North Carolina where Swift owned land. Swift remained in Alexandria and organized a
company of men that he knew he could trust. This company was sworn to secrecy
and consisted of experienced frontiersmen. Seventeen men, Joshua McClintock, Henry
Hazelit, John Watts, Jeremiah Bates, Alexander Bartel, William Wilton, Moses
Fletcher, Samuel Blackburn, James Ireland, Harmon Staley, two Frenchmen, Pierre St.
Martin and Andrew Renaud (friends of Munday), the two miners Guises and Jeffries,
Seth Montgomery (who had worked in the royal mint in London and was an expert in
making dies and molds for the coinage of silver crowns).
Swift, several Shawnee Indians plus several men to help with the mining and pack
animals made up the entourage. Montgomery and Swift were partners owning several ships
used in trading on the Spanish seas. They obtained supplies in Alexandria
and made ready to travel into the wilderness. It took considerable time to prepare everything
and the party was not ready to depart until June, 1761. They planned to use trails, known
to Munday and the two Frenchmen. They departed Alexandria and went by
the way of Fort Pitt where they met the two Frenchmen and the Indians. They obtained
more supplies and set out on about the same route that was followed the previous year,
arriving at the headwaters of the Big Sandy River.
They had two workings and the company was divided. One group went due
west for a considerable distance and worked four places called the "upper mines." The other
party went southwest along the Great Ridge and each party worked the areas selected the
They were successful in developing the mines during the summer and a work force was
left to work the mines during the winter. Swift, Jefferson, Munday and Montgomery departed
for home on October 25, 1761, returning over the same trail.
On the evening of October 26, their scouts discovered savages and by altering
course they were avoided. On October 30, however, they were chased by savages and on
November 9, Indians fired upon them, cutting a hole in one of the silver packs. The lading
had to be concealed and the place was marked with a symbol of a triangle on a large rock at
the mouth of a creek flowing generally north. They did not camp that night until they crossed
the Big Kanawha.
Arriving at the settlements onDecember 2, 1761, they found that their vessels had returned from the seas after profitable cruises and five more ships were bought.
It appears that the silver was invested in the shipping business in an effort to keep the
British government and the local people from learning that the money was brought out of the wilderness.
Before continuing to trace the movements of Swift and his associates into the
following years. It is meaningful to understand the geographical aspects of the area.
Swift s party traveled a northerly route, coming to the headwaters of the Big
Sandy, a river with three tributaries. The Tug Fork heads up near Tazewell, VA. The Levisa
Fork heads above Grundy and Vansant, VA and the Russell Fork splits, one branch heads
up against Sandy Ridge near Honaker, VA and the other fork heads back against Pine
Mountain near Pound, VA. With this in mind, the party that went
west could have traveled toward Pine Mountain, the Breaks of the Cumberland or
even into Kentucky. The group that went southwest could have settled anywhere along
the Clinch Mountain Range. This is a very large territory.
From The Dickenson Star,
Thursday, February 23, 1989.
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