Some time ago, I wrote blog posts about the Georgia Gold Rush, the 1832 Gold Lottery, and The Calhoun Mine. While researching those posts, I ran across the story of the Franklin-Creighton Mine and found it fascinating. I’d like to share it with you!
First, a little background. In 1832, Georgia held a land lottery and a gold lottery. As noted in the Gold Lottery post, the lottery parcels included Cherokee lands confiscated by the government. Wikipedia tells us the eligible lottery participants included the following:
- bachelors over 18 who were 3 years residents of Georgia and US citizen
- widows who were 3 year residents of Georgia
- families of orphans who were 3 year residents of Georgia and US citizens.
- married men (or male heads of family) who were 3 year residents of Georgia and US citizens. The residency requirement for the last category was waived for officers of the navy or army.
Similarly, the ineligible list kept many out of the lottery. Ineligible persons included:
- anyone who had previously been successful in a land lottery (the 1832 Lottery was the 7th land lottery)
- a resident of Cherokee territory
- anyone convicted of a felony in a Georgia court
- anyone who mined or caused to be mined gold, silver, or any metal in Cherokee territory since 1830.
The lottery excluded a very specific group. Members of the band of thieves known as the Pony Club couldn’t participate. I may have to do a post on the Pony Club…
Whoever won the lottery paid a grant fee of $10 per lot for a 40 acre parcel. That works out to be about $270 today. Among the many winners was Mary Franklin, a widow. According to www.cherokeega.com, Mrs. Franklin received over a dozen offers for her lot in the first week after the lottery. The interest intrigued her and she went to the property. There she found about 20 men shoveling dirt and panning. She had the men removed and she and her family worked the claim. Mrs. Franklin proved to have excellent business sense and she became quite wealthy. She built a large home, bought additional lots, and made sure her children were well-educated. Mary Franklin died in 1858 and a group of northern investors bought the property.
While there isn’t any definite record of the mine’s yield, estimates run as high as $1,000,000 after 1880. That’s about $23M in today’s dollars. In 1883, the mine became known as the Creighton-Franklin (or just Creighton) Mine after J.M. Creighton bought out the other investors. It continued production until 1913 when a shaft collapsed and flooded the mine. Today only 1 building (the Shingle House) remains standing at the site.
In keeping with the theme of The Gemstone Chronicles, I had to see what gemstones might be around the site, too. The best information I found indicated quartz, pyrite, and a few others, though no mention of rubies, emeralds, or sapphires. Still, it would be fun to look around!
Since the property is privately owned, chances are I won’t get to dig on it. I plan on taking a drive up that way (it’s only about 25 miles from my house) and at least snap pictures of the Shingle House. If I’m lucky, I’ll see the owner, strike up a conversation, and get invited to dig around on the property!
Do you have gold mines near your home? If so, have you ever tried to mine there? In Georgia, there were once 600 or so gold mines, so if you live in North Georgia chances are there’s one near you! Do some research and, if you need someone to go panning with you, let me know!
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