Who Was John Swift?

 

  

   April 15, 1762; started for and arrived at the same place the 10th day of May, without any difficulties. We stayed until the first of August and came by the same route and on the second were alarmed by the Indians but got clear and camped on the creek. Came through the gap and left a valuable prize, marking some trees with various marks; from thence into VA where we stayed until the year 1764 when we started on the first day of May and came to New River from whence to Cumberland Valley and crossed the mountains and set our compass and went to the place; where we arrived the 28th day of June and stayed until the 1st day of September, when we started out again. We went through Castle Woods and found a man living there by the name of Castleman, where we stayed five days, from where we went to the settlement, where we arrived on the 12th day of October, 1764.

     Started from home on the first day of October, 1767. Arrived at the place on the 4th day of November, 1767 where we stayed until April 1768; when we started for home. We went by Sandy where meeting with nothing material on the way home. We started back for the same place on June 4 of the same year and arrived safe at the place on the first day of July; where we stayed until Oct. 25th, when we started for home and went by Sandy where we lost two of our horses being stolen by the Indian’s. This caused us to leave two horse loads, which was a great loss to us. But we were thankful that we escaped with our lives and got home on the 1st day of December.

     In the year 1764 we were at the place again and came by the place where we left two valuable prizes and found things as we had left them in 1762. I made three other trips to the place; which I kept no account of save some peculiar marks,

     We first left between 25,000 and 30,000 dollars and crowns on a large creek running near a south course, close to the spot we marked our names, Swift, Munday, and one other name on a tree with a compass and trowel.

     About twenty or thirty poles from this creek stands a sharp rock, between it and the creek you will find a smaller rock of bluish color, with three chop marks with grit stone, by rubbing on the rock. By the side of the rock you will find the prize we left, at three different times no great difference from the place. We left 15,000 here marking three or four trees with curious marks. Not far from these trees we left a prize near a forked white oak and about two feet underground and laid two long, stones across it marking several stone marks on place. At the fork of Sandy we kept two horse loads. Close by the fork is a small, rock house, which has a spring at the end of it. Betwixt it and a small bench we laid it on the ground. It has a plate value at 3,000 in crowns buried in the rock house up in the cracks of the rocks.

     Adjacent to the creek the mine is on, it heads southwest and runs north east. It abounds with plenty of laurel and is so clifty; that it is almost impossible to get a horse near the place.

     So extremely rough is the way that we never took horses nearer than six or seven miles of the place. There is a holly thicket one-forth mile below the furnace and a small lick a mile down. There is a large buffalo lick five miles from the small lick, on another water course, that we called Lick Creek. The creek forks about three miles below the furnace. On the left hand side is Furnace Creek. Below the creek is short stream of water running generally northeast direction.

     Between the forks and the holly thicket you will find my name on a beech tree, 1767. And about a mile below you will find Mr. Gust’s, Mr. Munday’s and Mr. Jefferson’s names in the years 1767, 1765 and 1763.

     Most of the hills and mountains have but little timber but are poor and barren. North of the furnace is a large hill 7 or 8 miles in length which abounds in good timber of all kinds; but south of it there is no timber worth notice. Furnace Creek forks about three miles above the lick and in the forks upon the point of the hill you will find three white oaks; from one stump and on each is a small notch cut with a tomahawk. We sometimes went to Salt Springs up the right hand fork and came back this way which was the course we marked the trees.

     The furnace that I worked at is on the left hand side of a very laurelly rock branch under a rock house and is in a very remote place. To go to the furnace to the ore, climb the rock to the left hand, steer a due south course till you come to—or strike a small branch, you will find the way very rough. Then go on the branch to the head without crossing; then due east to the top of the ridge out of the clift country, then along the ridge to the right hand side and there will appear a place that is higher than the other. Go in a low gap, leave the high knob to the right. Go down and you will see a hanging rock and a rock that has seems to have fallen from the other. Go in betwixt them and you are very near the spot, you will find the opening of the mine. Beneath the red sand rock on top of the clift.

     We walled the entrance up in masonry form and stuck a rock in the opening the size of a salt barrel. Down in the same we covered the opening of the mine with locust posts and dirt. (There is a small drain.)

     Close to the mine you will find a head of this drain. Close to the mine you will find a rock that resembles a haystack. We called it the haystack rock. Just above the mine you will find a rock that resembles a chestnut bur. We called it chestnut bur rock. Just above the left hand fork you will find a spring. We called it blue spring.

     On the right fork is a large spruce. Between the spring and the furnace you will find a remarkable rock. It hangs over a small creek and the water runs under it. There is a rock comes up on the other side and lays against it. Some distance below this rock and the three forks, you will find the mine.

     On the opposite side of the creek from where we were, the mine stood far back from the creek. Up on the sides of the clift you will find a hole that resembles a door. We called it Door supposed. You can stand on the rock there and point to the mine.

     Across the creek from where the mine is, the clift comes out to a sharp point in the shape of a horseshoe. On the top of this point you will find a rock that extends over the clift. You can stand on top of that rock or along side and look across and see in the opening of the cave, where the mine is. The creek the mine is on heads southwest and runs northeast and where the ore is, the clift in the shape of a half-moon. We called it ‘Half- Moon Clift’. The vein of ore runs northeast. There are two veins, one thick and one thin. You can stand on the rock house where we smelted the ore and see two monument rocks. One is about 25 feet high, and the other is about 15 feet. Not far from the mine west, you will find a small creek that sinks under ground. We called it the "Drying ground".

     The slope across the hills west there is a big rock that looks like a buffalo. We cut our names on it -- Swift’s, Mundy’s, Gust’s and Jefferson’s.

     You can stand on top of this hill; above Buffalo Rock and look west and look through the hole in the top of the clift and see the sky beyond. We called it the Lighthouse. Not far from the drying ground west we cut turkey tracks under a clift pointing back to the mine.

     One mile southeast to the mine is a remarkable rock and right below where the branch forks, we smelted ore. Five rods up the creek where it binds to the south there is a large fallen rock, a gap in the clift. East of there lets you out of clift country. Not far from the mine is a rock that looks like a turtle. We called it Turtle Back Rock.

     The first trip we came Mundy got lost. We put out horses on the river called Red. We put them in a place surrounded by clifts and fastened to the entrance with grape vines. We crossed the river to the other side and wandered around all day and came back from where we started from. The next day Mundy said he would go down to the river to the Indian trace. He would know the way then. He went down to the river two or three miles west and found the Indian trail. So we wandered all that day and next. Late in the evening Mundy hollored out, ‘Here is the myrtle thicket. I know the way now.’

     We went down a flight of Indian stair steps at the top of the clift and crossed to the other side. We climbed up and went 200 yards on the second ledge and found the opening in the mines.

     If you strike the creek below the furnace keep in the creek searching diligently for a big rock house on the left hand side about 100 yards above the rock house, the furnace is in, the creek makes a bend or turn to the south and there is the fallen rock in the creek near the bend.

     If you discover the furnace to go to the silver mine, go up over a southeast course until you come to a remarkable hanging rock very high up with a gap in between it and a large mountain on the side’ within 100 yards you will find a line of rocks the mine is in. Search diligently for the said line rocks for passage into the mines. The latitude of the mine is 37 and 56 degrees north.

     The last time we came we saw our mine was so immensely rich it was decided by our party to abandon the mine for three years and for me to go to England to get a party interested to come over here and help work the mine on a large scale. Our mine was much richer than any I had seen in England. There was smart talk of a war. I talked so free in favor of a free country that I was arrested and put in prison.

     When the war broke out, they put me in the Navy. I fought through the Revolutionary War and it was 15 years before I came back to Virginia. When I returned I could not find any of the party; just supposing they got killed in the war. The last I heard of Mundy he started to Kentucky and the exposure I had lost my eye sight. I got six men to come to Kentucky to see if we could locate the mine. By the time we had started my eye sight had failed so I led them only as the blind. I could not see for others but these rocks and hills were as plain before my eyes as the days I left them.