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Resolved, That our Senators and Representatives in Congress be requested to use all proper exertions to obtain the establishment of a branch of Mint of the United States in the State of North Carolina.
Resolved, That the Governor transmit a copy of the foregoing resolution and report to each of our Senators and Representatives in Congress.
GIDEON GLENN, Chairman.
? , SALISBURY, N. C. 22d March, 1830. DEAR SIR: Your esteemed favor of the 3d ultimo, enclosing me one of your circulars as chairman of the select committee “ to which was referred a resolution on the subject of establishing a branch of the United States Mint in the gold region of North Carolina," I have had the honor of receiving some weeks ago. Absence from home during a good part of the time since, and other engagements until now, have not allowed me sufficient leisure to comply with your request. I will, however, now attempt to give you a short sketch of the history of the gold mines of this Slate, and to furtish you with such facts and general information connected with the same, as I am in possession of, and that seem to be called for by the inquiries you make. . It is now about thirty years since gold was discovered in North Carolina. It was found disseminated in the sands and gravel of watercourses; first in Cabarras county, and soon afterwards in Montgomery. The washing of these streams-deposites for the precious metals until within a few years past, was principally confined to the two counties just named. The greater portion of the gold thus found consisted of small pieces, varying in size from one pennyweight down to particles šo minute as to require the point of a small knife to take them up. At most of the mines, however, it is not uncommon to find pieces of a much larger size; for example, at one of the deposites in Cabarras, a single piece was found, weighing twenty-eight pounds avoirdupois, and a number of other pieces, varying from four to sixteen pounds. At that mine, the proprietor estimates that about one hundred pounds avoirdupois were taken up in pieces above one pound weight. These large pieces compose but a small portion of the whole product of the mine.
At a mine in Montgomery, a number of pieces above one pound weight has been found; one of four pounds eleven ounces, and another of three pounds. In Anson county, during the summer before the last, one piece of ten pounds nett, one of four pounds, and a number of small pieces, were taken up out of the sand and gravel of Richardson's creek.
All these discoveries were made principally in or near the beds of streams; but in some instances deposites of considerable extent have been found on the sides and tops of hills, as at Parker's, at Moore's, and Crawford's, in Montgomery, and as at Harris's, in Mecklenburg county. It was not, however, until about five years ago that the gold mines, properly speaking, were discovered in North Carolina; that is, gold in regular and well defined veins. This discovery, like that of alluvial deposites, was in some measure accidental.
Mathias Barringer, of Montgomery county, while washing the sand and gravel of a small rivulet for gold, noticed, that, beyond a certain point, ip as. cending the stream, he could find no gold. Just at the point where the gold seemed to cease, he discovered a quartz vein running into the hill on one side of the channel, and at right angles with the rivulet. Having frequently taken up out of the bed of the stream pieces of quartz with bits of gold attached to them, he came to the conclusion that the gold found scattered below must have come out of this quartz vein; and he determined to pursue it into the hill. He pursued it but a few feet, when he struck a rich and beautiful deposite of the metal, in place, in a matrix of quartz, and subsequently in the carbonate of lime. In following this vein about thirty or forty feet longitudinally, and not more than fifteen or eighteen feet in depth, he found a succession of nests, from which he took out more than fifteen thousand pennyweights of virgin gold. Shortly after this, the mine sell into other hands; since when; serious operations have not been resumed, on account of the water, though it is understood they shortly will be. This discovery of the metal in regular veins presented the subject in a new and interesting point of view, and turned the search for gold to the hills and high grounds, and particularly for veins traversing the earth. In the course of the summer, after the developments at Barringer's mine, some valuable veins were discovered in Mecklenburg county. The product of these, worked in the rudest manner, without skill, or capital, was so great as to excite general notice, and stimulated the landholders in that section to search their possessions for hidden treasures. The mines now began to attract the attention of the public at a distance, and drew to the spot several persons of enterprise and some capital. Some of these made investments, and commenced erecting machinery and working the veins with system and regularity..
The success of the first adventurers in this new enterprise induced others to follow; and for a time the attention of every body, who sought to engage in the mining business, was exclusively turned towards Mecklenburg county. The consequence was, that a constant search was kept up in that county for new localities; and the search was not in vain; many very promising veins were discovered. Thus the mines of Mecklenburg, being the first that attracted attention, and to which skill and management were first applied, got greatly the start of every other part of the region; more labor, capital, and skill having been expended on them, than on those of any other district, as a necessary consequence the results have been greater in proportion.
The field being now pretty well occupied in Mecklenburg, the spirit of discovery applied itself elsewhere. In the course of the succeeding year, a vein, very extensive and productive, was discovered in Guilford county; and it was soon operated on by more than one hundred hands, who flocked in from the country around, and received permission to dig on it.
The discovery of one vein in a district furnishes the lights for finding others. The people of the neighborhood visit it, examine the appearances of the ores, and other signs and indications; and thus, in some degree, are qualified to make the search on their own lands and elsewhere. So it was in Guilford. The discovery of the first vein was soon followed by the opening of a number of others; and so it will be in every district until the gold region is explored, so far as external signs go.
About this time, Cabarras county, which had hitherto only been consider. ed as productive in its washings, was ascertained to be a vein mining district; and similar discoveries were made about the same period in Lincoln.
It is less than a year and a half since gold in veins was first discovered in Davidson county, it having previously been found in and near the beds of rivulets and creeks.
- Within the past few months 'veins have been opened in the adjoining county of Randolph. Rowan, situated between Davidson and Cabarras, embraces a considerable section of the gold region and contains many veins of good external appearance and promise; and the metal is also found in the streams. Some few veins have also been opened in Iredell county, and are now in a course of development. While progress has been thus making in opening veins and ascertaining localities, some valuable, discoveries of stream deposites occurred in a section of the State hitherto not suspected to be within the range of the gold region. I allude to the deposites in Burke, one of the mountainous counties of the State. In this county, at one, two, or more feet under the surface, a layer of sand and gravel is found, of different degrees of thickness, from a few inches sometimes to more than a foot. In this layer the virgin gold is found, generally in small particles, about the size of a pin's head, and very often as large as a grain of corn; it is separated and collected from the accompanying matter by washing. The abundance and convenience of water, and the absence of adhesive and tough clay in the auriferous layer, make the process of washing a very easy one in Burke.
A number of these deposites have been found, and are finding; and some of them have proved to be very productive. The one called “Brindle's Mine,” now owned by the Messrs. Carsons and others, has been the most extensively and successfully worked.
It is proper here to add, that, in the adjoining county of Rutherford, gold, in deposite, has also been found; but as yet not much labor has been directed to the developments. One vein is now working with considerable regularity and encouragement, and other veins of good expectation have been disclosed. Did time and my engagements permit, I should be pleased here to present you with a comparative view of the products of the mines of North Carolina and Brazil, taking the data of the Brazil mines from such books as treat on that subject. The difference in favor of North Carolina is much greater than would be imagined.
It might also be gratifying to have a comparative, view of the vein mines in South America and this country
I am not sufficiently well informed, as respects the South American gold veins, to draw proper conclusions. The materials, however, for such a view might soon be collected, as there are now here several persons of intelligence who wrought in the mines of Peru and Chili.
A gentleman of Baltimore, Richard Caton, Esq., some time since sent me a printed copy of an official report made to the board of the “Anglo-Colombian mining company” by the chief agent and superintendent of the mines in the Republic of Colombia. This report gives very full and minute details of the operations at Marmato, and of the results from various experiments made on the ores of these mines, which are mostly auriferous pyrites. In comparing these results, in reference to quantity of labor, time, and costs, with what is done at some of our veins of the best class, the difference is strikingly in favor of North Carolina.
Having thus, at your request, given you a rapid sketch of the history of the first discovery and gradual development of the gold mines of North Carolina, I will now, with as much briefness as possible, endeavor to furnish such information as I am in possession of, in answer to the circular of the committee.
The first query seeks to ascertain the amount of gold found during the past year.
I give it as my opinion, that it is next to impossible even to approximate the truth in this particular.
So numerous are the places of veins and deposites where gold is obtained, and so scattered are they along the whole range of countıy, so very deficient as yet in system is the whole business, with a few exceptions, and there are so many persons buying up the gold, that it is impossible to give any correct estimate of the product of the mines. With much more facility and accuracy could you ascertain the quantity of cotton or four produced in this country. I am, therefore, unwilling to hazard even a conjecture on the subject. That the product, however, has been very considerable and increasing, we may discover in several ways. One of the best proofs is the great change that is perceptibly taking place in the monied concerns of the people. The upper part of North Carolina has very severely felt the pressure so generally complained of throughout the south. These difficulties are rapidly disappearing from the gold districts. The gold that is found, and put into circulation, and the sums that are expended in making experiments, erecting machinery, procuring labor and provisions, are producing important changes, and greatly improving the condition of the country. Nor does the statements from the Mint furnish any evidence of the actual amount of gold found, for the obvious reason that only a small part of it reaches that establishment. The last report from the Mint (1st of January, 1830) shows an increase during 1829 of nearly two hundred per cent. over the receipts of 1828; but while this is an indication that the product of the mines is increasing, it is no criterion of what is actually found.
It may not be out of place here to remark, that hereafter the quantity of domestic gold that will be received at the Mint will bear a less proportion to the whole amount found, than has been the case heretofore. The reason is this. Heretofore, Philadelphia was pretty much the only market for the article. The artists and merchants, in New York and other cities in the Union, were unacquainted with the article, and, therefore, through fear of deception, dealt but little in it. This occasioned the most of the gold to be taken to Philadelphia, where, if not sold to the artists or merchants, it was deposited in the Mint; and, by one channel or other, a portion of it always did reach that establishment. The case is now different. A market for the article is opening in the most of our cities, south and nofth. The artist begins to use more of it in manufacturing of jewelry and gold leaf. It is to be recollected that the greater part of the gold found here is of a higher purity than the coinage even of the United States, and, owing to this circumstance, dispenses with the necessity of re-purifying it previous to its use in the arts; and, owing to the difference of exchange, it is in demånd fur exportation in the shape of bullion. A person having remittances to make to Europe, finds it better to buy gold than to pay a premium on bills. Indeed, but for the premium obtained for the certificates given at the Mint, where gold is deposited for coinage, it is probable that not a pennyweight would be taken there. These certificates generally command from three to five per cent. premium. I make these observations to show that there is no way at present of ascertaining the correct amount of the precious metal obtained in this county.
Second inquiry.-Do the improvements in machinery, the experience in the process of working and collecting, with the aiit and lights of science, &c. promise an increase in the products?
That there will be an increase in the products of the present over that ot the last year, admits of no doubt; and that this increase will continue to advance for years to come, is equally certain.
The gradual enlargement of the gold region, the number of persons turning their attention to the business, the mills that are now going up, the most of them, however, are on a limited scale,) the improvements in the modes of working, and in general management--all go to leave no doubt upon the subject. i
As to the “ improvements in machinery,” to which you allude, they have been considerable within the past two years: it is believed, however, that our existing plans are far from being perfect. --- The defects in the present mode of extraction are well known to those most extensively engaged in the business; and some of them, at this time, are turning their attention toward the introduction of other methods promising more economy and greater results. Grinding the ore in water with the vertical stone, which is the method practised in Chili, is now the process most generally used here. . For the quartzy ores, particularly where the particles of gold are not very minute, but of some size, and inclined to be round rather than flat, so as to sink easily, the vertical or Chili mill answers admirably. One great advantage that it possesses, is, that the reduction of the ore, the amalgamation with quicksilver, and working off extraneous matter, all go on at the same time. But, for ores of other classes, such as the various oxides of iron, particularly the lighter sorts, for the sulphurets of iron, and where the py. rites are in a state of decomposition, indeed, for the whole class of pyritic ores, more especially when the process is conducted with quicksilver, the vertical stones, or Chilian mill, will not produce good results. Whether it is that the gold is mineralized, or, if mechanically combined, each particle coated with the sulphur or other substances, so it is, that its affinity for the quicksilver is destroyed; and while the amalgation is imperfect, the quicksilver is cut up into extremely fine globules, and, as some think, oxidized; and in this state, a large per cent. of it passes off with the current of waters.
The liabilities of the vertical or Chilian mill to become disordered, the waste of gold and quicksilver, the irregularity of results from the same ores, the want of proper checks on the workmen, together with minor objections, it is probable, will, in the course of a few years more, cause these mills to be in a great measure discontinued, except in small establishments, and for certain classes of ores in the larger ones.
Third inquiry.--From the observations made on the formation and geology of the country, can any certain calculation be made as to the dura. bility of the mines?
The auriferous veins of North Carolina have not yet been sufficiently developed to justify any positive conclusions on this head. As yet, not a single shaft in the whole range of country has been carried down to the depth of 100 feet. Seventy to eighty feet is the greatest depth yet attained, and thirty feet is more than an average on the principal digging. As far, however, as these experiments go, they furnish no cause to doubt the durability of the mines; for thus far the well defined veins not only retain their first
size, but in many cases become larger, and more often than otherwise im* prove in richness. This circumstance has given rise to an idea among the common workmen that the vein grows richer about the time it reaches water. On the whole, when we consider that, in Mexico, Saxony, and