Prospectors came from all over
to mine for gold in county's hills

For the White County Historical Society

The actual discovery of gold in North Georgia in 1828 was an event of major importance and one that had far-reaching results on the economy and history of the area. The story of the discovery of gold in Georgia is told by Allan D. Candler, one-time governor of Georgia, in his "Cyclopedia of Georgia, Volume III."
He tells the story this way:

"In the early part of the nineteenth century, a tradition became prevalent among the settlers along the frontier of the Cherokee country that the Indians knew of the existence of gold in that section, that they sometimes used it for bullets, but that they were forbidden by the laws of their tribe from making its whereabouts known to the whites under penalty of death.

"In 1828 a negro slave found some grains of gold in the sands of Bear Creek in what is now White County. The amount was so insignificant that little attention was paid to the discovery until the same negro found in the sands of the Nacoochee River, a nugget worth several hundred dollars.

"Immediately, the excitement spread and numerous gold seekers started for the new El Dorado. Soon after the discovery of the nugget on the Nacoochee, gold was found on the Chestatee at a place know as Leather's Ford."


The negro slave of Major Frank Logan was not the first authentic searcher for gold in the Nacoochee area. According to James Mooney in his Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, the Spaniard DeSoto and his men in their search for gold in the Cherokee Indian Country of Georgia and North Carolina arrived at the Indian town Guaxale (Nacoochee) on May 20, 1540.

Just how long they remained in this area is not known. W.B. Lenoir in his History of Sweetwater Valley, Tennessee, suggests that De Soto spent a winter in the Nacoochee area. Be that as it may, it is known that there are no records of gold having been found.

Again in 1566 and 1567, the Spanish government sent out Juan Pardo and Boyano to explore the back country of what is now Georgia. Through this section Pardo is thought to have followed the same route that De Soto traveled.

Again there is no record of any discovery of gold, although there is a tradition that some of the men from the expedition spent a winter here searching for gold.

Adiel Sherwood in the fourth edition of his Gazeteer of Georgia, published in 1868, says that in 1834 a subterranean Indian village was discovered in Nacoochee Valley by gold miners while excavating a canal for the purpose of washing gold. The depth to which the village was covered varied from seven to nine feet. The origin of this subterranean village has never been solved.

There have been many surmises concerning it, however, and one that has been advanced over and over is that men from one of the Spanish expeditions did spend some time here and that the buildings in the village were a result or that time.


While only conjectures can be made of these early explorers, the same is not true of the 1828 discoveries, America's first "gold rush" followed the announcement of the discovery of gold in North Georgia.

Many adventurers, many new settlers came into the country and many of the settlers of earlier days found that they had unwittingly acquired gold mines. From near and from far and from all walks of life the searchers for gold came.

And gold they found!

A long-time resident of the Nacoochee area, Mrs. J. Lamb Johnston, was heard to say that as a young girl she remembers seeing a dish pan full of nuggets that had been taken in trade at the Trading Post at the Nacoochee Post Office.

Julia Whales Erwin Wilson in her History of Clarkesville says that her grandfather built a store in Clarkesville in order to trade for gold.

Again quoting Adiel Sherwood: "By the summer of 1830, $230,000 was obtained in Habersham, Hall, and Cherokee counties. The value of gold dug in the state and carried to the mint at Philadelphia up to 1832 was $528,000."


S.W McCallie says in his Second Report on the Gold Deposits of Georgia published in 1909: "By 1838 the production of golds in Georgia and North Carolina had become of sufficient magnitude to warrant the establishment by the United States government of a branch mint in that section.

'This mint was located at Dahlonega in Lumpkin County and operated from the date just mentioned until the year 1861, the time of the secession of Georgia from the United States. During the years the mint was in operation, more than $6,000,000 in gold was carried there."

Quoting further from The Second Report on the Gold Deposits of Georgia:

"The most extensive mining operations have been carried on in the region about Nacoochee Valley in the eastern side of the county.

"White County gained notoriety years ago when placer mining was being actively promoted by reason of large nuggets that were obtained from the Nacoochee Valley region, some of them weighing as much as 500 penny weights.

"Numerous nuggets of considerable size have also been found in the Loud Mind in the western part of the county."

White's Statistics of Georgia, published in 1849, lists among others the following mines in this area:

"Loud's vein has been a rich mine, not now in operation. Has been excavated to the depth of 135 feet.

"Gordon's, near Loudsville, is considered rich

"Lewis's, one mile from Loudsville, would be valuable were water convenient.

"Holt's, two miles from Loudsville, is thought to be rich.

"Richardson's mines on Dukes Creek in Nacoochee Valley have yielded 150,000 pennyweights in gold. They are still worked. Forty hands employed. Deposit mine.

"White and McGhee's mine -- vein and deposit. Produced in 10 years, 100,000 pennyweights of gold

"Williams mine on the Chattahoochee has been in operation about 20 months and paid fair wages.

'Littlejohn's mine on Dukes Creek is an excellent vein. Has been worked two years and has yielded 30,000 pennyweights of gold.

"Horshaw's mine on Sauly (Sautee) Creek has yielded largely."


Following the discovery of gold in California in 1849 gold mining in Georgia suffered a serious setback, and for some years little mining was done. During the latter part of the 1850s, many miners did return to the state bringing with them new ideas and new methods of mining. Again mining was done for a short lime.

John C. Calhoun, a brilliant statesman from South Carolina, invested in two mines in the North Georgia area. As miner's luck goes, one of the mines proved to have been salted and was worthless. The other one for which he paid the lesser amount of money yielded good returns.

Close to the turn of the century into this Nacoochee section from England came Charlie Roberts, to spend the remaining years of his life in a vain search for the gold that he hoped would make him rich. The community of Robertstown bears his name today.

John Martin came from London and invested heavily in mining property. In a report on White County, Francis P. King, assistant geologist, says that: "Mr. John Marlin, of London, England, controls in this county the largest collective gold tract in Georgia."

Many large nuggets were found on this particular property, and much gold was mined from the property during the years of Mr. Martin's control.

Among mines listed in White County in the Second Report on The Gold Deposits in Georgia published in l909 are these:

"Yonah Land and Mining Company's Property or Calhoun Mines. This property consists of several land lots. Very productive placer deposits have been mined in the past. Some vein mining also done.

"At the time the report was made, a dredge boat that had been operating in the Chattahoochee River and Duke's Creek a year or so back was located in these lowlands."

"Hardman Property along the Chattahoochee River near Nacoochee Post Office - Owing to heavy overburden, little or no mining has ever been carried on in the placer deposits here, though it has been reported that nuggets of considerable size have been secured from the bed of the Chattahoochee River at this locality. Possibility of a good field for dredging operations."

"Child's Mine -Several land lots are embraced in this property, but most important mining operations have been conducted on Lot 23, Third District. Complete Statistics could not be secured.

"At the time a visit was made, the property was owned jointly by Chancellor David C. Barrow of the University of Georgia and the heirs of Otis and A.K. Childs."

"Jones Mines on Lot 10 - just northeast of Child's Mine. A gold bearing zone has been mined for a number of years more or less continually at this locality. Greater part of the work done by hydraulic mining."

Some mines in the western part of the area are listed also.

"The Loud Mine - about four miles southwest of Cleveland, county seat of White County. A great deal of placer gold has been obtained in the course of different placer mining operations at this locality. Some nuggets have been found weighing as high as 300 pennyweights or more. No work in progress for several years.

"Sprague or Blake Mine - This mine on Lot 26, Fourth District, is a few miles northwest of Cleveland. Considerable work was done here years ago on an auriferous quartz vein. No work in progress for many years. Property in charge of Mr. J.W.H. Underwood of Cleveland.

"Bell Property - Placer deposits occur on Lot 132, Third District. Old placer workings to be seen on either side of creek flowing through it. Mining carried on years ago."


From these reports does it seem that all the gold has been mined from White County?

Not so, says Dr. Vernon J. Hurst, a University of Georgia geologist. Dr. Hurst said that he has found enough workable gold in White County to warrant large-scale dredging operations.

In 1964, Dr. Hurst announced to a gathering of White County's Redevelopment Corporation that he found 38 gold-bearing quartz veins in a recently compacted study of the county's mineral resources.

One of the best possibilities for mineral development in White County is a renewal of gold mining both placer and lode.

Gold mining camps in other parts of the world have followed a common development pattern:

First stage - Discovery of gold and the intensive working of numerous small placer deposits.

Second stage - Depletion of the richer placers and a decline in mining activity.

Third stage - Search for lode deposits and the development of many small vein workings.

White County is now ready for the fourth stage, which is legal consolidation of "worked out" or low-grade deposits under a few owners and the beginning of large scale dredging or lode operations. The major production may be come in the fourth stage.
The volume and grades of gravels in the Nacoochee Valley, Sautee Creek, Bean Creek and Duke's Creek warrant a dredging operation.

*The content for this page came from Georgia Magazine -