Local History is Revealed in National Archives Holdings

The first documented gold discovery in the United States was here in present-day Cabarrus County, North Carolina in 1799. The discovery by a little boy playing in Little Meadow Creek led to gold fever in the area. Numerous gold mines were dug and mined to various levels of success.

In fact, there was enough gold found in the southern piedmont of North Carolina that a branch of the United States Mint was built in Charlotte in 1836 and 1837. It opened for the production of gold coins in 1837.

A trip to the National Archives at Atlanta (which is in the Atlanta suburb of Morrow, Georgia) a few years ago gave me the opportunity to look at ledger books from the Mint in Charlotte. Within those pages I recognized names from my community.

Register of Gold – Branch Mint – Charlotte

I’m blogging about some of that information today to give you an example of the type of documented local history I included in Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 2. Although the book (and Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Book 1) concentrate on Harrisburg, both books do include articles about other communities in Township One.

One of the communities rich in history in the township is Pioneer Mills. Little more than a quiet crossroads now, it was a center of activity in the mid-1800s after the discovery of gold and the opening of Pioneer Mills Gold Mine.

I recognized names such as John C. Barnhardt from the Pioneer Mills community as taking 123 ounces of amalgam to the Charlotte Mint on August 31, 1843, for which he was paid $2,340.33. That was no small sum of money in 1843!

Robert Harvey Morrison, on whose land the Pioneer Mills Gold Mine was located, was paid more than $4,000 for the gold bars and amalgam he took to the Mint from late in 1846 into early 1850.

Other names I recognized in the Mint ledgers included two other Barnhardts,  Robert R. King, three men with the surname Treloar, and R.B. Northrop.

Comparing US Census records, Charlotte Mint records, and various years of Branson Business Directories helped me get a better idea of what the Pioneer Mills Community must have looked like 150 to 180 years ago. There was a general store, a dry goods store, a blacksmith, a school, and a post office, In 1869, Pioneer Mills Community had three physicians.

Gold mining brought people from Canada, Great Britain, and New York to Pioneer Mills. Gold mining, no doubt, brought some undesirable people into the community, which led the wife of the pastor of Rocky River Presbyterian Church to say in the early 1870s that Pioneer Mills “is no place for a preacher’s son!”

If you’d like to read more about the history and people of Cabarrus County, North Carolina, you might enjoy Harrisburg, Did You Know? Cabarrus History, Books 1 and 2. They are available in paperback at Second Look Books in Harrisburg and in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon.

By the way, you can visit the research room at the National Archives at Atlanta (in Morrow, Georgia) by appointment only. Visit the website for more information:  https://www.archives.gov/atlanta.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read.

I hope you spend time with family and good friends.

And, as always, remember the people of Ukraine and count your blessings.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.


17 thoughts on “Local History is Revealed in National Archives Holdings

  1. How about that! You never know what you’re going to learn in my blog posts! LOL! The California Gold Rush came along 50 years later and was bigger, so California made the history books, movies, etc. Conrad Reed played hooky from church one Sunday morning and went to play in Little Meadow Creek. A shiny “rock” caught his eye, so he took it home. The family used it as a doorstop for three years before his daddy decided to have an expert look at it. Without checking my resources, my recollection is that he was paid three dollars for it. That was when people realized it was gold! The Reed Gold Mine property, through which Litle Meadow Creek Runs, is now a North Carolina State Historic Site. There’s a museum/visitors center and tours of portions of the gold mine. You can pan for gold there. I found a gold fleck when I did it. They put the fleck in a tiny plastic container with water in it for me to bring home. If you use a magnifying glass and get the light just right, you can tell it’s gold and shiny. LOL! After people realized the doorstop was gold, people started searching all the creeks and digging for gold all over the area. After the Civil War it no longer made economic sense to continue to mine the veins of gold and goldmining fizzled out. The US Mint in Charlotte closed early in the 1900s.

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  2. That’s very interesting history Janet and right there in your county. Never heard of such a thing and would have never imagined it, but here it is, history unfolds very mysteriously these days. We’ll best of luck in all your busy chores until your next post. I am looking forward to doing some reading myself, maybe even finishing the book I started in January 2022! All the best, from a now spring weather València! One day it is 30 degrees and another 13! (Celsius)! Go figure…

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  3. Glad you learned something new about North Carolina from my blog post. The California Gold Rush was bigger and came along 50 years after gold was discovered here in Cabarrus County, NC. Very few people outside of NC were ever taught about gold being discovered here. The little boy who discovered that first gold “rock” in a creek took it home and his family used it as a doorstop for three years before they found out what it was! Our weather is up and down, too. It’s late March, so what can we say?

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  4. Yes! Isn’t that hilarious? And sad at the same time. I suppose if one has never seen gold, one wouldn’t recognize it in its raw form. After using it as a doorstop for three years, the little boy’s father took it to a jeweler or some such expert in Fayetteville, NC. That man, of course, knew what it was and ripped off Mr. Reed by only giving him $3.50 for the 17-pound “rock.” It’s true value at the time (1802) was $3,600.

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