Managing the business end of Gold Fever in Dahlonega

Posted by Dave Tabler | April 17, 2015

It was the original Gold Rush, and it kicked off 21 years before the California event we usually associate with that phrase. Gold fever raged in Lumpkin County, GA till the close of the nineteenth century, and Dahlonega attorney Wier Boyd placed himself in the midst of the myriad legal dealings.

Boyd was admitted to the bar in 1856, and later represented his county and district in both branches of the Georgia legislature. He and his son Marion formed Boyd & Boyd in 1870 and acted as a broker, collector and liaison for a number of mining clients.

Correspondence to Colonel Boyd (he served in the Civil War) now online at the Digital Library of Georgia documents the activities of the Rider Mine (1868-1883), the Yahoola and Cane Creek Hydraulic Mining Company (1868-1883), the Consolidated Mines (1879-1882), and the Phoenix Gold Mining company (1891-1892).

Wier Boyd of Dahlonega GAHere’s a typical example, a letter from an F. E. Dickie, secretary of the Phoenix Gold Mining Company, to Wier Boyd, dated April 28, 1892. Dickie promises to pay Boyd for costs associated with preparing the Exter v. Etowah Gold Mining Company case for argument before the Supreme Court.

Dickie asks to compare Boyd’s bill of exceptions with that of his own lawyer in preparation for the case. He argues that because F. C. Exter accepted stock in lieu of monetary compensation, he does not have a valid claim against Etowah Gold Mining Company for monetary compensation. On those grounds, Dickie believes they can get the case dismissed.

Your favor of the 25th inst [instant] at hand and noted. In reply will say, please prepare the case for the Supreme Court, and on Monday or Tuesday of next week I will send you a check for $50 to pay costs in the matter.

When you have prepared your bill of exceptions inasmuch as the suit that we contemplate bringing at this end against the old management might be affected by the suit at your place, if agreeable I wish you would forward the bill to me so that I could refer it to my lawyer who being more thoroughly acquainted with the whole matter might be able to suggest some things that would benefit us in our suit here and which could be put in the bill of exceptions as prepared by you. I think we would have time to do this.

In regard to President Cheney will say, that we must go to the Supreme Court without his appearing in the case at all. We do not question the employment of Mr. Exter, but we do question the consideration that he claimed for the employment; his consideration for the employment was the large amount of stock that he held and for which he did not pay a nickel. If he did not receive the stock then he would be entitled to a money consideration, but he did accept the stock, and as you will notice in his testimony swore to having sold some of it and kept the proceeds. This of itself ought to be sufficient to throw his case out. We can prove by the Vice President that he was to receive nothing as Gen’l [General] Manager, except as stated above.

Yours truly,
F. E. Dickie

Gold mining continued on a limited scale in Dahlonega until the turn of the twentieth century, when the advent of new mining technologies gave rise to a flurry of new activity. Amory Dexter, a gold mining entrepreneur with business interests in Dahlonega, had alluded in letters to Wier Boyd that board members of the Yahoola Mining Company of Boston, MA would probably decide to erect a mill in Dahlonega.

Consolidated Gold Mining Company,  Dahlonega GAConstruction of the Consolidated Gold Mining Company began in Dahlonega in 1899, during a revived interest in the area’s gold. The company was the largest gold-processing plant east of the Mississippi River.

Several companies did indeed set up new gold-processing plants locally. The one erected by the Dahlonega Consolidated Gold Mining Company in 1899 on Yahoola Creek was the largest ever built east of the Mississippi River. None of the operations were able to turn a profit, though, and they soon went out of business.

Wier Boyd did not live to see that turn of events. In November of 1893, in company with his son, he was returning from an inspection trip to one of his gold mines on the outskirts of town. In front of the residence of E. E. Crisson, on Clarkesville Street, Col. Boyd suddenly exclaimed that he was very sick; and as he spoke, he dropped dead.



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He probably gave it to someone who liked moonshine

Posted by Dave Tabler | April 16, 2015

“My great uncle Ellis, being the youngest of the family, lived at home with his mother Martha until her death. I remember my grandmother (Ellis’ sister Fannie Mainous Botner) and my mother going up there from Travelers Rest to help care for her. They did the laundry for her and Ellis.

“Ellis inherited the 30 acres that was left of the homestead. The house was a 2 story log house. Ellis’ father Hampton had owned many acres, but according to my mother, had sold much of it. Ellis was a playboy of sorts, and drank too much. Mother always said that her grandpa had sold land to keep Ellis out of trouble. By this I am assuming that he got put in jail for public drunkenness, and his daddy bailed him out.

“My mother and daddy bought the last 30 acres from Ellis about 1940. The log house stood for a long time and Daddy rented it. We were living at Travelers Rest at this time. But finally the log house was torn down, Daddy built a one story house, and my parents lived there until Daddy died and Mother went to the nursing home.

“I can remember my maternal grandmother very well, although I was only 7 years old when she died. There was few days in my young life that I did not spend time with her. The day she died she was on her way to Levi with the mail carrier to buy her some boots.

Fannie Mainous Botner

Fannie Mainous Botner.

“She had come over to the post office to see if he had room for her to go along to the store at Levi. She ran back to the house to get her money. They were a mile from Travelers Rest post office, when the mailman (Bobby Farmer) heard a noise in the back seat. He immediately knew there was a serious problem and brought her back to our house, where she was pronounced dead. They assumed it was a heart attack.

“The funeral home at Beattyville came to our house and embalmed her. She is the first person in Travelers Rest to be embalmed. Visitation took place at our house. Her funeral was at the Travelers Rest Presbyterian Church and she was buried in the Mainous Cemetery near the home place of Daniel Mainous at Vincent.

“She was a kind, gentle person and in my entire life I have never heard an ill word said about her. Uncle Conley used to talk to me about what a good woman she was. He always told me I looked like her.

“Conley Mainous was a beloved uncle, whom I grew up seeing almost every day of my young life. He and Aunt Myrtle were a constant presence in my life. It was a highlight in my week when I got to spend the night at their house. Their younger children, Jack and Peggy, were still at home, and we enjoyed each other so much. Aunt Myrtle would make fresh blackberry jam for us for breakfast, and I gave it the name of hotty jam–a dish that to this day is a family tradition.

“Jack and I spent lots of time in the summers fishing and wading in the creek. I think he is about two years older than I. I was always the younger tag-along around Travelers Rest. I remember baking potatoes outside on a fire that we built, and cooking fish that we had caught in Sturgeon Creek.

“Conley delivered the mail on horseback from Travelers Rest to Wild Dog and places in-between and beyond. He started delivering mail after his return from WWI. Sometimes he delivered groceries from our store or Aunt Sarah’s, when one of his patrons was out of meal or sugar or some other staple item. Many times he was paid for the extra service with a pint of moonshine. But no one ever saw him drink this or any other form of alcohol. He probably gave it to someone who liked moonshine. I bet, if the truth was known, he gave some of that stuff to Sigsbee Scott, our Travelers Rest postmaster (because Sigsbee liked a little nip now and then).

General Store at Travelers Rest KY

Aunt Sarah\’s General Store at Travelers Rest, KY.

“Conley spent his last 2 or 3 years in the Veterans Nursing Home in Ft. Thomas, KY, just across the river from Cincinnati. At his death, he was the oldest veteran of WWI from KY, but he was listed as being from Ohio, because that was the state he was living at the time he joined the army.

“My daddy, William “Bill” Vickers, did many things in order to make a living for his family. He had driven coal trucks, farmed, owned a general store with our mother. She did more of the clerking in the store than he did.

“Daddy liked to be on the outside, so he took his truck into adjoining counties and bought produce from the farmers–chickens, eggs and most anything that he could put in the lot. We never knew what he might bring home.

“I remember having a peacock at one time. When the birds accumulated, he would take them to Lexington. This was once a week or every two weeks at the most. While in Lexington, he bought groceries for the store. During WWII, when some things were hard to get from the grocery companies who came by to take orders, Daddy would get hard-to-get things in Lexington.

“He always managed to get Milky Way bars when the other stores couldn’t. After the grocery business, he went in the excavation work. He built many of the farm ponds you see today in Owsley County.

“My mother Gladys was a rather quiet individual. She never worked outside our home except during those years that we had the General Store at Travelers Rest. She worked so hard during that period; not a bean, apple, or any other kind of vegetable or fruit that we had went to waste. Between trips down to the store to get groceries for customers, she was working in that garden and preserving everything she could for the winter. She really enjoyed cooking and canning. We may have not have had a lot money, but no one in Gladys Botner Vickers’s home ever went to bed hungry. When she cooked for work hands, she cooked as though it was Sunday and the preacher was coming for dinner.”

—Glenna Vickers Burton
online at

One Response

  • Lori Erdman says:

    I was so excited when I stumbled upon this article. Conley and Myrtle Mainous are my grandparents. My mother is Pauline. And we visited often. I’m Pauline’s youngest daughter. And I remember Aunt Sarah’s general store. I also remember Conley’s (Papaw) brother, Ellis. All of those names like Gladys,are familiar to me. My Aunt Peggy and Uncle Jack were all very close to the rest of their siblings: Sigsby, Helen, Steve, and John who I know is the only one who remains in Owsley Co. Helen, Steve and John are still living. My older brother and sisters remember so much more than I do. But I do know that papaw did deliver the mail on horseback. We loved to sit on their front porch swing and talk for hours. Watch the cars go by (one every 30 minutes or longer) and wave. My sister spent summers with Myrtle and Conley. They bathed in a galvinized tub outside behind the smoke house. So funny. Papaw smoked a corn cob pipe, and greeted us every morning with “how’s your ears this morning”. I asked him once when he was over 100 years old his favorite invention, thinking he’s say a jet, or heart transplant. He replied, “screens”. He said the flies were terrible. That really made me think.

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Baseball’s First World Series Hero: Deacon Phillippi

Posted by Dave Tabler | April 15, 2015

Baseball pitcher Charles Louis (“Deacon”) Phillippi, of Rural Retreat VA, was drafted into the National League by Louisville in 1898, and began his baseball career with that team on April 21, 1899. On May 29, 1899 he pitched a no-hitter against the Giants in only his seventh major league game. In 1900, he moved to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent the rest of his baseball career, through his final game on August 13, 1911.

His claim to fame is that he won the first game of the first World Series in 1903 against Boston’s Cy Young. Deacon is considered one of the greatest control artists of all times, averaging just 1.25 walks per inning per nine innings over his career. This record that has stood for over a century, despite the likes of Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and Walter Johnson.

Deacon PhillippePhillippi was born on May 23, 1872, a son of Andrew Jackson & Margaret Jane (Hackler) Phillippi. Sometime around March 1875, the family left Wythe County and moved to Spink County, SD, near the town of Athol, where young Charles grew to manhood. His friends called him Charlie, but he got the “Deacon” nickname due to his humility and easy demeanor.

In 1896, he headed to Minnesota to play semi-pro ball for a team in Mankato. The next year he hooked up with Minneapolis of the Western League, where he pitched for two seasons, in the second of which he posted a record of 21-19. Then he got his chance in 1898 when he was drafted by Louisville. Deacon left his wife Ella and 3 children right around this time. Ella claimed she threw him out when he informed her he was going to become a Pro baseball player, which in those days was akin to joining the circus.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Phillippi was 186-108 lifetime with a 2.88 ERA. He had five seasons with 20 or more wins. He completed 242 of the 288 games he started over his career, while triking out 929. He had his best ERA year in 1902 when he posted a 2.05 mark and a 20-9 record. Over a 4 year period (1900-1903), he pitched 1136.1 innings. He is near the top of the team’s ALL-TIME pitching list in Innings Pitched, Wins, Strikeouts, Shutouts, and Completed Games.

BEST YEAR: In 1903, he was 24-7 with a 2.43 ERA. He struck out 123, only walked 29, and gave up just 265 hits in 289 innings.

The World Series, as we know it today, was first played on October 1, 1903 between the National League Pittsburgh Pirates and the American League Boston Pilgrims at the old Huntington Avenue Ballpark in Boston. It was a 9 game series, which Boston won 5 games to 3. Star players in the series included Pittsburgh’s Honus Wagner and Deacon Phillippi and Boston’s Cy Young.

Phillippi pitched in five of Pittsburgh’s eight World Series games against the Boston Pilgrims. He beat Cy Young in the first and third games. He beat Bill Dinneen in the fourth game. He lost to Bill Dinneen in the eight game, 3-0. Each player on the winning Boston Team received $ 1, 182.00. Because the Pirates owner willingly gave up his gate receipts, each player for the Pirates received $ 1,316.25. The price of a ticket was $ 1.50, and there were 16, 242 in attendance for the first game.

After the 1903 World Series, Deacon not only received his salary of $ 1,316.25, but he also received ten shares in the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In the old Federal League during 1912 & 1913, Deacon managed the Pittsburgh Team named the “Filipinos”, named so after the Deacon himself. But the poorly organized and financed league collapsed, mainly because of the failure of the NY franchise to attract fans.




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They called two dollar whiskey ‘long life’ and one dollar whiskey ‘early grave’

Posted by Dave Tabler | April 14, 2015

Excerpt from ‘Cumberland, Maryland Through the Eyes of Herman J. Miller,’ (1978)

During the 1920’s and early 1930’s, so many arrests and convictions were made by dry agents that the Allegany County Jail could not hold all of the prisoners, so some were housed in the Garrett County Jail at Oakland, Maryland.

One bootlegger on North Mechanic Street had a box-like platform built out of a second story window over Wills Creek. If a raid should occur, the operator would just pull a rope and the bottom would drop out and the contents would drop down to the rocks below, for this is where he kept his whiskey. When the glass bottles hit the rocks, the bottles would shatter, and thus, no evidence.

One bootlegger I knew wore an overcoat all the time. People who didn’t know him thought he was an eccentric, but he had a half dozen pockets inside the coat in which he carried his stock of whiskey for sale.

One of the favorite places for good moonshine, to the ones in the know, was a well-known Liberty Street shop. Most speakeasies were ones that you got in, if they knew you, got your drink, and got out. Some were fixed up like club rooms, with chairs, tables and some with slot machines.

People referred to the quality of liquor bought in the prohibition era, calling two dollar whiskey “long life” and the one dollar whiskey, “early grave.” While some bootleggers sold only whiskey, mostly their places sold both whiskey and home brew. Most fraternal clubs were for members only, but had both whiskey and beer for sale.

Some speakeasies stole the idea from the strictly private clubs and had membership cards made for the patrons of their places. As an example of how many wanted to sell liquor when the country went dry, there were thirty-six licenses issued for 1921 for soft drink establishments. Not all sold liquor, but most did. Some bootleggers would deliver to your home. You would use a code over the telephone. If you wanted three pints, you would ask for three pounds.

speakeasy in Cumberland MD 1920s-1930sOn April 7, 1933, 3.2 beer became legal. Baltimore, Hagerstown and others parts of the state were selling the brew. Cumberland and Allegany County could not because a bill that had been passed in the General Assembly pertaining to county beer licenses stipulated that the applications became available on the day beer came back, but permits became effective only seven days later. You could buy beer on the first day of repeal in Pennsylvania. A store just over the state line on the Bedford Road was selling beer on the first day. A steady stream of Cumberlanders took advantage of the beer sale.

On Friday, April 14, 1933, beer could be bought in Allegany County. Those who could sell beer reported a good business. There were almost as many women as men customers. With the return of beer, many speakeasies came out in the open, applied for licenses and operated under regulations. It is worth noting that it has been only about two years since beer and liquor could be sold legally on Sunday in Allegany County. Many people of the area would go to Ridgeley, West Virginia, to buy beer on Sundays. Now, restaurants and private clubs in Allegany County can sell alcoholic drinks after 1:00 PM on Sundays.

When it was all over and the country was again wet, there seemed to be no attachment of lawlessness or the stigma of hoodlum attached to the convicted bootleggers who had served time in jail. Some, in later years, joined highly regarded fraternal orders. Others operated successful businesses. William Harvey, who was considered to be the outstanding prohibition enforcement officer in Allegany County, became sheriff of Allegany County for a time.

Herman Miller was a lifelong Cumberland, MD resident, serving on the City’s Advisory Commission on Historical Matters and the Historic Preservation Commission during the 1970s. He was a member of the Cumberland Fire Department until his retirement. In 1978, he was the subject of an oral history by Dr. Harry Stegmaier of the history department at Frostburg State University. The resulting text was entitled ‘Cumberland, Maryland Through the Eyes of Herman J. Miller.’

Source:  Western Maryland Regional Library

Cumberland+MD prohibition+in+MD speakeasies appalachia appalachian+history history+of+appalachia

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When he drew his magic bow against his violin’s strings

Posted by Dave Tabler | April 13, 2015

During the 1870s, William Murphy of Greenville, S. C., wandered through these mountains making music every day. He, like Stephen Foster, was regarded as a half-vagabond, but he was tolerated for the pleasure his enchanted violin gave whenever he drew his magic bow across its strings.

There can be little doubt that men of his genius feel the indifference and neglect of their contemporaries; and it may be that, from their Calvaries of poverty, they, too, realize that we know not what we do. For to them the making of music is their sole mission here upon earth, and come poverty, obscurity or death, ay, come even disgrace and obloquy, they, like Martin Luther at Worms, “can do no otherwise, God helping them.”

Indeed, it is the highest form of worship, and David’s Psalms still live while all the Ptolemies of the past have been forgotten. Foster’s songs are linking earth to heaven more and more as time goes on, and will be sung for eons and for eons. There can be no higher destiny than that a man should pour out his full soul in strains of haunting melody; and though Stephen Foster be dead and “the lark become a sightless song,” the legacy he has left behind him is more priceless and more bountiful than those of the builders of the pyramids or the conquests of Napoleon and Alexander.

Murphy, too, is dead, but while he lived, like the grasshopper “beating his tiny cymbals in the sun,” he poured forth those matchless orisons that none who ever heard them can soon forget. For, while he was not a creator, he was the slave and seneschal of the masters who have left their melodies behind them for the ravishment of a money-mad and sordid world.

And when he drew his magic bow across his violin’s sentient strings, his genius thence evoked sweet strains formed with soul to all who had the heart to comprehend their message and their meaning.

Was it a jig or waltz or stately minuet? One’s feet moved rhythmically to the “sweet melodic phrase.” Was it dirge, lament or lovelorn lilt? One saw again the hearse-plumes nod, sobbed out his heart with pallid Jeane, or caught the note of bonny bird Blythe fluting by the Doon. Was it martial air or battle-hymn? Then, once again, came forth the bagpipe’s skirl, the pibroch’s wail, “what time the plaided clans came down to battle with Montrose.” Again, with change of air, there dawned once more that “reddest day in history, when Pickett’s legions, undismayed, leapt forth to ruin’s red embrace.”

But best, ah, far, far best of all, was that wonder-woven race his fine dramatic instinct had translated into song, in which the section-riven days of ‘Sixty-One were conjured back again from out their graves and ghostly cerements, and masqueraded full of life and hate and jealousy. For then we saw, as if by magic, the mighty racer, Black Hawk, typifying the North, and his unconquerable rival, Gray Eagle, the steel-sinewed champion of the South, start once again on that matchless contest on the turf at Louisville.

We heard again the wild, divided concourse cheer its favorite steed along the track, and saw the straining stallions, foam-flecked with sweat—now neck and neck, then one ahead, but soon overtaken, and both flying side by side again, their flame-shot nostrils dripping blood—till Gray Hawk, spent, but in the lead, dropped dead an inch without the goal, his great heart broken, as the South’s was doomed to be a few years thence, when

Men saw a gray gigantic ghost
Receding through the battle-cloud
And head across the tempest loud
The death-cry of a nation lost!

‘A Wandering Minstrel He’ from “Western North Carolina: A History, 1730- 1913,” by John Preston Arthur, 1914, Raleigh, N.C., Edwards & Broughton Printing Co.

online at

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