Carter County Treasure Stories

Gypsy Heart

Gold Member
Nov 29, 2005
While plowing today,Sheriff George W.castle found a large quanity of Spanish milled coins dated around 1428

4/2/1910 Grayson
While digging a hole to capture a rabbit,Grant Bennet and Gordon Farrow unearthed a can containing over four hun dred gold and silver coins. This was very near the cabin of the old hermit,John Stevenson.Joseph Shoemaker of Grayson, Carter County received the other day, in
payment for a horse sold to an old farmer living near the Lewis County
line, $46.00 among which there were three of the famous "sprinkle" dollars
of the early thirties.

It has been more than twenty years since any of these peculiar coins have
been found in this section, and the production of these will recall the
queer character who flourished in the earlier part of the century and went
down to his grave with a secret that was never unearthed. Josiah Sprinkle,
the person in question, lived in one of the roughest sections of Lewis
County and on a line probably fifty miles north of Grayson. In his day,
Washington, the County seat of Mason and one of the oldest towns in this
part of the state, was thriving. One day Sprinkle, then well along in
years, appeared at Washington with a buckskin pouch full of silver dollars
of his own make. In every respect they appeared the equal of the National
coin. The weight was more than present and the quality and ring of the
metal were all that could be asked.

He spent them freely, and they were taken on the assurance of Sprinkle that
there was nothing wrong with them beyond the fact that he, and not the
United States Mint had coined them. Asked where he got the silver, he
laughed and shook his head knowingly.

"It does not matter where I got and there is plenty of it left," was as much
as he would ever offer as an explanation.

The inscriptions on the coins were rudely outlined, and in no wise was any
attempt made at imitation of the legal coin. Rudely outlined on one side
was an owl while on the other side was a six cornered star. The edges were
smooth, no attempt having being made at milling. The coins were
considerably larger than the regulation article and thicker as well. Upon
various occasions Sprinkle would visit the town, and in every instance he
would spend them more and more freely. At one time he volunteered the fact
that he had a silver mine in the hills but no one succeeded in inducing the
old man to reveal the whereabouts.

Finally the government agencies learned of the matter and came on to
investigate. Sprinkle was arrested and brought into court but the dollars
were proved to be pure silver, without alloy, worth in fact a trifle more
than a dollar each and after an exciting trial he reached down into a
cavernous pocket and pulled out a bag of fifty of the coins and promptly
paid his attorney in the presence of the astonished officials. Sprinkle was
never afterward bothered, and continued until his death to make the
dollars, how and where no one ever knew. He lived alone, having his hut
away from relatives, who lived close at hand, and he died suddenly carrying
the secret of his find to his grave.

[Did Swingle perhaps, find the "Lost John Swift Silver Mine" that I will write about next time ? G.Haney]


One of the most persistent, and yet one of the most elusive traditions is
that of Swifts Silver mine. Half a dozen mountain counties claim to have
within the borders of each the original mine, but as no search has ever
revealed the existence of argentiferous ore in any of them, half a dozen
other counties claim that a mistake may have been made, and hope the
wonderful mine may be within their own limits. Every now and the some
person crazed on the subject makes his appearance with a map or a chart
assuming to show by actual survey the location of the long lost mine.

John Swift was in Eastern Kentucky as early as 1761 accompanied by two
Frenchmen and somewhere in that region they coined, or pretended to
coin, large quantities of silver money. There were no mints in the United States
then, and Swift was arrested on the suspicion of being a counterfeiter.
This was in North Carolina. The coin turned out to be purer silver than
that of the British mint and he was released. Next, he appears in Bell
County, Kentucky and because the Indians were so troublesome he gave a lady
of that county the journal of his wanderings. His journal gave a vague
account of about $54,000 and crownswhich he and his companions concealed
at various places in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky to facilitate their
journey and secure safety. Ever since that journal became public search
parties have hunted for the hidden wealth as persistently as eastern people
hunted for the hidden treasure of Captain Kidd.

It goes without saying that nobody has ever found any signs of the
treasure. True, there are more or less plausible traditions in various
localities. For instance, in Carter County ancient tools and instruments
used to coin money were found at the foot of a cliff many years ago. The
crumbling away of the edge of the cliff had allowed the tools to fall from
their concealment. It is claimed also that one of the first settlers of
Carter County found near his pioneer cabin a quantity of peculiar cinders
so heavy as to cause him to have them tested. The results were the
extraction of sufficient silver to make several silver spoons, which it is
said, were as late as 1870, in possession of members of the family.
Crucibles, furnaces cinders and other relics of mineral smelting, upon on a
small scale, have been found in several counties and attributed to Swifts
silver mine. In 1871 three Cherokee Indians visited Wolfe County and
carried away two sacks full of some weighty substance which the residents
of the neighborhood united in believing were some of Swifts silver. The
persistence of the Indians was well known, their objects plainly guessed,
yet nobody watched them closely enough to discover the place where they
procured their treasure.

This one was just too funny......
GREENUP In the white oak neighborhood in the eastern end of the county,
Mrs. Martha Berry, age about 40, and her beautiful daughter Matilda, who
had just entered her eighteenth year, had lived for several years. In the
same neighborhood lived Johnson Whitley, a prosperous young farmer, age 30
and a widower. Whitley has been paying attention to Mrs. Berry's daughter
for six months. He pleaded with the widow for the hand of her daughter to
no purpose and the young couple decided on an elopement.

The watchful mother discovered what was on foot and on Friday night, the
time that was set for the elopement, she went to her daughters room shortly
after dark and bound the girl hand and foot. She also tied a gag to her
mouth and took her to her own room and tied her to the bed. She then
returned to her daughter's bedroom and when Whitley came to steal away his
love the widow answered the summons and without speaking a word joined the
young man in the yard. He assisted her into the buggy and rode with her to
Grayson, the county seat of Carter County where he had arranged with Judge
Morris to perform the ceremony. It was not until after the ceremony was
performed on the judge's front porch and they had repaired to a hotel room
that the young man saw that he had married the widow. He decided at once to
make the best of the situation. He took the wedded wife home, and to a
neighbor he said that although he thought he was dead in love with Matilda
her always did think a great deal of her handsome mother. Matilda was found
bound in her mothers room by a neighbor the next morning and when she
learned of the trick her mother had played upon her she said that although
she thought she loved Mr. Whitley she is now satisfied that she did not.
She promises to be a dutiful daughter to him.


GRAYSON While leading an unsuccessful jail break today Squire Collins, a
desperate felon, was shot and killed by Deputy Jailer Wilson while the
convicts who joined in the escape were returned to their cells.

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