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Dr. William Blandings treasure map
1901 Haile Gold Mine Letter
C-I Web Extra: a close-up of a 1901 letter from Haile Gold Mine.

Dr. Blanding wrote “This gold mine is on the land of Mrs. Kirkley on the east side of Big Lynches Creek-two miles from the Brewer Gold Mine. In 1830 some gold was found in a branch which in a short distance passes into Big L.[ynches] C.[reek]. Soon after this discovery it was found on a sand hill nearby. Some detached pieces, from 1 to 5 pie[ces] were found-others attached to the fragments of quartz.

“In digging down a few feet a vein of this rock was discovered in which gold was found in place. This vein has been pursued and is now worked on a small scale. Say ten to twelve hands [workers] and at a depth of 23 feet presents something like this diagram.” (Sketch not shown)

Blanding added at the bottom of his sketch, “This formation struck me as being unusual. It is situated on a hill composed of sand & covered with small pines and stubby oaks.”

Not very long after his visit to Mrs. Kirkley’s mine, Blanding created a map showing the area from Haile’s Gold Mine on Little Lynches Creek opposite the present day town of Kershaw to the gold mines along Big Lynches River in Chesterfield District. He located the Haile mine where it is today.

He showed Fryerson’s Mine Hole and Fryerson’s Pit to be in the Brewer “Gold Tract.” Fryerson or Frierson likely had leased land from Brewer for mining purposes.

Blanding showed a separate mine beside the Brewer Gold Tract, George Hugans (Huggins) Gold Mine. Lon D. Outen does not include this mine in A History of Lynches Forks and Extended Areas on Big and Little Lynches Rivers, South Carolina. No other information on this mine has surfaced.

The Haile Gold Mine had been in operation for three or four years by the early 1830s and was well known. By this date, gold mining in the area had received much attention and publicity.

When Blanding created his map, he would have known about, used and likely owned a copy of Robert Mills Atlas published in 1825 with local surveying completed for it in 1819 and 1820. His map includes some items found in Mills Atlas but all the gold mine locations on a map this early provide new information.

Blanding’s map also showed the road from Haile’s to Brewer’s and listed the following places: Kimbal’s Creek, Blues [house], Pond, Blacksmith Shop [near Big Buffalo Creek], Old Mills [on Big Buffalo Creek], Nixon’s [house], Mrs. McLeod’s [at Big Lynches Creek], McLeod’s Mills [across Big Lynches Creek in Chesterfield District].

At the bottom of his map, Blanding added “From Brewer’s House to his gold mine 3 miles, the same from Edgworth’s, to Mrs. Kirkley’s Mine is 1-1/2 miles. Brewer’s Gold Mine is one mile from Lynches Creek or River.” In the early 1830s, it should be noted, Blanding uses both terms, “Creek” and “River,” for Lynches.

William Blanding likely created his map in late 1830 or just afterwards. In 1830, he closed down his medical practice, sold his drugstore and began disposing of his extensive real estate holdings. That took about four years to complete. He finally departed Camden in late 1834 or early 1835 to relocate in Philadelphia and later to his ancestral home in Rehoboth, Mass. This was not Blanding’s sole venture into map creation as we shall soon see.

Blanding’s map and his description of Mrs. Kirkley’s Mine along with a sketch of the ore vein at her mine are but two of 100 Blanding papers the South Caroliniana Library acquired in 2008 and exhibited in the spring of 2009.

As an aside, it is appropriate to add that as time passed, the growth and development of these gold mines led to the creation of post offices at or near them. Illustrated with this column on the Chronicle-Independent website are an 1897 postal item from Brewer Mine, S.C.; and a 1901 letter and envelope from Haile Gold Mine, S.C.

Dr. William Blanding (1773-1857) in Camden

Dr. Blanding came to Camden in 1806. His brother, Abram Blanding, who preceded him in town by nine years, enticed him to come and set up a medical practice. One source states Jonathan Maxy, president of Brown University and a few years later the first President of the S.C. College, also had a hand in William Blanding coming to South Carolina.

Abram had been enticed to come to Camden by his roommate at Brown University, David R. Williams, who later became the governor of South Carolina. Abram would serve in the South Carolina General Assembly and would have a distinguished career in South Carolina internal improvements in building roads, canals, bridges and clearing rivers for navigation.

Dr. William Blanding’s medical practice and his drug store would flourish. However, he receives much more recognition today for some of his non-medical activities.

As was typical of many scientifically minded individuals of the period, Dr. Blanding’s interests embraced a wide variety of topics, one being growing grapes. On July 23, 1830 he wrote James Guignard of Columbia and described his experiments with growing grapes. Guignard’s response is not known.

Kirkland and Kennedy in Historic Camden, Volume Two state, “Being a devoted scientist and naturalist, he gathered here a large collection of birds, insects, animals, notably an eighteen foot alligator from McCrae’s pond, also many curios and antiquities.”

His curios included Indian artifacts since he began collecting artifacts and information about the local Indians soon after arriving in town. After he left Camden in 1835, letters in the Blanding Collection at the University of South Carolina indicate he continued to receive information about local Indians. The form his Indian information initially took likely was notes, drawings, sketches, and a manuscript map, but we don’t know since only a finished “Indian” map survives.

This map shows Indian towns, mounds, etc., along the Wateree River in Kershaw County. Blanding likely used Mills Atlas maps to which he added his “Indian” information. Some 12 years after he left Camden, the Smithsonian Institution published his map in the late 1840s in Ancient Monuments Of The Mississippi Valley Comprising The Results Of Extensive Surveys And Explorations By E.G. Squier, A.M. and F.H. Davis, M.D.

Blanding’s Indian map has been known for at least 165 years but knowledge of his Gold Mine map only surfaced about four years ago. This map is significant in the history of gold mining in South Carolina for these reasons.

It dates about seven years after Robert Mills published his atlas and about 12 years before M. Tuomey’s Report on the Geological and Agricultural Survey of S.C. in 1844. It provides historians and others with very welcomed new information to fill the “map” void between 1820 and 1844.