Rumors of gold mines in southern McClain County persist to this day although little has been found to substantiate them. John Womack directed us to many tidbits of information in previous early day papers in addition tot he site of a Spanish arrastra (ore grinding stone) near the past location of old Golden. In recent weeks, Bud Hardcastle (of Jesse James fame) has revisited these locations and placed them on the property of Historical Society members, Warren and Joy Thompson.
The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Development pamphlet located "Golden City" in southern McClain County area in 1896-97. Queries to the Oklahoma Department of Mines produced the fact that they had no record or information on the subject, though they basically recorded coal mines. It is logical to assume that if there WERE profitable diggings, the owners would not publicize the fact. However, Nathan Byars published "A Card" in the Purcell Register January 3, 1896 disclaiming his associated with a Johnsonville gold mine. An assayers report of "red oxide with no indication of precious metal" did give basis to rumors at least!
Other notes gave basis to the rumors and were as follows:
(PUR REG 3-9-1893) Five carloads of copper ore were shipped to (Argentine) Kansas City smelter this week.
(PUR ENQ 10-24-1895)l; Henry Easton of Lexington told the editor that miners were excited over the recent gold discoveries near Johnsonville.
(NOR TRAN 10-27-1893) The Choctaw Coal and Mining Company of Johnsonville IT are advertising for 50 men to work in mines.
(PUR REG 1-3-1896( Johnson-Eagle Consolidated Mining Company organized December 30 (1895) with a capitol stock of $150,000.
(PUR REG 4-1-1897) W.T. James reported returned home from Eagle mines Friday evening and reports foundation for the machinery has been laid and is now ready for machinery which is expected in a few days. The same paper reported that a Register representative visited the mines of the Johnsonville Eagle Mining Company and gave a glowing report of the activity. However, the column ended with the comment "April Fool's Day". (I do not know whether this is John's or the reporter's comment.)
A telephone discussion with the former Vernon Mitchell reported that he had never found any proof that anything was found that was enough to pay expenses. He did locate what he believed to be the arrastra with a tree growing from the post in the center. He said that it was a prominent picnic spot for local youths.
The Chronicles of Oklahoma has an article on Spanish arrastras in the Wichitas, also one including a trip to the McClain County stone by George Shirk and a report in 1891 of an 70 year old Mexican, who as a boy had prospected with his father in the area.
There ARE plenty of stories!
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