Friday, January 3, 2014

Indian Joe's Lost Gold

Early Stowe
In the early 1800s, a regular customer of Riverius Camp's store in the Lower Village of Stowe, Vermont, was an old Indian who went by the name of Indian Joe.  He paid his bills with gold dust or nuggets, and soon aroused both the greed and the curiosity of the storekeeper and the permanent collection of loungers parked around his stove. They began to question Old Joe regarding the source of his supply of gold, but Joe refused to divulge any information. The would-be claim jumpers resorted to the old white man's trick of plying the Indian with rum, but this particular Indian only became increasingly uncommunicative. It was known that Joe lived in a skin covered hut in the woods on Worcester Mountain near the source of present day Gold Brook, then known as Hull Brook. So it was decided to set spies around his hut to see where he went for the gold. The spies soon tired of being led in circles through the woods whenever they tried to follow Joe, and no trails could be detected leading to the gold mine. Interest petered out, and Indian Joe was left in peace and the gold mine forgotten until 1855.

In the summer of 1855, an ex-forty-niner Abial H. Slayton was fishing in the stream opposite his farm which was still at that time known as Hull Brook when his practiced miner's eye caught sight of a flake of gold. Slayton went home, fetched his gold pan, and soon satisfied himself that Hull Brook carried paying gold. The following November, Slayton bought the farm through which Hull Brook ran from Nathaniel Russell and soon had a crew of four men hard at work manning a sluice box.

Slayton claimed not to know how much gold he washed from what was afterwards known as Gold Brook, but natives recalled he quickly acquired a heavy gold watch chain, a large gold bracelet, several rings, and a gold cross in addition to whatever dust or nuggets he had laying about. Slayton searched for, but never found, the mother lode and supposed source of Indian Joe's supply.

In 1897, when he had panned a little gold to coat the last spike for the Mt. Mansfield Electrical Railroad,
Slayton told a newspaper reporter, "Where the supply is, I have no idea. I have frequently followed small veins of quartz, but they have invariably ended soon, not running into large ones, but instead are soon spent. I believe those are surface formations and that these fisher veins have come up from the bowels of the earth."


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