Macon, Georgia: 1854. Envelope or Cover. This two-page stampless, folded letter measures 15” x 9¾” unfolded. It was sent by Thurston Rowland Bloom of Macon, Georgia to M. E. Fain, the postmaster of Santaluca [Santa Luca] in Gilmer County. It is datelined “Macon, Feby 10. 1854”. It is annotated “Charge Box 71” and bears both a circular “Paid / 3” rate mark and a circular “MACON / Ga.” Postmark, dated February 11. In nice shape. A transcript will be provided.
The letter reads in part:
“My friend Albert G. Buttz, has recommended you as being well acquainted with the land in Gilmer County, and also says you would give me much valuable information about the recent discoveries of Copper mines in your County. . .. I have . . . concluded to send you a list, of numbers, and get your opinion as to which you think of the chance of Copper being found on them & I should also like to know, if you would be willing to undertake to test any of them, for Copper & on what, terms you would do it – also what would be your charge for selling should I conclude to dispose of them. . .. Write to me, as soon as convenient . .. I may come up if necessary – In your answer, be so good as to inform me, on what lots Copper has been found on, & which districts are considered the best, for Copper You shall have an interest if you should desire it.”. Very good. Item #010143
Santa Luca was a tiny village located about three miles from Cherrylog in Gilmer County, Georgia near the Tennessee border. A discovery of gold in the area began a rush in 1829 and a number of mining companies were established, most prominently, the Georgia White Path Copper and Gold Mining Company.
The gold played out in the 1840s, but mining interests were rekindled with the discovery of copper deposits in what is known as the Ducktown Copper Basin, most of which is located in the southeast corner of Polk County, Tennessee. Following the Cherokee Removal from the area in 1838, there was little white settlement because it was not easily accessible. However, after copper was discovered in 1847, a mining-rush ensued, and construction of roads capable of hauling heavy loads began. Three large companies, the Union Consolidated Mining Company, the Burra Burra Copper Company, and the Ducktown Copper Company were established in Tennessee.
Nothing so massive occurred in Gilmer County as its Copper veins were neither so large nor as rich they were to the north, however, they were enough to attract the interest of prospectors, small mining companies, and speculators like Bloom, a wealthy cotton merchant and railroad executive. Much of the region’s copper was hauled by oxcarts from the twin cities of Copperhill, Tennessee, and McCaysville, Georgia through Ellijay to the railroad depot in Dalton. Although delayed by the Civil War, eventually a narrow-gauge railway known as the “hook and eye” replaced the oxcarts. Mining, although greatly diminished, continued until the 1980s.
(For more information, see “Gilmer County” in the New Georgia Encyclopedia, Waters’s “Mining The Copper Basin In Southeast Tennessee,” Pagel’s “The Hook and Eye: the History of a North Georgia Rail Road,” “Ten Amazing Facts About McCaysville & Copperhill,” and “Thurston Rowland Bloom” at the Wood and Torbert Families website.)
A nice surviving first-hand testament to the copper mining fever that gripped Georgia and Tennessee in the 1850s..