CUMBERLAND COUNTY GOLD & BLACK DIRT GOLD, COAL & BLACK SOIL

(BY ROBERT YOUNG IN DECEMBER 1996)
IN THE EARLY 1900S A FAMILY BY THE NAME OF BREEDENS OWNED THE FARM NEAR ROUTE 45. THE STORY IS THAT A PERSON WHO HAD BEEN IN THE GOLD RUSH IN THE WEST CAME THROUGH THE AREA WITH A DOODLE BUG THAT IS A DEVICE WHICH SUPPOSEDLY COULD FIND GOLD UNDERNEATH THE GROUND. HE WENT INTO THE FORTY ACRES TWO FIElDS WEST OF THE PRESENT HOUSE AND ABUTTING THE NORTH BOUNDARY OF THE FARM. THE DOODLE BUG INDICATED THAT THERE WAS GOLD IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT FIELD.

THE BREEDENS DID NOT PlANT ANY CROPS THAT YEAR BUT WORKED FULLL TIME DIGGING A GOLD MINE. THEY DUG A HOLE ABOUT 8 FEET SQUARE AND ABOUT 1OO FEET DEEP AND THEY LINED THE HOLE WITH SHEETS OF PINE lUMBER. THEY FOUND A LOT OF COAL AND NO GOLD. EVEN WHEN I WAS A SMALL BOY, I CAN REMEMBER BEING WARNED ABOUT THE GOLD MINE AND THE FACT THAT THE DIRT FROM THE MINE HAD CAUSED A SMALL HILL OF BLACK DIRT AND COAl AROUND THE MINE.

THE MINE WAS FILLED WITH JUNK ALTHOUGH DAD WAS ABLE TO GET A WEIGHT ON A ROPE TO GO DOWN OVER 80 FEET INTO THE MINE. HE ALSO FOUND THAT THE MINE WAS ALMOST FILLED WITH WATER WHICH HE FELT HAD PROTECTED THE PINE SHEETING. IN THE EARLY 19405, HE PULLED A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF GOOD PINE SHEETING FROM THE MINE WHICH HE USED IN SOME OF THE FARM BUILDINGS.

FINAllY IN THE EARLY FIFTIES, THE MINE WAS FILLED AND TODAY THEY FARM OVER THE SLIGHT RISE THAT MARKS THE MINE LOCATION. THE POOR BREEDENS FOUND NO GOLD AND HAVING RAISED NO CROPS FOR THE YEAR FELL INTO DEEP POVERTY. IT MAY BE THAT AT THAT TIME THEY HAD TO SELL THE FARM TO A WISHART RELATIVE OF MY CLASSMATE ROWENA WHO THEN SOLD IT TO SAM ANDERSON IN 1917.

THE LAND NEAR THE MINE WAS GOOD BLACK DEEP TOP SOIL PROBABLY DEPOSITED BY THE RETREATING GLACIER. BOTH TO THE WEST AND TO THE SOUTH OF THIS AREA THE SOIL IS WHITE INDICATING THAT THE GLACIER DID NOT EXTEND MUCH PAST THE AREA OF THE MINE. DAD RECALLS THAT AS A BOY THERE WAS A BIG POND TO THE SOUTH OF THE MINE LOCATION, THAT IT HAD FISH AND DUCKS. LATER THE GROUND WAS TILED AND THE DREDGE DITCH BUILT TO DRAIN THIS VERY PRODUCTIVE LAND.

THIS LAND WAS WITIALLY COVERED WITH DENSE PRARIE GRASS AND COULD NOT BE PLOWED WITH THE HORSE AND WOODEN PLOWS. WITH THE INVENTION OF THE STEEL PLOW PLUS THE DRAINAGE SYSTEM, THIS LAND COULD BE FARMED. WHILE THE BLACKSMITH JOHN DEERE HAS CREDIT FOR THE INVENTION OF THE STEEL PLOW, MY ANCESTOR ROZANDER HIGGINS CLAIMED THAT HE INVENTED THE STEEL PLOW AND THAT JOHN DEERE STOLE THE IDEA FROM HIM.

THIS HIGGINS WAS MY MOTHERS PATERNAL GRANDFATHER. HE WAS A LOCAL BLACKSMITH WHO PATENTED SEVERAL THINGS INCLUDING A WASHING MACHINE AND SPENT THE LATER PART OF HIS LIFE WORKING ON A WEIGHT DRIVEN PERPETUAL MOTION MACHINE. HIS IDEA LIKE OTHERS WAS THAT WEIGHTS MOUNTED AROUND OF THE RIM OF A WHEEL WOULD SWING IN DURING THE TIME THEIR LOCATION ON THE RIM WAS ASCENDING AND WOULD SWING OUT DURING DESCENT THUS PROVIDING AN OVERALL TORQUE WHICH WOULD INDUCE WHEEL ROTATION. IT IS REPORTED THAT HIS WEIGHT DRIVEN MACHINE WOULD RUN FOR A LONG TIME BUT EVENTUALLY WOULD SURRENDER TO FRICTION AND MUCH TO HIS DISGUST WOULD STOP.

AS A THERMODYNAMICS TEACHER, IT IS IRONIC THAT I NOW UNDERSTAND THAT THE CONSTRUCTION OF ANY PERPETUAL MACHINE IS IMPOSSIBLE. HE COULD NOT PATENT HIS MACHINE BECAUSE THE PATENT OFFICE REQUIRED A WORKING MODEL OF A PERPETUAL MOTION MACHINE PRIOR TO GRANTING A PATENT FOR SUCH A MACHINE. BUT THIS REQUIREMENT DID NOT PREVENT HIM AND MANY OTHERS FROM SPENDING MUCH TIME IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF SUCH A MACHINE.

IT IS ALSO INTERESTING THAT MY FATHERS MATERNAL GRANDFATHER, JAMES DRYDEN WHO WALKED TO ILLINOIS FROM BLUE STOCKING HOllOW, TENNESSEE, SETTLED TO THE SOUTH OF THE PRAIRIE GRASS BLACK SOIL AREA ON WHITE GROUND, SOMEWHAT WOODED NEAR A SMAll CREEK. OF COURSE WHEN HE CAME THERE IN THE 1850S, NOBODY LIVED ON OR FARMED THE PRAIRIE GRASS BLACK SOIL LAND.


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