I made an interesting discovery while working on census records for some of the Pattersons/Chapmans. I was looking at the 1840 record for my fourth great-grand uncle, Joseph Patterson (born 1790/1794). The 1840 census is two pages wide, so make sure you always look at that second page. I almost missed this find, myself, and I’m not sure I would have caught it if I weren’t referring to the index, as well as the actual document.
The index indicated that one member of the household was employed as a miner. At first, I assumed it was a transcription error (I had found one on Joseph’s 1830 census index), so I flipped over to the original and sure enough, mining was checked. I’m so used to my ancestors having been farmers, that I hadn’t noticed that the check was not in the agriculture column, but was mining.
Then it dawned on me. Joseph lived in Lumpkin County, Georgia. The Gold Rush. Joseph must have been a gold-miner. I looked back at the census and almost every household on the page had at least one person who was employed in mining.
The Georgia Gold Rush was the second in the United States, after the Gold Rush in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Gold was discovered in Georgia in 1828, near Dahlonega in what is now Lumpkin County, although Native Americans had told the European explorers that there was gold in the North Georgia mountains centuries earlier. Word spread quickly and the Gold Rush began in earnest in 1829. Gold was found in numerous North Georgia counties, and in fact, the Georgia Gold Belt begins in Alabama and extends to Rabun County, which is the northeastern-most county in the state. Georgia’s gold was almost 24 karat and was easy to collect. Congress established a branch of the United States Mint in Dahlonega, which operated from 1838 until it was closed by the Confederate government in 1861.
Various pieces of evidence indicate that Joseph, his mother, and most of his siblings came to Georgia in or before 1828. I never knew why they left South Carolina, but gold could be the reason.