I am still sifting through little things that I discovered here & there, hither & yon during my recent exploration of 19th newspaper archives. Searching for my late mother’s ancestors in the deep South, I was finding lots of hits for her great, great-grandfather David Dobbs and his son David Judson Dobbs and his grandson James M. Dobbs who all lived in 19th century Georgia. I found some things that I already knew, and I found some things that I did not know. Most intriguingly, I discovered a mysterious plantation and a ghostly gold mine.
Throughout the years, I have found some rather intriguing items that I am not quite sure how they fit into the vast puzzle that makes up my family history. My puzzle is not that much different from anyone else’s puzzle, yet no matter how much I think I might know about a specific branch, I never tire from the fun of finding pieces that may perhaps fit my puzzle.
There are a lot of results that get tossed aside and not looked at because their lack of fit is so obvious, and time is so precious. Then there are the ones that raise more questions than they answer. These I set aside to be looked at later. Some stay on the front burner; others get placed in the cold case files.
One item that I came across a few weeks ago intrigued me to the point where I could not get it out of my mind. It is an notice that I came across published on more than one occasion in an Augusta Georgia newspaper in the late 1860s. Here it is in the Augusta Triweekly Constitutionalist Newspaper (January 8, 1867)
The blurb appearing on the far-right column of page 1 is signed by David Dobbs and states “I am offering for sale, my plantation, situated about 4 miles south of Americus, containing 659 ½ acres, 400 of which is cleared and in good order. A good dwelling house and all necessary outbuildings on the place, and well supplied with water. A bargain can be had by early application. For further information apply to D. W. Lewis who is my agent to sell.”
Americus is the county seat of Sumter County, Georgia. The town is about 150 miles south of Marietta and 200 miles southwest of Augusta.
There were two things about this that I found interesting about this notice. First, through my research I knew that there were only about three or four men with the name David Dobbs living in Georgia in the mid-19th century. There was David Dobbs my third great-grandfather. His son David Judson Dobbs and a nephew here and cousin there named “David Dobbs”, but but I have not found any Dobbs living down in Southwest Georgia where Americus, Sumter County is located. My direct Dobbs family-owned plantations in Georgia in Elbert County and in Cobb County. My Prothro ancestors owned plantations in Georgia and in South Carolina.
So, I set this one aside until I could come up with the strategy for tracking down an item such as this – that is items that involve land and property.
Then just this weekend, I came across the following item:
The last paragraph reads “Also – lot of land #157 in the 16th district of Sumner County. Levied on as the property of David J. Dobbs to satisfy a fi.fa [notice of indebtedness] issued from the Superior Court of Sumner County in the favor of Alexander Sharp and Elizabeth Black versus David J. Dobbs. Property pointed out in the said fi. fa.” Signed W. H. Cobb, Deputy Sheriff
David J. Dobbs was the name of my great, great grandfather and son of David. He died in July 1877. He appears not to have left a will as I have not found one in a search of the Georgia state probate records. “Wills and Probate Records” will be the subject of a future post that I am currently working on; nevertheless, I have not found any other record of the estate D.J. Dobbs being subjected to any lawsuit.
In the census records for 19th century Georgia there is only one David J. Dobbs. I count three “David Dobbs” in 1850: two men in Cobb County (David and his son David J) and one in Cherokee County, the minor son of Burrell Dobbs, a first cousin of David Dobbs. His full name was David Washington Dobbs. He along with David and David J Dobbs are the only David’s appearing in the 1860 census. David W then lived in Pickens County Georgia with his wife and two small children. In 1870, we find that same David W and family are now living in Cobb County along with David and son David J. In the 1870 census there is one other David W Dobbs. He is living in Lickskillet, Cherokee County. This David W was the son of Balaam Dobbs, brother of Burrell, another first cousin of the elder David. This brings up the subject of missing records. For example, where is David Milton Dobbs in the census records? He is supposed have lived in Elbert county his entire life. Regardless, I have not found a Dobbs living Sumter county.
This remains under investigation and I am putting it aside in the cold case files for now.
There’s gold in them thar hills!
Then there is the case of the Dobbs’ Goldmine. This was something that I came across a decade ago just as I was completing work on the second edition of Gathering Leaves. It was one of those one-line blurbs that newspapers in the 19th century were so fond of filling their pages with.
It read: “We have seen three bars of solid gold worth $160 from the Dobbs’ Goldmine located 4 miles north of Marietta.”
The “we” in the above statement was an unnamed correspondent from the Marietta Journal.
I found this on page 3 of the July 15, 1876 edition of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper. Google tells me that One hundred sixty dollars in today’s currency would be about $3,800.
I put this one aside because there is no way to tell which Dobbs owned a goldmine in Cobb county. It could have been David, his son, or maybe one of his nephews who lived in Cobb.
I did find another blurb about the goldmine just the other day. Another paper, the Dalton North Georgia Citizen, picked up the story two weeks later and reported that “the Dobbs gold mine, near Marietta is yielding handsomely.”
Twenty years before the California gold rush, there was a gold rush in Cherokee country which is now Northwest Georgia. It started in 1829 in present-day Lumpkin County near the county seat, Dahlonega, and soon spread through the North Georgia mountains, following the Georgia Gold Belt. By the early 1840s, gold became difficult to find. Yet apparently gold was still being mined in the 1870s at the southern end of the gold belt.
According to a post at “AJC Atlanta. News. Now.” titled Actual Factual Cobb: ‘Where were Cobb’s old gold mines located?’
Ben Brasch at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that “Though Cobb wasn’t the main destination during Georgia’s gold rush between late 1829 and the early 1840s, it did have a couple of hotspots mostly centered around family homes in Acworth and a railroad.”
He says that “the gold path within [Cobb] county passed a few miles northwest of Lost Mountain, crossed the Western and Atlantic Railway and about a mile and a half southeast of Acworth.”
The article lists a few places in Cobb identified in a 1909 Geological Survey of Georgia. Alas, the legendary Dobbs’ goldmine is not in the list.
For now, I will return the “Case of the Cobb County Mystery Mine” to the cold case file.