County North Carolina
Voting in North Carolina N.C. General Election Information
Graham County Sample Ballot Show me my Voter Information
JOHN ROPETWISTER'S GOLD
By Marshall McClung
Old legends die hard, and the one about John Ropetwister and his gold is no exception. As is the case with most stories about lost mines and treasures, there are several variations as to location as well as other details.
John Ropetwister married Annie Conseen and they are credited with taking in an abandoned white child and caring for him while living on Dick Branch in the Snowbird Community. The child was Jess Cook who lived to become a grown man, marry, and have children of his own, settling in the Long Creek Community.
Stories of the Ropetwister gold go back in time at least as far as prior to the Cherokee Removal in 1838, leading one to believe information about the location of the gold mine and a hoard of gold coins was passed from generation to generation in the Ropetwister family, and eventually to John Ropetwister. Incidentally, some of our local Cherokee say that Ropetwister is not the correct name but rather "twist" or "twister" is. They say the name was probably mistaken by whites when the Cherokee made motions with their hands imitating taking fibers and twisting them into a rope in an attempt to communicate the name to them, hence the name "Ropetwister" came about.
Records indicate there was a Ropetwister family living in the Snowbird Mountains range as early as 1815. The U.S Government conducted a census as part of their operation to remove local Cherokees to the west. A Ropetwister family was said to have been living on East Buffalo when the removal began in 1838. The Ropetwister family, and other Cherokees such as Organdizer, and Big Fat Commisseen hid out on Slickrock Creek. The present day Cherokee name of Conseen may have been derived from Commisseen, and Big Fat Gap in the Slickrock vicinity may have received its name from the Cherokee.
Sometime between the end of the Cherokee Removal and the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, the Ropetwisters discovered gold somewhere in the mountains of Graham County, possibly in the Slickrock Creek area where they had hid out to escape General Winfield Scott's soldiers. Ropetwister took gold to a trading post and sold it at Fort Montgomery now known as Robbinsville. The Ropetwister mine-must have yielded a rich lode as they also traded gold at the George Walker Trading Post in Valleytown now known as Andrews.
The Ropetwisters raised and sold cattle, and dealt in the fur and ginseng trade and eventually were said to keep as much as $10,000 in gold and gold coins hid in or around their cabin. This prompted people to search areas where the Ropetwisters had lived going through piles of rocks that had been carried from fields used for farming. When and old house the Ropetwisters had lived in was being torn down, a hole in the ground underneath the hearthstone at the fireplace was discovered. This was thought to have been of the hiding places used to store gold.
Many of our local Cherokee heard the stories of the Ropetwister gold down through the years and some of them knew John Ropetwister. Brest Conseen, Gaffney Long, and Jarrett Wachacha may have been more acquainted than others about the gold stories.Through them and others, stories have been handed down about the location of the gold which is said to be guarded by the Cherokee's "Little People" who will guard and protect it from ever being found by any white person.
There are stories of how Ropetwister first found the gold crossing a small stream and seeing small flecks of gold shining in the water. It is said he followed the small stream to a rock cliff and discovered the gold. Another story has to do with tracking a wounded bear to an overhanging rock and seeing streaks of gold more than a foot wide in the rocks.
Legend has it that the gold is guarded and protected by the Cherokee's 'Little People" who will prevent any white person from ever locating the gold. Their methods are said to include people trying to follow Ropetwister to his gold encountering what appeared to be a huge snake. Afterward they were said to become confused and to lose their sense of direction1 never being able to locate the area again. Still another story has to do with people following Ropetwister almost to the gold in Slickrock Creek only to have the rocks start shaking. Fearing they were in an earthquake, they fled, even though they had been so close they saw some of Ropetwister's digging tools he used to get the gold out. They were never able to find the area again.
Brest Conseen is quoted as saying no one would ever find Ropetwister's gold. So far, history has proven him right.
Agriculture Arts and Crafts Cherohala Skyway Cherokee Nation Churches
Education Election Information Emergency Services Family Resources Fontana Dam
Forestry Facts Genealogy General Information Government Health Care
Hiking/Camping History Local Color Library Map of Graham Co. Media
N.C. Forest Service Real Estate Swan Cabin Sheriff's Department Travel & Tourism
U.S.F.S. District HQ U.S. Forest Service Utility Services Weather Forecast Wildflowers
These pages are from the people of Graham County, North Carolina.
For additional information on Graham County Adventures
the Travel and Tourism Authority or
go to the Visitors Information Center of the Travel and Tourism Authority Webpage
or call 1-800-470-3790 or 828-479-3790 Fax 1-828-479-4733
This page is maintained by Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina