The Cortland Democrat, Friday, October 16, 1891.
THE LEAD MINES OF LO.
TRADITIONS CONCERNING THEM IN PENNSYLVANIA.
A Blacksmith of Former Days Who Ran Into Bullets—Ore Supplied by Indians. Pointers That Do Not Develop—Red Men's Pipes and Weapons.
Where, if anywhere, are the lead mines of northwestern Pennsylvania? In connection with attempts to answer this question the writer hereof, in boyhood, harvested many stone bruises by day and treasure dreams by night, together with numerous traditions of the days of practically unbroken forests, bears' grease and primeval economy. This section, comprising parts of northern Venango and southern Crawford counties, is about forty miles south of Corry, sixteen miles north of Oil City, ten miles west of Titusville and eighteen miles east of Meadville. There is no doubt in the minds of plenty of entirely rational people that somewhere within, or contiguously without, the region of country which these towns bound, there is a locality where an exceptionally good quality of lead ore may be obtained, or, at least, the locality where ore of such quality was obtained formerly by the Indians, both for their own use and to sell or trade to the white settlers. As the source of this supply was carefully kept a secret by the Indians, mainly of Chief Cornplanter's tribe, and has never been discovered, it is regarded as reasonable to infer that it may yet be a source of profit as to believe that it was exhausted.
A PIONEER'S EXPERIENCE.
At what is now Bradleytown, a village three miles southwest of here, on one of the branches of Sugar Creek, a pioneer named Jacob Jennings lived 100 years ago and had near his pioneer house a small blacksmith shop. From Mrs. Samuel Matson, of Chapmanville, and John Jennings, of Sunville, some interesting reminiscences were obtained as related by their father, who was a son of Jacob Jennings. The latter, at his blacksmith shop, frequently smelted and run into bullets rich lead ore supplied by the Indians. They made periodical trips to this place for that purpose. Coming up from the Allegheny river they made it a point to reach his home in the evening, there being usually several in the party. They would be allowed to stay and would sleep around the fireplaces in the house and shop. At daybreak they would strike northward up the creek and would return a few hours later with a stock of the lead product to be melted. No amount of persuasion, of barter or of purchase price would cause them to disclose the whereabouts of the lead deposits.
Fifty years ago, according to a member of the family, Mrs. Robert Gillespie and a daughter, then a little girl, were lost in the woods, and during their wanderings found along a ravine an outcropping of lead-filled rock, a piece of which they took with them. After finding their way home they were unable to find their way back with older members of the family to the point where they had found the lead. Various and continuous searches have been made since along the ravines in that section, one enthusiast devoting a considerable portion of a year to the search; but aside from a fragment weighing about four pounds, and found in a field in Randolph township, Crawford county, where it had apparently been dropped, no lead ore has been discovered.
MATERIAL FOR PROSPECTORS.
The prospector able to develop pointers from Indian relics may find considerable material in that line in this section. At Wallaceville, three miles southeast of here, he may find a whole field of yet well defined mounds and excavations. A mile north of here, just across the line in Crawford county, he may find remnants of several large stone piles constructed of stones having notable uniformity iv size and piled up by the Indians for some unknown purpose before the time of the earliest settlers. If he will follow the plow for a season in the southwestern part of this township, Plum township, Venango county, or the northerly adjoining township of Troy, in Crawford county, his labors will probably be rewarded with a fresh stock of pipes, weapons and other relics of the noble and ignoble Lo.
If he will further follow the plow in a field along the Sugar Creek flats, about two miles north of the Jacob Jennings homestead, and will fail to lift the point of his plow when he reaches a certain point in that field, his plow handles will smite him hip and thigh and put him to rout. The cause thereof will be that the plow point will strike the edge of a circular bed of burned and pounded stone It is about ten feet in diameter, projects to the top of the ground where efforts have not been made to get down to the bottom of it, and is known to have been there fully 150 years, how much longer no man knows, as it was then, according to pioneer tradition, as much a matter of mystery and antiquity as at present.
If the lead prospector chooses to consider it of no value to him, he may regard it as one of the places where the Norsemen, poking out this way from Newport and the vicinity of Boston, paused to bake beans. If he is inclined to be less skeptical he may do as tradition says the early settlers did—regard it as the foundation of a sort of Indian crucible or furnace which served in part as a smelter for lead previous to the introduction of firearms on this continent, and for purposes unknown. Plum (Pa.) Cor., Philadelphia Press.