Gold Discovered in North Carolina
...in 1799 — or was it 1585?
By Walter Klein
The streets of America are paved with gold!
That legend spread worldwide in centuries past to become one motivation for millions of people emigrating to the United States of America.
But in Charlotte it was true. And still is. As the market value of gold soars, so does interest in reopening old gold mines to squeeze vestigial gold traces into new wealth.
As we visit The Square, the crossroads of Charlotte and the Carolinas, we can take pride in knowing that traces of gold can be found underfoot virtually everywhere—here and in many North and South Carolina historic gold mine sites.
History book authors are unanimous in tracing the search for gold in the Carolinas to the charming story of a 12-year-old boy named Conrad Reed finding a 17-pound nugget in a stream near Charlotte in 1799.
But it may be that gold was discovered in the Charlotte region two centuries earlier.
Joachim Gaunse was the brilliant metallurgist of Prague who conceived a new way to smelt copper in four days instead of four months. That gave England the balance of power in Europe in 1581 by providing her a new generation of iron-clad warships with superior firepower. Britain has “ruled the seas” ever since this lone Jewish genius went to work for the first Queen Elizabeth.
Sir Walter Raleigh asked Gaunse to come to America to work more metallurgical miracles for their queen. Gaunse agreed, spending one year making friends among Indian tribes from the Carolina and Virginia mountains to the sea, observing their advanced copper smelting methods. He probably journeyed through the Charlotte region.
But what else was he up to?
Recently archaeologists discovered a goldsmith’s crucible among Gaunse’s equipment in the Roanoke, North Carolina, site ruins. Queen Elizabeth had made her hope clear to Raleigh and Gaunse that English colonists should search for gold, silver and copper in the new world.
After Sir Francis Drake rescued him from the Lost Colony, Gaunse delivered samples of metal-bearing ore to Queen Elizabeth in England.
Did they test positive for gold?
from the February 2011 Edition of the Jewish Magazine