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Salt Peter Caves

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  • Jpete75910@aol.com
    I also would like to have any picture of the caves as my Great Great Grandmother is buried there. I have a picture of this lady on her death bed and she died
    Message 1 of 14 , Nov 20, 2002
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      I also would like to have any picture of the caves as my Great Great
      Grandmother is buried there. I have a picture of this lady on her death bed
      and she died in 1901 just before her daughter ( who was my Great Grandmother
      ) and her family came to east Texas. I drove over 500 miles from Texarkana,
      Ark. to the Mills family re-union a few years back and one of the reasons was
      to maybe visit this spot, but it couldn't be done at the time. This visit was
      through correspondence with Elizabeth Mason and one day I hope to get over
      that way again.
      Elizabeth, I would like to have a copy of our Uncle Levi Mills at the caves
      or house. Forgive me for using the list for this, but maybe there is more
      folks beside Elizabeth with information and maybe this will reach them.
      Also for Pat Mills__ Do you or your husband descend from these same Mills?

      James Peterson
      Rt 10 box 387
      Texarkana, Ark.
      71854


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Richard Matthews
      I will take my digital camera to the mouth of Salt Peter Cave Friday morning, if it is not raining, and try to get a good picture that I will post online at a
      Message 2 of 14 , Nov 20, 2002
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        I will take my digital camera to the mouth of Salt Peter Cave Friday
        morning, if it is not raining, and try to get a good picture that I will
        post online at a place it can be downloaded by those who want it. I pass the
        cave twice a day on the way to and from work.

        The cave is near blowing cave and both are just up off US highway 72 in view
        of North Sauta Creek near Scottsboro. the old Cherokee town of Sauta was
        nearby and this is in a very beautiful area still.

        Richard

        ................................
        I also would like to have any picture of the caves as my Great Great
        Grandmother is buried there.

        James Peterson
      • cherokeeindian77@aol.com
        I m sorry I just do not know In God s Service Patricia Mills cherokeeindian@aol.com [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        Message 3 of 14 , Nov 20, 2002
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          I'm sorry I just do not know

          In God's Service
          Patricia Mills
          cherokeeindian@...



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • cherokeeindian77@aol.com
          Thank You so much, May I help you with the coast? This means so much to me, Thank you. In God s Service Patricia Mills cherokeeindian@aol.com [Non-text
          Message 4 of 14 , Nov 20, 2002
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            Thank You so much, May I help you with the coast?
            This means so much to me, Thank you.

            In God's Service
            Patricia Mills
            cherokeeindian@...



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Richard Matthews
            Thanks, but the costs will be little. The cave is not many miles form home and using the camera cost nothing. Richard ... From: cherokeeindian77@aol.com
            Message 5 of 14 , Nov 20, 2002
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              Thanks, but the costs will be little. The cave is not many miles form home
              and using the camera cost nothing.

              Richard

              -----Original Message-----
              From: cherokeeindian77@... [mailto:cherokeeindian77@...]
              Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2002 2:04 PM
              To: jacksongenealogy@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [jacksongenealogy] Salt Peter Caves


              Thank You so much, May I help you with the coast?
              This means so much to me, Thank you.

              In God's Service
              Patricia Mills
              cherokeeindian@...



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





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            • zrcb@aol.com
              Pat When you complete your book please let me know. I did not live in Jackson Co but I have a lot of relatives that did and still have some there. My
              Message 6 of 14 , Nov 20, 2002
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                Pat
                When you complete your book please let me know. I did not live in Jackson
                Co but I have a lot of relatives that did and still have some there.
                My GGgrandfather John Boyd was a house carpenter that helped build Scottsboro.
                My Ggrandfather was named Robert Boyd he died in Bellefonte 10 Aug 1888.
                Most of my people were living in Fackler. I sure do wish I could find where
                John and Robert are buried. My email address is Zrcb@... Thank you
                Chuck Boyd
              • JH1137@aol.com
                Thanks for the information on the Salt Peter Caves. I grew up in Scottsboro but don t quite know where that is. I grew up on the Tennessee River on route 35.
                Message 7 of 14 , Nov 20, 2002
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                  Thanks for the information on the Salt Peter Caves. I grew up in Scottsboro
                  but don't quite know where that is. I grew up on the Tennessee River on
                  route 35. I have been away from there since 1955. Just recently started
                  studying the history.

                  James


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • EMason2372@aol.com
                  In a message dated 11/20/2002 1:31:13 PM Central Standard Time, ... Richard, since I don t know the layout of the area to well...............We went there and
                  Message 8 of 14 , Nov 20, 2002
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                    In a message dated 11/20/2002 1:31:13 PM Central Standard Time,
                    prm@... writes:


                    > The cave is near blowing cave and both are just up off US highway 72

                    Richard, since I don't know the layout of the area to well...............We
                    went there and took pictures of the 2 caves.........the blowing cave then
                    went up hill to the cave above are those not the Salt Peter Caves?? If not
                    I have been mistaken. Thanks in advance if you can clarify for me........

                    Also is it still where you park at road and walk up to the caves or have they
                    completely shut it off from public? Thanks! Elizabeth Mason
                    (New Market, AL)


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • altafae@aol.com
                    Thank you, Richard that is very kind of you to take the time. I truly appreciate your sharing with us that have no knowledge of the area - this will surely
                    Message 9 of 14 , Nov 20, 2002
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                      Thank you, Richard that is very kind of you to take the time. I truly
                      appreciate your sharing with us that have no knowledge of the area - this
                      will surely let us understand where our roots came from. Elijah Brazier b
                      1776 original settler of Scottsborro in 1809.


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Richard Matthews
                      Yes you are correct on the locations. The National Park Service now owns Blowing Wind Cave (formerly Sauta Cave) and is a summer habitat for the endangered
                      Message 10 of 14 , Nov 21, 2002
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                        Yes you are correct on the locations. The National Park Service now owns
                        Blowing Wind Cave (formerly Sauta Cave) and is a summer habitat for the
                        endangered gray bat. It has bars across the entrance to protect the bats.
                        Salt Peter Cave has bars across its entrance to keep explorers out. I guess
                        too many got lost in the cave. I think it is still privately owned. It has
                        many tunnels and is an easy cave to get lost in. There is a bar across the
                        road near US 72 but there is ample parking there and the walk to the caves
                        is not too far. During the summer a lot of people visit there at dusk to see
                        the 100,000 gray bats pour out of the entrance of Blowing Wind Cave.

                        These caves are near Sauta Creek and what once was the Indian town of Sauta,
                        Jackson Countys first county seat. When TVA backed the waters up the whole
                        valley area near the caves was flooded, including the old town, but the
                        caves are on the side of the mountain and stayed high and dry.

                        Richard

                        -----Original Message-----
                        From: EMason2372@... [mailto:EMason2372@...]
                        Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2002 4:11 PM
                        To: jacksongenealogy@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: Re: [jacksongenealogy] Salt Peter Caves


                        In a message dated 11/20/2002 1:31:13 PM Central Standard Time,
                        prm@... writes:


                        > The cave is near blowing cave and both are just up off US highway 72

                        Richard, since I don't know the layout of the area to well...............We
                        went there and took pictures of the 2 caves.........the blowing cave then
                        went up hill to the cave above are those not the Salt Peter Caves?? If not
                        I have been mistaken. Thanks in advance if you can clarify for me........

                        Also is it still where you park at road and walk up to the caves or have
                        they
                        completely shut it off from public? Thanks! Elizabeth Mason
                        (New Market, AL)


                        [
                      • Richard Matthews
                        Since we are speaking of local caves, I thought you might like to see the entrance to our most famous local cave, Cathedral Caverns near Woodville. See
                        Message 11 of 14 , Nov 21, 2002
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                          Since we are speaking of local caves, I thought you might like to see the
                          entrance to our most famous local cave, Cathedral Caverns near Woodville.
                          See http://fly.hiwaay.net/~woodplb/ent.htm This cave has a rich history.
                          Bill Monroe, the famous bluegrass player, held concerts in its mouth at one
                          time.

                          Some may say this is not on subject for our genealogy list but local
                          landmarks are on subject since most of our ancestors used landmarks as
                          reference for locations of cemeteries and such. They did not have the luxury
                          of road numbers and street signs. Many of them chose to build near caves and
                          the cool springs that ran out of some of them. My Mother and Dad talked of
                          storing milk in the stream at a cave mouth during the warm months to make it
                          last longer. The caves also were gathering places for picnics and gatherings
                          during the hot summer months since the coolness was a special treat in the
                          days before air conditioning.

                          Richard
                        • Ann Chambless
                          The following information is abstracted from an essay in the July 1989 edition of THE JACKSON COUNTY CHRONICLES published quarterly by the Jackson County
                          Message 12 of 14 , Nov 21, 2002
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                            The following information is abstracted from an essay in the July 1989
                            edition of THE JACKSON COUNTY CHRONICLES published quarterly by the
                            Jackson County Historical Association (edited by Ann B. Chambless for
                            many years). The essay was written by MARION O. SMITH who is the most
                            knowledgeable person I know regarding saltpeter mining in Jackson County
                            as well as ANY cave in North Alabama. Marion O. Smith is an long-time
                            spelunker and a published researcher/historian/author as well.
                            The wonderful part about Mr. Smith's writing is that he documents,
                            documents, documents!

                            EARLY SALTPETER MINING IN AND NEAR JACKSON COUNTY, ALABAMA
                            By 1812 a partial blooded Cherokee named Richard Riley (his father was
                            white man and mother was a Cherokee) was involved in saltpeter mining at
                            Sauta Cave. At this time two whites, William Robinson and Argyle
                            Taylor, with a number of laborers were also working at Sauta Cave. The
                            relationship of Robinson and Taylor to each other, whether as partners
                            or as employer-employee, and of both to Richard Riley is not now clearly
                            understood.
                            In 1812, William Robinson filed suit to recover damages from Taylor for
                            taking near "four hundred weight of salt petre." The case remained on
                            the Madison County, Alabama docket for years because the witnesses and
                            sometimes the defendant could never be summoned at once. Finally, the
                            court decided to settle the matter by use of written depositions.
                            Witnesses included Joseph Neely, John and Edward Frost, Archibald
                            McSpadden, Joseph Wofford, Daniel Winters, David Byrd, John or William
                            R. Inman, and Stephen Sandifer. The testimony of Archibald McSpadden
                            and Stephen Sandifer are the only two testimonies which survive.
                            McSpadden testified that during his stay at the cave about 1000 pounds
                            of saltpeter had been made, which had been applied to use of the camp
                            and in buying ashes and some to Col. Robinson's use. A few days after
                            the discharge of Argyle Taylor, Taylor returned to the cave and took 383
                            pounds of saltpeter which RICHARD RILEY helped weigh for him.
                            Stephen Sandifer claimed that in 1812 Taylor was Robinson's partner in
                            addition to being in charge of Robinson's workers. Taylor testified
                            that he had 7 men under him and used a wagon and oxen at the furnace.
                            He also testified the daily output was estimated at "70 to 100 weight."

                            NOTE: Another interesting tidbit is the fact that Marion O. Smith
                            found on the walls of the alcove nearly a half mile inside the cave two
                            scratched names associated with a November 3, 1812 date: Greeneville
                            and Edward Burnett. In the same area are other names, include John
                            Crobett or Corbett and J. J. Tripett. Nothing is known about these
                            men, and it can only be conjectured they were early miners.

                            MARION O. SMITH also wrote:
                            In the spring and summer of 1862, "incursions of the enemy" disrupted
                            the Confederacy's saltpeter producing areas, including Northern Alabama.
                            During the time the Confederacy mined Sauta Cave Captain James H.
                            Young's company had a total of 82 names on its rolls, including himself,
                            3 Lieutenants, four Sergeants, four Corporals, and seventy Privates.
                            Three of the men died; eleven were captured; two were deserters from
                            another regiment and were returned; and 42 deserted.
                            The roster of Captain James H. Young's company can be found as Guard
                            Company Alabama Nitre and Mining Corps, Record Group 109, National
                            Archives.

                            N O T E: In a separate email, I will list the names of the men from
                            the roster of this company.

                            During the two years Sauta was mined by the Confederacy for saltpeter,
                            numerous individuals labored there in one capacity or another. The
                            total number is unknown but enough data exists to obtain a fair idea of
                            the labor sources and the different duties performed. Some of the
                            laborers were guards on extra duty. Others were full-time detailed
                            conscripts, who, if "found one mile" from the "works without a written
                            furlough" were "liable to be arrested as a deserter and sent to the
                            nearest camp of instruction."
                            Many more laborers were citizens of the surrounding counties who hired
                            out their labor for specific jobs ranging from only a few days to
                            several months' duration.
                            Much of the heaviest labor at Sauta was performed by slaves hired from
                            local owners. Accounts by surviving white laborers many years after
                            the war variously estimated the number of employed slaves at 25 to 60,
                            who dug the dirt and loaded the mule carts. Some of these reputedly,
                            "dug a well 70 feet deep to determine how far down the saltpeter
                            extended" without reaching the bottom. The most noted slave owner who
                            employed their chattels at Sauta were Confederate Senator Clement C.
                            Clay, Jr. and Thomas B. Jordan, both of Madison County, Alabama.

                            More to follow in second installment as this is getting quite long.

                            Ann B. Chambless, Editor, JACKSON COUNTY CHRONICLES
                            abc123@...
                          • Ann Chambless
                            REFERENCE: Captain James H. Young s Guard Company, Alabama Nitre and Mining Corps, Record Group 109, National Archives ROSTER OF CAPT. JAMES H. YOUNG S GUARD
                            Message 13 of 14 , Nov 21, 2002
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                              REFERENCE: Captain James H. Young's Guard Company, Alabama Nitre and
                              Mining Corps, Record Group 109, National Archives

                              ROSTER OF CAPT. JAMES H. YOUNG'S GUARD COMPANY (at Sauta Cave mining
                              works):
                              Edward Acklin, Alexander P. Armbrester (captured and died), Jeptha
                              Austell, James F. Barnes, Joseph Barnes, John G. Berry, Marion Bowers,
                              William L. Brewer, Ira P. Brown, John A. Brown, William J. Brown,
                              George W. Burrow (corporal), George W. Campbell, Richard C. Campbell,
                              Jesse Coffey, Benjamin F. Derrick (died), James P. Dodson, Newton J.
                              Fletcher, Francis Flippin, James A. Gayle, Thomas C. Hall, Harbard M.
                              Harwell, Lewis Hembree, Frank Hodges, John T. Hodges, Richard C. Hodges,
                              Andrew J. Houk,
                              Salathiel Houk (1st sergeant), John D. Jackson, Charles J. Jones
                              (corporal), Henry B. Jones, Joseph M. Jones, Levi Jones, Levi B. Jones,
                              William F. Jones, Jesse Keel, Moses B. Keel, Samuel M. Keel, Seaborn
                              Keel, William W. Keel, John Kennamer, Vincent Kennamer (3rd Lt), Samuel
                              H. Latture, Hardy Lewis, Stephen C. Loyd, Wilson Lyons, William P.
                              McBride, Calvin W. McCutchen (died), Andrew J. McElyea, Leroy D.
                              Mitchell (corporal), James T. Page, William L. Page, Uriah Peters,
                              Michael Price, Albert Ragsdale, William T. Reece, Thomas B. Renfroe,
                              David Rousseau, David T. Rousseau (sergeant), William Leroy Rounsavall,
                              William J. Sanders, John B. Scott, George W. Selby (corporal), Robert F.
                              Selby, James Sims, Andrew W. Skelton (sergeant), Samuel D. Smart,
                              William W. Stephens, William G. Stephens (2nd Lt), James Swafford, John
                              Swafford, William C. Thomas, James J. Tipton, Isaac Newton Whitecotton
                              (1st Lt), James Wilborn, Starnes W. Wilborn, Aaron W. Woosley
                              (sergeant), Johnson Woosley, and James Harvey Young (Captain.)

                              NOTE: After serving in Capt. Young's company, some of these men served
                              in other regiments later in the Civil War.
                              J. H. Stephens was captured "near Gadsden" on July 18, 1864, and held at
                              Camp Douglas until June 17, 1865. Lewis Hembree was captured September
                              12, 1863, in Jackson County, AL, and held at Camp Morton, Indiana "until
                              transferred for exchange on Feb 26, 1865." James H. Stephens was later
                              in Mead's Battalion, captured, and died at Camp Chase, Ohio. Seaborn
                              Keel was also later in Mead's 25th Cavalry Battalion.

                              NOTE 2:
                              Some of the locals who hauled for the Sauta works included:
                              David Kennemore, Jeremiah L. French, William J. Brown, J. F. Martin,
                              Alexander Finney,
                              Joel P. Ledbetter, John Vernon, S. D. Tanner, and S. F. Kennamer.
                              Dr. James M. Buchanan (of Larkinsville at the time) served as the Sauta
                              Cave mining works doctor. Between January and May 1863, Dr. Buchanan
                              made at least 19 visits to the cave and one visit to the adjacent potash
                              works, presumably the one on Gunter Mountain. His total bill for all
                              these visits came to $90.00. The doctor vaccinated 12 men and
                              provided a bottle of paregoric.


                              Ann B. Chambless, Editor, JACKSON COUNTY CHRONICLES published quarterly
                              by the Jackson County Historical Association, P. O. Box 1494,
                              Scottsboro, AL 35768
                              abc123@...
                            • Ann Chambless
                              MORE ON SAUTA CAVE CONFEDERTE NITER WORKS ( APRIL 1984 edition of JACKSON COUNTY CHRONICLES , essay by MARION O. SMITH) Of all the Jackson County caves, and in
                              Message 14 of 14 , Nov 21, 2002
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                                MORE ON SAUTA CAVE CONFEDERTE NITER WORKS ( APRIL 1984 edition of
                                JACKSON COUNTY CHRONICLES , essay by MARION O. SMITH)
                                Of all the Jackson County caves, and in fact of all the Alabama caves
                                that had been worked for saltpeter, Sauta Cave was the one most
                                remembered and recorded.
                                A complete account of the actual mining operation at Sauta Cave during
                                1861-1863 is not possible from contemporary records. The combination
                                of extant original documents with later observations, however, makes it
                                possible to reconstruct a portion of the story.
                                A general description of the mining practices must rely on 20th century
                                accounts by John R. Kennamer, Sr. (from his HISTORY OF JACKSON COUNTY,
                                AL recently republished and available from the Jackson County Historical
                                Association, for a check in the amount of $23.00 payable to the JCHA
                                BOOK ACCOUNT, P. O. Box 1494, Scottsboro, AL 35768.)
                                Mr. Kennamer recorded that to move the saltpeter-bearing dirt out of the
                                cave a tram was built of sweet gum poles (about 800 feet long) on which
                                "the dirt was hauled in carts drawn by two mules tandem." Supposedly,
                                this tram, which was "four feet wide, with ties laid five feet apart, on
                                which wooden runners were fastened," had "side tracks at two or three
                                points." The dirt was dumped "into about 50 hoppers built near the
                                opening of the cave." Leach water was conveyed a quarter mile via
                                "troughs" from a spring "near the top" of the mountain. After the
                                dirt was leached the "beer" was mixed with the leachwater of wood ashes
                                or potash, which precipitated a chemical reaction substituting the
                                potassium in potash for calcium in "cave saltpetre" to form potassium
                                nitrate. The liquid was then boiled in large kettles until crystals of
                                saltpeter (niter) was formed. Then the crude, or, as it was called,
                                "grough" saltpeter, was packed in "boxes and barrels hauled to the
                                railroad station at Larkinsville (AL) and shipped."
                                The bulk of the mining appears to have taken place at what is now called
                                the "Catacombs," abut 800 feet inside the cave. There the miners
                                "actually tunneled under the cave floor," through a cave fill consisting
                                of a "sandy clay matrix containing many pebbles and cobbles." Here
                                approximately 20, 765 cubit feet of earth was removed from 435 feet of
                                "criss-crossing tunnels" five to eight feet high, with arched ceilings,
                                and three to five feet wide, interrupted by occasional deep test pits.
                                At one spot the miners dug beneath a huge boulder and braced it with
                                large logs. This became know to late visitors as the "Jack Rock."
                                The entrance was described as originally a "ragged opening," but was
                                ENLARGED by blasting to admit literally a mule and wagon.
                                When in late 1862 Carlisle and Henderson transferred Sauta Cave to the
                                Confederate government, they also transferred 3,140 acres "west of the
                                wagon road" belonging to the French brothers, "together with all
                                fixtures and appurtenances." The land was in Township Five, Range Four
                                East, Sections 25, 26, 27, 34, 35, 24, 23, and 13.
                                Attached to Carlisle and Henderson's lease was an inventory which
                                revealed details about outbuildings and types of equipment.
                                OF SPECIAL INTEREST IS:
                                1 Dwelling House, 24 feet long, 16 feet wide, with dining room attached
                                24 x 12 feet with 2 brick chimneys.
                                1 Store House 33 x 16 feet attached to the dwelling with a brick
                                chimney, counter, shelves, 2 glass windows (9 lights), writing desks,
                                stock locks on doors.
                                1 private office 14 x 10 feet, glass windows and stove.
                                1 Dwelling House (half finished) 60 x 18 feet, 10 feet in clear.
                                1 Carpenter Shop, 5 work benches, 50 x 18 feet.
                                1 Black Smith Shop, stone forge and chimney.
                                1 Tool House, 30 x 16 feet.
                                1 Slaughter House, 14 x 14 feet.
                                1 Shed attached 14 x 10 feet.
                                2 Negro Houses 30 x 16 feet with floors and chimneys.
                                23 Houses for Foreman and workmen , 20 x 15 feet, all floored.
                                5 Negro Houses, on mountain, for hands getting ashes (houses to hold 60
                                hands).
                                1 Stable, 75 x 28 feet, floored with plank.
                                1 Mill Shed, 27 x 28 feet, attached to stable.
                                1 Corn Crib and loft with Box for cut feed.
                                1 Ox Shed, 102 x 16 feet, attached to Stable Lot, well watered, under a
                                good fence.
                                1 Stable for 4 riding horses, 20 x 12 feet, with loft.
                                1 Shed for ashes.
                                8 large Hoppers in cave to hold 40 cubic yards.

                                NOTE: The list goes on for other equipment and hand tools.

                                NOTE 2: The government paid Jeremiah L. and Henry L. French $200.00
                                per month rent for use of the cave. In addition to ownership the
                                brothers profited by selling various items to the works. In January
                                1863, the French brothers sold "806 feet plan for nitre Boxes" and 8
                                gallons tar "for patching tanks," and four weeks later "750 feet
                                Sheeting Plank." They also occasionally hired their draft animals and
                                wagons to do hauling at the cave. On Aug 3, 1861, owners Jeremiah L.
                                and Henry French leased the cave "together with all the lands situated
                                west of the wagon road to Joseph W. Dunkerley of Knoxville, TN "for a
                                monthly rent of $200.00. On December 9, 1861, Dunkerley , in turn,
                                transferred his lease to Hugh Carlisle and George L. Henderson of
                                Marshall Co, AL. Carlisle and Henderson operated the cave mining
                                operation until about November 1, 1862. Then, for a consideration of
                                $34,000, they transferred their lease and sold all their fixtures,
                                machinery, outbuildings, and right of use of surrounding lands to the
                                Confederate government. Mining was then conducted by the CSA until the
                                return of Union troops forced a permanent CSA evacuation of the works
                                during the summer of 1863.
                                REFERENCE: Official Records (called ORs), Series 4, 2:29; and Carlisle
                                and Henderson file, Citizens Papers, National Archives.

                                NOTE 3: Now that I have told you more than you ever wanted to know
                                about Sauta Cave and saltpeter mining, I will say "Good luck in your
                                Ancestor Searchin' in Jackson County, AL."

                                Ann B. Chambless, Editor, JACKSON COUNTY CHRONICLES, published by
                                Jackson County Historical Association, P. O. Box 1494, Scottsboro, AL
                                35758. Annual Membership Dues: $10.00
                                abc123@...
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