Volume 7, Number 11 - Spring 1982
Artie Ayres, geologist, educator and a native of the Stone County area in which the mystery of Yocum Silver Dollars and mine centers, was the speaker at the March 14 meeting of our Society. He is, also, the author of articles concerning the legendary silver finds and coinage, and has written a new book on the subject titled "Traces of Silver".
The Yocums were known to be among the earliest settlers along White River in Stone County. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, noted Indian authority, recorded the spending of a night in the cabin of a hunter named Yochem in January, 1819. The Yocums, the first non-Indian resident of Stone County, lived in close association with the Indians. A part of the silver legend is that the Indians showed them a vein of silver and they began mining operations.
The location of the mine is part of the mystery. Some place it near the James River mouth and believe the Yocums built a cabin over the mine entrance to conceal
it..More certain than the actual mine operation is that the Yocums coined their own silver dollars to use in trading. The dollars had the word "Yocum" on one side, and were larger than the standard U.S. silver dollar. Some believe the coins were made from Mexican silver, or from silver ingots. When the 1849 Gold Rush offered better prospects and the Yocums headed for California, the coining operation ceased.
There are stories of people having seen the dollars and of others spending years in search of the coins and a lost silver mine. Artie Ayress father was one of those who searched a lifetime, after seeing one of the dollars when helping to replace the floor of a cabin in 1923. But, most of the sites considered likely for the buried treasure are now covered by the waters of Table Rock Lake.
"There doesnt seem to be much argument about whether or not there was a Yocum dollar," said Ayres. "The argument comes as to where did the coin come from." There is also much supposition as to whether there might be a hidden treasure of the coins to someday come to light.
Winners in the historical essay contest read their winning papers as part of the days program.
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