Volume 8, Number 11, Spring 1985
For the past 150 years various folk legends about silver have circulated in the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas. In Southwest Missouri, in the early 1800s one of the first families of settlers spawned such a legend, the famous Yocum Dollar Legend. The following is a composite of various versions of this legend:1
"Four Yocum brothers arrived in the Upper White River country following the War of 1812. They were friendly with the Indians, especially the Delawares, one of whom married a Yocum. The Delawares worked a silver mine somewhere near the James River The Yocums traded horses and blankets to the Indians in exchange for the mine. Then the Yocums began to mint their own money with the words "Yocum dollar" on the face of the silver coins."
"Everyone in the hills used the Yocum dollars as money and no one objected until someone presented the Yocum dollars at the government land office in Springfield, Missouri, to exchange for government land. The land agent objected to them as counterfeit and sent one of the coins to Washington D. C. for assay and a judgment. Meanwhile James Yocum and his Delaware wife were buried in a cave-in in the silver mine near their home, which concealed the mine entrance. A federal agent came to Southwest Missouri looking for the Yocums silver dollars and the mint. He did not find either."
"One of the Yocum brothers died about 1848 and in 1850 Solomon Yocum left for the California gold fields. Solomon was the last survivor who knew the silver mines location. Following a stroke, Solomon Yocum related the silver mine secret to his grandson, William, who drew a crude map of its location. Williams son, Joseph Yocum, brought the map to Taney County in 1958 hoping to find the mine. He did not, but he gave the map to Artie Ayres, friend and owner of the land where the mine was located on the Yocum map."
Colorful and alluring, as are most legends of lost treasures and secret mines, this bit of folklore has a complex history--a history that spans several decades and includes both white settlers and entrepreneurs trading with local Indians. Because the Indians had come to understand the white mans attraction to precious ores, they too promoted a legend about a "silver mine." Evidence of the perpetuation of the legend is given by Silas Turnbo, Turnbo, a farmer, Confederate soldier, and newspaperman of German Palatinate ancestry who came with his family to the White River country in 1840 and later collected oral histories in the Ozarks:2
"In 1841 nearly all the White River Indians were gone. But a big Indian story was going the rounds of the settlers, the substance of which was that there was a mine on Buffalo River which the Indians called Silver Cave. The Indians reported that there were two leads of silver ore in the cavern, that one lead had been worked 30 and the other 20. The Indians claimed that the mouth of the cave was so well concealed that it was hardly possible for the whites to discover it. Two Indians by the names of John and Alpherd proposed to reveal the exact locality of this mine to two white men named John Smith and William Ashbrand provided the chief who lived in Shawnee Town on Crooked Creek near modern Yellville, Arkansas gave his consent. When the two Indians placed the matter before him he peremptorily refused saying, 'If you reveal the whereabouts of this cave I will put you to death and I will also slay the two white men.'"
Beliefs in secret mines and buried treasures form a substantial part of the folklore of the Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains. In 1880 a St. Louis journalist reported a great "Field of Silver" in the Ouachitas near Hot Springs, Arkansas.3 From the 1880s to the Depression, regional newspapers reported numerous silver and gold "discoveries"; and the "Legend of the Indian Mine" in Arkansas Boone County tells of a mine which contained "such an abundance of silver that the Indians shod their horses with it."4 Petroglyphs in Ozark caves have been reported to be codes for the location of gold and silver bullion, and as late as 1882 a family owned business--the Yocum Silver Mine Corporation--purchased a clam-shell crane with a sixton bucket and a bulldozer to dig out the "famous Yocum mine."5
The history, tradition, and folklore of the monetary unit designated as a "dollar" and associated with the family name "Yocum" span four centuries and perhaps much longer, on at least two continents. In America the legend is connected with the famous "Mississippi Bubble" land speculation, and its Ozark genesis occurred in the midst of the most significant chapter in the history of Indian migrations in the
Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks. The name of this "dollar" originated in sixteenth century Bohemia and has spread to many currencies besides the silver coins minted by the Yocum family in the 1820s in the southwestern Missouri Ozarks. The Yoachums,6 principal participants in this legend being of Palatinate origin, would surely have known of the Joacbimsthaler, a common coin in German-speaking Europe and a popular medium of international monetary exchange, and no doubt named their own Yocums Doilar as a reflection not only of that coin but also of the tradition of private coinage as a desirable business venture in Europe and America. Also aware of the naivete of many of their neighbors, they took advantage of the existing beliefs of the Upper White River frontiersmen to create circumstances in which the Yocum Silver Dollar would have credibility and would develop its own Ozark mystique.
To explain the appearance of the Yocum Dollar in Missouri, one must trace the immigration of early settlers, both Indian and white. As early as the 1780s, Delawares, Shawnees, and other Indians migrated westward into the Ozarks as American settlers displaced them east of the Mississippi River. In 1818, after a generation of continued trouble with the Indians in the Old Northwest Territory, the United States Government made an agreement with the Indians, giving them land west of the Mississippi River in exchange for their agreeing to move out of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. This treaty, signed at St. Marys, Ohio, and commonly known as the St. Marys treaty, signaled the imminent emigration westward of the majority of the Delaware Nation. The Delawares relinquished all lands and improvements on the White River in Indiana in exchange for an unidentified location west of the Mississippi. Two territorial governors, William Clark of Missouri and James Miller of Arkansas, agreed between themselves that since many Delawares had already settled near the James River in southwestern Missouri that area would serve as their reservation.7
Joining the Delawares in the Ozarks in the 1820s were Shawnee, Kickapoo, Piankashaw, Peoria, Wea, Pottawatomie, Seneca, and other Indians who settled in southwestern Missouri and among the Cherokees in Arkansas Territory. The Cherokees were pleased to have these new neighbors, because the Cherokees, Shawnees, and Delawares were then able to form an informal sort of confederation to aid each other in competing for hunting rights on land that had previously been dominated by the Osage Indians to the west of them; however, Missouri politicians were not happy about the arrival of the Delawares, because they were already interested in the area for the expansion of white settlement. The new arrivals in Southwest Missouri and Arkansas amounted to some 8,000 or more, 3,000 of whom were Delawares who settled along the James River and near the Kickapoo Prairie southwest of present-day Springfield, in the general vicinity of the panhandle of Christian County.8
These groups of Indians, many of whom were effectively wards of the federal government, and thereby recipients of federal annuities in silver specie, provided a good market for American entrepreneurs eager to expand their trading enterprises into the new territories. In 1817 Pierre Menard of Kaskaskia, Illinois, and the Valle family of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, founded the Menard-Valle Trading Company. The Menard and Valle trading posts extended credit to the Delawares and, with a monopolistic agreement with John Jacob Aster, maintained a lucrative business venture from 1823 to 1827.9
When the Delawares arrived in the James River area, they displaced squatters and Boonslick immigrants from central Missouri who had been working the upper James River lead deposits under an unconfirmed Spanish land grant.10 Numerous old Southwest Missouri families lived nearby, including Campbells, Friends, Mooneys, Pattersons, Pettyjohns, Yoachums, and others. The Indians rented bottom lands to the whites, gave permission for mills to be built, and sold cattle and hogs to the whites for brood stock. John Campbell, the federally appointed subagent who had sole jurisdiction over the reservation, referred to some of the white neighbors as "outlaw characters" and complained in a letter to his immediate supervisor about the relations between whites and Indians:11
"I think it bad policy to permit traders to cultivate so much of the Indian soil and to keep such large stocks of horses and cattle in the neighborhood of the villages and they pay the Indians no rent and sell their corn at an extravagant price to them... Some of the traders are now clearing more land, those who have Indian families of children I think ought to be allowed to cultivate soil sufficient to support their children but nothing more."
Campbell had complained the previous year of local whites trafficking in illegal alcohol. Prominent among the lawbreakers were John Denton and Solomon Yoachum:12
"Solomon Yoachum has erected a distillery... and has made a quantity of peach brandy and has been selling it for some time in quantities to the Indians. There is a number of those outlaw characters all below him who are selling whiskey
constantly to the Indians."
It is at this point during the mid-1820s that the "Yocum Silver Dollar Legend" had its origin, founded upon several historical circumstances. The presence of thousands of Delawares upon the James River was a crucial element.
Silver legends in the Ozarks began literally at the dawn of the history of Europeans in the Ozarks. In an account of an expedition of the famous French explorer Claude-Charles du Tisne in 1719, Mildred Wedel points out that in the early 18th century the French crown had already decided to "turn over commercial exploitation of Louisiana [New France] to private business interests." In the summer of 1712 Antoine Crozat formed the Company of Louisiana, hoping to capitalize on the discovery of precious ore mines in the Ozarks and in the Ouachita Mountains, but his venture failed. By 1717 a Scotsman, John Law, had absorbed the Crozat interests and organized the Company of the Indies, also known as the Mississippi Company. Two years later, serving as a diplomat for the government of Louisiana (New France) and as an explorer for French investors in the Mississippi Valley, du Tisne visited Kaskaskia on behalf of his clients. He inquired among the local residents about the mines, and the Kaskaskians gave him silver ore samples to take back to Mobile as presents for the governor of Louisiana, La Mothe de Cadillac. The wily Kaskaskians--French Canadians who had explored and settled the area only a few years earlier-in an effort to excite the "greedy governor" in the South, told du Tisne that the ore samples had come from nearby mines. Following du Tisnes arrival in Mobile, Cadillac hastily organized an expedition for the hill country of what is now the eastern Missouri Ozarks. Alas for human greed. Cadillac conducted a futile search and played a fools role for delighted Kaskaskians and returned to Mobile, where "everyone reported a very rich silver mine had been discovered," but no one told the location of it. Cadillac, of course, tried to save face and refused to credit the episode as a hoax.13
But John Law made the imaginary silver and gold mines "real" for European investors in his Mississippi Company. He told them that land and water regions of New France had abundant precious ores. In fact, he said that "silver was so abundant that it had little or no value; it might be used in the shape of square stones to pave the public roads."14 By 1720 Law had christened himself the Duke of Arkansas, but his schemes for the promotion and development of the Mississippi Company in the New World collapsed into the "Mississippi Bubble." Investors withdrew support and Laws financial empire crumbled. However, the momentum of what Law had set in motion continued for several years. Philippe Renault, a director and heavy investor in Laws company, brought the first slaves into the Ozarks to work in the lead mining enterprises. In 1723, Etienne Veniard de Bourgmond, founder of New Orleans and emissary to the Missouri Indians, built the short-lived Fort dOrleans on the northern edge of the Ozarks in present-day Chariton County in central Missouri. Afterwards Bourgmond persuaded a few Indians to accompany him to the court of Louis XV. While in Paris, Bourgmonds party anticipated future wealth and continued to perpetuate the legend of silver in the Ozarks by accepting a new royal coat of arms: its image was a naked Indian on a mountain of silver.15
The silver legends continued to develop an air of authority as European cartographers located legendary silver mines on maps of New France throughout the 18th century. But in 1819 when Thomas Nuttall explored the Arkansas Territory, he told a different story:16
"We see them (the mines) marked upon the maps, and although the places are easily discoverable, the gold and silver they were said to afford has entirely vanished like a fairy dream... In the course of my inquiries concerning minerals, I was told of the existence of a silver mine, somewhere along the banks of White River, but though the opinion is a very prevalent one, it is necessary to receive it with caution. Fragments of pyrites, as usual, have been shown to me for precious ores, and the true statement of their value, so contrary to sanguine expectation, is often treated as an imposition to conceal their importance."
By 1834, the persistent reports of silver mines led the U. S. Topographical Engineers to employ a geologist, G. W. Featherstonhaugh, to inspect and report on "the mineral and geological character of the Ozark Mountains" in the northern part of the Territory of Arkansas. Featherstonhaugh was confronted by "some sanguine persons"who had been deceived by the appearances of local rocks. He thought it "a point of duty to warn them against wasting their means in a pursuit, of the probable advantages of which they were not competent judges." The geologist concluded, "I had never seen in any portion of the Territory of Arkansas the least indication of the precious metals apart from a very small portion of silver contained in the sulphuret of lead."17
A generation later the "facts" remained the same, but an Industrial Report by the Geological Survey of Missouri still made references to possible silver mines in Missouri.18
"Were it not for the fact that portions of the state are very frequently excited over reported silver discoveries within the limits of Missouri, it would not be necessary to make more than a passing allusion to this fact of the invariable absence of notable amounts of silver from our ores... [There are] some vague traditions connected with De Sotos expedition, or with the mythical silver mining Indian, and which generally have no more substantial basis than a few specks of calcite or pyrites in a limestone, or at the best, the discovery of a galenite of fine grained texture."
The Missouri state geologist further noted that in his own experience he counted over fifty cases where limestone had been brought to him for silver ore.
Regardless of the geologists findings, an oral tradition of a silver mine persisted. And the legend was firmly linked with the Yoachum family. A fortuitous aspect of the Yocum legend lies in the name itself. In Europe and America the name of Joachim, the saint known as "The Father of the Blessed Virgin Mary," is widely used as a place name and as a surname, with various spellings. In the early 16th century a rich silver mine was established in Joachimsthal (Joachims Dale), Bohemia, where industrialists manufactured the popular European coin known as the Joachimsthaler. The term Joachimsthaler, shortened by the Dutch to daler, was imported to the American colonies. In 1785 the Continental Congress adopted the term dollar as the basic unit of American coinage.19
There is no evidence that the Yoachums of Missouri had any connection to the Bohemian dale where the first "Yocums Dollar" was minted. The earliest reference to this family is that they were of Palatinate origin and by 1818 had migrated to Missouri from Ohio, through Illinois into Ste. Genevieve, roughly paralleling the Delaware migration into Missouri.20 It seems likely that they, like other traders, followed the Delaware movements into the White River country. In Missouri the Joachim surname occurs with various spellings: Yoachum, Yoakum, Yochum, Yokum, Yocum. The name also occurs as a place name several times; Joachim Creek, Jefferson County; St. Joachims Church at Old Mines, Washington County; Yocum Creek in Taney County; and Yocum Pond in Stone County. The names in Jefferson and Washington Counties are of French origin; the other two are associated with the Yoachum family. Delawares and Yoachums both arrived at nearly the same time on the James River, and their histories have been interwoven ever since.
Ozarkers have continued to believe that the Yoachums produced silver dollars with raw ore taken from "Silver Cave." What seems never to have occurred to the perpetuators of the legend is that the silver probably had not come from the earth, but from federal specie given to the Delaware Nation. In the letter cited above in footnote 12 from John Campbell, the local subagent for Indian affairs, to his superior in St. Louis in 1825, it is clear that Solomon Yoachum had actually moved onto Indian lands, raised corn, and made illicit alcohol; futhermore, it is clear from the letter that Campbell forced Yoachum and Denton to move. Following their eviction from Delaware lands, they resettled a few miles south, just below the mouth of the junction of Finley Creek and the James River, the boundary of the Delaware lands, and established a series of brandy and whiskey stills. The Yoachums were after profits, profits from government annuities sent to the Delawares.
Illicit traffic in supplying alcohol to Indians on the American frontier was the frontiersmans most risky and most infamous sin, but it was not illegal to set up a private mint for silver coins.21 In order not to be caught with illegally acquired government silver specie, the Yoachums would have had to mask their illegal transactions somehow--or, in modern parlance, to "launder their profits." In order to destroy the evidence it is likely that they decided to produce their own coinage, the Yocum dollar, by melting down and recasting the federal silver in their homemade mint located in "Silver Cave." The melting down of silver was not illegal; the production of private coinage was not illegal; but to be caught with federal specie gained from illegal trade with Indians was a serious transgression.
The new money, the Yocum dollar, met the necessary criteria for a medium of exchange: it was a unit of account, it had a store of value, it was portable, and it was acceptable. In a state that did not have a state bank,22 and on the Ozarks frontier where money was chronically short and where barter was a common commercial exchange, the Yocum dollar would have been welcomed. Individuals with the means to do so could mint coins from their own silver and not be guilty of any wrongdoing. From their own point of view, the Yoachums might have seen themselves as silver speculators--a common business at the time-rather than simply as coin-makers; they may also have provided a service for their fellow distillers who needed to "launder" some specie of their own. In frontier times, when transportation and communication were slow and before federal bureaucracies had developed into what they are today, there was no elaborate licensing procedure for establishing private mints; there were only two absolute requirements: the coins had to contain a certain
amount of precious metal, and privately minted coins could not be imprinted with words suggesting that they were of federal or state coinage. Later, after banks were common in Southwest Missouri, and after the government had developed more complicated procedures for such matters as the manufacture of coins, it should not be surprising that in the legend "no one objected until someone presented the Yocum dollars at the government land office." Though the Yoachums were no doubt aware of the illegality of their alcohol business, they surely were astute enough businessmen to figure out a means of obscuring the nature of the minting portion of their enterprise so as to avoid discovery. Whatever their background was before they moved to Southwest Missouri, the Yoachums were able to play on the gullibility of their neighbors and possibly the government as well by promoting the myth of yet another silver-producing cave.
In the 1830s the Indians were forced to move out of their lands in Southwest Missouri,23 and after Greene County was organized in 1833 with the county seat just a few miles to the north of the reservation, the Yoachums surely realized that their whiskey-making business could not last. As the federal government took over the Delaware lands, forcing them to move to the new reservation northwest of Kansas City or to resettle somewhere else, the Yoachums source of government silver disappeared. Their former source of "ore" having evaporated, the Yoachums probably just "diversified their investments," dealing in land and livestock rather than whiskey and brandy, and allowed or encouraged the myth of "Silver Cave" to remain as the explanation for their earlier coin-minting business.24 The only Yocum Dollar ever assayed proved more valuable than federal coin; 25 if the Yocum Dollars generally contained more silver than federal coins or other coins in common circulation, such as the Spanish dollar, then silver speculators would have eagerly bought up any Yocum coins they could find, to melt them down for the ore, thus removing them forever from circulation. A Senate committee of 1830 reported precisely that sort of development, namely, that United States silver coins (and private mint coins) were considered so much bullion and were accordingly lost to the community as coins.26
The Yoachum/Yocum name is indelibly imprinted on the official as well as folk history of the Ozarks. First settlers always accrue status by being "first," participating in such prerogatives as naming the land. Their role in the history of the area was also enhanced by their hosting Henry Rowe Schoolcraft on the White River during his famous exploration of the Ozarks in 1818-1819. The 1876 Centennial Forsyth Pioneer Farmer declared that the Yoachum brothers and Denton families were Taney Countys first families in 1826.27 And we know from the Campbell letters that just one year before, in 1825, the Yoachums and Dentons had been expelled from the Delaware reservation on the James River and moved to land that twelve years later became part of the newly formed Taney County. Jess Yoachum, one of the four immigrant brothers, often visited the White River encampments to gamble for deer hides, beads, and moccasins.28 By 1835 Jacob Yoachum had one of the largest cattle herds in Southwest Missouri.29 By 1850 Solomon Yoachum had the second largest swine herd in Taney County and the family of his nephew, George Yoachum, managed the mill of former Indian trader William Marshall, which was valued at twice the amount of any other Taney County industry.30 At the close of the 19th century the Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region proclaimed that Solomon Yoachum, the last survivor and actual participant in the Yocum Dollar phenomenon, was one of the most praise-worthy and eminent pioneers in the Ozarks.31
The Yocum name will continue to pervade the history and folklore of the Upper White River region. Little did the middle-aged Germans who came to the Ozarks realize that their name and a legend they spawned would become synonymous with 20th century Ozark stereotypes and Ozark tourism. Though the people and places in Al Capps famous comic strip are certainly fictitious, he chose the name Yocum for the central family in Li1 Abner, and the tourist attraction Dogpatch USA was built in the Ozarks a few miles south of where the Yocum Dollar of Missouri was minted. It also seems ironically fitting that located east of the historic Yocum settlement on the lower James River lies the sprawling Silver Dollar City, on Indian Point, the real silver mine with its one and one-half million annual visitors. In recent years, as business people in the area have chosen names for their enterprises, they have capitalized on the folk awareness of matters associated with the Yoachums: billboards throughout the Branson area boldly display such terms as Yocum, silver dollar, lost silver mine, etc.
In 1930, as the White River area was experiencing some industrial growth and increasing popularity as a tourist area and was being surveyed for additional dams to accompany Taneycomo Dam (built in 1911), journalist William Draper published the following commentary, furthering the stereotype of the Ozark resident as an impractical dreamer lured by a simple lifestyle amid the Ozark streams and hills, forever hoping to find buried treasures or lost silver mines:32
"Ozarkers are against water-power development,
men wont even work in the canning plants, as most of them are down by the river telling big yarns to the pop-eyed summer guests, wearing out legends and tales... The hillman cant be changed, hell just go further back into the woods and build log cabin settlements, run his hounds in the spring and fall, and go about looking for lost mines and buried treasure."
Whether or not many real-life Ozarkers fit his description, the entrepreneurs--many of them outsiders with values and lifestyles that differ markedly from the ways of local descendants of the original settlers in the Ozarks-still capitalize on Drapers stereotyped characterization of local residents, as evidenced in the types of souvenirs and entertainment hyped by the tourist business in the area today.
Truly, the Yocum Silver Dollar legend when cast in the light of our historical experience has become one of the ingredients that constitute a distinct regional consciousness in the Ozarks.
1Collections of the Yocum dollar legends may be read in Will Townsend, "Toms Long Quest for Yocum Dollar," (Springfield) News and Leader, July 20, 1975, and especially Artie Ayres, Traces of Silver (Reeds Spring, MO: Ozark Mountain Country Historical Preservation Society, 1982).
2Turnbos 28 volume manuscript collection, now housed in the Greene County Public Library in Springfield, is one of the largest and most important testaments to antebellum history in the Ozarks. The example used here is from Volume 6, pp. 90ff.
3J.W. Buel, Legends of the Ozarks (St. Louis: W.S. Bryan, 1880), pp. 46-53.
4"Ozark Traditions," Current Wave, January 21, 1932. According to folk traditions, the Spanish, French, Civil War soldiers, and Jesse James have all hidden silver from one end of the Ozarks to the other.
5"Petroglyph-Man Deciphers Rock in Search of Treasure," (Springfield) News and Leader, March 7, 1982; "Man Continues Fathers Quest for Lost Mine," News and Leader, July 11, 1982.
6Most early documents give the Y-O-A-C-H-U-M spelling for the family name. Since none of the Yocum Dollars survive, we do not know how they spelled the name on the coins, or even whether the name was on the coins, but it is virtually always spelled Y-O-C-U-M. By 1835 the shorter spelling commonly appeared on tax assessments and census returns. In this paper the original spelling is used in references to the people and the shorter one in references to the coins.
7Several hundred Delawares had spent two decades on Spanish grant lands near Cape Girardeau. Louis Lorimer, Revolutionary War Tory and Indian trader, had designed the grants for his own trading benefit. Following the War of 1812 and in the face of the American immigration, the "Cape Girardeau Delawares" moved to the area of the great bend of the Upper White River.
8Clarence Edwin Carter, compiler, The Territorial Papers of the United States, Territory of Arkansas, Volume 19, 1819-1825 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1953), pp. 146, 548. See also Lynn Morrow, "Trader William Gilliss and Delaware Migration in Southern Missouri," Missouri Historical Review, Volume 75, pp. 147-67, for additional sources concerning this general subject.
9Glen Holt, "St. Louiss Transition Decade, 1819-1830," Missouri Historical Review, Volume 76, P. 377, and John Upton Terrell, Furs by Astor (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1963), p. 370.
10Edwin W. Hemphill, The Papers of John C. Calhoun, Volume 6 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1972), pp. 101-2, 285, 603.
11John Campbell to Richard Graham, December 9, 1826, Richard Graham Papers, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis. Graham was a subagent for Indian affairs under William Clark, Indian agent for Western lands in St. Louis.
12John Campbell to Richard Graham, October 1, 1825, Graham Papers, MHS.
13Mildred Mott Wedel, "Claude-Charles DuTisne: A Review of His 1719 Journeys," Great Plains Journal, Fall 1972, p. 8. Wedel points out that the silver had come from Mexico.
14John Anthony Caruso, The Southern Frontier (New York: Bobbs Merrill Co., 1963), p. 175.
15See, for instance, J. H. Schlarman, From Quebec to New Orleans (Belleville IL: Beuchier Publishing Co., 1929), p. 209; Robert Bray, "Bourgmounds Fort dOrleans and the Missouri Indians," Missouri Historical Review, Vol. 75, pp. 9, 12, 14; Caruso, p. 174; and Henry C. Haskell, Jr. and Richard B. Gowler, City of the Future: A Narrative History of Kansas City, 1850-1950 (Kansas City: Frank Glenn Publishing Co.), p. 21.
Le Page du Pratz spent two decades on a lower Mississippi Valley plantation following John Laws promotion. He returned to France and in his senior years wrote his famous History of Louisiana (London: T. Beckett, 1774). In describing the Mississippi Valley uplands (the Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains) he scolded his fellow countrymen for living lazy, pretentious lives and ignoring the vast precious ore deposits in the hills which were positively there. (p. 19)
16Thomas Nutall, A Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory During the Year 1819, edited by Savoie Lottinville (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980), pp. 121-122, 142.
17G. W. Featherstonhaugh, Geological Report of an Examination Made in 1834 of the Elevated Country between the Missouri and Red Rivers (Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton, 1835), pp. 60-61.
l8Charles P. Williams, Industrial Report on Lead, Zinc and Iron, Together with Notes on Shannon County and Its Copper Deposits (Jefferson City: Regan and Carter, State Printers and Binders, 1877), p. 11.
19Robert L. Ramsey, Our Storehouse of Missouri Place Names (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1973) p. 108.
Further insight has been provided by R. S. Yeoman, A Guide Book of United States Coins, 1984, Kenneth Bressett, ed. (Racine WI: Western Publishing Co., 1983), p. 146. The unit of money to which the name of Joachimsthaler was given apparently originated in the Tyrol in 1484, but it was popularized at the mint at Joachimsthal. Many European names for an equivalent coin are derived from this same word: the Netherlands Rijksdaaaler, the Danish Rigsdaler, the Italion Tellero, the Polish Taler, the French Jacondale, and the Russian Jefimok.
20The Yocum silver legends surround three brothers, Solomon, Jacob, and Jesse, who all lived in Southwest Missouri. Another brother, Mike, was a successful miller on the Little North Fork River in Arkansas and a state representative from Marion County. Solomons wife, Mary, appeared in a Ste. Genevieve court on February 5, 1818, during the settlement of a probate case to which she was an heir. See Ste. Genevieve Archives, Collection 3636 f. 277, Joint Manuscripts, Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, University of Missouri-Columbia.
21See Yoeman, A Guide Book of United States Coins, 1984, pp. 8-9. Federal silver dollars were scarce during the early 19th century. President Jefferson imposed a moratorium on their production in 1806 which lasted until 1837. There was, however, a great deal of private coinage during this period. Coins were "by no means fabricated in order to deceive the public; they were simply attempts, and successful ones, to commercialize the newly-produced metal. They did not claim government authorization but indicated the name of the producer and generally passed as money."
22From 1820 to 1837 Missouri was the only state in the country without a state bank, and only one U.S. branch bank operated in the state, from 1829 to 1833. See Stuart F. Voss, "Town Growth in Central Missouri," Missouri Historical Review, Vol. 64, p. 207, and Note 20, p. 207.
23With continued pressure from Missouri politicians, the United States government made several treaties with the Indians in Missouri during the 1820s and 1830s in an attempt to keep them moving west into Territories. The James Fork Treaty of 1829 set up a new Delaware reservation in northeastern Kansas. Many of the Delawares moved to Kansas, but many others stayed in southwestern Missouri or resettled among other Indians in present-day Arkansas and Oklahoma.
24An interesting comparison to the Yocum dollar is the Jacob and Nancy Sprinkle case in northeastern Kentucky. They too minted silver coins whose assayed value was more than the face value of the coins. The Sprinkles never revealed their source. An attempt at
prosecution failed and, like Solomon Yoachum, they moved to California after the Gold Rush, where they died with their secret. See Lynn Glaser, Counterfeiting in America: The History of an American Way to Wealth (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1968), pp. 68-69.
25Will Townsend, "Toms Long Quest for Yocum Dollar," (Springfield) News and Leader, July 20, 1975.
26Yeoman, A Guide Book of United States Coins.
27(Forsyth) Pioneer Farmer, July 7, 1876.
28Turnbo Collection, Vol. 25, p. 22, and Vol. 15, p. 42.
29Greene County Assessors Book, 1835, in Green County Library.
30Agricultural Census, Taney County 1850; Products of Industry, Taney County, 1850.
31Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region (Chicago, Goodspeed Brothers, 1894), pp. 310, 383.
32William R. Draper, "The Ozarks Go Native," Outlook, Volume 156 (September 10, 1930), pp. 60-62, 77-78.
Program given by Mr. Morrow on December 12, 1982 meeting of our society and reprinted with permission of the Editor of the Missouri Folklore Society Journal.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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