By Louise Fuller
Submitted by: Margaret Strickland
Posted: 3 April 2010
Copyright: Margaret Strickland
Although most of know about the California Gold Rush and the ghost towns it left behind, we know little about our own Nash County gold mines. Some have at least heard of the Portis Gold Mine which was in northeast Franklin County near the Nash County line, but in 1866 there were two gold mines listed in Nash County. One, whose address was Nashville, was named Ivey Bluff and was owned by J. T. Webb. The other, Mann’s Gold Mine, had a Hilliardston address.
By 1890, the Mann-Arrington Gold Mine was located at a new town called Argo. Argo also had the Campbell & Lyon General Store and the Harmony Methodist Protestant Church, which in 1886 was listed in Hilliardston. The Edmonds Gold Mine was operating in Argo, too.
In 1895, an old booklet reveals that an Episcopal Church in far away Philadelphia sent hymnals and other materials to the church; Bishop Cheshire visited the church school; marriages are recorded; and visitors (Wm. L. Thorpe of Hilliardston and Rocky Mount) and people who attended Sunday School at Argo (Coley, Cyrus, Hedgepeth, and Harper) are listed.
Why was the village called Argo? Could it derive its name from the Argo Starch probably sold in the general store? Did someone remember Jason and his Golden Fleece, with the largest ship called Argo? Perhaps it was an abbreviation of Arrington Gold Mine. No one seems to know.
Where was Argo? Although most county maps do not list it, the village was listed on the postal route in 1890 in Griffin’s Township between what is now called Taylor’s Store and Pattie Harrison’s Crossroads. The NC Gazetteer states, “Argo – former town in NC on Short Swamp Branch, incorporated 1889. Nearby Argo Gold Mine worked from about 1850 until 1920. Both town and mine are now abandoned.” It was rumored that the owners planned to reopen the mine at a later date, but this did not occur.
To find the site of Argo, take Hwy. 58 north from Nashville to Taylor’s Store Road (1004); turn right and continue on this lovely winding road past Duke and Taylor’s Gin Road (1310). The next road on the right is Wheelers Cabin Road (1404). Several old local maps show Argo above Wheelers Cabin Road. However, the once thriving village now seems lost amid the property of the J. T. Taylor heirs and L. F. Walston, off one of the paths used by the Buckhorn Hunting Club.
More on Argo …
The following was taken from the Argo Chapel Bulletin for Christmas 1896:
“… but eighteen months, the 2nd Sunday, July ’95 …, since we first met in the Chapel and organized. We had very little materially to build — but the little Chapel on the Argo Mining Company’s property, a box of hymnals and lesson books from Mr. John E. Baird, Phila.— but we had eager hearts and God’s Eternal Promises.
“Now in trying to write up an account of our work, I feel that it is due to you to know something of the UNSEEN number who have walked hand in hand with us at Argo for the lst eighteen months. Mrs. John Baird, of Philadelphia became interested in our school, and sent splendid boxes of clothing, shoes, etc., our organ, and furnished our sewing school to help us teach that God’s Promises are living things.
“Mr. John E. Baird, Mr. W. Dewees Wood, Miss Tillie Baird and Miss Gertrude Wood gave us our candles, toys, dolls and shawls, all the gifts of love that made us happy last Christmas. Miss Tillie Baird lesson rolls and illustrations. Then the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Nativity, Phila., calls our Chapel ‘her little daughter.’ Then again Mrs. W. Dewees Wood sent us a splendid box of goods, and little Miss Gertrude Wood, whose sweet face smiles at us from the picture on the organ is the one we are indebted to for a great many favors.”
MARRIAGES AT ARGO: 1895-96
Robert Johnson married Nannie Griffin
Robert Gardner married Ella Gay
J. A. Bobbett married Mollie Marshall
M. Schenedeker married Rebecca Bennett
Joseph Hickey married Mary Beran
C. M. Frazier married Ophelia Griffin
T. C. Graham married Fannie Hawkins
Mr. George Cyrus
Mrs. Leah Gardner
Mrs. James Lucas
Mrs. Sam Williams
Ophelia C. Johnson
Source: The article “In Search of Argo” was written by Louise Fuller, an ardent researcher, genealogist and charter member of Tar River Connections Genealogical Society. Mrs. Fuller has since passed away. “More on Argo…” was taken from the Argo Chapel Bulletin for Christmas, 1896. The bulletin was provided by Margaret Graham Booth of Red Oak, NC. Her father, came to Nash County from Philadelphia to work at the Argo mine. No mention is made of denomination. However, the chapel was sponsored by the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Philadelphia. [note from Margaret Strickland]
These stories were published in THE CONNECTOR, NEWSLETTER OF TAR RIVER CONNECTIONS GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY in the Fall 1997 and Winter 1998 issues.