Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tidbits About Research

Back in May of 2009 I posted a short tidbit on my 19th Century Historical Tidbits Blog about the first Gold Rush.

Here is the original post:
In 1799 a 12 year old boy named Conrad Reed found a 17lb gold nugget on his family farm in North Carolina. This nugget was used as a doorstop for years. In 1802, John Reed took the nugget to a jeweler and discovered that it was gold. He wasn't paid well for this nugget but John quickly learned the true value of the gold and a lot more gold was found on the family farm.

Gold mining quickly became a major industry in North Carolina. during the first half of the 19th century gold mining became the number one occupation in North Carolina, surpassing that of farmers.

Gold mining back then was little more than picking the nuggets off the land, then by the middle of the century shafts were dug when they discovered that gold came in veins.

The Charlotte house a mint. It was the first mint to mint gold from America in the U.S. end of original post

How did I stumbled upon this tidbit? I began researching the historical events from the 19th century for a possible book proposal set in North Carolina. That is when I found out about the original gold rush in 1799 and the first mint in the U.S. to mint gold.

Finding gold was not the goal of my hero and heroine but the general background information about the mint, getting ready to mint a gold coin, what that coin looked like, how the molds were made, etc. Allowed me to take a tin smith and turn him into the hero.

Making use of online sources is one of the ways to narrow down what I need to research when I actually go and visit an area. I'll find maps with street names, at various time periods and see if they are called the same today. Again that is something I can do online. However, visiting the location, gives me a better feel of the terrain.

Another online resource I use is Google books, I'll search for the name of the town, the year and I might find some newspapers, journals, criminal or town reports, not to mention advertisers of various businesses in the area, during the time period I'm writing in. These reports give me costs of items, names of people in an area, etc. (You can also use this method in researching Genealogy, I came up with some great information for some of my ancestors this way.)

And last but not least, I also search census records. These give me names of people, how many were in the town around the year I'm working in. I also look at previous and future censuses to see what kinds of changes have happened. Sometimes a report was generated from these censuses and you can find some of these in Google books which make it a lot easier to narrow down the stats of an area.

Well that's just a little bit of what I do while researching for a historical novel. Of course my favorite part is going to a location and meeting some of the people and places in the area. Later this month I'll be traveling up to Lake Champlain, NY again, to visit with family but do some additional research for a book, I haven't yet proposed.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

Lynn A. Coleman is an award winning & best-selling author who makes her home in Keystone Heights, Florida, with her husband of 40 years. Check out her 19th Century Historical Tidbits Blog if you like exploring different tidbits of history. Lynn's latest novel is Courting Holly Her next novel, "Winning the Captain's Heart" is scheduled for release in July.


  1. Lynn, thanks for the insights. I recently had to research historic gold mining in Pennsylvania, and I was surprised how many precious metals were mined in the East back then.

    1. Susan, isn't it funny how we (who do research all the time) are still surprised by our lack of knowledge from years past?

  2. i never knew there was a gold find in NC. That's very interesting. Thanks for the research tips.

    1. Yah and that it was the first gold rush, Georgia takes credit for being the first but they discovered it after NC.