Passing through Misenheimer NC, I’ve driven by this marker more than a hundred times since my days as an NC State student brought me to Raleigh. And never leaving the area, I’m blessed to have enjoyed a long affiliation with the university Crafts Center from which I’m nearing retirement.
I don’t think I have any immediate ties to the Barringer family who owned and ran this profitable mine in the upper corner of rural Stanly County. The Barringer family was a big deal in history with connections to gold, business, politics, and even war. Knowing little about the Barringer family details, I’ve pondered other questions as I passed the historical marker above. What was it like back then? Did the gold mining destroy the beauty there and did it render the land an eye sore? Looking across the fields and nearby woods, what would it have looked like in the early 1800’s? I also wonder about my distant cousin Hartwell Spain Love and where he lived and what life was like for him?
Some say Hartwell is the son of old grandsire James, the first and oldest of our LOVE family to reside in the area. But, he’s not. Hartwell is instead likely to be the son of a younger James Love whose full name was likely James Allison Love. It’s been believed forever that old grandsire’s full name was James Allison Love, but it’s not. I could rattle on about that fact for hours though that’s not my intent for this post. Instead I wonder about the life of Hartwell Spain Love. He received land across the Rocky River from John Reed’s goldmine. Something happened and he lost his lands before moving to the area of Gold Hill near Barringer’s mine. Listed among many miners in the 1850 census, Hartwell was not enumerated as being a miner. So, what was his purpose in life and why did Hartwell remove himself to live in the neighborhood surrounding Barringer’s mine? Note that within ten years Hartwell moved again. This time to Iredell county where he lived until his death at Elmira NY in a civil war prison camp.
Now, bear with me for a huge change in thought. Two years ago, my wife and I gathered up my mom and met my sister and brother-in-law for a family vacation touring the eastern rim of the Grand Canyon. Paralleling the old Route 66, we left out from Flagstaff with a first stop taking place at a corner in Winslow Arizona. We later headed out across the desert on a horse with no name in search of Meteorite Crater. It’s a big hole and one that must be seen to be believed. Purchased way back when and still owned by the Barringer family, I wondered if there was a connection to the hole smaller in size located in Stanly County NC. Quickly skimming the plaques for clues, I saw mention of Pennsylvania and made the wrong conclusion that the mine was owned by some northern branch of the Barringer family unknown to me.
And now to the present. Conrad Weiser, a friend, past Crafts Center director, and Barringer descendant stopped by my office to let me know of a recent find. He shared that the Barringer Meteorite Crater was originally purchased by Daniel Moreau Barringer Jr. who was born in Raleigh NC. His father, born near Concord NC, was a lawyer, represented NC in Congress, and was friend to Abraham Lincoln. Like his father, Daniel Barringer Jr received the finest of education and started a career in law. But, something pulled him in a different direction. A love of geology grew in Daniel Moreau Barringer Jr and led him to write a book on minerals and their commercial values. Like his ancestral family in Cabarrus and Stanly Counties, Daniel sought to find that of value hidden below ground. He purchased the Arizona Meterorite Crater in hopes of finding the meteorite he believed was there.