Last year I had the privilege of acquiring another local history book called “Welcome to Fort Valley”, by Jeanette Ritenour, James Trott and Margaret Trott. This 600-page volume is packed with anecdotes, photos and information about the valley within a valley. Even though I have only just started reading it, what I have already found is enough for me to encourage you to read it too.
At the beginning of this book is the story of William Powell who gave his name to Powell’s fort. I’ve heard variations of this tale all my life, so it was fascinating to read about this local tradition. This somewhat sleazy character apparently arrived in Fort Valley in the early 1700s and either discovered and operated a silver mine, hid silver in an undisclosed location, or both.
Powell is also said to have minted his own counterfeit coins from the money and Mr EE Keister, founder of the Shenandoah publishing house, said he had seen some of these coins as well as ore and tools from the company of Powell.
In another account, three boys found the mine by accident. Inside, they claimed to have discovered an old wheelbarrow, pickaxe and shovel as well as silver ore. When they approached the landowner to share the profits from a potential treasure, he unequivocally refused. His rude refusal angered the boys who returned to cover the entrance and swear his whereabouts to secrecy.
No known coins exist today and despite numerous attempts to locate the mine and the treasure, nothing has ever been found. It seems unlikely that the young boys will fill the void or keep the secret. Nevertheless, their story is intriguing.
Such stories excite the minds of treasure hunters and young people and motivate many hikes and explorations. Although we would like to believe they are true, the lack of evidence certainly points to the opposite conclusion. While virtually all the land in the region has been repeatedly stripped for timber, bark and charcoal, it seems unlikely that such a mine was missed.
Scavenger hunting captures our imagination and this is exploited by various TV shows and novels. The National Treasure films were very popular, and Oak Island, The Copper Scroll, Forrest Fen and others continue to attract seekers.
Apparently, this fascination is not new. Jesus said in Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hid in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy he went and sold everything he he had and bought this field.” This strategy might have been more effective than profit sharing.
Either way, Jesus’ short parable helps us understand how much we should value the kingdom of heaven and all that relates to it. Too often we fail to properly appreciate the great eternal value of spiritual matters. We are so caught up in the growth of crops or trees on the surface of life that we fail to tap into what awaits us below.
The Word of God is certainly one of those treasures that helps us find the kingdom of heaven. It is a map that presents unmistakable clues to uncovering the greatest treasures of all. A relationship with God through His Son Jesus not only gives an eternal inheritance in His glorious heaven, but also provides our daily needs. It is sad that we are often so caught up in the search for financial treasure that we miss the most precious prize of Jesus himself. It is also unfortunate that we sometimes accumulate these riches and refuse to share them with others.
If you ever hike the Fort and come across Powell’s money, be sure to share it with me. Meanwhile, a far more profitable use of energy is to search God’s Word and His heart and cherish Him above all earthly riches.
George Bowers is the senior pastor of the church in Antioch and is the author of sixteen books, including Blessings Volume 3, which is a collection of these articles. It is available at Four Star Printing, Shenandoah Stuff and Fort Valley Cafe. He can be reached by www.georgebowersministries.com or at [email protected]
George Bowers is the senior pastor of the church in Antioch and is the author of 16 books, including Blessings Volume 3, which is a collection of these articles. It is available at Four Star Printing, Shenandoah Stuff and Fort Valley Cafe. He can be reached by www.georgebowersministries.com or at [email protected]