Archiver > CA-GOLDRUSH > 1998-08 > 0903122906

From: <>
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 1998 15:28:26 -0400


By way of a thank you to all the people who've become interested in my
search for Last Chance Gulch and the trail of my g-grandfather, WILLIAM
HENRY RUSK, thought I'd send along this update.

Yesterday my sole living aunt dug through a box and found an article from
1975 which
appeared in the Acworth, GA newspaper. Acworth was John Cowan's GA home
before and after his prospecting days in the west.

First off, William Henry Rusk always went by "Henry," not "William."

Article states that John Cowan of Cherokee Co., GA, left home in his
30's, to seek gold in the Black Hills. He took with him his two nephews,
Frank Cowan and Tom Cowan, John Boring and Bill Palmer, also of Cherokee
Co., and Henry Rusk of neighboring Forsyth Co.
So there were six . They took an northern trail to the Black Hills.
There is not mention that they went on a wagon train.

After many months there with no luck, two of the men, John Boring and Tom
Cowan headed back to GA. Tom Cowan was killed by Indians, but John
Boring made it home.

So, now there were four. The remaining men, John Cowan, his nephew Frank
Cowan, Henry Rusk, and Bill Palmer continued to battle the wilderness,
Indians, bears etc. (Lots of recounting of their adventures in the

They obviously wandered around for years.

Finally, after a disheartening spring of 1864, the group reached a
tributary of the Missouri in Montana territory. On June 14, 1864, as
they stood near a gulch, John Cowan declared,
"Boys, this gulch is our last chance" and dug a shovelful of dirt. . .
which contained $20 worth of gold. (Sounds apocryphal to me. How about
you?) Anyway, they all grabbed shovels and dug like crazed men until a
group of Indians attacked them, and they had to run for their lives with
what they had already dug--over $1,000 worth of gold.

In a few days, when they felt it was safe to return to the digging site,
they could not locate the exact location as they had all been so excited
when digging and then so traumatized by the Indians' showing up. But,
never fear, good readers, they found an equally good site, built a cabin,
and remained there for three years. (Thus, the family tale that Henry
built the first log cabin in what would become Helena.)

They returned home via boat on the Missouri, stopped in Philadephia (I
erroronously said Denver), on to the Mississippi and then to GA. While
in Philadelphia, Henry Rusk had a heavy gold chain and a wedding band
made for his patient fiancee Dorcas Chamblee. My aunt also has the
receipt for his purchase of a gold watch for $280 in Philadelphia.

John Cowan never married after he came back to GA, but he said he never
again wanted to be in any town without women! He became a successful
businessman and a respected member of the community,as shown by the old
southern custom of his always being referred to by the title "Colonel,"
in spite of the fact the he had no military background.. (We southerners
just LOVE titles!)

Frank Cowan married in Cherokee Co,, and named his eldest daughter

Bill Palmer married in Cherokee and lived out his life there.

And, my ancestor, Henry Rusk returned to Forsyth Co, married Dorcas in
February,1868, and had seven children, the eldest named "John." The
sixth was my grandmother, Nora Rusk Rucker.

Henry became famous for the huge dances he gave. Wagons loaded with
friends would come from miles around on Saturday afternoon. They would
all spend the night after the partying. The catch was that the next
morning Henry would wake everyone early and "suggest" that they all go to
church. (Religion by coercion.)

One of you sent me information that one of the "Four Georgians" who were
the first to find gold in Helena (Last Chance Gulch) was ROBERT RUSK. I
believe this HAS to be an error.

There is no one in the Rusk family named Robert who would have been
anywhere near an age where he could have been on this trip. We know
Henry was.

Also, several of you have asked whether I am kin to Dean Rusk, Sec. of
State. Yes, he is my cousin. He was born and grew up in Cherokee Co.
and, after his retirement, lived out his life there.

I am still seeking input on these "FOUR GEORGIANS," supposedly the first
four men to find the gold in what would become Helena. Some information
I've received is that they were JOHN COWAN, D.J. MILLER, REGINALD "BOB"

Well, Stanley was from England, and Crabb was from Iowa, both lovely
places, but they're definitely not Georgia! Don't know who Miller was or
from where he came.
I figured John Cowan, Frank Cowan, Bill Palmer, and Henry Rusk were the
famous "Four Georgians."

Can someone help me with this?

Thanks again for all your help. It's been fun!

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