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Archiver > SPRINKLE > 1999-05 > 0925773260


From: <>
Subject: [SPRINKLE-L] Sprinkles Silver Dollar
Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 19:14:20 EDT


America's only legal counterfeit money
-------------------------------------
Mystery Surrounds Jacob Sprinkle and His Counterfeit Silver Money
By DR. William M. talley of Vanceburg, KY
People have always been fascinated with tales of hidden treasure, lost silver
mines, and
gold discoveries. There are frequent news items about sea-divers attempting
to
recover the loot from sunken ships off the coast of the United States. The
tales of
John Swift's lost silver mine in Eastern Kentucky have fascinated people over
several
generations. As far back as 1881, the VanceburgCourier reported that Mrs.
Rebecca
Timmins,of Wolfe County, claimed to have the papers from John Swift's silver
mine, abandoned in 1872. But even as far back as 1876, the Portsmouth Times
reported that
Rev. P. Conway, of tollesboro, Claimed to have found "inexhaustible silver
mines in
that locality." There have been various stories in the past about silver
deposits on
Kinniconick and Quick's Run, but there does not seem to be much to verify
these claims.
When Rev. Ragan wrote his history of Lewis County, he quoted from an
account
that was published in a Portsmouth newspaper as told by W. R. Beatty, of
Sciotville,ohio,
regarding a lost silver mine on Kinniconick, that was operated by the French
in the late
1700s.Beatty claimed that he had heard his family say that his great-uncle,
Andrew Beatty,
in 1812, rediscovered the silver mine and the smelter equipment that was
used by the
French and Indians. He then went on to give his version of how Jacob Sprinkle
had
found the mine, used the silver to make coins, was arrested and tried, but
died taking
his secret of the mine's location with him. Later, when W. C. Dugan wrote
his history
of Lewis County in 1940, he quoted from this some account. Lewis Contains have
always been captivated by the stories about Jacob Sprinkle and his legendary
silver dollars.
Research on Sprinkle makes it obvious there are some problems with
Beatty's
account of him, First, Beatty calls him Josiah Sprinkle, but his name was
actually
Jacob Sprinkle. Second, Beatty says Sprinkle was tried at Washington, in Mason
County Kentucky, but court records in Lewis County show that he was tried at
Clarksburg in June 1841. Third, Beatty says that Sprinkle made silver
dollars, but the
court case says he made half-dollars and copies of Mexican money.
Through the years, the collective memories of people and stories from
other
sources come together in a confusing outcome, so that stories, such as that
of
Jacob Sprinkle, get a bit confusing. Of course, the legends and myths are
always
far more fascinating than the actual facts that can be corroborated through
documentary evidence. When this writer published an account of Jacob Sprinkle,
in the newspaper in 1972, it was surprising the number of people who wrote us
asking questions about "Sprinkle's silver dollars" and giving versions that
had been
passed down to them from their families.
The Court Case
In June 1841, Jacob Sprinkle was charged in Lewis County that he did
"Knowingly, Willfully and feloniously forge and counterfeit the silver coin
current"
and passed it in the state of Kentucky. He was charged with counterfeiting
half-dollars
and Mexican"dollars".(since Mexico does not dollars, we assume they meant
pesos
Sprinkle was charged on five indictments: four of them were for possession of
unlawful instruments for counterfeiting, and one charged him with
counterfeiting.
Sprinkle and his attorney were quite adapt at dodging the charges. Their first
strategy was to destroy the credibility of the testimony of a young girl named
Sarah Litton, who had lived in the Sprinkle household for about a year. It
was
claimed that she had "shown her displeasure with Sprinkle " and thus she was
unworthy
of belief in the court.Apparently,a man named John Peters had accidentally
come upon
a saddle bag containing counterfeiting equipment. Witnesses attested that
these were
the property of Sprinkle. Peters was charged with contempt of court because
he did
not show up to give testimony. Sprinkle then answered that he could prove by
Isaac Caudill and wife that the counterfeiting tools were not found in his
possession, but
were found in a saddle bag on the lands of Benjamin Cole. He admitted that
the
saddle bags in which the tools were found did belong to him, but that the
saddle
bags had been loaned to one John Bowling. Strangely enough, Sprinkle then
claimed
that he believed the tools belonged to his deceased wife's half brother,
Samuel Mullins,
who was described as being a workman of great skill.
However, John Davis disputed Sprinkle's testimony, claiming that he
passed to
him(Davis)several counterfeit pieces and that he had seen tools for
counterfeiting
in Sprinkle's possession. Davis also stated that Susan Sprinkle the wife of
Jacob, passed
him$22 that she purported were Mexican dollars, for which he gave her $11 in
silver
in exchange. When Davis questioned her if they were legal and authentic she
told him
the moneywould pass anywhere, and if it turned yellow to rub some cream of
tartar
on it. Mrs. Susan Sprinkle died before the case was tried.
The bill of complaint stated that the following items were found in the
saddle bag ;
"2 puncheons , 2 counter- puncheons, 4 stamps,4 dies,1 pattem or mold of
steel or
iorn,which would make and impress the figure, stamp, resemblance or
similitude
of both sides or flats of the silver current coin"
Jacob Sprinkle's bail was set at $400 and security was given by
William Dummitt,
Alex. Bruce, John Bowling, John Crump,George Casteel, and Jason Miller.
Susan Sprinkle's bond was signed by Jacob Sprinkle, James Carr,Geo.W.Collins,
Wm.W. Cordingley, Benj.Cole Sr, Benj.Cole Jr,JohnT.Parker,Charles Parker and
James Walker. But, of course, they were released of this security when she
died.
Evidently there was not enough solid evidence to charge Sprinkle with
counterfeiting.

Beatty's Account of the money

The account given by Beatty (above) says that Sprinkle spent this money
freely
and that people accepted it. The coins seemed equal in every respect, to the
national
coin. They had sufficient weight and "ring" to them to make them acceptable.
The
images of such a rough character that it could not be claimed that there was
any
attempt to imitate the legal money of the country. On one side of the coin
was
an Owl and on the other a six-pointed star, the edges were smooth, and they
were
considerably larger and thicker than the United States coin. Sprinkle spent
the
money freely, but when government agents learned of this, they investigated
and
Sprinkle was arrested. However the coins proved to be pure silver, not an
alloy
like the legal coin, and were worth more than the US currency Dugan says in
his
history that Sprinkle was acquitted, and that is probably true, because it
was
argued that he made silver coins but they were not counterfeit images of the
legal
coins of the day. So, he could not be charged with counterfeiting. He future
states
that when the jury reached its verdict, Sprinkle brought forth his buckskin
pouch
and paid his attorney $50 of his own coin in the presence of astonished
officials.
Who Was Jacob Sprinkle
Jacob Sprinkle was born between 1780 and 1790 and was though to be the son
of Michael Sprinkle of Henderson CO KY but DR. Talley was incorrect on this
assumption, as it turns out he belongs to Michael's first cousin of
Lexington, KY
Jacob Sprinkle and wife Barbara Lang.
Now in 1830 we find Jacob Sprinkle of Lewis County in Morgan County, KY and
by
1840 he was living in Lewis County, KY with wife and 11 children.
Jacob Sprinkle died before 1850 in Lewis County and left several "orphans"
these
children were found living with as follows,
(1) Alexander C. Sprinkle born 1836 living with a Clark family
(2)Comodore Sprinkle born 1834 living with a Hendrickson family
(3) Martha Sprinkle born 1838 living in the County home
(4)Mary A. Sprinkle born 1838 living with a McKinney family - maybe twins
(5)Henry C. Sprinkle born 1832 living with a Heme family
also there is a Samuel Sprinkle born in KY about 1830 living with a Peyton
family.
That is at least 6 of the 11 children of Jacob Sprinkle of Lewis County KY,
More
research needs to be done on this family to find the remaining children
David Sprinkle
Alabama

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