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August 26, 2013

Points East: The real-life Long John Silver

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — I enjoy writing book reviews in this column from time to time, particularly if the book is by a Kentucky author focused on eastern Kentucky and so interesting that I found myself propped up in bed, still reading, three hours after I should have gone to sleep. 

The Strange Case of Jonathan Swift and the Real Long John Silver by Robert A. Prather met all those requirements and then some!

Robert Prather and his wife, Karen, have run their own commercial business in the Meade County community of Garrett for more than 40 years.  He is also a historian active in numerous historical and archaeology societies and a field editor for Acclaim Press.

My attention to the book was first drawn when I heard that Robert was from Garrett. I wrongly assumed that he was from Floyd County.  Turns out there are two Garrett, Kentuckys  which, I suppose, is another good reason for zip codes.  Prather’s Garrett is located just a few miles from Fort Knox but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t know his eastern Kentucky history. 

The book is focused on the lost treasure of Jonathan Swift and his silver mine, legends of which have run rampant in eastern Kentucky for well over 200 years.  In fact, Wolfe County Ky. has a historical marker regarding Swift’s Silver Camp that used to sit in front of the old Courthouse in Campton.  I assume it’s still there.   Wolfe County even has a Swift’s Silver Mine Festival over Labor Day weekend every year.  I’m sure it’ll be happening this year, too. 

 Prather’s book tries to separate fact from fiction and I promise you faithfully that you will not find a more thoroughly documented accumulation of information about the life and times of Jonathan Swift and his supposed treasure than what is contained in this book.   Nor will you find a more intriguing set of questions as to where the mine and/or treasure is actually located.

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