How Jennings might have discovered of Cliff Lode

Copper Country's past and people

Gwinear was the seat of an ecclesiastical parish that included the hamlets of Fraddam, Treghortha, Carnkell Green, Rewala, Relestrian, Roseworthy, and Wall. Roseworthy was once the property of the Arundels of Lanherne, who settled in the area in the 1300s, and were among the few French nobles associated with William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy in northern France who conquered England in 1066.

Roseworthy was the name of one of five manorial estates in Gwinear Parish, the other four being Connerton, Drannick, Gurlyn, and Polkinghorne. Gwinear hamlet was within the estate of Drannick, or Kirkland, when the Lord of the Manor, under English law, created the parish of Gwinear when he presented a nominee of the parish to the Bishop in the 14th century, when the parish church was built.

Roseworthy and other hamlets within Gwinear Parish were typical in the Medieval Manorial system throughout Europe, in that Manorialism established how pieces of land were managed, and concerned the common people, who were the peasants, who provided the labor on the manor. Gwinear was divided into farms that provided agricultural production for the Lord of the Manor, and the hamlets throughout the parish were the residences of the peasants. If the manor was within an ecclesiastical parish, the peasants had a rough time of it economically.

Not only did the tenants pay rents to the Lord of the Manor, they also paid tithes to the church for its support and the living of the priest or priests. But in Gwinear, that began to change slightly around 1500, when surface mining for tin began at Relestrain Manor, about a half mile south of the church property in Gwinear Village. At the turn of the 18th century, deep-shaft mining for copper began. Records of the Rosewarne Mine from 1717 on, state the mine was worked intermittently, shutting down two years after the mining began.

However, a half mile west, a new copper mine called the Herland was being developed, leading to rapid industrial development in the late 18 century, extending into the mid-19the century, as more mineral lodes were opened within the parish.

They included the Prince George, Trungle, Drannick, Great Wheal Alfred, Alfred Consols, North Wheal Alfred, South Wheal Alfred, Prospect, Wheal Kayle, and Wheal Carpenter mines. The Herland Mine was known locally as the Manor Mine, because it was opened on the Drannick Manor. Wheal Fancy and Wheal Pleasure were opened to the northwest.

The mining district developed faster than the housing district, and the little manor hamlets quickly became grossly overcrowded with peasant farmers, miners, surface workers, “grass hands,” as the miners called them, engineers, carpenters, and a list of others too long to mention here.

It was into this bustling mining district, in Gwinear, on April 19, 1807, that Edward Jennings and his wife Jennifer (Gundry) brought a new son, whom they named Edward, Junior.

Like most children born of Cornish miners, Edward followed his father, a mining captain, into the mines, probably at eight years of age, and like his father, Edward Jr. eventually rose to the rank of mining captain.

Mining began to dwindle in the Gwinear area in the early 1840s, like it was throughout Cornwall, and like thousands of other skilled miners, Edward Jennings, Jr. turned an eye toward America, where his brother, Richard, had already gone in 1841.

In 1844, Jennings arrived at Brady’s Bend, Pennsylvania, but did not remain there long, apparently. The next year, according to Jay Rowe, local historian and Cornish genealogist, Edward Jennings and another man, William Stephens, were brought to Keweenaw Point by John Hays, who was the agent of the Pittsburgh and Boston Copper Harbor Mining Company, hired as explorers.

The Pittsburgh company owned three leases of mineral land, which it had purchased from James Raymond in 1844, one of which was at Copper Harbor. As that location was not producing as originally hoped, the Board of Directors instructed Hays to recruit men of experience to explore the other leases. This is where the story gets interesting, because it may finally shed light on who actually did discover the copper lode that became the Cliff Mine.

In his his 1846 book “A True Description of the Lake Superior Country,” author John R. St. John wrote that the Cliff Lode was discovered by a man named Cheney. However, Rowe stated that the name Cheney is the Cornish language name for Jennings. And while William Stevens started the exploration of the Albion Mine to the south, Jennings explored the second lease, which became the Cliff.

Rowe introduces a significant piece of evidence in who actually did discover the Cliff Lode, because there are two various accounts of who did it. In his book, “A Biographical Sketch of the Lake Superior Iron Country,” Peter White wrote of Hays’ account of the Cliff discovery, in which Hays claimed credit. However, Hays account is unlikely, because there is historical evidence to suggest Hays was at the mine at Copper Harbor at the time the Cliff Lode was discovered, and it was Jennings’ job to explore that lease, and not that of Hays.

Rowe also introduces a new lens through which to view early Cornish immigration to the Lake Superior copper district. He stated that a large number of Cornish mining immigrants who located at the Cliff Mine, and also at the Minesota Mine in the Ontonagon region, came from Gwinear.

There are many different approaches necessary to compiling a history of a region. History, which looks at the written historical record, is one of those approaches, while archaeology is often another. However, as Rowe has pointed out, Genealogy can be invaluable in tracing people, and locating them in particular regions, and the genealogical record can be used in conjunction with the historical record to fill in the blank pages not written into the histories.

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