HUNTING FOR GOLD
Sometime around 1880, four friends planned a trip to hunt for gold. Mary Ann Tucker, daughter of John Tucker, had prepared a lot of food for her father, Newt Hunt, and Alec and Billy Plaster to take on the trip. The day arrived on which they had planned to go into Tellico Mountains on this expedition. Although it was raining and heavy storms threatened, they could delay the start of their adventure no longer.
When they finally reached an old cabin, the roof was leaking so badly they had to find some bark and patch the roof. To take advantage of the final rays of daylight, Billy Plaster was standing in the doorway while shaving. Lightning struck him and killed him instantly. Because Mr. Hunt knew the mountains better than the other two men, he went to get help to carry out the body. Alec Plaster had been shocked so badly with the lightning that he lay asleep all night while Mr. Tucker sat up and made coffee and drank it to keep awake.
Morning finally arrived, and Alec Plaster was feeling a little better. They continued to wait for Mr. Hunt to return, but then decided he must have become lost during the wet night. Mr. Plaster and Mr. Tucker secured the cabin so no wild animals could get in and started out walking. On the trail, they met Mr. Hunt with several men to help with the body.
Later, the three survivors considered a return trip, but John Tucker said, "I know there's a gold mine in that area because I saw gold flecks in the branch where I lay down to drink on a previous trip there, but I know it's not for me so I'll never again try to find it."
Mary had seen a streak of lightning go straight down into the mountains that evening, and she always thought that was the bolt that killed Mr. Plaster.
Note: The Plasters were family to Lillie Plaster Self, wife of J.R. Sherman Self.