When he picked up that shiny stone from the small stream, nine-year-old Jake Howell would not have believed that it would trigger America's first gold rush and that he would become one of the world's richest and most admired men.

Stealthily following some faint deer tracks around a rise, a flash of light suddenly caught his eye, causing him to halt and peer toward the brightness. Holding his gloved hand over his eyes, he soon spotted it. There! The sun’s rays were reflecting off a shiny piece of rock lying in a shallow stream. The stone was about two inches by one inch in size, with irregular surfaces. Along one side was a thin strip of shiny yellowish matter. Jake was all too familiar with rocks and stones of various kinds. Certainly, his plow had hit many of them. It looked interesting to him because having grown up on a dirt farm and even by the tender age of nine, he had spent many hours working behind a mule. This was helping his father clear land and plowing. But this one was different from any he had ever seen before. He tugged off a glove, stooped over, grasped it, and swished it back and forth in the trickle of water, then brushed it off on the opposite arm of his woolen short coat.
Jake could not at this moment even begin to fathom how this small rock would change not only his life but a multitude of others. Gold? Dadburn, Jake thought to himself, I’d swear I’ve found a gold rock! Pa’s told me about something called fool’s gold, and I know this ain’t that stuff. Excited and exhilarated he knelt down, carefully laid the rifle aside, and brushed the areas of the snow-covered ground back and forth searching for more gold rocks. But to his disappointment, he found none. After a few minutes, he put the new discovery in his pants pocket, re-donned his glove and called out, “C’mon Frisky. Let’s go on home. That deer’s long gone by now.”
On his way back home Jake thought, Gold on this old dirt farm. This rock I found’s probably worth a big bunch of money. Maybe I won’t have to live on a darn old farm like we do now.

Charles A. Reap Jr.