What’s the story behind the phrase “There’s gold in them thar hills?” That comes from Mark Twain’s 1892 novel The American Claimant.

atm-logoWhat’s the story behind the phrase “There’s gold in them thar hills?”

Jim Medland
Phoenix, Arizona

That comes from Mark Twain’s 1892 novel The American Claimant. He supposedly got it indirectly from a Georgia assayer, Dr. Matthew Fleming Stephenson, who said, “there’s millions in it,” to keep locals from heading to California for the Gold Rush in 1849. The phrase later became corrupted to the above.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone.
If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu

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Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.