River mussels made Carthage man into 'Pearl King'
Herman Myer, a Carthage native, occupied this office in New York City around 1900, dealing in freshwater mussels.
There was a time when the Cumberland River was a popular place to fish for freshwater mussels, and to open them up to occasionally find a beautiful pearl!
Yes, the same ocean-dwelling shelled mollusk that makes the valuable and highly sought pearl has a cousin that lives in the freshwater streams of America. And it also produces a pearl!
If we go back several hundred years, the Native Americans who lived here fished and gathered freshwater mussels for
supper. We know this from the large piles of their shells found at Indian village sites.
They also treasured the natural pearls found in the mussels and used them for jewelry and decoration.
The white man didn’t see the attraction of the freshwater mussel as a food source as much as the Cherokee, Shawnee and Creek Indians that lived here. But he did realize that a perfectly shaped round pearl was valuable, no matter where it came from.