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S. Fred Prince

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Published on: Dec. 2, 1998

Last revision: Nov. 3, 2010

where I was and rest-and then go on with the work; there was no change, just even darkness, even, unchanging temperature and moisture, and a blessed stillness!"

He wrote that he altered the cave's name, "for Marble was untrue! Marvel was all truth, and dignity . . ." Although Lynch resisted changing the name, his daughters did so after his death.

When Prince discovered a "perilous" passage, a potential death trap in wet weather, he and Lynch left it off the map, though it led to a room "whose formations would repay the rough journey but not-certainly not, the sure risk of life!"

The cave was often the destination of adventurers responding to rumors of buried treasure or gold and silver deposits. Prince served as cave guide for several days to a man named Gambel who claimed to be a prospector and had "a great fund of good stories." Underground, near Lost River, Gambel accused Prince of lying when he said there was no gold in the cave.

"He flew into a rage, drew a gun on me, and threatened to shoot me if I did not tell him at once where it was. I laughed at him. 'And how will you get out without me,' I said, and blew out our candles! I slipped into a side crevice, and waited (until) he had relighted his candle, and seeing nothing of me, was getting properly scared.

"I let him worry awhile, then came into the passage with him. 'You are a fool,' I said. 'I'm not afraid of your gun... If you ever want to see daylight again, start going.'" Prince ushered Gambel out of the cave and sent him up the road. "He was an amusing cuss, but I did not like his revolver game."

In the 1890s, Prince found time to explore above ground, too, seeking the ferns and wildflowers that would be the subjects of his lengthiest manuscripts.

He was born Samuel Webb Prince in 1857, grew up in Chicago and Wisconsin and worked to finance the education of two brothers. At some point he became known as Fred, and all his drawings and paintings are signed S. Fred Prince.

He lived in Stone County in his 20s and 30s, then focused on a career as a scientific illustrator at Springfield Normal School, the University of Nebraska, Warrensburg Normal and the University of Illinois at Urbana. During this period, he explored Stone County on visits.

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