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Other Buried Wealth






Category: STORIED WATERS, CLIFFS AND MOUNTAINS

Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

The wealth of the Astors hardly exceeds the treasure that is supposed to
be secreted here and there about the country, and thousands of dollars
have been expended in dredging rivers and shallow seas, and in blasting
caves and cellars. Certain promoters of these schemes have enjoyed
salaries as officers in the stock companies organized for their
furtherance, and they have seen the only tangible results from such
enterprises.

One summer evening, in the middle of the seventeenth century, a bark
dropped anchor at the mouth of Saugus River, Massachusetts, and four of
the crew rowed to the woods that skirt its banks and made a landing. The
vessel had disappeared on the following morning, but in the forge at the
settlement was found a paper stating that if a certain number of shackles
and handcuffs were made and secretly deposited at a specified place in
the forest, a sum of money equal to their value would be found in their
stead on the next day. The order was filled and the silver was found, as
promised, but, though a watch was set, nothing further was seen of men or
ship for several months.

The four men did return, however, and lived by themselves amid the woods
of Saugus, the gossips reporting that a beautiful woman had been seen in
their company--the mistress of the pirate chief, for, of course, the
mysterious quartette had followed the trade of robbery on the high seas.
Three of these men were captured, taken to England, and hanged, but the
fourth-Thomas Veale--escaped to a cavern in the wood, where, it was
reputed, great treasures were concealed, and there he lived until the
earthquake of 1658, when a rock fell from the roof of the cave, closing
the entrance and burying the guilty man in a tomb where, it is presumed,
he perished of thirst and hunger. Dungeon Rock, of Lynn, is the name that
the place has borne ever since.

In 1852 Hiram Marble announced that he had been visited by spirits, who
not only told him that the pirates' spoils were still in their olden
hiding-place, but pointed out the spot where the work of excavation
should begin. Aided by his son he tunnelled the solid granite for a
distance of one hundred and thirty-five feet, the passage being seven
feet high and seven wide. Whenever he was wearied the mediums that he
consulted would tell him to make cuttings to the right or left, and for
every fresh discouragement they found fresh work. For thirty years this
task was carried on, both father and son dying without gaining any
practical result, other than the discovery of an ancient scabbard in a
rift. The heiress of the house of Marble alone reaped benefit from their
labors, for-resuming on a petty scale the levies of the first dwellers in
the rock--she boldly placarded the entrance to the workings Ye who enter
here leave twenty-five cents behind.

In several cases the chasms that have been caused by wear of water or
convulsions of nature (their opposite sides being matched) were believed
to have been hiding-places, but, in the old days in New England, it was
believed that all such fractures were caused by the earthquake at the
time of the crucifixion--a testimony of the power of God to shake
sinners.

The Heart of Greylock is the name given to the crater-like recess, a
thousand feet deep, in the tallest of the Berkshire peaks, but it was
formerly best known as Money Hole, and the stream that courses through it
as Money Brook, for a gang of counterfeiters worked in that recess, and
there some spurious coinage may still be concealed. The stream is also
known as Spectre Brook, for late wandering hunters and scouting soldiers,
seeing the forgers moving to and fro about their furnaces, took them for
ghosts.

Province Island, in Lake Memphremagog, Vermont, is believed to contain
some of the profits of an extensive smuggling enterprise that was carried
on near the lake for several years.

A little company of Spanish adventurers passed along the base of the
Green Mountains early in the last century, expecting to return after
having some dealings with the trading stations on the St. Lawrence; so
they deposited a part of their gold on Ludlow Mountain, Vermont, and
another pot of it on Camel's Hump. They agreed that none should return
without his companions, but they were detained in the north and
separated, some of them going home to Spain. Late in life the sole
survivor of the company went to Camel's Hump and tried to recall where
the treasure had been hidden, but in vain.

While flying from the people whose declaration of independence had
already been written in the blood of the king's troops at Concord, the
royal governor--Wentworth--was embarrassed by a wife and a
treasure-chest. He had left his mansion, at Smith's Pond, New Hampshire,
and was making toward Portsmouth, where he was to enjoy the protection of
the British fleet, but the country was up in arms, time was important,
and as his wearied horses could not go on without a lightening of the
burden, he was forced to leave behind either Lady Wentworth or his other
riches. As the lady properly objected to any risk of her own safety, the
chest was buried at an unknown spot in the forest, and for a century and
more the whereabouts of the Wentworth plate and money-bags have been a
matter of search and conjecture.

When the Hessian troops marched from Saratoga to Boston, to take ship
after Burgoyne's surrender, they were in wretched condition-war-worn,
ragged, and ill fed,--and having much with them in the form of plate and
jewels that had been spared by their conquerors, together with some of
the money sent from England for their hire, they were in constant fear of
attack from the farmers, who, though they had been beaten, continued to
regard them with an unfavorable eye. On reaching Dalton, Massachusetts,
the Hessians agreed among themselves to put their valuables into a
howitzer, which they buried in the woods, intending that some of their
number should come back at the close of the war and recover it. An Indian
had silently followed them for a long distance, to gather up any
unconsidered trifles that might be left in their bivouacs, and he marked
the route by blazes on the trees; but if he saw the burial of this novel
treasury it meant nothing to him, and the knowledge of the hiding-place
was lost. For years the populace kept watch of all strangers that came to
town, and shadowed them if they went to the woods, but without result. In
about the year 1800 the supposed hiding-place was examined closely and
excavations were made, but, as before, nothing rewarded the search.

A tree of unknown age--the Old Elm--stood on Boston Common until within a
few years. This veteran, torn and broken by many a gale and
lightning-stroke, was a gallows in the last century, and Goody Glover had
swung from it in witch-times. On tempestuous nights, when the boughs
creaked together, it was said that dark shapes might be seen writhing on
the branches and capering about the sward below in hellish glee. On a
gusty autumn evening in 1776 a muffled form presented itself,
unannounced, at the chamber of Mike Wild, and, after that notorious miser
had enough recovered from the fear created by the presence to understand
what it said to him, he realized that it was telling him of something
that in life it had buried at the foot of the Old Elm. After much
hesitancy Mike set forth with his ghostly guide, for he would have risked
his soul for money, but on arriving at his destination he was startled to
find himself alone. Nothing daunted, he set down his lantern and began to
dig. Though he turned up many a rood of soil and sounded with his spade
for bags and chests of gold, he found nothing. Strange noises
overhead--for the wind was high and the twigs seemed to snicker eerily as
they crossed each other-sent thrills along his back from time to time,
and he was about to return, half in anger, half in fear, when his spirit
visitor emerged from behind the tree and stood before him. The mien was
threatening, the nose had reddened and extended, the hair was rumpled,
and the brow was scowling. The frown of the gold monster grew more awful,
the stare of his eye in the starlight more unbearable, and he was
crouching and creeping as if for a spring. Mike could endure no more. He
fainted, and awakened in the morning in his own chamber, where, to a
neighbor who made an early call, he told--with embellishments--the story
of the encounter; but before he had come to the end of the narrative the
visitor burst into a roar of laughter and confessed that he had
personated the supernatural visitant, having wagered a dozen bottles of
wine with the landlord of the Boar's Head that he could get the better of
Mike Wild. For all this the old tree bore, for many years, an evil
reputation.

A Spanish galleon, the Saints Joseph and Helena, making from Havana to
Cadiz in 1753 was carried from her course by adverse winds and tossed
against a reef, near New London, Connecticut, receiving injuries that
compelled her to run into that port for repairs. To reach her broken ribs
more easily her freight was put on shore in charge of the collector of
the port, but when it was desired to ship the cargo again, behold! the
quarter part of it had disappeared, none could say how. New London got a
bad name from this robbery, and the governor, though besought by the
assembly to make good the shortage, failed to do so, and lost his place
at the next election. It was reputed that some of the treasure was buried
on the shore by the robbers. In 1827 a woman who was understood to have
the power of seership published a vision to a couple of young blades, who
had paid for it, to the effect that hidden under one of the grass-grown
wharves was a box of dollars. By the aid of a crystal pebble she received
this really valuable information, but the pebble was not clear enough to
reveal the exact place of the box. She could see, however, that the
dollars were packed edgewise. When New London was sound asleep the young
men stole out and by lantern-light began their work. They had dug to
water-level when they reached an iron chest, and they stooped to lift
it-but, to their amazement, the iron was too hot to handle! Now they
heard deep growls, and a giant dog peered at them from the pit-mouth; red
eyes flashed at them from the darkness; a wild-goose, with eyes of
blazing green, hovered and screamed above them. Though the witch had
promised them safety, nothing appeared to ward off the fantastic shapes
that began to crowd about them. Too terrified to work longer they sprang
out and made away, and when-taking courage from the sunshine--they
renewed the search, next day, the iron chest had vanished.

On Crown Point, Lake Champlain, is the ruin of a fort erected by Lord
Amherst above the site of a French work that had been thrown up in 1731
to guard a now vanished capital of fifteen hundred people. It was
declared that when the French evacuated the region they buried money and
bullion in a well, in the northwest corner of the bastion, ninety feet
deep, in the full expectancy of regaining it, and half a century ago this
belief had grown to such proportions that fifty men undertook to clear
the well, pushing their investigations into various parts of the
enclosure and over surrounding fields. They found quantities of lead and
iron and no gold.

Follingsby's Pond, in the Adirondacks, was named for a recluse, who, in
the early part of this century, occupied a lonely but strongly guarded
cabin there. It was believed afterward that he was an English army
officer, of noble birth, who had left his own country in disgust at
having discovered an attachment between his wife and one of his
fellow-officers. He died in a fever, and while raving in a delirium spoke
of a concealed chest. A trapper, who was his only attendant in his last
moments, dug over the ground floor of the hut and found a box containing
a jewelled sword, costly trinkets, and letters that bore out the
presumption of Follingsby's aristocratic origin. What became of these
valuables after their exhumation is not known, and the existence of more
has been suspected.

Coney Island is declared to have been used by a band of pirates as the
first national sand bank, and, as these rascals were caught and swung off
with short shrift, they do say that the plunder is still to be had--by
the man who finds it. But the hotel-keepers and three-card-monte men are
not waiting for that discovery to grow rich.

In Shandaken Valley, in the Catskills, it was affirmed that a party of
British officers buried money somewhere, when they were beset by the
farmers and hunters of that region, and never got it out of the earth
again.

On Tea Island, Lake George, the buried treasures of Lord Abercrombie have
remained successfully hidden until this day.

The oldest house at Fort Neck, Long Island, was known for years as the
haunted house, and the grave of its owner--Captain Jones--was called the
pirate's grave, for, in the last century, Jones was accused of piracy and
smuggling, and there have been those who suspected worse. A hope of
finding gold and silver about the premises has been yearly growing
fainter. Just before the death of Jones, which occurred here in an
orderly manner, a crow, so big that everybody believed it to be a demon,
flew in at the window and hovered over the bed of the dying man until he
had drawn his last breath, when, with a triumphant cry, it flew through
the west end of the house. The hole that it broke through the masonry
could never be stopped, for, no matter how often it was repaired, the
stone and cement fell out again, and the wind came through with such a
chill and such shriekings that the house had to be abandoned.

The owner of an estate on Lloyd's Neck, Long Island, had more wealth than
he thought it was safe or easy to transport when he found the colonies
rising against Britain in 1775, and flight was imperative, for he was
known by his neighbors to be a Tory. Massing his plate, coin, and other
movables into three barrels, he caused his three slaves to bury them in
pits that they had dug beneath his house. Then, as they were shovelling
back the earth, he shot them dead, all three, and buried them, one on
each barrel. His motive for the crime may have been a fear that the
slaves would aid the Americans in the approaching struggle, or that they
might return and dig up the wealth or reveal the hiding-place to the
enemies of the king. Then he made his escape to Nova Scotia, though he
might as well have stayed at home, for the British possessed themselves
of Long Island, and his house became a place of resort for red-coats and
loyalists. It was after the turn of the century when a boat put in, one
evening, at Cold Spring Bay, and next morning the inhabitants found
footprints leading to and from a spot where some children had discovered
a knotted rope projecting from the soil. Something had been removed, for
the mould of a large box was visible at the bottom of a pit. Acres of the
neighborhood were then dug over by treasure hunters, who found a box of
cob dollars and a number of casks. The contents of the latter, though
rich and old, were not solid, and when diffused through the systems of
several Long Islanders imparted to them a spirituous and patriotic
glow--for in thus destroying the secreted stores of a royalist were they
not asserting the triumph of democratic principles?

The clay bluffs at Pottery Beach, Brooklyn, were pierced with artificial
caves where lawless men found shelter in the unsettled first years of the
republic. A wreck lay rotting here for many years, and it was said to be
the skeleton of a ship that these fellows had beached by false beacons.
She had costly freight aboard, and on the morning after she went ashore
crew and freight had vanished. It was believed that much of the plunder
was buried in the clay near the water's edge. In the early colonial days,
Grand Island, in Niagara River, was the home of a Frenchman, Clairieux,
an exile or refugee who was attended by a negro servant. During one
summer a sloop visited the island frequently, laden on each trip with
chests that never were taken away in the sight of men, and that are now
supposed to be buried near the site of the Frenchman's cabin. Report had
it that these boxes were filled with money, but if well or ill procured
none could say, unless it were the Frenchman, and he had no remarks to
offer on the subject. In the fall, after these visits of the sloop,
Clairieux disappeared, and when some hunters landed on the island they
found that his cabin had been burned and that a large skeleton, evidently
that of the negro, was chained to the earth in the centre of the place
where the house had stood. The slave had been killed, it was surmised,
that his spirit might watch the hoard and drive away intruders; but the
Frenchman met his fate elsewhere, and his secret, like that of many
another miser, perished with him. In 1888, when a northeast gale had
blown back the water of the river, a farmer living on the island
discovered, just under the surface, a stone foundation built in circular
form, as if it had once supported a tower. In the mud within this circle
he found a number of French gold and silver coins, one of them minted in
1537. Close by, other coins of later date were found, and a systematic
examination of the whole channel has been proposed, as it was also said
that two French frigates, scuttled to keep them out of the hands of the
English, lie bedded in sand below the island, one of them with a naval
paymaster's chest on board.

On the shore of Oneida Lake is an Indian's grave, where a ball of light
is wont to swing and dance. A farmer named Belknap dreamed several times
of a buried treasure at this point, and he was told, in his vision, that
if he would dig there at midnight he could make it his own. He made the
attempt, and his pick struck a crock that gave a chink, as of gold. He
should, at that moment, have turned around three times, as his dream
directed, but he was so excited that he forgot to. A flash of lightning
rent the air and stretched him senseless on the grass. When he recovered
the crock was gone, the hole filled in, and ever since then the light has
hovered about the place. Some say that this is but the will-o'-the-wisp:
the soul of a bad fellow who is doomed to wander in desolate regions
because, after dying, Peter would not allow him to enter heaven, and the
devil would not let him go into the other place, lest he should make the
little devils unmanageable; but he is allowed to carry a light in his
wanderings.

In Indian Gap, near Wernersville, Pennsylvania, the Doane band of Tories
and terrorists hid a chest of gold, the proceeds of many robberies. It is
guarded by witches, and, although it has been seen, no one has been able
to lay hands on it. The seekers are always blinded by blue flame, and
frightened away by roaring noises. The Dutch farmers of the vicinity are
going to dig for it, all the same, for it is said that the watch of evil
spirits will be given over at midnight, but they do not know of what
date. They will be on hand at the spot revealed to them through the
vision of a hex layer (a vision that cost them fifty cents), until the
night arrives when there are no blue flames.

In the southern part of Chester County, Pennsylvania, is money, too, but
just where nobody knows. A lonely, crabbed man, who died there in a poor
hut after the Revolution, owned that he had served the British as a spy,
but said that he had spent none of the gold that he had taken from them.
He was either too sorry for his deeds, or too mean to do so. He had put
it in a crock and buried it, and, on his death-bed, where he made his
statement, he asked that it might be exhumed and spent for some good
purpose. He was about to tell where it was when the death-rattle choked
his words.

The Isle of the Yellow Sands, in Lake Superior, was supposed by Indians
to be made of the dust of gold, but it was protected by vultures that
beat back those who approached, or tore them to pieces if they insisted
on landing. An Indian girl who stole away from her camp to procure a
quantity of this treasure was pursued by her lover, who, frightened at
the risk she was about to run from the vultures, stopped her flight by
staving in the side of her canoe, so that she was compelled to take
refuge in his, and he rowed home with her before the birds had come to
the attack.

Old Francois Fontenoy, an Indian trader, buried a brass kettle full of
gold at Presque Isle, near Detroit, that is still in the earth.

On the banks of the Cumberland, in Tennessee, is a height where a
searcher for gold was seized by invisible defenders and hurled to the
bottom of the cliff, receiving a mortal hurt.

The Spaniards were said to have entombed three hundred thousand dollars
in gold near Natchez. A man to whom the secret had descended offered to
reveal it, but, as he was a prisoner, his offer was laughed at. Afterward
an empty vault was found where he said it would be. Somebody had
accidentally opened it and had removed the treasure.

Caverns have frequently been used as hiding-places for things of more or
less value--generally less. Saltpetre Cave, in Georgia, for instance, was
a factory and magazine for saltpetre, gunpowder, and other military
stores during the Civil War. The Northern soldiers wrecked the potash
works and broke away tons of rock, so as to make it dangerous to return.
Human bones have been found here, too, but they are thought to be those
of soldiers that entered the cave in pursuit of an Indian chief who had
defied the State in the '40's. He escaped through a hole in the roof,
doubled on his pursuers, fired a pile of dead leaves and wood at the
mouth, and suffocated the white men with the smoke.

Spaniards worked the mines in the Ozark Hills of Missouri two hundred
years ago. One of the mines containing lead and silver, eighteen miles
southwest of Galena, was worked by seven men, who could not agree as to a
division of the yield. One by one they were killed in quarrels until but
a single man was left, and he, in turn, was set upon by the resurrected
victims and choked to death by their cold fingers. In 1873 a Vermonter
named Johnson went there and said he would find what it was the Spaniards
had been hiding, in spite of the devil and his imps. He did work there
for one day, and was then found dead at the mouth of the old shaft with
marks of bony fingers on his throat.

The seven cities of Cibola, that Coronado and other Spanish adventurers
sought in the vast deserts of the Southwest, were pueblos. A treacherous
guide who had hoped to take Coronado into the waterless plain and lose
him, but who first lost his own head, had told him a tale of the Quivira,
a tribe that had much gold. So far from having gold these Indians did not
know the stuff, but the myth that they had hoarded quantities of it has
survived to this day and has caused waste of lives and money. Towns in
New Mexico that have lain in ruins since 1670, when the Apaches butchered
their people--towns that were well built and were lorded by solid old
churches and monasteries erected by the Spanish missionaries--these towns
have often been dug over, and the ruinous state of Abo, Curari, and
Tabira is due, in part, to their foolish tunnelling and blasting.

A Spanish bark, one day in 1841, put in for water off the spot where
Columbia City, Oregon, now stands. She had a rough crew on board, and it
had been necessary for her officers to watch the men closely from the
time the latter discovered that she was carrying a costly cargo. Hardly
had the anchorchains run out before the sailors fell upon the captain,
killed him, seized all of value that they could gather, and took it to
the shore. What happened after is not clear, but it is probable that in a
quarrel, arising over the demands of each man to have most of the
plunder, several of the claimants were slain. Indians were troublesome,
likewise, so that it was thought best to put most of the goods into the
ground, and this was done on the tract known as Hez Copier's farm. Hardly
was the task completed before the Indians appeared in large numbers and
set up their tepees, showing that they meant to remain. The mutineers
rowed back to the ship, and, after vainly waiting for several days for a
chance to go on shore again, they sailed away. Two years of wandering,
fighting, and carousal ensued before the remnant of the crew returned to
Oregon. The Indians were gone, and an earnest search was made for the
money--but in vain. It was as if the ground had never been disturbed. The
man who had supervised its burial was present until the mutineers went
back to their boats, when it was discovered that he was mysteriously
missing.

More than forty years after these events a meeting of Spiritualists was
held in Columbia City, and a medium announced that she had received a
revelation of the exact spot where the goods had been concealed. A
company went to the place, and, after a search of several days, found,
under a foot of soil, a quantity of broken stone. While throwing out
these fragments one of the party fell dead. The spirit of the defrauded
and murdered captain had claimed him, the medium explained. So great was
the fright caused by this accident that the search was again abandoned
until March, 1890, when another party resumed the digging, and after
taking out the remainder of the stone they came on a number of human
skeletons. During the examination of these relics--possibly the bones of
mutineers who had been killed in the fight on shore--a man fell into a
fit of raving madness, and again the search was abandoned, for it is now
said that an immutable curse rests on the treasure.





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Previous: Kidd's Treasure



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