Lost Buried Treasures
Stories of lost buried treasure hoards capture the imagination and spark the hidden treasure hunter within all of us, who learn about these Legends of Lore. Hidden Treasure discoveries can happen anytime, anywhere, unexpectedly, or through extensive research and expense that may eventually reveal these artifacts of history.
Unfortunately over the centuries, these hidden treasure stories can take on a life of their own, with little documented evidence or proof of their existence, but also many have left hints of history behind. History leaves clues, and those that follow these history hints may discover true treasure… whether from the enjoyment of the chase, to the actual realization of a historical find.
Here is a look at some of hidden treasures from Colonial America, to the Civil War. You be the judge as to being fact, fiction, or a little of both.
Rogers’ Rangers Silver
In Colonial America, Rogers’ Rangers were a band of scouts and mercenaries founded by Robert Rogers, who served as a scout during the Indian conflicts, and had extensive wilderness skills. Rodgers was inducted into General George Washington's Army as a Captain in 1756, and promoted to Major by 1758. His Rogers’ Rangers were considered the “Elite Fighters” of the day.
In 1759, Rogers’ Rangers were ordered to attack an Indian Village called St. Francis. Within 20 minutes, over 200 were dead, the village set ablaze, and the church was sacked of extraordinary riches, including a large silver Madonna statue standing over 2 feet tall. Armed mounted French troops accompanied by a hundred angry Indians, tracked the Rangers down, and killed off most of Rodgers Rangers, except the last few Rangers who escaped carrying the silver Madonna. They made their way into the mountains, and hid in a cave over the Israel River. Starving and dying, one Ranger went mad, and threw the Madonna over the cliff into the deep river, thinking it was the cause of their plight.
The surviving ranger made it back to a small settlement to tell his story before he died. The settlers searched the area, found the cave, searched the river below, but never found the silver Madonna in the deep waters where it remains today, waiting to be discovered.
British Gold Payroll
During the French and Indian War 1754-1763, British Commander, Edward Braddock was leading two regiments of 1,500 men, 220 miles from Fort Cumberland, Maryland, to attack the French stronghold, Fort Duquesne on the banks of the Ohio River in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. On July 9, 1755, Braddock was just miles from the French Fort when he was attached by a French fighting force of 900 men. Caught by surprise, Braddock’s troops scattered, half were quickly killed, the remaining scattered into the wood in what is known today as “Braddock's Retreat”.
The British Paymaster who was responsible for a payroll of $25K in 1755, put the payroll on four fast horses, with six mounted soldiers, and sent them back to Fort Cumberland quickly, in hope of saving the British payroll. The six men quickly became only four men by attacks and ambushes by the French, then down to only two men in charge of the bags of gold coins. Still being chased, they found a larger bolder in the river as a landmark, and located a small cave to hide and camouflage the payroll.
The remaining two guards, free of the gold, continued to the Fort to get help to retrieve the British Payroll. But they were attacked by Indians, one was killed, and the other wounded, who was now on the run through the forest. The lone wounded survivor lived off roots and berries for ten days, until he was picked up on a British Military road. After he recovered from his injuries, he led a platoon back to the cave, but he got confused, and couldn’t find it. After several attempts to locate the valuable payroll, the British gave up. Over the years there were many clues found, but many more treasure hunters were disappointed by the elusive treasure.
General Edward Braddock’s lost payroll has intrigued researchers for over two centuries. Yet it still awaits discovery over 250 years later, about 20 miles east of Cumberland, Maryland, just off an old Military road, up in the hills above a small stream, tucked away in a small rock cave.
Continental Army Gold
In 1779, a caravan of 13 wagons backed by a large contingent of Continental Army soldiers pulled into the village of East Granby Connecticut, which was on a main thoroughfare from Philadelphia to Boston. The caravan pulled in behind a well know Tavern, known to be a rest stop for the Revolutionary Army. The wagons were circled in a security formation, each with stationed armed guards.
The word got out that the heavy wagons were filled with chests of Continental Army gold, supplies, and ammunition. Soon a group of Americans who were sympathetic to the British, known a Tories, took interest in the treasure trove. Under the cover of darkness, these American Traitors quietly ambushed the guards, and stole the entire Continental Army caravan. Less than 2 hours later all 13 wagons were found in a farmer’s field about 2 miles from the Tavern, with no sign of the chests of Continental Army gold.
It’s been said that the Tories took the wagons to the east bank of the East Fork of Salmon Brook, and buried the chests close to a stream. They drove the wagon back a different route, and left them outside of East Granby, in a farmer’s field, and then they returned to their homes, to wait for the Continental Army to stop their search. Six weeks later, the Tories met secretly in the forest outside of town, but were attacked and killed by a band of Indians, except for one, Henry Wooster, who escaped. Wooster was now the only one alive who knew of the buried treasure, but before he could plan the recovery of the gold, he was arrested for stealing a cow, and sent to prison, where after 6 months he escaped, and stowed-away on a freighter bound for England.
Years later, Wooster wrote his Mother back in East Granby and confessed to the robbery in detail, but never revealed the location of the gold, and died with the secret of its location. Over the years several gold coins were discover in the river bed, but the rest of the gold coins await a lucky future discovery.
Fort Macon Union Treasure
In April 1862, the Union Army decided to capture Confederate Fort Macon, near Bogue Banks NC. General Ambrose Burnside commanded a large group of nervous, inexperienced young soldiers. Burnside left his troops with Sergeant Gore, a 35 year old, twice wounded, bitter war veteran. Gore had these new soldiers turn over all valuables before their first battle, to be safely stored. Gore knew each soldier had 3 months of pay in gold coins; they hadn’t been able to spend yet.
A bag a gold coins and jewelry, was buried by a trusted solider for Gore until after the battle. The trusted soldier was killed in the battle, and the rest of the remaining troops were relocated. Gore was left to hold the fort for the next 4 years, when in poor health he confided in a friend. Gore died from Typhoid fever, and the friend he told searched for years, and never found it.
Grey Ghost Treasure
Colorful, Confederate General, John Singleton Mosby, was called the “Grey Ghost” by the Union. He led an elite guerilla unit called Mosby’s Partisan Raiders, an experienced fighting force. The Raiders captured the Fairfax County Courthouse, and Union General Edwin H. Stoughton. Stoughton took up residence in the courthouse, and surrounded himself with life’s luxuries. Mosby found a fortune in gold and silver coins and jewelry Stoughton plundered from the South. Mosby fled Fairfax with Stoughton as hostage, and his treasure worth over $350K in 1863. The Union hunted Mosby, who had to bury the southern treasure in Farquier County Virginia. Mosby and trusted Sergeant James F. Ames went into the woods, marked the trees with an “X”. Mosby’s Raiders eluded capture, and moved out of the area, and never returned after the war. Sergeant Ames was never able to return either, as he was captured and hanged at Fort Royal. Mosby wrote books on the Civil War, and recounted the buried treasure, which is yet to be found.
Confederate Silver Fortune
In 1864 the Confederate Army wasunderfinancialdistress,and needed funding to fight. A Southern bound train filled with tons of silver ingots to support the Rebel cause was robbed. The Train slammed into a boulder placed on the tracks, and the ingots were placed in wagons. The caravan of wagons carried an estimated 120 tons of silver, on a dirt road to Philadelphia. There was no record of what happened to the massive silver hoard. Until 1884, in Southwest PA. 20 years later evidence surfaced that suggests it was hidden in a remote cave in Fayette County. A reclusive mountain man, known as Dobbs, occasionally went into Uniontown for provisions. Dobbs came to town one day with a silver ingot stamped, “Government Genuine, New York City” He claimed he had found a cave filled with hundreds of the silver ingots that he began to spend. Dobbs protected his silver fromsnoopers,and even claimed to move it to a remote coal mine. After a couple years, Dobbsdisappeared,and was presumed dead, but his silver legend lived on. In 1873 an old vagrant thought to beDobbs,came to Latrobe, 35 miles northwest of Uniontown. He spoke of a great silver treasure in an old coal mine, which collapsed and buried the fortune. Even today, treasure hunters are using sophisticated equipment to find the mine, but to no avail.
Confederate Vermont Treasure
The Confederacy formed in the South, but had hundreds of soldiers strategically placed north. Safe from intrusion from the Northern Army, these soldiers were stationed in eastern Canada. In October 1864, Captain Bennet H Young was chosen for a special mission against the Union. He received a coded message about deposits of Union gold, in three St. Albans, Vermont banks. Young led a small company of soldiers into St. Albans early in the morning on Oct. 15, 1864. With guns blazing and Rebel yells, they easily raided the three banks of over $200K in gold coins. A posse 30 angry townspeople raced after the Confederates, with vengeance on their minds. Young’s troops were only 2 miles away from the safety of Canada, when the horses gave out. Quickly the Captain had his men dig a shallow hole to stash the saddlebags of gold coins. It took 4 men to lift a large heavy flat rock to the cover hole, just as the posse was nearing. The Southerners crossed the International border with the posse in hot pursuit, guns a blazing. After a brief gun battle, there were only 3 Confederate survivors who managed to escape. Four years later a diary was given to a Doctor on the deathbed of one of the surviving soldiers. The diary detailed the buried treasure, the man’s desertion from the army, and his trip home. The old diary ended up with a Civil War historian, who attempted to locate the gold in 1908. Today, the gold remains near Interstate 89, outside the small town of Highgate Springs, VT.
Confederate Pots of Gold
During the autumn of 1864 it was clear the Confederacy was losing the Civil War. Some of the Southern leaders decided to save what was left of the Confederate Treasury. They had a series of caches in various locations south of the Mason Dixon Line. One of these caches in North Carolina was estimated to be in the millions of dollars. Thousands of gold coins were packed in common kitchen cooking pots, and sealed with wire. Captain JW Duchase was given specific orders to bury the pots along a train track, 100 paces out. Outside McLeansville, NC, Duchase’s men buried the pots in groups of three, over 16 miles. The returning train was derailed by Union saboteurs, leaving Duchase and a Lieutenant alive. Duchase had the only written plot map, which he lost during his dramatic escape. Weeks later he was captured and sent to prison, where he remained until after the war. Duchase traveled to Mexico, where he built a successful life, and never returned to U.S. His personal journals, which contained specific details of buried pots where given to P.H. Black. Black was from Greensboro, NC, and met with Duchase in Mexico, returning with his journals. When Black died in the 1930s, Duchase’s journals were missing from his possessions. In the spring of 1910 a farmer was plowing next to the railroad tracks and hit an old rusted pot. Two more were found later, totaling three pots of $20 gold pieces, for this very wealthy farmer. In the mid-1990s a treasure hunter claimed he found 12 pots in 4 different locations. Today, pots of $20 gold pieces may still lay paces away from the North Carolina Railroad tracks.
The Confederate Treasury was mostly depleted by the end of the war, but still had money left. There was significant store of gold and silver coins in storage in Richmond Virginia. Fearful that Union forces would seize the treasure, it was ordered moved south to a safe location. President Jefferson Davis assigned Captain William H. Parker the responsibility to move the coins. Parker left Richmond with a million dollars in coins locked in a secure boxcar to Charlotte, NC. With reports of Union forces close by, Parker had the coins repacked in barrels and coffee sacks. The barrels and sacks, traveled by wagon where the rail was out, and then back on a train again. Parker headed for Augusta, looking for officers to pass the treasure off on to, without success. He headed south, and happened to run into Jefferson Davis, who relieved him of his duty.
The Confederate funds were appointed to General Basil Duke, who loaded it on to wagons again. After several close encounters with the Yankees, Duke made it to Washington, GA. An inventory showed only $288,022 left, which was then confiscated by two Bank Officials. The Bank Officials were robbed on their way back north, and the outlaws hid the treasure. The outlaws were finally killed, and their last words were about the treasure location. The Posse searched, but never located the coins near the south bank of the Savannah River.