Sunday, January 27, 2008

Research, some more basics

A lot of us find a treasure hunting site by hearing or reading a story about a certain place or event. A lot of the times the only difference between one treasure hunter finding something and another treasure hunter coming away empty handed is research. If you decide to chase after one of these tales you have to research it thoroughly to see what parts, if any, of the story are true. Just because some of the parts of the story can’t be verified doesn’t mean the whole story is untrue.

Stories like these get told and re-told over the years and along the way some things get embellished, some get left out and others are just added to make the story sound better. When you start to research a story like this it’s best to research the source of the story first. If you read it in a magazine or book they may have a footnote saying where it came from, if not, try contacting the magazine editor or the writer of the article or book and see if they will tell you where it came from.

From this point your research can go in many directions but the easiest is to verify the most pertinent information in the story first. If there are names of individuals or places you can check to see if these actually existed and when. If the story was allegedly told by one person to another and then that person related the story for all to hear you can try to verify if it was possible for the original two people in the story to have known each other at the time in question.

Lots of stories give names of rivers or creeks or even property owner’s names. These can easily be found using courthouse records and old maps. Remember that when looking for named places, the names when the story was originally told may not be the same name of the place now. Old maps found in the historical societies, the BLM, museums and libraries can help locate old named places. Also remember to talk to the “old timers” in the area. There are some places that are known by a certain name but that name was never put onto a map or survey. There are lots of small hills like that and even some creeks. If you find the right old timer you can have enough information to keep you busy for years. The cartographer’s office may have information about the old names and unnamed places also.

Also keep in mind that if a story says something about being near a river or creek or on the bank of a creek or river, the creek or river could have changed course over the years so now what you are looking for may not be near the bank or the bank may not even be there anymore. I know of a few treasure sites where you need to know how to scuba dive just to see the carvings. The states that those sites are located in were kind enough to build lakes where the carvings are.

Don’t forget to look in the old newspapers of the time if you are researching something such as a robbery. These can be found in most historical societies. Most robberies were written about in the paper along with other incidents such as mining activities and chases whether it involved outlaws, Indians, the military or someone else.

These are just a few of the things you can use as research tools. Each story will have it’s own specific information that will require you to find the right research tool to use. Some stories will be easy to research and determine if they are real, or not worth working on and others will take a lot of time and effort.

Keep in mind that research is part of treasure hunting and it’s the part that will make you better at everything you do.

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