Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Treasure Tales, Mississippi

Mississippi had it’s own famous gang of outlaws known as the James Copeland Gang. This gang of outlaws carried out robberies all along the coastal states from Florida to Texas.

Before fleeing to Alabama after one of these robberies the gang stopped in New Orleans to pick up three whiskey barrels. They then proceeded to fill the barrels with gold coins and put them on a boat where they took them to Pearlington, MS. At this point they transported them to a spot along the Catahoula Creek where they promptly buried them for safe keeping. It is thought they buried the barrels one to two miles from the home Gale H. Wages who was one of the gang members.

It is said that James Copeland and his gang had many caches that they hid in Mississippi, some in barrels, others in copper or brass pots.

To add a little fuel to the fire, there was a story floating around in the 1980’s that a group of treasure hunters unearthed a whiskey barrel in a swampy area near Pascagoula, MS. and it’s contents was $22,000.00 in gold coins. Pascagoula and Pearlington are pretty far apart so it would seem that this barrel would have to be from another cache. It seems the stories about robberies committed by the Copeland Gang in Mississippi are almost as prevalent as the stories about Jesse James and his gang. And speaking of J.J. and his gang, they to were supposed to have buried a cache near a bridge just on the outskirts of Pearlington, just in case you go looking.

Here’s one that will delight and annoy you all at the same time. Jerome Bonapart had a “war chest” containing $80,000.00 in French gold coins that he brought to what is now Hancock County, Mississippi in 1817. The chest of gold coins was to be used to free his brother, you know, the famous one, Napoleon. The chest and its contents were buried about 100 feet east of the Pearl River where Jerome and his group were camped. This camping spot was the original location of the Napoleon Church, which has since been moved.

Jerome and his group eventually returned to France without digging up the gold. Why they would do such I thing I’m not sure but hey, I’m just telling the story here.

Now for the part that will annoy you, the U.S. Government bought the property where the Napoleon Church originally stood and moved the church. So there it is, a chance at recovering some Frenchy loot and the government has put the skids on it by owning the land. Good ol' Uncle Sam, always helping out!

I’ll take this opportunity to point out the obvious, there have been a couple of devastating hurricanes in this area over the last few decades so finding clues to these treasures may be very difficult. It’s also very possible that anything buried in a wooden barrel or chest is no longer IN the container because the wood probably wouldn’t exist today. This would be a good test of a metal detector if you like wondering around swamps fighting off the bugs and whatever else might try to sneak up on you.

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