Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Did the KGC Cause the South to Loose?

I’ll bet you’ve never heard or seen that question anywhere before, huh? Everybody says the Knights of the Golden Circle were responsible for amassing a fortune and hiding it underground. You can pick your own reason why, there are several theories floating around, none of which, in my opinion, make a lot of sense. But could they have caused the downfall of the south because they weren’t as smart as everyone thinks they were?

It is known that the KGC operated in several states including some of the northern states. It is known that the KGC had a few “operatives” or spies in the North and that some of those operated in New York City. But could some of those spies have caused the downfall of the South because they were careless with how they passed messages to each other and because of the ciphers they used?

In December of 1863 the North intercepted a letter addressed to Alexander Keith of Nova Scotia. That letter was intercepted because Mr. Keith was known to associate with Confederate agents. This would seem to have been a very big mistake on the part of the confederate agents sending the letter to a known collaborator even though the letter was coded. When intercepted, this letter was sent to Washington to have the North’s most famous code breakers take a look at it. Those code breakers, three men known as the “Sacred Three” included Charles Tinker, Albert Chandler and David Bates.

The “Scared Three”, called this because except for his cabinet and private secretaries no one was closer to President Lincoln than these three men, determined that the letter contained coded information using what is now known as the “Rosicrucian Cipher”. This was a cipher that took on the appearance of a tic-tac-toe board and allowed the shapes and lines of the board along with dots to be used to designate the letters in the cipher. If you have ever read the book “The KGC, An Authentic Exposition” you will see a code written out in line form that appears to have been partially derived from the Rosicrucian Cipher. I have posted a photo of the code from this book at the top of this article. Now, back to the Sacred Three. About the time the three men broke the cipher a second coded letter arrived using the same cipher.

By breaking the Rosicrucian Cipher the Sacred Three determined that confederate agents were using a company in New York City to build printing presses and engraving plates for the sole purpose of printing money for the Confederate states. It seems the confederates didn’t have the technological know how to make their own presses and engraved plates. These presses and plates, along with several million dollars of already printed confederate money were scheduled to be shipped to the south in January of 1864 but because the code was broken, a raid was conducted on “Hilton’s Engraving Shop” in Manhattan, NY. The money, presses and engraved plates were all seized on December 31st 1863.

You are probably wondering how this could cause the downfall of the south. Well, the South was already fairly poor and they were unable to print their own money in sufficient quantities and needed those presses, not to mention the money that had already been printed. Once the North had the presses they stopped the South from being able to print large quantities of money and at the same time the North had their own spies use these presses to print their own counterfeit Confederate currency and flooded the market, so to speak. This put a tremendous drain on the already poor South. To add insult to injury, the money printed from the seized presses and plates was considered to be superior in quality to the currency actually printed by the South. That had to be embarrassing!

It’s all about the money!

I'm sure some of you will jump onto the conspiracy wagon and say this proves that the KGC was connected to the Freemasons and even the Knights Templar because both groups were said to have used a version of the Rosicrucian Cipher. I would say that maybe the Confederacy was too lazy or not smart enough to come up with their own cipher or code. Some of you will probably ask if I have proof that the Confederate agents in charge of the money debacle were actually part of the KGC? Nope, but not having proof of something doesn’t seem to bother the believers in the KGC mega-bucks so I’m going to say it’s possible one or more of them may have been members of the KGC since the KGC was supposed to be in charge of the spying for the south. Someone else can do the fine detail researching on this one if you're really interested.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Summer Time Hunting and the Bugs

Warmer weather is finally here! I don’t know about you but I have had enough of the cold and snow for a while. Even though I am ready for warmer weather, with the better weather comes a new set of problems, one of which is bugs.

Bugs in general aren’t anything to worry about but if you live or hunt in certain states, including what is called the Midwest, you have the problem of the nasty “no-see-ums”. Most people wouldn’t worry too much about these but if you have ever had more than five or six chigger bites at one time you know how uncomfortable it can be. I’ve had to sleep in a bathtub full of water before because I had so many chigger bites I couldn’t stand it. (The water kept air from getting to the bites, which in turn kept them from itching. This allowed me to sleep for 20-30 minutes at a time until the water got cold. Trust me, having that many chigger bites was more than just a little irritating.)

Besides being uncomfortable you have the possibility of catching some very unhealthy diseases such as Lime disease from ticks or West Nile Virus from mosquitoes. You have very few options when it comes to protecting your self from the no-see-ums. You can soak yourself and your clothing in Deet or something that is more earth friendly such as Permethrin but they both have their drawbacks.

Deet doesn’t really repel insects, it actually partially deactivates the heat and C02 receptors in the bugs, which confuses the bug and keeps them from finding you. If you are using a strong formula of Deet you can have several problems most people don’t see in the fine print. Deet can dissolve the surface of some synthetic fabrics and plastics such as that found in sunglasses. If you get the strong Deet on your lips it can even make you nauseous.

Permethrin is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring substance found in a South African flower. There is something in the naturally occurring pyrethroids in the plant that temporarily disable the bug. Anything natural that works is always better than some toxic chemical. The drawbacks to permethrin is that it has it’s own side effects if not used properly. It should only be put on your clothing because if it is ingested or absorbed through the skin it can cause skin irritation. A stronger formula of permethrin, the type the military uses, can cause blurred vision and make your eyes water and if you wear it in a high temperature climate it can vaporize from your clothing and breathing in the vapors can cause nasal and respiratory irritation. But the government says it's safe, really!

Now for some good news. There are some types of bug proof clothing you can wear that will defeat the no-see-ums. One is a fabric infused with an encapsulated form of permethrin that seems to take away most of the side effects. You also have the bug suits that you wear on the outside of your clothing but these can be hot and a pain in the butt to treasure hunt in.

The one solution I really like and highly recommend is a bug or tick suit that is worn underneath your regular clothing. I bought my first tick suit about six years ago and I don’t go into the woods or tall grass during warm weather without it. These suits are a thin, tightly woven material that is very light and stretches so that it fits tightly over your body, think pantyhose. The suit comes in pieces, a long sleeve top, pants, a hood and gloves, kind of like long underwear but with out the thermal properties and a lot thinner. Of course each piece is sold separately and they are not cheap. The shirt and pants generally run between $30 and $40 each. I can personally guarantee that it is worth the expense if you do a lot of hunting where there are ticks and chiggers. One unintended but added benefit to wearing these suits is that they act as an evaporative cooler when there is a breeze. The suit is next to your body and thin but it absorbs the sweat and when a breeze comes along it’s like opening the door to a walk-in cooler.

If you are interested in this kind of bug protection, there are several sporting goods stores that sell these suits and most of them have their own brand. If you can’t find them locally you should look on line at stores like Cabelas or maybe even Bass Pro Shop. Cabelas has their own brand called “Bug Skinz” which is what I use. The manufacturer guarantees it against ticks and chiggers and although they don’t guarantee it, they say the suit can stop mosquito bites. I have been wearing my suit for over six years and I have never gotten any type of bug bite while wearing the suit.

I’ve never had Lime Disease but I have a friend who has and it wasn’t very pleasant for him. If you hunt where there are a lot of ticks, chiggers or mosquitoes I can’t recommend this type of clothing enough.

Hunt safe and hunt smart.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Relics and a Cache or Two

This was going to be about a ghost town called Wallace, KS but Wallace isn’t really a ghost town. There are probably a few ghosts in the area if you are interested. If you are traveling in Wallace County, KS there are a few things you could check out, especially if you are a civil war buff or like to hunt for relics.

There are four sites you can check out and I think all four are still on private property. The first is the Pond Creek Station, located about one mile west of Wallace, KS on the south side of Highway 40. Pond Creek Station was located on the old Smokey Hill trail and was a temporary military post and stage station in 1865 and 1866. At one time you could still see the old cellar holes and what was left of the dirt fortifications. A couple of the buildings from the site including the coach house and stage tender’s building were moved from the property intact to another piece of land, apparently to preserve them. This old station would be a good place to run a metal detector looking for artifacts and relics. Who knows, maybe you will come across a small cache left behind by a traveler or worker.

The next three sites are the same place but in different locations. I’ve got you wondering now don’t I? What started out as Camp Pond Creek in 1865 was renamed in 1866 as Fort Wallace. This was an active Army post from 1865 until 1882 and was considered one of the largest army posts in Indian Territory. It’s main purpose was to quell the Plains Indians who were trying to protect their lands from the white man. When construction on the fort first started in 1865 the soldiers camped at the bluffs on the south fork of the Smoky Hill River and Pond creek. This location was about two miles west of the permanent location of the fort. So there is your first site, where the soldiers camped while building the fort. This could be a relic hunters dream.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Fort Wallace started out in a low area of land and was partially constructed when a First Lieutenant, who was apparently smarter than the preceding officers at the fort, decided with the fort being in a low lying area it was vulnerable to attack from all sides and requested that he be allowed to move the fort. In July of 1866 construction started at the new site that was on higher ground. So there are your other two sites. You have the spot where the fort was first constructed and then you have the spot where the fort was finally and permanently located.

This fort site is located about two miles southeast of the town of Wallace, KS. The original cemetery plot is still there and is across the road from the actual fort site. It’s my understanding that all of the soldiers buried in this cemetery were later exhumed and re-interred at Fort Leavenworth, KS. There are still other graves in the cemetery and there is a large monument in the cemetery dedicated to the dead soldiers.

As far as I know there are still remnants of the fort that are evident to someone looking. No buildings exist but you can probably find some of the foundations and cellars.

As long as you are in the area of Wallace, KS you might as well do some looking around for some “small” caches left behind by an old resident of the town.

Peter Robidoux was a pioneer storekeeper that did very well for himself in the town of Wallace, KS. Mr. Robidoux arrived in Wallace, KS in 1872 and immediately opened a small general store. As his store prospered he was forced to enlarge the store several times. Mr. Robidoux was known to boast that he would put all of the silver dollars he earned each day into an empty beer keg and the day’s earnings would fill up the keg each day! Holy crap! Somebody was drinking a lot of beer! Oh, come on, your weren’t actually thinking about the silver were you?

In 1909 Peter Robidoux bought a large Victorian style home and moved his family into it where they lived for several years. In 1919 he sold all of his holdings that included the house and thirty two THOUSAND acres! Robidoux was known to have hidden several caches of money on his property and he apparently died before he recovered them all.

It has been reported that treasure hunters have found a few of these caches but it is thought many more are still in the ground. The old Victorian home once owned by Peter Robidoux still stands in Wallace, KS and is being restored to it’s original beauty.

Thirty two thousand acres is a big place to hunt but a little research might give you some insight into where some of these caches might still be.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

In Treasure Hunting, Size Does Matter

Come on now, get your minds out of the gutter, this is a treasure hunting blog! When you are talking about symbols in a carved map size does matter, at least sometimes. How’s that for a definitive statement? Remember, there are very few absolutes in treasure hunting.

If you are lucky enough to come across a carved map, and most of us are because it seems like they are everywhere, the size of the symbols in the map can be a clue. This is especially true with outlaw maps but it can also be true with maps from other groups. Maps can consist of just 3-4 symbols or they can be very elaborate and have 20 or 30 or more symbols in them. As you look at your map you need to decide if there is a pattern to the map. Are the symbols in lines like a sentence? Are they in groups separated by a space? Is there something around them like a box or circle? All of these things will be important and will relate to how you interpret the symbols.

As you progress through the symbols in a map you may notice that the symbols in one line or section are bigger than the ones in another line or section. The size of the symbols can be relative to the size of the “moves” or the distances you will travel with each “leg” of the carving. In some cases the size of the symbols can directly relate to the distance to travel. If a symbol is half the size of a previous symbol then the distance traveled when working that symbol may be half the distance. So if you have a symbol that is four inches in size on the map and the distance you traveled working that symbol was fifty feet then if the next symbol is half the size of the last symbol then there is a better than average chance the distance you will travel on this symbol will be about half or around 25 feet.

Interpreting symbols on a carved map is as much about what the previous symbol told you to do, as it is about the current symbol you are working on. One symbol can directly correlate to the other depending on how the map was meant to be used. As the size of the symbols change it can mean the distances that you travel change in relation to the size. It can also mean that the physical clues you find as you work the map may be changing in size, getting smaller or larger depending on what the carved symbols are doing. By varying the size of the symbols in the map the mapmaker was giving himself additional information about the clues while hiding this information from people who aren’t paying attention to the details.

The size of a symbol can also relate to its importance in the map. You may have a map with one or two symbols that are larger than the others. This would indicate that the larger symbol(s) is an important piece of the puzzle. It could be a spot in the map where things get reversed or it may be a spot where you will find additional carvings that aren’t on the original map. You may have more than one cache and the first cache could be located at the point in the map where you have a larger symbol. Part of the map may be garbage to throw you off and the larger symbol shows you that this is the end or beginning of the actual map. These spots can be almost anything but a lot of the times the symbols were made larger to point out that they are more important compared to the other symbols.

Once you begin to work a carved map or any map for that matter, you will see a pattern start to emerge on how the mapmaker’s mind worked. Don’t ignore these patterns. They will help you think like the mapmaker did and this will make interpreting the map that much easier.

“It’s not what you look at, but what you see”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wildman, An Oklahoma Ghost Town

The Ghost Town of Wildman, Oklahoma was located in Kiowa County about fifteen and one half miles south and seven miles east of present day Hobart. The town’s Post Office was only in business from May 1901 to November 1904.

The town got its name from the type of people that liked to come there. The town was described as “a wild west, hard shooting, tough mining town made up of grizzled miners and unscrupulous gamblers with a liberal seasoning of bandits”. Sounds like my kind of place, when I was twenty-five years old! It was said that the first “diggings developed in Wildman was the graveyard”.

Wildman was started when the federal government opened the Wichita Mountains area to miners in the fall of 1900. The town at one time had two grocery stores, two hotels, a general store, an assayer’s office, a restaurant, a drug store and a hardware store. Of course there were more saloons and places to gamble than anything else in the town. The town also had it’s own newspaper for a while. It was called the Otter Creek Miner.

Today, nothing is left of the old town except for possibly an old foundation or two and the cyanide ore mill. The buildings were all removed so that the land could be used for agriculture.

Since Wildman was a mining town there were several tunnels and mining shafts dug into the granite hills in the area, especially around Nest Egg Mountain. One of the more widely known mines was the Gold Bells Mine. I believe the location of this mine can still be seen today. The newspapers of the day reported that gold, silver, lead, copper and platinum had been found and some of what was found assayed in the thousands of dollars per ton. Even though there were some high assayer’s reports it doesn’t appear that there was that much gold taken out of the area. Even if there wasn’t that much found, at today’s prices any gold would be worth finding.

If you are in this area looking around you might want to look for what was said to be a very rich mine that was supposed to have been worked for years by the Spanish. That is until the Indians decided they had had enough of the Spaniards and let them know their feelings by attacking the miners. This mine is supposed to be located on the west side of Otter Creek less than half a mile from the south side of the mountains.

This mine was supposed to have been marked by a series of oak trees that had the limbs cut off of one side. The sides without the limbs are supposed to be in the direction the mine is located. By now, these trees may be long gone but it would be my opinion the Spanish would have also used some other types of markers in the area, markers made of stone that might still be around.

If you are a history enthusiast you could even try looking for some of the old miner claim markers from the 1900’s. Some of these can be pretty interesting since they might still have the handwritten claim in them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hughes Brothers

In 1894 James Hughes moved to Oklahoma. He settled on a homestead along the Washita River southeast of Cloud Chief. He was a shrewd and respected businessman. While he wasn't an outlaw his two sons Ben and Jim had criminal backgrounds.

As the Hughes Ranch grew rumors began to circulate that everything going on at the ranch might not be on the up and up.It seems that the Hughes offered an invitation of shelter to men of questionable character. Men such as Bert Casey, Al jennings, George Miller, Ben Cravens, and Red Buck Weightman arebut a few who were thought to frequent the ranch.

By the turn of the century the Hughes ranch had expanded to the point that they owned a number of sections of land, leased 36 sections of "indian" land, and ran a mail route. Ben and Jim were worth more than a hundred thousand dollars. This was a huge sum in those days.

In 1904 James Hughes Sr passed away. it was from this point on that the Hughes ranch began it's downward spiral. Ben and Jim would remain at odds with the law for the rest of their lives as well as their sons.

The old ranch site would be a great place to search for treasure. Many outlaws spent time hiding on the ranch and there is a good chance that they hid their ill-gotten gains on the ranch. Some of the Hughes family fortunes could be hidden as well. With a little research the original ranch site could easily be located.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Oklahoma Outlaws

When you think of Oklahoma outlaws the Dalton or Doolin Gangs probably come to mind. Belle Starr or even the James/Younger Gang might be at the top of your list. The Sooner State has a long list of badmen who made the Indian Territory their haunt. I'll be doing a series of short stories on some of the lesser known outlaws. Their areas of operation could still hold some of their long hidden loot.

The Bill Coe gang was a group of renegades who numbers ranged from 15 to 50 at any given time. The outlaws terrorized travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. They headquartered in the Black Mesa region of the panhandle during the 1860's. Their hideout became known as Robbers Roost. It was located near Lookout Point not far from what is now known as North Carrizo Creek. The gang was very well organized and even tended a farm located near their hideout.

Robbing travelers and rustling were the main sources of income for this group. The Coe Gangs reign came to an abrupt end in 1867. The fortress like hideout was beseiged by troops and a cannon from Fort Lyons. The outlaws were either shot down or later rounded up and hung. With no time to recover any hidden loot and as successful as the gang was this would be a good area to research.

The hideout is on private property, but for those interested in visiting the area can contact the Boise City Chamber of Commerce to arrange for a visit.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

An Outlaw Carving, Part 2

This is a continuation of the last article I posted about interpreting a carved symbol. If you remember, I spent months trying to figure out something that was right in front of my face. The carving in this photo is the next part of the map, after the tree. The tree carving was telling me to take a line through the tree to find another point. Additional information on the tree carving told me to look at the T S carving for my next information.

This part of the map had to be reversed or mirror imaged to work correctly. The first and easiest part of this portion of the carving was the three drill holes. These give you a picture of what you are looking for and how it is laid out. You can see how the mapmaker used two of the drill holes to make the T and S look like someone’s initials to camouflage the carving. If you look at the T you can see that one vertical line at the end of the top horizontal line is angled down and off to the side while the other goes straight down. This is giving you the angle for the triangle you are supposed to find and matches what the drill holes show. This T tells you that you are looking for a right triangle and not an equilateral triangle. It also gives you the directions to go to find the other two trees that form the triangle with the one you are standing at. I already knew the nails were in the tree giving me a direction to go and with the T shaped like it was I now had all of the information about the shape of the triangle that was needed. I should add that each tree had an upright stone at the base of it to help identify it as the correct tree. The TS carving, besides giving you information about the triangle, also told you that you were looking for three Trees and Stones.

Once I had all of this information to locate the three points of the triangle, it only took a few minutes to do so. In this case, all three points were visible from each other with the furthest distance between trees being about 55 feet. I should also point out that the nails that were in the first tree gave me a specific compass heading to follow. By doing some math and figuring out the right angle based on the compass heading I already had, I was able to get a compass heading to the third tree from the second tree. So the map gave me specific information to find all three trees without having to leave the first tree and walk around. This could be verified by going to the second tree and making a 90-degree turn that took me directly to the third tree. Having the stones at the base of each tree didn’t hurt either!

And there you have it, a simple carving giving you very specific information about finding three points that form a triangle. With this particular map you had to find the three points and you had to know which point was the one where the 90-degree corner of the triangle was made. As a side note, at this corner of the triangle was another clue, a METAL clue that was hidden inside the tree. Really, a REAL metal clue, not just a piece of old junk that got left behind, I promise! The mapmaker had bored a hole into this tree and left a hunting knife inside. The knife pointed in a direction that gave you a specific compass heading that you needed for the next portion of the map. The knife predated 1890.

These kinds of carved maps are what keeps me hunting treasure. They are always a challenge and they help to keep my mind sharp. Well, as sharp as it can be anyway.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Outlaw Carving, Part One

This article is about a specific carved symbol I ran across while working a map. Again, this is to show you what a symbol can mean based on how it is made and it is not intended to say a symbol has a specific meaning that will be the same everywhere you see it. Carved symbols are about interpretation. You have to interpret the symbol the same way the person who carved the symbol meant for it to be interpreted. These articles are meant to give you an idea of how to look at symbols.

The symbol, pictured at the top of this article, was the first symbol in a map that had six separate sections to it. At first when I saw this symbol I thought it was depicting a valley that was on the opposite side of the hill that this carving was on. The valley looked exactly like the carving and I spent many months trying to make the rest of the carving work in the valley. As you have probably already figured out, it didn’t work that way.

As much as I tried to make this symbol part of the terrain it just wasn’t going to work that way. Now comes the part where hindsight made me feel really stupid and I’m sure more than one of you will think the same thing. Keep in mind this was a learning experience, as every map is. This symbol was carved on a bluff on the side of a small hill. Growing out of the base of the bluff where the carving is located is a large tree, a tree that I had to lean against to take this photo. A tree I ignored for many months except for the fact that it was in my way while I was trying to figure out the carving.

Yes, that’s right, the carving was depicting the very same tree I was ready to cut down because it was in my way! To make it even simpler the symbol that forms the ninety degree line that goes through the carving was simply telling me to put my back to the bluff, which is flat by the way, and take a line through the tree. This tree was one of three that formed a triangle you needed to find to continue on with the map. At this point you are probably wondering how I figured out which direction to go to find the other two trees. In this instance, the mapmaker was kind enough to drive four large nails into the tree in a straight line up and down. I found these using a metal detector by the way. These nails were the “key” to starting me on my way. By using a knife and cutting away the bark so I could see the nails it was easy to see what direction they were going into the tree. By going the exact opposite direction, away from the bluff, I found the second tree.

This is a prime example of using the KISS theory. Keep It Simple Stupid! Had I done this I would have been working through the map months sooner than I actually did. What can I say, I’ve never been accused of being a genius!

I will follow up this article with another showing how I knew there was a triangle and how I found all three trees.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Dangers of Treasure Hunting

When most people think about dangers in treasure hunting there is generally one or two things that pop into their mind, it is either death traps or being ambushed, depending on how paranoid you are. I’m sure I will catch a lot of flack about this next statement but I will say it anyway; there are very few death traps that you have to worry about. In my opinion it will be very rare to run into an actual man made death trap. People seem to see them all of the time but in reality, they just aren’t found that often at treasure sites. If you are unlucky enough to run across a death trap they are generally obvious as long as you are paying attention and not getting ahead of yourself. An actual death trap is designed to work on someone who gets excited about finding a tunnel or cave that is supposed to have gold in it and stops paying attention to what they are doing. Excessive greed will get you every time.

As far as an ambush goes, these are fairly rare also unless you are working in a foreign country or along the border of one like Mexico. If you are in fear of an ambush then it may be better to look for a different site. Treasure isn’t worth dying over.

Now that we have the two “big” dangers out of the way I’ll talk a little bit about the ones most people ignore and shouldn’t. The ones that you are most likely to encounter. The first and scariest to me is snakes. I hate snakes! You can call me a “girly man” if you want but I would prefer never to see a snake. Most of us hunt at least some in the warmer months and the chance of running into a snake is pretty good. Luckily the snakes like us about us much as we like them so as long as we aren’t stupid or extremely unlucky, you can usually steer clear of the snakes. There is always the chance of accidentally running across a snake so you should always be prepared for a snakebite. The best way to be prepared in these times is a cell phone and not hunting alone. You can get cell service just about anywhere now so always take your phone with you. It wouldn’t hurt to have an up to date snakebite kit either. You can also purchase a good pair of snake boots or even snake chaps to help lower your chance of getting bit. The thing you really have to watch is where you put your hands if you are climbing across large rocks or boulders. Learn what snakes are indigenous to the area you are hunting and what the poisonous ones look like. You will be asked what the snake looked like when you go to the emergency room so you might as well look like you know what you are doing!

Another problem that some of you farther south will run into is Africanized or “killer” bees. These things can be worse than snakes because they just don’t know when to give up and you almost never have any warning they are coming until it’s too late. I have just started learning about these nasty little critters and it has become apparent to me that if you are hunting in an area where these bees can be then it is well worth the money to buy a “bee hat” or hood. They make some that fold up and are for emergency use. They don’t take up very much room and are reusable and fairly cheap. If you are old and out of shape like me, running away isn’t the best option so having an emergency hood and sleeves is cheap insurance from this kind of attack. If you are in need of this kind of protection you should try a "Bee Ready Kit". You can find more information about these at Africanized bees are known to attack “intruders” that get within one hundred feet of their hive. A hundred feet! You wouldn’t even know their hive was there until they were already on top of you. If you do get attacked and stung know how to deal with the sting. I would recommend that everybody, especially those of you in the southwest, know about these bees and how to protect and treat yourself. There isn’t enough room on this blog to go into detail but the information is readily available on the Internet. The only good news so far about these bees is the incidence of death by killer bees is small, just a couple of people each year. I think it would be in your best interest to try not to be one of those people.

As long as we are talking about bugs I should mention things like spiders, scorpions, centipedes, etc. There are certain species of bugs out there than can turn a good day hunting into a really bad day of pain and agony. These are too many to list individually and vary from area to area so I would suggest you do a little research about the area you are hunting in, especially if it’s not a place you normally go to, and find out what kind of creepy crawlies are out there that could cause you problems. Once you know what they are learn how to counteract any symptoms of a bite or sting and know which ones will require an immediate trip to the hospital.

Normally, I would think it would be obvious and unnecessary to tell people to stay away from wild animals but I have seen more than one person think they could antagonize a buffalo and get away with it. I would hope that if you are smart enough to be reading this blog you are smart enough to stay away from things like wild buffalo, cats in the “we can eat people” category, wild horses, etc. Although they are fun to read, I certainly wouldn’t want to read about a treasure hunter in the annual Darwin Awards.

Another thing I would recommend everyone take a crash course in is plant life for your area. Learn to recognize which ones are poisonous or hazardous to your health. Poison Ivy or Poison Oak can sure make for a bad experience. Running into a cactus or other plant with pointy ends can also be very unpleasant. Some of these types of plants can secrete a sap or juice that will make the point of contact even more irritated.

One of the most important things that most people don’t even think about is dehydration. I know Okie has had to rescue more than his share of people that got lost in the mountains and had no water. Always, and I mean ALWAYS make sure you have enough liquids. Figure out how much you think you will need and then pack extra. In the really hot months it is a good idea to pack a large bottle or two of Gatorade along with your water. Sometimes water just won’t replace the electrolytes as quickly as you need them and the Gatorade will make a big difference.

Take the time to learn about the dangers indigenous to the area you are hunting in and plan accordingly. Think of it as a do it yourself survival school.

Friday, April 4, 2008

More Tales of Treasure Along the Oklahoma-Texas Border

As long as you are thinking about ghost towns you should do some research into a ghost town in Texas that was known as High, TX. This town, when it was a town, was located in Lamar County, TX.

Once you know where this town used to be you could look for several mason jars of gold and silver coins buried by the Hughes brothers. George and Curt Hughes owned one of the general stores in High, Texas and kept all of their money in mason jars that they buried in the back yard of their property. It seems the two brothers didn’t trust banks very much and besides that, there wasn’t a bank in High, TX at the time so they didn’t have much choice but to bury their money. George and Curt both died in the 1950’s and they apparently left more than a few of the mason jars still in the ground. They either couldn’t remember where they were or didn’t need them up to the point of their deaths. It is rumored that there are several jars still in the ground.

A check of the land ownership records at the Lamar County, TX courthouse should tell you exactly where the two brother’s land was located.

Here is another one for you in Lamar County, TX. Buried on the bank of Pine Creek near the present day town of Paris, TX is a “washtub” full of gold and silver. This is supposed to be a mix of coins and bars and was put in the ground by a group of slaves and their owner just before the Civil War. It is thought that the treasure was never recovered because the original owners didn’t make it through the Civil War alive and the heirs to the treasure moved away without being able to locate it. The only real clue to the location is that the washtub was supposed to have been buried “under a leaning tree” on the bank of Pine Creek. I think this one will take a lot of luck to find but stranger things have happened.

And if you are going to start poking around Paris, Texas (you’ll notice I was smart enough to add the state in there so nobody would be grinning about the “other” Paris) you might as well keep your eyes open for the gold and silver coins left behind by a Mexican wagon train in the 1840’s. This treasure is supposed to have been worth between $25,000 and $75,000 when it was hidden. The wagon train was headed for St. Louis, MO when they thought they were going to be attacked by a band of outlaws. (At least it wasn’t the Indians this time!) Fearing an attack the Mexicans buried the treasure on the old Spanish Road that ran along the Red River north of Paris, TX. Then they high tailed it back to Mexico. The Mexican War erupted soon after that and the original members of the wagon train all died before they could retrieve the treasure.

What? That’s not enough? Here’s a spot you can do some research on that might lead to more than one cache. If you are near Sherman, TX you can travel twelve miles northeast to a place called “Carpenter’s Bluff”. It was established in 1860 and named after a man who lived and ran a ferry at the location, taking people across the Red River. It is located on the Red River and Farm Road 120. Sometime after 1865 the spot was given the nickname of Thiefneck because of all of the outlaws that frequented the place. There was a saloon and general store there and the outlaws like to hang out and drink and buy supplies as several of the outlaws and their gangs supposedly had hideouts in the surrounding area. The good citizens of Carpenter’s Bluff got tired of the outlaws being in their town and eventually drove them out. The nickname of Thiefneck soon went by the wayside once the outlaws were gone. The town never really took off though, reaching its highest population of 120 in 1946. If the outlaws where hiding in this area then they are sure to have hidden one or more caches of money at or near where they were hiding. Some of their hideouts may have been on the opposite side of the river; depending on which direction they thought trouble would come from. The fact that this town was a river crossing also gives you the opportunity to look for items lost or hidden at the ferry crossing.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ghost Towns

Treasure hunting in and around the locations of ghost towns can be fun and even exciting at times. You never know what you will find and you almost always have a chance at stumbling across a small cache, whether it is from an outlaw gang that used to hang out in the town or from one of the residents or business owners who lived in the town. Most of the locations of ghost towns are now private property and if you approach the landowners right you can probably get access to the property.

As with any treasure hunting venture, doing your homework is essential. You will want to find the exact location of the town. This can be accomplished by doing research at the local library or the state historical society. The state historical society might even have old town plats showing exactly where different buildings were. Once you think you have the location pinpointed, make sure you ask around in the area where the town was supposed to have been. There will always be somebody still living in the area that will know exactly where the town was and probably where most of the buildings were.

Once you know the location and have your permission to hunt, it’s all about knowing what you want to find. There is a multitude of things that you can find in a ghost town. You can look for old relics from the buildings or businesses, individual coins, small caches, tokens or even Civil War relics if the town fits the time frame. For the intrepid hunter that wants to do a lot of digging you can even search for the locations of the old outhouses and dig for bottles. Some bottles are worth a lot of money and could pay for a really nice vacation!

Again, this gets back to doing your research. Find out where the buildings were, how many buildings were in the town and what the buildings were used for. This will all be important information about where you want to detect or dig. If you like looking around the old homes, or where the old homes use to be, make sure you check the obvious spots such as around the base of any big trees where people would have set or even buried a cache. See if you can determine where the clothes-line was. If you are looking for old coins, underneath the close line is one of the best places to find them. See if you can’t figure out where a flower or vegetable garden used to be and detect there also. The places to search in a ghost town are almost endless.

Now you are probably wondering how do I find out where a ghost town is. Again, research! Most states have a map or book or both published by somebody about the ghost towns in that state. Some of these are more detailed than others but they are enough to get you started. Once you have a few towns you think you want to check out then do the additional research at the county courthouse and/or the state historical society. I would say that you should research more than one town because you may be denied access to the property or it may turn out that there is something else, like a pond or lake there now.

Let me get you started with a ghost town in Oklahoma. This town was known as Lenora and it was located in Dewey County, in Section 13, Township 18 North, Range 18 West, to be exact. Lenora was known by its residents as the “pearl of the prairies”. The town was established in 1892 and had it’s first post office by 1896. By 1900 the town had a population of almost four hundred people. The town had several businesses including three general stores, a meat market, a drugstore, a hardware store and a lumber yard to name a few. Oh, and I might also mention the two saloons, one known as the North Star Saloon. There was also a hotel, known as the Hotel Daisy.

Lenora had three of it’s own newspapers, the Lenora Leader, the Lenora News and the Lenora La Pearl. (Finding copies of these papers could be very good for your research.) Even though the town was a bustling metropolis it eventually succumbed to progress and closed it’s post office in 1955.

Some of the old buildings are still standing, including a schoolhouse, a church and one of the old stores, at least 30 years ago they were. The church continued to be used for 20 years after the town closed but I don’t know if it still is in use today or not. Always make sure you get permission to hunt first!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Treasure Tales along the Texas-Oklahoma Border

North of Pottsboro, Texas Jesse James and his gang buried $40,000 that they appropriated from the State Fair in Texas. Knowing they were being chased by Texas Rangers they headed north into Oklahoma, crossing the Red River near present day Kingston, OK. After that they doubled back across the river south, back into Texas where they found a bend in the river near Twin Hills. At this bend, between a pine tree and a large flat rock, they buried the money and this cache was never recovered, as far as we know.

Based on what I know about Jesse James treasure sites there are sure to be carvings or markers of some kind in the area where this treasure was left. One of the biggest problems you will face in finding this cache is that it may be covered over by Lake Texoma now. The shores of the lake come awful close to this location but they may or may not cover over the actual location of the cache.

In Lamar County, Texas there is the story of a Mexican mule train consisting of eleven burros loaded with gold that was attacked by Indians. Just how many mules do you have to have to have a “mule train” anyway? The unlucky members of this Mexican caravan were traveling on the old Spanish Santa Fe-Natchitoches Trail that ran along the Red River on the Texas side. There were only three survivors of the attack and they fled back to Louisiana and never tried to recover the gold.

There are two competing stories about what happened to the gold. One says that the gold was hastily buried along the Red River about 22 miles northwest of Paris, Texas and the other says the gold was dumped into an off-shoot of the Red River which in it’s present state would be Palmer Lake.

There is the story of an old Mexican army officer who had come to the area and camped for a while. It was said the army officer had a map he had gotten from one of the survivors and was looking for the gold. Apparently, he left emptied handed.

To add fuel to the fire, while working in his field a farmer plowed up skeletons, gun barrels and other relics of the massacre in 1835. These were found on a farm once known as the Rutherford Farm, located approximately twenty-two miles from Paris, TX.

In 1900 even more relics and human bones were found on a farm near Palmer Lake. This farm was known as the Crain Farm and was located northwest of Forest Chapel.

If you are planning on looking for this one you will want to do some more research to narrow down the location. You might also want to learn how to scuba dive just in case the gold is in the lake!

In 2005 there was an amateur documentary about a couple of Texas locals that took a backhoe to the then dried up Palmer Lake looking for this treasure. I haven’t seen the documentary and don’t know how this dig turned out. If you are interested in this treasure you might want to find out more about the documentary. It was titled “Pay Dirt: The Lost Treasure Of Palmer Lake”.