Friday, May 30, 2008

Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979

“AN ACT To protect archaeological resources on public lands and Indian lands, and for other purposes.”

It’s that “other purposes” line that will get you every time!

For those of you that hunt on or even near federal public lands or Indian lands you should acquaint yourself with this federal law. This particular law does not seem to apply to those of us looking for buried money but then again, I’m no lawyer and some suit working for Uncle Sam may see things differently.

According to Section 12 of this Act, subsection “b” says that “nothing in this Act applies to, or requires a permit for, the collection for private purposes of any rock, coin, bullet, or mineral which is not an archaeological resource, as determined under uniform regulations promulgated under section 3(1)”. Doesn’t that make you feel so much better?

In short, the Archeological Resources Protection Act 1979 or ARPA 1979, says that anything 100 years old or older found on public or Indian lands could be considered an archeological resource. Removing any of those resources could put you in jeopardy of some pretty severe criminal and civil penalties that range from one to five years in prison and fines up to $100,000.00. Ouch!

Supposedly this act does not cover the finding of arrowheads that “are laying on top of the ground” or “non-fossilized and fossilized pale-ontological specimens, or any portion or piece thereof” as long as they are not found in “an archaeological context”, what ever that means. I’m sure that if you were to ask two archeologists and two government suits the definition of “archeological context” you would probably get four completely different answers.

I personally know of at least one person who found some of those “fossilized pale-ontological specimens” that were off by themselves with no “archeological context” and when he reported the specimens, dinosaur bones, they were quickly scooped up by the archies, never to be seen again with no benefit to the man who found them.

The act is pretty specific about certain things that shouldn’t be looked for or messed with on public lands. Those items include “pottery, basketry, bottles, weapons, weapon projectiles, tools, structures or portions of structures, pit houses, rock paintings, rock carvings, intaglios, graves, human skeletal materials, or any portion or piece of any of the foregoing items”. For the most part I would agree with the purpose of this Act but I always fear how certain things will be used by an over zealous bureaucrat. And there is always one of those around somewhere!

The Act does say that permits can be applied for and supposedly issued to individuals who wish to hunt these archeological resources but if you know anything about archeology then you know to get a permit will probably take some pretty good credentials.

It would seem that if you are hunting treasure and come across a carving left by the Spanish or an outlaw more than 100 years ago (I know, Duh??) then this carving would be covered under the ARPA 1979. Now normally there would be no need to harm a carving and I would say you should never harm a carving but that over zealous bureaucrat might consider chalking or pouring water on a carving to photograph it “harm” so you should be very careful of this. I would also say that if you are hunting Spanish treasure and are opening a tunnel you have at least a 20% chance of running across a skeleton or two. Again, I’m all for the archies doing their thing, especially if the bones turn out to be Native American, but I’m sure if I notified the archies of some bones in a tunnel, the bones would be the ONLY thing in the tunnel when the archies got there and those bones would have been the only thing I saw.

If you want to make yourself more familiar with this Act you can find it here:

I should point out that this Act has no bearing on anything found on private lands but there are a few other laws out there that might, so do your homework!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pillsbury Crossing, Kansas

Here is a spot that would be good for a day hunt using a metal detector to find coins, relics and maybe some jewelry. This would be the perfect place to get some practice in with a new detector.

You will want to check with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules.

Pillsbury Crossing is located in Riley County, KS and is named after Josiah Pillsbury who homesteaded near the crossing in 1855. He later moved into Manhattan, KS and started the Manhattan Independent newspaper. The crossing was used by many people, especially those in wagons, to cross Deep Creek. At this point Deep Creek flows over a limestone ledge and just down from the crossing, about 100 feet, is a waterfall that drops four to five feet. The crossing is passable year round with just a few inches of water flowing across except during heavy rains, when the water level goes up. I would think this would be one of those “DUH” statements but I thought I would add it in just in case.

Besides being a crossing place for wagons the crossing and falls were used as a picnic area in the past and continues to be used as one today. During the warm months the crossing is used by all sorts of people, including college kids from the area, as a place to congregate and cool off and in the case of the college kids, I’m sure more than one of them has taken the opportunity to be stupid!

Since the area was homesteaded in the past and has been frequented by people for more than a century the opportunity to find some old coins, along with some new coins, jewelry and probably a beer can or two would seem to be good.

If you want to visit Pillsbury Crossing you can find it by traveling approximately 2 miles east from Manhattan, KS on K-177 to Riley County Road 911. From there travel east 3.9 miles to the intersection of 911 and Pillsbury Crossing Road. Turn left onto Pillsbury Crossing Road and travel almost two and one half miles. At that point you should see signs directing you to the crossing that is very near where you are.

Because of the overgrowth and the amount of people that visit this place during the summer I would suggest doing your metal detecting during the winter months. There will be no bugs or snakes and probably no people. Just the way I like it!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One Man's Toy.....

I took this one straight from today's news. It's not necessarily about treasure hunting the way most of us think of it but it is one way to look for gold!

LONDON (AFP) - An ancient gold cup mysteriously acquired by an English scrap metal dealer is expected to fetch close to a million dollars at auction after languishing for years in a shoebox under its current owner's bed.

Owner John Webber says his grandfather gave him the 5.5-inch (14-centimetre) high mug to play with when he was a child, back in 1945. He assumed the golden cup, which is decorated with the heads of two women facing in opposite directions, their foreheads garlanded with two knotted snakes, was made from brass.

But he decided to get it valued when he was moving house last year and was told it was actually a rare piece of ancient Persian treasure, beaten out of a single sheet of gold hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Experts said the method of manufacture and the composition of the gold was "consistent with Achaemenid gold and gold smithing" dating back to the third or fourth century BC. The Achaemenid empire, the first of the Persian empires to rule over significant portions of Greater Iran, was wiped out by Alexander the Great in 330 BC.

Auction house Duke's, in Dorchester, southwest England, will put the cup under the hammer on June 5, with an estimate of 500,000 pounds (630,000-euro, 988,000-dollars).

Webber, 70, told The Guardian newspaper that his grandfather had a "good eye" for antiques and picked up "all sorts" as he plied his trade in the town of Taunton in south-west England. "Heaven knows where he got this, he never said," he added, revealing that as a child, he used the cup for target practice with his air gun.

I guess it's a good thing an air gun was all he had!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Treasure Tale From Oklahoma

In the winter of 1869 a group of outlaws, supposedly numbering 17, attacked an army caravan carrying a payroll of gold near Mill Creek in south central Oklahoma. The gold was supposedly being transported from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to Fort Arbuckle, Oklahoma and the attack left all of the soldiers dead and five of the outlaws dead or dying.

After loading the gold from the caravan onto mules that the outlaws had brought with them they formed the wagons of the caravan into a circle and set them on fire. This was done to make any other soldiers looking for the caravan think the attack was by Indians. The outlaws then supposedly rode for several hours before stopping and splitting up the gold. The gold was split into three piles. Two of the piles were put into sacks and cooking pots and buried in two separate sites along a creek. (The original story says these two burial spots were along Mill Creek so this would indicate the outlaws must have followed that creek to make their get away.) The third pile, supposedly the largest of the three piles was put into several coffee cans and loaded back onto the mules.

The outlaws then headed into the Arbuckle mountains where they spent the night in a cave. The story goes that the outlaws buried the coffee cans full of gold in the floor of the cave before leaving the next day. When they left, they split into three groups, one headed for Mexico, one headed toward Arkansas and the third headed for Missouri. Their intention was to meet up two months later and recover the gold.

The group riding for Arkansas was found and apparently all killed while trying to be apprehended. The group headed for Missouri was also found and all but one of the outlaws in that group was killed. The one that escaped death spent nearly 20 years in prison for the robbery. This is supposedly the origin of this story. As he lay dying in Saint Joseph, Missouri this old outlaw told his caretaker about the robbery and drew a crude map showing where the robbery took place, the location of Fort Arbuckle and the three spots where the gold would be found.

I should mention that the third group of outlaws that headed for Mexico apparently made it there but never returned for the gold.

The caretaker of the old outlaw in St. Joseph, Missouri was convinced that with the map, he could find the gold so he sold his business and moved to Davis, Oklahoma where he began his search. Davis, Oklahoma was apparently the closest town to the area where the gold was buried. After several years and no luck the well worn map passed to Samuel Davis, the founder of Davis, Oklahoma as he had become friends with the owner of the map.

It is said that Samuel Davis looked for the treasure on occasion and on one of those occasions he ran across a rancher who owned land where one of the first two caches was supposed to be buried. In talking with the rancher Samuel Davis was told he was aware of the treasure story and that several people had been to the land before looking for it. It is said that one of those times a group of Mexicans arrived and wanted to go fishing in the creek. The ranch owner became suspicious after noticing the Mexicans apparently didn’t have any fishing gear and went to check on them later. Upon arriving at the spot they were at the rancher noticed several holes dug in the ground and one of them still contained an empty pot with the impressions of coins on the inside of the pot.

It was thought by Samuel Davis that the Mexicans were descendants of one of the original outlaws. Samuel Davis continued to search for the second buried cache along the creek but was said to have had no luck in finding it.

It would appear that this story has some merits since it involved the founder of a town and a story of treasure found. Could a person get lucky enough to find the cave with the coffee cans full of gold in the Arbuckle Mountains with nothing to go on but that little piece of information? Is the other burial spot along the creek still out there? Were both burial spots along the creek actually on Mill Creek? There is a belief among some people that one of the burial spots was on Guy Sandy Creek and not Mill Creek but without further research you may never know. I’ll leave that research for you.

There is a version of this story in Steve Wilson’s book although that is not where I found this information.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Hoax with a Brick Foundation?

I will start off by apologizing for the really bad photos posted with this article. The only ones I could get my hands on were photocopies from an old newspaper.

No matter who you are, especially if you are a treasure hunter, I’m sure you have heard the stories about Jesse James faking his death in St. Joseph, MO and living on under an assumed name someplace else. And causing lots of headaches for people like you and me I might add! If you are a regular reader of this blog you will also know that I DO NOT believe J. Frank Dalton was Jesse James. You may not know that I am still unconvinced that Jesse James actually died in 1882 as history reports it so I am keeping an open mind about his alleged death.

With that in mind I am presenting some information that I’m not quite sure what to make of and I will let the readers draw their own conclusions. The story goes that Jesse James faked his death and in some stories, Charlie Bigelow was killed in his place. In the book “Jesse James Was One of His Names” Del Schrader and Orvus Lee Howk go on to say that there were some carvings made in wet bricks, I believe it was three bricks and the carvings were made by John Trammell, the Jesse James slave that traveled with the gang. These carvings were to stand as testament that Jesse James was not killed in St Joseph, MO but it was in fact, Charlie Bigelow. The bricks were supposedly left behind on purpose to prove that Jesse James did not die that day.

On 11 July 1967 a young boy named Danny Hargrave found one of those bricks. One of the inscriptions on this brick was “3 killed here April 3 1882 John Bigelow Charles Bigelow Bert Bigelow”. Other carvings found on the brick included “777”, a horseshoe and a star. There are the initials of “J J” on this brick in one corner. There was also a dagger, an 8 or infinity sign along with other symbols on this brick. If you look closely at the photographs I have posted (and squint with one eye) you can see most of the carvings.

Now for the logical side of my brain to kick in, does it stand to reason that John Trammel or anyone else associated with Jesse James would find “wet bricks” to carve in with all of the commotion going on around the home because of the death? Also, there was no mention of John Trammell even being in St. Joseph, MO at the time. Did Trammell or someone else come back at a later date, maybe a much later date, to bury these bricks as “evidence” of a cover-up?

I guess you could logically assume that maybe they came back sometime later and placed the bricks there but that brings us to another problem. According to the local St. Joseph newspaper, old photographs of the spot where the one brick was found show that the grading of the land had been lowered more than ten feet “in later years” and prior to the brick being found. That would mean that the brick would have had to have been buried more than ten feet deep on the site of Jesse’s home in St. Joseph, MO when it was hidden. If you were leaving a clue behind for someone to find would you really bury a brick ten feet deep? The writer of the newspaper article surmises that the brick was placed at the site a long time after the grade was changed in an effort to confuse history. Personally, I think history is confused enough as it is and didn’t really need the brick.

That brings us to Orvus Howk and Del Schrader’s book. The book wasn’t written until the 1970’s, published in 1975, so Howk and Schrader would have been aware of the bricks existence because of the newspaper article and could have included it in the book as “proof”.

One problem with that so-called proof is Orvus Howk said that the brick had an inscription on it of “KGC”. This was a blatant lie because as you can see, even in my crappy photos, KGC is nowhere to be found on this brick.

Now it’s up to you to decide if the brick has any real part in history or if it affects how you hunt for that elusive treasure.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hidden Information in Carvings

This article is more about paying attention and thinking out side of the box than anything else. The majority of us have all run into a carving somewhere and scratched our heads thinking; “What in the world am I supposed to do with that?” Sometimes we can figure it out and sometimes we can’t. Most of the time the information we need is in the details.

I have posted a photo with this article of what most people would call a Thunderbird. This carving was small in size, with a wingspan of about eight inches and was carved on a rock bluff all by itself, nothing else around it. I looked at it at first as if it would be telling me something all by itself and finally came to the conclusion it wasn’t, it need to be worked in conjunction with something else. That something else was a carved map I found later as I was wondering around. This particular “bird” is related to a carved outlaw map and the map was only about one hundred feet from the location of the bird. Both were on the same hillside but different bluffs.

This carving was meant to be worked as a clue along with the map. If you were to start at the beginning of the map and follow the symbols that take you to this “bird” you would have gone through eight separate moves or steps of the map before getting to it. Remember, this carving was only about one hundred feet from the map but the mapmaker took you through eight moves in that one hundred feet. Once you get to the “bird” it is all about how you look at the carving and what you actually see and not what you think you see. One of my favorite quotes is “Is not what you look at, but what you see”. In this instance and in most cases of carvings, you have to see what is there and not what the carver is using as camouflage. In the instance of this “bird”, the only information that is useful in the carving is the line formed by the top of the left wing and the neck. The rest of the bird is there to camouflage those two lines.

If you look at the bird closely, and I will admit this isn’t the best photo, the line forming the top of the left wing and the neck is cut deeper into the rock than the rest of the bird and the corner is sharp and square where all of the other corners are rounded. This is shown better by the shadow than the carving because of the angle the photo was taken at but this will give you the idea of what I am referring to. After banging my head on the bluff for several days I finally realized that I only needed to be looking at the L shape or “90 degree turn” formed by the top of the wing and the neck. With all of the information that could have been imparted by this carving, all it was actually telling me was I needed to make a 90 degree turn off of the line I was just on. Because the left wing was pointed in the direction I just came from I also decided that when I made my turn the next “leg” I would travel would be short, probably half the distance that I just traveled to get to the bird carving. It turned out that the distance I traveled after I made the turn was a little less than half the distance. The leg to the bird was 45 feet and the leg after the turn was 20 feet.

This doesn’t always hold true but, in a lot of cases when you have lines drawn as this 90 degree turn was, the difference in the lengths of the lines can equate to distances because by traveling the first distance it gives you a known measurement to use to figure the second distance.

I have mentioned before the fact that some mapmakers, especially the really experienced ones, will put junk into a carving to hide the actual information. They will also camouflage symbols by making them look like something else but closer inspection will reveal lines that aren’t really connected or lines that are cut deeper than others just to name a few of the ways it can be done. Most mapmakers will establish a pattern of how they make their symbols or hide information in those symbols. Once you distinguish this pattern you will know what to look at and what to ignore.

I will caution everyone again that this isn’t always the case and sometimes things are exactly as they seem. These articles about different signs are meant to show you how they have worked at different locations so you can have ideas to mull over in your head at your own sites.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Something to look for in Illinois

Here’s something to look for if you are near Whiteside County, IL.

In the 1870’s there was a group or “gang” of counterfeiters that made a very good living printing their own money. The gang included a man known as “the most skilled of all counterfeit plate engravers” who’s name was Benjamin Boyd. Mr. Boyd was the son of a legitimate engraver and apprenticed with two other engravers, one of whom was a counterfeiter himself, before deciding a life of crime was easier than a real job. There was also “Big Jim” Kennally and another man known as Dr. Briggs. This “gang” operated from a farm near Unionville, IL that used to be known as the Abbott farm.

In 1875 the Secret Service caught up with Benjamin Boyd and Dr. Briggs and promptly put them in jail. It appears the Secret Service either wasn’t aware of the location of the counterfeiting operation and arrested them elsewhere or they did a very poor job of searching the place. The old Abbott farmhouse was later moved to a piece of land across the road from it’s original spot and during the move several bundles of funny money and the engraved printing plates were found in the basement. Now that would be a find!!

Local stories abound about several caches of gold coins, legitimate and funny money being stashed in the area of the Abbott farm by the counterfeiters but none have ever been found and it is not thought that any of the gang ever came back for them. It is said that the group also operated in the area of Fulton and Centralia, IL. And left a few caches of money in those areas also.

Why wouldn’t Big Jim Kennally dig up the caches and leave with his cohorts in jail? Well it seems Big Jim wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and wanted to break the engraver and apparently the brains of the group out of jail so they could continue their counterfeiting ways. In all of his wisdom Big Jim enlisted the help of two other not so bright individuals to steal the body of Abraham Lincoln, yes, that Abraham Lincoln, and they intended on ransoming the body for $200,000 and the release of Benjamin Boyd from prison.

So in November of 1876 Big Jim and his two helpers broke into the Lincoln vault, struggled to remove the lid to the marble sarcophagus and stood there trying to figure out how they would get the lead and cedar coffin out. They hadn’t planned very well ahead and for Big Jim, he didn’t pick his helpers very well. It seems one of the men, a man by the name of Swegles, felt it benefited him more by alerting the custodian of the Lincoln tomb who, in turn, notified a long list of law enforcement including the Secret Service.

All of these different agencies were waiting for the theives outside of the tomb when Swegles signaled them to make their move. Apparently there were some Keystone cops in the crowd because several shots were fired, all by law enforcement apparently shooting at each other. Nobody was enjured during the shooting but the bad guys made good there get away. Until ten days later when they were found in a local bar and arrested. This puts the entire group of counterfeiters behind bars for several years so there is a good chance soemthing is still out there.

You can’t find it if you don’t look for it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Spanish Sun & Shadow Signs

Most everyone has read one or more treasure hunting books about Spanish sun and shadow signs. Some of these books can get out there on the fringe of things, in my opinion anyway, but some sun and shadow signs are real.

The Spanish liked to use sun signs to get your attention and draw you to an area. In this context of sun signs I am referring to what might be termed a reflector. This would be a large rock that contained a lot of quartz or white material so that the rock would “light up” during a certain time of the day. These were usually placed in areas up high like on the side of a hill or mountain or on the side of a valley where they would only catch the sun during a certain time of day. Most of the time these types of sun signs didn’t give any specific information, they were just there to catch your eye and make you want to go towards the light. No, not that light, hopefully not yet anyway. Think of it like a woman in a jewelry store, always looking for the big shiny rock! Sorry ladies, but it is a good analogy!

They used shadow signs to impart information about what direction to go, what you are looking for or what you will find in a specific direction, just to name a few of the things they could be used for. Don’t consider this to be absolute though; I have seen some shadow signs made specifically to get your attention or draw you to a spot just like a sun sign would be used. These types of shadow signs were used as double meanings. They first got your attention to bring you to where the shadow sign was and then you could see what was making the shadow and this “thing” would give you a piece of precise information like a direction and or what you were looking for. I will say I have only seen this once but it was pretty definitive.

It has been my experience that shadow signs are more prevalent than sun signs but that may be a location issue. I have seen more sun signs in the southwest than I have in places like Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri but I have seen more shadow signs in places such as Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri than I have in the southwest. It may all be relative to where you are looking.

The best time to find a shadow sign is usually between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. That would be actual time and not daylight savings time. Think sundial here and not a watch. There are exceptions to almost every rule so some signs may have been made to be seen a little earlier or much later. It’s also very possible that some shadow signs will last longer than that window of time but I am only speaking to the ones I have actually seen or talked about with other hunters who have found them.

The shadows of shadow signs can be just about anything. They can be a simple arrow or more elaborate like the bird pictured at the top of this article. The shadows in this photo form the bird’s head and highlight the wing. Without the shadow there is no head and therefore no bird. This shadow sign is at the base of a small valley and was telling us to go up the valley and look higher. Since the bird was on the north side of the valley and there wasn’t anything telling us to look anywhere else we continued to look on the north side of the valley wall. Another marker was found about 100 yards away at the top of the valley wall. As we got closer to the sign it could easily be seen as long as you were looking high on the valley wall. I should mention this bird was designed to be seen from a distance, specifically from the top of the opposite valley wall which was the trail into where we were going.

If you are hunting Spanish treasure, keep your eyes open!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Harmon County

This is a story told to me years ago by a good friend. Sometime during the 1950's an aged Comanche and his grandson stopped by my friends shop. The old man only spoke his native tongue and the grandson did the translating. After some small talk the old man got down to business. They had come to my friend since he was the unofficial local historian. His family had lived in the area long before statehood.

The old Comanche told my friend a story of how two braves many years before had attacked a stage coach as it had crossed one of the forks of the Red River. The coach was carrying a payroll which the braves took. They then hid the loot near a tree in a small graveyard somewhere in what is now known as Harmon County. The two men where later killed.

My friend was familiar with the stage crossing but didn't know of the graveyard for which they were searching. He did know of the area the Comanche men would spend their time racing horses and gambling while the women would go mine salt. This was part of the clues as well. As far as anyone knows this money was never recovered.

Now for some clues for you. The crossing was on the Salt Fork of the Red River right at the state line. The camp area is not far from there. There was stone cairns that marked out the race track, but these were knocked down years ago. The salt mines were near Erick further north. There are numerous old graveyards in the area and the one the old Comanche was seeking may not be visible today.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Confederate Cipher Disk

For those interested in these ciphers here is a photo of a replica Confederate States Cipher Disk. The original disk was less than three inches across and could be carried in a shirt pocket. It consisted of two disks, one smaller than the other with the alphabet going around the outside of each circle. The disks were made of brass and the smaller disk had three letters, CSA, in the center. This of course stood for the Confederate States of America. Just below the CSA were two more letters, S.S. It is not known for certain what the S.S. stood for however it is thought to have been for either “Secret Service” or “Signal Service”.

There are only five original Confederate Cipher Disks known to exist. Two of these are in private collections, one is in the Smithsonian Institute and the other two are in the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA.

Finding one of these things while metal detecting would really get your heart going!

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Vigenere Cipher

As promised, here is some information about the famous, or infamous Vigenere cipher. A Vigenere Square or Tablet is shown here and is used to encode and decipher messages using the Vigenere cipher. The Vigenere cipher is actually a series of another cipher known as a Caesar cipher.

The Vigenere cipher has been around since the 1500s. A book was written about it explaining how the cipher worked in 1553. Even though the cipher was explained in the book, to the novice the Vigenere cipher was thought to be unbreakable. This proved to be a very big mistake for the South during the Civil War. Apparently the people in charge of their codes would be considered novices.

In an effort not to confuse anyone I have taken the liberty of copying the explanation of the Vigenere cipher from the Wikipidia page. This way I don’t screw it up!

“In a Caesar cipher, each letter of the alphabet is shifted along some number of places; for example, in a Caesar cipher of shift 3, A would become D, B would become E and so on. The Vigenère cipher consists of several Caesar ciphers in sequence with different shift values.”
“To encipher, a table of alphabets can be used, termed a tabula recta, Vigenère square, or Vigenère table. It consists of the alphabet written out 26 times in different rows, each alphabet shifted cyclically to the left compared to the previous alphabet, corresponding to the 26 possible Caesar ciphers. At different points in the encryption process, the cipher uses a different alphabet from one of the rows. The alphabet used at each point depends on a repeating keyword.”
“For example, suppose that the plaintext to be encrypted is:” ATTACKATDAWN

“The person sending the message chooses a keyword and repeats it until it matches the length of the plaintext, for example, the keyword "LEMON":” LEMONLEMONLE

“The first letter of the plaintext, A, is enciphered using the alphabet in row L, which is the first letter of the key. This is done by looking at the letter in row L and column A of the Vigenère square, namely L. Similarly, for the second letter of the plaintext, the second letter of the key is used; the letter at row E and column T is X. The rest of the plaintext is enciphered in a similar fashion:”


“Decryption is performed by finding the position of the ciphertext letter in a row of the table, and then taking the label of the column in which it appears as the plaintext. For example, in row L, the ciphertext L appears in column A, which taken as the first plaintext letter. The second letter is decrypted by looking up X in row E of the table; it appears in column T, which is taken as the plaintext letter.”

To symplify things in the field the South was known to use a Cipher Disk. This was a disk with the alphabet in a cirlce around the outside of the disk and a second smaller disk that turned on the inside with it’s own alphabet around the outside of the smaller disk.

To make all of this work you had to have a key word or phrase. The South was known to regularly use three key phrases. The first two, COMPLETE VICTORY and MANCHESTER BLUFF, were used continuosly during the Civil War. As the war got closer to the end and the South saw that they were in trouble they also began using the key phrase of COME RETRIBUTION. There was a fourth key phrase attributed to the South but I have not been able to verify that this phrase was actually used. That fourth key phrase is said to be JEFFERSONS FERRY.

As an added bonus for blog readers I am listing another key that was discovered by a college professor, and I believe it was discovered sometime in the 1990’s while he was looking at some old Civil War documents. This was a key word and not a phrase and was identified as BALTIMORE. This will be a news flash to more than one KGC researcher.

Here’s my thought for the day. The Knights of the Golden Circle was supposed to be a super secret organization with members so smart that they hid billions of dollars in treasure using a coding system that treasure hunters for more than a century haven’t been able to figure out, right? So who in that brain trust decided to use centuries old ciphers that were known to other code breakers to pass secret messages back and forth during the Civil War? If they couldn’t come up with their own ciphers to encode their most important messages, how did they come up with their own elaborate code to hide treasure?

Friday, May 2, 2008

More on the KGC and their Codes

Some of you are obviously unhappy that I pointed out the fact the Knights of the Golden Circle could have been involved in something that caused the South to loose the war, much less loosing millions of dollars. I guess that would have left them a lot less to bury in those elaborate “depositories”. The big believers in the KGC are all too happy to bend the facts around their own theories with no actual proof of what they are saying; except for the “secret documents” everybody seems to have but won’t show to anybody.

The last article I posted about the currency, plates and presses being identified and seized by the North due to the less than stellar performance by the South during the war is a true story, based entirely on fact. The South was very careless in how they sent their “secret” messages back and forth and chose to use at least two codes that were very old and known to several people, especially anyone who studied cryptography. Of course it wasn’t called cryptography during the Civil War but you get the idea.

The Rosicrucian cipher, also known as the Pigpen cipher was considered to be an “ancient cipher”, with its first use occurring before the 1700s. Besides the generals of the southern army using this ancient cipher it was also found to be in use by the Knights of the Golden Circle (actual fact). Several correspondences by the KGC were intercepted and decoded using the pigpen cipher. I have included a photo of the pigpen cipher at the top of the article so you can see what it looks like. In general, you substitute the shape around the letter you want to use for the actual letter. That would mean > would be a T and [ would be an F and < would be a U, etc.

Now for the fun part. It is a well-known fact that the Freemasons had been using the Pigpen cipher for a very long time. They used it so much that it was often referred to as the “Freemason’s Cipher”. I know, I know. The Freemasons you say? Yes, the Freemasons, but this doesn’t mean the KGC was part of, or an offshoot of the Masons. If you take the time to read a book written in 1864 by Felix Stidger entitled “Treason History of the Order of Sons of Liberty formerly Circle of Honor succeeded by Knights of the Golden Circle afterward Order of American Knights” you will see that the KGC had secret handshakes and greetings that they used, all of which were directly ripped off from the Masons. It would be my opinion that more than one of the forming members of the KGC were at one time Masons and decided they needed some secret stuff for their group so they took what they knew and used it. I do not think that the KGC is related to the masons or the Templars as some people think and there is no proof that they were. This is more supposition based on picking and choosing the facts to fit a theory instead of developing a theory based on the known facts.

The other widely used code by the South was known as the Vigenere cipher. This cipher has been around since at least the 1500s and requires a key word or key phrase to be used to decipher an encrypted message. It is said the South had four such key words/phrases. I have been able to verify three of those four key phrases and have been given a fifth key word that was just identified in the 1990s. In my next article I will endeavor to explain the Vigenere cipher and give all of the key word/phrases the South was known to use and the one they may have used.

If you are wondering why we would even discuss ciphers such as these you need to keep in mind that there was a lot of information moved around during the Civil War, including that of hidden items, most of this information was in code. These hidden items, no matter what they are, could be worth a lot of money today and you never know when you might run across an old book or letter with one of these codes in it.