I don’t do much searching for treasure underwater so I will skip telling you about how to get leads for those treasures. I will mention that studying information about some sunken treasures will give you some insight into some land based treasures. There’s nothing like a good pirate story to get your mind going. Arggggg!
Most caches of treasure won’t be written about in a way that mentions treasure. If you want to look for the small and maybe medium sized caches you should spend some time in your local library or historical society reading over the old newspapers, especially those before 1935. Once you start reading you can look for the articles about robberies. These articles can give you the where and when and sometimes even the who, not to mention an amount of what you might be looking for. You should look for articles about miners or prospectors if you live in or near an old mining area. Articles about the natural or even untimely deaths of prospectors and miners can give you leads about where a cache of gold may be. If a successful prospector or miner died and didn’t have any relatives there could be a good chance that whatever gold he had was left in the ground near his claim. Even if they did have relatives there is a good chance the miner/prospector hid what he had without telling the relatives where it was hidden. The newspaper article will give you a name and a search through the old claim files would give you an exact location.
If you aren’t lucky enough to live in or near a mining area you can look for articles about successful ranchers or store owners that may have died unexpectedly and didn’t have any family around. Maybe you will find a story about the local hermit that was found expired at his homestead. Hermits are notorious for not trusting banks or people for that matter and the local hermit may have stashed some money around his homestead. Another thing you can search for is the old stage stops or even the old creek or river crossings along the stage route. These were great places for someone to accidentally drop something or even intentionally hide something they didn’t want to lose. Remember, it doesn’t take much gold or silver these days to make something worth finding.
If you like to hunt for more “recent” caches you should concentrate on the newspapers from 1933 to 1950. Why these years you ask? For those of you that don’t know your history to well the private ownership of gold in the United States was banned on 5 April 1933 and all citizens were required to turn in their gold to dear old Uncle Sam. You just got to love Uncle Sam! This ban on the private ownership of gold only allowed citizens to own $100 or less of gold except for rare coins with special collectors value. The ban stayed in effect until 1974 when we were “given back” our right to have gold.
I am sure, actually, I would bet big money on it, that there were a lot of people that buried or hid what gold they had just to keep from having to give it to the government. I know I would have. This brings us back to the old newspapers and looking for those stories of the hermits and reading the obituaries. Most of these stories will probably never mention anything about hidden money or treasure but they will probably tell about the “condition” of the person who died. Whether they had money or heirs, whether they were frugal or were known to spend a lot of money and even where they lived or what type of home they lived in. All of this information can be tremendous in looking for a previously unknown treasure.
When doing this type of research you have to learn to read between the lines and follow up any story you find with some additional research at the county courthouse in the county that the story took place in. Land ownership records should go back to the time when the county was formed. You may even be able to find old town plats that show you were a business or home was. These will be especially useful if you are looking in the area of an old ghost town.
I will say that I have worked on a treasure like this before, one that was put down in the 30's and it turned out the landowner hid his treasure and then marked it just like an outlaw would. This made me think he was probably an outlaw himself in earlier times because the map was pretty elaborate and didn’t appear to be the first one he ever made. I would also guess that the gold that was hidden was something he probably had gotten from a robbery or two.
This is just a couple of ways to find your own treasure leads. Remember, if it were easy everybody would be doing it! Remember to think outside of the box when it comes to research.
Buried treasure is everywhere; you just have to know how and where to look for it.