Monday, July 28, 2008

"The Biggest Horse Thief in the Country"

Here is some information about a treasure that was hidden in Kansas by a famous, or infamous, horse thief by the name of Dutch Henry. Before you rush out and try to dig this one up I will let you know that I have been told that all of the buried treasures in Kansas are gone, dug up by a couple of treasure guys who live in Kansas. Yea, it was a joke but I thought I’d throw it in just to see if they are paying attention.

Dutch Henry Born, most notably called Dutch Henry, was considered to be the biggest horse thief in the country. He was so big that the phrase “dutch henry” was used to describe a stolen horse! He operated in Kansas, eastern Colorado, New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle. Before becoming the biggest horse thief in the country he worked legitimately as a lumberjack and as a scout for General Custer, quitting that job before Custer’s really bad day.

Dutch Henry’s first arrest was in Arkansas in the 1860’s for stealing some government mules but he escaped three months later. That wouldn’t be the last time he was captured or escaped. It would take the authorities until 1878 to finally catch and hold on to Dutch Henry. He apparently didn’t spend much time in the clink after his final arrest as he was known to have been in Summitville, Colorado by 1880.

OK, now for the treasure part. Dutch Henry spent a lot of time in a spot known as Horse Thief Canyon located in Clark County, KS. This canyon is on Hackberry Creek about twelve miles north of Ashland, KS.

Here is an interesting side note for those that like the oddities of geography; there is actually more than one Horse Thief Canyon in Kansas. I knew of two and found a third while researching this article and I think there may be one or two more. At least two of these canyons have some really interesting carvings in them! :-)

Back to Dutch Henry and his Horse Thief Canyon. Near the entrance to this Horse Thief Canyon Dutch Henry had a home, well, OK, it was a sod house but I’m sure back then they called it “home”! The sod house was located “in the canyon wall” and the story goes that Dutch left behind at least $50,000 somewhere near this house in the canyon.

It is said that Dutch had escaped jail yet another time and was headed back to Horse Thief Canyon to recover his treasure when he was arrested for the last time in Trinidad, Colorado. Upon his arrest he was returned to jail in Arkansas to serve out the remainder of his original sentence for stealing the government mules in the 1860’s.

There is no mention of his treasure ever being recovered. (Even by those two guys in Kansas!)

Dutch Henry lived until January 10, 1921, dying of pneumonia. He was buried in Pegosa Springs, Colorado. After Dutch Henry was released from prison and traveled to Summitville, CO. he went for years without a gun in his home because he said, “he had all of the killing he wanted”. Dutch gave up his outlaw ways after getting out of prison and discovered a successful gold mine in Creede, Colorado known as the “Happy Thought Mine”. That could have been one of the reasons he didn’t try to recover his treasure in Kansas. The area of the Happy Thought Mine might be another buried treasure story to research since Dutch Henry apparently like to hide his gold!

One more thing, there was a second Dutch Henry that was a horse thief who roamed parts of the same area. This man was Dutch Henry Yeuch. The stories of the two Dutch Henrys intertwine with each other so you have to read closely about their exploits to tell one from the other. Dutch Henry Yeuch apparently wasn’t a slouch when it came to stealing horses either.

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