Sunday, August 31, 2008

Treasure Groups

On a regular basis I mine the Internet for interesting treasure related goodies. While on Ebay awhile back I came upon a number of issues of the Treasure Hunters Newsletter published by the 8 States Associates Inc., which I promptly bid on and won. These issues were from 1971 and 1972. I can say I have truly enjoyed reading them, but there is one thing that I noticed. This group of skilled treasure hunters were asking for the public for their knowledge of treasure sites. In return for your information and upon successful recovery you would get a certain percentage. This percentage could be as little as 15% of the net recovery.

This makes me feel very generous when I offer the land owners 50% of all recovered finds in my contracts. This isn't what this article is about though. The newsletter got me to thinking about the number of groups out there who actively solicit treasure leads. I haven't put any effort into counting how many of these groups there are but two come to mind. There's nothing wrong with this as long as all parties concerned are up front and honest with each other. It would be hard for me to put my trust in a group of people I haven't gotten to really know, but this again is just my opinion.

With that said there are some good points that the newsletter brings out. Far too many treasure hunters have taken their knowledge to the grave with them and that wealth of information is lost forever. I have learned that you can't do it all by yourself. Luckily I have found a great set of partners and friends whom I can trust. These guys bring individual thoughts and ideas that help me to become a better treasure hunter. I welcome the fact that none of us think exactly alike. This helps me to work every angle of a treasure lead and to not waste valuable time chasing my tail. My wife often makes fun of me because at nearly 40 years old I'm the baby of the group. Most of the treasure hunters I work with are two to four decades older than me. I personally think they keep me around because I'm pretty handy with a shovel or backhoe.

I have been blessed having Alec as a friend as well. He is the backbone of this blog, which I created with the idea of helping other treasure hunters without asking anything in return. The one thing you should notice with the blog is that neither Alec or I have ever asked our readers for their treasure leads. We don't lurk on the forums looking to grab up any leads that might happen along. Our efforts with the blog have been to inform and entertain you and to make new friends along the way. We try to open your mind and to get you thinking outside the box. To offer you the tools to research and think for yourself.

I know from the many positive e-mails I've received that we have been successful and we plan to continue bringing you items of interest. We aren't compensated in anyway other than the encouraging words and joy we get from helping others. As always we welcome suggestions or ideas from our fellow treasure hunters and if any of you out there have some old issues of the Treasure Hunters Newsletter you want to sell or get rid of drop me an e-mail. My e-mail address is at the top of the blog.

Good Luck and Good Hunting

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gold Mining in the Wichitas

Long before dear ole Uncle Sam decided to make searching for gold illegal in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma miners of the shiny metal were digging holes just about everywhere they thought gold would be.

These old mines dot the landscape of the Wichita Mountains and can be as small as just a few feet in size to 10-15 feet across and go to unknown depths. The deeper ones are full of water so there’s no good way to tell how deep they are unless you carry a long string and weight with you everywhere you go. These mines for the most part are all hand dug with the occasional help of a stick of dynamite or two and they are dug right into solid granite. That’s a tough way to make a living!

The Spanish were in the Wichitas looking for gold and silver centuries before anyone else and then came the white man trying hard to find the next big strike or even uncover one of the old Spanish mines or treasures they left behind. As you hike around the parts of the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge that are open to the public you can see Spanish markers is certain places and even come across one or more of the old mines. Most of the mines you find were made in the early 1900s by men looking to strike it rich. These mines are fairly easy to identify because of the tailings. You can also come across the occasional lead mine in the mountains, also easily distinguishable by their dark colored tailings.

If you are looking for the old Spanish mines you also might try looking for the arrastres they left behind. These aren’t as plentiful as the old mines but there are a few out there. I ran across one many moons ago when I was looking for clues to something else, I mean hiking in the mountains, and I know there are other people that have found them in the Wichitas too. As a historical note, the inventor of the “arrastre ore grinder” is said to be Bartolemeo De Medina of Pachuca, Mexico. Yes, Mexico and not Spain. This style of ore grinding was thought to be developed around 1557. The arrastre is not a purely Spanish or Mexican device. In the 1850’s gold rush of California the white man made use of this design to crush ore also. Because of that, the arrastre was widely used by several different types of people for centuries.

Searching for old gold mines can be fun and even rewarding if you have a little luck on your side. Even if there isn’t any gold left you could find one of the old mine claim markers that were set up by the miners in the late 1800’s and early 1900s. These claim markers are usually in a triangle around the mine, marking the claim area. The claim markers are generally a stack of rocks and one of the three markers usually had an old can or jar in it with a piece of paper in the can/jar telling whose claim you were on. Although most of these won’t be worth much I think it would be very interesting to find one still in tact and be able to read the information about who had the claim and when. Finding your own piece of history is always better than reading about it in a book. Searching the tailings of the old mines can occasionally give you a surprise like a piece of quartz with some shiny stuff in it. You can also uncover a snake or to if you’re not careful!

This is where I should put in a disclaimer and warning. According to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge’s own brochure; ”The natural attractions of the refuge are many and varied. In addition to viewing and photographing wildlife in their natural setting, visitors find the lakes, streams, canyons, mountains and grasslands ideal for hiking, fishing and other activities”. It’s those “other activities” that can get you into trouble.

Although it is legal to hike in certain areas of the Refuge Mountains, looking for or removing “anything of value or antiquity” is highly forbidden. So are firearms and metal detectors. Again, according to the brochure, “all plants, animals, and minerals (rocks) are protected and should not be disturbed or collected”. If you are wondering, the “(rocks)” inserted in there is from the federal government and not me. Uncle Sam doesn’t want you making off with any dirt from public lands, that just wouldn’t be right!

Besides the old mines, the area of the Wichita Mountains is loaded with stories about hidden treasure (also illegal to look for or remove on the refuge) from the Spanish and outlaws, including Jesse and Frank James. There are some of their clues still out there to be found but without a map most of the outlaw clues won’t mean much.

I routinely “hike” in the mountains and enjoy it immensely. If you ever get the chance you should definitely take a trip to the wildlife refuge and do some “hiking”. Stop in and say hello to Okie while you’re there. He can point out a few spots that are interesting to look in, er, I mean hike in.

Be careful of the elk, longhorn and buffalo, they don’t care too much for up close visitors. We don’t want to be reading about you in the Darwin awards!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Treasure in Bryan County, Oklahoma

Back in the 1920’s and 1930’s human bones were routinely plowed up by farmers north of Durant, Oklahoma at a place that was once known as “Nail’s Crossing”. This was an old stage stop and although there doesn’t appear to be any written history about what happened, the bones would indicate that a group of people had a very bad day! For those of you that like to run a metal detector and look for relics and the occasional coin or two this would be a good spot to try.

For those of you that like to look for things a little bigger, this area around Durant, OK would also be a good place for you. There has been some outlaw treasure recovered in the hills and stories abound of other treasure still waiting to be unearthed.

Back in the late 1920’s and early 30’s men with steam shovels were in the area digging holes looking for treasure. Nobody knows for sure exactly what they were looking for but they apparently didn’t find it, or didn’t tell anybody they found it. Maybe it was one of the two “lost” gold mines that are supposed to be in the area.

Jesse James was said to have a “private cache of loot” in or near a "special" cave located in this area. The cave was said to have a small opening that led to two large rooms that were connected to each other by a small tunnel. Back in the early 1930’s treasure hunters dynamited the cave twice trying to find hidden treasure but all they accomplished was damaging the cave. Go figure! The best thing about this is that Jesse James may not have hidden any treasure INSIDE the cave. In my opinion Jesse was a pretty smart guy, even if he was a little nuts and I would bet if he had treasure he would have hidden it outside of the cave and left some marks or clues to lead him back to it.

The Blue River in this area seems to be a good spot to find, and apparently loose gold. There are stories of several “vessels” that have sunk on the river and gold has been recovered from some of these. There was a chest of treasure that was recovered on the bank of the Blue River around 1931.

If you are up for a good hunt you could search for four kegs of gold coins that were secreted away in a “hidden cave” close to the Blue River about five miles northeast of Brown, OK. It seems that during the civil war the Confederates liberated the four kegs of gold coins from the Union Army during a battle in Kansas. As the Confederates were making their way south through Oklahoma with the gold coins they were attacked by a group of outlaws who subsequently liberated the coins from the Confederates. I’m reminded of a saying here, let’s see…… oh yea, easy come, easy go! Unfortunately for the Confederates the outlaws were a pretty ruthless bunch and killed all of the Confederates. It is believed the gold coins are still stashed away in the “hidden cave”, never recovered by the outlaws.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Devil's Den, Kansas

Just north west of a town named Natoma, Kansas in Rooks County are a set of caves in the hillside known as the Devil’s Den. These caves have been around since before the Indians inhabited the area and the Indians wouldn’t go anywhere near them because they thought the caves were the home of evil spirits. It is thought the name Devil’s Den is a rough translation of an original Indian name long lost to history.

It seems there is more than one opening in most of the caves as air flows through them creating noises and currents of air at the openings that frightened the Indians. Apparently one or more white men have been frightened from the caves too. Back in the 1920s a story appeared in a newspaper about the caves saying the devil’s cloven-hoofed minions inhabited them. The newspaper account said “hundreds of small goat like hoof tracks were found imprinted in solid rock. The tracks formed a circle and in the center, fully six inches deep in the rock appeared prints of two large distinct cloven hoofs. Many people believe that the tracks are of the fiends dancing in satanic worship of the master, the devil.” Hey, I’m just repeating the story; I don’t make this stuff up!

Once the story came out a few men from Natoma set out to prove the caves were just caves and nothing else. These men later said that as they entered one of the caves they were greeted by strange shrieks and were suddenly surrounded by flickering lights which apparently followed them out of the cave and back to their car. There might have been a little alcohol involved here but that’s just a guess on my part.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with treasure. There are a few stories about treasure being hidden in the caves and the fact this is supposed to be a spooky place just adds to the intrigue. The biggest treasure story has to do with a robbery that took place in Mexico City in 1849. The bandits, thought to be Americans, made off with jewels and $300,000 in Mexican gold. Mexican authorities tracked the bandits to a spot near the Devil’s Den and then their trail disappeared.

In the early 1900’s a man from Juarez, Mexico came up with a map for the treasure when he was on his deathbed. The map indicated the jewels and gold had been hidden inside one of the caves that are the Devil’s Den. In 1916 Mexican authorities made an incursion into Kansas in an attempt to recover the treasure but when they got to the caves they found that a group of outlaws had decided to make the spot their hideout. Legend holds that a battle ensued between the bandits and the Mexicans with the Mexicans taking several casualties. The outlaws eventually escaped the melee and what was left of the Mexican party searched the caves but couldn’t find the treasure.

There are several other legends of buried treasure in and around the caves, mostly attributed to the no name outlaws that supposedly inhabited the caves but the Mexican treasure was the most interesting.

The caves are located northwest of Natoma, KS and north of Highway 18 just inside the eastern edge of Rooks County.

As a side note, there are several other places in the United States that are also known as Devil’s Den and one of those is in southwestern Missouri. The Missouri Devil’s Den is also a cave and has the same legends about the noises. Treasure was also mentioned as being associated with the Missouri Devil’s Den but I couldn’t find any specifics.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cement Museum and Jesse James Visitor Center

Many treasure hunters have passed through the town of Cement Oklahoma over the years. Frank James made his appearance a century ago in his quest to recover many of the caches of loot that he and Jesse buried decades before.

Frank recovered at least $6000 just east of town at a place the locals call Buzzard's Roost. It was here that Joe Hunter found the tea kettle that contained the watch, gold bar, coins, copper map, etc. If you haven't bought a copy of Steve Wilson's, Oklahoma Treasures and Treasure Tales I recommend it. It has a few stories about the area and goes into more depth than I will here on the blog.

The Cement area has attracted outlaws, Spaniards, native tribes, and traveling pioneers due to the natural landmarks, available water, and forage. Just north of town there was even a wagon train massacre which adds to the treasure lore.

In September of 2000 the Cement museum and Jesse James Visitor Center opened. While this might not be the Smithsonian, it is an interesting place to visit while you are in the area. There are many items and photographs donated by the townpeople. I try to donate a few things here and there when I come across something I feel would be fitting for display.

The museum is located towards the north end of main street across from the fire department. You will need to contact Monte Snider at the Central Drug Store located at 307 North Main. Monte is very knowledgeable about the local history and a great guy to visit with.

Since my in-laws are from Cement you might even catch me over there from time to time. Feel free to contact me anytime and if you have any questions about the Cement area e-mail and I'll try and answer the best I can.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Interpreting a Small Map

Here’s a quick interpretation of a treasure sign for you. I’m calling this an interpretation because I think that is what you do with treasure signs and symbols. In most cases there aren’t specific definitions for a symbol and you have to interpret their meaning.

This one is what I would call a boot. It is showing three drill holes in it and a “bird”. The third, larger drill hole is in the body of the bird and is hard to see in the photo because of the shadow. The entire rock is telling you that you have a triangle with two marked spots and a third “imaginary” or unmarked spot. To read this one properly you need to go in the direction the tip of the boot is pointing. The boot shaped rock is depicted by one of the drill holes. By traveling in the direction of the boot tip you will run into the second point, which in this case was another rock with a drill hole in it.

To find the third point you have to look back at the boot and how the bird’s beak is pointing. If you were to draw a line from the beak to the right, out past the top drill hole the line would intersect with another line made by taking a 90-degree turn off of the second point. Remember, the boot is point one and the point of the boot takes you to point two so from that line you make a 90 degree turn to the right which is the way the “bird” is pointing. By figuring the distances based on the drill holes in the rock and making your intersecting lines at the rock you can get a distance to the third point. This is done by turning the distance in inches between the two drill holes into distances in feet between the boot and the second point. Once you have done that you can apply the actual distances to the two lines you just drew (the line going 90 degrees from the second drill hole and the line from the beak to the intersection of the 90 degree line) and that will give you an exact distance to the third point.

I have circled the larger drill hole that is in the body of the bird. This larger drill hole is telling you that THE hole you are looking for is found using the bird. In this case, the third point was the location of what I was looking for. Take note that the two drill holes out by themselves form a line in a different direction than the boot points. This was done to confuse anyone who tried to work this marker other than the maker. In some instances, the direction you would go would be in line with the two drill holes. The third hole in the body of the bird can also make you think the triangle is worked differently and in some cases it might be but in this case you had to find the "imaginary" or unmarked point to locate the hole.

This was a simple coded marker that gave specific information on how to find the cache. I say simple because once I figured it out it seemed very simplistic although figuring it out wasn’t that simple at the time. This is another example of breaking a symbol down to its basic elements. Once that is done you are left with only a few choices of things to try.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Confederate Treasury

We recently had a comment sent to us suggesting that “to learn whether or not the KGC had any actual treasure or not” we should think about what happened to the Confederate treasury after Lee’s surrender and “research that”. I just happen to have some research on that very topic so I decided I would share some of that information for the hardcore K.G.C. believers out there who think I haven’t done my due diligence.

There are a few theories as to what happened to the treasury and even how much the treasury was but none of those theories have anything to do with the K.G.C. This is where the treasure hunter has to know the difference between the two. There was some of the Confederate treasury left over after the war. The consensus is that there were two parts to this treasury; one in gold and the other in silver however, neither had anything to do with the Knights of the Golden Circle.

The silver part of the treasury came from the sale of cotton to Mexico and consisted of “39 kegs of Mexican silver dollars” which would weigh in somewhere around 9000 to 10,000 pounds or total approximately 160,000 coins. It is known the kegs of coins were transported to Danville, Virginia and stored there for a time. It’s also thought when Jefferson Davis and his group left Danville the silver was left behind, hidden in or near Danville because they would have been slowed down too much by that much weight.

The evidence at this point in time seems to point to the silver being buried on what is currently city property in Danville. That property is a cemetery and the city has steadfastly refused to let anyone attempt to recover the treasure or even drill test holes to verify it is in the cemetery. A geophysical survey of the area using pulse induction equipment was performed by a Colorado company who identified several spots that they say contain the coins. According to the company, their survey is precise enough to differentiate between silver and gold and their survey supposedly shows a small pocket of gold along with several areas of silver.

This may be a treasure that actually exists from the Confederate treasury however; it does not have anything to do with the K.G.C. Depending on which information you look at or want to believe, this silver may or may not be in Danville. Some stories say the silver was transported out of Danville along with a large amount of gold in April 1865. Without actually seeing the land survey results it would be hard to decide if there is something in the cemetery or not, other than the people of course! How many dead people are there in the cemetery?

They’re all dead, don’t you know! (Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself)

The gold part of the treasure consists of two or more stories that have apparently been blended together over time. The first story is about a wagon train carrying gold and silver that varies in amounts between $100,000 and $800,000 depending on what source you wish to believe. The wagon train consisted of either two wagons or five wagons again, depending on the source. The larger numbers for the amount of treasure has been attributed to Union Officers inflating the amount to motivate their men to find and capture the treasure. It’s commonly believed that the treasure was in one or two wagons and didn’t exceed $100,000.

This was thought to be the remainder of the Confederate treasury and was supposed to be headed for Savannah to be put on a ship and returned to the Frenchies as promised by Jefferson Davis. Apparently the French were hedging their bets and loaned money in the form of gold to the south during the war. Frogs, you just can’t trust ‘em.

Some information says on May 24th, 1865 the wagon train was attacked in Lincoln County, Georgia by “bandits” while the group spent the night on the Chennault Plantation. Dionysius Chennault owned the plantation. Ok, really, who names their kid Dionysius? Supposedly the “bandits” who attacked the treasure train made off with part of the treasure but not all of it. Stories persist to this day that the treasure of gold worth $100,000 in 1865 was buried on the Chennault Plantation. There are even stories of gold coins being found over the years along the dirt roads of the plantation after heavy rains and because of that, the plantation was dubbed the “golden farm”.

Union soldiers were sent to the farm to dig around and find the gold but they never did. These soldiers were led by Union General Edward A. Wild who gained notoriety, and lost his command, because he arrested and tortured the Chennault family trying to extract information out of them that they didn’t have. Greed is responsible for some pretty nasty things! Needless to say, the treasure was never found. Maybe that’s because it might not have really been there.

The most plausible story about what was left of the Confederate treasury is the one written by Jefferson Davis himself in 1881. In his book “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government”, Davis wrote that the “transfer of the treasure was made to Mr. Semple, a bonded officer of the Navy, and his assistant, Mr. Tidball.” Jefferson Davis stated that his instructions to Mr. Semple was to attempt to ship the gold overseas, back to the Frenchies as promised. According to Jefferson Davis, the amount of gold was $86,000 and it was handed over to Semple and Tidball in May 1865.

General John Reagan, who was with Davis in Danville, wrote that the gold was supposed to be hidden in the false bottom of a carriage so it wouldn’t be found. General accounts of history end here with Semple and Tidball dissappearing into the unknown.

Additional research has been done on these two men and it seems Mr. Tidball headed north a few days later to return to Winchester, Virginia where he built an “elaborate” house called “Linden Farm” and went on to be an influential citizen. A recent rennovation of the Tidball house uncovered a document that confirmed that Tidball had possession of part of the gold from the treasury.

Mr. Semple went on to be infatuated with the widow of President John Tyler, Julia Gardiner Tyler. To make a long story short, Semple and the widow got together and Semple spent two years traveling back and forth to Canada trying to stir the pot between Britain and the U.S. by clandestinely helping the Finian Brotherhood who was planning an attack on Canada. Gee, I wonder how long that war would have lasted? I think my two daughters could take Canada!

Mr. Semple was known to use the alias of Allen S. James during his cladentsine travels for the Finian Brotherhood. He was also known to be supporting the widow of President Tyler, sending money to his own estranged wife, Leticia and financing his own secretive travels. After two years of this he depleted what gold he had and there went the rest of the Confederate treasury, except maybe for the 39 kegs of silver thought to still be buried in Danville.

If you are interested in researching this more a good book to get that has a lot of information in it is The Rebel and The Rose by Wesley Millett and Gerald White. It pretty much covers all of Semple’s life after he was given what was left of the Confederate treasury.

If I remember correctly, the man that thinks he has located the silver in Danville has written one or two books also. I haven’t read these books so I can't tell you if they are any good but I do know some of his information has been quoted in other books.

In my opinion, for what it’s worth to anybody, I would say the best chance of any of the Confederate treasury being found is the Mexican silver supposedly in Danville. The searchers there have made a pretty good case for the silver to be in the cemetery.

Even if you don’t accept the written word of Jefferson Davis and think the $800,000 dollar amount for the treasury is more to your liking, it doesn’t come any where near the billions of dollars said to be out there by our good ole buddy Orvus Lee Howk. There also isn’t any connection between the K.G.C. and the Confederate treasury. None of the stories, no matter which one you choose to believe put any of the treasury money in the hands of the K.G.C. None, nada, zilch.

This is by no means the definitive word on the Confederate treasury. The stories are plentiful and lengthy and I just tried to hit the highlights for this article. Hopefully this will point anyone interested in conducting more research on the Confederate treasury in the right direction.

Maybe you could buy a cemetery plot in Danville, like a spot right over a few kegs of silver? How could the city stop you from digging in your own plot?

"Honest Mr. Mayor, I was just getting a head start on my funeral".

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Something a Little Different

We all grew up on the movies and books of pirate treasures and for most of us this is the first thing we knew about buried treasure. It’s definitely harder to find pirate treasure, or any other treasure, than they show in the movies but if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

Most of us don’t have the opportunity to hunt for pirate treasure because the good stories always involve someplace like Cocos Island that most of us will never be able to get to although Cocos Island is well worth the research time if you are interested in pirate treasure. This story is a lot closer to home for most of us and might peak somebody’s interest.

One of the more famous and intriguing pirates was Jean Lafitte. You could say that pirating was in Jean Lafitte’s family. His oldest brother, Alexander, was a privateer long before Jean was old enough to sail. Another brother, Pierre went into business as a smuggler with Jean before Jean branched out as a pirate. As smugglers, their headquarters was a small island near New Orleans known as Grande Terre. They later moved their headquarters to Barataria Bay on the island of Baratria to escape the enforcement of the Embargo Act of 1807.

The island’s main inhabitants were current and former pirates and the island was governed by the pirates and eventually by Captain Jean Lafitte. Of course, Captain Lafitte had to shoot and kill the man in charge before he could become the reigning chief of the island, all in a days work I suppose.

Jean and his brother Pierre were very prosperous in their smuggling endeavors, owning stores and warehouses in New Orleans that they used to “move” some of the smuggled goods. Jean eventually branched out as a pirate and operated several ships at a time.

In 1813 Jean Lafitte and his brother were arrested on the orders of the Governor of Louisiana but the Lafitte’s had plenty of money and hired the best (and most expensive) lawyers and were acquitted of the charges. In 1814 Jean Lafitte and his minions, known as the “Baratarians”, offered their services to General Jackson to help fight off the British during the war. In exchange for their help they received U.S. citizenship.

Sometime around 1817 Jean Lafitte was run out of New Orleans and was forced to move his operation to another location. That location turned out to be Galveston, Texas, a spot Jean Lafitte named “Campeche”. He operated out of this base until 1821 when the U.S. Navy was sent to remove him from Galveston. Instead of putting up a fight, Captain Lafitte agreed to leave the island on his own accord and was given a deadline of March 3, 1821. Just before that deadline Captain Lafitte left Galveston, TX in his flagship, the “Pride”, which was said to be loaded down with “immense amounts” of treasure. Two other of Lafitte’s ships sailed with him and Lafitte burned everything in the settlement when he left.

Lafitte’s treasure has never been accounted for. There are stories that he buried several caches of treasure on the islands of Grande Terre and Baratria, especially on the property that was known as the Destrehan Plantation. Legend has it that the ghost of Lafitte walks this property during nights with a full moon in order to guide someone to his treasure. I guess if you are afraid of ghosts then you won’t be looking for this treasure anytime soon. There's a full moon right now, anybody up for a treasure hunt? If you don’t like ghosts then you may not want to look for any of Lafitte’s treasure. There are several stories that "ghost pirates” are seen standing or sitting on the ground near where some of Lafitte’s treasures are supposed to be.

Ghost ships have been seen and heard at sea by men working oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and Lafitte himself was seen on one of the ships of a “ghost fleet” that was said to have been seen just before hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

As a kid Lafitte spent a lot of time exploring the bayous and wetlands south of New Orleans and probably knew these areas better than anyone else at the time. He transported his smuggled goods using these bayous and wetlands and the legends say that he hid several caches of gold and jewelry in this system of waterways around Barataria Bay, especially on “Contraband Bayou”, a curious name to say the least.

There is a hill in the area once known as Barb’s Shellbank and now goes by the name of Money Hill that is said to contain some of Lafitte’s treasure. Money Hill, I wonder why it was given that name? Several people have dug into this hill over the years but so far, no treasure has been found, or so they say. The name had to come from somewhere!

Even more treasure stories abound about the area around Galveston, Texas and the bay. Legend has it that Lafitte buried a lot of treasure on or around the island of Galveston itself, especially at the far edge of Galveston Bay and West Bay. Lafitte was supposed to have made several trips to the mouth of Clear Creek where he offloaded treasure from a large ship onto a smaller boat and took it upstream, only to return later with an empty boat. Lafitte even married while in Galveston but his wife died in 1820 and was supposedly buried under his house with a large quantity of gold. Lafitte’s house would have been located on present day Water Street between 14th and 15th. Anybody want to dig up a street?

There are even other stories that say Lafitte was caught in a hurricane in 1826 and that the part of his treasure he had on board at the time was lost at sea either off the coast of Yucatan or in the waters very near Galveston, TX.

I should point out that Jean Lafitte and his brother, Pierre, were known to have made $65,000.00 in just two years while on Grande Terre island. I know that’s not much now-a-days but in 1815 that would have been a LOT of money. Lafitte would have had plenty of money to hide somewhere.

And as a side note, there are legends that say Captain Lafitte had been in charge of hiding the treasure owned by Napoleon, you know, the guy with his hand in his shirt. Captain Lafitte was to have moved Napoleon’s treasure to a safe spot where it was hidden and then rescue Napoleon from his exile however the rescue never happened, apparently due to some timing issues. I don’t have much information on this but I’m sure you can find some if you are interested.

Now for the intriguing part, those of you that like conspiracy theories will appreciate this. According to the history books, Captain Jean Lafitte was killed during a battle with a British sloop in 1823. This would make it kind of hard for Lafitte, his ship and treasure to go down in a hurricane in 1826! Even better is the existence of the Journal of Jean Lafitte. Yes, that’s right, a journal. One that Jean Lafitte supposedly didn’t start writing until 1845, twenty-two years after he allegedly died! Here we go again!

The paper this journal was written on was run through some tests by the Library of Congress in 1956. Their experts determined the paper was made no later than 1830. The original journal was purchased by Texas Governor Price Daniel in 1970 and is on display in the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty, Texas

The journal was written in French and has been looked at by several handwriting experts in an attempt to match the writing to known writings of Lafitte. As with most conspiracies, there are as many experts that say the journal is real as there are that say it’s a forgery. Maybe J. Frank Dalton was really Jean Lafitte! Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.

The journal has been translated to English and copies have been for sale since 1958. Jean Lafitte’s great grandson, John A. Lafitte, published the original translated journal. You can still buy copies of this book on the Internet. I know has one or more copies and Dogwood Press used to sell the book, just in case you want a copy.

The journal makes for an interesting read and anyone researching Captain Jean Lafitte or his treasures would probably appreciate having the book.

So there you have it, the possibility of pirate treasure in several different places, ghosts and ghost ships and, for those people who just have to have a conspiracy, you have another famous person that allegedly didn’t die when history says he did. What more can you ask for?

Pirate treasure, ARRRRRRRRRG!!! You knew I would have to do it sometime, right?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fort Atkinson, KS, A Spot for Relic Hunters

For the relic hunters in the crowd I have some information about an old fort in Kansas. The last information I had was that the location of the fort is on private property, which is now farmland.

The fort was Fort Atkinson and it was located in Ford County, KS. about 2 miles west of Dodge City, KS. Fort Atkinson was established in 1851 and lasted until 1854. Before becoming a fort it was considered a “camp” for about a year and was called Camp Mackay before changing it’s name. There were also a few other names this fort was known by including Fort Sumner, this name came from the name of the first commanding officer at the fort and Fort Sod, a name given to the fort by the soldiers that occupied it because the buildings were all made of sod and adobe brick. The sod buildings weren’t the best in the world so the fort was abandoned in 1854 because the buildings were falling apart.

The fort had anywhere from 80-145 troops stationed there at any given time including a garrison of Dragoons on occasion. The fort’s walls were also made of sod and ran for 150 feet on the north side, 335 feet on the east and west sides and the south wall was 80 feet long, making for a shape that looked somewhat like an elongated diamond. The fort’s main purpose was to protect travelers and the mail coaches traveling along the Santa Fe Trail.

Anyone that has done their share of relic hunting might look at this as a good opportunity to find some nice things. Since the fort’s walls and buildings were all made of sod this should drastically cut down on the amount of metal “junk” in the area.

The fort received supplies twice a year from Fort Leavenworth. The supplies usually arrived in August and again in April or May. The military was hesitant to send supplies more often because of the cost involved. I guess Uncle Sam can be cheap when he wants to.

The camp and fort were only in use for about four years but there were enough people and supplies going in an out of the fort during that time that this would probably be a good place to run a detector if you can get permission to be on the property. The location of the fort is in the southwest quarter of Section 29, Township 26 south, Range 25 west.

There is another spot about three quarters of a mile northwest of the fort location that was known as “The Caches”. This spot was used for temporary storage of supplies by a pack train in 1822. Maybe they left something behind for someone to find that is good with a detector.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Entire Carving

If you have been following along out there then you have been reading about how I interpreted a set of carved symbols. The photo I have posted with this article is the map in its entirety. Of course the carving is chalked and it’s a crappy photo because I have been taking all of the little snippets of photos for the other posts from this one main photograph. That damn cheap digital camera!

You should also remember that I haven’t dug at this site yet on these four holes but intend to very soon. I remember when I first started out treasure hunting I would read stories about people who would find things like this and the story would always say the person never got back to it to find out what was there. I always wondered just what the hell was wrong with those people! We all think that we would just go out there and stay until we knew what was there. Well, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view and the type of luck you have, life happens and it’s been ten years since I first found this carving and seven years since I worked the carving and found the stone covered depressions in the ground and I still haven’t gotten back to this spot. I have worked a lot of other spots and even found some holes since finding this carving but I just haven’t made it back to this yet. I guess I’m officially one of “those people” I wondered about.

Anyway, back to the story. This is the entire carving that takes you from the carving to the four stone covered depressions. The first depression is approximately 100 feet from the carving, on the same elevation as the carving and on the same hillside. As trails go, this was pretty much a straight line from the carving to the holes. At this point I am assuming this is a treasure trail but until I open a hole I won’t know for sure. As I had said before, at first I thought this was taking me to a spring but that all went out the door when I found the stone covered depressions, all the same size and shape, all in a line and all spaced evenly apart. That doesn’t seem like a spring to me, does it to you?

You can bet that when I do get back to this and start digging I will post some more information (and better photos) about these four mystery holes. And in the event life continues to happen and I don’t get back to this in the very near future feel free to say; “what the hell is wrong with that guy!”

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More on a Carving

This article is a follow-up to the last two articles I posted about carved symbols. The symbols in this photo are the next four symbols in the carving that started with what looked like the letter D.

Again, I will apologize for the crappy photo and the chalk. Treasure hunting has a learning curve to it and this was back in my infant days. I still had hair back then and that cheap digital camera! When I return to this site during the winter I will endeavor to take some new and better photos of the carving. This won’t do you much good right now but at least you’ll know I’m trying.

As with the first part of this carving, by putting chalk on the symbols I inadvertently made it harder to work the carving. With these symbols chalked it appears that there is a letter F in this carving but that is not actually so. The F is two symbols made to look like one if you aren’t paying attention.

The first part of the symbol, the top part of the F, could be described as a square U laying on it’s side. The second part of the symbol is a simple short, straight line that when looked at without the chalk does not really connect to the square U part of the carving. This makes the F two symbols and not one.

The symbols in the map before these had me traveling a straight line along the side of the hill; the top part of the F in this map depicts a large rectangle shape rock sticking out of the side of the hill. This large rectangle rock is the marker to use your next symbol from. The next symbol, the short, straight line is telling you to follow a line from the rectangle rock. Normally, this type of line could work two ways. You could take a line off of one of the corners of the rectangle rock using the point of the corner or one of the straight edges as a direction or there can be something specific on the rock that gives you a direction. In this case, there was a straight line carved into the top of the rectangle rock that pointed the direction to go.

The two dots after this F looking symbol were giving a distance. They told me I needed to go “two” of some distance. In this kind of distance marking you just have to start looking for the next clue to determine what the distance is that you are to go two of. Generally speaking, distances will be in 10’s, 50’s or 100’s and this could be feet, paces or yards but this all varies on who made the carving and what they wanted to use. You could have some arbitrary number that the carver liked to use or you could be dealing with “chains”, the distances used by surveyors, etc. It can be almost anything.

In any case, these two “distances” were in tens, of feet that is, so my distance to travel from the rectangle rock was 20 feet.

The next symbol really confused the crap out of me for a very long time. Even without the chalk on it this carving appears to be the letter y. Simple logic would dictate that I would come to a Y in the trail, maybe a gully or something else that gave me two directions to go. This wasn’t the case in this carving and it was only after I found what I was supposed to find that I was able to put an interpretation to this symbol.

This Y is actually a long line showing the side of the hill from top to bottom. You can see how it is slanted to the right slightly to show the incline of the hill. The short line intersecting with the long line is pointing at the side of the hill telling me that what I am looking for is IN or actually come out of the side of the hill. The short line also happens to be at the same spot on the long line as the hole (probable tunnel) is to the hillside.

It makes a lot of sense once you see it but until that time it really drives you nuts!

Monday, August 4, 2008

More Carved Symbols

I will start off by apologizing for the chalk on the carved symbols. This photo is from several years back when I didn't know any better and chalked everything. I also didn’t have a very good digital camera then so the photo is a little blurry since I cropped out just the part I wanted to discuss in this article.

(You’ll notice I blamed the bad photo on a cheap camera and editing and not on the camera operator.)

These symbols are just the first three in a carving. These three are designed to work together, giving you specific information about which direction to go and where to be, or be looking, while going in that direction. This carving was located on a sandstone bluff about half way up the side of a sloping hill that helped form a valley.

The very first symbol in the carving appears to be a capital D. In some instances I would tell you this could be a letter but since it is the first symbol in the carving it normally has to be a symbol of a thing or action and not a letter. (This logic works in most cases but not all). The D is telling you that you are going to be looking on the side of a hill. Coincidentally, you are standing on the side of a hill when you are looking at the carving, funny how things work out that way! The curved part of the D is showing you the hill and the straight vertical line in the D is showing a flat part of the hill or a “side”. Think of it as looking down from the sky onto the hill, the straight line is simply cutting off the curved line to give a side.

If you are wondering which side of the hill you would look on, don’t! If there is nothing in the carving taking you to another side of the hill then you should be working on the side of the hill where the carving is, plain and simple.

The slanted line next to the D is giving you a direction to go. Since this slanted line is leaning to the right as you look at the carving, you will start your travel in the direction to the right of the carving. The third symbol, a simple line, is simply telling you to take or follow a line. Since this carved line is straight for the most part and long relative to the carving, you will be walking a straight line for a long distance. Keep in mind that a "long distance" in outlaw carvings is usually 50-300 feet.

See how simple that is; three easy symbols that tell you to “walk in a straight line along the side of the hill in the direction to your right”. No compass headings or weird pointers, just carved symbols on a rock that once you figure them out are relatively simple in hindsight.

Stick with the K.I.S.S. theory and for the most part you will save yourself a lot of headaches!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Strange Symbol

A few articles back I wrote about one of those very easy symbols to interpret that we all hope to find a lot of at every site, OK, even one or two would be nice! Unfortunately, it seems the easy symbols are few and far between and the harder ones are more prevalent than ever.

The symbol I have posted a photo of with this article is one such symbol. This is one of those strange symbols that didn’t seem to really make any sense. I spent a long time trying to figure this one out, along with a few others that were with this one to get to me the spot I needed to be. The guy who made this carving must have been hitting the wild wacky weed when he made it!

This particular symbol was the last symbol in a short string of eight symbols. Since this was the last symbol in the carving I assumed it told me what I was looking for but I had never seen anything like this before. My first thought, and several thoughts after that was that this symbol was meant to depict a spring, showing the person reading the map where fresh water was. With that in mind I ignored the carved map and moved on to something else. This appears to have been a big mistake on my part. Hey, everybody makes mistakes, especially me!

As I was working something else in the same area I came across two spots on the side of a hill down the valley from the carving. These spots were almost perfectly round depressions in the side of the hill that had been covered over with stones. The spots were approximately three feet across in size and both were at the same elevation on the hill as you walked around the hill. The two depressions were spaced about 19 feet from each other and during the summer the grass on the side of the hill grew tall enough that it covered these spots from view.

At this point I remembered the carving and went back to it to work it out to see where I ended up. After several trips I was able to work the carved map to the point that it actually took me took the two depressions. The depressions were only about 100 feet from the carving. I could have worked the carving quicker in a reverse engineering fashion but I didn’t want to have any preconceived ideas of where the carving would take me, just in case it actually did go to a spring. As you can guess, the carving took me to the very first depression. Since the carving showed four “fingers” I measured the distance between the first two depressions and then measured that same distance again out from the second depression. At that point I found a third rock covered depression, exactly the same as the first two. One more measurement from the third depression took me to yet another rock covered depression, all about 19 feet apart along the same elevation on the side of the hill. Needless to say, I was surprised and confused all at the same time. The oval part of the carving was depicting the hill that the depressions are on and the four “fingers” are the depressions.

At this point I can only assume that the stone covered depressions are openings to four tunnels with the depressions being caused by the back fill into the tunnels settling over time. I don’t know for sure because I haven’t tried to uncover any of them yet. I’m waiting for winter to come along so the grass and bugs, not to mention the heat, will be gone. And yes, I did check the area around all four depressions with a metal detector, three to be exact. Based on the location of the depressions on the hill side and the slope of the hill, the tunnels would only have to be about six feet long before the end of the tunnels were deeper than a two-box would detect. These are going to take a different type of machine to figure out or a lot of digging.

If you are wondering about the dot on the upper left corner of the circular part of the hill, this corresponds to the location of a cave on the opposite side of the hill. An empty cave I might add except for some more interesting carvings!

These four spots could still be four springs for all I know but based on the terrain where they are located, how close they are to the carving, the fact they are evenly spaced and all at the exact same elevation and covered with stones I am now betting against that theory. Hopefully I will have an update for you this winter.