Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More on interpreting symbols

With the recent airing of a History Channel show about Jesse James and the KGC there has been a lot of activity on the different treasure hunting forums about how to interpret a symbol and what may or may not be a K.G.C. symbol.

For those of you not familiar with the forums or the illustrious group known as the K.G.C., the initials stand for the Knights of the Golden Circle. A not so secret group that popped up before the Civil War with the intent of taking over Mexico and Cuba so they could add to the number of Southern States.

There are true believers in the myths of the fantastic and gi-normous (it’s a technical term) treasures of the KGC and as you can tell, since I used the word “myths” I am not one of the true believers. With that said, I don’t want this article to be about whether or not the KGC had the gi-normous treasures, it’s about the symbols they may have used to hide any treasure they did leave behind.

As a side note, I do believe the KGC did leave behind a few “road caches”, small amounts of money for their members to use if needed and they may be responsible for a few supply caches, but that’s all in my opinion. Also, for the novice hunters out there the word is pronounced “cash”, not “cash shay”. Just thought I would throw that in!

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign! This is, in reality, a pretty true statement even though it is the lyrics of a song. For you young folks you may have to look that one up. When this blog first started one of our contributors that goes by the name of Rockman posted an article about how to find a treasure site. I suggest you read this if you haven’t already because it will help.

As for KGC signs, you’re going to hate me for this one but, to my knowledge there are only five symbols that were carved at sites that definitively say “this is a KGC site“. What are those symbols? I can’t tell you! Sorry, but this information was given to me in confidence not to be given out to anyone, at least not for several more years. I will say that if you do your homework you will recognize three of the five symbols if you ever see them at a site. That leaves the rest of the symbols that you find being what ever they are. No one can say they are KGC without digging up a treasure directly tied to the KGC by documents or with something in it that says positively that the treasure was left behind by the KGC.

It is my opinion that most of the treasure symbols you find carved are probably going to be outlaw or maybe even Mexican. Although you can run into just about anything, French, Chinese, Spanish, etc. Does it matter who left them behind? Yes and no. For the most part interpreting symbols is interpreting symbols and who left them there is secondary. Having a good idea of who left them there is always a good thing and may help you with interpreting them but it’s not an absolute necessary thing to have.

You will not find very many books that will help you interpret carved outlaw symbols. If you go looking for something with the interpretation already in the book it probably won‘t do you much good. The majority of books show the meaning of certain symbols, mostly Spanish and Indian but for the most part there aren’t any books out there that help with interpreting outlaw symbols. Not yet anyway!

How do you interpret an outlaw or the infamous KGC symbol? The easiest way to explain it is to look at it as a street sign. You were wondering about the picture at the top weren't you? Street signs impart information by showing you a picture of what you need to do. An S indicates an S shaped curve ahead in the road, a 90 degree arrow means a turn and so on. This is how most outlaw and some other symbols are interpreted.

Keep in mind that there are some things that are what they seem. A number can actually be a number but it can also be something else. Letters can be letters and may be used as abreviations however I have found this to be rare on carved maps. None of this is easy. If it was, everybody would be doing it.

You have to keep in mind that you are dealing with an individual map maker that made the map so that the one person or small group that made the map could get back to what they left behind. These maps weren’t made as a code in the true sense of the word because there is no “key” that unravels the meaning of the symbols. The symbols were made to remind the map maker of what to do. Some maps can be very precise and give exact point to point directions where other maps will give you a lot less information.

I have written about this on the blog before. These maps can be and generally are a kind of shorthand. It’s about giving enough information to the person who made the map so that they will remember how to get back to the spot where they stashed that money. It’s not necessarily an exact direction.

Once you have found your map and you are trying to interpret the symbols you need to keep in mind that the symbols will generally be one of two types. The first type is informational or directional. By this I mean the symbol is telling you to do something such as go down hill in a straight line or turn 90 degrees at this point or go around something, etc. The second type of symbol depicts an object. By this I mean that the symbol is a drawing of something you will find if you follow the informational or directional symbol correctly. This second type can simply be a drill hole or "dot" to indicate something is there. That something can even be the treasure you are looking for.

These types of symbols will alternate on the carved map but may not necessarily be every other symbol. How can that be you say? Contrary to belief, outlaws were rarely in a hurry to hide their loot and they were not stupid. A symbol on a map may take you to an object on the trail such as a rock or bluff or big tree. There can be more symbols on these objects that you find while working the trail. The symbols on the objects you find on the trail could give you a new direction or path to take or they could be showing you what you will find next if you follow the next symbol on the original carved map.

You have to keep an open mind about what you are doing and not get set that something just has to be a specific way. There will always be a trick or two or twelve in the maps. These would include anything from mirror imaging part or all of the map to hiding symbols on the objects you find on the trail to even putting other objects in or at the objects you find on the trail such as a metal clue, a gun, knife or a stone that is in a specific shape, just to name a few. Keep in mind that if these other clues are hidden there will be something in the map that tells you to look for them. It may not tell you what to look for but it will tell you that you should be looking for something. You have to keep in mind the topography around the object that you find when you are working the trail. The symbol on your map after the object or any symbol on the object itself will be based on the topography around that specific object.

You can’t rule out anything until you actually find what you are looking for. How do you know which symbol is directional and which is an object? You just have to work it out with the first symbol. Once you get the first few symbols interpreted you will start to see a pattern and then it will start to really come together. It will never be easy but it can be easier than what you think.

Is this all there is to working a carved map? Absolutely not. It would take a good sized book to explain the different things you can run into while working a map and even then there will always be something new come up. There were no rules in map making by the outlaws. They did what they wanted and that’s just they way it is.

For those of you dead set on finding that illusive KGC site, these will be set out the same way except you will find that these are the type of maps that are precise and give point to point directions. Those five symbols I mentioned earlier, if you run across one of those it won’t be part of the map. It will be off to the side or top of the map and be just like a stamp or sign. It’s sole purpose is to indicate this is/was a KGC hidey spot so the members would know to read the map.

What’s that you say? You have a KGC template? Well in my opinion, the only thing it’s good for is if you happen to run out of toilet paper.

We can discuss the template and it’s origins in another article. You just can’t wait, can you?


michael bellinger said...

I almost think you know more than you're letting us know!....

michael bellinger said...

I think you know more than you're letting on.!