Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mormon Gold in Illinois?

Here’s one of those treasures that getting permission to search for might take an act of God, literally.

The county of Hancock, Illinois has a history of running people out of town and not giving them time to collect their belongings before leaving. In 1839 Joseph Smith. Jr., the then president of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, founded the town of Nauvoo on the Mississippi River in Hancock County and made it the headquarters of the church. In it’s hay day Nauvoo had a population of over 12,000 residents, mostly members of the Mormon Church.

In 1845 the other residents of Hancock county had grown to resent the large Mormon presence in the county and feared with their political clout they would be able to completely take over the county. They also accused the Mormons of counterfeiting money. There always has to be something, doesn’t there? With that in mind the residents succeeded in getting the town’s Charter cancelled by the Governor of Illinois and after a year of battling, forced the Mormons out of the town. This was later known as the Mormon War of Illinois. About a year or two after the expulsion of the Mormons the Mormon temple in Nauvoo was burned to the ground.

Although the Mormons feared they would be leaving their town behind they fought tooth and nail to stay. Even with their hard efforts it only took about a year for the complete expulsion of the Mormons from Nauvoo. That year was a violent and uncertain time for the Mormons. It is said that at the time of the expulsion the Mormon church was sitting on $4,000,000 of gold coins and were afraid to try to move them out of the town for fear of loosing the money to an angry mob.

According to legend the four millions dollars in gold coins were buried under one of the church’s buildings in the town of Nauvoo. It was many, many years before the Mormons even attempted to come back to the town and it was thought the location of the golden treasure was forgotten and the coins were never recovered.

Personally, I would think somebody would remember where they left a large pile of gold coins unless of course the building they were planted under was destroyed and the spot lost because it was unrecognizable. Is that what you call positive thinking?

The Mormon church owns most if not all of the historic buildings in the town today, especially any that were significant to the church and their history in the town including the rebuilt temple. According to Wikipedia the rest of the town is a hodge-podge of buildings described this way;

On the city’s higher ground are the temple, residential areas, and the business district along Mulholland Street (Illinois route 96), much of it devoted to the needs of tourists and those interested in Latter Day Saint history. The flatlands are occupied by a small number of 19th century brick houses and other buildings that have survived the city’s vicissitudes, with large empty spaces between them where houses and whole neighborhoods have entirely disappeared.

If the Mormons didn’t secretly come back for this treasure there is a possibility that maybe, just maybe, the four million dollars in gold is buried in one of the empty spaces where the buildings have “entirely disappeared”.

Could anyone really be that lucky?

Even if the gold is gone, it sounds like this would be a very good place to run a detector. With the history of the town and the fact that it shrank from over 12,000 residents to just over 1,000 that leaves a lot of places in the town to find relics and even coins. Empty lots that used to have buildings on them in the 1800's can be bonanzas for the coin shooter and relic hunter.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Is finding an empty hole worth it?

The simple answer to that question is YES! I could just end this article here and save you and me some time but what fun would that be? Here recently I helped someone work a trail to the final outcome which turned out to be an empty hole. This individual was depressed about the “hole” thing (sorry, couldn’t help myself) and didn’t understand what good it did to do all of that work and find nothing.

Let’s face it, the majority of us are out there looking for treasure so that we can strike it rich and the rest are lying about why they are looking for treasure. Everybody wants to hit the “big one”, that’s why we put ourselves through all that we do. Everyone likes to moan and groan about the difficulties we encounter while treasure hunting. I’m one of the worst but the one thing I do understand is the importance of finding an empty hole.

Anyone that can work a trail to the end and find a hole, empty or not should be exceptionally proud of themselves and find a way to pat yourself on the back and buy yourself a beer or in some cases, a pina colada. Treasure hunting ain’t easy and if you can get to the end of a trail you are doing great!

Whether you hunt Spanish, outlaw, French, Chinese or pirate (arrrrrg!) treasure, getting to the end of the trail is a learning experience and one that will help you tremendously on any future hunts. Knowing how a clue was used and being able to interpret that symbol will be an educational experience that will increase your hunting skills exponentially. That means “a lot” for those of you already drinking those beers as you read this.

I’m sure the majority of you have found a clue or carving and beat yourself up about not knowing how to interpret it only to figure it out later. Remember that feeling? Accomplishment and pride. Even though you don’t get rich, getting to an empty hole should give you the exact same feeling. You have just figured out something that was left there decades if not centuries ago and it’s something that most people cannot do.

Once you get to that first hole you can use that knowledge to find the ends of other trails. In my first eighteen years of treasure hunting I never completed a trail to the end. What can I say, I’m a slow learner! It was harder back then since Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet! In the last fourteen years of hunting I have worked eleven trails to their conclusion. I've been making up for the first 18 years. Figuring out that first outlaw trail showed me how things worked and what kind of treasure hunting information I should be ignoring. Yes, I said ignoring. There is so much information out there it’s hard to know what is real and what is something the cowboys used to burn on the fire. But once you figure out how to interpret what you are looking at and are able to follow the trail from one clue to another you will get a sense of what is plausible and what is not.

OK, so I took the long way around the barn to tell you; Don’t get disappointed! Finding an empty hole at the end of the trail is a very good thing. It means you are smarter than the non-believers think you are and it means that if you keep on looking, one of these days that hole won’t be empty.

Just remember to send us a post card from you favorite vacation spot. If it happens to be Hawaii I can be a pretty good tour guide! :~)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Treasure in the News; Explorers Find Ancient Ship Wrecks

From the AP

ROME (July 24) - Archaeologists have found five well-preserved Roman shipwrecks deep under the sea off a small Mediterranean island, with their cargo of vases, pots and other objects largely intact, officials said Friday.

The ships are submerged about 300 to 500 feet off Ventotene, a tiny island that is part of an archipelago off Italy's west coast between Rome and Naples.

The ships, which date from between the 1st century B.C. and the 4th century, carried amphorae — vases used for holding wine, olive oil and other products — as well as kitchen tools and metal and glass objects that have yet to be identified, Italy's Culture Ministry said. The spot was highly trafficked, and hit by frequent storms and dangerous sea currents.

The discovery is part of a new drive by archaeological officials to scan deeper levels of the sea and prevent looting of submerged treasures.

Discoveries of shipwrecks are not unusual in the Mediterranean, but these ships are far better preserved than most, which are often found scattered in fragments, said Annalisa Zarattini, the head of the ministry's office for underwater archaeology. Because the ships sank at a deeper lever than most known wrecks, they were not exposed to destructive underwater currents, she said.
The ships also sank without capsizing, allowing researchers to observe their cargo largely as it had been loaded, Zarattini said.

"It is like an underwater museum," Zarattini said. The finding also sheds light on the trade routes of ancient Rome, marking the area as a major commercial crossroads, she said.
Treasure hunters usually dive down to about 100 feet underwater, but new and fast-spreading technology will make it increasingly easier for them to dive deep, Zarattini said. "It's important to arrive first," she added.
The ships were found during explorations concluded earlier this month by the ministry and the AURORA Trust, a U.S. group that gathers maritime researchers and provides equipment to explore the sea.
The researchers used sonar technology to provide imagery of the seabed and then employed remotely operated vehicles, the Culture Ministry and the AURORA Trust said.
The oldest of the ships has a cargo of wine amphorae from southern Italy, some stacked in their original position, AURORA said. Another one was carrying moratoria, large bowls used to grind grains. Another was loaded with African amphorae carrying garum, a fish sauce that was a delicacy in ancient Rome. The largest wreck measures more than 65 feet.

A handful of objects were taken out to be studied and will be put on display in Ventotene.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another kind of Spanish Treasure

The information for this article was sent in by one of our readers. Thank you Roy!

Most of you know that when the Spanish came to the Americas they were looking for gold and silver. They also took anything else they thought could be valuable. In the case of this story, we are talking about glass beads. Most of this "treasure" is from the local Indians at the time.The Spanish traded corn to the Indians for some of the beads and the rest are from the Indians burying their dead with glass beads.

Just off the coast of Georgia lies an island known by the name of St. Catherine’s Island or Santa Catalina. This island was the first outpost of the Spanish in the region of what is now Georgia. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1575 the island was being used by the Guale Indians. According to scientific sources the island has been inhabited for the last 4000 years and when the Spanish arrived they found the Gaule. The Guale were a tribe of Indians that lived along the coast and traded with the Spanish after their arrival.

In the 16th century the Spanish established a mission on the island known as the Mission Santa Catalina De Guale so that they could convert the local tribe to their way of thinking. The outpost was the capital and administrative center for the province of Guale, named after the indigenous people. It was considered to be one of the Spanish’s “most remote and wealthy outposts". The island itself is about ten miles long and as much as three miles wide depending on where you are.

Over the last several years (since 1974) the American Museum of Natural History from New York has been helping with an archeological dig on the island under the pretence of learning about history. In actuality what they are doing are exhuming the graves on the island that are in the cemetery and near the alter of the old mission.

During their “investigation” they have unearthed more than 70,000 glass beads. The beads are thought to have come from several different countries including China, France and India. In studying the beads they have concluded that some of them are Venetian, others are Bohemian and even Baltic in origin. I wonder if they have dug up anything else of interest that they aren't telling us about? How many stories have you heard about hidden treasure connected to a Spanish mission?

It was thought that the beads were buried with the more important people of the Guale community and a lot of those appeared to be children. They haven’t put a value on the beads and I doubt they will since this is for “scientific purposes” but it is interesting that the Guale Indians had beads from all over the world. This would indicate that there were some pretty extensive trade routes even before the Spanish arrived. All but about 2000 of the beads have been found in graves.

The island has been privately owned for many decades. According to Wikipedia;

“The island is now owned by the St. Catherine’s Island Foundation, and the island's interior is operated for charitable, scientific, literary, and educational purposes. The foundation aims to promote conservation of natural resources, the survival of endangered species, and the preservation of historic sites, and to expand human knowledge in the fields of ecology, botany, zoology, natural history, archaeology, and other scientific and educational disciplines. The island is involved with the conservation of the ring-tailed lemur. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1969.”

I guess if you own your own island you can dig up what ever you want, especially if it is in the name of “science”.

I know this isn’t your ordinary treasure story and it’s definitely not anything any of us can go look for but I found the story interesting and thought some of you might too.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Eli Klotz and his Salina, KS treasure

In 1875 Eli Klotz settled in on his 160 acre ranch just a few miles north of Salina, KS. Over the years he amassed a “huge fortune” from working his ranch and only spent what was absolutely necessary.

Being the penny pincher that he was, Eli hid his fortune somewhere on the 160 acre property for safe keeping. It was thought that over the years he had stashed away between $50,000 and $250,000 dollars, all in gold and silver coins.

One day a neighbor stopped by looking for Mr. Klotz but couldn’t find him. This neighbor and others began to search for Mr. Klotz but he was nowhere to be found. It seems Eli had just disappeared and left no trace. He had left all of his belongings behind as if he had stepped out to run an errand and never returned.

It is said that a search of the property did not turn up any evidence of foul play but the local area residents suspected the rancher may have been killed by Indians or even outlaws. Some even speculated that he could have been killed by “grizzly bears”!

Far be it from me to rain on someone’s parade but I don’t ever recall seeing any grizzly bears in Kansas, maybe that was an 1800’s thing?

Suffice to say, a search was made for his money but no one has ever reported finding any of it. The rumor at the time was that Mr. Klotz probably buried the majority of his money in an orchard that was located near the home or somewhere in the Ottawa Hills which were on his property.

It would be my guess that since this treasure was amassed over several years you would be looking for more than one cache. It’s even possible there are caches in the area of the orchard and in the Ottawa Hills. You know what they used to say, never keep all of your eggs in one basket.

Watch out for the grizzly bears if you go looking for this one!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bones and Treasure, a recurring theme

First off, I would like to say that I have only been to New Mexico seven times and only three of those trips were related to treasure. One of those times did lead to the end of a trail and unfortunately, an empty hole. With that said, when I started to do a little research for this blog article I was amazed at the amount of treasure stories I found concerning New Mexico.

If you are ever in New Mexico, it is loaded with lost mines and treasures so make sure to take so time to do some hiking if you can.

Here is one of those stories.

Back in 1865 a butcher by the name of Charles Kennedy and his wife came to the area of the Palo Flechado Pass in Taos County and built a cabin. By all appearances they lived what seemed to be a simple and normal life. That is until 1871.

From the time that Mr. Kennedy arrived in the valley wealthy travelers and miners working in the same area had been disappearing. No one knew what had happened to these people until Mrs. Kennedy came forward and admitted that her husband was nuts (a clinical term from the 1800’s) and he had been robbing and murdering these people. Instead of telling the local sheriff first, Mrs. Kennedy chose to tell the other residents of the community about her husband’s activities.

Charles Kennedy was quickly lynched by a group of angry citizens before any questions could be asked. After the lynching the local sheriff made a search of the Kennedy’s cabin and the immediate grounds around the cabin. This search found several human bones and whole skeletons in the yard and under the under the fireplace. It was estimated that Mr. Kennedy had killed between 25 and 100 people before his own unpleasant demise.

It was said that the Kennedy’s never spent any money that wasn’t necessary and none of the stolen gold and jewelry was ever found.

Did Mrs. Kennedy decide to get rid of her husband and keep the spoils for herself? It’s certainly possible. You know how vindictive women can get in a divorce! Sorry ladies but you know it can be true :~)

Maybe Mr. Kennedy wouldn’t tell his wife where the stolen goods were or maybe she was afraid the crazy ol’ coot was going to kill her next. No matter what the scenario it is possible that there is still one or more treasures waiting to be found around the Kennedy’s cabin.

The cabin, with a dugout was located in Moreno Valley at the mouth of Fernandez Canyon about three-quarters of a mile from the foot of Palo Flechado Pass. This would be about fifteen miles south-southwest of Eagle Nest, north of Highway 64.

Good luck and don’t forget the very good possibility that the local sheriff at the time didn’t find all of remains of the unlucky victims of Charles Kennedy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Lucky Penny

For those of you that just sit around being bored every once in a while and wish you had something to do, you may want to start swinging the detector a couple of hours a day at your favorite coin shooting spot.
Although this penny wasn’t found using a metal detector it is a very good reminder of what might be out there for some lucky person with a detector and good eyes.

Walter J. Husak starting doing chores around his grandparents home when he was 13 years old. For his efforts his grandparents would pay him with the change they had around the home and his grandfather would occasionally throw in the “odd” old coin just to keep Walter curious. Walter’s curiosity got the best of him and it made him a life long collector of coins, especially pennies.

Just recently Mr. Husak put his coin collection up for sale and one penny he had, a 1794 penny, sold for $632,000.00! One coin, SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS!!

Once they added in the rest of Walter’s collection to the auction the grand total of the sale was $10,700,000.00! Now that’s a coin collection!

The article I got this from reported that they had received information about people going to the banks and buying bags of pennies just to search through them to find any old and possibly valuable coins. Does that sound familiar? Maybe somebody saw Jamie in the bank!

The article also said that there are several pennies worth between $200.00 and $20,000.00 or more still out there in the world just waiting to be found and brought to auction.

So what are you waiting for! Turn off the TV and grab your detector and get out there! If nothing else, go to the bank and spend ten dollars on pennies and see what you come up with. You can always sell the ordinary coins back to the bank and not be out any money at all. You might just find a coin that could add considerably to your own bank account.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Men, Horses and Treasure

Here’s a rather odd treasure tale for you. If you happen to get into the state of Kansas you could put your dowsing skills to the test with this one.

According to legend, there is a rather large cave northwest of Dodge City, KS that contains several treasures of an unnamed outlaw gang. This cave was used by cattlemen back in the 1800’s to protect themselves and their cattle during bad storms.

I guess I should have said there WAS a cave northwest of Dodge City that the cattlemen used to use. For a reason not given, a man named George Wade from the town of Spearville took it upon himself to seal up the entrance to the cave using the easiest method at the time, a healthy portion of dynamite!

OK, you’re saying to yourself; what’s so odd about that? The odd part of the legend (in my opinion anyway) says that when Mr. Wade set off the dynamite there was a gang of outlaws inside the cave with their horses and loot from more than one robbery. It seems this unnamed outlaw gang apparently frequented the cave and hid the stolen loot from several robberies inside the cave.

Could it be that Mr. Wade was a victim of this outlaw gang and decided to take his revenge when he had the chance? Could it be that Mr. Wade was a member of the outlaw gang and decided he wanted to break up the group and was just a little dramatic in his ways?

Spearville, KS, the town that Mr. Wade supposedly came from, is about twenty miles north east of Dodge City so it would seem odd (again, in my opinion) that he would be twenty miles or more west of his home blowing up a cave unless he had a pretty good reason to do so.

The cave would have had to have been extremely large to get a gang of outlaws and their horses in it much less cattlemen and even a small heard of cattle. If the legend is true then this could be a bonanza of treasure including money, guns and other relics of the time. That is, if you don’t mind sorting through a bunch of old bones for your treasure!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Codes and Ciphers

This is from the Wall Street Journal. I thought those of you interested in ciphers might find it interesting.

For more than 200 years, buried deep within Thomas Jefferson's correspondence and papers, there lay a mysterious cipher -- a coded message that appears to have remained unsolved. Until now.

The cryptic message was sent to President Jefferson in December 1801 by his friend and frequent correspondent, Robert Patterson, a mathematics professor at the University of Pennsylvania. President Jefferson and Mr. Patterson were both officials at the American Philosophical Society -- a group that promoted scholarly research in the sciences and humanities -- and were enthusiasts of ciphers and other codes, regularly exchanging letters about them.
In this message, Mr. Patterson set out to show the president and primary author of the Declaration of Independence what he deemed to be a nearly flawless cipher. "The art of secret writing," or writing in cipher, has "engaged the attention both of the states-man & philosopher for many ages," Mr. Patterson wrote. But, he added, most ciphers fall "far short of perfection."
To Mr. Patterson's view, a perfect code had four properties: It should be adaptable to all languages; it should be simple to learn and memorize; it should be easy to write and to read; and most important of all, "it should be absolutely inscrutable to all unacquainted with the particular key or secret for decyphering."

Mr. Patterson then included in the letter an example of a message in his cipher, one that would be so difficult to decode that it would "defy the united ingenuity of the whole human race," he wrote.

There is no evidence that Jefferson, or anyone else for that matter, ever solved the code. But Jefferson did believe the cipher was so inscrutable that he considered having the State Department use it, and passed it on to the ambassador to France, Robert Livingston.
The cipher finally met its match in Lawren Smithline, a 36-year-old mathematician. Dr. Smithline has a Ph.D. in mathematics and now works professionally with cryptology, or code-breaking, at the Center for Communications Research in Princeton, N.J., a division of the Institute for Defense Analyses.

A couple of years ago, Dr. Smithline's neighbor, who was working on a Jefferson project at Princeton University, told Dr. Smithline of Mr. Patterson's mysterious cipher.
Dr. Smithline, intrigued, decided to take a look. "A problem like this cipher can keep me up at night," he says. After unlocking its hidden message in 2007, Dr. Smithline articulated his puzzle-solving techniques in a recent paper in the magazine American Scientist and also in a profile in Harvard Magazine, his alma mater's alumni journal.

The code, Mr. Patterson made clear in his letter, was not a simple substitution cipher. That's when you replace one letter of the alphabet with another. The problem with substitution ciphers is that they can be cracked by using what's termed frequency analysis, or studying the number of times that a particular letter occurs in a message. For instance, the letter "e" is the most common letter in English, so if a code is sufficiently long, whatever letter appears most often is likely a substitute for "e."

Because frequency analysis was already well known in the 19th century, cryptographers of the time turned to other techniques. One was called the nomenclator: a catalog of numbers, each standing for a word, syllable, phrase or letter. Mr. Jefferson's correspondence shows that he used several code books of nomenclators. An issue with these tools, according to Mr. Patterson's criteria, is that a nomenclator is too tough to memorize.

Jefferson even wrote about his own ingenious code, a model of which is at his home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Va. Called the wheel cipher, the device consisted of cylindrical pieces, threaded onto an iron spindle, with letters inscribed on the edge of each wheel in a random order. Users could scramble and unscramble words simply by turning the wheels.

But Mr. Patterson had a few more tricks up his sleeve. He wrote the message text vertically, in columns from left to right, using no capital letters or spaces. The writing formed a grid, in this case of about 40 lines of some 60 letters each.

Then, Mr. Patterson broke the grid into sections of up to nine lines, numbering each line in the section from one to nine. In the next step, Mr. Patterson transcribed each numbered line to form a new grid, scrambling the order of the numbered lines within each section. Every section, however, repeated the same jumbled order of lines.

The trick to solving the puzzle, as Mr. Patterson explained in his letter, meant knowing the following: the number of lines in each section, the order in which those lines were transcribed and the number of random letters added to each line.

The key to the code consisted of a series of two-digit pairs. The first digit indicated the line number within a section, while the second was the number of letters added to the beginning of that row. For instance, if the key was 58, 71, 33, that meant that Mr. Patterson moved row five to the first line of a section and added eight random letters; then moved row seven to the second line and added one letter, and then moved row three to the third line and added three random letters. Mr. Patterson estimated that the potential combinations to solve the puzzle was "upwards of ninety millions of millions."

After explaining this in his letter, Mr. Patterson wrote, "I presume the utter impossibility of decyphering will be readily acknowledged."

Undaunted, Dr. Smithline decided to tackle the cipher by analyzing the probability of digraphs, or pairs of letters. Certain pairs of letters, such as "dx," don't exist in English, while some letters almost always appear next to a certain other letter, such as "u" after "q".
To get a sense of language patterns of the era, Dr. Smithline studied the 80,000 letter-characters contained in Jefferson's State of the Union addresses, and counted the frequency of occurrences of "aa," "ab," "ac," through "zz."

Dr. Smithline then made a series of educated guesses, such as the number of rows per section, which two rows belong next to each other, and the number of random letters inserted into a line.
To help vet his guesses, he turned to a tool not available during the 19th century: a computer algorithm. He used what's called "dynamic programming," which solves large problems by breaking puzzles down into smaller pieces and linking together the solutions.

The overall calculations necessary to solve the puzzle were fewer than 100,000, which Dr. Smithline says would be "tedious in the 19th century, but doable."

After about a week of working on the puzzle, the numerical key to Mr. Patterson's cipher emerged -- 13, 34, 57, 65, 22, 78, 49. Using that digital key, he was able to unfurl the cipher's text:

"In Congress, July Fourth, one thousand seven hundred and seventy six. A declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. When in the course of human events..."

That, of course, is the beginning -- with a few liberties taken -- to the Declaration of Independence, written at least in part by Jefferson himself. "Patterson played this little joke on Thomas Jefferson," says Dr. Smithline. "And nobody knew until now."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

We would like to wish everyone and their families a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Modern Day Lost Treasure

Here’s a more recent treasure some of you intrepid hikers might want to look for. This one is also located in Arkansas and the research on this particular treasure should be pretty easy to conduct.

In 1975 a twin-engine Cessna had the misfortune of crashing in Carroll County, Arkansas somewhere near Berryville. The story I read said the crash scattered debris from the plane over an area covering twenty miles. The debris field was supposed to have started near Trigger Gap, Arkansas and extend northeast. Personally I think twenty miles is a pretty big area for something as small as a twin-engine Cessna unless parts started falling off in the sky, so you will definitely want to do some reading in the Arkansas papers from the time to get some more info.

You’re wondering right now why is it that this plane crash would be worth the time researching and looking for? It seems that the plane was carrying a “mine payroll” from point A to point B. The interesting part of this is that the payroll was in CASH. Twenty thousand dollars worth! The cash was secured in a metal briefcase and although it was searched for at the time of the crash, it apparently was never found.

Like I said before, this one could be really easy to research. There are probably records available from the F.A.A., the local newspapers, the local Sheriff’s department and the local libraries and courthouses.

I haven’t done any follow-up research on this one to verify that it hasn‘t been found. I found a small blurb on this in my research and thought I would right a short article about it. If the cash hasn’t been recovered then it’s been sitting out in the wilderness for more than thirty years just waiting for someone to find that briefcase.

Twenty grand in cash, you wouldn’t even have to find a buyer on E-Bay for that one! Although it might be a little moldy by now.