Lost Treasures In Alabama

Lost Treasures In Alabama

Although Alabama has a very small coastline compared to other Southern states and therefore has a limited number of underwater treasure sites, the state is loaded with Civil War locations where caches and relics can be found.

There must have been thousands of caches of money, jewels, and other valuables buried or hidden in the South during the Civil War to prevent them from falling into the hands of Union troops. Nobody knows, of course, just how many Southern fortunes were buried or concealed during the Civil War.

It is also impossible to guess how many of these caches have been uncovered because of the understandable reluctance of people to report such finds.

The Whitfield family lived near Jefferson, Marengo County, Alabama, and was considered one of the oldest, wealthiest, and most aristocratic in Alabama, and a descendant of the pioneer general, Nathan Bryan Whitfield. During the Civil War, C. Boaz Whitfield buried the family gold on the Whitfield farm, leaving a key and a map to one of his four sons, Gaius.

However, the father did not survive the War, and Gaius moved to Middlesboro, Kentucky. No attempt was made to recover the gold until 1926, and no reason was ever given for the delay of some 60 years.

However, on May 22, 1926, C. Boaz Whitfield engaged 35 men to search for a certain boundary marker on the old Whitfield farm, then known as Shady Grove Farm. They labored without results until May 31st when they hit the jackpot.

The amount of gold recovered at the base of the marker was never announced, except that it was more than $200,000.

Scattered gold coins had been found on the farm before this, and many local people believe there is another cache and more coins still there.

During his many years as a pirate, Jean Lafitte made mysterious visits to the vicinity of Fort Morgan, Alabama. Historians believe he may have buried some of his $10,000,000 treasure here at Fort Morgan.

Gold discoveries in Georgia in 1828 stimulated interest in prospecting similar-appearing crystalline rocks in Alabama. In about 1830, the first discoveries were made at Arbacoochee and Goldville. This boom collapsed when the California placer discoveries lured most of the miners.

Most of the gold deposits in Alabama are in Celburne, Tallapoosa, Clay, and Randolph Counties. Still, only two districts produced more than 10,000 ounces of gold, the Arbacoochee district in Cleburne County and the Hog Mountain district in Tallapoosa County.

The Arbacoochee district contained the richest placers in the state. By 1879, the area produced 17,700 ounces of gold. Most of the gold came from placers in the vicinity of Gold Hill and the gravels along Clear Creek. By 1890, the Arbacoochee district became almost inactive, and the Hog Mountain district became the state’s main producer.

The Hog Mountain district is in the north-central part of Tallapoosa County. Most of the gold came from gold-bearing quartz veins with pyrite. The Hog Mountain mine produced almost 12,000 ounces of gold and closed in 1938. The total gold production of the district through 1959 was about 24,300 ounces.

Keeping all these facts in mind, there is a good chance of gold’s yet waiting to be discovered. Panning the streams in Arbacoochee District may still show color, and the mines’ tailings are good hunting grounds for mineral specimens other than gold.

During a storm in 1801, an unidentified Spanish galleon was wrecked near the east end of Dauphin Island at the Mobile Bay, Alabama entrance. Only 11 of the crew made it to shore during the stormy night, and they were responsible for telling the story of the cargo of gold and silver. The name of the galleon has been lost, but the treasure has been estimated at $1 million.

Reports of a huge concentration of silver ore began to circulate in Talladega County several years after a newcomer arrived in the coal-mining community of Ironton. The year was 1832. A small Indian village was a short distance away, and the friendly tribesmen often conversed with nearby settlers.

Suddenly and mysteriously, the Indians were afflicted with measles. The disease raged, but the timely appearance of Isaac Stone changed the sad turn of events for the natives.

Having been informed of the news through the local grapevine, Stone wasted no time making a beeline to the camp. His motivation for feverishly treating the sick Indians and exposing himself to the wicked disease is unclear.

Nevertheless, his fast medical attention whipped the disease and earned him the respect and gratitude of the tribe members, including one Indian named George.

George was obligated to the miracle man to save his life, so he told Stone an intriguing story. A letter written by Stone, later reprinted in “Historical Tales of Talladega,” revealed this information: “My acquaintance with George and proximity to the village gave me the knowledge of the fact that George went into seclusion once or twice during each year, and that when the seclusion was ended, all the Indians had new silver ornaments, armlets, beads, and other such jewelry that their tastes demanded.”

Recognizing the significance of his discovery, Stone began pursuing ways of learning the location of the secret silver mine. Realizing that coaxing would do little, he attempted to loosen the Indians’ tongues with cheap whiskey. It made them drunk but produced no information.

After much deliberation, he related his story to several friends who initially refused to believe him. They later agreed to join him on his next scheme.

From conversations with George, Stone was able to make two important observations. From the amount of silver and the short time it took to load several pack ponies with it, the ore must be both easily accessible and close by.

Anticipating that the Indians would soon depart on their next silver excursion, Stone exchanged a brief word with George and confirmed his guess. His friends were to help track the Indians and supply the necessary provisions.

When the tribe broke camp in the wee hours of the morning, Stone’s party was anxiously waiting for the unsuspecting Indians to get a good head-start. When they felt comfortable about the Indians’ lead, the men started their pursuit shortly before daybreak. They followed the ponies’ hoof-prints northwesterly across the heavily-timbered stretches of St. Clair County until they came to Wolf Creek.

Here the tracks terminated, leaving three bewildered men cursing their rotten luck. The gravel bottom beneath the crystal clear water held no clues, so the men quickly dispersed in opposite directions.

After several hours of futile searching, one of the men dejectedly picked up a curious-looking rock. In his frustration, he failed to recognize a four-pound chunk of freshly-mined silver ore. Years later, the search was enthusiastically resumed when he stumbled across the rock he had long since forgotten. But success, always seeming imminent, was never achieved.

As the story gradually leaked out in its entirety, periodic searches continued for years until they, too, ceased altogether. Although the story of the Indians and the silver mine is told only as folklore today, the chunk of silver ore was later authenticated in 1874, when it assayed at 70% silver content and 30% lead.

Prospectors swarmed to the creek after hearing about the assay but never found more of the rock. Presumably, the rock came from the mine and was accidentally dropped along the way back.

If the mine exists, it is probably only a few miles northwest of where Stone’s party abandoned their search at Wolf Creek. After the party arrived back in town following their unsuccessful trip, it was only a short time before several members of the tribe returned to camp loaded with silver as usual.

The term “short time” was later specified as one and a half days. The distance they traveled from the Creek cannot be too great since they got their silver and returned in that time. Since they traveled northwest all the time they were tracked, it may be supposed that they continued in that direction at Wolf Creek.

A further enticement to treasure hunters is that when the tribe was pushed out of the state to a reservation in Arkansas, they took only a fraction of the silver they had mined. The larger portion is believed to have been buried in or near the mine.

To get to the area of the mine, proceed east from Birmingham on Interstate 20, approximately 25 miles to the Pell City exit. Take the Pell City exit one mile to U. S. 78, which crosses Wolf Creek. This is in the general area where Stone’s pursuit of the Indians ended. Perhaps someone with a good metal detector can locate the Indians’ lost mine.

About six miles northwest of Florence, Alabama, on White’s Mill Road stands the historic White’s Mill. For many years, this mill ground corn and flour and provided people in the community with jobs.

In 1897, a man named C. E. Sharps bought the mill. Eventually, he became quite wealthy. He was fond of gold and insisted that most payments be made to him in gold coins.

Sharps owned about 100 acres of forest land south of the mill across White’s Road. His nephew, Grady Sharps, was employed in the office at the mill. About once a week, Grady watched his uncle go into the woods with a shovel and a small sack.

Since he would return a short time afterward without the sack, Grady felt sure he was burying his gold somewhere among the trees.

Fearing his uncle, known to become violent at times, young Grady was afraid to follow him on any of his trips into the woods.

In June 1899, Sharps was on the mill roof doing some repair work when he slipped and fell into the pond below. He could not swim, and help did not reach him in time. The knowledge of his buried gold drowned with him. Grady tried to locate the fortune his uncle had hidden, but the woods were too large to unearth with nothing but a pick and a shovel.

The old mill still stands, and the wood still lies to the south of it. With a good metal detector and a few days, a treasure hunter might be able to find C. E. Sharps’ cache or caches of gold coins.

There is supposed to be a treasure buried on the Alabama side of the Perdido River near Seminole. Here is the story. In 1815, Henry Allen Nunez placed a ferry in operation across the Perdido River at approximately where it is now crossed by U. S. 90, about 16 miles northwest of Pensacola.

As Nunez prospered, stories spread that he kept his fortune buried near his house on the Alabama side of the River. During the Civil War, a band of Union troops seized Nunez and demanded to know where his hoard was hidden. They strung him up by his thumbs to a tree when he refused to talk.

His wife was brought out to witness the torture, and, unable to see her husband suffer, she revealed where a cache of silver coins was hidden. Insisting that there was no gold, the soldiers lowered Nunez into a well by the neck.

Again, Mrs. Nunez broke down and told them where the gold was buried. Satisfied that they had secured all the treasure, the troops left, but the story persists that a third cache is still there.

Located on the Coosa River near the junction of that stream with the Tallapoosa, 10 miles north of Montgomery, is the site of old Fort Toulouse. And somewhere around that site are six of the eight cannons which comprised its defense.

The French constructed Fort Toulouse in 1717 as an advanced post of the colony of Louisiana, and it was built in the form of a stockade of logs.

The logs were probably of oak, nine feet long, close to one foot in diameter, and stripped of bark and charred in the three feet that went underground. Laths held the logs, and a moat was dug around the stockade as deep as it was wide. Within the enclosure were frame buildings that served as offices and quarters for the garrison.

The fort stood opposite a sharp bend in the Coosa River, and the current undermined the bank under it, necessitating a move of the structure in 1748. However, the rebuilt fort stood only 15 or 20 yards from the original site.

Neither Fort Toulouse nor its garrison was ever involved in hostile action. The fort’s military potential was there, of course, but the absence of hostilities emphasized the diplomatic nature of the post.

The fort was evacuated in 1763. The officer assigned to oversee the evacuation was Director General d’Abbudie. The General decided to leave the ordnance and military stores, explaining that it was impossible to move the artillery.

The cannons were spiked and dumped from their mountings into the fort yard. The excess powder was dumped into the Coosa River. The fort then fell into ruins within a few years.

Two of the cannons have been found. One is in the State Department of Archives and History in Montgomery. The other is on exhibition in the Wetumpka Courthouse at Wetumpka, Alabama.

The remaining six cannons are now either covered with a growing accumulation of earth and debris somewhere on the fort site or mud at the Coosa River’s bottom. These centuries-old guns would be a valuable find.

Late in the closing months of the tragic conflict between the States known as the Civil War, there was a wealthy man named Hansen in the State of Alabama who decided that he had to act if his long-planned plot to assist the crumbling Confederate economy was to become a reality.

By various means, honest and otherwise, Hansen and some other citizens had accumulated a vast amount of gold and silver in bullion and coins. Two huge wooden boxes two feet wide, three feet deep, and four feet long were filled with the loot.

To conceal the boxes from discovery, they were buried under barnyard manure and decayed straw so repulsive and deceptive to the eye that there was little chance they would be disturbed and the treasure uncovered.

The military situation at this time was perilous. General Hood was hammering at Union positions at Columbia, Tennessee, on the Duck River. Sizeable Union forces were concentrated throughout most of the northern Alabama area.

A previous plan to deliver the gold to Montgomery was ruled out due to the hazardous nature of the journey and the distances involved. A sufficient number of Confederates couldn’t be dispatched to take possession of the fortune, so Hansen decided to take the shipment to Hood at Columbia, where a Confederate victory seemed likely.

Hansen and two Rebel soldiers, disguised as farmers, loaded the enormously heavy boxes onto two wagons by emptying their precious contents and reloading the boxes after they were placed on the wagons. The fertilizer and straw were then heaped high atop the wagons, and the journey began.

The horses strained under the massive loads, and the wagon wheels dug deeply into the wet ground. Approximately four miles north of Athens, both wagons became hopelessly mired in a deep bog hole that was like quicksand. Hansen and the two soldiers futilely tried to progress forward by hitching both teams of horses to one wagon.

Suddenly, four Union scouts appeared and, becoming suspicious at the weight of the wagons, demanded that the group unload the cargo. The bluecoats suspected that the wagons contained arms and ammunition. Hansen abruptly pulled a concealed pistol and killed one of the Union scouts, and the Rebel soldiers charged the remaining three.

In the savage hand-to-hand struggle that followed, both Confederates were killed, but not before killing two Union scouts and severely wounding the remaining one. The injured soldier made a good escape into the brush, as Hansen missed with his last shot.

The frustrated Hansen then searched for a way to save the shipment. It would be only a matter of hours, at the most, before the wounded soldier would reach his unit and alert more troops. Probing the area of the bog hole, Hansen discovered that the quagmire of mud and water was quite deep and would not support any object of substantial weight.

He succeeded in fastening the teams to the side of one wagon and finally overturning the wagon, dumping the box into the bog hole. The other wagon was overturned, and the fortune intended for the Confederacy quickly sank from sight.

Hansen then led the horses to the area where the boxes sank, forcing them deeper into the earth. He then reversed the procedure and raised the wagons upright again. By parading the horses around the general area, Hansen made it appear that a Confederate patrol had arrived, taken possession of the cargo, and left.

He loaded the bodies of the Confederate soldiers onto the horses and pulled out to the east, following a well-traveled route from a stream crossing a half-mile east of the bog hole. He soon abandoned the main route, realizing that the Union forces would likely pursue this trail.

Nightfall found the exhausted Hansen at the home of a fellow Southern sympathizer entrusted with the secret behind the ill-fated journey. The pair made immediate plans to return to excavate the treasure. Hansen remained at his friend’s home for several days, hiding under the floor when Union soldiers appeared.

A Confederate soldier en route to join a detachment in central Alabama eventually made an appearance. Hansen rode with the soldier to guide the group sent back to fetch the treasure. Here luck ran out on the Southern patriot. The pair was intercepted by Union cavalry, and both were killed in the running battle that followed.

Only one person, who had never seen it, knew about the buried fortune. Shortly after that, he was taken into custody on a charge of suspicion of harboring a fugitive, Hansen. He was thrown into prison for the duration of the War.

When the conflict ended, the man returned to the area to search for the fortune, but he found the task impossible. Grass and shrubbery covered the landscape. Droughts and floods drastically altered the appearance of the area.

He discovered that the Yankee soldiers had not found the treasure by asking questions. However, they had taken the wagons with them as they were seen being pulled into town, carrying the bodies of the three scouts killed in the battle at the bog hole.

The man searched for a short time without success, then, like so many others, he left the Southern states, where the bitter memories were so strong, and moved to California. From the available evidence, it would appear that the cache is still there, waiting to be found.

Hardy Clements was a farmer, politician, businessman, slave owner, and wealthy man. In 1845, Clements rode a mule from Sumter County, South Carolina, to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with just one hundred dollars in his pocket. He bought a little piece of land in Coaling, on the banks of Big Sandy Creek, about twelve miles east of Tuscaloosa.

By 1850, he had turned a few acres into 9000 acres, on which he had 30 horses, 85 work mules, 29 milk cows, 14 oxen, 113 sheep, 250 swine, and 336 slaves, making him the largest slave owner in Alabama. His real estate and personal property were valued at $300,000.

The legend is that when the Civil War came to Alabama, Hardy Clements buried about $100,000 worth of gold. With the War going on, it wasn’t safe to travel the old Huntsville road to Tuscaloosa and deposit the gold while the Wilson Raiders were so near. So he did as other plantation owners did and buried his money.

During the War, there were feelings of dissatisfaction among some of the slaves. Clements feared they might be tempted or threatened into telling the Wilson Raiders where the valuable gold had been concealed. So he would wait until night after the servants had left the house and everyone was asleep, and then he would go out and hide the gold.

There have been many stories about where the gold was hidden: under his house, around the cotton gin that stood by the spring, or around his huge bog farm. It has also been told that he took all his gold to the cemetery, dug a small grave, and buried it among his slaves who had served him so well.

In 1863, Hardy Clements died. He did not tell anyone where the gold was hidden, not even his son, a colonel with the 50th Regiment of Alabama.

Today, only a few resemblances of a plantation remain. A large dying oak tree marks his homesite. The big spring that gushes into Big Sandy Creek near the cotton gin still runs swiftly, clearly, and very cold, as it did over 100 years ago. The hog farm is now sagebrush and bushes, and the cemetery is mostly a woody area with large trees growing among the graves.

Most of the old plantation is on public land; only the homesite is on private property, but, as far as is known, it is not posted.

Diamonds, believe it or not, have been found in Alabama. Two counties, Lee and Shelby, have yielded stones in the creek beds. The Department of the Interior, Washington, D. C., will send information on diamonds and other gems on request.

Also, you may want to send to the U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., for some of the many booklets and pamphlets they have with valuable information.

This story was told by old men when they met in a barbershop, livery stable, or blacksmith shop. It concerned the small town of Newton, Alabama, located on the Choctawhatchee River in southeast Alabama, in Dale County.

The men told about a day they long remembered, December 19, 1864. This was the day when news spread fast that Colonel Joseph Sanders, with his horde of deserters, escaped slaves, and common outlaws were on his way to attack Newton.

Plans for the defense of Newton against the notorious band were carefully made by Judge Daniel Carmichael, Sheriff J. W. Skipper, and Captain Jim Breer, in command of the home guards. Every able-bodied man and boy was conscripted to defend Newton.

An alert was sent out to the farmers in surrounding areas, and most of them, with their families, came into town. Men brought their guns to help in defense of the town.

On the afternoon of the fateful day, the town was ready and waiting for the attack. One major problem remained to be solved. A box filled with a fortune in gold was in the Courthouse, and if the town were sacked, the outlaws would undoubtedly seize it. The gold must be hidden, but where? And who could be trusted with the task?

This dilemma was solved by selecting three men to hide the gold, and each man was held responsible for its secrecy and safekeeping. And to say the least, these men did an excellent job of it.
Colonel Sanders, with his band of rogues, crossed the river at the old ford less than one-half hour before sundown; the man raced uphill towards the Courthouse.

The defenders of Newton began firing into the ranks of the attackers. Surprised, Colonel Sanders shouted to his men to return fire while, at the same time, they were trying to encircle the town. The Sanders outfit made charge and counter-charge, but the defenders’ resistance was too strong to break through and get into the town. In the darkness of the night, the Sanders band crossed the river and disappeared.

The jubilant defenders of Newton called a muster roll, but twelve men failed to answer. Four were dead, and eight were wounded. As fate would have it, three men had hidden the box of gold out of the four dead. The secret of the hiding place died with them.

To this day, gold has not been found. How these three men, hurrying practically in the face of the enemy, could have found such an elusive hiding place remains a mystery, for the hunt as they might, the citizens of Newton could not find the gold.

There is a relatively small island, probably the first settled portion of Alabama, known as Dauphin Island. Old books record a small portion of its history, but the most intriguing part is its unwritten history, that which is felt as one slowly becomes acquainted with the Islanders.

There is a story about a large, jeweled cross being dropped in a well to prevent it’s being stolen by pirates and never being recovered. Other stories circulate quietly among the native Islanders concerning jars, pots, and chests of buried savings back through several generations.

The island has never had a bank and, until recently, has been rather isolated from the mainland. Now a bridge crosses the Mississippi Sound, connecting Dauphin Island with the outside world. The large, prehistoric Indian Shell Mound is a shadow of its former self. The area immediately around the trailer park has, in turn, been a Spanish army camp, a French army camp, a British army camp, and a Federal army camp of occupation after the Civil War.

The Island would be a good place to search for relics alone, and you just might be lucky enough to find one of the treasures that legends tell about.

This site of an Indian village and several possible treasure caches is almost certainly overlooked. The army records of General Dale, who served under Andrew Jackson, could help on this one.

Around 1812, in Montgomery County, there was a Shawnee Indian village known as Souvanogee. It was located near a corner formed by the Tallapoosa River and Likasa Creek.

The leader of the village was a half-breed Indian prophet called Savannah Jack. He and his band of braves robbed, murdered, and pillaged this section of Alabama for six years.

There is no known or itemized record of the amount of plunder that fell into the hands of Savannah Jack and his renegades. However, Jack had been exposed to the ways of white men and knew well the value they placed on gold and silver. Certainly, anything of monetary value was gathered up by Jack on these raids and carried back to the village.

Savannah Jack and his band of renegade Indians were finally pursued and caught up with by General Dale and his troops in 1818. In the running gun battle that followed, several Indians were killed on the spot. It is believed that Savannah Jack was severely wounded in the gun battle and died a short time later in Sipsey Swamp.

Several caches of Savannah Jack’s loot should still be buried near the old Indian camp of Souvanogee. He had six years to accumulate it. The village was surprised by the attack, and there was insufficient time to dig up any of his caches. The campground covered quite an area, but remains and traces of it can still be found.

There is an old story of a strongbox being dropped into the Tambigbee River south of Myrtlewood in Marengo County. This money, $30,000 in gold, was transported by a tax collector in 1860 when outlaws tried to rob him. He threw the strongbox into the water close to the ford that was operating here at that time.

The bandits killed the collector, but research reveals they did not find the money. The best places to look would be along the tracks between Atmore and Bay Minette, Alabama, as this was his favorite hiding area.

In September 1724, a French vessel was sighted off the coast of present-day Alabama. The vessel was the Bellone. A cargo of beaver skins, deer hides, coins, and bullion valued at 40,000 crowns was stored in her hold. She was on her way to Dauphin Island to collect the yearly production of goods by the French colonials in Louisiana and transport them to France.

While trying to enter Pelican Bay, the Bellone ran aground. However, the ship was not damaged and was soon anchored safely in the small harbor. The ship’s captain, a Seigneur de Beauchamp, kept the ship in the harbor until the next spring when he finally decided to sail for France.

On April 1, 1725, April Fools’ Day, the Bellone raised anchor and headed out to sea on a perfectly calm day. Mysteriously, she suddenly sank near Dauphin Island. A nearby brigantine saved most passengers and crew from drowning, but two men and three children were lost.

The entire cargo, including the bullion, coins, and all the passengers’ personal belongings, was lost with the Bellone. French officials determined at the time that the ship was unsalvageable. Thus, no effort was exerted to recover the gold.

The Bellone was wrecked off Dauphin Island over 250 years ago. Since she sank, Dauphin Island has been partially washed away by hurricanes, Pelican Bay has been largely sanded in, and battles in the War of 1812 and the Civil War have added many other wrecks to the coastal floor.

Of all the old wrecks in and around Mobile Bay waiting to be rediscovered and salvaged, the Bellone is the richest. Could you be the one to uncover this colonial fortune?

The area of northern Alabama that encompasses Huntsville and its environs falls within the Cumberland Plateau that gently rises in central Alabama. The basic rock is Mississippi limestone. This type of material is not noted for its beauty, particularly for those interested in lapidary work. However, for the mineral collector, there are some interesting crystals available.

Dolomite, a calcium magnesium carbonate, has saddle-shaped crystals with a pearly luster and has been found in pink, white, and gray colors.

Limestone containing calcite and fluorite crystals has been found in different areas. Also, celestite has been found, and the different rocks make good conversation pieces.

On the northern bank of the Tennessee River, near Muscle Shoals, Alabama, lies a hidden limestone cavern containing an incredible multi-million dollar fortune in gold, silver, and jewels. Known as the Spanish treasure cache of Red Bone Cave, the history of this great lost wealth goes back to around 1540, the time of Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto’s march into the New World.

In 1538, Charles V of Spain had given De Soto permission to conquer Florida at his own expense. The Spanish explorers sailed with a richly equipped company of 600 men, 24 ecclesiastics, and 20 officers. The expedition landed at the Bay of Espiritu Santo, now Tampa Bay, and the Spaniards first marched north as far as the Carolinas.

Here, legend has it, De Soto and his men came upon the sacred mountain city of the Cherokees. The Indians were hostile, but the Spaniards subdued them, took their gold and other treasures, and pushed on westward to Alabama, then back through Tennessee to Alabama.

Since fall was over and cold weather was coming on, the Spaniards began constructing a winter camp. Chickasaw Indians who lived on the south side of the Tennessee River proved friendly until spring came. At that time, De Soto, breaking camp for a trek into Mississippi, arrogantly demanded that the Chickasaw chief furnish several hundred pretty maidens to accompany the Spanish expedition.

This high-handed request was an indignity the Indians could not ignore, and a night-time attack on De Soto’s camp resulted. The Spaniards, taken by surprise, were forced to flee. In doing so, the great treasure they had taken from the Cherokees was left behind. In his retreat, De Soto’s guides led him into swamps and trackless forests, where many of his men perished.

Turning south along the river, he headed toward the Gulf of Mexico but never made it. At a place called Chickasaw Bluffs, he was seized with fever and died. Fearing the hostile Indians would find his grave and mutilate his body. His men buried him in the Mississippi River. Only a handful of the remaining expedition ever reached the Spanish settlements on the Gulf.

Once the Spaniards had been driven away, the Chickasaw chief had some of his braves take the discarded treasure to a point on the north bank of the Tennessee River, where there were large limestone caverns. In one of these, the treasure was concealed.

For 180 years, the story of the great treasure in the river cave was handed down from one Indian chief to another. All but forgotten otherwise, the treasure site lay undisturbed until 1720.

Then, one day in the summer of that year, a tall and handsome white trapper appeared at the Chickasaw village. A friendly man, he asked permission from the chief to trap game on tribal lands. Impressed by this act, the chief readily agreed. However, this wasn’t the only reason for the chief’s ready acquiescence.

He had only one child, a beautiful daughter. He had been trying to marry her for some time since he needed a grandson to succeed him. The girl, however, would have none of the braves brought before her for approval. But once she laid eyes on the handsome trapper, she lost no time letting her father know he was the man she wanted.

Unaware of what was going on and unmindful of the fact that the chief’s daughter was watching him constantly, the trapper accepted the quarters offered by the chief and quietly went about his trapping business.

A month passed, and one night he was awakened by two braves. Before he could fully awaken from a deep sleep, he found his hands tied. He resisted, but when the Indians softly told him they meant to do him no harm, he let himself be blindfolded.

He was led through the cool, dark forest all that night and the following day. Several times the group rested, he was given something to eat and drink. On one of the occasions, the blindfold slipped from one eye, and before the Indians could readjust it, he managed to see a river and white cliffs. Since he had been up and down the river many times, he thought he recognized the area which lay many miles from the Indian village.

Shortly afterward, he was led into a canoe, and the party moved across the river. Alighting, they went up an embankment. Then the ground began to slope downward, and he felt sand under his feet. From the change in the air, he knew they had entered a large cavern.

At this point, the Indians told him to walk stooped so as not to hit his head on low-hanging rocks. On several occasions, he heard the sound of bat or bird wings near his head and instinctively ducked.

After a while, the party stopped, and the trapper’s hands were untied and the blindfold removed. Frightened and confused, he rubbed his eyes and wrists. Two Indians held torches to dispel the darkness, and, to his amazement, he saw that one of them was the Chickasaw chief himself, while the other was the tribal medicine man. Then he looked around the cave.

Stacks of gold and silver bars reached from the cavern floor to its ceiling while rotted chests spilled jewels and other objects across the floor. The trapper could only shake his head in wonder. Where had all this wealth come from?

He listened with open mouth as the old chief told him the story of the Spaniard De Soto and how the Chickasaw tribe had gotten the treasure many moons ago. But after being hidden for all these years, the trapper wondered why it was now being shown to him.

It was simple, explained the chief. If the trapper would marry the chief’s daughter, all of the treasure he now saw would be given to him. And if he didn’t want to marry the daughter, what then?
The old chief sadly shrugged. Since the trapper had been blindfolded and didn’t know where the treasure cave was, he would be allowed to leave in peace.

While the chief was talking, the trapper was doing some quick figuring. All of this wealth would be his if he married the daughter, but if he had to live in the wilderness with the Indians, he might not have it. If he refused to marry the daughter, he would be allowed to leave unharmed. The old chief had said so, and he believed him.

Trying to hide his anticipation, the trapper told the chief that he would have to think about his decision for a few days. Since he already had a wife and family in one of the white settlements, he lied and couldn’t make up his mind that quickly.

The trapper was blindfolded again, and the return trip was accomplished until the three men were again in the great forest near the Indian village. The old chief was tired, so the men made camp for the night.

Later, as the two Indians lay sleeping, the trapper killed them and threw their bodies into the nearby river. Thus, he made certain that he could leave the area. The next morning, he departed and soon showed up at Fort Rosalie, where he enlisted the aid of a friend to recover the treasure.

Hiding in caves by day and looking at night, the two men spent several months searching. Finally, the friend grew disgusted and returned to the settlements, where he later died of yellow fever.

Alone now, the trapper took a chance and returned to the village of the Chickasaw. To his surprise, he was greeted warmly and heard nothing about the two men he had killed. No one had ever known about their taking him to the treasure cave. This was just what he had counted on.

Searching out the old chief’s daughter, the trapper told her that he wanted to marry her and did so. In a roundabout way, he soon discovered that she only knew her father had disappeared. It was apparent that she knew nothing of the treasure cave, nor did any other member of the tribe seem to.

Under the guise of trapping trips, the trapper continued his search for Red Bone Cave. But, try as he might, he could never find the right place.

In 1729, the trapper’s wife died, and he returned to Fort Rosalie. But the place lay in ruins; the Natchez Indians had massacred the settlers. As the years passed and he grew older, he would sometimes tell the riverboat men at Natchez-under-the-Hill about the lost treasure cave. Maybe in time, some lucky treasure hunter will find this lost cave and the multi-millions still hiding there.

Scroll to Top