Connecticut has a wealth of interest for the treasure hunter. Its many villages of old houses and churches, rivers, lakes and modern city parks all present a varied number of treasure and metal detector sites for the interested person.
Nearly every known mineral has been found in Connecticut, and the exploitation of its mineral wealth dates back to Colonial times. Gold, feldspar, platinum, silver, copper, garnets, mica, nickel, and iron have been mined.
These activities have naturally created treasure stories that appeal to the treasure hunter. But any treasure story, like history, has many interpreters. These locations are as accurate as research will allow.
For the rock hound, Connecticut has several interesting sites.
One of the best things about collecting in pegmatite deposits is that even if you don’t locate the specific mineral you had set out to find, you’re still fairly certain to come away with something worthwhile.
Pegmatites are those mineralogical factories where cooling igneous intrusions often result in a crystallization found in a few other geological formations.
Of course, not all pegmatite deposits are treasure houses of fine crystals and rare minerals. However, most offer enough variety to make any rock hound smile. Pegmatites are especially welcome in the Northeast, where collecting sites are quickly depleted or closed.
Such a smile-producing pegmatite can be found in a railroad cut adjacent to the Thomaston Dam in eastern Connecticut. And though it has been a popular place with collectors ever since the dam was constructed in the late 1950s, the site still produces interesting fluorite, galena, and heulandite specimens.
And these are only three of the more than three dozen minerals, ranging from actinolite to wurtzite, that reportedly occur in the high walls of pegmatite and mica schist.
From the town of Thomaston, Connecticut, take Route 222 north to Hill Road. Turn right, east onto Hill Road, passing over the Naugatuck River. You will see the dam on your left. Continue along this road as it curves to the left, passing the Thomaston Dam recreational area, where picnic tables with fireplaces, water, and restrooms are available free of charge.
The railroad cut is across the dam from the picnic area.
It is appropriate that the Cinque Quarry is located in East Haven, for this Connecticut collecting site has been a haven to rock hounds for many years. And like most trap rock quarries, the Cinque offers a variety of minerals so that even if a collector doesn’t find any of the amethyst which once made the site so popular, he still won’t go home empty-handed.
This is not to say that the amethyst has been exhausted at the Cinque Quarry. It is just not as abundant as it once was, partly because no blasting has been done there in years.
However, only recently were some small but showy specimens of these singly terminated, purple crystals recovered from a vein in the northern wall, the best spot to look for amethysts at the Cinque.
Perfect garnet crystals have been found on farms along the Housatonic River in Fairfield County. Permission to search has to be obtained in this area.
A legend of a vast deposit of lead persists in the history of Harwinton in Litchfield County. Lead Mine Brook is mentioned in the town’s records as early as 1732. The story goes that Joseph Merriman took the lead for bullets from the stream’s bed but, on his return, was unable to find the original deposit.
During the Revolutionary War, three ministers organized a search party of several hundred men, and although they hunted for this lost lead deposit for three days, they were unsuccessful. From 1812 to 1817, several scientists visited the area and continued to search without success.
Placer gold and some wire gold have been found in the following locations: Ansonia, Bristol, Cheshire, Cobalt, East Hampton, Litchfield, Middletown, Monroe, Montville, Newtown, North Stonington, Ridgefield, Sandy Hook, Southburg, West Haven, and Woodbury.
There is supposed to be a lost gold mine near New Haven. Three Italians worked on this deposit for a few years. They returned to Italy in 1900, and all three died there. The gold mine has never been relocated.
A little-known site for rock hounds is in Middlesex County.
Near Higganum is a place known as the Quarry, where a wide variety of minerals have been found and at various times have been used commercially. There is also a reputed lost lead mine in the vicinity.
Another gem site is Strickland Quarry. It contains the greatest variety of minerals to be found in any one place in Connecticut. This pit has for years been a mecca for rock hounds who have found garnets, beryl, quartz, and many other mineral specimens.
Many beryte crystals can still be found in the overgrown mine dumps of the old Jinny Hill Darytes Mine near Cheshire in New Haven County. Perfect white specimens found here have been placed in several museums.
When the American privateer Defense struck Goshen Reef and sank, off Waterford, Connecticut, on March 10, 1779, it started a search for $500,000 in the treasure, which has not been found to this day. That reef is now known as Bartlett’s Reef.
The Defense was one of thirteen privateers commissioned by the Colony of Connecticut during the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, not one of the thirteen survived the conflict.
Originally, the activities of the Defense were confined to the waters off Long Island and Connecticut. Later, under Captain Smedley, the ship ranged from Newfoundland to the West Indies.
During the winter of 1778-79, the Defense was at anchor at New London for repairs. Then in March, the British suddenly increased activity in the Long Island area. Consequently, Captain Smedley was given sudden orders to sail there to ascertain what the enemy was up to. Most of the crew had gone home, and Captain Smedley had hardly enough seamen to handle the boat properly.
On March 10, Captain Smedley encountered a superior force of British vessels. To evade capture and return to New London harbor under cover of the forts, he cut across what was then known as Goshen Reef, off Waterford. The pilot miscalculated the depth of the water at this point.
As a result, the bottom was ripped from the Defense, and the ship sank rapidly. Reputedly, there was approximately $500,000 in loot still on board, prizes from earlier conquest of British shipping. There is no account of its ever having been recovered.
On a reef just off New London Harbor, the Spanish frigate San Jose broke up with a cargo valued at 400,000 pesos, including 40 chests of silver pieces-of-eight and one chest of gold doubloons and pistols. It remains there, awaiting the hunter who will bring this treasure into the light of day again.
J. O. Maloney hid his money well. The currency he hid was found, but the gold and silver coins remain hidden near Morris, Connecticut.
Maloney, an old and very secretive recluse, died in 1887. It was known that he possessed large sums of money in the form of paper currency and gold and silver coins. After he died, many attempts were made to locate the money, for no trace was found in his house near Morris.
It was assumed that he had hidden his savings somewhere on his property. Many people searched for the old miser’s wealth, but each search failed. Some of his savings, however, were finally found by accident.
Two men hunting squirrels in October 1887, near the old man’s house, wounded a gray squirrel.
The injured animal managed to crawl to its nest, a box wedged between the branches of a tree. One of the hunters climbed the tree and found the squirrel dead in the box.
As he removed the squirrel, the man suddenly noted the padding in its nest. On closer examination, he discovered that the padding had once been paper banknotes.
The squirrels had chewed up the paper money to improve the insulation and comfort of their home. The shredded bills were examined by experts, who declared that their original value could not have been less than $5000.
It seems likely that Maloney placed the currency in a well-sealed box and hid it above ground in the tree to prevent deterioration from moisture in the wet soil. Squirrels, who have no difficulty cracking hickory nuts with their teeth, found it easy to enter the box and use the expensive insulation and bedding they found.
The silver and gold coins probably were buried. Since no one ever admitted finding them, they may still be on the property owned by J. O. Maloney near Morris, Connecticut, in 1887.
A few miles south of Hartford is the reputed burial site of a pirate treasure. There is a well-authenticated story that Captain William Kidd buried two chests of gold, silver, and jewels somewhere in the area.
His sloop has been anchored off Oyster Bay on Long Island for a while.
He slipped the hook one night, sailed to the mouth of the Connecticut River, and continued upstream. On a small peninsula jutting into the river near what is now the town of Weatherford on the west bank and the town of Naubuc on the east bank, Kidd went ashore. He selected a hillside and buried the chests.
Kidd then returned to Oyster Bay. His wife and a lawyer, James Emmot, whom he had sent for, came on board. On Emmot’s promise to defend him against piracy charges, Kidd agreed to surrender in Boston. He was initially allowed his freedom, but on July 6, 1699, he was arrested and confined in chains. Kidd was then sent to London for trial and subsequently hanged.
Kidd had told Emmot where the chests were buried and asked him to dig them up for the benefit of his wife. However, Emmot waited until after Kidd’s execution before trying to recover the treasure. He then found the markers but not the treasure. Thinking that Kidd had double-crossed him, Emmot revealed the secret location before his death.
Narrowing the search area enough so that metal detectors could be used hinges on careful research. The area was practically wilderness in 1699, with no towns or settlements, just primeval forests reaching the water’s edge. Moreover, the river has changed course many times since Kidd died.
On May 6, 1853, a New Haven Railroad train headed for Boston raced blindly around a sharp bend and shot through an open drawbridge outside Norwalk, Conn. It was the single worst American railroad disaster up to that time and instantly garnered the appropriate sobriquet “Norwalk Horror.” Lost amid the smoking, splintered rubble were the lives of 46 people and a fortune in fine jewelry worth a quarter of a million dollars.
Thaddeus Birke, a jeweler from New York City, died on that ill-fated journey. An Englishman, he had arrived in the United States only two months earlier. He opened a shop as an independent importer-salesman-distributor for London’s Tawny Gems, Limited. The firm supplied him with exquisite jewelry from France, Bavaria, and their manufacture in England.
Doing business for so short a time, he hadn’t built up a reliable clientele among the East’s wealthy, so he was naturally beside himself with glee when the invitation arrived at April’s end. He bragged about it incessantly to his few friends and colleagues, and they all admitted that it was an extraordinary opportunity.
Shipping magnate Nigel Massey was preparing a birthday party for his wife, Regina, at their Boston estate, and Birke was asked to attend both as a guest and a jewelry dealer. Massey considered buying several expensive pieces for his wife. The jeweler was encouraged to bring a wide assortment of samples for Massey, or any other interested guests, to choose from.
Two days before the lavish affair, Birke carefully packed away dozens of his finest specimens into two stout, leather-covered hardwood trunks. Heavy gold bracelets, earrings, and finger bands were all studded with precious and semi-precious stones.
Large brooches and pins of delicate filigreed gold were mounted with pearls and diamonds, with necklaces to match. His two prized samples were both pendants. On one, a 30-carat teardrop diamond dangled from a narrow 18-inch silver chain, while on the other was suspended an oval slab of emerald.
Altogether, Birke packed over $50,000 in exotic jewelry, convinced he would sell it all. Lastly, he packed a single change of clothes into a small satchel.
He boarded the New Haven train for Boston early the next morning, taking an entire seat in the first passenger coach for himself and his precious luggage. The train rumbled from New York’s station and headed northeast toward New Haven, Connecticut.
At about 10:15 AM, the steamboat Pacific churned toward the closed railway drawbridge stretching across the Norwalk River, not three hundred yards from the South Norwalk Depot. The bridge tender lowered the basketball-sized red sphere to alert any oncoming trains well in advance. Then he activated the bridge, swinging the long central span horizontally to parallel the river flow.
Just as the tender prepared to close the bridge, the train thundered around the curve toward the opening. The engine crew leaped from the doomed train only seconds before it launched across the chasm.
The engine catapulted from the bank with such speed that it hurtled across the channel and slammed into the wide rock-and-concrete bridge pillar before tumbling into the river below. It was plummeting headlong after it came the tender, two mail cars, the baggage car, the passenger coach carrying Birke and his jewels, and one more passenger car.
The stacked debris was cleared from the channel, but most of the baggage and smaller chunks of wreckage were strewn through the river’s depths, never recovered. Birke’s twin trunks of bejeweled treasure were never found, a fortune today worth five times its original value of $50,000, to approximately $250,000.
On a night during the American Revolution, a heavy guard of General George Washington’s Continental Army, escorting 13 well-laden wagons, pulled up before the tavern of Captain Lemuel Bates in East Branby, Connecticut. The guard’s leader dismounted and entered the tavern to arrange food and lodging for the night.
Meanwhile, the soldiers kept curious townspeople at a respectful distance from the wagons. The reason for this precaution was understandable; the wagons contained several millions of dollars in gold specie that had recently been borrowed from France.
The coins were in strong plank boxes, tightly secured.
The soldiers were bound from Boston to Philadelphia, the site of the Continental Congress, with the treasure. Bates’ tavern was considered a safe place for an overnight stop in the Tory-infested area since the owner had served in several war battles and was regarded as a trustworthy patriot.
A guard was posted to watch the wagon train during the night, but a strong band of Tories overpowered the sentries and drove the treasure train off into the darkness. The teams and wagons were found a short time later, not far from Bates’ tavern. But the plank boxes filled with gold coins had disappeared without a trace.
The fact that the empty wagons were recovered in the vicinity of the tavern itself led to the belief that the gold must have been hidden within a short radius of the spot. After all, how could 13 wagonloads of treasure chests be spirited away so quickly and without a clue left behind?
Incredibly enough, no trace of the gold has ever been found, so far as is known.
The strongest indication of the whereabouts of this treasure came later from a noted Tory and convicted thief, Henry Wooster, who claimed to have a fortune secreted in East Granby, the site of the theft.
Wooster and six other Tories first came to the attention of authorities when they were arrested after robbing the home of Captain Ebenezer Dayton, on the night of March 14, 1780, in the town of Bethany. They made off with the money and valuables amounting to more than 5000 pounds.
The freedom of the Tory group was short-lived; however, patriot soldiers captured them in the shadow of the British lines on Long Island. They were returned to Connecticut and tried. The leader, a renegade named Alexander Graham, was hanged, with Wooster and the others being sentenced to Newgate Prison for four years. Newgate was located only a short distance from Bates’ tavern.
Shortly after Wooster was confined to Newgate, he made a key that would unlock his fetters in the cavern at night. The prison consisted of caverns dug into an old copper mine that had been abandoned. Each morning he would replace the fetters before being put to work.
One of Wooster’s first actions was to do a thorough search for the caverns at night to ascertain whether there was a possible means of escape. He eventually discovered a drain that was used to discharge water that had been collected in the mine.
After the mine had been converted into a prison, this drain had been filled with stone and mortar, leaving only a narrow channel protected by iron bars. Wooster concealed fragments of nail rods in his clothing and carried these below.
With these crude tools, he picked out bits of mortar, little by little, until the bars were loosened enough to permit their removal. Finally, one night, he made his escape and fled across the country to the coast near New London, where he boarded an English ship and enlisted in the British service.
After the war, Wooster was reported as writing that he had buried a treasure near East Granby and that he intended to return from England to recover it.
Did Wooster return to East Granby, possibly to the prison caverns, where he may have hidden the gold the night it was stolen, and recover it? Perhaps someday, a treasure hunter will unlock the secret.
For those interested in treasure that has been found, with the possibility of more still there, these sites in Connecticut could pay to be checked further.
For more than a century and a half, legends telling of Captain Kidd and other pirates burying treasure on Pilot and Goose Islands have been circulated. It is doubtful whether pirates buried treasure on Goose Island, but they certainly did on Pilot Island.
While walking among the dunes, Norwalk River steamboat pilot Captain Joseph Merrill found an unspecified number of gold coins on Pilot Island. Merrill did not make the amount known. It is unknown if he found any other treasure, such as jewels.
There have been rumors of more pirate caches being found in recent years, but so far, I have not been able to track them down.
Connecticut is not usually associated with Spanish galleons, but a strange episode of lost Spanish treasure and Colonial knavery took place in New London, beginning in 1752.
It all started when the Santa Elena y Señor San Joseph set sail from Honduras, bound for Spain with a cargo valued at more than $400,000, including a chest of gold, 40 chests of silver, 562 bags of indigo, and other valuable cargo.
As the ship was familiarly known, the Joseph sprang a leak and was in serious trouble off the coast of Cuba. Captain de Urannaga rapidly hoisted a distress signal and ordered the crew to man the pumps. The signal was spied by Captain John Simson of the brigantine Susannah, out of New London.
Simson and de Urannaga agreed that the Joseph was too badly damaged to attempt an Atlantic crossing, so the Spaniard decided to accompany the Susannah to New London for repairs.
Approaching the Connecticut coast on November 24, 1752, Captain Simson volunteered one of his officers, Daniel Vosper, to pilot the Joseph into port. Despite Vosper’s reputation as an excellent pilot, he ran Joseph onto the rocks. Meanwhile, another smaller vessel under the command of Captain James Gardner approached from New London.
For some unexplained reason, Simson transferred to Gardner’s craft, and Gardner then offered to free the Spanish ship from the rocks and sail her into port. De Urannaga willingly agreed to this new arrangement to save his ship and its cargo. However, Gardner proved to be no better a pilot than Vosper, for he, too, ran the Joseph onto another reef, causing even more damage to the hull.
At this time, Andrew McKenzie, owner of the Susannah, came out from New London and offered to transport Joseph’s valuable cargo into port aboard his vessel. This offer was rejected by Joseph Miguel de San Juan, who was charged with Joseph’s cargo security. By this time, San Juan suspected the New Englanders of invading the Spanish ship to secure salvage rights.
Night fell, and angry waves began to pound Joseph like many raging friends. Meanwhile, Susannah stood by, waiting for Joseph to disintegrate. Then suddenly, out of the darkness, a schooner appeared, commanded by Captain Richard Durfey. He, in turn, offered to transport the Spaniard’s cargo to shore. San Juan consented. Just as the agreement concluded, McKenzie boarded the Joseph and presented another strong argument for placing the cargo aboard the Susannah.
Finally, all the money was transferred to Durfey’s schooner, and McKenzie and San Juan went aboard to guard it. The next day, high tides raised the severely damaged Joseph off the rocks, and the ship was towed into New London Harbor.
The word that a ship had docked bearing a fortune in doubloons and pieces of eight spread rapidly through town. A mob gathered at the wharf in less than an hour and threatened to seize the treasure. Fortunately, Gordon Saltonstall, assistant to Governor Roger Wolcott, appeared on the scene with a strong band of armed deputies, seized the cargo, and placed it in a warehouse under guard for safekeeping.
Instead of San Juan’s problems being solved, they were now compounded. Claims and counter-claims for indemnity were filed by everyone who had any connection with the rescue. Judge Lewis Morris, Vice-Admiralty Magistrate for New York, was summoned to hear the case. This resulted in Captain Simson’s being awarded 23,000 pieces of eight over San Juan’s violent objections. Durfey was awarded a lesser amount.
Since Joseph was no longer seaworthy, San Juan leased another ship, the Nebuchadnezzar, to transport his valuable cargo to Spain. As sailors were carrying the chest supposedly containing gold aboard the ship, it suddenly split open. Out poured rubble of stones and dirt. What a shock for the already beleaguered Spaniards! Four other chests of silver, valued at $8400, also disappeared during the loading process.
It was apparent to the authorities that the warehouse guards must have been responsible for the missing fortune. One of them finally confessed and implicated three others. All were sent to jail without revealing the whereabouts of the stolen loot. Only a few months later, they escaped prison and were never heard from again.
Finally, on January 5, 1775, San Juan took what was left of the original cargo and left New London, never to return. What happened to the gold and silver that the warehouse guards managed to steal has never been discovered.
There have been several shipwrecks along the coast of Connecticut that would be worth checking into for salvage.
The steamer Larchmont sank in 1907 off New London. Some of her cargo has been recovered by divers. Approximately $150,000 worth of cargo and ship fixtures is estimated to remain underwater.
The supply ship Onondega sank in 1918, some of her dishes and other items of value have been salvaged, but it is believed that much more remains in Long Island Sound.
Just off Old Saybrook, an unidentified sunken vessel was found, and three silver bars have been recovered. There may be more to be found.
The steamship Lexington caught fire and sank in 1840. There was $60,000 in coins aboard.
The privateer Hermione sank in 1782 with silver aboard.
An unidentified frigate was found off Savin Rock. Clam diggers found a brass cannon in 1940. There might be another one down there.
A French frigate sank off Thimbles Isles in 1875 with $20,000 in gold and brandy aboard. As far as is known, none of this has been salvaged.
A miniature submarine went to the bottom and failed to surface off Norwalk. It was the Feniam Ram, Jr., and it would be a valuable historical relic.
A site near Killingworth in Middlesex County, which is probably overlooked, and could prove to be profitable, is that of a counterfeiter named Abel Buell, who was also a silversmith. Buell was caught altering five-pound notes just before the Revolutionary War.
He was imprisoned, his ear cropped, and the letter F branded to his forehead. It is unknown whether Abel had any caches of “good money” or not. Still, since all bogus money had to be hidden until it could be passed, and since no counterfeiter in his right mind would show signs of affluence, it is possible Abel had a cache near where he did his counterfeiting. This would be a good site for further research.
Another place for local research to pay off is Canton, in Litchfield County. During the Revolution, a French paymaster stopped at Canton Inn on his way from Hartford to Saratoga with payroll for French officers. He was traced to the tavern when he failed to show up at Saratoga.
The innkeeper swore that the paymaster had left the tavern safely, but he was never seen again. It is not known what happened to the payroll or the French officer.
Here is an almost unknown location. I obtained the details from an old newspaper clipping for October 19, 1901, in Bridgeport, Connecticut:
“$101,000 was taken from the Adams Express Company at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 9, 1901, by Edward George, an employee of the company. George was arrested at a hotel in Bridgeport where he had been staying since October 12. He admits to having taken the money but refused to tell where it was hidden. George had only $400.00 on him when he was arrested.”
As seven days lapsed between the time George arrived in Bridgeport and the time he was arrested, it seems probable that the money might be hidden around the town.
Here is a treasure site that has been well authenticated through newspapers and bulletins that an interested person might like to investigate.
One day in 1858, a leather-clad figure appeared in Harwinton, Connecticut. Although he made a regular appearance over the ensuing years, it was quite sometime before the populace learned his identity and the fact that he was the owner of a large treasure.
The man’s name was Jules Bourglay, a Frenchman who had gone insane because of a crash in the leather business in France. He came to the United States and became an itinerant plumber. It wasn’t until after his death in 1889 that it was learned that he had hidden $40,000 he had inherited from his family somewhere in or near a cave he used for his home, close to Lake Saltonstall, East Haven, Connecticut.
A bulletin published by the Westchester County Historical Society in 1937 states, “The source of the Leatherman’s (this was the nickname given to Jules Bourglay because he always dressed in a suit made of leather) money was always a matter of great mystery and speculation. Time after time, he refused to take any money for his work and always seemed to have plenty of it when he needed it.”
Although it has been searched for, this cache has never been reported found.
Admittedly, ghost and near ghost towns are rarities in Connecticut, but the following brief list should be interesting to Eastern “ghost-towners.”
Fairfield County-Little York, a ghost town, was the scene of considerable activity when the mills were busy. Today, only one house remains. Southville is the same as a ghost town today. It was once a prosperous village where hats and paper were manufactured. A few rickety houses remain, and only the foundations of the mill sites can be seen.
Hartford County-Cotton Hollow, a ghost town, had several inhabitants and a store or two. Today it has reverted to wilderness.
Litchfield County-North of Cornwall Hollow is a ghost town now a wilderness. Most of the farms in the area have been bought by the Hollenbeck Country Club. There are dozens of tumbledown houses and sagging fence rows in this preserve which nature is reclaiming as its own.
Greystone, a nearby ghost town, is an almost deserted former manufacturing village. Burrville is today a nearby ghost town. It was once a foundry village, but today it is only a small settlement around an old brick tavern. Ore Hill, now a ghost town, was once an iron-producing town.
Today, it is an abandoned cluster of weather-beaten cabins and iron pits. Mt. Riga, another ghost town, was once a large iron-producing town. When the forges closed in 1847, the people left for other areas.
Middlesex County-Millington Green, a near ghost town on the Eight Mile River, was once a thriving lumber center.
New Haven County-North Guilford, a near ghost town, was once a busy little village. Many of the old roads are now closed, and several houses are deserted, with only the cellars remaining of others. Cheshire Street is now a ghost town. It was once a thriving village, but today is a settlement of deserted houses.
New London County-Poguetanuck is a nearby ghost town located on the shores of Poguetanuck Cove, with a single street and a few old houses that still retain affluence from the bygone days of the town’s thriving maritime industry.
Old Mystic, a nearby ghost town, is located at the head of navigation on the Mystic River. It was once a busy trade and shipping center, but today it is a quiet, almost forgotten village.
Voluntown, a nearby ghost town, was once active in manufacturing thread. Only one small silk braid factory remains open today, and the village has become an isolated countryside community.
Allyn’s Point was once an important shipping center before the railroad was built. Nothing remains but coal docks to indicate a town was ever there.
Tolland County-Wells Woods, a ghost town, was once a thriving village, but today, it is a place of old houses crumbling on the foundations of huge granite blocks. Merrow, a near ghost town, is only a group of scattered houses on the site of a once-prosperous manufacturing community.
Hazardville, another nearby ghost town, is a village crossroads where old mills show signs of past industrial activity. Little remains today of the once-flourishing mill industry.
Windham County-Elliottsville is a nearby ghost town.
In 1974, when he was 84 years old, Pasquale Stellato sold his home in Hartford and moved to New Haven. Stellato had lost considerable money when the banks failed in 1929, and this experience taught him to distrust banks.
When Stellato died, his family could not find a large amount of money he was known to possess. When the house in New Haven was demolished in 1980, over $60,000 was found in his basement, wrapped in tinfoil rolls. Local belief is that Stellato had a much larger sum hidden somewhere else on his property.
In 1758, the people living in Windham fled because of a French and Indian raid. Several of the residents had hidden their valuables in some manner before leaving.
However, the town was destroyed, and most caches were never found. This is a good site for local research through old plat maps.
When Francis “Machine Gun” Kalakowski was killed by F. B. I. agents in 1957, the $66,500 he had taken in the robbery of the Hartford Screw Factory a week before was never found.
It was known that Kalakowski did not leave town and hid at his sister’s home, where he was killed.
Police and newspaper reports could help on this one.
This site (since I have very little information concerning it) I leave for the interested treasure hunter to research. Near Hampton, in Windham County, there is a rock ledge where various markings are carved into the rock, which is supposed to indicate the site of a fabulous treasure buried by Blackbeard, the pirate.
Stories that Captain Kidd and other pirates buried treasure on Pilot and Goose Islands off the coast of Connecticut have persisted for many years. There could be some truth to these legends.
Sometime during the 1850s (the exact date is unknown), steamboat captain Joseph Merrill found a cache of pirate gold coins at the entrance to the western channel of Pilot Island. It could pay a treasure hunter with a metal detector to check this island further.
For those interested in searching Civil War camps in Connecticut, the Second Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery, originally known as the Nineteenth Connecticut Volunteers, was assembled at Camp Dutton on Chestnut Hill, south of Litchfield, Connecticut.
The site is off Highway 63, along Camp Dutton Road.
In the early 1970s, a treasure hunter searching around the ruins of several old buildings in Salisbury discovered many rare Revolutionary War coins, pewter, silverware, and other artifacts worth $20,000. There could be more that hasn’t been found.
In 1732, a frontiersman was said to have found a lead deposit in the area of Harwinton. He returned to town with enough to make some rifle shot and bragged about his discovery, but when he tried to return to the site, he became confused and could never relocate the vein.
In the early 1800s, a Spaniard named DeGrau searched for a lost cave supposedly containing a huge fortune in silver in the rocky area known as Hell’s Half Acre outside of Bristol. He claimed that his father and a group of Spaniards had found a rich vein of silver and melted the ore into bars, hiding them in a cave for later recovery. He finally disappeared without finding the cave.
The following explains the laws governing the use of metal detectors in Connecticut as of 1980.
“Dear Mr. Henson:
This is in reply to your letter of May 23, addressed to the office of the Secretary of State, regarding the use of electronic metal detectors as it applies to state lands of the State of Connecticut-Department of Environmental Protection. Enclosed please find a copy of the directive which we use as a guideline for this activity. Very truly yours, William F. Miller, Chief, Parks and Recreation Unit. The use of metal detection devices is permitted on land under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Protection under the following conditions:
(1) the activity shall be limited to surface collection except at beach areas where digging is permitted in sand areas devoid of vegetation. All holes dug must be immediately refilled before the collector moves away.
(2) Use at a swimming beach shall be limited to times of no swimmer use or at staff discretion.
(3) The collector may retain articles found, except items of a personal nature such as jewelry and watches, which must be turned in to the manager in charge. Any materials the collector does not wish to retain shall be placed in a waste receptacle.
(4) No specific permit is required at this time.
(5) Staff may close any area to this activity for purpose of maintaining visitor safety and/or preserving significant artifact remains.”
Covered bridges are extremely good overlooked treasure sites. They served as a meeting place for elections, posse gatherings, wolf-hunting parties, vigilante meetings, and social events. Circus groups, medicine, and minstrel shows, and other touring entertainers sometimes performed in the covered bridges and on apron approaches.
The community gathered to frolic near the entertainment, and wherever people gathered, there were lost coins, shoe buckles, religious medallions, knives, and other personal items.
Wooden-covered bridges were also used for illegal boxing matches that drew large crowds, where coins in betting were exchanged from hand to hand. The apron approaches to these bridges are where the milling crowd left their lost or dropped coins.
Different forms of gambling took place beneath the coverings of the wooden bridges, often lasting for weeks on end. Fights broke out between the winners and losers, with the winners burying their sacks of gold coins near the apron approaches for fear of being waylaid while they traveled to their community. Many lost their lives and never returned for the coins, which remain where they were buried and await today’s searchers.
Highway robbers had the same problem when they grabbed their loot. Posses gave chase, and the robber was forced to bury the loot near the scene of the robbery, often close to the escape route over many of the wooden covered bridge aprons.
A bridge served as more than a way to cross a river. It was home to Yankee peddlers, beggars, vagabonds, and traveling merchants who served the area’s public. These people lost various belongings as they lolled in and around these bridges. Such lost items range from early Colonial days right up to the present.
Covered bridges were used as holding pens for local farmers’ animals during auctions on the apron. Politicians held their rallies at the entrance to bridges. This drew people, and people lost things; these items are still waiting for your metal detector to locate.
Soldiers marched and trained on the aprons and beneath the abutments for cover from the elements. Many personal items became lost and today lie where they fell, just a few inches below the surface.
Connecticut has three wooden covered bridges, one of which spans the Housatonic River near Kent, just off Rt. 7. It is named Bull’s Bridge. A second bridge also spans the Housatonic River at Cornwall on Rt. 128, and is painted a beautiful barn-red color.
The third is located between the town of Westchester and East Hampton, which spans the Salmon River just off Rt. 16. At one time, Connecticut had several dozen old structures. To learn where they were located, write Connecticut Department of Tourism, 210 Washington St., Hartford, CT 06106.