Although Delaware does not have the number of land treasures that most states do, it does rank high in the number of underwater sites.
The location of Delaware is the key to its history. Delaware Bay is the refuge that sailors have sought since 1609. This accounts, in part, for the dozens of shipwrecks along the Delaware coast.
In October 1837, Boston citizens spilled their tea cups in shock as they read in the Boston Times that $60,000 to $120,000 in gold specie had been stolen off the packet ship Susquehanna.
Within a short time of the robbery, the ship loaded with the stolen gold vanished, and it is believed to have gone down with its rich haul near the mouth of the Delaware River. No trace of the treasure has ever been found.
The Susquehanna was bound for Liverpool from Philadelphia that brisk October afternoon. At 2 o’clock, near Five Fathom Bank off the Delaware capes, a freshly painted black clipper fore-topsail schooner sailed close to the packet ship.
Suddenly, grappling lines were thrown, and more than a dozen heavily-armed pirates swarmed aboard the Susquehanna. They had loaded the gold cargo aboard their vessel within ten minutes and set wail. The schooner had sailed a short distance when it mysteriously vanished for all time, apparently going to the bottom with its rich cargo.
Many ships were in the area at the time of the robbery, and many persons witnessed it. Among these were James M. West and Edward Maul of the pilot boat Mary Ann, which gave chase.
Word was rushed to Milford and Newcastle, where armed ships immediately came to sea to head off the pirates. A fleet of Navy vessels joined them. But by then, the black schooner had disappeared with its stolen treasure and was never seen or heard from again.
This treasure site in Delaware is almost certainly unknown. It comes from an old undated newspaper clipping.
In 1843, a man came to Newark, Delaware, and rented a farmhouse about five miles south of town. He never worked and spent all his time searching for a symbol or carving supposedly cut into a large rock somewhere in the area. After several months of unsuccessful searching, the man, who gave his name only as Thomas, confided to a nearby farmer when he was trying to find him.
According to an old parchment map with directions that Thomas had somehow obtained, he never explained how a pirate treasure was supposed to be in the area. The directions called for a large rock with an anchor and cable carved into it. The cable pointed toward the treasure site.
This cache had been made in 1728 by a pirate named William Neub after a pirate foray in which considerable loot had been acquired and the money and jewels divided by the ship’s crew. Neub realized that sooner or later, the pirates would be caught and hanged or killed in a robbery attempt. Thinking that he would be safe and maybe enjoy a full life, Neub left his pirate friends and traveled inland.
Since he wasn’t known too well, and people in the lesser settled farm country did not ask questions, Neub thought he would be safe. All went well until farmers began to notice that Neub could not ride a horse and did not seem interested in farming, although he always had plenty of money.
Finally, while visiting New Castle, a suspicious farmer told authorities about the stranger. At this time, anyone suspected of being or having been a pirate was given a quick trial and hanged.
One of the few friends Neub had made tipped him off to what the farmer had done. Knowing he would be hanged if caught, Neub prepared to leave the country. Realizing he could take but very little of his pirate gains with him because if he were stopped with a large amount of money, he would be hanged for sure; Neub buried several thousand dollars on the farm.
Since he had been a sailor, he used an anchor and cable carving as a marker and cut into a large rock. Neub got away safely but was never able to return to the farm.
Thomas left after failing to find the symbols. There could be some truth in this old story. I quote a letter written to the Board of Trade in London by Nicholas Webb of New Castle, Delaware, in 1699: “Many pirates have recently arrived in New Castle with riches from Madagascar, and their booty is astonishing.”
It is also recorded that Captain Kidd, Blackbeard, and other pirates were familiar with Delaware waters. Coins of the period have been found along the beaches, lending further credence to the story of William Neub.
A site in Delaware that could be worthwhile for relic hunters to check out is Fort Delaware. This gray stone structure was built just after the War of 1812 on Pea Patch Island off Delaware City.
The fort became notorious during the Civil War as a prisoner-of-war camp. Frame barracks were built on the island, which housed over 12,000 Southern prisoners.
During the last 190 years, so many coins have been found on the beach near Lewes, Delaware, that the area has been nicknamed “Coin Beach.” These coins are believed to have been washed ashore from the wreck of the Faithful Steward, which sank in the vicinity of 1785.
According to one old history book, it appears the ship was carrying thousands of coins, of different denominations, to America, in answer to a plea for coins to use in change since the newly formed nation had no mint of its own.
Records in Philadelphia show that shipments such as this were received from England and Ireland. Since Delaware Bay is the entrance to Philadelphia, it seems evident that this was the destination of the Faithful Steward, which sailed from Londonderry, Ireland.
The following was taken from the Londonderry Journal for November 15, 1785:
“On Thursday, September 1, 1785, the vessel Faithful Steward was bound for Philadelphia from Londonderry with 249 passengers. At the hour of ten, it was advisable to take soundings, and to their surprise, they found themselves in four fathoms of water, though at dark there was not the slightest appearance of land. Every exertion was used to run the vessel offshore, but in a few minutes she struck the ground, when it became necessary to cut away the masts. On the morning of September 2, they found themselves off Mobobos Bank, near Indian River, about four leagues to the southward of Cape Henlopen. Every effort was made to save the unhappy sufferers, who remained on deck during the night.“
“The same evening, she broke to pieces. The sea was running very high. The boats were, with difficulty, disengaged from the wreck, but before they could be manned, they drifted ashore; therefore all relief was cut off except by swimming ashore or getting ashore on pieces of the wreck, and we are sorry to add that, of the above, only 68 persons were saved. During the course of the day, the inhabitants came down to the beach and used every means in their power to relieve the unfortunate people on board, among whom were about 100 women and children, of whom only seven were saved.”
On exhibit in the Swaanendael Museum at Lewes, Delaware, are several half-pennies found on Coin Beach dated 1766, 1769, 1781, and 1782? One of these had been “clipped.” This was probably done as a gesture of rebellion against unwanted coins. It was known that coins rejected by the Irish were sent to America because of the coin shortage in the Colonies.
The following details were given to me by Msg. Joseph McDonald, USAF, Retired, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:
“The Faithful Steward went down at about 38 degrees, 44 minutes, and 40 seconds latitude. We believe it now lies at about 38 degrees, 39 minutes, and 30 seconds latitude. The depth at the original sinking was 19 feet at low tide, and at the present location it would be about 50 feet deep.”
The fact that the Delaware treasure wrecks exist was proven positively in early October 1980, when $20,000 was salvaged from a wreck in Delaware Bay.
I have a newspaper clipping from the New York Times sent to me by a treasure hunter in Maryland. It was printed in September 1967. This clipping prompted further research into the Patricia, or Patty Cannon, Treasure near Reliance, Delaware. Records in Dorchester County, Maryland, and Sussex County, Delaware, tell quite a story concerning “Fat Patty” and her activities.
About one-fourth of Reliance is in Maryland, but the two-acre tract where the tavern is supposed to have been located is in Delaware. Her tavern must have been quite large because one record says it had five fireplaces, and Patty would throw slave babies, which she considered too much trouble to try to sell, into them.
One of Patty’s first known victims of murder and robbery was Edwin Ravenal, a Virginia planter. He stopped at the tavern in 1819 to buy several slaves for his cotton plantation. Ravenal was carrying $10,000 in gold coins. After eating supper while enjoying some West Indies rum, Patty’s son-in-law, Joe Johnson, blew him into eternity with a musket from an outside window.
Patty and Johnson then carried the body to a wagon, which was taken across the Maryland state line and dumped. When the body was found, a report was issued stating, “The deceased man, Edwin Ravenal, of Rappahannock, Virginia, was murdered by person or persons unknown, who made off with his personal belongings and his horse.”
This was the first of thirty-seven murders of planters and slave dealers that would be committed by either Patty, her husband, or her son-in-law in the vicinity of the tavern during the next ten years.
The money, and occasionally an item of jewelry, taken from the victims, was buried by Patty near the tavern. Jesse Cannon disposed of the horses in Richmond and other towns in Virginia. There is no way of knowing for sure just how much loot Patty hid. The estimates range from $75,000 to $100,000; all are believed to be buried in this two-acre area.
This type of crime might have gone on longer had Patty not made the mistake of getting too friendly with Tyner Harris, a slave trader from the headwaters of the Nanticoke River. Patty looked at the buyer and decided that she would not kill him but would arrange to see him again. So she made a deal for Harris to buy four slaves for $7600 if he would return later.
Harris started for home, but Patty had not reckoned with a jealous and greedy husband. Before Harris reached the boat he had tied up on the Nanticoke River, Jesse Cannon ambushed and robbed him, and the slaves he had purchased escaped.
When Jesse returned to the tavern late that night, Johnson saw him hide a bag of gold coins in the stable and, suspecting he had killed Harris, told Patty about it. Acting as if she didn’t know about the robbery and death of Harris, Patty cooked breakfast the next morning and poisoned her husband.
As Patty and Johnson were getting ready to dispose of Jesse’s body, lawmen arrived at the tavern. Jesse, in killing Harris, had overlooked that the escaped slaves would talk when found. The slaves were found near Federalsburg and told authorities that Jesse had robbed and killed Harris and also that he had been the one who kept them prisoner at the tavern.
Patty denied everything, but Johnson broke down and confessed. Breaking into the tavern, the lawmen found five slaves chained in the attic. The slaves said that Patty had thrown their children into one of the fireplaces because they cried too much.
Their story clinched the evidence against Patty and Johnson after the lawmen found the blackened skulls and children’s bones in the fireplace’s ashes.
After taking the two prisoners to Georgetown, Delaware, they were charged with kidnapping and murder. While awaiting the investigation and trial, Patty killed herself with poison in April 1829. Joe Johnson was hanged a short time later.
Local people avoided the tavern site for several years after this. The inn was torn down in 1890, and a house was built. If all of the caches of Patty Cannon and her murdering partners were ever found, the fact has not have been made public.
There was a report in 1982 that a cache was found near Reliance, Maryland, but it is unknown if this was any of Patty Cannon’s treasure. This would be a good location to check out through local records.
While the Patty Cannon treasure story is well-known, and a few small caches have been found in the area, it is almost certain that the major part of the money has not been found.
The area known as the “Wedge” about 60 years ago was where Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware met. These 800 acres were a no man’s land, claimed by Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Bootleggers, gamblers, moonshiners, etc., all took advantage of the absence of enforced laws. Several stories of money and jewelry were buried from 1893 to 1921 within the “Wedge.” Here is where local research can pay off for a treasure hunter.
This “toll bowl,” or about a peck of treasure, may not seem too large until it is remembered that the coins all date to the Revolutionary War period. For hundreds of years, until packaging was started, it was a custom for millers to extract a “toll” when grinding corn or wheat for farmers. This was usually a part of a load of grain to be ground.
In 1777, a swampy, wooded area was bounded by White Clay Creek and St. George Creek, between Newark and what was known locally as Gooch’s Bridge, called Purgatory Woods. Somewhere in these woods is a large wooden bowl filled with gold and silver English coins.
Thomas Gooch operated a grist mill at Gooch’s Bridge. Many families, such as Gooch’s, owned heirlooms, like silver services, cutlery, and jewelry. These valuables were naturally hidden during times of war or Indian uprisings to keep their valuables out of the raiders’ hands.
In 1777, when Gooch heard that a company of English soldiers were marching from Elkton, Maryland, to Wilmington, Delaware, and knew that his home and mill were directly in their path, he decided to hide anything of value he owned. Since he sympathized with the Colonies, Gooch knew these soldiers would take whatever they wanted.
He filled a large chest with the family valuables, put his money into a “toll bowl,” then taking Hatfield, his slave, and a young man named John Harsook, who worked for him, along with a two-wheeled cart, Gooch headed for the woods.
The group knew their destination and never stopped until they were well within Purgatory Woods. Taking a side road, the cart and its contents soon disappeared. As darkness fell, the three men stopped, and carrying the chest and tools, they walked a few steps off the road, where they began to dig a large hole for the chest.
When the pit was deep enough, the three men pushed and pulled until the chest was inside it. They then removed all traces of their work with leaves and dead tree limbs. The slave made a large V notch onto a nearby tree to mark the spot.
About six yards from where the chest had been buried, they dug another hole for the “toll bowl” full of coins. This was also covered so that it would never be noticed. But before the slave could mark another tree, the men heard someone a few yards away coming along the road.
They quickly got into the cart, and after the person passed, they started home. So, the second tree was not marked in any way.
A few days later, Gooch left Hatfield in charge of the mill, and then he and his daughter left for Pennsylvania to wait until the war was over. As Gooch had feared, the British took over the mill as their headquarters. They used everything of value and then tried to force Hatfield to tell them the location of any valuables Gooch might have owned.
Hatfield swore he didn’t know where anything was and finally set fire to the mill. The fire spread into Purgatory Woods and destroyed most of the timber. Somehow the tree with the V carved into it escaped the fire.
When Gooch returned, he and Hatfield found the chest, but the fire had so changed the area that they could not find the buried “toll bowl” full of coins. So, somewhere not too far from the old mill site, there is a cache of coins that could pay a treasure hunter to search for.
One of the reasons this underwater site could be worthwhile is that there is a growing number of collectors of German World War II relics. Some of the most sought-after items, such as medals, log books, buttons, and weapons, belonged to the U-boat service.
These bring a high price today. There are reports that several submarines were sunk off the coast of Delaware. A check with United States Naval records might bring some of them to light.
Parts of the ship De Braak’s story are known to every East Coast treasure hunter. Several attempts to salvage this wreck have been made, and in October 1980, a group claimed to have found her, but I can learn of no further reports concerning this celebrated hulk.
This brief story of the De Braak is taken from several different sources. It began in 1777, when the Dutch built the cutter De Braak in Holland, thus accounting for the name.
It is known that the French first took the vessel, then seized it by the British in Falmouth Harbor on June 18, 1796, and then brought it to Plymouth. In Plymouth, she was put into the Royal Navy as a sloop of war under her original name and duly commissioned by Captain James Drew on June 13, 1797.
On February 8, 1798, the Admiralty issued orders giving the De Braak its mission to capture Spanish vessels carrying cargoes of wealth. In April, the De Braak was put to sea under Captain Drew’s command.
Losing no time in putting his orders into action, Drew almost immediately captured the oddly-named Spanish ship, Commerce of London, bound from La Plata to Cadiz with a cargo of gold and silver.
Then, putting into Jamaica for water, Drew was asked by British interests to take a large amount of English gold aboard for transportation to England. Drew consented, and this golden cargo was put into the De Braak’s hold.
Jamaica several other Spanish vessels were captured out of Jamaica, and their rich cargoes of gold, silver, and copper were also crammed into the De Braak’s holds.
Then, in May, the De Braak’s richest prize, the grand Spanish ship St. Francis Xavier, was taken, and her immense treasure cargo was transferred to the De Braak. Thus, heavily overloaded, the De Braak set out for the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
On May 25, 1798, the sloop had reached a point off Old Kiln Roads, about a mile from Cape James, now Cape Henlopen, and nearly opposite Lewes Town, Delaware, when she ran into a sudden storm. A sudden gust of wind, coming without warning, laid the over-laden vessel on her beam ends. She filled immediately and sank, with Captain Drew, his lieutenant, the ship’s surgeon, the purser, four midshipmen, and 32 seamen still aboard.
The rest of the ship’s company managed to escape, some in the small boats, while several more were rescued by a pilot boat and landed at Lewes. The De Braak’s cargo of treasure, which went to the bottom of Delaware Bay, could be worth “up to $40,000,000,” according to an estimate cited in the Federal government’s Works Progress Administration guidebook on the state of Delaware.
Salvage attempts began only six months after the De Braak went down. In the fall of 1798, operations by would-be British sailors began but had to be called off because of bad storms. In 1814, the undaunted British were back. But this effort also failed.
In 1880, the International Submarine Company began working for two years to salvage the boat, but with no success. In 1888, Captain Jeff Townsend of Somers Point, New Jersey, tried and failed.
In 1917, during World War I, a navy mine sweeper, dragging for German mines, uncovered a cannonade of the type known to have been carried by the De Braak.
In September 1932, another attempt was made, but again no success was obtained. Then, in 1935, a group from Providence, Rhode Island, came upon the scene. But 1935 passed with no fruitful progress, and they left the area.
In 1966, the D & D Salvage Company of Philadelphia obtained permission from the State of Delaware to search for the De Braak’s lost hoard. They found nothing. Other recent attempts have been made to salvage this ship, but they have all been unsuccessful.
Perhaps the most reasonable explanation for why De Braak’s treasure has not been found is that more than 100 other wrecks are scattered on the bottom in this vicinity. There was a time when Delaware Bay was well on its way to fame as a graveyard for lost ships.
For those with enough money and a big enough dream to try, all they have to do is check to see whether or not anyone has a current contract. If not, obtain permission from the State of Delaware, and try your luck.
There would be no way to tell all the places where pirates cached something, but here are several locations where pirate loot is believed to be buried in Delaware.
Blackbeard is said to have secreted a treasure on the banks of Blackbird Creek near Blackbird in New Castle County.
Rumor persists that the lonely and windswept island of Bombay Hook in Kent County is a burial place for some of Captain Kidd’s $400,000 fortune.
James Gillian, a crew member of Captain Kidd’s, supposedly buried his share of loot between two trees close to a huge boulder on Kelly Island.
Frequent discoveries of loose coins on the beaches along the Sussex County shore tend to indicate that treasure is buried or sunken nearby.
Pirate treasure is said to be buried on the tip of Cape Henlopen, on the Great Sand Hill, in Sussex County.
Louis Guillart is believed to have buried treasure on Fenwick Island.
The gold coins treasure, known as the Dominique You, is buried in the area of Taylor’s Bridge in New Castle County.
In the early days of Cape May County, the mouth of the Delaware Bay was a general rendezvous for incoming merchantmen and pirates from the Indies, East, and West.
A pirate, Captain Shelly, reports from a Cape May anchorage on May 27, 1699, to his consignee, Mr. Delancie of New York, that he had just arrived from Madagascar with a cargo of fine muslin, calicoes, elephant’s tusks, and opium.
These and other pirates gave the government of the area much trouble. Captain Kidd supposedly landed there, also. Undoubtedly, one of the favorite spots for buried treasure was on Five-Mile Beach, now Wildwood-Holly Beach. In the early days, there were no buildings on this beach except a shack near the north and the life-saving station toward the south.
There are many tales of buried treasure in this area, some being true and still, others just legends and nothing else. However, my research has revealed some strange facts concerning treasures buried around New Castle.
One concern a band of pirates who, after spending a good 20 years of their lives living on the island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, just off the east coast of Africa, in which they pirated rich cargo vessels going from India to England.
They would first capture the ship, murder the crew, and throw their bodies overboard, take the treasures and transfer them to their ships, sink the vessels, and take the bodies back to their own island headquarters for burial.
But after the navies of England, Spain, and Holland organized against them, they decided that the time had arrived to retrieve their booty and retire to safer climates, so they dug up the chests and set sail for the New World, looking for places to hide their loot and settle down.
So they sailed into Delaware Bay, picked the area around New Castle for their future homes, and then found proper hiding places to stash their ill-gotten loot. Their first hiding place was to excavate a deep well and construct a secret room at the bottom with a concealed door just above the water line where they stashed the loot from the hold of one ship.
Research in the archives of England in London shows that this room, when finished, was about 20 ft. square by seven ft. high inside. The doorway on the good shaft would be a good two ft. square, and once the loot was safely stashed inside, the door was cemented in.
The secret door is believed to have been about 20 to 25 ft. down from the top of the good shaft. This well was near what was then the town jail. Once the area has been located, it should be fairly easy to locate with a deep seeker that will penetrate down a good 20 feet.
A second treasure vault was built on the shores of the creek that Taylor’s Bridge crosses. I understand that this second vault was constructed of mortared stone and that once the loot was secreted inside, the entrance was cemented shut, and the entire hole was covered over, making it very hard to find today.
But this, too, can be recovered with modern metal detectors. It will take a good two-box deep-seeking machine, as most of the ones used for coins would be useless in finding a treasure this big.
The midget state of Delaware, with a land of only 1978 square miles, does not give much elbow room to prospect in, and getting down to bedrock, chicken farms are more likely to put beans in the old pot than a possible mine or placer claim.
Here is a story told me many years ago by an old man born in Delaware.
Housewives found small gold nuggets when cleaning the gizzards of chickens from a certain Delaware chicken farm years ago. Soon everybody was asking for, even demanding, chickens from this particular place. In time, the chicken man became wealthy.
Then, as so many do when they feel death breathing down their necks, the chicken raiser suddenly got religion and confessed that he had sinned by playing a trick on his poultry customers.
It seemed that his father returned from the California gold fields with a well-filled buckskin poke of gold dust and small nuggets, and somehow, in the excitement of a safe return, the gold was overlooked and long-forgotten.
Then, one day, while going through an old battered trunk, this Delaware chicken raiser found the poke of gold and was hit suddenly with a golden idea. He had trouble selling his large flock of chickens as the competition was tough.
Recalling stories his father had often told mines being “salted” by sprinkling gold dust and small nuggets in cracks and crevices, so samples assayed high in gold, he thought, why not salt a few of his chicken craws? He did.
He would pick out fair-sized nuggets at intervals, and when a chicken gobbled it up, off went his head. A happy housewife had the thrill of seeing a little nugget for about two or three dollars, or the old man would have a stickpin fashioned, and he could boast that he was wearing a real gold nugget from Delaware.
It was reported that nuggets to $10 had been found in one chicken’s craw. This eventually started a gold stampede to the Diamond State. No gold was ever found, so perhaps there is no gold in Delaware. Then again. Gold in the sand and gravel deposits found in Kent, New Castle, and Sussex Counties could be gold.
Gemstones and mineral specimens, especially opals and quartz crystals, have been found in every county. As there are only three counties, you might say you can find gemstones anywhere in Delaware. While prospecting for gemstones, you might also prospect for some pottery clays in New Castle County.
‘The Chest of Diamonds’
Other chests contained gold from India and China, as well as gems and jewelry.
by Okey Ellison
In the summer of 1932, two men in a black Ford panel truck drove up to the gas station in the small town of Millsboro, Delaware, and when Jimmy Butler, the attendant, came out and walked over to the car, he heard that welcome comment of “fill ‘er up.”
While Jimmy polished the windshield and wiped off the headlights, the two men alighted and engaged Jimmy in conversation. They especially sounded interested in whether Jimmy was familiar with the surrounding area.
When Jimmy replied that he figured he knew just about every foot of ground and every person within ten miles, they were delighted and inquired when Jimmy was not at work at the gas station.
Jimmy replied that the station was closed on Sundays and that that was the only day he was on his own. The men asked if Jimmy would like to help them on Sundays and mentioned that the pay for each day worked would be $5.00. Jimmy quickly agreed as he only received $6.00 for a six-day week at the station.
The men then inquired where they might rent a room for a couple of weeks. To this query, Jimmy mentioned that his mom would be glad to rent out the spare room in their house, and to clinch the deal, he told them what a good cook his mom was. Jimmy gave them directions to his house, and they soon were off in that direction.
When Jimmy arrived home from work that evening, he again saw the two men, who now took the time to introduce themselves formally as Thomas Jefferson and Barrister Morriss from Richmond, Virginia.
After the usual comment about Tom’s name, they all sat down to dinner, during which Tom again reminded Jimmy that they wished to get an early start on the following morning, which was Sunday. And Jimmy replied that he was always awake before the cock could crow.
The next morning found them cramped together in the front seat of the little truck long before the sun was up and heading east on the dirt road that led toward the nearby Indian River. Jimmy had mentioned that he knew of a place where a mammoth oak tree grew by itself on the edge of a large meadow, and the men were excited about the prospect that they might have found the exact tree they were seeking on the very first day.
Jimmy was confused by what was occurring, but since he was a “pathfinder,” he kept quiet and waited to see what had developed. When they arrived at the tree that Jimmy had referred to, they all jumped out, and the two men began circling the tree and examining the trunk. Tom suddenly exclaimed, “Hey, Bar, look at this,” as he pointed to a strange-looking lump about six feet up on the trunk.
They all looked at the growth and agreed that it had been caused by someone cutting a diamond-shaped mark into the bark long ago.
Bar returned to the truck and dug into a satchel behind the front seat. He pulled out what appeared to be a brass tube which he quickly uncorked, and from it extracted what looked like a brown sheet of paper that had been rolled to fit the container.
He flattened the sheet out on the truck’s hood, and as Jimmy peeked around the two studious men, he saw that it had markings and wording on it. This was exciting to Jimmy, and he could not help blurting out the question, “Is that a treasure map?”
They replied that it was, and now that he had found out, he must keep it a secret from anyone else. If he proved true and honest, some treasure would be rewarded. At this time, they seemed supremely confident that the day would not pass before they could recover the treasure they sought.
The bar took out a big compass and stood by the old tree. In the meantime, Tom had pulled a couple of surveying rods out of the truck and sent Jimmy out into the pasture about two hundred yards with one rod while he took up a position with the other about half that distance from the tree.
By hand waving into the position, they soon had both rods in a line plumb to the north of the tree. The bar began pacing off and counting until he passed Tom and was almost at Jimmy’s position. He marked the position by pounding a stick into the ground where he had counted off 199 paces to the north.
They marked off 66 paces due east and then another 33 paces due north. When this position arrived, they marked it with another stake and began searching for what the map said they must find: a large stone cannonball.
Jimmy had always thought cannonballs were made of iron, but both men replied that there were many of stone, too, and since that is what the map says, this is what they must seek. Sad to report, but they had no success that first day.
Tom and Bar stayed the remainder of the summer and never missed a day in their search, with Jimmy helping every Sunday. They retraced their measures, expanded the scope of their search area, and still, they could not find the stone cannonball. But in the soft, moist soil usually found in a pasture, it had probably sunk well under the surface, and no doubt the lost treasure had also descended somewhat.
Jimmy had several chances to examine the old map, and he stated that the treasure was described as being six feet below the cannonball and composed of one chest of gold coins from India, a second containing Chinese gold, the third being filled with jewels and jewelry and the final chest containing both raw and cut diamonds.
This is a considerable treasure, even if the chests are small. Jimmy was forever asking the men who had buried the treasure, and they always answered in the same manner, “You’ve heard of Captain Kidd, haven’t you?” This was not what he wanted to know, but that was the extent of the information he would ever receive.
Jimmy alertly brought out a simple statement that was to be found near the very bottom of the map. The short notation there reads, “Span Equals Pace.” The men agreed that it had seemed strange to them since there was no other notation to indicate that the length of a “span” was different than the normally accepted “pace.”
And the inclusion of such a note would be superfluous if the two terms were interchangeable. But since they never did find the treasure or the cannonball, we must consider the possibility that the work span means something other than linear measurement.
If it means a shorter or longer measure than a normal pace, then the treasure might be much closer or at a greater distance from the old tree than the two men assumed.
This might have been a method to ensure that the wrong person could not follow the map to the correct location. The reference at the end of the listing of the contents of the vault might have been a subtle reminder to one who had been advised of the “key” to the instructions.
With present-day deep-seeking metal detectors and the logic to expand upon the theory of differing length substitutions for the pace, a successful conclusion to this treasured story is possible.
An appreciative gesture would be to have a large diamond set for a ring for the author; a ten-carat fine quality stone would be sufficient!