This research gives only a small number of the known treasure sites in Georgia. The state ranks fourth in the number of lost treasures in the United States. There are millions of dollars in Civil War, Indian, pirate, and white pioneer caches of what we call treasure waiting to be found in the Peach State.
There is a story that the Spanish brought Aztec gold to Georgia. This gold is supposed to be near Lone Mountain. Here is all the information I have on this location.
In early times Stone Mountain was known as “Lone Mountain” and was so-called by the Cherokee and Creek Nations. According to the present chief of the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, there is a fabulous Spanish treasure amounting to many millions in gold bullion concealed or buried in the vicinity of “Lone Mountain.”
According to his story, the Spanish, laden with many wagons loaded with Aztec gold from Mexico, were camping near “Lone Mountain” one night when they were suddenly attacked by a large group of Indians, who massacred them to the last man. The supplies and provisions were taken by the Indians to be used, but the gold was concealed by them somewhere near “Lone Mountain.”
No one can say how much gold has been panned or mined in Georgia. This information is on a historical marker at Auraria in Lumpkin County: “Auraria (gold), in 1832 the scene of Georgia’s first gold rush, was named by John C. Calhoun, owner of a nearby mine worked by Calhoun slaves.
Auraria and Dahlonega were the two gold towns in the United States before 1849. Between 1829 and 1839, about $20,000,000 in gold was mined in Georgia’s Cherokee County. From Auraria, in 1858, the “Russell boys,” led by Green Russell, went west and established another Auraria near the mouth of Cherry Creek, which later became Denver, Colorado.
Green Russell uncovered a fabulous lode called Russell Gulch, built in Central City, Colorado, called “the richest square mile on earth.”
The only treasure De Soto, the Spanish explorer, is known to have found in America was some 350 pounds of pearls. Like all the Spanish explorers in this country, De Soto was looking for gold. At the Indian village of Cofitachequi, along the Savannah River in Georgia, when De Soto demanded gold, he was shown the strings of pearls used as decorations in a big house where the mummified bodies of the dead were kept.
The explorer helped himself to 350 pounds of them.
These were not fine or high-quality pearls, as the Indians had used fire to open the shells. As the burden of carrying 350 pounds of pearls became too great, they were buried along De Soto’s route through Georgia.
When General Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, the Union Army pushed on to the last Confederate stronghold at Columbus, Georgia. After the ensuing battle, which the Union won, all Confederate equipment was destroyed. This included 60 cannons thrown into the Chattahoochee River on April 16, 1865.
The Georgia Department of Archives and History can verify the existence of the guns. A detailed listing of the guns can be obtained from the Federal Archives in Washington, D.C., and from military maps used by General Winslow, the approximate sites where the guns were dumped can be determined.
The sunken cannons of the Chattahoochee are probably worth $200,000 at today’s prices.
About 1830, the property of the Columbia Gold Mines near Thompson, in McDuffie County, was acquired by Jeremiah Griffin, a wealthy plantation owner. He set up Georgia’s first stamp mill and took out $80,000 in gold bullion during the first year of operation. Before his death by an accident in 1847, Griffin had accumulated a sizeable fortune in gold, and he is believed to have hidden it.
After his death, a search was done for the $100,000 he is thought to have buried along a creek bank near the town of Little River, in nearby Wilkes County. It is believed that this treasure has not been recovered.
At 1316 Third Avenue in Columbus, Georgia, is a house with two large black lions guarding the doors. This house is known as the Lion House to tourists, but it is better known locally as the Ralston-Cargill House. It is believed that a sub-basement led to an underground tunnel that emerged on a lake once occupying the present site of the Racine Hotel.
According to a story, a drove of mules was once hidden in this secret chamber during the Federal occupation of Columbus in 1865. A considerable treasure was concealed in the tunnel simultaneously and never retrieved.
Whether there is any truth to this story is anybody’s guess, but in the 1870s, an appreciable hoard of gold coins was found in a window casing of the old house. The site would certainly bear checking out.
A slave owned by Major Logan of Louisville, Georgia, discovered gold on Lovelady place in White County in 1828. At about the same time, another slave discovered gold on Bear Creek near Dahlonega. Also, there is some evidence that the Spaniards had mined gold in White County.
There are several areas for gold panners in the Dahlonega region. Other places to pan are in Dawson County, four miles south of Dawsonville, in McDuffie County, eleven miles northwest of Thompson, and in Cherokee County, four miles west of Hot Springs and seven miles south of Canton.
Gold has also been reportedly found in Bartow, Fannin, Newton, Pauling, Rabun, and Walton Counties.
If French records are correct, and there is no reason to doubt them, a good-sized fortune is still buried near the forks of Okapilco and Mule Creeks in Brooks County, Georgia.
During the 1760s, when the Spanish began to blockade the port of New Orleans in a controversy over the Louisiana Territory, the French decided to send the major portion of their state treasury overland to a port in Florida and ship it from there to France.
Since they had to travel through the Creek, Choctaw, and Seminole Indian territories, the French buried the treasure each night so that if they were attacked, the Indians would not get the money, mostly in gold coins.
After several weeks of slow travel through Indian country (at that time, almost uncharted wilderness), the French reached Brooks County, Georgia. It was here that such a concentrated attack was launched by the Indians, who had been following them, that all the French were killed except one man, who had to hide until the attack was over and then made his way back to New Orleans.
He had with him a rough map of how far the party had traveled before the Indian attack had occurred that killed all his comrades.
The French government sent a party to search for the dead man and the gold. The bodies of the Frenchmen were found, but the treasure was never located. This would be a good place to search. Any artifacts, such as bullets, knives, etc., found would pinpoint the battle site, and the gold coins must be nearby.
There seems to be little doubt that $40,000 in gold is buried on the old James Vann farm at Hightower in Forsyth County. James Vann was one of the Cherokees’ most powerful and influential chiefs. He owned a farm, tavern, ferry on the Chattahoochee River, and a large acreage near Dahlonega, where he had several rich gold mines. He owned a large farm and tavern on the Federal Road at Hightower.
When making his periodic rounds on horseback from one farm or gold mine to another, Vann spent much of his time at the tavern near Hightower. According to the story, a few days before he was killed on January 17, 1809, Vann, who was then in his early forties, was making one of his periodic trips to the farms and gold mines at Dahlonega.
He arrived at his Hightower farm carrying $40,000 in gold dust and nuggets. He stopped here for one night and buried the gold on the farm, for he feared he might be robbed by a band of outlaws he had heard lurking in the area. He intended to move the gold as soon as possible, but he was killed before recovering it.
Vann was carrying the gold in a chest, and when he decided to bury it on his farm, he blindfolded two of his slaves and had them carry the chest from the house down the hill to the foot of a large oak tree at the outer edge of a river-bottom field.
Since this cache has never been reported found, it certainly bears investigation by an interested treasure hunter.
This treasured story was told to me by a man named Dewey Parker of Louisville, Kentucky, who had lived near Hiawassee, Georgia, for several years. (I have no reason to doubt this man’s word since he is a deacon in our church.)
During the late 1930s, Parker (then just a boy) lived in the extreme northern part of Towns County, Georgia. His grandmother was one-eighth Cherokee Indian and knew most of the legends and treasure stories of her Indian ancestors.
Parker’s grandmother told him that in 1900 an Indian came from Oklahoma, stopped at the farm, and asked if he could spend a few days sleeping in the barn. With the help of a waybill, he was searching for the carving of a hand, with the thumb pointing down, and a turkey track.
These symbols were carved into a large rock somewhere in the area. The signs would lead him to where his ancestors had buried a large buckskin bag of gold dust and nuggets just before their removal in 1838.
After several days of searching, in which he could not locate the symbols, the Indian told Parker’s grandmother that if she ever accidentally found the carvings, the turkey track pointed to the hand, which pointed down to the treasure. If she could find it, close to fifty pounds of gold were hidden in the cache.
Parker and other family members had searched but could not locate the symbols. Somewhere a few miles north of Hiawassee, if a treasure hunter can find a turkey track and the outline of a hand carved into a large rock, there is a small fortune in gold waiting for him.
A treasured site (which is a matter of record) almost certainly overlooked is near Cumming, Georgia. In 1849, a man named Ledbetter went to California gold fields. Unlike most 49ers, he did quite well. Returning home in 1851, Ledbetter took his gold, which is supposed to have been a large sack full, to the mint at Dahlonega, where he had it minted into gold coins.
Returning home, he told his family that he had buried the coins within sight of where they lived, but he did not tell them the location. Since he was a timber man, Ledbetter decided to clear a large tract of wood on his farm.
While he was rolling a log downhill, he was accidentally killed. His family spent considerable time searching unsuccessfully for the hidden coins. As far as is known, these coins have never been found.
There is a historical marker 2.5 miles north of Cartersville, Georgia, on U. S. 411, in Bartow County, which tells of Mrs. William E. Felton’s appointment as the first woman ever elected to the U. S. Senate. But the marker does not tell the story of $50,000 in gold and silver coins buried on the original farm when Union General Sherman overran this area.
I quote, in part from the Atlanta Journal, Sunday Magazine Section, September 1951:
“An iron pot containing $40,000 in gold and silver is buried on Mrs. William E. Felton’s farm near Cartersville, Georgia, according to a family legend. With the Feltons, the story of the buried gold has been treasured like a family heirloom for four generations. Nobody ever found the gold or even dug very much for it, chiefly because there’s a discouraging lot of ground to investigate within the original boundaries of a farm that covered 1800 acres. The treasure was hidden by old Captain John Felton before he and his family sought refuge in Macon as Sherman’s Army approached from Chattanooga. The Captain had been an officer in the War of 1812. His son’s wife, Rebecca Latimer Felton, and her family went south with him. Captain Felton had hidden the gold and silver before they left for Macon and died before returning to the farm after the war.”
This little-known Confederate treasure is within four miles of Marietta, Georgia. The story was told to a U. S. Air Force pilot in 1940 by a 95-year-old ex-Confederate soldier.
The treasure consisted of jewelry, gold, silver coins, and bullion donated by wealthy Southern families to help promote the war effort. This treasure was given to the Confederate Army for safekeeping.
It was in a boxcar on a special train heading north to Tennessee. As the train approached Marietta, the word was received that Sherman’s Army was advancing and that the train was in imminent danger of capture.
The Confederate soldiers backed the train a short distance and buried the treasure approximately 30 or 40 feet north of the railroad tracks in a heavily wooded area. A metal band was wound around a large oak tree as a marker.
The man who heard the story succeeded in locating the area in 1960, but because of the landowner’s resistance, he could not recover the treasure. Local research could very well pay off on this one.
This legend of a lost vein of gold could pay someone to do further research. When the Creighton Gold Mine was in production before 1909, a laborer named Fowler found a rich vein of gold near the mine, of which the company was unaware. Fowler could not work this deposit openly because the Creighton Company owned its mineral rights.
A few days after finding the vein, Fowler told another laborer that he would obtain gold samples and try to get a royalty from the mining company. He slipped away and returned a short time later with a small bottle about half-full of free coarse nugget gold which he had just taken from his rich vein.
At the end of the day’s work, Fowler went to the office and told the manager he had found the richest gold vein he had ever seen, by far richer than any the company was working, and showed him the gold he had recovered in about a half-hour, but did not tell the location of the vein.
The manager listened to the story, looked at the gold, and then told Fowler to show him the gold vein. If he found it to be exactly as represented, he would increase Fowler’s wages but would not pay a royalty. Fowler was unsatisfied with the offer and declined to do business with the company.
A short time later, the Etowah River flooded the Creighton Mine, forcing it to close. Since the mining company retained the mineral rights, as far as is known, Fowler was never able to work the rich vein of gold.
In 1890, a fabulous hoard of gold was accidentally discovered in a cave by a hunter from Keith, Georgia, in Whitfield County. The story came to light through a newspaper article appearing in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, newspaper on August 8, 1890, which I quote:
“William Waterhouse, a young white farmer of Keith, Georgia, and a party of hunters claim to have found a cave in the vastness of the mountains, which, with great difficulty, they explored. Some distance from the entrance, they found a large cavern, in a corner of which were a pair of small bellows, the leather rotted off, such as were used to blow particles of sand from heavier objects. The most startling find, according to their story, was the discovery of about one thousand solid bars of metal piled against the side of the rocky walls of the cave. Most of the bars were six feet long, nine inches wide, and nine inches thick. Others were from six inches to six feet, being of uniform size, as if molded. Each of the bars was coated with copper, as a casing, about a quarter of an inch thick. Persons familiar with gold say the bars are pure gold inside. Young Waterhouse says there is a legend about an old rich Indian gold mine, near a certain place in Georgia, and I have no doubt that this cave was a storehouse of the Indians, and their principal workshop. I am raising funds for an exploration.”
When Waterhouse returned to relocate and recover the gold, he could never find the cave. As far as is known, this cave has never been rediscovered.
The old Fowler Mill was on Hurricane Creek, just a few hundred yards below a sacrifice stone and just above the road crossing that ran from, or to, Heardsville going west. In Indian days, the road crossed just above the mill.
The miller’s house was at the fork of the road just east of the mill site. The people who lived there had a father who was getting old and unable to work. One day the miller, the old man’s son, was at the mill. His wife and mother were cooking dinner.
The old man had a half-gallon of gold coins concealed in a hidden place. He brought the gold into the house, opened the jar, poured it out, counted it, put the gold coins back into the jar, and went out of the house. Then he crossed the road to a trail that went to the spring, just a few hundred feet from the house.
He returned to the house without the jar of coins in just a few minutes because his wife had asked him to wait until after dinner before going out of the house, as dinner was on the table. Shortly after he returned, his son came from the mill, and they had dinner.
The old man suffered a stroke shortly after this and died before he had told where he had put the jar of gold coins. The family looked everywhere they could think to look, but they were never able to find the gold coins.
When still young, Jack Richard moved to Oklahoma and settled close to the Cherokee Indians. One old Cherokee Indian, whose former home was in the mountainous region of Gilmer County, took a special liking to young Richard and spent many hours with him talking about the north Georgia mountains over the years.
One day, a few years later, as they talked, the conversation drifted to gold and silver mining in Georgia. It was then that the old Indian confided to Richard that he had discovered and worked a rich Indian silver mine at the mouth of “Flat Creek” near the Coosawattee River before the Indian removal and that he had helped seal the mouth of the cave by sliding a large boulder over it.
In the cave, he had left much silver ore and all of the digging tools used by the Indians to mine it. He further told Richard that at high noon, if he stood on a certain spot on the Coosawattee River when the water was low and the weather clear, he would be able to see a rich silver vein across the river.
The old Indian also described the various signs and symbols that the Indians carved on beech trees and rocks to mark the burying place of rich hoards of gold and silver concealed in pots.
Richard became so intrigued by these stories that he persuaded the old Indian to return to north Georgia and search for the old silver mine, offering to pay all the expenses involved in the venture and share the silver ore with him. Unfortunately for Richard, the old Indian became quite ill just as they were preparing to leave for Georgia and died a short time later.
Eventually, Richard returned to Gilmer County and spent the rest of his life searching for the silver mine without success. He was so confident that the old Indian would return with him that he failed to obtain a waybill from the Indian miner and, therefore, could not determine the cave’s precise location.
Mr. Jonce Evans also went to Oklahoma as a young man and lived there for several years. He said that an old Indian told him that he was in a group of Cherokee Indians being sent to Oklahoma along the old federal road. The Indians were from Settendown Creek.
They were several miles from home or where they had started the march when he became so tired that he couldn’t go on with the load he was carrying. The Indian said he made up his mind to hide the several pounds of gold he was carrying and hoped that he might be able to come back to get it later.
He asked the soldier to be excused from the bushes to escape sight. He had seen a large pine tree nearby, so he slipped the gold out of his pack, dug a hole beside the tree, and put the gold inside. The Indian covered the hole and laid a white flint rock over it.
Years later, the Indian returned to get his gold, but the trees had been cut for lumber, and the rock was gone. There were many pine tree stumps in the area, but he could not find his gold.
Settendown Creek is just off the Old Federal Road in Forsyth County, Georgia.
One day a young farmer and his wife, known as the “Turners,” were sitting on their front porch about three and one-half miles south of Adairsville, Ga., in Bartow County. Suddenly they were startled by the sudden appearance of an old Cherokee Indian.
He was invited to come in and eat with them as the meal was ready to be served. While they were eating, he told them a bushel of gold was hidden close by.
After the meal, they all returned to the front porch, and the Indian asked them if they had ever noticed a carving of a cat track on a rock close to their spring or the carving of a diamond on a white oak tree just beyond the spring.
When Mr. Turner said that they had never noticed these signs, the Indian promptly took them to the spring, which was just a short distance away from the house, and pointed out the signs, which were still sharp and clear. His parting remark, just before disappearing just as suddenly as he had appeared, was, “If I were of a mind to, I could make you the wealthiest people in these parts before Mrs. Turner could finish cooking a meal.”
There is an unexplored cave near the spring, which has since been filled in, and the legend is that a bushel of gold is buried in the cave. As far as can be learned, this gold has never been found.
In the early summer of 1838, the Indians who lived in the Freeman community left at sunrise one morning for their Removal to the West. Philip Freeman remembered that day, and it had rained some the night before, and after the Indians were gone, he went to the Indian village nearby to look for tell-tale signs that might lead to their hidden gold, which was a legend in the community.
Failing to find any signs around the village, Freeman rambled down a road toward the creek, finally coming near the ford crossing. Here he came upon deep-cut sleigh tracks, and at the old road crossing of the stream, he saw that another sleigh had come into the ford from another Indian village about a mile down the river on Conn’s Creek.
He followed the trails of the two sleighs across the creek ford and up the Etowah River for about a mile. The trail ended abruptly at the head of the river shoals, and yet a visible foot trail led from where the two sleighs had stopped to the bank of the river.
It was apparent that the sleigh’s cargo had been loaded into a boat or boats for the rest of the journey. Freeman noticed that the sleigh tracks were deep-cut going up the river and hardly visible on the return trip. Somewhere upriver from Conn’s Creek, on the Etowah River, is the Indian gold, buried and waiting for a lucky treasure hunter.
Several years ago, a Cherokee Indian came to Pickens County and stayed with a family that had befriended him. Each day the Indian would go rambling through the countryside alone, searching for something. Several weeks later, he approached the man of the family and told him that he would like to take him to a certain place and show him something pretty if he would consent to be led blindfolded.
The white man was so anxious to see what it was that the Indian wanted to show him that he readily consented to the blindfold and was led a short distance from his house into a cave where the blindfold was removed. He feasted his eyes on piles of gold nuggets on the cave floor, for here was a storage place of a rich Indian gold mine.
Later, after the Indian departed from Pickens County, the white man searched the whole countryside for the cave with the gold nuggets close to his home, but his search was fruitless. The man lived close to the confluence of Scarecorn Creek and Talking Rock Creek.
It is a well-established fact that there is a rich Indian gold mine in the area, as at least one white man has seen an Indian waybill showing the location of this mine, which places it on Talking Rock Creek at the mouth of Old Scarecorn Creek. It is also rumored that the Indians buried several pots of gold in this area. As far as is known, neither the lost gold mine nor the pots of gold have ever been found.
Although Robert E. Lee officially surrendered the Confederate Army at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, winding down the war took a while longer.
One of the unresolved mysteries of this turmoil is what happened to $35,000 to $40,000 in silver bullion destined to relieve injured Confederate veterans.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis gave the money to Raphael J. Moses, the Confederate Commissary Officer, during Davis’s flight through Washington, Georgia, in May 1865. An official Confederate order confirms the transfer of funds, but after that, the fate of the money becomes uncertain.
Moses, charged with the distribution of the relief funds, declared that he had turned the money over to the Federal provost general in Augusta, Ga., as the reunited government required. However, there is no Federal record to document receipt of the bullion, nor are there any records to indicate the distribution of such funds.
To this day, it is not known where the money vanished. Perhaps it is hidden in the vicinity of Augusta. Perhaps it was buried near Washington, Ga. At any event, whether Confederate or Federal, that missing $40,000 in silver would be infinitely more valuable as collector’s coins today.
Several years ago, a woman named Matilda Huggins Gazaway lived near the intersection of Hurricane and Settendown Creeks in the northwest section of Forsyth County. The following is her story.
During the final days of the Cherokees in North Georgia, there lived a family of Indians in a small grove of sycamores at the intersection of Hurricane and Settendown Creeks.
The family had adopted a white boy, and at the time of the Removal, the boy was about fifteen years of age. According to the White Man’s law, the family could not take the boy to the West. Realizing this, one day before the Indians were to move westward, the white boy’s Indian father blindfolded him and led him on a circuitous journey through the forest and along the streams.
At last, they arrived at the tunnel entrance, well concealed in the hillside. The father removed a high rock from the entrance, and the two entered the dark cavern. Inside, the Indian lighted a tallow candle, allowing the boy to remove his blindfold.
Then, pointing to a rock sliver protruding overhead, he cautioned the boy not to touch the silver, for if he did, the two would be killed by a big falling stone.
In the back of the tunnel, the Indian showed the boy a pot of gold and told him there were many other Indian treasures. A string of gold beads belonging to the boy’s Indian mother had been placed on top of the gold, and the boy asked for the beads but refused to accept any of them gold.
When the Indian parents were removed to the West, the boy was left in the care of a neighboring white family. As he grew older, the boy often returned to his homeplace on Hurricane and Settendown and attempted to follow the trail to the secret tunnel. However, he was never able to find it.
George Welch, a Cherokee tribal chief, lived on Sitting Duck Creek near the Etowah River in the extreme northeastern corner of Forsyth County. He owned many slaves and a lot of property, including a tavern that stood on the Old Alabama Road and very close to the Forsyth-Cherokee County line.
When the Cherokees were removed from this area, Welch is said to have left behind a sizeable fortune buried near the tavern, which was destroyed by fire in 1930.
A few years ago, an Indian boy from Oklahoma appeared at Chostoe, Georgia, in Lumpkin County, with a waybill handed down to him by his grandparents. He did not try to conceal the fact that he was trying to locate a cave on Blood Mountain in which, according to his waybill, much Indian gold was hidden.
When word got out that he was in town, some of the local girls befriended him, and he told them the following story:
“The Cherokee Indians knew about gold in the streams flowing off the south side of the Blue Ridge Mountains long before the discovery was made by a slave at Dukes’ Creek in 1828. Before his people were rounded up like animals in 1838 and herded afoot in the dead of the winter to the Oklahoma Reservation, they had hidden their valuables in one of the caves on top of Blood Mountain. These valuables included the gold ceremonial axes, mortars, and trinkets that were made out of the soft yellow metal. All were entrusted to the safekeeping of the ‘Nunnehi.’ They had marked the cave by carving a bow and arrow on a nearby rock, with the arrow pointing to the cave entrance.”
When Charles Elliott, a forest ranger, heard the story, he investigated and found the carved bow and arrow. It was so plain that he envisioned himself as a very wealthy man. With dynamite, he and a friend blasted what he thought was the entrance to a shallow cave that extended about forty feet back, but he found no treasure.
Hunters have said that Blood Mountain is honeycombed with caves and that they can hear their dogs howling in the mountain’s bowels. The treasure remains there, for “Nunnehi” has remained faithful to his trust.
According to a local legend, several years ago, a white man and an Indian were together one day on the Etowah River between Canton and Gober Beech. As they walked along the river bank, the Indian stopped and pointed to a large rock out in the river. The Indian said to the white man, “Wait here, and I will show you something.”
The Indian waded out in the river to the rock, which pointed out of the water about two feet. Straddling it as if it were a horse, he placed his feet underwater as if in the stirrups, stood up in the saddle, and then sat back down. He repeated this motion several times and then went back to the river bank.
The two men then proceeded along the river bank, and after they had gone their separate ways, the white man went back to the place alone, waded out to the rock, and did exactly what he had seen the Indian do. Much to his surprise, he found the stone was exactly in the shape of a bucking horse, with his head below the surface of the water. A saddle was carved out on the horse’s back, and under the water were carved stirrups.
The Indian had not mentioned the meaning of the horse; however, the white man had heard about an Indian treasure cave called the Canton Cherokee Tunnel and soon became uneasy that the stone horse in the river might be a key sign to the treasure cave.
Before long, he returned to the river and overturned the stone horse so it could no longer be seen, for then, no one could discover its symbolic meaning and find the Indian treasure cave.
The Indian treasure tunnel of the Canton tribes is in this area, but it has never been found. However, thousands of man-hours have been spent probing the river bluffs from Gober Beach to Little River, rock cliffs have been dynamited, and the remaining Indian maps are yellowed with age, faded, and badly worn.
Perhaps someday, the location of the Canton Cherokee tunnel will be discovered.
The Fannin County Treasure Cave began when an aged Cherokee Indian showed it to Free shortly before the tribe’s removal from northern Georgia in 1838. The Cherokee blindfolded Free until they were at the cave entrance.
Then he pulled the blindfold off, and they entered by the light from burning pine torches. Free said he saw a pile of raw gold filling one end of a large cave that must have been worth a million dollars.
The Cherokee was a friend of long-standing. He took Free to the cave, so Free could get him some of the gold in times of need after the tribe’s migration. The Cherokee was found out by his tribesmen and severely punished. Free never saw him again and was never able to relocate the cave.
On February 12, 1825, the noted Chief of the Cowetas, or lower Creek Indians, General William McIntosh, signed a treaty whereby the remaining lands within the State of Georgia were ceded to the whites. In exchange, his people would be given land in fair equivalent, acre for acre, plus an additional sum of $400,000 in gold. Their new home would be west of the Mississippi River.
The Upper Creek Indians violently opposed this treaty and viewed Chief McIntosh as a traitor to the Creek Nation. At a general council meeting, they condemned McIntosh to death.
After signing the treaty at Indian Springs, Georgia, and receiving the $400,000 in gold coins, General McIntosh retreated to his log cabin, taking the then-popular McIntosh Trail to his Chattahoochee River Reservation in Carroll County.
His trusted braves had already informed him of the death sentence decreed at the Council meeting of the Upper Creeks, and he knew that his life was in imminent danger. Before reaching his cabin on the river, he buried the gold coins.
During the night, he and his trusted followers were attacked by the Upper Creek Indians, who undertook to carry out the sentence decreed at their Council meeting, and McIntosh was assassinated. However, he fought bravely against overwhelming odds.
To this day, the coins have not been found. On an old river road, his log cabin is located about five miles southwest of Whitesburg, Georgia, in Carroll County. His grave is in a field just across the river from his cabin.
For several years, Indians worked a silver mine in the wooded area near Tazewell, Georgia. They would sell their ore to a merchant in Buena Vista, then disappear again into the forest. No white man was able to track the Indians to their secret mine.
When the Indians finally moved on, the merchant in Buena Vista offered a reward of $1000 to anyone who located the silver mine. Sometime later, a man did find the mine. But he refused to tell where. He knew that if the owner of the land where the mine was located had learned that there was silver on his property, the land would never be put up for sale.
He waited years to buy the land, but that chance never came. And the secret location of the mine was never revealed to the man who unknowingly owned it.
A clue to the mine’s location might be that while the Indians were working it, it was filled with water. The merchant gave them a pump, and the Indians could resume mining operations. When the mine was rediscovered, the remains of the pump lay beside the tailings.
The man who found the mine was never able to buy the land, and the location was lost when he died.
At the site of the old Chenault plantation, about twelve miles east of Washington, the county seat of Wilkes County, in April 1865, just after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, five wagons of gold and silver coins and bullion bivouacked for the night, three hundred dollars worth of it!
It was the property of Virginia banks, which they had sent south for safekeeping, fearing their city would be burned and pillaged by the advancing Yankees after the bloody battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862.
Now that the war was over, they were taking it back, but they had chosen a poor place to wait for morning. Scalawags from both sides infested the place. Defeated, discouraged, and destitute Confederates were sneaking, barefooted and hungry, south toward home while cocky, rioting “damned Yanks” were celebrating victory. Former slaves felt the joy of freedom, and deserters crawled out of their hideouts.
In the dead of night, while the moon was still up, half a score of these renegades, mounted and masked, hit the wagon train, tied up the five bankers accompanying it, and made off with $26,000 worth of the gold coins and bullion.
They ignored the silver because it was too bulky for what it was worth. Nor did they get quite all the gold. $174,000 worth of both lay ankle-deep on the ground after they rode away. Not a shot was fired, and not a man was killed.
Of the loot, they left behind, $20,000 of it was disgorged later by the hostlers, who had returned and helped themselves. $75,000 was picked up from around the wagons, and a few random pieces were found between there and the Savannah River, which had been the raiders’ escape route.
And this leaves the important part: $80,000 of the original $300,000 mysteriously disappeared right from under the nose of Confederate General Alexander, and a detail of his troops was assigned to recover it.
General Alexander blamed the Chenault family, but it was never proven that they had had a part in the rampage.
The missing loot has never been found. The consensus is that, in confusion immediately following the raid, it was hurriedly buried by the five bankers with the intent of returning later to retrieve it. They never did, so there it may be, waiting for the right person with the right equipment to come along and find it.
Historic Travelers’ Rest was built upon land granted to Major Jesse Walton in 1785. Walton, a Revolutionary War soldier and political leader, was killed by Indians in 1789. The Walton family sold the land to James Rutherford Wyly, who built the main part of the house between 1816 and 1825.
Devereaux Jarrett bought the house on August 21, 1838. Jarrett added the original structure and opened it to the public. Due to the growing population and increased traffic, the structure served as an inn, trading post, and post office.
There is a long-standing story of a Confederate gold cache buried somewhere in this historic place.