Lost Treasures In Hawaii

Lost Treasures In Hawaii

Hawaii became a state on August 22, 1959, and was dubbed “The Aloha State.” Aloha, in the Hawaiian language, means many things; it is a word of greeting, meaning both hello and goodbye. But it also means welcome, love, affection, warmth, tolerance, and understanding.

The variety of treasure sites in Hawaii will probably come as a surprise to a large number of people. In addition to treasure hunting, those who visit the Paradise Islands will find friendly people, plenty of sunshine, and a feeling of serenity and relaxation unknown in the continental United States.

Ako Akoa Eleele is called “America’s newest gem.” It is a lustrous black coral that can be carved and polished and grows in value. Usually brought up by divers, it’s sometimes washed up on the beaches of Hawaii’s Kauai, Lanai, and Maui Islands.

It was a bleak autumn day in 1912 as Yuan Hsi stood patiently on the rear terrace of his palace, watching the drizzle sweep through the forest. He was a Chinese nobleman, a direct descendant of one of the many imperial mandarins who had ruled parts of northern China for many years. He was a wealthy, educated man in his royal position.

His palace was an ancient structure with a graceful, overhanging tile roof ending in upturned eaves. Once intended as a fortress, it was built on the edge of a plateau with but a single, defendable entrance facing the road and lower slopes to the east. The rear was thrust over a low cliff, supported by long wooden stilts firmly braced with thick crossbeams.

Stored within this majestic aerie was a fabulous treasure accumulated through generations of power and influence by the royal Hsi family. There were untold riches in carvings, statuary, and ornaments fashioned from precious Imperial jade.

Most pieces were nephrite, having a pale green-gray color and a waxy luster. The most valuable pieces were large relief plaques and vases from the Sung Dynasty, carved in the early 1200s. There were many other treasures here, and they had been in Hsi’s family for ages, but now this was about to end.

The crumbling of imperial rule in China had begun decades before as foreign intervention increased. England was unhappy with trade agreements in 1839, so it started the Opium War. In the end, the Chinese Emperor gave England some special concessions. Russia, France, and Germany obtained favored status soon after that.

The T’ai P’ing Rebellion exploded in 1848, lasted 17 years, and was followed sometime later by the bitter Chinese defeat in the first Chino-Japanese War. With each attack, the Ch’ing Dynasty got weaker and less able to run China’s internal affairs.

In the late 1890s, both Great Britain and the United States encouraged the Open Door Policy, undermining the royal power structure even more and virtually dismembering the entire country. In a last desperate bid to oust the foreigners, the dowager Empress Ts’u Hsi engineered a mass Chinese revolt in 1900, the well-known Boxer Rebellion.

The uprising failed, all but fracturing Imperial authority completely. Foreign troops from many nations were stationed throughout China to exert control over the people.

During this time, other Chinese were far from idle. Extensive, careful plotting by Sun Yat-sen culminated in the successful Republican revolution in 1911. The following year, the Supreme Emperor of China, Kwang Hsu of the Ching Dynasty, officially abdicated his throne and rule. The imperial China that had survived for centuries was no more. That same year, Sun Yat-sen resigned his presidency in favor of Yuan Shih-kai, who established a harsh military regime.

Part of the new president’s plan was to consolidate his power. To do so, it was necessary to root out the lingering Imperial aristocracy throughout the country, kill, imprison, or banish all those of royal extraction, and confiscate land, palaces, and treasures in the name of the new state.

The president’s soldiers had arrived near Yuan Hsi palace only days before, and he knew something must be done. The army had not yet invaded and plundered his home, but they had posted guards at the only gate, preventing all from entering or leaving.

It was only a matter of time before the soldiers would receive orders to break into the palace and seize Hsi and his family.

Hsi was too old to flee from this destiny, but he was determined to spare his children and heritage. He had plotted for months to smuggle his two sons and his fortune out of the country. First, he tried to arrange passage by cart and rail to the north or west into Russia.

Failing in this attempt, he searched desperately for an alternative. He sent his emissaries to the port cities on China’s eastern seaboard, where they found an American captain willing to take the boys and precious artworks out by the sea.

Once the negotiations were completed, it became a race against time. The day of the escape arrived. Hsi waited on his rear terrace, eager to begin the task. He was pleased with the rain, for it would keep most soldiers inside and away from the roads.

The plan was simple. It would be impossible to transport his valuables through the heavily-guarded palace gate. The only remaining choice was to lower the treasure from the high terrace to the forested slope below. From there, his loyal servants would do the rest.

The servants gathered in the forest below the palace around noon. The twin boys were lowered to the ground, quickly followed by basket after basket of jade carvings, statuary, and other art objects. As Hsi and his wife watched silently, the servants worked hurriedly and efficiently.

The jade and other valuables were loaded into more than a dozen ox carts and covered with grain. Yuan Hsi watched the carts move away through the trees with tears in his eyes, grieving for both the loss of his sons and the loss of his culture. Within a month, Hsi and his wife were executed.

The servants and their cart caravan journeyed through the forests to the south. They trudged continuously, day and night, pausing only for food and water. Finally, they reached their destination: crowded, bustling Shanghai.

The caravan threaded through the twisting streets until it came to the noisy chaos of the waterfront wharves. Anchored in the bay at the fringe of the junks was the final goal, the American ship Christopher. She floated along with all manner of ships of all nationalities.

The Christopher was an old four-masted schooner, her bottom recently repaired and strengthened with thin iron sheets.

The American first officer met the Chinese at a prearranged spot on the docks. He led them to a small stone quay from which the treasure would be moved. Each cart was wheeled to the far end of the landing and unloaded, piece by precious piece.

Each jade carving, porcelain figurine, and tapestry were hand-carried across the floating city, the servants leaping from one boat to another until they reached the Christopher.

Aboard the ship, the American seamen formed a “bucket brigade,” lifting the valuables onto the ship and then passing them from man to man until the entire fortune was safely hidden below decks. Along with the treasure, Yuan Hsi’s two boys were escorted across the mass of junks to the American vessel, where they were berthed in a cramped forward cabin. The servants left Shanghai when their job was done and returned to their homes in the North.

The captain weighed anchor immediately and set sail into the East China Sea. Had the Americans been caught with the treasure aboard, all would have been executed by the army without trial.

The schooner swung south to clear the large Japanese island of Kyushu and ran into a storm. Still pelted by rain, she sailed to within sight of land and cleared the tiny Tokara Islands. From there, the ship charted a straight-line course to the Hawaiian Islands.

The storm was large, covering broad reaches of the northern Pacific and bringing continuous rain for most of the voyage. By the time they had passed Laysan Island, the winds had become severe, throwing huge waves over the schooner’s bow.

Visibility shrank to zero in the heavy squall, and the captain was steering blind. Within moments the Christopher was swept onto jagged, partially submerged shoals near Maro Reef, ripping out her bottom. The thin iron plating and wood of the hull were no match for the hard, razor-sharp coral.

The Christopher washed off the shoals and quickly sank into deep water, taking her incredible Oriental treasure. Ten crew members survived and made their way to Laysan Island, where they were later rescued. These men related their experience, exhibiting jade ornaments they had pilfered before the sinking to prove their story.

The waters off Maro Reef and Laysan Island can be treacherous, at best, and are shark-infested. There is no known record of the wrecks or the treasures ever being found.

In 1836, the United States government organized the Wilkes Expedition to explore the regions around the South China Sea. The Navy commissioned ship designer Samuel Humphreys to design and construct three vessels, especially for the planned voyage.

The three ships were completed the following year and embarked on shakedown cruises. All three proved much too unwieldy and slow and were judged unsatisfactory. But the government refused to abandon plans for the expedition. Instead of purchasing two pilot schooners, the Seagull and the Independence, the Navy ordered a frigate to round out the small fleet.

The sleek, fast schooners were beautiful sailing ships. The larger of the two, the Independence, was just over 86 feet long and 22 feet wide at the beam. In 1838, just before the expedition started, the Independence was given a new name: the Flying Fish.

By 1842, the Flying Fish had spent four strenuous years sailing up and down the Asian coast, and it showed. She was docked in Singapore when a naval inspection team found that she wasn’t safe to sail and had her condemned.

Before her scheduled breakup, she was sold to a private group of investors. She was renamed “Spec” and quickly acquired an infamous reputation for her use in smuggling unrefined opium throughout Asia and occasionally to Hawaii.

A large order for opium was placed from San Francisco in the spring of 1846. Negotiations were completed. The deal involved $100,000 worth of opium being paid for in gold coins, probably $10 gold eagles. The opium was put on the Spec in Singapore, and the ship set sail for the southeast.

The Spec’s tawdry missions were no secret to U. S. authorities, so the ship faced possible trouble if she tried to dock in San Francisco. Instead, she sailed for the Hawaiian Islands, which were then independent, and docked at Honolulu on the island of Oahu. The evening after her arrival, the transaction was completed.

The pure opium was secretly off-loaded and transferred to another ship. At the same time, a shallow-draft boat pulled alongside carrying a chest of gold coins. Hefting the chest onto the Spec, the sailors locked it securely in the captain’s cabin.

Provisions and freshwater were stored aboard the ship for her return voyage. The next morning, the Spec set sail despite the storm warnings that turned the sky into an ugly gloom.

She made it as far west as the island of Kauai before the storm broke. Desperate for shelter, the captain sailed the ship into the Kaulakahi Channel between the islands of Kauai and Niihau. Instead of helping to abate the storm, the channel served as a funnel for the full force of the gale.

Condemned four years before, and since on borrowed time, the Spec quickly broke up in the twisting water and sank in 700 fathoms, taking her gold to the bottom along with most of the crew.

$100,000 in gold was certainly on board the Spec when she sank, but if the gold was in U.S. $10 gold coins, as claimed by two surviving seamen, the treasure could be worth up to 500 times its face value. No record of any salvage ever being done can be found.

In the 1880s, the Hawaiian Islands were in a time of change that was chaotic and loud. Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and Samoans came to Hawaii because it was becoming a central trading hub in the Pacific. At the same time, Americans were investing money and developing the islands’ industries.

The Japanese ship Kigiku arrived in this environment. A former whaler with three masts, she put into Maui in 1883 to take on supplies and allow the crew much-needed shore leave.

Among the crew were three young apprentice seamen on their first voyage. Ichiro Takei, who was unhappy and didn’t like being told what to do, was the most outspoken of the three. After their first week ashore, they were convinced that Hawaii was an absolute paradise.

Takei decided to stay on the islands and persuaded his two friends to jump ship and join him. He made discreet inquiries along the wharf about the best way to proceed. He asked about working conditions and where he would live. He found out that staying in Hawaii might be harder than he thought.
The islands’ population was already growing at an alarming rate.

The three would require money to purchase shelter and assistance from various criminal elements to stay on the islands. None had any funds to speak of, but Takei was not to be put off so easily. He was determined to stay on the beach-encircled land.

Each day Takei patiently observed the business opportunities. Every few hours, young boys, serving as runners, hand-carried satchels of coins to the deposit banks for some exchange. Takei followed the runners and shopkeepers, noting their routes and schedules.

He paid great attention to the busiest stalls. Keen observation divulged that one particular merchant sent his big deposit in just after noon, and with this new knowledge, Takei concocted his plan.

One afternoon, Takei and his two friends concealed themselves in an alleyway separating some ramshackle waterfront buildings and opening onto the congested marketplace. Each armed with waterlogged timbers for clubs, they waited for the runner who consistently carried the largest satchel. Fifteen minutes passed before they spotted the teenager threading his way through the crowd with the heavy sack.

Luck was with the three scoundrels that day. As the boy moved against the warehouse wall to bypass the cluster of people blocking the street, he stepped into the alley for a moment. Takei reached out and yanked the boy back into the shadows, clouting him on the head and knocking him unconscious. Not a soul on the street witnessed the event.

They carried the boy to the back of the alley and checked their loot. Sure enough, the sack was brimming with coins. They left their crime scene and headed to the outskirts of town along the shoreline.

The three walked up the palm-fringed beach for about an hour, then headed inland across the broken volcanic waste, pocked with sprouts of rugged scrub. As they went, Takei sketched a map of their route so they might find their treasure again once it was hidden, as they were afraid to show so much money all at once.

Crossing half a dozen sharp rills, they rounded a sloping lava spur rising to a small, dormant spatter cone. They hid their little cache somewhere near the base of this conical upthrust.

Takei made two more copies of the map and gave one to each of his friends. Then, using their charts, the three retraced their steps back to the town and arranged a meeting with the local criminals who had promised them refuge.

Later that evening, the three Japanese confessed their crime and offered their loot to the crooks as a first payment for protection and shelter, but the crooks only laughed. The Japanese had robbed a runner, to be sure.

But they didn’t know that these runners only carried small amounts of extra cash that shop owners didn’t want to deal with. In Takei’s case, he had engineered the theft of a few dollars worth of so-called Haiku Plantation tokens.

These small coins were minted in 1882 by the Haiku Cane Plantation Company and carried the legend “One Rial” along with their date. Deciding that dealing with such amateurs was dangerous, the criminals threw the Asians out and told them to get out of the islands.

No one knows how or why Takei and one of his friends were murdered a few hours later. The third man turned up badly injured with stab wounds, barely alive. When authorities found him and tried to give what help they could, he sought absolution for his crime and confessed all. He presented his captors with a copy of his map and died before morning.

The three murders were never solved. Perhaps Takei had threatened the criminals with exposure, so they killed him and his friends. As for the tokens, about 700 of them were taken from the runner. While worth only a few dollars in 1883, today, these coins are extremely rare and sought after by collectors, and each one could be worth as much as $500.

There is no record that the coins were found, and the cache near the spatter cone in Hawaii, worth about $350,000, is still there.

Since Hawaii is a fairly recent admission to the United States, it has not had the amount of research done into other states’ treasure locations. A little-known treasure story in Hawaii concerns Captain Cook, the first man to circumnavigate the world.

When he was killed in 1778 by natives of the Hawaiian Islands, historians and researchers differed as to which island Cook was anchored near at the time of his death; the natives had never seen any white men.

The story goes that when the guns, lead, powder, the ship’s treasury, and other items were seized by the natives, they were taken to their king. Thinking the articles were magical instruments, the king ordered them buried.

Several knowledgeable people have suggested that this cache could be on the island of Kauai because it is known that several treasures were hidden on this island by the natives in later years, especially that of King Kamehameha in 1819.

This island could have been used as a depository by this line of kings for hundreds of years. There is a legend that an extinct tribe of small people lived here after their original home sank into the sea. These people were the guardians of all treasures buried on the island.

This island is a rugged, high-cliffed area with deep ravines. It is hard to reach, even by boat. Whether or not Cook’s treasure, worth a fortune today, is on this island will not be known unless it is found. But the island of Kauai seems to be the most likely area to search.

Almost any beach in Hawaii is worth a coin toss because of the many tourists who visit them every day. The best time to hunt is right after a severe storm. Another tip is to watch where most people gather and swim on a particular beach and where beach and company parties are held.

Be sure to check the area where these activities are held the following day or immediately after they are over before all of the lost items sink deep into the sand.

The reason so much jewelry is lost is that when most people go to Hawaii, they take their best jewelry and do not leave it in the hotel room but wear it. Also, the first thing people do when they arrive at the beach is put on sun-tan lotion.

A combination of lotion and salt water causes the skin to shrink. Before you know it, they have lost their rings and other valuables in the water. When a piece of jewelry hits the sand, it’s gone. The sand is so fine that anything dropped on it sinks right in.

The following is a list of places to coin-shoot. All treasure hunters planning a vacation to Paradise State should visit Hawaii’s beaches.

Waikiki Beach is the most productive because of the many tourists who visit it daily.
Ala Moana Beach is a favorite family beach because reefs protect it. Hanauma Beach is also a good family beach.

Diamond Head Beach is a good one because of the undercurrents. However, these undercurrents can be dangerous to divers.

Sunset Beach, Sandy, Kailua, and Punaluu Beaches are all good search areas. Waimea Beach is an excellent place to search because the International Surfing Meets are held there.

Haleiwa and Mokuleia Beaches are also good search areas. The entire seashore of all the beaches is an excellent place to hunt, as many people like to find secluded beaches for their parties, etc.

One of the largest and most important treasures in the Hawaiian Islands, which is not too well known but would be worth a fortune today, both from a monetary and an archaeological viewpoint, is the burial chamber of Hawaii’s most famous ruler, King Kamehameha, who died in 1819.

It is a vast treasure of jewels, pearls, diamonds, and rare artifacts. It is also said to have his warrior robes decorated with parts of two colorful birds that no longer exist.

Legend has it that the burial is in a cave in a rainforest. Not much is known about how he was buried, except when he died, there was a big ceremony, and then a great group of people went to a secret place to bury their beloved king.

Also, it is possible that he wasn’t buried in a cave, as some think, because many Hawaiians buried their dead in hand-dug underground chambers. Much research will be required on this one. An excellent place to start might be at the Bishop Museum on Oahu; the History and Archaeology Departments of the University of Hawaii might have something on it.

Don Francisco de Paula Marin was shanghaied in 1810 in California and put on a ship bound for Hawaii, then known as the Sandwich Islands. When the ship reached Honolulu, Marin appealed to the authorities and was released.

He then stayed on the island and eventually prospered by dealing in sandalwood and pearls. He is believed to have amassed a small fortune through these enterprises.

There is a legend that a great part of his wealth was hidden in a cave on Ford Island known as the Cave of Bones. Ford Island lies in the center of Pearl Harbor and belongs to the United States Navy. Probably not a foot of the island remains unchanged by man.

What happened to the cave? No one seems to know. Indeed, if it has not been destroyed in the years since Marin’s death in 1837, it now lies beneath some naval installation.

In 1818, a ship called the Victory, commanded by an Englishman named Turner, dropped anchor at Kealakekua Bay. The sailors on board had a lot of gold and silver goblets, crucifixes, and candlesticks from churches.

King Kamehameha was happy to purchase the ship from Turner.

But before the king could outfit his new three-rigger, another ship sailed into the harbor. This one was a Spanish man-of-war. Its captain told King Kamehameha that the ship had been stolen in Buenos Aires and that pirates had been raiding and robbing churches along the coast of Chile.

After giving the victory to the Spanish commander, the artifacts were found to be missing. The pirates had presumed to have slipped ashore with these articles and buried them before selling the ship to the king. King Kamehameha rounded up all the pirates and turned them over to the Spanish commander for punishment.

What happened to the thousands of dollars worth of valuable church artifacts is unknown, but it would be worth checking into.

The following is an unusual treasure location involving a Hawaiian king.

On November 27, 1823, King Liholiho, son of King Kamehameha, boarded the ship L’Aigle, under the command of Captain Starbuck, for a visit to England. After the party of twenty-odd people was on board, the ship set sail. Liholiho brought a chest with $25,000 in it, which he gave the captain before they set sail. A few days later, he checked the chest, which contained less than $10,000.

Captain Starbucks refused an explanation for this discrepancy. The king, feeling it was beneath his dignity, did not press the matter since he was on his way to visit England. On July 8, 1824, Liholiho and his wife died of measles in London.

It is unknown whether Captain Starbuck hid the missing money before sailing. In any event, the approximately $15,000 missing was never accounted for, and none of the crew suddenly became wealthier. A check of the ship’s records and where Captain Starbuck was staying before the ship sailed could turn up something on the $15,000.

Several stories are still being told of caches made by American soldiers and civilians in 1942, just after the Japanese destroyed Pearl Harbor. For several months after the first attack, neither the military nor the civilian population knew whether the Japanese would take over the Hawaiian Islands. This would be a good time to do research into this.

For those divers who are interested, there are hundreds of relics of World War II scattered along most of Hawaii’s coast.

Alfred Devereaux was a notorious opium runner in Hawaii for several years. He supplied merchants with unrefined opium, which he smuggled out of China. It is believed that he cached close to $100,000 on the tiny island of Kohoalame before he was killed under mysterious circumstances.

His murder was never solved, but other runners who were jealous of his success were thought to have done it. There is no record of any of the thousands of dollars he is known to have accumulated ever being found.

There is one known true ghost town in Hawaii, Hoopuloa. Still, several other extinct villages scattered through the islands, plus several U.S. military installations, now deserted, which should be of interest to ghost towners.

Legend says that off Palemano Point, near Kealakekua Bay, is the hulk of a Spanish treasure galleon. There could be some truth to this legend. It is known that a ship was wrecked in a gale off South Kana. Two pale-skinned survivors have washed ashore, the captain and his sister.

It is believed that their ship was part of the Spanish treasure fleet of Alvarado de Sacuedra, scattered by a gale from Zacatecas, Mexico, to the Spice Islands, in October 1527.

The English pirate ship Content sank on the reefs off Palemano Point near the entrance to Kealakekua Bay. It is known that the ship was carrying some treasure, but what kind and the amount are unknown.

Here is your chance to do some prospecting in Hawaii, a 390-mile chain of islets and eight main islands, Hawaii, Kahoolawe, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau.

At a remote time deep beneath the ocean, all of Hawaii existed. It took several hundred million years and countless thousands of volcanoes to bring up that tremendous amount of lava that, when cooled, formed basalts, gabbro, andesites, and rhyolites.

Volcanologists have done a lot of research over many years and, using spectrographic analysis, have shown that these lava flows contain many minerals. They list gold, tellurium, realgar (arsenic sulfide), boric acid, chlorides of sodium, ammonium, iron oxides (hematite and magnetite), Glauber salt, lithium sulfate (containing traces of thallium, rubidium, and cesium), hieratite (potassium silico-fluoride), cobalt, zinc, tin, bismuth, silver, lead, copper, iodine, phosphorous, and, of course, a lot of sulfur.

So some minerals should be listed here as high enough value to justify some prospecting.

Experts laughed when it was said that the Cripple Creek volcano, which is no longer active, had high-grade gold ores. But it did prove that experts can be wrong. This particular volcano cooled off sufficiently to bring up the auriferous rhyolites and phonolites at the right, precise temperature.

So, it would appear that if one volcano cools to slightly below the melting point of gold, it could be brought up from great depths below the gold that made Cripple Creek famous. Others might also have.
It could make hard-rock sense to experiment with a gold pan on disintegrated lava formations and rocks, sand, and gravel. With all that hematite, the old saying that “where there is much iron, there must be other minerals” applies.

You could try a more specific method of putting beans in the pot—prospect for pottery clays on Oahu, near and around Kaneohe and Waimanalo. And there is a good demand for and sale of pumice (volcanic cinder).
Instead, those who would find a more precious gemstone than a gold nugget should prospect, and find, the famous specimens of Hawaii black corals.

However, to get the best specimens of black coral, you will have to become an expert skin diver to get to the bottom of the sea, at least to a depth of 80 feet.

Here is a little-known treasure that has been found along the beaches of Hawaii. We usually think of treasure as being in the form of gold, silver, artifacts, paintings, bullion, or jewels. While these are sometimes priceless, many other forms of treasure are worth just as much.

Ambergris is one of these. It is used in making perfume after it is dissolved in alcohol as a stabilizer for fragrances. The color is grayish or yellowish-green and feels spongy to the touch.

Ambergris is formed in the stomach of whales and is something the whale “burps up.” While this substance may look, or feel unpleasant to some individuals, when you consider it is worth about $5000 per pound, it could pay anyone to forget their feelings and search for it along a coastline.

Sometimes it may be almost as hard as rosin because of exposure, or it can resemble a piece of “fat.”

Another good treasure site in Hawaii is the story of six buried chests on the island of Oahu. This story began in 1823 when a longboat with three men aboard slowly made its way into Honolulu harbor. The three men were Robinson, Brown, and Monks. This is Monk’s story; if true, it is worth looking into.

Robinson had said that he was the captain of a Peruvian ship that ran into a storm southwest of the Hawaiian Islands. At some twenty miles west of Oahu, the ship began to sink, and Robinson ordered the crew into three longboats and abandoned the ship. The other two longboats were lost, as no record of anyone seeing them.

About a month after arriving, Robinson and Brown obtained passage on a ship bound for Australia and were never seen again.

Several days later, Monks was found unconscious, stabbed, and beaten in the brush coming back from the beach. He refused to say who had done this to him, and his lips were sealed almost until he died in 1828. For a year before he died, he was cared for by an elderly Hawaiian couple who lived on what is now Beretania Street. In payment for their kindness to him, he told them what he said was the true story of the Peruvian.

Monks told them that in July 1821, he was the master of a small coastal vessel off South America and was offered the job of quartermaster on the Peruvian at Callao, Peru.

Those were the days when South American countries were trying to throw off the yoke of Spain, and revolutions and the sacking of cities were going on almost constantly. Callao was being evacuated, and the Viceroy tried to flee to safety. Ships were in great demand to carry to safety the gold, silver, and church plate to keep them out of the hands of the revolutionaries.

The Peruvian was loaded with treasure, and its captain, Robinson, ordered her to set sail for Guam, the dearest possession. En route, Robinson changed course and sailed east for the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands. On nearing Oahu, Robinson gave orders to sail close to shore.

He appeared to be looking for a landmark. Then he ordered the ship to put out to sea, heading south. That night, with no lights, he circled back toward the island, passing Honolulu Harbor and the Pearl River before continuing to the island’s west point, and there have been too.

Robinson was in a jovial mood the following day and ordered a barrel of rum broken out for the crew. “Enjoy yourself,” he said, “it’s my birthday.”

By evening, the crew was drunk. Only Robinson, Brown, Monks, and the three sailors singled out by Robinson, did not partake. Robinson told the men who were drunk to be carried down, and the hatch cover was battened down tightly. A longboat was brought alongside, and six chests were taken from Robinson’s cabin and placed in the boat.

Monks and Brown got into the boat. Robinson took a seat in the bow, and the three sailors he had picked out bent to the oars. Monks turned and saw that the Peruvian was settling. He realized that Robinson had opened the seacocks, and soon the ship would sink with the crew trapped below.

At dusk, the longboat, guided by Brown, beached on a long spit of sand and rocks on Oahu. The monks were ordered to stand by the beached boat while the three sailors and Brown followed Robinson toward the south side of the bluff that faced the beach. They were carrying two chests. After about an hour, they returned and carried off two more chests. Once more, they were gone an hour and then returned for the last two chests.

As they passed out of Monk’s sight on this last trip, he heard gunshots. Robinson and Brown returned about fifteen minutes later without the three sailors.

As the three men rowed the longboat back toward Honolulu Harbor, Monks was brief on the story he was to tell. If he did not follow orders, he was told he would die, just like the other three sailors had.
Monks never did reveal much more information than this.

He was afraid of the vengeance of Robinson and Brown. He said that Brown once told him that a platform and a wall of fitted stone were at the top of the hill where the chests were buried.

No doubt the place is Kaena Point. First, there is just such a spit of sand and rock as where the longboat landed. Then there is the stone platform. At the top of the cliff overlooking the sand spit at Kaena Point is the ruins of an old Hawaiian temple. It can still be located by the piles of stone there.

As far as is known, neither Brown nor Robinson returned to Oahu to dig up the buried treasure. Monks never dared to look for it either. Presumably, it is still there, waiting for a treasure hunter to come and find it.

Centered in the locality of Kealakekua Bay, only inland, is a story of a treasure that the Territorial Archives have completely documented.

In 1818, an Argentine ship, the Liberty, skippered by one Captain Turner, hove off Kealakekua and launched a small boat. Captain Turner had come ashore to ask permission to put in water and provisions and to make some much-needed repairs to his ship.

Permission was granted by King Kamehameha I for the ship to enter the harbor. She was brought in close to shore, where the crew quickly built thatch shelters on the beach and carried spars, sails, and ship equipment ashore. Strangely, they also brought many chests and boxes ashore and posted an armed guard day and night!

King Kamehameha became exasperated after the crew did little repair work and ordered the ship made ready to sail. Captain Turner told the king that he was not quite prepared. Soon, the crew began moving the heavy boxes and crates from the beach into the hills surrounding the bay.

The pile of boxes dwindled as the days passed. Then, one day, a large ship was seen sailing slowly back and forth in front of the bay. The men from the Liberty became excited, and many gathered arms and provisions and hurried into the hills.

The captain of the newly arrived ship came ashore and sought out King Kamehameha. He told the king that his name was Bouchard, that he was the captain of the sailing ship Argentina, and that he had been searching the seas for Captain Turner and the Liberty.

He said that Turner was a pirate who had captured ships, raided cities, and collected a large amount of gold, silver, and church plate. Captain Bouchard asked the king for help rounding up the crew from the Liberty, there were many prisoners, and some of the buried loot was recovered. Captain Turner, in the meantime, had escaped.

He had bribed some natives with gold and was taken across the channel to Maui. However, he found no refuge there and was soon captured and returned to Kealakekua.

Captain Bouchard and his men searched for the buried treasure for about two months. Though they poked into caves and scoured the ground, fully three-fourths of the loot was never recovered.

Months later, it came to light that, in truth, both Captains Turner and Bouchard were pirates. Bouchard, a one-time officer in the Argentine Navy, had run off with two ships, the Liberty and Argentina. Crews in those days were easily convinced that a pirate’s life was great wealth.

They had pirated all along the South American coast, with the heavier gunned Argentina doing the fighting and the Liberty picking up the loot. Captain Turner had slipped away from Argentina during a violent storm, but Bouchard pursued him and caught him at Kealakekua.

No one knows the value of this treasure, but from several known “kills” made by those two ships, the total amount must have been large.

One Joseph Chapman, an American sailor aboard Argentina, was captured when Bouchard fought at Monterey, CA, following the adventure at Kealakekua. It was Chapman who told the story of the buried treasure. There is no record of anyone’s finding any of the treasure in the hills and caves surrounding the bay, so it is presumed that it is still there.

The buried caches cannot be too far inland, the terrain is extremely rugged, and men carrying heavy chests and boxes could not travel far. Modern metal detectors should be a big help in finding this lost treasure.

Scroll to Top