Indiana was part of the Northwest Territory ceded to England by France in 1763 after the French and Indian War. The French had explored and claimed all the land north of the Ohio River and west to the Mississippi. Between 1700 and 1750, they built trading posts, forts, and missions along the major rivers, but most of their activity was centered on the Great Lakes.
The present limits of the state were surveyed in 1809. The last major Indian war in Indiana began in 1810 and ended in November 1811, when General Harrison defeated the Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe.
Much of the fighting during the War of 1812 took place in Indiana. Indiana Territory became a state and was admitted into the Union in 1816. By 1830, the United States government had moved most Indians west of the Mississippi River.
The state offers numerous locations for the treasure hunter regardless of the type of treasure he seeks.
An overlooked treasure site is that of an Indian treasure in Floyd County. The man who can remember the following story is still living at 83.
Albert Schuller was twenty years old when a middle-aged Indian came to his father’s farm near Greenville, Indiana, and asked permission to search for a cave full of silver bars that had been left by his ancestors somewhere in the area in 1820.
Permitted to search, the Indian spent several days on the farm, always looking for a large oak tree, which was a starting point. Almost ready to stop searching, the Indian finally asked Schuller’s father if he could remember such a tree with a deer’s head carved into it.
The elder Schuller remembered hearing his father tell of such a tree and its markings. The tree had been cut down years before, but Schuller recalled where he had been told it stood. The Indian began searching again and, a few days later, told the elder Schuller that he had found what he was looking for. Before leaving, the Indian said he would return in a few days.
About a week later, he returned with twenty to thirty Indians. They asked the elder Schuller if they could barbecue and explore the cave. The Schuller family watched the Indians butcher beef and build fires, around which they danced for hours.
Two days later, the Indian that had first visited Schuller stopped by the farmhouse (the other Indians had disappeared, the Schuller’s never knew when they left or what they took with them) and told the family that he was leaving but that if they could find it, there was enough silver to shoe every horse in Indiana.
Schuller and his family searched for the next several days.
All they found was a large empty hole the Indians had dug, apparently after dark because the Schullers had not seen them digging. The Indians were never seen again.
It wasn’t until several years later that a cave was discovered about a mile from the Schuller’s farmhouse. This cave was exposed when spring rains flooded the area. As far as I can learn, the cave was exposed when spring rains flooded the area. As far as I can learn, the cave was explored only once.
It has since fallen in, and no one knows if the Indians obtained the silver from this cave or dug it up elsewhere.
This story has been in the Schuller family for over sixty years. If the Indian told the truth (and he had no reason to live after he and his companions took what silver they needed with them) either in the cave or close by, a fortune in silver bars is still hidden.
A locally known as “Little Goss Cave” was named after Hugh Goss, its first owner. Little Goss Cave is near Greenville, about three miles off Highway 150 on State Route 335. This cave has two entrances and three levels.
One man could hold off an army from a lookout point above the lower entrance. The spot was a perfect place for outlaws. Tradition has it that the Reno train robbers used the cave as a hiding place. The gang is believed to have hidden money from robberies in or around the cave.
Indians also lived in Little Goss Cave at one time. Several Indian mounds are in the vicinity, and numerous native artifacts have been found near the cave.
No one can decipher the symbols chiseled on a large rock at one end of the entrance to the cave. Nobody knows whether the horseshoe, star, footprint, left-hand print, arrow, and circle were carved there by Indians or outlaws. Still, they were probably directions to something hidden, possibly treasure.
The cave and land around it are now owned by Edmond Drabek, who does not permit anyone to examine the places of interest on his property without permission. Still, he will readily grant permission when approached.
In about 1775, during a raid, a band of roving Indians took a keg of silver coins from one of the settlers. They buried the keg on the banks of a creek which later came to be called Silver Creek in Clark County. Early settlers tried to find the coins. General George Rogers Clark believed the story of the buried coins, and his first cabin in Indiana overlooked the Ohio River near the mouth of Silver Creek.
Navigators on the Ohio River during the 1840s-1870s used to remark, “Yonder range of hills is supposed to be rich in silver ore, which may be found in the banks of the creek as well.”
Men have searched for the silver ore and the keg of coins, but no find has been reported.
Before the last Indian war in Indiana, 1810-1811, an uneasy peace existed between the white man and the Indian. About 1807, Absalom Fields lived in the vicinity of McBride’s Bluff, in Martin County.
He was friendly with the band of Indians living near Indian Creek, a tributary of the White River.
One night he was awakened by two Indians and told, “No light. You come. We no hurt you. We take you and show you something.”
The Indians blindfolded him, turned him around several times, led him some distance, and then took him aboard a canoe. Since the stream was low, and the canoe could be paddled in either direction, Fields never knew whether they went up or downstream.
The Indians landed the boat and conducted him a short distance along a trail and into a large cavern, where they removed his blindfold. There were several Indians present, including squaws and children.
Some metal, and the ore from which it came, were shown to him, and the Indians said it was silver. Several small bars were in a pile. They were about six inches long, two inches wide, half an inch thick, and had been formed with a crude flaring mold.
Fields was given three bars, then blindfolded again and returned to his cabin. After that incident, he spent countless hours trying to retrace the route to the hidden cave.
Years later, on a flatboat trip down the river to New Orleans, he met one of the Indians who had lived near McBride’s Bluff. The Indian remarked, “If white man only knew it, he could shoe horses as cheaply with silver as iron.”
Fields asked the Indian where the silver might be found. All the Indian would say was, “You stand on Big Bluffs, look away to the south over the big bottom. Maybe it is that way. Maybe not. Don’t forget to look down under you. Maybe down there. Maybe not. White man never finds. He heaps too big fool-digs till he most finds it and quits. Paleface never find.”
Symbols were chiseled on a large rock directly below the highest point in the Bluffs to indicate where the silver was hidden. There was a half-moon, a star, and a crawling snake with its head pointed toward the treasure cave. Fields kept the silver bars. One of them had a descendant until a few years ago. The cave of precious metal still awaits some paleface who is not a “heap big fool.”
In 1921, George “Dutch” Anderson and Gerald Chapman robbed a mail truck in New York of $1,424,139. Only $27,000 of this amount was in cash. Not wanting to sell the securities at a loss of 40% on the dollar, the two bandits went to Muncie, Indiana, where they converted only $100,000 worth of them into cash.
On the way back to New York, they were caught and given 25 years each in the penitentiary in Atlanta. Chapman escaped but was apprehended two days later. Later, Anderson escaped to a farm outside Muncie, killed the owners, Ben House and his wife, and then burned the house on their bodies. He was killed in Michigan a short time later. Anderson was hanged on April 5, 1926.
Nothing has been learned of the almost $900,000 left in securities from the robbery. They were almost certainly buried along with some of the cash near the House farm. Anderson and Chapman were city men and would not have gone far from the farmhouse to bury the money. The money is probably still where they hid it, waiting for some lucky treasure hunter to come along.
Scientists believe that Indians used the Wyandotte Caves in the Harrison-Crawford State Forest on Highway 62 up to AD 1500. In the Senate Chambers of Big Wyandotte Cave, an area of approximately 1000 cubic feet, Indians mined some unknown mineral before the white man came. Stories of these Indian mines have been told in Crawford County since the days of the earliest pioneers.
About 1900, the Wyandotte Caves were on land owned by a man named Rothrock. Three counterfeiters used the caves without his knowledge. Accidentally learning of their nefarious activities, Rothrock took several men with him one night and surprised the counterfeiters.
A gunfight followed, in which one of the gang was killed. Another was captured. The third man returned to the cave with part of the counterfeit coins and was never seen again. Money molds, a small smelter, and a quantity of silver ore were found, but the captured outlaw would not tell where they had obtained the ore. The source of the silver has never been found.
John Dillinger is believed to have buried two caches in Indiana. One was on his father’s ten-acre produce farm near Mooresville. He always timed the arrival at the farm late at night. On one occasion, Dillinger told his friend, Evelyn Frechette, that he had buried the money in a suitcase wrapped in an oilcloth.
John is also supposed to have occasionally visited a friend who owned a farm near Cedar Lake in Lake County. It is believed that he buried the money from an Indianapolis bank robbery on that farm. After several robberies, he made trips south of Chicago alone and always at night, carrying money.
It has always been assumed that he visited his father at Mooresville and hid the currency on these occasions. But this farm has been searched repeatedly by government agents and by local people, and nothing has been reported found. It is highly possible that Dillinger let everyone think he went to his father’s farm.
Since only about $25,000 of the reported $1,000,000 that Dillinger took in different robberies has ever been recovered, it might be worthwhile to explore the land around Cedar Lake.
If there weren’t considerable researched proof of its existence, this story of $100,000 buried on a farm in Steuben County would sound like fiction.
The four Downing brothers, Samuel, George, Jake, and Bill, were born in Ohio, but the family moved to Steuben County in the 1830s. Sam and George never married. After the death of his brother Sam, George combined the two farms, quit farming, and started raising cattle.
He also sold timber. According to stories of his neighbors, the McElroy families, George did not trust banks and always buried his money on the farm. It was common knowledge in the neighborhood that he had a small fortune in gold.
Very little is known of the brother Jake, only that he married a woman named Mary and lived quietly on a farm near George.
William (Bill) went to Colorado when he was 18 years old, then to Texas, where he became a Sam Bass outlaw gang member. He went by the name Frank Jackson.
This same Bill Downing stood over the wounded Bass and made an escape with him on horseback. But Bass was too badly wounded to go far. He told Downing to go on and get away. Bill went to New Mexico, where he participated in the Lincoln County War.
For the next few years, he worked with different outlaw gangs. No one knows what he did with his part of the stolen money, but it is known that he visited his brother, George, in Indiana twice before his last visit in 1888. Only a few trusted people knew of his visit.
It seems very likely that he buried most of his ill-gotten money on his brother’s farm. Bill was captured on September 19, 1899, and sentenced to ten years at Yuma Territorial Prison.
On being released in 1908, he met William M. (Billy) Breckenridge and said, “I’m going home to Indiana and dig up some money that will put me back in business.”
Breckenridge, who had been a territorial peace officer, a Wells Fargo agent, a U. S. deputy marshal, and a sheriff of Pima County, Arizona, had long known Downing.
Bill was killed in August 1908 by Ranger William Speed at Wilcox, Arizona. As far as can be learned, he never visited Indiana after 1888. It is believed that his money is still buried on the farm of his brother, George.
It is a known fact that Bill Downing visited his brother George a few years after the Sam Bass gang was broken up in the shoot-out at Round Rock, Texas, in July 1878.
No record of George Downing having any money in a bank can be found. When it is considered he sold hundreds of cattle and thousands of trees for lumber over 50 to 60 years, he had to accumulate quite a fortune. No report of this cache, or caches, can be found.
Several years ago, a story circulated in the area that a small amount of gold was found on the farm. But I can learn nothing positive about this.
In 1891, two men broke into George’s home and tortured him for hours to learn where the money was. They learned nothing, and George was crippled for life. The two hoodlums were never caught. George Downing died in 1917 at age 90.
His farm stood near York, Indiana. From all of the evidence, there should be over $100,000 buried by both George and Bill on this farm that has not been reported found. Anyone interested in searching should contact the County Court Clerk in Angola, Indiana, to learn who owns the property now since it has changed hands over the years.
This location of a hidden treasure is scarcely known, even in the county where it happened. I have taken this description of the robbery and subsequent trial of the thieves verbatim from a History of Jay County, Indiana, 1964 edition, by M. W. Montgomery.
“On the night of the 4th of February, 1862, the Treasury of Jay County was robbed of four thousand six hundred dollars, of which one hundred belonged to Dr. E. R. Sheffield and about two hundred dollars to B. W. Hawkins. County Treasurer Joseph P. Winters, Sheriff J. E. Lotz, and Auditor W. C. Sutton immediately set to work to ferret out the perpetrators.
They managed, with great ingenuity and skill, to learn who the robbers were. On the 6th of March 1862, William Brandon of Union City, a merchant in Portland for many years, and John Barker, Samuel P. Johns, and William Blackburg of Dayton was arrested and brought before Judge J. M. Hayes and held on bail for $12,000 each.
In a few days, Blackburn escaped. The prisoners desired a change of venue and were sent to Muncie, Indiana, where the trial opened on the 30th of April, 1862.
“Barker was tried first. William Brandon turned State’s evidence, was released from the trial, and became the chief witness for the prosecution. The testimony phonographically reported for the ‘Jay Torch-Light’ by M. W. Montgomery developed the following facts.
“Johns planned the robbery, and Brandon piloted them. They got the treasurer’s office keys and were safe from Mr. Winter’s house. Barker’s trial lasted five days and resulted in his conviction and a sentence of three years imprisonment. John’s trial also lasted five days, and he was sentenced to four years in the penitentiary.
“In May 1862, Blackburn was again caught and confined in the Muncie jail, from which he soon escaped. He was, however, retaken in a few months and placed in a new jail in Portland. From this, he also escaped by sawing off the iron bars in the windows. He was retaken for a third time, tried at Winchester in September 1863, and sent to the penitentiary for seven days- just half long enough.
“Thus, by the most skillfully planned and well-executed strategy and praiseworthy perseverance on the part of the county officers and the attorneys of Portland, the perpetrators of the greatest robbery ever committed in the county were brought to trial and convicted. The county never recovered any lost money and expended nearly $2000 more in catching and prosecuting the thieves.”
This would be a good location for local research. Blackburn is supposed to have buried most of the gold. None of it was used to pay for lawyers. Blackburn was never allowed to enter Jay County after he was released from the penitentiary. It is almost certain that somewhere around where Blackburn lived in Dayton, Indiana, there is a small fortune (at today’s prices) in gold waiting for some lucky treasure hunter.
This story of lost historical and irreplaceable town records and a town’s treasury (of an unknown amount) is still being told around Shoals, Indiana, in Martin County. There have been several unsuccessful searches made for this recorded cache.
It was in 1814 that Frederick Sholts located a homestead that later became a prosperous river town known as Hindostan, which was to be deserted tragically a few years later. Hindostan stood on the East Fork of White River, a few miles southwest of where Shoals is today. It was an important town in the stagecoach system at one time, with an overnight stop. It had a grist and sawmill. Farm products and natural stone for the building were plentiful.
Hindostan was on its way to becoming a major city until one stormy night in June 1828. While a square dance was in progress in a new tavern on the main street, the door was violently pushed open by a disheveled, rain-soaked man.
He paused in the doorway as if drunk, then shouted at the revelers, “Half of the town is sick; they’re dying like flies.” In answer to the questioning looks of the dancers, the man added, “No, I’m not drunk; I wish I were. A plague has hit us, and there ain’t a doctor for miles.”
The people stood in small groups, talking wildly, fear and dread tugging at their hearts and minds. Whispers around the room were, “Maybe it’s the Black Death, or cholera, milk sickness.” No one knew. The man who had delivered the death sentence on the town turned back into a stormy night.
During the second quarter of the 19th century, the mysterious plague struck Hindostan. Most of the town’s citizens died of the unknown malady. Many hastily loaded their belongings into wagons and fled. The Tomey family, trying to ford the river at night, was drowned when their wagon overturned.
Those who remained behind to bury the dead were soon carried away in rude oak boxes to the burying ground on the knoll. At times there were not enough good people to bury the dead.
The victims unknowingly contracted the disease, and sometimes they died within hours.
Authorized by the Indiana General Assembly, the Martin County commissioners, meeting hastily on July 7, 1828, voted to remove the county seat from stricken Hindostan to Mt. Pleasant. Hindostan was now a ghost town.
Bats moved into the still incomplete Courthouse, doors of the fine new cabins swung in the wind, and dust gathered on the floors. The empty shelves of the general store were covered with cobwebs.
Today all the remains of this once lively, prosperous town are some large holes dug in the rock to support the timbers of the mill wheel, a few stones, the burying ground, and the legends.
What was the fatal epidemic? Some think it may have been cholera. Others believe it was an illness caused by milk contaminated by food eaten by cows. It may have been some disease then unknown or not understood. Nobody knows. There is no medical record. Maybe it was what the Indians called a Red Wind that passed through this prosperous little town. A death wind.
There is still another mystery linked with Hindostan. This is the location of the town’s records and treasury.
The story is that the county treasurer, who the county commissioners and the Legislature ordered to take his records, fund, and office to Mt. Pleasant, did not comply with the order.
The treasurer became panic-stricken and decided to flee from the dread, mysterious scourge. He took the money he held in custody, the valuable records, and placed them all in a huge iron pot. He buried the pot for safekeeping against a more favorable day.
But for the treasurer, that day never came. He was infected by the plague, became unconscious, and died before he could tell anyone where he had buried the treasury. No court or town records before 1828 exist today.
Somewhere close, or in (he couldn’t have carried it very far), the vacant field where the town of Hindostan once stood is believed buried a large iron pot filled with invaluable records and a town’s treasury. What would they be worth today?
There is a little-known cache of gold that, as far as can be determined, has had no search done for it. The Indian village of Chippewanung stood about one mile east of where Route #31 crosses the Tippecanoe River, near Rochester, Indiana.
It was here in 1836 that the treaty with the Potawatomi Indians was made. For the sum of $64,000 in gold, which was brought by wagon from Fort Wayne, the Indians gave up several hundred acres of land surrounding their village and agreed to move west of the Mississippi River.
Two white traders who had trading posts near the Indian village claimed that the Indians owed them $24,000 for supplies. After the gold was delivered to the Indians, violence broke out between the Indians and the two white traders over the payment of this amount. A few days later, Colonel Abel C. Pepper ordered the Indians to return the money, but $14,000 in gold could not be found.
After searching the Indians and finding no money, the soldiers believed it to have been buried somewhere around the village site. The Indians could not have taken the money with them because the army only let them take tools and personal possessions when they left.
The report of this incident comes from the papers of the Government Agent, Colonel Abel C. Pepper, who was in charge of the treaty and the money. A check of the old trading posts and the Potawatomi Indian village site in this area could pay off.
At about 1900, 12 Indians came to the home of James D. Huff near Blankenship and asked for food. After being fed, they went directly to an overhanging sandstone cliff close to Turkey Creek. On this cliff were carved the outlines of two large turtles, an Indian face, a large rattlesnake, a wolf, and other Indian picture writing. The Indians studied these symbols for two days.
The landowner was friendly to them and heard their arguments over the meaning of the pictographs. One Indian told him that a treasure of their tribe had been buried in the vicinity when their ancestors were forced to leave their lands in the 1830s.
Their ancestors were allowed to take only a few personal possessions. If the symbols were deciphered correctly, the Indian declared, they would tell them where his forefathers had buried the treasure.
The Indians could never agree on the exact location indicated by the carvings on the rock, so nothing was found. Huff could never learn the meaning of the symbols. Some are still visible on the cliffs near Blankenship in Martin County. Whatever was hidden by the Indians in the 1830s is still there.
A branch of the Choctaw Indians lived for over a hundred years at McBride’s Bluff in Martin County, near Shoals. They settled there after making peace with the local Plankishaw Indians. These Choctaws were a nomadic tribe that had traveled as far west as Arizona, where they had found some fabulous gold nuggets.
Having learned the value of gold from white men in Georgia years before, the Indians had appointed a medicine man to carry the nuggets during their wanderings. After losing a battle with the militia from nearby Fort Ritner at the mouth of Indian Creek, the warlike Choctaws precipitately departed from McBride’s Bluff.
After agreeing to leave the gold nuggets behind, they buried them beside a large boulder near the river bank a short distance from one of the caves entering the bluff. The site was expertly camouflaged with rocks, leaves, and sticks.
Symbols were cut into a beech and an elm tree, pointing to the treasure. White men who knew nothing of the carvings later cut down the trees. No definite clue remains as to the location of the precious nuggets.
In the 1850s, prairie pirates infested Newton County. They were so bad that one traveler described them as being “thick as fleas on a dog’s back. We were forced to travel in groups of at least three to five for our protection against them. They employ all sorts of diversions to try to take us unawares.”
A favorite spot for these robbers was covered bridges, several of which were within the county. Sometimes they would hide in the dark shadows of the bridge and pull an unwary traveler from his horse or shoot him. At other times, they would hide behind a large rock close to the trail and shoot the traveler’s horse.
When their victim was afoot, three or four bandits would overpower him. In those days of single-shot, muzzle-loading rifles, he had to be stabbed or bludgeoned to death. The victim was usually buried in a shallow grave or thrown into a nearby stream.
Almost all of the fords and covered bridge sites in Newton County have local stories of robberies and murders during the ten years before the Civil War. There are reputed caches of bandit loot at almost all these locations.
Silver mines supposedly lie near Half-Moon Springs, four miles south of Paoli, in Orange County. A fort was built there in about 1810. The land is now the property of Philip Bosley. Earliest settlers swear that the Indians found silver and lead in large quantities in caves on that land and that they had a secret mine in the hills not far from the Springs.
About 1930, two men came to the Springs claiming to have visited an Indian squaw in Canada over 100 years old. She had told them that one of the mines was two or three miles east of the Springs. The ore, she said, was so pure that it could be chopped out with tomahawks.
The two men found ore resembling silver on the property of John Gresham, east of the Springs. After taking some samples, the two men disagreed over the mineral rights, resulting in both leaving the area and never returning.
Franklin Township in Owen County has a story of buried treasure based on fact. It began in the 1820s. A band of Gulf pirates was going north along White River. On a prominent bluff east of Freedom, they buried a cache of gold coins and drove a sword into an oak tree as a marker.
Years later, the story of the buried coins circulated in the area, but no one could locate the tree with the sword in it. In 1875, John Phipps found a sword in a rotten log. By measuring the log, he estimated that the sword had been stuck twenty-five feet high in the tree when it was standing. That probably explains why the searchers had never seen it.
The sword was taken to Indianapolis and displayed in the State House’s Geological Room. The cache of coins is supposedly still waiting somewhere on the bluff about a mile east of Freedom.
During General John Hunt Morgan’s 1863 raid through Indiana, one of his men, Lieutenant George Eastin of the Confederate Cavalry, was captured by Union soldiers in a wooded spot near Pekin in Washington County.
Having feared that he might be captured, he had buried a sword he had taken from a Union officer in Kentucky. He also buried gold and silver coins, his uniform buttons, two medals, and a large knife with the sword.
His mutilated uniform confused the Union soldiers so much that he remained in prison without being identified as an officer. Had his rank been known, he probably would have been shot. Lieutenant Easton did not return for his cache after the war.
During the Civil War, a Federal shipment of silver bars was transported from Louisville, Ky., to St. Louis, Missouri, by wagon, escorted by a few troops on horseback. Near the Wabash River, just west of the little town of Griffin, a courier arrived with the news that a detachment of Confederate raiders was riding north from Kentucky to intercept the shipment.
The silver was quickly buried, and the Union troops hurried north to avoid capture, assuming they would be outnumbered. Before they could return to recover the silver, the Wabash rose, presumably covering the site with silt. It is said that the treasure was never recovered.
The story is well-known in Chicago: Big Jim Colosimo buried a fortune in diamonds in Indiana.
Big Jim Colosimo, a gangland boss in Chicago before Al Capone was ever heard of, had a penchant for diamonds.
He wore them all over his attire and carried a pocket full of them to play with when nervous or to hand out to favorites in his restaurant on Wabash Avenue. It is believed that Colosimo had $800,000 worth of the gems when he was shot down in the restaurant by his one-time friend, Johnny Torrio.
Auditors of the Colosimo estate could locate only $40,000 in cash and the gems that Big Jim died wearing. It was recalled that just before his slaying, Colosimo had returned from a trip to Crown Point, Indiana, where some believe he buried the diamonds.
Whether this is true or not, it is pointed out that members of the Torrio gang spent many hours in Crown Point with spades. Others claim that Big Jim confided to a friend that he had buried his prized diamonds someplace in “downstate Illinois.”
On May 22, 1868, the infamous Reno Gang, composed of the three Reno Brothers and four other outlaws, robbed a train four miles east of Seymour. They took $80,000 from a safe, then fled on foot toward Rockford, two miles further east. Somewhere between the robbery site and Rockford, they stopped to bury their loot.
Vigilantes pursued the outlaws into Canada, where the Renos and other outlaws were captured. They were returned to Indiana and imprisoned in the New Albany Jail. On December 14, a group of vigilantes hanged the four after each refused to reveal where the money was cached.
The other three outlaws were never seen or heard from again. Many believed the murderous Renos had killed them to avoid having to share the loot. If this theory is correct, $80,000 could still be buried between Seymour and Rockford, about 60 miles south of Indianapolis.
An excellent account of this robbery appeared in the Chicago Tribune on December 12, 1944.
Gold Creek, in the hills of Bethany Park in Morgan County, was the scene of a gold rush in the early 1900s. After an English engineer had analyzed the creek’s waters, his report pictured the place as a second Klondike, and 3,000,000 shares with a value of $1 each were offered to the public.
Prospectors rushed to Gold Creek and sluiced its waters for pay dirt, but when 25 cents proved to be a big return for a day’s work, the gold rush came to a sudden halt. A few miles west of Gold Creek, at a place now called “Hoosier Highlands,” tradition says that Indians once panned gold in the streams.
William J. Loud was not only an aged miser but a very suspicious old miser. And when he died in 1902, he wasn’t about to tell anyone where he had buried his money.
William Loud and his two sisters had agreed that those who died first would give their money to the survivors. One sister had died and kept her part of the bargain, but William became suspicious. He was convinced that the surviving sister and a hired man would steal his money. He had, by this time, saved $25,000.
Taking his money, he made several trips into an 80-acre tract of woods he owned. There he buried his money. A few days later, he died. On his deathbed, he laughed at his sister and gave the nearest thing to a clue he would give. According to the papers, he stated that “the money under the tree won’t do anybody any good.”
The 80-acre tract was adjacent to Loud’s home near the community of Petroleum, near LaGrange in northern Indiana. Although the entire community immediately began searching for the missing treasure, there were no reports that it was ever found.
In 1791, Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, led 2000 men into battle against the Indians. The result was a tragic, ignoble defeat that killed 600 of his men. This battle took place in what is now Indiana, and it was the single worst defeat ever experienced by U. S. troops in the Indian Wars.
The scene was one of panic, with every front collapsing. St. Clair and his men fled the battlefield leaving behind their arms, gear, supplies, and valuables, even wounded comrades who could not move under their power. It was a sad sight.
Some of the men took time to bury their valuables, harboring the slim hope that they might be able to return to recover their caches. And St. Clair ordered an undisbursed payroll to be buried just before taking flight.
St. Clair’s defeat by the Indians, led by Miami Chief Little Turtle, had at least two notable results. First, the Indians now felt invincible and made war against many settlements north of the Ohio River through the rest of 1791 and all of 1792.
Second, there is a sizeable buried payroll somewhere on the battle site, not to mention the many other valuables lost. This latter result is the one that should interest all treasure hunters.
“You’ll never have to worry,” Jacob Cox assured his wife. “We got enough money from the land sale to care for you and our daughter, even though she is sick, for the rest of our lives.”
“I knew you’d worry about it while I was in town if the money were left in the house, so I’ve buried it for safekeeping,” the farmer continued. “When I get home with the supplies, I’ll show you where I hid it. That $5000 in gold can rest easy till then. Meanwhile, if anybody tries to find out from you where it is, you can truthfully tell them you don’t know.”
Because several bandit gangs were roaming southern Indiana in 1884, Cox undoubtedly thought he was doing the wisest thing to protect his family. The buried gold was from selling a large portion of their farm outside Old Cale, Indiana.
But despite Cox’s desire to guard his family’s future, he was completely frustrated. Before he could return home with the supplies, he was dead. His body was found alongside the road. He was believed to have been the victim of one of the gangs, perhaps men who thought he would have his gold with him.
Mrs. Cox and some of her neighbors searched fruitlessly for the gold after his death, but he had hidden it too well. His daughter died soon after Cox was killed; later, Mrs. Cox died penniless.
Old Cale is about a mile northeast Indian Springs and east of the Crane Naval Depot. Since this has not been a widely-reported treasure, some ambitious treasure hunters may uncover Jacob Cox’s gold.
Several people have searched unsuccessfully for the Miami Indians’ buried treasure, hidden before 1810 in Owen County, and for two mines where the Miamis obtained silver, located in the same area.
On September 30, 1809, after months of negotiations by William Harrison with the Indians, what was left of the once great Miami Indian Confederacy was sold to the United States Government in what is now roughly the southern third of Indiana.
However, a dispute broke out over how to measure the treaty line, and the Indians would not agree to the compass reading of the white surveyors.
Chief Little Turtle stuck a spear in the ground at 10:00 AM and said, “We will follow the shadow of the spear.”
This line did not lead to the silver mines, as some people had believed. The surveyors, with the Indians sticking spears into the ground each morning, laid out the treaty line. This became known as the “Ten O’Clock Line.” It ran from a little northeast of Seymour to Gosport in Owen County, to Cataract Lake, and into northeast Illinois. A plaque marking the line is on Indiana Highway 67 near Cataract.
During their years living in the area, the Indians had accumulated quite a store of personal ornaments, plus gold and silver coins and bars, through trade with neighboring Indian tribes and white settlers. The Miamis also worked two silver mines in the vicinity and panned glacial gold.
Before moving west, the elders of the tribe, as a safeguard because they mistrusted the white men, voted to hide their most valuable possessions until they were settled and could return for them. It was decided to conceal this treasure and the two silver mines by marking the locations with symbols that the white man could not read.
When the main body of the tribe moved west, six Indians were left to bury the treasure and conceal the mines. After burying the treasure in leather bags and completely concealing the mines, the Indians marked three beech trees with symbols of a deer, a fish, and bear tracks to indicate the three sites.
After settling west of the Mississippi, the Indians did not return for their valuables because of tribal quarrels, insufficient transportation, and pressure from the white settlers to stay away.
The treasure is believed to be buried a few hundred yards west of Cataract Falls in Owen County, Indiana. The two silver mines are supposedly in the same area. As far as can be learned, the cache and the two silver mines have not been found.