Kansas was the great crossroads of the nation for fur traders and trappers, military expeditions, explorers, trade expeditions, the Great Emigration to the Oregon country starting in 1843, and then the rush to the gold fields, which brought a throng of 90,000 people across Kansas in the year 1849 alone.
In any vast movement of people, such as the one Kansas experienced, tens of thousands of items get lost, are buried or hidden, and then forgotten.
Half of the Santa Fe Trail’s 800 miles lay across Kansas, and 50 to 200 miles of the Oregon Trail, depending upon the starting point, were through Kansas. The great freight wagons made camp every 10 to 12 miles, and things were lost, buried, or thrown away at these points.
The stagecoach relay and the Pony Express remount stations were placed every 10 to 15 miles, and every one of these sites has potential for the metal detector user.
Kansas is a relic hunter’s dream.
Here are two locations in Kansas that you might want to check out. The first one is in Clark County.
In the 1870s, “Dutch” Henry was a thief who worked alone. He stole cattle and horses. To many, he was considered a kind of Robin Hood, robbing only the prosperous and sharing with the poor.
When he was caught by the Ford County Sheriff and sent to prison, people say he buried a lot of money near his cabin at the entrance to Horse Thief Canyon, about 12 miles north of Ashland. When the “Dutchman” broke out of prison, people think he tried but failed to get back his treasure.
When he was recaptured near Trinidad, Colorado, he had no money.
Another location is in Douglas County. In 1862 or 1863, an army paymaster was robbed of $195,000 in gold and silver coins while on his way from Lawrence to Denver. The two robbers were trailed and killed by soldiers. Then a witness to the robbery and the burial of the loot refused to tell where it was, and he was arrested and served six months in jail.
The witness tried to get the stolen goods back twice after he was set free, but both times he was scared away. Before he died sometime later, he said only that the money was buried somewhere between Lawrence and the Wakarusa Creek to the south and that it was in an oak box between two sycamore trees.
A story says that Alexander and Chester Morgan were wealthy wheat farmers and livestock dealers in 1895. Distrustful of banks and checks, they dealt only in cash. Their safety deposit box was in the ground.
Several men hated them because of their skinflint trading tendencies. Supposedly, they were not above cheating widows and orphans. One night several unidentified men shot the brothers dead and set fire to their house, attempting to conceal the crime.
Though many searchers have looked, no money was ever found on the premises. People who knew the Morgans said they had between $100,000 and $150,000 cached where they could get at it readily. Though this is possible, it isn’t confirmed. The Morgans’ old farm is near Liberal, Seward County, near the Oklahoma border.
Here is what I have on the burial of $85,000 in gold dust near Seneca, Kansas. In 1854, a party of prospectors returning from the California gold fields camped on the South Fork of the Nemaha River, about two miles north of Seneca. Before going into the little town of Richmond to buy supplies, two of the group buried $85,000 in gold.
In town, the men became involved in a saloon brawl, and one was killed. The other fled without picking up the two buckskins of gold and never returned. Many years later, his sons tried to locate the gold but failed. So far as is known, the treasure is still there. The town of Richmond is no longer in existence, and it should not be confused with the present town of Richmond in Franklin County.
The Bender Mounds are a group of low hills 11 miles west of Parsons, almost on the county line between Labette and Montgomery. In the early 1870s, William Bender operated a small trading post with his wife, son, and daughter.
When several people on the Independence to Osage Mission trail mysteriously disappeared near the Bender place, an investigation showed that the Benders had left the country. Later, several bodies were found, buried in the orchard.
It is believed that the Benders robbed and killed their victims and left $90,000 in gold coins buried somewhere around the old building. It is said that the four Benders were trailed and killed by Colonel A. M. York, the brother of their last victim.
In the 1850s, a party of miners returning east from the California gold fields camped near the present site of Offerle. Before settling for the night, they buried $50,000 in gold coins along a nearby creek.
At dawn, an Indian attack scattered the party, and all were killed except an eight-year-old girl. About thirty years later, she returned from the east to search for gold but eventually gave up.
The habit of burying valuables while camped at night is told in many a pioneer diary, and this probably accounts for the prevalence of this type of treasure story along the old trails of the West.
These two gold caches in Kansas were buried by the same party but in widely separated places. Sometime during the 1870s, a group of miners was returning from Missouri by foot after a successful gold-mining operation in the mountains of Colorado.
Arriving at Bent’s Fort, they were told that Indians were on the warpath. Ignoring the warning, the miners pushed on, following the Arkansas River eastward.
Several days later, they noticed their burros were nervous while making camp. The next morning, the miners made a run before Indians raided their camp. A few miles from their last campsite, the miners saw a band of Indians come into view, riding in a large half-moon circle in front of them.
Realizing that it was useless to try to get away on foot, the miners looked for a place to make a stand.
A nearby gully seemed to offer a little protection. Just as the miners got into a position to defend themselves, the Indians charged but stopped and demanded the burros. Knowing they could not carry the gold without the burros, the miners refused their offer and dug in for a fight that was not long in coming.
After the Indians made several charges in which four miners were killed, the rest decided to bury their gold. When it became dark, the gold was buried in the gully. Taking three burros, against the advice of his companions, a lone miner slipped out of the gully under cover of darkness.
He had decided to make a run of it on his own. The miners that were left behind were never heard from again. It is almost certain they were killed by the Indians when their ammunition ran out. This location today is near the railroad tracks between Cimmaron, Kansas, and Choteau’s Island.
The miner who had escaped traveled by night and slept by day until he reached the junction of the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers. Feeling that he was safe, he decided to camp for several days. After the first night, he learned to his dismay, that he had stopped a short distance from an Indian camp.
Realizing he would be lucky to get away alive, the miner buried his gold at the junction of the rivers. Leaving the burros, he managed to slip away unseen by the Indians. After reaching his home in Missouri, the miner married and never attempted to return for his gold.
So there are two caches of gold in Kansas, deposited several miles apart by members of the same party.
In 1853, a freighting train consisting of 120 men and 82 wagons full of specie and silver left Mexico to go up the trail to Independence, Missouri. The whole outfit was the responsibility of an old Mexican freighter named Jesus M. Martinez, who was well-known by many of the plainsmen of that day for his honesty and bravery.
They were traveling on the famous Santa Fe Trail, which, unfortunately, was well-known to the Indians, too. Martinez was wise to the Indians’ ways, though, and corralled the wagons every night and posted guards to give the alarm should danger approach in the way of Indians, bandits, or prairie fires.
One day, as they began making camp, Martinez decided to be especially alert throughout the night. All that day, Indians had been observed in the distance, which could mean trouble. As the sun set, the dogs began to make a fuss, which aroused the suspicion that Indians were lurking nearby. He called a meeting to decide the best course of action, and it was decided to prepare for the worst.
The men were set to work digging trenches and piling dirt and wood around the holes for protection. When the Mexicans were done, they lay down in the ditches and barely breathed as they waited with their guns ready. Slowly, the noises around them began to increase until, with blood-curdling yells and shouts, the Indians dashed to the camp.
The Mexicans had the upper hand because they were better prepared. They shot so much lead at the attackers that they had to pull back. The Indians were quiet for the rest of the night as they undoubtedly planned their strategy for the next morning. As the sun rose, the first wave of Indians hit the Mexicans’ position with little or no effect. During the night, the Indians kept attacking while trying to find a weak spot in the Mexicans’ defenses.
For five days, the siege continued, with a few Mexicans being killed but not nearly as many as the Indians, who had sustained a staggering loss of life. The Indians were crazed for blood and vengeance for the brothers and chiefs who had been killed and were determined to fight the last man.
The Mexicans had been comfortable for the first few days, but now they were beginning to worry. Their ammunition was almost gone, and the Indians were not about to stop the attacks. On the sixth night, the Indians made a desperate attack to break through the Mexicans’ lines but were driven back when, one by one, the rifles ceased firing for want of ammunition.
When the guns were still, a sea of red, wild, and bloodthirsty Indians swept over the camp, engulfing the brave Mexicans. During the fight that followed, only one person is known to have run away into the night. Old Jesus Martinez somehow slipped away and hid while his countrymen were being slaughtered.
He remained in his hiding place until morning when he was sure the Indians were miles away before he crept back to what was left of the camp. There were battle signs all around him. Dead men were scattered everywhere; wagons were overturned and burned; their food and clothing covered the ground; and all the animals had been run off.
Searching through the wagons’ remains, he finally found the silver they were carrying. The Indians had left it behind since it was less valuable than a good horse and rifle.
Martinez carried twenty-one bars of silver, valued at $1000 each, to a spot a little ways from camp and buried them so they would be safe until he could return with help to recover them.
Satisfied that he had hidden the money as well as he could under the circumstances, he started on foot for his home in Mexico. The trip proved too much for Martinez, and shortly after arriving home, he died, but not before he had told his son of the massacre and the whereabouts of the hidden silver.
Several years passed before his son could travel to the battle site, about four miles west of Dodge City, Kansas. From his father’s directions, he located where the silver was buried and began shoving a wire into the ground, hoping to hit the treasure.
He spent several weeks looking but became disgusted and quit when he couldn’t find anything of value. Young Martinez next traveled to Fort Dodge, where one night, while drinking heavily, he told two men what he had been looking for. The word of a hidden treasure nearby spread like wildfire, and soon half of Fort Dodge was looking for the silver.
Old Martinez hid the bags better than he thought, or his son confused the directions to the site because no one has ever found as much as one coin.
There is a little-known cache of gold coins between Lawrence and Eudora, Kansas, that has not been reported found. On August 21, 1863, when Quantrill and his men burned Lawrence, it is believed that about $3,000,000 was plundered from the town. George Shepherd, one of Quantrill’s lieutenants, estimated that this amount was taken in money and valuables.
Numerous stories have been written concerning this raid and what happened to the money. But what is not generally known is what happened to $600 in gold taken from George Burt, a moneylender living in Lawrence at the time of the raid.
During the pillaging, Larkin Skaggs, one of the guerrillas, robbed Burt. For some unknown reason, he rode southeast toward Eudora instead of heading northeast toward Missouri with the other guerrillas to safety.
A few miles from Lawrence, he was seen by two groups of men who were coming to see what had happened in Lawrence. They started chasing Larkin, and one group cut him off. He was caught and disarmed, but the $600 gold was not on him.
It is believed that he stopped outside Lawrence long enough to hide the money before being stopped and captured. A little local research could pay off on this one.
In 1875, Eli Klotz started farming 160 acres north of Salina, Kansas. After a few years, he was enterprising and had a large orchard and a well-kept farm. Eli sold fresh fruit, vegetables, beef, and pork to passing wagon trains and travelers, plus he charged a small fee for watering their livestock.
Klotz, partly because of the distance and his distrust of banks, kept his money at home. Some estimates of the amount have been as high as $50,000. His neighbors knew that he always wore a money belt, and when it became full, he would make a trip to the orchard.
He lived this way for years until one of his closest neighbors noticed he hadn’t seen Klotz in two days. Going to check on him, the neighbor found that Klotz had disappeared. All indications around the cabin seemed to show that Klotz had just stepped outside. All subsequent searches failed to yield anybody or evidence of foul play or any answer as to where he had gone.
The Klotz story is fascinating; you could pay someone to check further. It is highly unlikely that Klotz just up and left such a prosperous farm after spending years building it to its profitable status.
Almost all treasure hunters in Kansas have heard of the Bender family and how they killed travelers that stopped at their run-down eating place. But, the story of another family, as bad as the Benders, is not too well-known.
Ma Staffleback began her career of crime about 1870 near Galena, Kansas, when she set up a boarding house well stocked with whiskey and women. She had a landslide business from the start.
The lead had been found in huge quantities in the area, and fortunes were made overnight. Ma Staffleback’s method of operation was straightforward and efficient. Wealthy miners were induced to drink too much and then were led to the parlor of the boarding house, where one of Ma’s sons would split his head with an axe and dump the body, after removing the money, into one of the dozens of mine shafts nearby. Since miners were usually nomadic, so the murders went unnoticed for years.
One of the girls who worked for Ma finally tipped off the sheriff concerning the activities of Mrs. Staffleback. Ma and her three sons were arrested and jailed. The mine shafts were pumped and turned up numerous bodies of miners that had been killed and then robbed, but no money was found.
When Ma Staffleback was given a life sentence in prison for murder, she began searching for the estimated $50,000 she had accumulated. It is believed the money was hidden in a mine shaft, but this is unlikely since Mrs. Staffleback knew she would be caught sooner or later. More likely, she had the money cached somewhere she could get it quickly. She did not have time to get the money when she was arrested.
Mrs. Staffleback died in prison, but somewhere around the old boarding house, it is believed that a cache of $50,000 waits for some lucky treasure hunter.
There is a treasure location near Lyons, Kansas, which involves $5000 in gold and $2000 in silver worth investigating.
Joe de Prefontaine was a drifter hanging around Westport, Missouri, where most of the east- and west-bound wagons passed on their travels. In 1832, when robbing a Mexican was considered nothing since the war with Mexico was expected almost any day, de Prefontaine and fourteen other men decided to rob a Mexican named Antonio Jose Chavez, who was bringing two wagons to St. Louis from Texas.
On his way to Missouri, Chavez had bad luck. All his mules except four had died, so he abandoned one of his wagons after loading the gold and silver on the remaining one.
When Chavez reached Cow Creek, west of present-day Lyons, in River County, Kansas, he made camp after burying his money, a common practice in those days. At dusk, several riders rode up, leveled guns at him, and demanded his money. Chavez denied having any gold or silver, but in searching the campsite, the bandits found $5000 in gold coins.
Seven of the gang left, but the others were determined to find the rest of Chavez’s money. After searching for two days and finding nothing, they killed Chavez but were captured a short time later and received long prison sentences.
The remaining $7000 in gold and silver that Chavez had is believed by many people to still be near the old Cow Creek Crossing, west of Lyons.
For those interested in searching for gold in its natural state in Kansas, I quote in part from the State Record of Topeka, Kansas, for December 23, 1874:
“For some time past, the quiet neighborhood of Barrett’s Mills has been laboring under great excitement. J. C. Parthemer was digging a well upon his farm, a few years back, when he struck a vein of sand and embedded therein were a few particles of gold. He was now employed two men to dig for the same.”
I can find no follow-up on this story. It might be interesting for a treasure hunter to check this area further.
One early gold hunter, whose name is unknown, left a record that gold could be found on the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers. Also, a map drawn in 1757 by a Frenchman named Du Pratz shows a gold mine at the junction of the two rivers above.
In 1836, an expedition was financed by several businessmen from St. Louis to try to locate this mine. The guide was the famed Jesse Chisholm, but the attempt failed. Another unsuccessful attempt to find this mine was made in 1900.
There is another story of gold in Chautauqua County. In the 1880s, an ore sample was found near Caney that contained enough gold to warrant mining. The man who found the sample was killed, and the location of the ore body is still unknown.
The best areas to search for gold in Kansas would be Chautauqua County, Kansas, and Osage County, Oklahoma. See the book, “Guide to Kansas Goldfields,” as it tells of gold being found in Kansas when it was a territory before becoming a state.
During the Depression, a man with a suitcase talked a farmer buying supplies in Mound Valley into giving him a job on his farm. The farmer had a boy, which the hired hand liked. When not busy, he often made kites for the boy.
At one time, the farmer put up a long row of fences, with the hired hand digging the postholes and stringing the fence. Soon afterward, the hired hand disappeared.
Shortly before the farmhand had shown up, there had been a rash of bank robberies and kidnappings in the Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri areas. One kidnap victim had been ransomed for several hundred thousand dollars.
Some years later, one of the kidnappers was released from prison. Newspapers carried pictures of him, and the Mount Valley farmer’s son recognized him as the hired hand.
He put in a lot of work to find the prisoner and finally set up a meeting with him. The outlaw, by this time, was in his 80s. When the son asked if he had ever worked for his dad, the outlaw replied, “What’s the name, again?”
He was told. He said, “Well, the name sounds familiar, all right. But no, I was never in that area.” He then bombarded the farmer’s son with questions about the farm as if looking for new landmarks.
The farmer’s son was convinced that the outlaw was the hired hand who had made kites for him. “It’s just a hunch, but I feel there’s a big part of the ransom money buried on our farm. When you’re a boy you remember faces, and I’m sure when I talked to the old man, he was the hired hand. I think he had a good reason for not admitting it,” the son is reported to have said.
Had the farm worker come to Mound Valley carrying something other than clothes in his suitcase? Such as ransom or stolen money? And had it been buried in a post hole? Or around the barn where he spent much time? The few who knew the story checked it out but never reported finding any money. Maybe the money is still cached somewhere on the old farm.
In 1883 and 1884, a clerk stole $5000 from the state penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas, and what happened to it remains a mystery. The thief was James C. Pusey, and when he learned that his theft had been discovered, he fled in such haste that it was believed he had left his loot somewhere in Lansing, either inside the prison or somewhere in the town itself.
After fleeing, he was captured and returned to prison to serve a sentence for the theft. Not long after he was released, he died, and the funds he had converted into gold are still listed officially as “missing.”
On the plains near Larned, Kansas, is a landmark that could lead a treasure buff to one of the dozens of gold and silver coins. It is Pawnee Rock, which guided explorers and travelers across the plains of the Great American Desert for centuries.
Jutting 50 feet above the prairie in the southwest corner of Barton County, it is visible for miles. A treasure hunter starting from it in any direction could soon hear his metal detector signaling a long-lost cache worth anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over $1,000,000.
However, the caches are not all there is to lure the treasure seeker. The area is rich in priceless relics ranging from early Spanish explorers to bushwhackers who later hauled valuable cargo along the Santa Fe Trail from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe.
When they returned east, every wagon carried a nail keg or two heavy with gold or silver that the wealthy Santa Fe traders had paid for their goods.
Much of the gold and silver failed to get past Pawnee Rock. In its vicinity, it was cached when the camp was made. Buried, it would be safe in case Indians or robbers attacked the troop, and many of the caches’ owners were slain without having a chance to dig up their troves.
Although the rock was one of the most famous landmarks along the 750-mile trail, it was also one of the most dangerous points for the prairie crossings. Pawnee Indians began raiding caravans after it became a popular stopping point.
As word of the ambushes spread from one end of the trail to the other, the traders began caching their valuables before they bedded down for the night. It was one ritual they always followed at Pawnee Rock.
With their gold cached, the travelers relaxed.
They knew that if the Indians surprised them, their caches would never be found. And they reasoned that there was always the possibility that one or two of them would escape and return to recover the gold.
Even though there had been many massacres, the travelers had no plans to stop camping at Pawnee Rock. It was practically vital for survival. The rock lay between long stretches of dry plains. Nearby was the Arkansas River, ready to provide fresh water for them. The game was plentiful, and fresh meat could be obtained and salted down for the next long leg of the journey.
As a result, almost everyone who went over the trail halted at Pawnee Rock. Hundreds of thousands stopped over the years. Today, the number of their unfound caches has been estimated at more than one hundred. Some are small, though any gold coin would fetch a high price today.
These are the caches of the lone traveler who buried his small savings hours before he died at the hands of the Indians.
On the other extreme, some may total as much as $1,000,000. These are the caches of the caravans that were wiped out and of Spanish expeditions that passed the rock in their search for cities of gold.
Many had searched for the caches of Coronado, who is said to have buried several hundred thousand dollars in gold when he feared Indians were about to attack. When the attack did not materialize, the expedition pushed on, expecting to retrieve the caches when they returned.
But they could never return to the location, and the caches are still the object of searches.
This area, if for nothing more than relics that might be found, is well worth checking with a metal detector.
You must dig with more than a shovel if there’s treasure here. First, you will need to dig into the old land deed records and find out exactly where C.C. Fox owned a farm near the town of Highland, in Doniphan County, Kansas, in 1891.
The next step in pinpointing this possible treasure site will be to locate the area on Fox’s farm where he built his icehouse.
In 1891, while digging a pit for his icehouse, Fox struck something metallic with his shovel. The metal object was an iron box filled with gold and silver coins. The money was foreign. The gold coins were about the size of a United States silver dollar. The box was approximately eight inches square and was padlocked with a lock nearly as big as the box.
Local experts theorized that the money might be Spanish and had been buried by bandits who could not spend their ill-gotten gains that far north of the Mexican border.
Did Fox find all of the buried treasure? He was quite old and relied on trial and error in the hard Kansas soil with a shovel. If you have a good metal detector and get permission from the present owner of Fox’s farm, you might find a cool treasure under the old icehouse.
A series of closely-spaced caches of California gold, valued at $50,000 to $100,000, lies buried in Kearney County, Kansas, awaiting some lucky treasure hunter. The trove was hidden in the 1850s, and though hundreds searched for it until the turn of the century, it has been almost forgotten.
The caches are mentioned in many early Kansas manuscripts. One of the state’s most respected pioneers spoke of them when he addressed the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka on January 15, 1901.
A group of prospectors had gone to California during the 1849 gold rush. They all made significant strikes, and their recoveries were extremely rich. In the early 1850s, they prepared to head back east with their wealth.
The prospectors bought a string of mules and loaded them down with gold. The miners started the long journey homeward with good riding horses under them.
Wagon bosses of the time gave various estimates of the pack train’s worth. Some called it a huge fortune. Others described the pack train as being richly laden. Regarding cash value, estimates ranged from $50,000 to over $100,000. But remember, gold was selling for only about $18 an ounce in those days. The trove would be worth much more today.
The miners decided to use the Aubrey Trail after hearing of the unbelievably fast time Aubrey and others had made over it. Aubrey’s name spread throughout the West after he had made two spectacular runs over the trail to win wagers.
Once, he bet a large sum that he could travel on horseback over the road from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Independence, Missouri, in eight days. Another time he made the run in five days and 13 hours to collect a bet of either $1000 or $5000, depending on which historian’s version you accept.
The pack train reached Kansas without mishap. But upon nearing the Gold Banks, a series of bluffs, they were suddenly attacked by a large band of Indians. Although armed to the teeth, the prospectors were greatly outnumbered. Without flinching, they vowed to the man that they would save the gold at all costs, even death.
While some of the miners sprawled out behind fallen trees and held off the Indians with rifle fire, the others started hazing the mules toward the bluffs. The high banks, the miners reasoned, would afford some protection and give them a chance to escape with their scalps.
Again and again, the Indians charged, attempting to stampede the pack mules. But the miners’ deadly aim made the Indians fall off their ponies, and the mules were eventually herded to safety on the bluffs.
When the prospectors who had stayed behind to fight off the Indians tried to flee to the banks, the Indians cut them down.
Those who had reached the bluffs became more determined to fight the last man, and they devised a scheme to save their gold. They began digging jug-shaped holes in the ground and filling them with gold. Without letup, the battle lasted several days. Repeatedly, the Indians charged, but the miners’ rifles always spilled much blood, forcing the others to retreat.
Eventually, the remaining prospectors, weak from hunger and thirst, realized they had little hope of escape. In the dead of night, they buried the remaining gold and covered the holes carefully, erasing any signs of digging. Then, noting landmarks, the miners abandoned their lightened mules and stole off into the darkness, hoping to escape.
The fate of the miners is unknown. Most reports indicate that each fleeing man was killed. Others say there were some survivors. But if there were, their names were never learned.
Word of the vast treasure soon spread up and down the busy Santa Fe Trail. News of it even reached California. In Kansas, territory sodbusters abandoned their plows and set out to find the caches.
For nearly half a century, hundreds searched for the buried gold. It was never found, so the miners carefully concealed the hiding places.
At least, if any of the caches were found, the news was kept hushed.
In 1868, an Evangelical Church was founded west of Topeka to bring a measure of religion to the young state of Kansas, which had just passed through a blood-stained history of border warfare.
One year later, a circuit rider from the mission lost a small stack of gold and silver coins while trying to get across Chapman Creek west of Junction City, Kansas. The sum that was lost was small, admittedly. But at today’s prices, those coins could be worth a small fortune to some lucky treasure hunter.
The circuit rider, Rev. M. Mattill, had been assigned the lonely job of traveling by horse and buggy over a several-hundred-mile route fanning out from the mission. His job was to call upon the scattered settlers and try to win converts. And if the crops had been good, it wasn’t unusual for him to accept a small donation of gold or silver to help the struggling church.
This he would carefully put in a well-worn leather pouch which he tucked safely under the buggy seat next to a carpetbag containing his worldly possessions.
One day in 1869, he was driving about 11 miles west of Junction City when he came to Chapman Creek. The stream was up. There was no bridge to cross, so he drove down the creek until he met a settler. When he inquired about a bridge, the settler shook his head.
“There’s no bridge around here,” he said. “But go back to the road and cross there; the crick ain’t deep enough to bother.”
The preacher thanked the man and drove back to the crossing. He started his horse into the stream, and everything went well until he was midway. Then the buggy fell into a deep hole and spilled the preacher and his belongings, including the sack of gold and silver coins, into the water.
The preacher swam to shore. Pulling himself out of the water, he saw his horse across the creek. The buggy had broken loose and was still in the creek.
Setting out on foot, Rev. Mattill walked eight miles until he found a sod dugout. The farmer returned with him, pulled the buggy out, and it was still in good condition, so the preacher went on his way.
The carpetbag and the leather sack of gold and silver coins were never found. The point at which the Rev. Mattill met his mishap is believed to be near the crossing used by a party of surveyors for the Butterfield Overland Dispatch four years earlier when they sought a route for the Colorado gold fields.
It had then become a favorite crossing for travelers, including military caravans. No record of this lost gold and silver ever being found has been made.
A railroad agent named John Moore, some years after retirement from the MK&T Railroad, confessed that he had been looking for train robbery loot, which he had known about at the time the crime was committed. He claimed that in 1894, two train robberies had been committed one month apart near Parson’s Station.
In the first robbery, two bandits took $35,000 in gold and buried it alongside the track in a leather sack. Then, in a second robbery, they took $55,000 and buried it in a small leather trunk beside the railroad track. The express company paid the railroad $90,000 in damages.
Subsequently, the same two outlaws came under suspicion in Wichita and made the mistake of resisting arrest. They were killed without revealing the location of the MK&T loot.
After years of searching, Moore failed to find the loot, which is why he finally revealed knowledge of the robberies.
Here is what I have on the legend about the Padre’s Spanish Gold cache in Kansas. What is known for certain is that Matteo Boccolini, a priest, belonged to the Jesuit order in Italy and was kicked out of the church. He fled to America and eventually appeared in Council Grove, Kansas.
He bought food at the Pioneer Store and then used a map to head straight to the rocky Belfrey Hill.
He lived in a cave like a hermit and again came to the store for supplies after three months. But this time, he traded raw gold hacked from ingots.
This raised an old story among the citizens that the Spaniards had buried several mule loads of gold bullion near Belfrey Hill while under Indian attack. The padre in charge was buried in the cache before the Spaniards were killed.
Boccolini had a centuries-old map that guided him to the treasure. For several months, at intervals, he continued to trade raw gold for supplies with the storekeeper.
One day, while he was in Council Grove in the spring of 1863, he saw a priest at a distance and immediately hid in the Pioneer Store. He told the storekeeper that he would have to leave because the Jesuits had followed him to kill him.
Boccolini took passage with the next caravan to Santa Fe. The wagon master remarked that two pieces of baggage were so heavy that they could hardly be lifted. It was surmised that this was only a small part of the buried Spanish gold and that he could not recover the rest, which remains hidden near Belfrey Hill.
Priceless relics and money caches that once belonged to Nelson A. Rockefeller’s ancestors may be the prime target for treasure hunters in a small Kansas town. They were left there because they were too much trouble for Frank Rockefeller to load into his wagon!
The little-known treasure town is Belvedere, located in Kiowa County in south-central Kansas. The Rockefeller treasures may be almost limitless, ranging from relics valued at well over $100,000 to a series of money caches, thought to number about a dozen, each estimated to contain about $1000.
These little-known treasures are considered in the Belvedere area because of the sudden appearance of the likable Frank Rockefeller, brother of John D., in the late 1800s. Frank brought more wealth to Belvedere than it had ever seen before or since. He never bothered to take any of it with him when he left.
Frank and his wife moved to Kansas after a disagreement with their brother John D. Such ill feelings developed between the two brothers that Frank decided to leave the east. He wanted to get as far away from his brother as possible, and Kansas seemed a good place to do it. So he and his wife packed up a few belongings and struck out.
Belvedere was a rail point on the old St. Joe and Denver Railroad, and it was there that Frank Rockefeller and his wife got off to look around. A few days later, they were horseback riding when Frank took a fancy to a hill that lay off to one side of the road. “Back of that hill would be a fine place for a house,” he told his wife. He reined up and pointed it out.
Almost from the day it was finished, the house was the scene of big parties that often lasted days. However, other than the parties Frank liked to throw, he stayed to himself on the farm.
The house was isolated, and towns with banks were few and far between. This didn’t bother Frank in the least. He rarely rode into town anyway, and later, no one remembers ever seeing him set foot inside a Kansas bank.
Stories revealed that he had made many caches of gold and silver around the farm. Those who knew Frank Rockefeller well were convinced that the tales were true. For one thing, unlike other Rockefellers, he looked upon money almost with disdain.
The way he looked at it, money was just as good in a hole in the ground as in a bank or stocks and bonds. And in light of what was to occur, there seems little doubt that Frank Rockefeller did bury money and then walk off and leave it.
Frank Rockefeller and his wife suddenly decided to leave Kansas. Without a word to anyone, they got into a wagon in the dead of night and left. So little attachment did they feel toward wealth that they took only one item, a four-poster bed that they had both grown fond of.
Otherwise, they had not bothered to remove anything from the premises. It was too much trouble. Besides, Frank reasoned, whatever they missed, they could replace. All it took was money, and he had that.
Most people believed that the Rockefeller money caches were never found. Those who did hunt for them were from another generation long before the advent of the electronic detector.
Today, the treasure at Belvedere is little known. So far, it has escaped the attention of treasure hunters.
Several outlaw caches are believed to be hidden around Diamond Springs in Marion County. This was a favorite area for bandits because they could hide in the deep ravines after robbing a wagon train, stagecoach, or traveler.
In 1851, a storm caught a wagon train about two miles east of Diamond Springs. Over 1500 oxen, horses, and mules, along with several men, died. The survivors said that a few wagons tried to find shelter in a deep ravine and that some of the wagon owners, realizing they would probably die, buried their valuables. Some of these were perhaps recovered, but others were not.