Louisiana treasure stories date from the days of French and Spanish explorers through the era of Gulf pirates to the years of Yankee depredations.
The burial of family possessions during the Civil War was commonplace. Southerners knew that Yankee soldiers were under orders to seize everything of value to the Confederate cause. Hundreds of plantation families hid their wealth.
What else was there to do with it? Bank deposits were confiscated. Wealthy homes were searched and despoiled. The ground was the only safe depository. A large number of these caches were never retrieved.
For those interested, Louisiana offers dozens of sites that could be profitable to investigate.
This Civil War cache of coins is almost sure to be still where it was buried because the man who helped deposit it tried for years to relocate the coins but failed.
In 1886, Dr. George J. Adams told the police of New Orleans a strange story of pillage and the burial of $30,000 during the Civil War. During the Union’s fights in the South, Adams was a doctor with Company A of the 17th Massachusetts Volunteers.
On a foraging trip, Adams and two soldiers broke into a house at Magnolia Plantation, about twenty miles above New Orleans, on the Mississippi River.
After entering and searching the home, the three men found $30,000 hidden in different places. $1000 was in mixed silver coins, $1800 was in silver dollars, and the other $27,000 was in gold coins. Afraid to enter New Orleans, where their company had been sent, and having no way to conceal such a large amount of money, the trio decided to bury the loot.
They selected a very large tree in a pecan grove about half a mile from the locks at the canal opposite Ewenville. Here they buried the money among the tree roots. Each man took a bearing and wrote down the directions.
They then joined their company, intending to return after the war for the money. But soon after burying the coins, the two soldiers were killed, and Dr. Adams was wounded. After being sent home, the doctor suffered a long recovery in a Union hospital. It wasn’t until 1886 that he could return to Louisiana to search for the hidden money.
When he returned to the pecan grove, he found that the older trees had been cut down. He tried for over a month to locate the exact spot. Finally realizing he needed help and that his money was running out, the doctor let several residents in on his secret.
After several more weeks of fruitless searching, they all gave up. There is no record of any recovery’s having been made. Somewhere about half-a-mile north of the Ewenville locks, a small fortune in Civil War coins waits for a treasure hunter.
In 1854, Captain A. C. Watson built Lakewood, his plantation home, near St. Joseph, the seat of Tensas Parish. Before leaving to join General Lee in 1861, Watson withdrew his entire fortune of $80,000 from the banks that he commanded with Watson’s Battery.
He spent $60,000 of this in equipping his regiment and buried the remaining $20,000 on the grounds of Lakewood. Most of this was recovered when Watson returned from the War, but one jar containing $5000 could not be found. This is still supposedly buried near Lakewood.
The story of the Wyndham Creek lost mine is frequently heard around DeQuincy, in the long-leaf pine section of Louisiana. When pioneers first arrived in the area, they found the local Indians wearing gold ornaments.
People thought the Indians had a secret gold mine because they wouldn’t say where they got it. A lost white woman is said to have found this mine by accident, but she couldn’t find her way back.
The search for this mine has continued sporadically, and, as late as 1900, three men who had sworn they would never give up until they found it was discovered brutally murdered by unknown persons. So far as I can determine, the location of the mine remains in the vague area “around DeQuincy.”
In the early 1900s, Evans owned a farm about three miles east of Baskin, Louisiana. A prosperous man, he did not trust banks. His savings, two half-gallon fruit jars filled with ten- and twenty-dollar gold pieces, were buried somewhere on the farm.
Evans’ two teenage sons saw the coins a few days before they were buried. One of the boys was present when his father took the two jars and left the house. Evans was back in less than thirty minutes, which suggests two possibilities: one, that the hole was already dug and he merely had to deposit the jars and fill it in, and two, that he did not go very far from the house and buried the jars in a shallow hole.
However, it seems unlikely that he would have left the hole open and returned to bury the coins for fear of being seen. So the latter conclusion seems likely.
Soon after, the farmer fell sick and sent one of his sons to Baskin for medicine. While the boy was gone, the house burned down. Evans was either burned to death or killed, and the house was burned to cover up the crime. There were rumors both ways.
Over the years, a few half-hearted attempts have been made at finding the coin-filled fruit jars. But, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, the golden treasure has never been found.
Marie Laveau, a free mulatto, was born in New Orleans in about 1798. She was a woman of great beauty, both in face and figure. She went to the homes of the best New Orleans families to ply her trade as a hairdresser.
She found them among the people who would buy her products when she began to deal with amulets and the powers of black magic. Marie became an active member of the voodoo organization in the middle 1820s, and in about 1830, she seized control of it by some unknown method.
Marie, now known as the Voodoo Queen, was consulted by well-known women about their love lives, hired to find lost things, and sold potions to treat illnesses. The son of a wealthy family was said to have said that her magic helped him get off a serious charge. In repayment, he deeded her a little house on St. Ann Street, where she lived for years.
Shortly after Marie became Voodoo Queen, she built a house on Lake Pontchartrain, between Bayou St. John and Milneburg. It was called the Maison Blanche. She hid there off and on for long periods, during which she occasionally saw visitors willing to pay well for the opportunity.
Her secret voodoo rites were held outdoors, never twice at the same place, and usually along Alexander Milne’s swamp, where the participants could disappear at the first warning sound of the approach of any unwanted guests.
Replaced as the Voodoo Queen in 1869, Marie spent the remainder of her days in the St. Ann Street cottage. She died there in 1881. It is said that Marie Laveau grew rich in the practice of voodoo and that she left buried or hidden a fortune estimated as high as $2,000,000.
It is generally believed that the treasure was buried near the site of the Maison Blanche on Lake Pontchartrain.
Winnfield is located in the hills of north-central Louisiana. The area remained unsettled by white men until about 1840. Several people in the area say that five mule loads of gold and silver are hidden in caves dug into the north side of Coochie Brake, about 12 miles southwest of Winnfield. The caves are said to be Spanish treasures.
In the late 1700s, there was a small tribe of Indians living at this spot. When a group of Spanish travelers came across the Indians, they killed all but three of them because they were afraid the Indians would question what they were carrying.
These three escaped and headed for Catahoula Parish, where the Catahoula Indian tribe lived. Since this tribe was warlike, the Spaniards decided to split up into two groups, each taking a different route to Natchez, Mississippi, and thence on to the east coast, where they would eventually ship their treasure to Spain.
However, in the skirmish with the Indians, several of their mules were killed, thus creating a shortage of animals to carry their heavy cargo, which was stored in heavy earthen vases, two to the mule. According to the story, ten vases had to be left behind and were buried on the spot.
Considerable searching has been done for the lost Spanish gold and silver. Geologists with the Louisiana Mineral Board say quicksand is about 30 feet underground. The earthen vases may have moved due to the shifting quicksand. This is a good spot for a deep-seeking metal detector.
U. S. Highway 90 crosses one of the two passes connecting Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne over the Rigolets Bridge. The French built the first fort here and called it Petit Coquilles, the original name of the island upon which it was built.
This fort was replaced by another built in 1793, superseded by Fort Pike, built by the Americans in 1818. A military hospital once stood near Fort Pike, now a state monument. It is said that a British prisoner being treated in the hospital and charged a payroll of $270,000 in gold coins made his escape.
When he was recaptured nearby, the gold was missing, and it is supposed that he buried it shortly after leaving the hospital. An extensive search was done for the gold, but it was never found.
It would be impossible to compile a list of all the caches that were made during the Civil War. Some people were never told about lost or destroyed records, diaries, letters, etc. In several instances, the people who buried the valuables were killed.
The best way to locate these sites is to visit the area and check newspapers from 1861–1865, history books, and land records. Maybe some old-timers will still remember stories of buried caches handed down through their families.
Try to locate these older people and talk to them. Check old court records. These sites can be found, but it takes local research.
There is a story of buried treasure in Lincecum, Grant Parish, Louisiana. According to this story, a group of Spaniards heading east with a huge amount of gold were attacked by Indians in the area.
Although the attack was repulsed, a second attack was expected, and the gold was buried. Shortly afterward, the men fought among themselves, and all were killed or later died of their wounds. This happened on the old Spanish Trail that ran from Texas to the east coast of Florida.
Shortly after the Lafitte brothers, Jean and Pierre arrived in New Orleans in 1803, the more infamous of the two, Jean, became an agent for a large band of privateers inhabiting Grand Terre Island.
These privateers, of nearly every nationality on earth, possessed letters of marque, mostly from Mexico and Central and South American countries, which authorized them to raid ships belonging to enemies of the grantor.
The Baratarians, as they were called, set up their stronghold and base of operations on Grand Terre Island. From there, they attacked ships in the Gulf and then ran back to Barataria Bay, where they felt safe. In this way, they had collected a lot of treasure over the years, but it was hard to get rid of it.
When he heard they needed someone to get the loot into the hands of dishonest New Orleans merchants, Jean Lafitte offered to be their agent. They agreed to his offer. He soon became their leader, and for more than a decade, he was to enjoy great prosperity with the band.
But during one of the many times the Baratarians came close to being in charge, a US Naval unit attacked their stronghold on Grand Terre. The privateers were forced to flee to another hideout, Last Island.
Their leader, Jean Lafitte, was absent at the time of the attack. Still, legend says that a great deal of plunder awaiting delivery to New Orleans, which had been buried near the headquarters in anticipation of such an attack, was abandoned by the fleeing privateers and never recovered.
The story of Honey Island has been told many times, but this version includes several little-known facts discovered during my treasure hunt research in Louisiana. Historians estimate the value of all the treasure on Honey Island to be from $500,000 to $2,000,000.
Considering how many pirates, highwaymen, and other types of outlaws hid out or used the island as a base of operations, the amount of possible loot that is almost certainly buried or sunk here is staggering.
The following is just a partial listing of the pirate and outlaw gangs known to have used the island as a hideout.
Pierre Rameau, or Kirk McCollough, was the renegade son of a Scottish minister, and he also used the alias “Colonel Philip Loring,” a wealthy mine owner from Mexico. His gang robbed on land and sea. This pirate accumulated so much wealth that he built a warehouse on Honey Island.
The estimated value of Rameau’s buried hoards runs as high as $450,000. Most of it still has to be there since he was killed before he had a chance to retrieve it.
General Andrew Jackson turned down Rameau’s offer to help fight the British in 1814. Rameau was killed either in the battle of New Orleans or, as one version goes, by Jean Lafitte, another pirate known to have visited Honey Island. There is also a story that Lafitte buried a chest of money on the island.
The notorious John Murrell gang also used the island as a hideout. It is almost certain that Murrell buried a large part of his ill-gotten gains on the island. Murrell was one of the most hardened criminals of his time. He tried to take over the United States government through a slave revolt he organized.
His gang was finally broken up when a man named Virgil Stewart, posing as a friend to Murrell, gathered enough evidence to hand several of the gang in the 1830s. Murrell was sent to prison. The story goes that he died a raving maniac after his release from jail because he could not find his buried loot.
Another well-known outlaw, John Copeland, often holed up on Honey Island. He and his gang robbed and committed crimes from Alabama west to Texas and as far north as Ohio. After several years of operating, Copeland finally made the mistake of killing the leader of a rival gang.
He was captured by the authorities and sentenced to hang. During his confinement, Copeland confessed to the sheriff of Perry County, Mississippi. It stated the names and places of robberies and told of some money being buried on Honey Island.
Searches revealed only a few coins, nothing compared to what Copeland is known to have hidden. The rest is believed to be there still.
An outlaw turned pirate, of which little is known, was Calico Dick. He received his nickname early in his crime career because of the theft of a bolt of calico cloth in a store in Gainesville, Mississippi.
After robbing a ship, he and his gang were being chased, and seeing that he might be caught, he was put into a bayou south of Pearlington. He deliberately sank his boat there, hoping to return later and recover his robbery loot. He was caught, tried, and convicted of robbery.
After he was jailed, Calico Dick was never heard of again. No part of his sunken treasure has ever been reported found.
Several lesser-known river pirates used this island for a refuge when it was known as a disputed no-man’s land. A few small caches have been found, but they are very few compared to what is known to have been buried there.
Be prepared to spend some rough time walking and camping if you should explore this area of one of the few large inland islands in the United States. It is a dense, swampy lowland crisscrossed by bayous, but it’s a subtropical treasure-hunters paradise.
Various hunting clubs own part of the island. If you see a “No Trespassing” sign, by all means, try to locate the landowners and obtain permission to search.
Honey Island is roughly 30 miles long and five miles wide at the broadest point. It was in the southeastern part of Louisiana. It was made when the Pearl River split in two, making a line between Louisiana and Mississippi.
At the beginning of statehood, both Louisiana and Mississippi claimed Honey Island. This controversy resulted in the two states, and the federal government had to settle the problem of jurisdiction. The east fork of Pearl River was designated as the boundary line, thus giving Honey Island to Louisiana.
If rivers could talk, what stories the mighty Mississippi could tell! This little-known location of river pirate loot in the Mississippi River near Lake Providence in East Carroll Parish dates to before 1800.
Bunch’s Bend, above Stack Island, was named for Captain Bunch, his first name has been lost to history, who was a river pirate who kept a flotilla of small but well-crewed boats, one of which is said to have been armed with a cannon.
Bunch had a large gang of river pirates that preyed on all types of shipping along the area of Devil’s Elbows. Included in the group were members of the old cave-in-rock gang of Kentucky and the cutthroat Samuel Mason, for whom Bayou Mason is reputedly named.
Driven from the New Madrid country in Missouri, they joined Captain Bunch at Bunch’s Bend, established a hideout on Stack Island, and made the locality a place of terror for rivermen.
Lake Providence, formed centuries ago by a river cutoff, was interestingly named. Boatmen who successfully negotiated Devil’s Elbow, so called because of its treacherous currents, and escaped Captain Bunch’s pirates in the bend below, were safe once they reached Stack Island Lake.
That feat, however, was so rare that rivermen regarded it as an act of Providence. The phrase became so popular that the lake was rechristened Lake Providence.
Travel and transportation were not easy on the river in the late 1700s. It was found that the keelboat was the best way to get goods from New Orleans to the plantations and villages that were slowly being built along the banks of the Mississippi. The cumbersome keelboats ultimately led to the huge success of the riverboat pirates.
This is almost certainly an overlooked location. Somewhere around the Devil’s Elbow and Bunch’s Bend lies a fortune that has increased over the years with the rarity of the coins and the rise in gold and silver prices.
There are several stories of lost treasure in Winn Parish, Louisiana. Still, the most exciting and profitable, if found, is about the $1,000,000 to $3,000,000 in gold and silver were hidden by the Indians who robbed the Natchez, Mississippi bank in the early 1850s.
A band of more than 50 Indians got away with the loot but were killed in Winn Parish while trying to make their way back to Indian territory, and the Natchez bank never got back a cent of the stolen money.
This band of young bucks from the Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, and other tribes, which were forcibly moved out of the area in the 1830s, was reportedly led by a half-breed Natchez Indian.
They were out to get revenge, escape with the gold, and return to their people in the mountains of Oklahoma.
The renegade Indians converged on the largest Natchez bank between noon and 1 p.m. and quickly scooped up all the gold and silver. The robbery was carried out so quickly and quietly that the Indians were racing north on Rodney Road, far away from Natchez, before any alarm was raised.
When a posse was organized to chase them, they had crossed the Mississippi River at ferries above Natchez.
The Indians hid out for a day and a night at a prearranged rendezvous in the Catahoula Hills and then split into two parties. The larger party headed west toward Harrisonburg, and the smaller group headed northwest over the Harrisonburg-to-Louisville road.
Reports say that the larger party of the Indian bank robbers coming west made it safely to Possum Neck, an old Indian village site a few miles north of Winfield on the Dugdemona Bayou.
The news of the Natchez bank robbery spread fast along Harrisonburg Road, and a posse was soon on the Indian band’s trail. The posse mostly consisted of outlaws who preyed on travelers on the main roads.
The posse trailed the Indian party to their camp at Possum Neck, ambushed and killed all the Indians, but reported that they could find none of the stolen treasure, saying the Indians must have buried the great hoard of gold and silver in a secret place before the posse found them.
The small party of Indians that came northwest on the Harrisonburg-to-Louisville Road made it safely to Berdo Springs on the east bank of Dugdemona Bayou, a few miles southwest of Louisville, now Gainesville. This was to be their rendezvous point in Winn Parish.
Just across Dugdemona from Berdo Springs was a dense cane break the Indian bank robbers found ideal for a hideout and forage for their horses. Here they waited for the larger party to come up to Dugdemona Bayou from Possum Neck and join them, not knowing that the other Indians had all been killed.
When the Natchez bank robbers were waiting in Berdo Springs, a poor white settler with a big family lived nearby and must have gotten suspicious of the Indians and tipped somebody off about them. This was because, one night, all of the Indians were killed, but again none of the bank’s money was reported found.
The story about the Indians’ burying the stolen gold either at Possum Neck or Berdo Springs before being killed persists, especially in LaSalle, Catahoula, and Concordia Parishes.
Several searches have been done for this cache, but no report of its having been found can be obtained. This would be a good location for further research by interested treasure hunters.
There are two treasure tales around Monroe, Louisiana. The oldest house in that part of Louisiana is the Old Camp Place, built in 1855, ten miles west of Monroe. In those days, the house was a popular stop for travelers on the Monroe-Shreveport Stage Line on Wire Road.
A local legend says that $80,000 was buried there during the Civil War by refugees fleeing invading Union troops. There is no known authentication for this story.
Delhi, a town about 40 miles east of Monroe, was once one of Frank and Jesse James’ hideouts. Many residents believe the pair left a treasure behind when lawmen forced them to flee. You’ll have to utilize your local research to determine the authenticity and location of these two treasures.
It has been claimed for nearly three centuries that the site of the old fort de la Boulaye conceals a treasure valued at $160,000. The treasure could be worth much more in today’s booming gold market.
The fort was established in February 1700 and was the first French outpost in Louisiana.
On that midwinter day 283 years ago, a party of Frenchmen set to work on a ridge on the east bank of the Mississippi, about 18 leagues from the river’s mouth. They threw together a blockhouse that was 28 feet square and armed it with six cannons. Eighteen soldiers manned the fort.
Under the threat of an Indian attack, the outpost was abandoned in 1707. It was reported that the garrison left a supply of gold behind, knowing it would slow them down on their march to safety.
Hand-hewn cypress logs and cannon balls have been found at the site, about one mile north of Phoenix in Plaquemines Parish. Gold coins have been found there, too, so perhaps the reports of treasure at the fort are based on fact.
Port Hudson, Louisiana, started as a trading post long before the Civil War when it became an important Confederate outpost. Port Hudson had to be moved several times because it was near where Thompson Creek meets the Mississippi River in East Baton Rouge Parish. So, there are bound to be several adjacent relic-hunting sites.
As part of the campaign to wrench control of the Mississippi River away from the Confederates, General Banks’ Union troops besieged Port Hudson in May 1863. Many families were fearful that all their money and valuables would fall into the hands of the enemy, so they buried their belongings.
One legend says that when the townspeople saw Port Hudson’s surrender was inevitable, all the rifles and handguns in town were buried in a single trench.
The siege ended in July when the town’s Confederate garrison, on the verge of starvation, surrendered. It is believed that a significant amount of the buried valuables was never recovered and is still buried in the vicinity of the old town site, approximately five miles northwest of Plains.
Johnny Gambi, a one-time follower of the pirate Jean Lafitte, is said to have buried treasure in two spots near Diamond in Plaquemines Parish. It is believed that Dr. Hewitt L. Ballowe’s sudden show of wealth resulted from having found part of the Gambia’s treasure. While it is said that Ballowe had a map of the location of the second part, it was never found.
Early in the 19th century, nine slaves from Breaux Bridge, St. Martin Parish, killed their master, Narcisse Thibodeaux, and made off with this hoard of gold. Captured by a posse, the slaves were set to dig their graves.
When the job was completed, a volley of shots rang out, and the slaves toppled into the ditch. One bag of gold was not recovered and is believed to be buried on the old Thibodeaux plantation.
Destrehan is the name of a small town 15 miles up the Mississippi River from New Orleans. It is also the name of a house. When the d’Estrehan family lived here, the pirate Jean Lafitte often visited, so people likely thought treasure was buried on the estate.
At one time, outsiders were allowed on the grounds but could not enter the old plantation house, as it was being used as a clubhouse for employees of an oil company. Permission to search must be obtained.
The Parlange Plantation house lies five miles south of the town of New Roads on the banks of False River. It was made by Marquis Vincent de Ternant, who came to Louisiana before 1750. He was already a wealthy man.
From the land France gave him, Ternant gave the Prussian Army dye for their uniforms and made even more money. The 1830s brought great profits in sugar. The tenants enlarged their holdings and built sugar mills.
In June 1842, the plantation kept $300,000 in cash in metal chests, listed in an estate inventory. This was an enormous fortune in those days.
When the Marquis died, Madame Ternant married Colonel Charles Parlange, a French naval officer. Virginie Parlange outlived her second husband, too. Their daughter moved to France, but Virginie remained in Parlange with her son Charles Parlange.
When the Civil War began, Virginie was determined to keep her estate intact for her son. Her fine silver was hidden in the embrasures above the window casements. Her best furniture was taken to the attic, and three chests of money said to total $50,000 were buried in the garden in separate caches under huge oak trees.
When the Yankees arrived, Madame Virginie was ready for them. She greeted the soldiers and served them a meal with wine. Neighbors condemned Virginie for this act, but when the soldiers left, they did not burn Parlange, and the estate was saved for her son.
With the closing of the War, the articles of value were brought from their hiding places. Two treasure chests were recovered, but the third could not be found. Charles dug for it with no success. Debts climbed, and Virginie found it a struggle to meet interest payments.
Charles studied law and became a political success, eventually becoming a justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. When Virginie died, the great house was empty for the first time in more than a century. It was 20 years before it was occupied again.
Following World War I, the judge’s son, Walter Charles Parlange, moved into his ancestral home. To this day, the house has never been out of the hands of its original owners.
Why was the third treasure chest never found? Charles helped the two slaves bury the chests and said they were buried quickly. By the end of the war, the slaves had disappeared, and Charles had only a vague idea as to where the chest had been buried. Presumably, it has never been found.
Parlange Plantation is open to the public, but visitors are not permitted to search for the missing treasure chest unless they can make a deal with the masters of the house.
The little town of Grand Coteau is on State Highway 93 in the southwestern section of St. Landry Parish. One of the first settlers in the area was an immensely wealthy Frenchman named Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire.
He built a massive plantation home which his grandson eventually acquired. During the Civil War, the grandson was entertaining a party of Confederate officers when faithful house servants gave the alarm that Union soldiers were surrounding the place.
Quickly blackening their faces and discarding their uniforms, the Confederates, disguised as runaway slaves, slipped through the Yankee lines and escaped. The master of the house had time to gather his valuables and secretly them in the house or bury them in the yard.
The point has never been cleared up.
When the federal officers learned they had been outwitted, they ordered the ladies from the house and immediately set fire. The home and its entire contents were destroyed. Besides jewels and silver plates, the wealth buried or hidden is said to have included a significant sum of money.
One source has placed the value of the treasure at $500,000. If this was hidden in the house, it possibly was destroyed in the fire. Considerable research will be required today to locate the precise site of the old plantation house.
An inquiry should be made in Opelousas for directions to the Chretien Plantation House, built in 1830. The holdings of the Chretien family go back to Spanish Louisiana, and an original land grant to the three Chretien brothers, Hippolyte I, Jules, and Dazincourt. Of the three, Hippolyte I’s family left the greatest mark on Louisiana history.
Hippolyte, a man of practical business sense, struck up a profitable friendship with Jean and Pierre Lafitte. They were allowed to use the Bayou Teche estate as a storage place for contraband goods, and they could hide there when the law pursued them.
Hippolyte’s son, Hippolyte II, married the beautiful Felicite Neda, the daughter of a neighboring planter. The grandparents of the young couple built them the Chretien manor house. Like many men of his day, Hippolyte II trusted neither banks nor money holders.
He placed his fortune, which he acquired from his father and uncles as they died, in iron boxes and sent an old slave to bury them in the bank of the bayou at the rear of the house. Felicite argued with her husband that she should share the secret of the hiding place in case something should happen to him. Hippolyte remained silent, nor would the old servant give Felicite any information.
When Hippolyte II and the faithful servant died of yellow fever, Felicite was left alone with a sickly son, Hippolyte III, and did not know where the family fortune was buried. She hired diggers to search for the money, but there was no evidence that a single dollar was ever found.
In time, Hippolyte III married a planter’s daughter, and they had a son, Jules, who had no interest in practical business. When the Federal troops arrived in 1863, there was nothing of value to be seized at Chretien, and it was spared the torch.
After Hippolyte III’s death, his widow carried on as best she could, but the treasure that could have saved the estate could not be found. Following his mother’s death, Jules had another unsuccessful search made. He turned to the moneylenders but eventually lost the plantation.
The Chretien family had been financially wiped out because the treasure hidden so well by the servant could never be found. It is still presumed to be in the ground.
A beautiful treasure of rare buttons is on the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. These buttons were part of Count Paulo Gaenzo’s expensive wardrobe. A single button from this lost cache has an estimated value of six figures, and 25 of these are submerged somewhere at the lake’s eastern end, a treasure trove worth $2,500,000.
First made of bone, buttons have existed since the dawn of time. Buttons today are the most trivial items, but this wasn’t always the case. During the Middle Ages, skilled craftsmen used gold and silver to make buttons that were works of art in their own right. But it wasn’t until later, during Europe’s Renaissance, that buttons reached their zenith in design and beauty.
One man fortunate enough to obtain a complete set of fine miniature masterpieces was Count Paulo Faenzo, a native Italian living in New Orleans during the early 1870s.
In 1873, when Mardi Gras season started, the count got dozens of invitations to exclusive balls, fun parties, and fancy dinners, so he got ready. The high point of the weeks of celebration would be the traditional theme party of Anthony Ridger and his wife, where outlandish dress was prevalent. This was a perfect time for Faenzo to show off his beautiful buttons.
The complete set of 25 buttons was a rare, handmade set. Each had a large ruby set in the center of a swirled mound of gold, with six tiny diamonds arrayed around it. The count had two buttons fixed to each sleeve, and the rest was sewn to his waistcoat and topcoat.
On the night of the party, the count was in top form. He was funny, witty, and looked great in his fine clothes. After striking up a conversation with an attractive young lady, they joined two other couples for a walk in the cool night air. All six were drunk and making a lot of noise, but the people in the streets having their own Mardi Gras parties didn’t care.
Somehow, the count and his friends made their way to the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, where, on impulse, all six tumbled into a small skiff. They paddled awkwardly 100 yards from shore while people on the bank watched their dangerous fun but did nothing to stop the disaster that was about to happen.
As some occupants tried to stand, the boat began to sway erratically. One of the women shrieked as the boat capsized, toppling them all into the water. Some men on the shore set out in a boat, but they could only find and rescue one of the women. The count and his companions drowned, for they were never seen again.
Wherever Count Faenzo’s body came to rest, there lie the 25 ornate buttons, crafted by Cellini, the great craftsman of the 1500s, and now worth millions.
Colonel Norman Frisby’s life was one of exciting drama and fabulous riches that ended in tragedy. The most noticeable thing the man did to make his mark was to amass a great amount of wealth, a colossal fortune in gold and silver conservatively valued at $1,000,000.
He caches his fortune in the Louisiana marshlands, and the mystery of its whereabouts has challenged treasure hunters for decades.
During the Civil War, Frisby decided to sell his plantation and move to Texas. The slaves were sold for $270,000, and he returned to Flowers Landing. Frisby knew that the $270,000, which was in gold, would not be safe around the house, nor would any of his other wealth. He decided to bury all the money, plus a giant silver bell he had made, in the nearby canebrakes of a thick swamp.
The ruins of the Frisby plantation are located between Ashwood and Newlight, Louisiana. The site is easy to locate, but it is in an area that demands 4-wheel drive equipment to search. And you’ll need permission to search for the treasure, of course.
But the lost legend is a certainty, with only a few minor points where history and legend do not agree. Frisby did not recover the treasure before he died, and the value is unquestionable, as is the fact that people have relentlessly searched for it for decades.
When Valcour Aime ran a massive plantation on the Mississippi River in the South before the Civil War, he had the best of all possible worlds. Living in luxury and grandeur, he was hailed as the Louis XIV of Louisiana, the wealthiest man in the state.
But even with all of his things, the death of his only son brought his world crashing down on him. This tragedy left him nothing to live for, and in 1867, he died.
Before he died, however, Valcour Aime buried a large fortune in gold plates, coins, and jewels in the ornate garden of the plantation that bore his name.
The best estimate of his hidden wealth runs as high as $2,000,000. There is no substantial report of the recovery of this wealth. Meanwhile, the handsome manor house has been destroyed by fire, and the beautiful gardens have succumbed to the ravages of time.
The old plantation is located near Vacherie, on the Mississippi River, about twenty miles southeast of Donaldsonville.