Lost Treasures In Minnesota

Lost Treasures In Minnesota

The birth of the Minnesota Territory was in 1849, and it was a state by 1858. However, the interest in treasure hunters can go back much further than that, as there were explorers, fur traders, voyageurs, and missionaries in the area as far back as 1618.

The French fur hunters were the first, and when they traded with the Indians, they gave material that eventually was lost. Next came the missionaries and the Hudson Bay Company, and the Northwest Company, which brought gold and silver into the area.

The British came into the area in 1763, and in the early 1800s, the Americans began to seek the area. Thus, for over 130 years, there were trading posts in the area.

Finally, the migration of Americans from the East caused the Indians to be removed to reservations, with payment for their land in gold, much of which was lost or hidden. The Indians finally rebelled in 1862, and the Sioux Uprising resulted.

Minnesota is where almost any kind of treasure can be found: relics, coins, shipwrecks, buried caches, small amounts of gold to be panned, and even the “rock hound” can locate good finds.

The North Star State is the site of very little gold mining activity. Much like in Indiana, the small amounts of gold result from glacial drift brought down with gravel from the north. Two areas have shown pannable gold: Spring Valley in Fillmore County and near Jordan, southwest of Minneapolis.

The gemstone thomsonite, often mistaken for agate, is handsome and valuable. Look for it along the shores of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota.

Buried treasure is not a common thing in the state of Minnesota. When one was found there, it was thought to be interesting enough that the Minnesota Legislature passed a special law about it.

Around 1861 or 1862, when the Civil War began, a settler in Minnesota buried a large treasure, mostly made of gold, on or near the grounds of the Minnesota Old Soldiers’ Home. Because of the widespread economic turmoil at the time, no one thought it was the most secure way of preserving his fortune.

At any rate, the man went to the trouble of secreting his wealth somewhere on the west bank of the Mississippi River, near what is now the southern city limits of Minneapolis. Then, he seemed to forget about it for a long time. The old settler told a friend on his deathbed about the treasure he had buried, but he didn’t know exactly where it was.

Following his death, the friend made several unsuccessful attempts to find the treasure. Failing to locate it, he finally shared the secret with another friend. After further investigating the story, the second treasure seeker asked for permission to dig the spot where he believed the gold to be hidden since, by this time, the property had come into the possession of the state.

He was refused, and what happened next may prove him to be one of the most determined treasure hunters.

Where others would have given up, feeling the cause was hopeless, Treasure Hunter No. 2 took action. He asked his representative to start working on a bill to let the State of Minnesota sign contracts with treasure hunters.

The bill was introduced in the state legislature in 1943, and it was later passed and became House File 934 of Chapter 357 of the Laws of 1943. It gave the Commissioner of Administration the power to let people search for lost or abandoned things on state land with a permit. The Commissioner was also authorized to determine what percentage of a fine should go to the state in the event of discovery.

Few details about this treasure have been made public, but the story was in the newspapers when the bill was introduced. The determined treasure hunter got a permit and started digging on the Old Soldiers’ Home grounds, but it looked like he didn’t find anything.

Several ships have sunk in Lake Superior near Minnesota and are worth checking for possible salvage.

The Mafaafa sank near Duluth, Minnesota, on November 27, 1905.

The salvage value is estimated at $35,000.

The George Spencer sank near Grand Marais on November 25, 1905, and the salvage value was $75,000.

The Madiera sank near Silver Bay Harbor on November 25, 1905, and her salvage value was $5000.

The Benjamin Noble sank on April 27, 1914, off the mouth of the Knife River, near Duluth, Minnesota, with a cargo of steel rails.

The Algoma sank on November 7, 1885, on Greenstone Rock, Isle Royale, with a cargo of iron rails and a safe of passengers’ valuables.

The Kamloops sank December 6, 1927, off Isle Royale with a cargo of coiled wire and machinery for the Thunder Bay Paper Company.

The large pleasure boat Cunilda moved quickly through the calm waters of Lake Superior. It was on its way to Rossport, Ontario, a small fishing village, where it would stop for the night on its way to Port Arthur and Fort William.

The skipper didn’t realize it, but the night hid a treacherous shoal just a few feet underwater. The Cunilda, 205 feet long and weighing 384 gross tons, pushed hard on the rock ledge, driving her bow high in the air just a few miles from her destination.

The large craft, which appeared undamaged, could not be moved. The owner, W. L. Harkness, a millionaire from Cleveland and a Standard Oil magnate had to leave his yacht and take a powered lifeboat to Rossport, where he called the Great Lakes Dredging and Salvage Company.

The company sent out the powerful steam tug James Whalen to free the stranded yacht. When he got there, Harkness told the tug to immediately pull his boat off the shoal without waiting for a diver to check the hull for damage.

Obeying the millionaire’s wishes, the tug captain hitched a line to the pleasure craft and steadily took up the strain. The yacht finally slid slowly off the ledge but did not stop until it filled with water and went to Lake Superior’s bottom, 300 feet below.

Even though it was rumored that a cache of precious jewels, rare liqueurs, and silverware went down with the yacht, it was far beyond the reach of anyone who ever dreamed of salvaging her. Attempts to salvage the yacht have recently been made, but as far as is known, these attempts have met with little success.

The state of Minnesota had a few forts during the Indian Wars. Here are two that would be worth checking for relics.

Fort Ridgely was established in 1853 in Renville County, ¾ miles north of the Minnesota River at the mouth of the Rock River, about 20 miles above New Ulm. The fort was abandoned in 1867 and is now in a state park south of State Highway 19 and east of State Highway 4.

Fort Ripley was established in 1849 in Crow Country as Fort Gaines, an outpost against the Sioux on the west bank of the Mississippi. It was located seven miles above the mouth of the Crow Wing River and opposite the mouth of the Nokay.

The military reservation was on the east bank, but the post was on the west. The fort was abandoned in 1877. You will find the site off State Highway 371, near the present town of Fort Ripley.

This treasure lead appeared in a newspaper on October 20, 1904, in Crookston, Minnesota.

Thomas Fontaine, a farmer from Woonsocket, Rhode Island, moved to Mentor, Minnesota, in 1901. He bought a farm a few miles east of Mentor a short time later. Fontaine had brought considerable money with him from Rhode Island and was considered well-to-do.

During early October 1904, Fontaine hunted rabbits with a friend, Joseph Cullmette, from Rhode Island. After they had crossed the railroad tracks near Mentor, a family living in the area heard two gunshots. Since there were several hunters in the vicinity, nothing was thought about these two shots. The next day, Fontaine’s dead body was found near the railroad tracks. The body had been mutilated almost beyond recognition.

Joseph Cullmette was questioned, but it was never proven that he had killed Fontaine. The treasure angle to this story is that it was common knowledge in the neighborhood that Fontaine always carried large sums of money with him.

Since he did not trust banks, this would mean that he had a ready cash reserve, which was inaccessible at his farm. Little money was found after his death, and his body had none on it. This little location would certainly bear further checking.

There is a legend of a James Gang treasure buried near Pipestone, Minnesota. Unlike most James Gang loot stories, this one could be true.

After what happened at the First National Bank in Northfield on September 7, 1876, a story spread that Jesse James, Bill Chadwell, and Charlie Pitts were seen at a farm two miles south of town, where they were staying with a man related to Chadwell.

They were supposedly inspecting a getaway route. The story goes that Jesse buried a lot of money on the farm because he knew the robbery would be tried in a few days. He planned to dig it up later. The money was from the Otterville, Missouri, train robbery and his share of a stagecoach robbery in Texas.

When the lawmen questioned the farmer, he admitted that Chadwell had stayed with two friends. Rumors piled upon rumors until they caused the farmer to leave that part of Minnesota.

Some historians place the value of the money buried between $25,000 and $100,000, and one has said that the best guess would be about $50,000.

There are reports of several lost gold mines in Minnesota, most having to do with placer gold. Indians mined gold or found it in places in the early 1800s.

There were rumors of a big Indian strike in 1878, which caused Walter and Perry Mize, middle-aged first cousins and bachelors in Minneapolis, to go north into the region of Red Lake. Traders had told them they had bought gold from the Chippasaw Indians but did not know its source. They supposed that it came from the Red River Valley.

A French Indian half-breed told the cousins that in earlier years, he had found gold in the area where Two Rivers entered the Red River. They panned the creeks until, about two miles north of Two Rivers, in a little unnamed stream, they struck placer gold. They returned to Minneapolis that fall with about $25,000, so the story goes.

Most streams entering Minnesota from Mankato to Ortonville have produced placer gold in southern Minnesota. Geologists think it was deposited by glacial drift, often 100 feet deep.

The first people to move there found a strange ore in six places in central Minnesota, southwest of the Cuyuna Range and east of the Mississippi River. They thought it was iron and carried it home. Eventually, geologists identified it as the amosite and crocidolite of the amphibole group of asbestos ores, the most valuable, called “blue asbestos,” commercially. Since about 1910, the locations have been lost.

Catlinite, of the best quality in North America, is made in Pipestone, which is in Pipestone County. It has grown in value in recent years and has been found in other locations in Minnesota, but most of them have now been forgotten.

Here are two locations in south-central Minnesota that might be worth checking into. $40,000 is believed to be hidden near Green Isle by two brothers named Curran.

In Henderson, gold coins worth over $10,000 are supposed to be buried in a grove of trees. Check the library in Mankato; perhaps they will have more information on these locations.

In 1700, Pierre le Sueur left Louisiana to prospect for gold, silver, and copper on the Minnesota River. Le Sueur built a fort and named it L’Huilier, near where the Blue Earth River enters the Minnesota River. I will quote from a journal by Andre Penicant, one of Le Sueur’s men.

Penicant did not say what Le Sueur and his men found in a mine they had discovered. However, he stated: “In twenty days we took from this mine more than thirty thousand pounds of ore. We selected only four thousand pounds of the finest of it, which M. le Sueur sent to the fort, and later, he took it to France.”

When Le Sueur prepared to leave for France, he told the Indians that he was putting a Frenchman named d’Eraque in charge of the fort. Le Sueur loaded the sloop with the four thousand pounds of “green clay we had taken from the mine” and set off for Biloxi, on the Mississippi River, with Penicant and a dozen men.

The French government proved the journal of Penicant was reliable, so what he wrote concerning the mine was true, although today, it is not known exactly what ore it was. No report of what the chemists of the time thought of the ore has been found.

The venture at Fort L’Huilier collapsed in 1702 when a war party of Fox Indians chased d’Eraque away. He stopped long enough to hide his trade goods and valuables and never returned.

In 1704, Le Sueur died of yellow fever in France, and his men were sent to other posts. Thus, the mine and its contents were lost. But the saga of Fort L’Huilier aroused the curiosity of settlers who later came to Minnesota.

Indians told stories about the French fort and mine and the hidden treasures. One story told of “an ancient and large cave, carved into a solid rock in the sides of a high bluff, somewhere near the fort. The entrance to the cave was made so that a man had to crawl inside.

Once underground, he would find a large chamber whose sides and ceilings would glitter with the sheen of a peculiar metal.

A skeleton was near a chest holding French valuables hidden by d’Eraque. Also, there were supposed to be many other treasures in the cave, concealed by Indians.”

In 1907, Judge J. H. Hughes found and excavated remains of the French fort on the property of William Mitchel, a Blue Earth County farmer, but they could not find the cave or the mine, thus lending credence to the treasure story and the lost fort.

This lead came from a television special that aired in Minneapolis in 1978. The interest to a treasure hunter is that all of the money Wagner is known to have had was never accounted for.

Joseph Wagner left an estate of $121,000 when he died in a 1973 car crash at 86. He was born near Yankton, North Dakota, and moved to Minnesota in later years.

Wagner became a boiler inspector for the Great Northern Railroad and invested heavily in railroad stocks. At his death, $25,000 was found in his car. An additional $96,000 was located in a bank. A friend of Wagner’s, John Anderson, told the newspapers that Wagner always kept large amounts of cash in his home. However, none was found there.

Wagner never married and had no known relatives. At his death, he had been living in the old Lincoln Hotel in Willmar, Minnesota. This would be a good lead for local research.

A discovery of gold in Minnesota occurred in 1856, on the Zumbo River near Monaco, in Olmsted County. This deposit was found by a farmer named Holden Whipple, who lived near the junction of the north branch of the Zumbo River.

Whipple was walking along the river bank when he noticed an unusual rock. Out of curiosity, he picked it up and found it contained flecks of gold. When word leaked out, a gold rush started. A company was organized, and in 1858, the Oronaco Mining Company started operations.

The company erected sluices in the river valley and planned to mine the entire area for gold. But when winter set in, all mining had to stop because of the cold. On July 3, 1859, after the company had removed several ounces of gold, a flood caused the Zumbo River to overflow and wash away the entire mining operation.

Several other unsuccessful attempts at gold mining were made on the Zumbo River after one man found gold near Sacramento in 1855. Several old-timers on the Zumbo River still maintain that gold can be found there.

A recent discovery of gold just north of Sunburg, in Pope County, was made by a sand-mining firm. The amount of gold recovered from the quarry is only a by-product. Since the gold is spread over a large glacial area, the only interest to individuals would be to pan the streams for a few colors.

However, with today’s technology, metal detectors, and methods of recovery, maybe a large deposit could be found. All of these areas are accessible to those who are interested.

Although the story of Charles Ney’s buried fortune is well known, there is no record of it being found.
Before Prohibition, Ney operated a brewery in Henderson, Minnesota, for many years. Shortly after the law prohibiting the legal making of beer was passed, Ney died at his home.

He had amassed a sizeable fortune for the times from selling beer. However, only a small amount of this was found after his death.

In 1934, the brewery was razed by the city. At that time, several searches were done for the money, but nothing was found. Two years later, a group sank a shaft thirty feet deep on the old brewery site to locate what was believed to be an underground vault containing Ney’s fortune. No vault or anything of value was found.

A check of city records telling where Ney lived and the location of the old brewery site could pay off for a treasure hunter with a metal detector.

The location of a little more than $100,000 in currency cached near a fence post between Rochester and Chatfield in southeastern Minnesota is still being debated in F.B.I. offices and by Minnesota old-timers.
This money was part of the $200,000 ransom paid to the Barker-Karpis gang in 1934 for the safe return of a prominent St. Paul banker named Edward Bremer.

About 8:30 on the morning of January 17, 1934, Bremer dropped his daughter, Betty, off at a fashionable girls’ school, then drove toward his downtown office. When he stopped for the stop sign at the intersection of Lexington and Concordia, a man started to get in on the right side of the car.

Bremer tried to escape out the door on his side of the car but was met by another man with a gun, and then the two drove off with him in his car. These two men were later identified as Doc Barker and Alvin Karpis.

When Bremer was transferred to another car, he was handed a fountain pen and told to name a friend as a contact man for ransom negotiations. Bremer named Walter Magee and then watched as the kidnappers took his watch and chain to be used later for identification purposes.

He was then driven to a hideout near Cuba City, Wisconsin, as described in the May 18, 1934, issue of the New York Times. Walter Magee was called on the phone at his office at 10:45 AM and told to get together $200,000 in five- and ten-dollar bills that were unmarked and then wait for further instructions.

On February 5, a note with instructions for the payoff said that Magee was to go at 8 PM to a parked coupe on a St. Paul street with the $200,000 in five- and ten-dollar bills. Inside the car would be further instructions.

Magee found a note in the car that said: “Go to Farmington, Minnesota. The Rochester bus will arrive at 8:15 PM and leave at 9:25 PM. Follow one hundred yards in the back of the bus when it leaves Farmington until you come to four red lights on the left of the road; then take the first road to the left and proceed at fifteen miles per hour until you see five flashes of lights; then stop and deposit package of money on right-hand of road.

Leave the two notes with the money, get in the car, and go straight ahead.”

Following these instructions, Magee placed two suit boxes containing the $200,000 on the right-hand side of the road. Edward Bremer was released in Rochester, Minnesota, the following day.

Facts that remain after the eventual breaking of the case in late 1936 are that only a part of the money was ever accounted for. More than $100,000 of it is still missing.

According to a man named David Olson, who lived in Davenport, Iowa, at the time of the kidnapping, and who subsequently made a study of the case, one unidentified gang member revealed where the missing thousands were.

He was in the car occupied by Fred Barker and two other men after the release of Bremer in Rochester. This man remembered stopping on the main gravel road of the day after leaving Rochester’s outskirts but before getting to Chatfield, Minnesota, which is 19 miles southeast of the medical clinic city.

He told of Fred leaving the car with a tarpaulin, a strong metal box, and a shovel. When Fred returned, he carried only the shovel. According to the companion in crime, Fred had been directed by Ma Barker herself to hide the money. Kate “Ma” Barker, leader of the gang, was not in the car as most writers seem to think when her son Fred Barker buried the money.

Outside of this one man’s testimony, there was no way for federal agents to get other information first-hand since both Fred and Ma had been killed in Florida before they could tell where the remainder of the cash was hidden.

David Olson spent several years investigating the case, trying to learn where the money was cached. His findings were accepted as accurate by the police at that time.

Remember, the one irrefutable fact that remains, after all else is said and done, is that $100,000 is still missing! And no other clues as to its location have ever been given.

The roads have changed slightly since that time, and most of the roadway is presently Highway 42. Someday, someone will walk those nineteen miles using a metal detector and, with little luck, will be rich.

Here is another little-known site where it is almost certain that the Barker-Karpis gang cached money from one of their first kidnappings during the summer of 1933. The first time the gang tried to kidnap someone, they got paid and didn’t get caught.

During the summer of 1933, the gang made off with William Hamm, Jr., son of a prominent brewer of that day. A demand for $100,000 in ransom was made, and the money was paid. Hamm was released in the Lake Superior port town of Duluth.

The payoff came on U.S. Highway 61, north of the little town of Wyoming, Minnesota.

Whether this money was ever spent by the gang or turned into a cache is unknown. Many believe the money was stashed for later use because the gang also committed several robberies and pulled off the Edward Bremer kidnapping only a short time after the payoff for the first one.

They certainly did not spend all the money from these robberies and kidnappings in such a short time.

On the Mississippi River, Lake City holds the secrets to several treasure caches, hidden by bootleggers during the Prohibition days and by wealthy farmers and businessmen. Check local library files, as they could help, and also check the local newspapers, which may have valuable information.

The Minnesota Historical Society has done a great job of making maps and keeping records of the early Minnesota camps, trading posts, and forts. Skin divers have found artifacts on the border waters where the turbulent waters capsized heavy trade-laden canoes.

The Indians plundered and murdered farmers and their families. Military campaigns against the Indians are well-recorded. The main uprising was in 1862 because the $47,000 annuity payment in gold was delayed. The white man won some battles and lost others.

Artifacts are plentiful at the old battle sites, but unaccounted-for gold seems to be a rare item, yet it is known that there was considerable gold and silver in possession of the Indians and traders, many of whom were slain.

The northern Minnesota economy bloomed in the 1870s. Lumber companies paid their men with gold and traded tokens for goods at the company store. Many lumber towns and camps have been mapped, and for the research-oriented, this should be excellent hunting. Artifacts and gold coins could be found around some of the now-deserted lumber camps.

Mining camps were booming simultaneously, with the pay being poor but steady. The saving habits of the European miners suggest that caches were made but never recovered. They could still be there, and you might find some of them if you take the time to hunt.

A great fire swept northern Minnesota in the 1880s, destroying towns such as Pitt. Some of these towns do not have metal detectors near them. The only evidence of a town is the overgrown basement depressions.

Another forest fire in north-central Minnesota killed hundreds of people and devastated Hinkley’s town. Stories of the unrecovered gold payroll of the local lumber company have been heard ever since.

There are numerous abandoned communities, Indian villages, and lumber camps in Minnesota. Information on these sites can usually be found in each county clerk’s office. The following is only a partial listing of these former habitations.

Blue Earth County-Eureka, a busy little town in the 1850s, is today nothing but grassland.

Carlton County-Frontenac was abandoned in the 1890s when the railroad bypassed the village. A few old buildings are all that remain today.

Cook County-Several abandoned logging camps, which at one time had mills, boarding houses for the lumberjacks, and a population of anywhere from fifty to one hundred each, are to be found in this county. London, a ghost town, can be reached only by horseback or jeep.

Dodge County-Sacramento was built in 1855 on the Zumbo River between Mantorville and Wasiaja. Ten years later, it returned to its former state as farmland. Concord, a nearby ghost town, is located three miles east of West Concord. It was abandoned when the Great Western Railroad bypassed the village.
Fillmore County-Forestville was founded in 1855 and abandoned in 1868.

It once had a large store, several buildings, and over 200 residents. A few old buildings and the ruins of a school are still there.

Freeborn County: Only the old schoolhouse and a few houses remain of what was once the thriving community of Itasca.

Hubbard County’s Old Mendota, a nearby ghost town, is the oldest settlement in Minnesota. The village was founded in 1820. Some of the original buildings are still standing.

Itasca County-About one mile east of Grand Rapids is a few streets; all that remains of the town of La Prairie, which burned in 1890.

Lake County: Ten miles south of Two Rivers are the ruins of Buchanan, a thriving community in the 1850s.
Nicollet County: The ghost town of Traverse des Sioux at one time had several stores, a church, a hotel, a sawmill, and a livery stable, with over 300 inhabitants. The town only lasted about six years and then began its decline. Now foliage covers the area. During the 1850s, the town of South Bend was developed but later became a ghost town.

Olmsted County-Abandoned before 1900, High Forest is now a ghost town. The site is located two miles southwest of Stewartville.

Ottertail County-Lathrop had a population of 2000 at one time. All that remains are about 100 old buildings. The town was abandoned in 1895 when the railroad passed it by.

Pine County-A good place to check out is Hinckley, which has been mentioned previously. In September 1893, a fire, whipped by high winds, killed over 500 people and destroyed the town, which was not rebuilt. The fire spread and damaged other small towns in the area. There should be thousands of relics that a person with a metal detector could find.

The treasure had been found along the Red River near the town of St. Vincent and on the Minnesota side of the river opposite Pembina, North Dakota. More is suspected to be in these regions.

For those interested in searching for Indian war relics, the Sioux uprising in Minnesota left many valuable artifacts.

The dissatisfaction among the Sioux, rising from the failure of the government to keep the promises General Harney made in 1856, which were expressed to Agent Latta on May 28, 1862, and more forcibly illustrated by the murder of Bear’s Rib, was rapidly growing in intensity. An outbreak at the Sisseton Agency was prevented by the timely arrival of the U.S. troops from Fort Ridgley, Minnesota, and the disappointed Indians scattered about the country.

Five persons were murdered at Seton, in Meeker County, Minnesota, on August 17. This was followed by a series of cruel and murderous deeds characterized by every inhuman and savage atrocity known to savage ingenuity.

Nearly one thousand peaceful citizens, men, women, and children, at New Ulm, Minnesota, on the Minnesota River, were murdered in cold blood, with such cruel barbarity as froze the blood in the veins of all hearing of the shameful facts. Fort Ridgley was besieged but saved by the heroism of less than fifty soldier defenders.

The greatest alarm prevailed. Thousands of people fled from their homes. Armed men were hurried to the scene from St. Paul and its vicinity, but it was some days before troops could reach the area, and by that time, the Indians had escaped to the west.

All of Minnesota was aroused, and troops were hastily summoned under H. H. Sibley, who heard the news of the infamous deeds of the Dakota Sioux on August 21. He rode into St. Paul, met Governor Ramsey, and obtained the authority to punish the murderers.

He gathered a party of twenty-five horsemen and, before daylight on the 22nd, was on his way to Fort Ridgley. Within less than five weeks, he had organized a force of 1500 men, marched 250 miles, and overtaken the Indians near the Yellow Medicine River.

On September 23, he attacked and defeated them, leaving many dead on the field. Two days later, he overtook the balance and captured over 2,000 and part of the property they had stolen from the settlers.

Anywhere between New Ulm and the Yellow Medicine River would be one promising area to check for Indian relics or possibly pioneer relics the Indians had stolen and dropped in their flight.

When the state was first settled some years previous to being admitted to the Union in 1858, many land agents had lured thousands of land-hungry species of Homo Sapiens, some of whom, bitterly disappointed, returned without homesteading, with the bitter remark that: “Hell, there are only gophers in that God-forsaken country.”

In time, Minnesota became known as the “Gopher State.” However, even though there are still a lot of gophers in the Land of Sky Blue Waters, there is also a lot of iron.

If you feel inclined, try prospecting for Fe in Crow, Wing, Fillmore, Itasca, and St. Louis Counties. You could have a new iron range named after you.

Geologists and mineralogists can’t agree on where these amazing iron deposits came from. They can’t agree on how all that iron got to a small area near the Great Lakes, like the north of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Nowhere else has so much high-grade iron ore been found.

Some experts insist this massive hematite and magnetite iron ore was concentrated by the oxidizing effects of iron-bearing Pre-Cambrian sedimentary rocks from iron magmas of undetermined source.
This Old Rock hound of the Rockies believes that the iron originated from massive intrusions of iron ore magmas from great depths during the active volcanic Miocene Epoch or perhaps the middle Cenozoic Era.

When the great glaciers melted, they left a lot of sand and gravel that could prove their worth, as well as auriferous sand and gravel for you gold pan hounds to try panning for gold. If you cannot get any satisfaction panning for gold, you might try lode prospecting for manganese.

There will always be a demand for manganese ore, so try prospecting for manganese in Crow Wing, Fillmore, Itasca, and St. Louis Counties.

Rock and Nicollet Counties are good locations to prospect for abrasive stones. Jasper-like, extremely hard quartzites and cherts used in grinding ores and other materials, such as in gypsum mills, are also used worldwide in ball mills.

Instead of steel balls, hard abrasive stones are used because tramp iron in the ore that is being ground makes it hard to get a clean concentrate and “salts” the ore concentrates with too much iron.

Hence, these hard and efficient quartzites and cherts are used. A good deposit of commercial-grade abrasive “stones” could pay off the mortgage on the old homestead and perhaps send Junior to the college of your (or rather his) choice.

Those who prefer to search for gemstones and mineral specimens should look with sharp eyes along Lake Superior’s north shore, and Lake Itasca’s shore. The lake that starts Old Man River on his 2348-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico and along the banks of the Mississippi River as far down as Red Wing.

Try prospecting for a peat bog in Beltrami, Carlton, Itasca, Koochiching, and Pine Counties.

Prospecting and finding a good pottery and fire clay deposit may not be as glamorous, bewitching, enchanting, or fascinating as prospecting and finding a gold mine. Yet a paying clay pit or two could put a lot of prime beef in your deep freeze for the rest of your life, and that’s well worth digging for.

The best locations to dig would be Brown, Carlton, Goodhue, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Redwood Counties.

by Donald M. Viles

Jean Lafitte-just as the name conjures visions of a swashbuckling pirate who, in daring raids, carried away great hoards of rich treasure to his island kingdom of Campeachy. He’s the same pirate who cast his lot, and that of his men, with Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans.

What a pirate! What a man!

There is one fantastic episode credited to Lafitte that keeps the Frenchman’s name alive for those interested in treasure hunting. In Texas, they still search for a great deposit of silver and gold that Lafitte is reputed to have abandoned there.

In 1816, Jean Lafitte, who was reputed to be an agent of the Spanish government (Agent 13, to be exact), raided a Spanish vessel called the Santa Rosa. Rosa was carrying a treasure cargo of silver bars and gold nuggets. After obtaining the valuable cargo, it is recorded that Lafitte contracted with a French freight hauler, Nicholas Trammel, to take the loot inland.

As the story goes, Spanish authorities in San Antonio got wind of the daring theft, and 200 Spanish army regulars were quickly dispatched to apprehend the raiders and regain ownership of the bars and nuggets for the Crown of Spain.

The king’s men caught up with the wagon train of Lafitte in the vicinity of Hendrick’s Lake, where a one-sided fight for the possession of the freight wagons took place. Only two of Trammel’s wagon drivers escaped with their lives. They eventually made their way back to Lafitte’s headquarters.

Unknown to the Spanish soldiers, according to the statement of one of the surviving raiders, Nicholas Trammel had been forewarned of the Spanish troops catching up to his train and had succeeded in taking the six wagons containing the treasure to the shore of Hendrick’s Lake, where they were cut loose from the teams and rolled into the deep waters.

There they were, well hidden from view. Not knowing of this act and not knowing the original size of the train, the soldiers took the remaining six wagons to San Antonio, where the authorities concluded that their information had been erroneous and that the treasure had been shipped by other means than the Santa Rosa-consequently, now being safe.

A lot of time and money has been spent looking for Lafitte’s treasure in Hendrick’s Lake, Texas. According to old-timers in the area, a party made a salvage attempt in 1885, wherein efforts were made to drain the lake. Storms and heavy rain in the area flooded their work, so they had to give up on the business.

In 1895, three men from Mexico arrived on the lake scene and made another attempt to retrieve the treasure. Even though they purportedly had original documents stating the location, they, too, failed.
In 1958, a party of seekers used modern detection equipment to survey the lake area.

The equipment showed a metal deposit on the bottom, and many old pieces of iron and broken ranch tools were found. But no silver bars or gold nuggets came to the surface.

In 1966, a group armed with a large amount of data and a “genuine” map made the next attempt to gain fame and riches from the lake’s bottom. Their efforts were for naught.

Thus, the famous pirate’s treasure of silver bars and gold nuggets remains where it was deposited and is still to be recovered.

Due to the many years of historical research, I have a far different view of Lafitte’s plunder. First, let’s look at some of the recorded data. The date of the incident is important. In 1816, Texas was part of New Spain, a colony of Spain.

The people of New Spain were in revolt against the Crown. Although Lafitte was supposedly a Spanish agent, he was also French and stole wealth from the King of Spain. Just whose side was he on?

Was it on the side of the revolutionists, or was he working for the French? After all, involved was a freight outfit owned and operated by Frenchmen. It should be noted that in 1816 all countries who had an interest in the continent were keeping a sharp eye on the New Spain revolution, and all were endeavoring by fair means or foul to gain any advantage or foothold that might further their interests at a later date. The countries involved were France, England, and the United States.

Another and most significant perspective on the incident must be taken into consideration. It is the most crucial fact, and this part of the article will be challenging for the average reader to cope with or accept. In 1816, Texas was not in the same geographical location that it is today. If Lafitte’s treasure exists, that is why it has never been found.

Before we continue, here’s another statement that will either make you laugh or make you laugh. Because of ancient political intrigues, North American geography and history have been extensively falsified. You have been brainwashed so well since the first day of school that it is almost impossible for you to understand the truth.

Be my guest; go ahead and laugh. You won’t be the first. But remember, a few will ponder the foregoing statement instead of rejecting it, and they might get rich.

Over several hundred years, fake records and fake maps were made and used to change our records. These same documents are what the learned ones now consider to be “historical treasures.” Old fake Spanish maps put Texas roughly where it is today, but the territory was much further north. There was a good reason for this deception.

Spain endeavored to mislead the rest of the world about its North American operations as much as possible. In 1846, a great juggling of geography took place on the continent. This time it was to “straighten out” the original document deception operation.

The Texas area is one example of this manipulation. In the second half of the 19th century, the United States and other countries worked together to make a final change to the world’s geography.

For example, fake Spanish maps located Corpus Christi, Texas, on a gulf coastline. So at the end of the Mexican War, the United States named a town on today’s Gulf of Mexico Corpus Christi. Even though the original town had been far inland, any researcher looking at an ancient map or a new one would see nothing amiss.

There were a few minute flaws in all this complicated manipulation of geographical positions. Modern communication means have revealed some of these, which could not be foreseen in the early days. One problem was probably apparent at the time but could not be corrected. It probably was not considered important or may even perhaps have been considered undetectable.

Despite big government and bright minds moving documents and relocating places, many times, the ordinary people of an area refused to relinquish old names. A name would be handed down from one generation to another. An instance of this comes to light in the records of Lafitte’s treasure. It is important because it proves the incident occurred and that there was a record concerning the raid before 1846.

Also, it proves the location before the 19th-century geographical manipulation occurred. The true location of Hendrick’s Lake, Texas, in 1816, is at approximately 44 degrees and 40 minutes North latitude, 96 degrees and 30 minutes West longitude.

That’s right. If Jean Lafitte’s hired teamsters dumped his silver and gold into a lake, they did so at a site in today’s Minnesota, still called Hendrick’s Lake.

One more note about the location: A modern-day treasure hunter states that he has information that leads him to believe the treasure was not rolled into the lake, but into a nearby deep water stream, in today’s Texas, of course.

Also, recently, a map dowser came up with strong signals at a lake close to Hendrick’s Lake, Minnesota. This site is just a short distance west of Oak Lake, S. D.

My research brings forth the following theory about the treasure. I believe the silver and gold came out of the Black Hills. It may have been hijacked from a vessel headed for the Gulf down today’s Missouri River. Lafitte was heading for a Great Lakes port and eventually out of the continent.

Who knows? In those days, everybody was double-crossing everyone else.

In 1821, U. S. Lieutenant Kearney kicked Lafitte out of his Campeachy settlement. The site was part of the newly formed Mexico, but the United States was already ready to take over the area. It was first come, first served, and Uncle Sam was taking no chances with some other nation getting the first foothold.

Much explanatory historical data is missing from this piece. First, it is too complicated to explain in one article. In addition, I want to protect locations of treasure hidden by deceptive history for future stories.
This writing is not a piece of imaginary fiction. It results from many years of hard work and research sparked by a great map and document.

The question naturally arises, “If you are so sure of the location, why don’t you look for the treasure yourself?” The answer is simple. I live too far away. I have to earn a living and am no longer a young rooster. But I would never have written this article if I could afford to spend a month or two on location.

Scroll to Top