Treasure-hunting in Mississippi has been going on for more than 400 years. Spanish conquistadors sailed along its coast in search of riches. Vainly questing for gold in 1540, Hernando de Soto entered the State of Mississippi. He died on the banks of the Mississippi River and is buried in its waters.
Frenchmen attracted by the mighty river included Marquette, La Salle, Hennepin, Cadillac, and Tonti. Spanish, French, English, and Americans established forts and trading posts in Mississippi, and all of them left behind their legends of buried treasure.
Captain Dane was the master of the Nightingale, which plied between Gulf ports and Central and South America during the early 19th century. On what proved to be his last trip, he took on board at Montevideo a wealthy, elderly Portuguese and his young Spanish bride, who was wealthy in her own right.
After making love to the young bride, Captain Dane obtained her promise to desert her elderly groom upon arriving in the United States. When the husband is suspicious of his bride and the captain, Dane knifed him to death.
The bride felt terrible about what she had done and threatened to tell everyone about the murder when they got to New Orleans.
When the Nightingale dropped anchor near Pass Christian, Captain Dane put all the money and jewels on board into a chest, chose four sailors, and left the ship after locking the passengers and the rest of the crew below deck. Before leaving, he set fire to the vessel, and everyone left on the Nightingale, including the young Spanish bride, perished.
Dane purchased a plantation a short time later and settled there with his treasure. Unfortunately, an epidemic of yellow fever swept the coast, and the last of his four men to die told the story of the sinking of the Nightingale.
Learning that officers were arriving to question him, Captain Dane hanged himself from an oak tree. He left no clues as to where he had buried his treasure of about $200,000 in money and jewels.
A cache, believed to be about $7200 in coins, is almost certainly still where it was hidden near Little Rock, Mississippi. And since this happened during the 1930s, some people, including family members, still live and can remember the incident. This is one instance where permission must be obtained before you can begin searching.
In 1929, when the stock market crashed, Zachary, or Zack, Goforth lost most of his life savings. Goforth owned 540 acres tended each year, and he was considered one of the wealthier men in the area. After losing his money in 1929, Zack worked harder to accumulate another fortune. It took time, but in a few years, he again became one of the most affluent men in his community.
This time, however, Zack did not trust the banks. His family knew that somewhere on the farm, he had hidden several fruit jars full of coins. Sickness struck suddenly, and Zack tried vainly to tell his family where he had hidden his small fortune, estimated to be over $7000, but he died without revealing its location.
Indirect proof of the cache came in 1936, when two boys, fishing in a farm creek, found a small iron pot with $800 in gold coins. This is believed to be one of the first caches Goforth made since the government called in gold early in the 1930s.
It is almost certain that somewhere on the Goforth farm near Little Rock, Mississippi, there is over $7000 waiting for some lucky treasure hunter.
Percy Creek, in Wilkinson County, is a long, twisting, overgrown stream, and somewhere along the creek’s banks, a fortune could very well be buried in 200-year-old coins.
In the early 1780s, a ship sailed into the Mississippi River and later stopped at the mouth of Buffalo Bayou. On board was a man who gave his name as Charles Percy. He had a Spanish grant for a large tract of land north of Ft. Adams. Unloading farm equipment and a large number of slaves from the ship, Percy started to build a home called Northumberland Place.
He must have been wealthy because the Spanish authorities made Percy an alcalde or judge. Local records show that Percy registered his land grant and married a French woman.
A few years after Percy’s arrival, a ship docked at Buffalo Bayou, and an English woman and her son visited Northumberland Place. After a few minutes of conversation with the woman, Percy walked down to the creek, tied a large iron bar around his neck, and drowned himself.
The lady seemed very interested in Percy’s money and land holdings. All the slaves and Percy’s wife would tell her was that he had hidden his money (believed to be gold coins) in three ship’s casks that had been waterproofed with tar and that they did not know where the casks were. The woman and her son left and returned to England after searching unsuccessfully for the coins.
Charles Percy’s mysterious action and death, the English lady’s visit, and what happened to Percy’s fortune was almost forgotten until a few years ago when a story came out that two moonshiners had found one of the casks in a hollow tree stump while gathering wood for the still’s cooker.
The coins were made in an odd shape (probably eight-sided), and the two superstitious brothers thought the money was spooked or haunted. They covered the stump up, quit moonshining, and never returned to the place.
The creek is still there, following the course it did when Charles Percy arrived and the events concerning his fortune occurred. Two others should be nearby if one cache is found (even if it was not left).
Some of the older residents living in or around old Fort Adams could help an interested treasure hunter get on the right track of this hidden fortune.
During the height of the flat boating days on the Mississippi River, many schemes were created to relieve flatboats of their cargo. A Natchez character named Pluger, better known as Colonel Plug, is said to have accumulated a considerable fortune through a clever ruse he had devised.
Sneaking a flatboat aboard, Plug would conceal himself until the craft swung downstream. He would then scuttle the boat by boring holes in its bottom. When the craft began to founder, his accomplices would row out in skiffs, supposedly to rescue the crew but actually to murder them.
Only Colonel Plug would be saved. One day, Plug miscalculated the time between scuttling and rescue and drowned. It is said that he left a considerable fortune buried someplace in Natchez-under-the-Hill and was never found.
Vicksburg was called the “Gibraltar of the Confederacy during the Civil War.” Both the North and the South recognized its strategic importance. In the hands of the Confederates, it severed the nation, and the North was determined to take it at any cost.
As war broke out, many people fled to nearby caves in the hills and buried their money, which they knew Union soldiers would take if they found it. For various reasons, numerous of these buried treasures were never recovered.
A typical example is a treasure buried in the Vicksburg hillside by the wealthy Pickett family. Only the father and son knew where the valuables had been placed. Both of them died during the siege of Vicksburg, and the family members who were still alive were never able to find the treasure.
This short story of two pirate caches is interesting in that one has been found, thus supporting the assertion that the other one almost certainly exists.
In the early 1800s, Patrick Scott was an Irish pirate who commanded a brigantine with a crew of thirty. While laid up for repairs near Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Scott asked a fisherman named Grow to sell him a hamper of oysters.
Scott could easily have taken what he wanted, but in those days, no pirate wanted to antagonize people living along any shore that might be needed as a safe harbor or a place to repair their ships.
Grow gave Scott the oysters but refused to take any payment for them. In appreciation, Scott invited the fisherman aboard his vessel, where a celebration was in progress. Scott explained that they had just divided their loot and were about to sail for Ireland.
But, he explained, they had left two caches ashore, one of which he would give to Grow for his kindness. Taking Grow ashore, Scott showed him a certain magnolia tree on the beach at Ocean Springs, where one of the two caches was located.
After that, Grow and his family paid for everything they needed with gold coins. It is believed that Patrick Scott sailed to Ireland, and there is no record of him ever returning to Mississippi.
This means that somewhere on the beach near Ocean Springs, Mississippi, there is still a pirate cache waiting for someone with a metal detector and a desire to find it.
These two locations of Civil War caches are both connected with Sherman’s March to the Sea in 1864, which signaled the end of the Confederate cause.
Sherman went into Holmes County, Mississippi, in February 1864 with four infantry divisions and a cavalry unit to act as his eyes and ears. He was told to take or destroy anything of value to the south. This would include livestock, food, houses, and any family valuables that could be found.
When news of Sherman’s March preceded him, dozens of Southern families hid food, horses, and any valuables they owned, to keep them out of Yankee hands or from being destroyed.
For various reasons, a large number of these buried treasures have never been found because the people who hid them were killed during the war, families were scattered, never to return to their homes, and some people, due to the excitement of the invasion and in haste, forgot where they had hidden their valuables.
One such incident involved a plantation owner named Joseph Moore in Holmes County, Mississippi. Moore gathered his family’s valuables: money, silverware, heirlooms, et cetera. These were placed into two iron cooking pots and buried in the back orchard.
Moore was killed during the war. Unfortunately, he had never told his family the location of the valuables. The family became scattered, and, as far as is known, the cache is still there. Several searches were made to locate this treasure, but they all failed.
The second incident was in Newton County, Mississippi. During Sherman’s March, none of the countryside in his army’s path was safe. Since most of the Confederate soldiers were in Virginia, where the heaviest fighting of the war was taking place, Sherman met very little resistance in Mississippi until he came to the Union, where a group of Confederates put up a stiff battle.
After the battle, the wounded Yankees were taken to the nearby Boler Inn for treatment.
One of the injured troopers was carrying a large amount of cash, considered Sherman’s treasury. Sometime in the morning, he sneaked out of the house and hid the treasury.
His wounds must have been worse than first thought because he died quickly, taking his secret to the grave.
During the last 120 years, many attempts have been made to find this missing Civil War cache, but it has remained hidden.
For years, people have been telling the legend of a large Spanish treasure of gold coins buried near Mathiston in Choctaw County. I included this tale because I checked the Army records, and the son of the man who found part of the treasure was killed in action in Korea, just as my story will tell.
Sometime during the 1820s, when piracy along the Gulf Coast was just about over, a Spanish-Indian named Juan Cabrera decided to leave the employ of Jean Lafitte, who at that time had a very dubious future, and move north.
Taking his share of the accumulated loot, his wife, a Choctaw Indian girl, his son, and two enslaved people named Hinkle and Crawford, Cabrera loaded two wagons and moved north to what is now Pigeon Roost Creek in Choctaw County, where he intended to build a house and live.
It was not known where Cabrera’s wife came from, but she had been brought to New Orleans by a man named John David Bradley.
Bradley somehow learned about the gold Cabrera was carrying North. He followed the two wagons and, somewhere on Pigeon Roost Creek, came upon Cabrera’s camp, where he demanded the gold. As yet, Cabrera had not had time to build his planned house.
A fight to the death occurred between Bradley and Cabrera, in which Cabrera was finally killed. During the fight, the enslaved people hid Mrs. Cabrera and her son and went to the nearest Choctaw Indian camp for help.
After killing Cabrera, Bradley made a thorough search of the campsite. Not finding the gold, he hid and waited for the enslaved people or Cabrera’s wife to return. A few hours later, the woman slipped back to the camp. Coming out of hiding, Bradley demanded to know where the gold was hidden.
Knowing that he would kill her if the gold weren’t found, she told him that all she knew was that her husband had buried the coins and made a map on leather, which was hidden in one of the wagons, showing its location.
One story is that after learning there was a map showing where the gold was hidden, Bradley killed Mrs. Cabrera, but another story says she killed herself.
Before Cabrera could find the map, several Choctaw Indians arrived at the camp in answer to the enslaved people’s request for help. For some unknown reason, the Indians let Bradley go, although it was certain he had killed Cabrera and probably Cabrera’s wife in the robbery attempt, with the threat that if he ever returned, he would be killed.
After Bradley left, the superstitious Indians dismantled the wagons and buried them.
It is unknown if Cabrera’s son was raised to manhood by the Choctaw or sent to relatives in New Orleans, where he grew up. He was too young to know about the gold.
Although he was afraid to return and search for it himself, the story of the hidden gold was later told to Bradley by several other people. The treasure of Juan Cabrera was then all but forgotten until the early 1900s.
One summer, while plowing along Pigeon Roost Creek, a black sharecropper named Crawford, a descendant of the enslaved person named Crawford who had belonged to Cabrera, struck a hard object with his plow. In removing the object, Crawford began to find parts of old wagons that had been buried, along with a few coins and a strange piece of leather with markings on it that was in a small metal box that had been waterproofed with tar.
Crawford had not heard the story of the Spanish treasure, and, being an honest man, he gave half of the coins to the landowner, Rufus Mathis. A few months later, Mathis had the coins checked by a banker and was surprised to learn that they were very valuable Spanish gold pieces.
Mathis, who knew the story of the Cabrera treasure, tried to persuade Crawford to tell him where he had found the money. Now realizing that he knew something worth a lot of money, Crawford refused to tell him where he had found the coins. A fight developed in which Crawford killed Mathis with a knife and then buried his body.
A few days later, when Mathis was reported missing, Crawford became the prime suspect, as Mathis had told several people that he was going to see Crawford. A mob of white men tied Crawford to a tree with chains and buried him alive. It was never suspected by the mob why Crawford had killed Mathis.
Before his death, Crawford gave the leather map to his son, who knew it was connected with some coins and old wagons his father had dug up. Young Crawford joined the army in 1941. Deciding to stay in the service after World War II ended, he was later sent to Korea, where he was killed in action.
His personal effects were sent to his mother, among which was the old leather map. Not knowing its meaning, she kept it because her husband and son owned it.
A few years later, a man who had been in the service with her son visited Mrs. Crawford and asked to see the leather map. The man told her that Crawford had told him he believed the map was a clue to an immense treasure.
Mrs. Crawford, not trusting her son’s friend and being superstitious since the map had, indirectly, been connected with the deaths of her husband and her son, threw it into a stove where it burned.
A clue that could help on this is to check the County Clerk’s office in Ackerman to learn where the original tract of land that belonged to Rufus Mathis was located. It is almost certain that somewhere along Pigeon Roost Creek, in Choctaw County, Mississippi, there is a fortune in old Spanish gold coins.
This story, like numerous others that occurred during the Civil War and involved hidden treasure, happened during the early days of that War. Dr. John Young was practicing medicine in Water Valley, Mississippi, when it was learned that Federal troops were near the town.
Dr. Young took his considerable wealth and buried it in the yard of his home. A skirmish between Union and Confederates occurred nearby, and several Union soldiers were brought to Dr. Young for treatment. The doctor knew that his neighbors would probably feel he was doing wrong in helping the enemy.
Still, his professional ethics would not let him refuse aid, even to enemy soldiers. For three days, he did what he could for the wounded. When they left, the doctor decided to leave his money where it was buried, fearing that other Federals might return and take it from him.
It seemed as if the doctor’s fortunes worsened after he had ministered to the enemy soldiers. His neighbors began to shun him, causing his practice to fail. A short time later, while serving in the Confederate Army, his son was killed at Shiloh, Tenn.
This shock caused his wife to go insane. The doctor soon became ill and died a short time later without recovering his hidden cache or telling anyone its location.
The home occupied by Dr. John Young still stands in Water Valley, and it is believed by many that his hoard of coins is still buried somewhere in the yard of this old home. Remember, this is private property, and permission to search must first be obtained.
A treasure-hunting buddy recently said, “Everybody seems to search for the large, published treasures, but just give me an unsung plot of ground where another guy with a detector is not walking on my back.” If that is your desire, too, you will be interested in Calhoun City, Mississippi, a site that only local folks talk about.
This hoard of gold coins was worth approximately $400,000 when it was buried a century ago.
According to historians, T. P. Gore, a gentleman from Oklahoma, bought a 640-acre tract sometime after the Revolutionary War.
He must have been an excellent bargainer, for it was said that the Indian who sold it received only a handful of beads and several quarts of whiskey for the land. In time, Calhoun City grew up on this tract.
Gore prospered very well over the years as a shrewd wheeler and dealer.
Settling himself in a broad, squat, dogtrot house, he led an easy plantation life in which horse racing and cock-fighting figured prominently. Of course, banks were non-existent in the area then, so Gore cached his money in the ground, not trusting to reveal its location to anyone before he died.
With the inflated price of gold hovering about the $400 per ounce figure, one can well imagine what Gore’s $400,000 in gold coins would bring to today’s gold market. His tomb on the site of the Gore Plantation bears the date of his birth, 1776, but does not tell on what date he died.
While hunting in Mississippi, it would be worth your time to drive about 200 miles further south to McLain, in Green County. There is a story of Spanish gold having been buried in this area. As the story goes, a fellow named Gaines settled here when Spain ruled that territory, then known as West Florida.
Gaines was a trader who made a fortune in dealing with the Spaniards and Choctaw Indians. He buried his fortune of gold and silver coins in five separate caches for safekeeping. Like many hoarders of his time, he died with the secret of his caches going to the grave with him.
Years went by, and Gaines’ hidden fortune was nearly forgotten when some folks stumbled upon three of these secret caches shortly after the Civil War. A fourth cache was later discovered. It contained a quantity of Spanish gold, some jewelry, and a gold pocket knife.
Then, in 1934, a farmer named Sylvester was walking along a creek leading to the Leaf River when he came upon a spot where heavy rains had caused the bank to wash away. In the mud was an amazing find, several American coins and some old Spanish pieces of eight.
Had Sylvester discovered Gaines’ fifth cache, or was this the life savings of another man? Did Gaines possibly establish more than five caches? It is worth a search to fathom the answers to these questions.
On the outskirts of Natchez, Mississippi, situated above the Mississippi, there is a large depression known as the Devil’s Punchbowl. The circular indentation marks the site of a huge meteor that landed during some past age.
The Devil’s Punchbowl is perhaps more interesting to treasure hunters, however, as the former hangout of all outlaws, including pirates from the Gulf of Mexico and river bandits, as well as a motley assortment of land-based thieves and highwaymen who operated along the robber-infested Natchez Trace.
Credible accounts state that the infamous John A. Murrell buried vast treasures at the Devil’s Punchbowl, which is acres in size. Legend claims Sir Henry Morgan cached a large treasure almost a century before Murrell’s day.
There can be little or no doubt that many varied caches of looted treasure were buried at the Devil’s Punchbowl. There can be no question that some of these caches were removed by their original depositors.
But the lives of these men were filled with dangers, and violent death was part of their careers. It is inevitably true, therefore, that quite a few of those who made substantial deposits at the Devil’s Punchbowl never returned to claim them.
Buried near the crossroads of Rocky Springs, Mississippi, on the Natchez Trace, are the ill-gotten gains of Samuel Mason, one of the most murderous bandits ever to prey upon the Southeast.
As travel increased into the area of Mississippi and Louisiana, river and land pirates became the scourge of the migrating population. Among the land pirates was the ruthless robber Samuel Mason, who roamed the Natchez Trade between 1790 and 1803.
He and his band of villains killed for the joy of it after robbing anyone who came along the Trace. Mason amassed a fortune in gold and jewels. Rewards totaling $2000, a large sum in those days, were offered for his capture.
Because of an especially atrocious looting of a land caravan, a general search for Mason eventually disclosed his hideout on the Trace near Rocky Springs, forty miles north of Natchez. Men plunged into the thicket and found the robbers’ camp, but it was deserted.
A few of the posse picked up the trail and continued the hunt for Mason, but the majority of the men spent their energies digging for the gold that was reportedly buried nearby.
On September 16, 1803, one of his men cut off Mason’s head for the reward. None of his treasure has ever been found at the robbers’ campsite, but rumors persist today that his hoard is still there. It allegedly lies in the ground along the Trace between the church and the cemetery at Little Sand Creek.
This is an unlikely treasure tale that will be difficult to believe. Yet it is thoroughly documented, and I know that the basic details are true. It is a story of a pot of gold that hundreds of people know exists, for they have seen it!
In the backcountry of Mississippi, 20 miles east of the old Natchez-under-the-Hill settlement, the farm of Reber Dove lies near the edge of Homochitto Forest. Close by the house is buried a pot seven feet in diameter and about four feet deep, filled with part of the Mason and Harper robber gang loot that preyed on travelers in the area during the early 1800s.
It was quite common for the rough and ready men of that time and place to band together for protection from other bandit gangs. And whatever they stole themselves and didn’t spend, they did not put into banks. They buried it for later disposal.
Old records indicate that this particular band of thieves met at this farm and buried a pot of loot near an artesian well. Pots or kettles of the size mentioned were often used on Southern plantations for cooking sugar cane into syrup and were easily obtainable.
Many well-financed attempts have been made to dig up this pot, but every attempt to recover the loot has failed. It is well-known that the pot is somewhere around a spring on the farm and has sunk deep into the mud and muck.
If you care to look over the treasure site, the farm is still there. The pit dug by previous treasure hunters is still there. Old Reber Dove’s place is 20 miles east of Natchez, Mississippi. To get there, take U. S. Highway 98 East out of Natchez until you come to Mississippi Highway 33, then turn left and go about two miles.
Ask any resident where the “Gold Hole” is, and they’ll direct you from there.
Speaking of pinpointing treasure sites, we can direct you to within six feet of an accumulation of gold and jewels said to be worth a million dollars, but you had better not attempt to dig for it. It’s a Gypsy hoard in Meridian, Mississippi, and here is how it originated.
In 1915, the 47-year-old Queen of the Gypsies, Mrs. Callie Mitchell, died in a camp near Coatopa, Alabama. For unknown reasons, her tribe transported her body to Meridian for burial. Her body was expensively robbed as well befitted a queen.
Ancient gold coins, some dating back as far as 1750, were woven into her black tresses. Numerous other gold coins were sewn into her robe, and about her neck were two necklaces, one of the golden coins handed down through generations and the other made of shells.
As was the custom of her people, all of the Queen’s considerable treasure was interred with her body. Then the silver-trimmed casket was lowered into a steel vault surrounding which three feet of cement was poured to protect the Queen and her treasure.
Some years later, in 1942, King Emil Mitchell became fatally ill near Attalla, Alabama. His body, too, was brought to Meridian for burial. Although his burial rites were not as elaborate as Queen Callie’s, his casket was liberally showered with gold coins and encased in cement.
Newspapers of the day estimated $900,000 in gold and jewels were buried with Queen Callie. No figure is available for the wealth interred with King Emil, buried by her side. Remember, however, police watch the graves, and it is illegal to dig them up.
Have you ever heard of Joseph Thompson Hare? You certainly would have if you had lived along the old Natchez Trace in the early 1800s. Hare, like other highwaymen of the time, buried his loot so that it would be available when later needed.
The Hare gang hid an estimated $70,000 in gold and silver coins in the vicinity of Fayette, Mississippi. It has never been recovered. There is good reason to believe that Hare buried other loot because the gang’s ill-gotten gains comprised a greater load than mounted horsemen could carry.
Born on a farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania, Joseph Hare had a distinct distaste for manual work, so he headed for Philadelphia as soon as he had a few dollars in his pocket. After leaving Philadelphia, he became a tailor in New York.
Tiring of the tailor’s trade, Hare went down to the harbor one day and signed aboard a ship to see the world. When the ship docked in New Orleans a month later, the young man decided to stay there.
Folks of that era said Hare was a born hoodlum, and he proved it.
His sharp eyes observed that the flat boatmen and planters who came down the Mississippi were wild and careless with the money their goods had brought at the New Orleans markets. Generally, they stayed around the city celebrating for several days before returning upriver. As a consequence, Hare made a very lucrative living as a pickpocket.
Hare learned, too, that other prosperous businessmen and farmers shunned New Orleans nightlife and headed home with bulging pockets and saddlebags as soon as their transactions were completed. For many, the northern route home was the Natchez Trace.
With this knowledge, Hare enlisted three other scoundrels and armed and mounted them for a reign of robbery and terror along the Trace.
A few days after launching his operations on the Natchez Trace, he recorded this account of a robbery of a group of travelers: “We took three hundred doubloons, 74 pieces of different sizes and a large quantity of gold in bars, six inches in length and eight square, thirty weight of it.
With the others, I found 700 doubloons and five silver dollars, four hundred French guineas, and 67 pieces, the value of which I could not tell until I weighed them. All in gold, I got twelve or thirteen thousand dollars altogether from the company.”
Shortly after this, Hare and his henchmen decided they needed a headquarters where they could store their loot and retreat if law officers should be hunting them. They found an ideal spot in the country of the Chickasaws, just south of the Tennessee line. It was a rocky cave surrounded by a thick cane brake. However, this cave proved to be very uncomfortable for the four men.
At this time, too, Hare’s dislike of the rough wilderness made him continually disgruntled and moody. So it was after three months of lucrative robbery along the Trace that Hare could stand his life no longer. He decided to go to Nashville, Tennessee, for enjoyment. However, after a short time there, funds ran out, and within two months, he had to return to the Trace.
Again they were very successful and, within two months, could go to New Orleans for a visit, returning to the Trace when funds began to run low.
This return to the Trace proved to be Hare’s undoing. He was arrested for robbing a drover and spent five years in jail, during which time he concentrated on reading the Bible and writing in his diary.
A year after his release, on March 12, 1818, Hare robbed a mail coach near Havre-de-Grace, Maryland, and escaped with $16,900. Unfortunately for him, one of the passengers recognized him, and he was arrested in Baltimore a few days later. After much legal maneuvering, Joseph Hare was hanged on September 10, 1818.
In addition to the lost $70,000 in gold and silver coins Hare cached near Fayette, Mississippi, contemporaries were sure he had hidden additional loot around his hideout cave.
Across the road from Mt. Pleasant High School in Marshall County, one can see the ruins of an old house. It was, in its former days, the late 1800s, quite a showplace, and it served as the residence of Mrs. Molly Benton in Mt. Pleasant.
Mrs. Benton owned a large lumber mill near Holly Springs, the county seat, a few miles to the Southeast. This brought her considerable wealth and allowed her to indulge in her hobby of collecting silver coins. Being in business, all of her deals were transacted for silver. This is how she came to be known as “Silver Molly.”
She liked to brag about the large amount of silver coinage she had accumulated. She had a brother by the name of Hugh Benton, who also lived in the area, and on one occasion, she told him that she had several pots of silver coins buried around her house.
On April 16, 1897, Silver Molly attempted to cross Cold Water Creek’s flooding waters, which run through Mt. Pleasant. Her buggy was overturned, and she drowned. Her body was recovered later.
Molly’s brother had no idea where she had buried her cache of silver except “around the house.” He must have been pretty well fixed financially, for he made no effort to search for them.
This property is now in pasture and should be a good search site since grazing cattle keep the grass low. I’m not sure who owns the property now, but it would not be too hard to locate the owner. This old silver would be worth quite a sum today.
About 5 miles out on Highway 4, west of the little town of Dennis in Tishomingo County, is the site of an old settlement called Bay Springs. It stood up and down the banks of Mack’s Creek.
Bay Springs was a very active place during the 1880s. There was a corn mill there and also a cotton gin. There were several gambling dens, a large hotel, and two stores.
James B. Nelson was by far the most prosperous man in Bay Springs. He owned the cotton gin plus one of the stores. Nelson liked to do business in gold coins, which he had accumulated.
On March 8, 1883, James Nelson died from an unknown cause.
His wife took over the store and gin. She kept all the gold coins in a large safe in the store, locking the door at night and sleeping inside with a shotgun.
Nelson had only one child, a son named Charles, who was very attached to his father. The boy could not accept his father’s death. Young Charles, according to the record, was slightly retarded, and as time went on, the boy became worse until his mind was almost gone.
One day, Charles came into the store with a pistol and told his mother and a store clerk that he was taking his father’s gold from the safe and burying it. He told them he would shoot anyone that followed. He then put the gold into a two-gallon churn, took a shovel from the store, and left.
The pair watched from the window as he took the churn down into Mack’s Creek bed directly in front of the store. He returned about 20 miles later without the churn.
Soon after, Charles lost his mind completely, and his mother committed him to an insane asylum in Jackson, Mississippi, where he died shortly after that.
Mrs. Nelson tried to locate the churn filled with gold, but the area was covered with underbrush, and the boy must have covered his diggings with leaves.
As far as anyone knows, the gold-filled churn still awaits someone with the time to prowl the creek bed with a metal detector. Remains of the old Nelson store can still be seen on the west side of Mack’s Creek, about 50 feet from Highway 4.
Exactly one mile south of Ecru, Mississippi, on State Highway 15, on the right, is the old home place of Grover Warren. Somewhere in the yard, on the north side of the house, lies buried a half-gallon jar of gold coins. The search area is small, about a quarter acre. The big problem is that it is buried deep, possibly three or more feet.
Barely inside the Pontotoc County line, the old house was occupied by Grover Warren and his sister, Bessie, in the 1930s. Warren was a wealthy man in those days. He would loan money on land and always seemed to have plenty of money on hand.
In early June 1932, Warren took a half-gallon jar of gold coins and buried it deep with a posthole digger on the north side of the house in the yard. He buried it near four large trees. The trees are gone now because they were caught down in the 1950s.
Warren told his sister about this a few days later. He also told her he had buried a pint jar of silver coins next to the old cellar behind the house.
On June 24, 1932, Bessie returned from a trip to find her brother dead. He had been surprised by robbers and beaten to death. The house had been torn apart by someone looking for his money. The killers were never caught.
Bessie Warren died in 1947. The house and property were sold at auction. Bessie had told a young man who lived nearby the story of the buried treasure a few months before her death. However, it was years before he did anything about it. But in 1965, he purchased a metal detector and tried to locate the caches.
He was able to find the pint jar of silver buried by the cellar, but not the jar of gold coins. As far as is known, the jar of coins is still buried somewhere in the yard.
Two saddlebags filled with gold and silver coins are buried at the battle site of Brice’s Crossroads in Lee County, Mississippi.
On June 10, 1864, a Union Army paymaster was attached to Brig command. Samuel Sturgis could see the Federal forces getting cut to pieces by the Confederate Army under Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest. The paymaster’s name was George Bain. The engagement would later be known as the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads.
George Bain was carrying two saddlebags filled with gold and silver coins in a supply wagon. Fearing the money would fall into rebel hands, he stopped the wagon west of the Tishomingo Creek Bridge. There he took the saddlebags, dug a hole with his knife in the nearby woods, and buried them.
The decimated Union forces were forced to flee the area. On the retreat back to Memphis, the Federal Army was pursued by the Rebel Army. Paymaster George Bain was badly wounded during one exchange of gunfire. He lived but lost an arm and leg in the encounter.
He was never again in good health. Bain spent the next several years in Rome, New York, gradually recovering from his wounds.
One day in May 1871, a crippled man entered Fred Cole’s general store near Brice’s Crossroads. He bought a week’s food supply and set up camp near the Tishomingo Creek Bridge. He was hobbling about the woods west of the bridge during the week, looking for something.
One day he returned to the store after spending three or four weeks camped in the woods and told Cole he was leaving. By this time, he and the storekeeper had become friends, so George Bain told Cole who he was and why he was there. He told of the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads and the saddlebags filled with coins he had buried near the bridge.
The former paymaster told Cole he had put the saddlebags under a very old-looking tree. It had three curved places in the trunk, he said. He estimated the tree was about 175 feet due west of the bridge, but now he could not find it. Then he bade Cole goodbye and left, never to return.
Today, a new bridge stands in the exact location of the old one, which was in use until long after the Civil War. The bridge is located about 200 yards south of Brice’s Crossroads.
The area is still wooded, although many trees have been cut down. The saddlebags have long since rotted, but the coins will still be where George Bain put them during the heat of that long-ago battle.
In the area between Big Bear Creek and Cedar Creek, discoveries of gold and silver were reported to the State Geologists in 1857. The gold was reportedly found in “small grams along with some copper.”
A silver mine was also said to exist in Section 29, T. 3, R. 9 E., where almost pure grams of silver were dug out of the sand on what was described as a low bank of a creek.