The first white man known to visit Tennessee was the Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto in 1540. No important exploration was done until 1673 when the British and French penetrated the area.
Father Marquette and Joilet laid claim to all of the Mississippi Valley for France. Jams Needham and Gabriel Arthur laid the claims for England the same year by exploring upper East Tennessee for Virginia.
Tennessee offers an unlimited variety of relic and treasure sites for the interested hunter.
With hundreds of miles of rivers, several lakes, and almost countless Indian village sites, trading posts, boat landings, river fords, pioneer trails, taverns, Civil War sites, stagecoach stops, and pioneer forts, Tennessee is a treasure hunter’s dream.
$15,000 in gold coins is believed to be within 200 feet of a spring on Dollar Hill, near Clarksburg, in Carroll County.
On December 30, 1862, the 39th Iowa Division under Col. C.L. Durham marched through the little town of Huntington, Tennessee. They were on their way to fight General Nathan Bedford Forrest at Parker’s Crossroads. Col. Dunham had been ordered to destroy Forrest and his 7th Tennessee Calvary.
Marching south, Durham and his troops made camp at dollar Hill beside a spring on the outskirts of Clarksburg.
During the night, scouts brought Dunham news of Forrest’s encampment at Parker’s Crossroads. Durham had in his possession an Army payroll. Fearing for the safety of the gold, he ordered a detail to bury it, selecting two lieutenants ad a sergeant for the task.
They chose a spot approximately two hundred feet due east from the spring, dug a hole, and buried the gold payroll chest. Early the following day, on December 31, the two forces met at Parker’s Crossroads.
At the end of the battle, almost a hundred men lay dead.
Among the dead were the two lieutenants and the sergeant who had buried the chest of gold. Durham was delayed at the battle site, burying his dead. During this time, heavy rains fell. The next day Durham’s army returned to the spring where they had camped to try to recover the gold the three dead soldiers had buried.
Due to the heavy rains and Confederate patrols, they abandoned their search and left the area.
The story would never have been known for a young man named Allen Chambliss. Chambliss had been hired as a scout by Colonel Durham in Huntington the day before the battle. Young Chambliss had followed and watched that night as the three soldiers buried the chest. But during the battle the next day, as Chambliss watched from a distance, he was wounded by a stray bullet.
When he recovered, about six months later, he went to the spring on Dollar Hill and searched for the gold without success. He told his story to a few local people, and several other searches have been done, all without any known success. Colonel Durham’s official record confirms the existence of the gold and the amount that was buried the night before the battle of Parker’s Crossing.
The story of Solomon Shaw, who lived in the village of Quincy during the Civil War, is not too well known. Shaw was a wealthy man for the times and kept most of his money hidden on his plantation.
On July 14, 1863, marauding bushwhackers, having learned of Shaw’s wealth, came to his plantation and demanded the hiding place of his money. Shaw stubbornly refused and was finally hanged from one of the oak trees in the front yard. His wife saved herself by hiding in the cellar beneath the house.
After the war, one of Mrs. Shaw’s servants, who had remained on the plantation, told her of seeing her husband and his most trusted slave, Like, fill three nail kegs with gold coins, put them on a wagon, and drive to the Forked Deer River, which was about two miles due north. In response to her inquiries about the gold, Old Luke would only answer that the kegs had been buried just off the road between the plantation and the river in three different places.
The county now owns the property, and permission to search can be obtained by asking at the courthouse in nearby Alamo. The exact site of the old Shaw plantation is four miles north of Alamo, at the junction of Nance Road and Highway 152. As far as can be learned, Solomon Shaw’s three kegs of gold coins are still waiting for a preserving treasure hunter.
From 1910 until 1920, a man named Thomas “Cat” Williams ran a saloon and general hangout for the rougher element of the neighborhood on Old Jackson Road near Bells in Crockett County. Williams made quite a bit of money from selling whiskey and having dances.
Tom had one person to help in the bar, a young man named Jerry Walker. Each Monday morning, young Walker would help Tom count the profits from the past week. The money would then be put into a sack and carried out the back door by Tom, with Walker remaining inside until Tom returned 15 minutes later. Walker did not dare follow to see where the money was hidden.
On June 2, 1920, a fight broke out at about midnight, and Tom quickly moved in to break it up. He was cut with a knife and died within a few hours. All Walker knew was that when Tom went to hide the week’s “take,” he always carried a shovel.
But he had no idea where Tom buried the money. Today, somewhere near where the old tavern stood, there is almost certainly a cache of money that a treasure hunter might find.
Just off State Highway #18, past the town of Medon, an old house still stands. This was the home of Troy Allen in 1940. Allen was a coin collector and, over the years, had accumulated many silver coins in addition to 4,200 silver dollars.
The previous year Allen planned to move to California within the coming year, so in March, knowing that he wouldn’t be planting a garden that year because of the move, Allen took all of his silver dollars and buried them somewhere in his garden for safekeeping. He planned to dig them up again before he left for California. He then planted a small bush over the spot so that he could easily find and unearth the money.
Allen sold the farm to William Myers, leaving the coins buried to be reclaimed later. A few days before his planned departure, he went to Medon to buy a few items. While he was gone, the new owner decided to do some plowing on his new property.
When Allen returned to the farm, the garden was freshly plowed. The small bush he had planted to mark where he had buried his silver dollars was gone. For several days Allen dug holes where he thought the cache might be. He had buried the 4,200 silver dollars about 36 inches deep, but the holes he dug did not uncover anything.
After about a week of digging, Allen realized he couldn’t find the cache, so he went on to California. It could be profitable for someone to spend time searching the old garden site with a deep-seeking metal detector. Remember, the owner’s permission to search will have to be obtained.
A little-known band of outlaws called the Moore Gang operated in Henderson County, about twelve miles north of Lexington, Tennessee, during the 1870s. The gang’s leaders were J. B. Moore and his two sons, Joseph and Thomas. The local sheriff feared the old man and his sons so much that he did nothing to stop them. Thus they amassed quite a large sum of gold and silver coins.
On July 15, 1878, the gang planned to rob a stagecoach at a spot on the old Lexington-Huntington road at noon. Unknown to the bandits, two armed guards had been placed inside the stagecoach at Huntington. When the stage stopped at the appointed place, Joe and Thomas were killed instantly. The old man was wounded and taken to the nearby home of Dr. Andrew Dyer.
The other gang members fled the area. Before he died, Moore told of four caches of gold and silver coins he and his sons had buried between their house and a creek, approximately one-half mile to the east.
Remains of the old Moore house can still be seen. This is a good spot for a treasure hunter to spend a weekend or vacation searching for the location of four caches of gold and silver coins.
Hiram Keller was the undisputed and largest dealer in moonshine whiskey in Lauderdale County during the early prohibition days in the 1920s. It has been estimated that he had as many as twenty “stills” in operation at one time.
It has been estimated that he had as many as twenty “stills” in operation at one time. In this manner, he accumulated a fortune in those pre-depression times. Keller’s chief headquarters was a huge log house in the Ashbury community.
Keller’s wife had died during childbirth several years before he started making whiskey, and he had only one son, who he said several times, “I’ve got gold and silver buried all over my property. Someday I’ll show you where it is.”
Keller liked drinking and gambling. One night in December of 1927, he played cards with a bunch of rough local men at the site of one of his stills. The party got wild, and accusations of cheating erupted. Fists began to fly, and a free-for-all started. But the fighting stopped when the sound of shots filled the air-and. Hiram Keller fell dead.
The son, Clint, had no idea where his father had buried the family wealth. He only knew that Keller had buried it, and his one clue was that it was buried on property Hiram Keller had owned, in all probability near the old log house. The son is not known to have found any of his father’s money.
John Woolfork died in 1859. He had been one of the richest men in Madison County, and his house stood about for miles east of Jackson, Tennessee. After his death, his widow continued to live on the plantation.
In June 1864, word reached Mrs. Woolfork that Yankee raiding parties were on the prowl.
Fearing they would rob her of the family treasures, she took a sack about half full of gold and silver coins and went out one night to bury it. She went into a large cedar grove on the west side of the plantation house. Here, she selected a site, dug a hole, and buried the sack of coins.
A few weeks later, Mrs. Woolfork became ill. Believing that her time was short, in the middle of the night, she awakened her only child, a young girl of nine, and took her to the cedar grove, where he pointed out the treasure site and told her of the coins buried there. A few days later, Mrs. Woolfork was dead.
Years after the war, the daughter tried to locate the treasure without success. This information appeared in a local newspaper as a reflective human interest story on May 4, 1931. The site of the old Woolfork plantation is on what is now known as Cotton Grove Road, just east of Jackson.
The J. Garrett Road is just off Highway #138 in southwest Madison County. The old Arti Fuller farm is the first one on the right after leaving the highway, going west. Arti Fuller is believed to have been one of the richest men in the area from about 1855 until 1864.
In June 1864, a band of guerrillas, led by Fielding Hurst, rode to the plantation, panning to rob Fuller. Fuller heard they were coming several houses before their arrival, so he reportedly took his $23,000 money and dropped it into a deep well near the house.
When the bushwhackers arrived, Fuller warned them off his property, but they overpowered him. When he refused to tell them where his money was, they hung him to a tree and let him dangle until he was nearly dead. When he was cut down and refused to tell, the same punishment was applied again, with no success. So they hung him for the third time, and this time it was for good. Mrs. Fuller cut him down, but it was too late; Fuller was dead!
Mrs. Fuller sold the farm a few weeks later and went to live with her sister in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Before leaving, she ordered the well filled with dirt. Mrs. Fuller seemed to lose all desire to live; when asked about the money, she would say, “Don’t search for it. That was my husband’s money; no one else can have it.”
Years later, she told her family that the money had been thrown into a well, but all evidence of the well had disappeared by this time. There is no record of the family ever searching for this cache.
On February 3, 1859, the Union Bank in Jackson, Tennessee, was robbed of $9,545 in gold coins. In the late afternoon of that day, a masked man entered the bank, pulled a large knife, and put it to the throat of George Miller, the bank teller, and warned him to keep quiet. He instructed Miller to lock the bank door and hang the closed sign.
The bandit then forced Miller to open the vault and put all the money in a bag. The bank’s losses were later determined to be $9,545 in gold coins. The bandit picked up a hammer and struck Miller on the head, knocking him to the floor.
As he left the bank, a deputy sheriff saw the bandit and called for the robber to stop, but the man ran into a nearby alley. A few seconds later, he dashed out of a horse, and the deputy could get off only a single shot as the outlaw galloped away.
A quick check in the bank found Miller barely alive. He managed to tell the deputy what had happened and then died. A posse was quickly formed and gave chase. The robber was found dead at daybreak with a bullet in his neck. The deputy’s single shot had hit him.
The dead outlaw was found lying about 150 feet from the north bank of the Forked Deer River, due east of present-day Highway 45. But there was no sign of the missing bank loot. The knife he had used to force George Miller to open the vault was stuck in his belt, with fresh dirt on it.
It is believed that the outlaw dug a hole with the knife, buried the gold, crawled a few feet, and died. The posse did a thorough search, but the money was not found.
The old showplace (called Woodlawn) of Bonnie Kathie near Selmer, in the southwest part of McNairy County, is now mostly covered with weeds and vines. In 1888 Bonnie’s husband died after leaving her a large sum of money. Bonnie bought Woodlawn and lived there from 1890 until she died in 1904.
Mrs. Kathie sold timber from the land and rented the bottomland to local farmers. She was believed to have an estimated $12,000 in gold. The banker in Selmer tried many times to get the old woman to keep her money in his band where it would be safe, but she refused.
Mrs. Kathie had three large guard dogs at her place to discourage visitors. She had also shot at a few people who came close to the house without calling her.
On May 9, 1904, a farmer named Sam Ayers came to see her on a business matter. He called out several times but did not receive an answer. He became alarmed and went for the sheriff.
The sheriff had to shoot the dogs before he could enter the house. There he found Mrs. Kathie dead. A search of the house uncovered only $300 in silver. This was but a small part of the old woman’s wealth. Although several searches have been done for Bonnie Kathie’s hidden money, no record can be found.
A treasured story still being told around Troy, Tennessee, in Obion County, is that of Archie Crockett. Crockett owned a cotton gin in Troy that made him a fortune. His house was located near where the Troy Community Center is today.
Crockett had a fanatical fear of banks and would accept nothing in payment except gold or silver coins. His wife saw him, many times, slip out of the house after dark with a jar full of coins. He would be gone about ten minutes each time. When he returned, he would be empty-handed. She asked him to tell her the location of the money, but he always refused.
Crockett loved horses and enjoyed riding at full speed in his nearby pasture. On August 2, 1901, he was riding at full gallop when his horse fell, and Crockett was seriously injured. He was taken home and discovered that he could neither move nor talk.
His wife pleaded with him to tell the location of the family fortune. Crockett would move his eyes toward the horse pasture 350 feet west of the house. Finally, Crockett died and took his secret with him.
For those interested in searching for this cache, the landowner will, in all probability, split the find with them.
An often repeated story tells of a lost silver mine on Tumbling Creek in Polk County.
Charles Green befriended a Cherokee Indian in Oklahoma in 1902. At his death, the Indian gave Green a map that located a silver mine. Returning to Tennessee, Green and another man spent several years in search and finally found the mine. After taking out a considerable amount of ore, Green’s partner was killed in a fight.
After this, Green feared for his life and never regularly worked the mine. He took enough ore from the mine to keep a little spending money. He lived the rest of his life sneaking to the mine to recover small bags of ore.
Green never disclosed the exact location of the mine to anyone, not even relatives. However, he did show the original map and some of the ore to Tom M. Godfrey of McGaysville, Georgia, a long-time neighbor and friend. He told Godfrey the story, which has been briefly told here.
The silver mine is believed to be in the Great Copper Basin of Polk County. Tumbling Creek is a well-known stream in the area, and it has a tributary called silver mine Creek. Somewhere in that creek, or another similar, lies a rich silver mine waiting for a modern-day prospector.
In 1868 Arkansas was in the Reconstruction Period following the Civil War. Civil Order became so bad that Governor Clayton of Arkansas declared martial law. He appointed James Hodges to go north and purchase arms. Hodges did as he was instructed, and several weeks later, a cargo of muskets arrived at Memphis. These were to be shipped by boat to Arkansas.
The steamboat HESPER, commanded by Captain Samuel Houston, was chartered to transport the muskets. The HESPER left Memphis on October 15, 1868. About twenty miles below Memphis, the steam-tug NETTIE JONES overtook the HESPER.
About two dozen masked men boarded the HESPER, disarmed the crew then threw the muskets overboard. The HESPER went on to Little Rock, Arkansas, where Governor Clayton was informed of the robbery and loss. The crew of the NETTIE JONES was caught a few months later, but nothing was ever proven against them.
As far as can be learned, no attempt to recover the muskets has ever been made. Since they were packed and sealed in water-proof containers, the muskets could still be in good condition today.
A company of Confederate soldiers was assigned to guard the Danville Bridge in Benton County, as this was their supply line from Memphis, Tenn., to Bowling Green, KY. When the Confederate Army received word that the Union Army was moving up the river, there were too few to try and hold out against such odds.
The Confederates also had a supply depot, and a payroll of gold and silver had been placed in a safe. This depot was located at the west end of the bridge.
To keep the Union army from capturing the safe, they loaded it onto a hand car and pushed it out onto the bridge and then swung the bridge up and downstream (the bridge being the type that pivoted in the middle) and dumped the safe into the water on the upstream side. There is now a regular drawbridge located on this spot.
To get to the Danville River Bridge, go to Big Sandy, Tennessee, only seven miles west of Big Sandy.
Also, for those interested in Civil War relics, go 12 miles north of Big Sandy, where there was another Confederate camp known as Pilot Knob. This camp was under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest, and from the top of this hill, he could and did fire on and sink Union gunboats.
Most of the return fire from the Union forces fell short of the top of the hill, and the hillside should be full of mini-balls and cannonballs.
This waybill was sent to me several years ago by a man in Campbell County, Tennessee, who is now deceased. It fits the area one mile from Lot, Kentucky, on the Tennessee side of the Clear Fork of the Cumberland River, where Black Wolf Creek and White Oak Creek come together, then runs into Clear Fork, south of Jellico, Tennessee.
I will quote the exact waybill:
“On the Clear Fork of the Cumberland River that empties into that river, I think Nox County (in 1805 Knox County, Tennessee, compromised what is now several counties, Campbell included) about eight miles down where a grist mill stood in 1816, there is a large singular rock very high pointing down to the river; there is a deep holler with a cave at the mouth of holler between a high rock and the main cliff. The cave faces the west; there is a horseshoe cut into the rock face above the cave, a quarter of a mile from the corner of this main cliff going upstream. Between the horseshoe and the cave, about two hundred yards up from the mouth of the holler and the cave, is where we placed $15,000 in minted silver dollars. There is a grove of pine and oak trees and other timber above the cave.”
There is no record of this cache found.
This is another of those controversial sites where the location is claimed to be in two states. It is known that Beanie Short operated in Kentucky and Tennessee. His favorite area was around Tompkinsville, Kentucky, and Moss, Tennessee, in Clay County, on the line of both states.
Short is believed to have hidden loot during the Civil War that has not been found. Some people called Short a guerrilla. Others termed him an out-and-out bandit; despite his avowed Confederate connections, he plundered the homes of North and South sympathizers.
His chief area of operations was the hill country of Monroe, Metcalf, and Cumberland Counties in Kentucky and Clay County in Tennessee. This was the region, too, that saw much activity by Confederate Generals John Hunt Morgan and Braxton Bragg.
A very good (possibly overlooked) area is in Giles County. At Pulaski, the Ku Klux Klan was first organized in 1865. The reign of terror that spread over this county is known to have caused several family caches of valuables to be made by farmers and others that knew the Klan would be after them.
Several of these people left the state and never returned. A check of the newspaper records at Pulaski during 1865-1866 might pay off.
During the Civil War, a Confederate prison camp was located between Columbia and Centerville, Tennessee, in Hickman County. A treasured story concerning this camp is that in 1863, a Confederate soldier, who was guarding a payroll, decided to steal it.
After taking the gold, the soldier buried it near the prison camp but was found out the next day. The soldier was executed when he refused to tell where the gold was buried.
In about 1960, a man (name withheld on request) took an early model metal detector and searched the area of the prison camp. He found old leg irons, manacles, balls, and chains, thus proving that prison did exist here. Although he spent several months searching, he did not find the gold cache.
A little-known location of a gold cache is Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark western expedition in 1803-06. Lewis either committed suicide or was murdered in 1809 near Newburg, Tennessee. I quote, in part, from an article that appeared in the Maury Democrat Newspaper o Maury, Tennessee, on April 11, 1895.
“Here is the grave keep in the forest just at the side of a worn trail which is still pointed out to you as the old Natchez Trace, or “Notchy trace,” which most folds think was laid out by General Jackson, but which was laid out as improved Indian trail in 1801, by Lt. George Pendleton Gaines. It was once a thoroughfare of national importance, the post road from Nashville to Natchez and the highway to the French and Spanish settlements. Jackson’s troops had not worn it much deeper on October 11, 1809, when Meriwether Lewis lay beside it to die on his journey from St. Louis to Washington. There is no trace today of the cabin of Grinder’s Stand, as the wilderness hostelry was called where Meriwether Lewis met his death. You can, however, trace a rude clearing not yet covered with the second-growth hardwood. You may see, too, places where the earth has been upturned in this neighborhood. I thought this was done by prospectors of long ago but was told otherwise by old Major Armstrong over at the courthouse in Hohenwald. He says: ‘I helped make the deepest hole over there near where the old cabin stood. We dug down about six feet, and at that depth, we found some bones and some pieces of plate, and an old steel case knife almost rusted away. We were hunting for the gold of Meriwether Lewis, which he was known to have carried in his traveling portmanteau. We never found it. The relatives of Meriwether Lewis never found what became of the gold of the dead man, and indeed little remained of his personal belongings at the time they visited this spot in far-off Tennessee. There was a sort of coroner’s jury held at Grinder’s Stand after they found the dead body of Meriwether Lewis leaning against a tree at some distance from the house where he met his three death wounds. Thirty years ago, perhaps thirty-six years ago, there was just tone living person who knew anything about the last scenes of the life of Meriwether Lewis. This was an aged Negress, known as Malindy, who lived for many years near the town of Centerville, TN., and who died there at some date unknown. No one knows how old Aunt Malindy was-she did not know herself. She was a slave of the original Grinder, who built Grinder’s Stand, the place where Lewis met his death. She was then a girl of six or seven years of age. She recalled how Lewis rode up to the place, how Mrs. Grinder was afraid of him, how in the night they heard three shots, and later saw Lewis staggering about, wounded and bloody. She heard Lewis scraping the gourd in the empty cater pail and begging for water-but was too frightened to bring the dying man a drink.”
The aged Negress did not know what happened to the gold Lewis was known to have been carrying. This is certainly a good place for a treasure hunter to search.
This lead was sent to me several years ago by John Carver, who lived near Red Boiling Springs in Macon County. Carver was plowing a field on his farm when he noticed Indian relics in the plowed soil. After gathering several hundred arrowheads, spears, tomahawks, bone scrapers, etc., Carver tried to find the source of where they were coming from.
He knew the soil was covered by a nearby stream every spring. He could not understand why he had never found any Indian relics in the field before. Carver dug down in several places but found nothing.
The artifacts had been washed downstream by a recent spring flood.
For several weeks Carver tried to learn where the relics had worked from, but he never found the source. An Indian burial ground had been disturbed upstream. Because of their weight, the artifacts didn’t work too far downstream. Because of their weight, the artifacts didn’t work too far downstream. This would be a very good site for someone interested in Indian relics to check out.
This little-known location of the possible treasure is located in or near the small town of Farmington in Marshall County. It is located about six miles northeast of Lewisburg. Farmington was once the rendezvous of the Natchez Trace outlaw John Murrell and his gang.
It has long been believed that Murrell buried many valuables around a house near the town where he once made his headquarters. This would be a good place to do local research.
For those interested in Indian mounds, this site is worth investigating. The following was in an unidentified newspaper clipping sent to me from Columbia, Tennessee. It was written on October 2, 1874.
“Some gentlemen from the Athenaeum, Professor J. S. Beecher, Captain R. D. Smith, and P. H. Smith paid a visit last week to the farm of Mr. Egbert Wright on the Campbellsville Pike, about 6 miles from town, to examine some mounds. The mounds are two in number and are on the western slope of some hills overlooking the valley of Little Bigby Creek. The builders much have had a correct idea of the beauty in nature, for it would be challenging to select a spot commanding a more beautiful prospect. Looking to the west, a most beautiful view of the valley stretching from the south towards the north presents itself to the eye. Beyond in the distance extends a chain of hills indented here and there by shadowy nooks and coves. The mounds are about 20 feet in diameter and about 7 feet high. The smaller one was excavated, and at a depth of 5 or 6 feet, some of the bones of what must have been a person of large stature were found beneath rough stones. No traces of the bones of the upper part of the body were found. He had evidently been interred with his feet to the west. Over some portions of the remains were found beautiful and large plates of iron, and the remains of animal teeth were around. One tooth, perhaps that of a bear, is in a good state of preservation. It was flattened on one side, and about the middle had two perforations half through. It is over two inches in length and slightly curved. At the feet and somewhat lower from the surface were rocks laid in a semi-circle, which seemed to have been subjected to some period of fire; they are what is commonly called fire-rock. Ashes and the remains of charcoal were found upon and about these. Upon the larger mound is the decayed stump of a large tree, which must have been over two hundred years old from its size. It is difficult to confirm when these mounds were built, as nothing was found to give any indication. Their builders could scarcely have been identified with the original “Mound Builders’ of antiquity, but they must have been tribes who had some communication with them and adopted some of their cultures.”
This lead comes from the Columbia Herald Newspaper, Columbia, Tennessee, for March 14, 1873:
“An old gentleman named Park, near Park’s old store, in the eastern part of Maury County is deeply impressed with the idea that there is a silver mine in that vicinity.
He is about 70 years old and says he lived in North Carolina when he was a boy. About sixty years ago, a very old man called him to his side and told him a strange story, which ran thus: More than a hundred years ago, a young man was stolen from his parents in North Carolina by the Indians, who brought him to what is now Middle Tennessee.
He escaped from them and found some Spaniards digging silver several miles from Cedar Springs, now called Verlin. He was finally released from them and returned to the old North State. He said the rich silver mine is exactly four miles above the mouth of Fountain Creek.
The signs on the river bank were a diamond made on the face of a steep bluff and a spring with a curious-looking rock in the bottom of it. Tom Park came to Tennessee and Maury County about forty years ago and had been hunting for the silver mine.
He found all the signs, as told by the old man in North Carolina, except the cave, which was filled up. It is said that Dr. Park and Dr. Cochran, now of Cullooka, used to repeatedly let one another down into the cavern by a rope, but they could find no silver because it was filled with rubbish.
Mr. Park has brought a half interest in the land on the strength of his belief in its containing the precious ore., but he is too old and feeble to dig for the silver and too poor to hire others to do so. He proposes to give half of his half interest to anyone that will furnish the means.”
No record of this silver mine being found is available.
The following information is brief, but I cannot elaborate on each site. I have given the basic facts.
Outlaw loot In 1864, the Drixie gang was operating around Millsboro. They heard of a farmer named Cefe Wenten, who had buried money on his farm and did not trust banks.
The gang hanged Wenten to make him tell him where the money was. Then they tortured and shot his wife and children, though no money was found. Many people have searched for what is believed to be a $40,000 hoard, but no report has been made public.
Satan’s Ferryman. Near Chattanooga is the old John Brown Tavern, built in 1803. Brown, and Indian half-breed, would check each traveler passing through. IF their property seemed valuable, he would rob and murder them.
To cover his crimes, he would break the wagons up and throw them into the river. He also operated a ferry at the site. Recent dredging operations have proven part of this legend to be fact. Numerous parts of wagons have been found.
The stories of buried money around this old tavern and ferry could be true.
Buried Coins. East of Sneedville, on the Clinch River, is where W.G. Seal owned and operated a legal distillery in the 1800s. He was also a prosperous farmer and cattle trader. It is known that he accumulated a half-bushel of gold and silver coins. A large part of this money he buried near the distillery. When his second wife died, Seal seemed to lose all desire to live and a short time later joined his two wives in death. The buried coins have never been reported found.
Bandit Cache Two brothers who rode with Quantrill’s guerrillas during the Civil War were named Farrington. After the war, they organized an outlaw gang of five members from western Tennessee. In 1871, they robbed two trains near Union City of $51,000. They also robbed a train near Moscow, Kentucky, of $16,000 in 1870. (It is believed that the Jesse James’ gang was falsely accused of some of the Farrington gang’s robberies.)
The gang had a hideout on the west side of Reelfoot Lake in a swamp called Lesters Landing. They would escape by flatboats down the Mississippi while posses searched for them on land by horseback. After several years the gang was finally broken up. One of the brothers drowned while trying to escape the law; the other was hanged at Union City. There are persistent rumors that the gang buried several caches of money at their hideout in the swamp.
Silver Mine. A history of Tennessee, written by James Adair, states, “Within twenty miles of Fort Loudon (built by the British in 1756057, on the Little Tennessee River).there exists silver mines so rich that by digging about ten yards deep, some desperate vagrants found at sundry times, so much more, as to enable them to counterfeit dollars to a great demand, a horse load of which was detected, in passing for the purchase of negroes in Augusta.”
According to Ramsey, a Tennessee historian in the early 1800s, I quote: “Tradition continues of the existence of the silver mines mentioned thus by Adair. It is derived from hunters and traders who have seen the locality and assisted in smelting the metal. The late Mr. Delozier of Sevier County testified to the existence and richness of mines of silver, one of which he had worked at, in the very section of the Cherokee country described by Adair.”
In 1762, Henry Timberlake explored and mapped the Cherokee Country along the Little Tennessee River. He heard continuous stories of rich silver mines in the area being worked by the Indians, but he never learned their location, and most of his maps, charts, and notes were lost in an accident.
Miser’s cache around 1910, two brothers named Jones lived in a cabin at Russell Hill. They never married, and both were known as misers in the community. They raised corn, tobacco, and hogs, which they always sold, keeping just enough money to live on and converting the rest into gold and silver coins.
They did not trust banks and kept their money hidden on the farm. When they died a few months apart, they were buried at the county’s expense. Their farm was sold at auction for taxes. Several unsuccessful searches for money were done on the farm.
We lost Indian Gold Mine. A lost Cherokee gold mine is supposed to be along the Tennessee-North Carolina state line. The Indians, at one time, molded bullets from gold. Local stories from Polk County in the southeast to Johnson County in the northeast of Tennessee have told of this lost mine, but most agree that it is probably in Polk County.
The Cherokee have mined gold in Georgia, a few miles away. Also, silver and small amounts of gold have been found at Ducktown in Polk County. A man named Edward Delosia found the Indian mine and chipped ore out with an axe. He could never relocate the site again.
Robbers Stash, Joseph T. Hare, a notorious outlaw, operated between Natchez and the Tennessee River during the early 1800s. He was wanted for a long series of other crimes. He robbed a stagecoach at Harve de Crace of $15,000 in gold coins. He was caught sometime later and hanged on September 10, 1818.
Local legend tells that he had a hideout near Brawley, Tennessee. He is believed to have hidden several caches of money and loot near a “rockhouse” he used as a hideout. In his diary, taken from him before he was hanged, he had written, “Our habitation was a cliff rock, where one rock jutted very much over another, and made a sort of cave, in a canebrake.”