Texas ranks high on the list of states where what is known as treasure today can be found. These stories, or “leads,” some of which are well known, others that are not, have been taken from numerous sources.
Many are based on a legend dating back to the Spanish conquest, while others are of a more recent origin. Although several caches have already been found in Texas, dozens of known sites could be profitable to search.
Pancho Villa’s fabulous loot is reportedly hidden or buried in several locations in Mexico. Less known is the story of his treasure hidden or buried on Franklin Mountain, the immense mountain that towers over El Paso from the north. There are no estimates of the wealth the bandit is said to have left on Franklin Mountain.
Villa is known to have taken a large sum of Mexico before taking up his residency in El Paso. What he did with his money is a mystery that has never been solved. Most likely, he did not place any of it in American banks because he did not trust them. It is believed that he did not take any of the wealth with him when he returned to Mexico. What, then, did he do with it?
One explanation is that he packed his Dodge touring car with a load of trunks filled with valuables and hid his loot in a well-protected cave that he had found on Franklin Mountain. Another version of this story is that the wealth was buried, not by Villa, but by a trusted lieutenant.
Shortly afterward, when this man died, the only clue where he had deposited the treasure was a rock carved with the word ORO.
A Brownsville man started for San Antonio with $40,000 in gold. He was camped just south of Beeville when he noticed a group of riders approaching in the distance and suspected they were bandits.
Removing the coals from his campfire, he dug a small hole beneath the bed of ashes, placed his gold in it, and rebuilt the fire over the spot. Leaving the fire burning, he mounted his horse and galloped off, but the riders soon overtook him. Stubbornly refusing to say where his gold was hidden, he was forced into Mexico with his captors, placed under guard, and repeatedly tortured.
Escaping eventually, he returned to Texas and did a frantic search for the gold under the old campfire bed but could not find it. He secured the aid of others and revealed that the campfire had been built between two oak trees on the east side of the old Brownsville Road just south of Beeville. So far as is known, the gold has never been recovered.
Rumors of a pirate ship wrecked at the mouth of the St. Bernard River in Brazoria County have persisted for more than a century. It is said that the ship was put into the river in about 1816 to escape a hurricane. Before the storm destroyed the vessel, the crew took ashore and buried a treasure estimated at $10,000,000.
When the story was over, only one of the pirates remained alive. He is said to have settled down as a fisherman on Matagorda Island and frequently displayed gold coins. He admitted to having been a member of the ill-fated ship. Still, he insisted he had not participated in the burial of the treasure and therefore knew only generally where it was hidden.
In support of this story, it is said that Indians living in the area told early settlers of seeing the wreckage of a great ship after a storm had passed.
Shortly after the close of the Civil War, pioneer settler L. J. Dailey and a few of his friends took their hunting hounds out for a walk in the area southwest of the town of Wimberly. In climbing a bluff, Dailey grabbed a protruding rock, which broke off in his hand.
Noting that it was unusually heavy, he placed it in his pocket and continued the chase. Several days later, Dailey examined the rock piece and discovered it was high-grade silver ore. He thought he had picked up the sample in Shelton Hollow or nearby. He retraced his steps as nearly as possible but could not identify the bluff. Working with others later produced no better results, and the search was abandoned.
A successful ranger named John Hightower, and his wife, lived in the town of Kosse, Texas, during the late 1800s. Their ranch was located south of town. It was a known fact that Hightower was making money through livestock sales. He kept a safe in his home with money for operating expenses, but he is believed to have cached the greater part of his earnings near his house. This house was still standing in the late 1950s.
John made periodic trips to a large ravine near where he lived, usually after dark. After having been seen several times going or coming from this ravine, John’s neighbors began to suspect that he was burying part of his money somewhere in the area. At that time, anyone who had money kept it at home or buried it.
John Hightower died about 1920. His wife died a year later. For years it was local talk in the neighborhood that Hightower had hidden his money near his home. He was well-to-do for the times and did not keep any money in a bank.
This is a perfect location to check out since, as far as it is known, no search has been done.
In the late 1890s, a stranger appeared at a farm near Epley Springs, about four miles northeast of Goldthwaite, in Mills County, Texas. The settlers in the area soon learned that he was searching for an iron spike driven into a pecan tree. According to the stranger, this was the key to a cave where a vast fortune in gold and silver from the Spanish mines of New Mexico and Colorado were stored during the late 1700s.
Four maps of the burial site had been made, and three of these, placed in copper boxes, had been buried in separate locations within a few miles of each other. The fourth map had been kept by a padre, which showed the burial place of the other three maps, all of which were necessary to locate the treasure.
The stranger claimed possession of the fourth map but refused to reveal where he had secured it, nor would he permit anyone to see it. After a prolonged search, during which nothing was found, the stranger left and was never heard of again.
When the stranger’s story was learned by Dr. James Kirkpatrick, a local physician, he went to see a man near Elpey Springs who had found such a spike while cutting firewood. Locating the tree stump, the doctor located one of the copper boxes about two miles west of Epley Springs. It contained the name Padre Lopez, the date 1762, and some jewels.
Sometime later, the doctor found a flat rock, near Epley Springs, with several symbols cut into it. With the help of some Mexican friends, the doctor could decipher enough of the symbols to determine that there had been fifteen mule loads of gold and silver stored in a cave somewhere in the area. He never revealed all that he deciphered from the symbols on the flat rock to anyone, not even his wife.
The owner of the land on which Kirkpatrick had been searching now demanded the major portion of anything else that was found, and since Dr. Kirkpatrick did not have a contract, he stopped searching for the other two copper boxes. Giving up in disgust, Dr. Kirkpatrick died in 1904. His widow kept the rock with the carved symbols and took it with her when she moved to California.
In 1932, a man named Hollenback found another of the copper boxes. This was supposedly turned over to the University of Texas but cannot be located today. In 1936, a series of mine tunnels, or caves, were found that are still known as the Guthrie caves.
The Colorado River flooded in the late summer of that year, filling these tunnels. Since then, extensive searching has been dozen for this cave, even as late as the 1970s, but the treasure cave is still undiscovered. It is believed to be somewhere near Epley Springs.
One of the best places to locate possible treasure (from the viewpoint of stories told about it) is Espantosa (ghostly) Lake, about three miles south of Crystal City, Texas. Grim tales are told of deeds and incidents on the lake shores.
Supply trains northbound for the far-flung Spanish Mission system camped here, Texas Rangers stopped on its banks, outlaws haunted the brushlands around it, raiding Indians knew it well, and Santa Anna marching on the Alamo, camped his army here.
The following are just a few legends of lost treasure connected with this lake. One tells of a wagon train loaded with silver, gold, and other valuables, which camped one night beside the lake. Suddenly, while all were asleep, the ground on which they camped sank, and every party member drowned. None of the treasure was ever recovered. Mexican residents in the vicinity still tell of a phantom wagon which can be heard during the dark of the moon.
Another is a Mexican pack train loaded with gold and silver bullion camped here. They expected to be attacked by Indians, so they buried the bullion. The attack came the next day, and all the men were killed. The only survivors were two women taken captive by the Indians and kept slaves for several years. When they were released, one of them tried to lead a party to the fight’s location, but she could never find it.
Marching to destroy the Alamo, in March 1836, Santa Anna’s army camped here for one night. Several of his soldiers filled a cannon with coins, plugged the barrel, and rolled it into the lake. They expected to recover it later, but all were killed.
It is believed that besides this lake, the so-called lost colonists of Dolores met their fate. They were the survivors of 59 immigrants, mostly English, who came with Dr. John Charles Beales to found a colony between the Nueces and the Rio Grande.
In March 1834, they reached their destination, Dolores, about 25 miles from the present-day city of Eagle Pass. The colonists suffered from the beginning, but their crops failed. Many became desperate and sought homes in other places. In March 1836, a few days after the fall of the Alamo, the last of the colony, eleven men, two women, and three children set out for San Patricio or some other coast point in the hope of returning to England.
There was no road to the coast, and their wagons made slow progress. Late in March, they remained concealed for several days to avoid Santa Anna’s invading army, whose supply trains they heard and whose soldiers they dreaded no less than the Indians.
On April 2, they resumed their March and, about midday camped at a large lake, which is believed to have been Espantosa. What money the party had left was buried for safekeeping. A few hours later, they were attacked by Comanches, all of the men were killed, and the women and children were captured. This lost cache was never reported found.
It was not until many years later that the Texans learned what had happened to the Dolores party. A wealthy Santa Fe citizen ransomed three women from different bands. Two of them had been with the Dolores Company; thus, the mystery of the lost colonist’s disappearance was cleared up.
There are several other instances of buried treasure connected with this lake. When it is considered that hundreds of people have camped here over the last 150 years, this would also be a good relic hunting location.
This legend begins in the late 1880s, one snowy winter night in Dallas. A half-frozen cowboy staggered into the home of a friend and collapsed. Blood was streaming from a bullet wound in his side. When he revived, he told this friend a strange tale.
While drifting across southwestern Oklahoma a few nights before, he had spotted a warmly lighted cabin and decided to see if he could water his horse there and perhaps get a cup of coffee. The older man who lived alone there was very friendly and insisted that the cowboy join him for a meal.
While eating, the cowboy saw a huge jar filled to the brim with coins sitting on the adjoining table. The temptation proved too great, and the cowboy struck the older man with a piece of stove wood, grabbed the jar, and ran for his horse.
He had difficulty finding a place in his saddle bags to put the loot, and as he finally mounted up, a bullet tore into his side. The older man had not been struck hard and managed to grab and fire his rifle.
Somehow the cowboy stayed in the saddle and escaped, but he knew that the older man would soon have a group of men together and be in hot pursuit. Near the West Fork of the Trinity River in southwestern Archer County, Texas, and halfway between two large oak trees, he buried the coin-filled saddle bags, thus getting rid of the bulging evidence of guilt. He then made his way to Dallas.
Soon the cowboy had regained his strength and made plans with his friend to return to the Trinity and recover the coins. But the cowboy suddenly developed an acute ailment, possibly pneumonia, and died. His friend doubted he could find the location from the sketchy description of the two trees. He was also concerned about getting involved with stolen money and never hunting the loot, but the story leaked.
If anyone is ever up on the West Fork of the Trinity and happens to locate these two big oak trees, it might pay to scan the area between them with a good detector.
After 1810 a Spanish prospector set out into the wild Chisos Mountains of the Big Bend country in present-day Texas in search of silver or gold outcroppings. Whether or not he had any companions on this trip is not on record, but if he went alone, he was certainly a courageous man to have braved that country.
High up on the side of a mountain, he found a show of high-grade silver and returned to Chihuahua with rich samples of his find. This was when considerable amounts of silver were mined from the mountains near Boquillas.
The Spaniard persuaded the governor of Chihuahua to loan him some prisoners to develop the mine, along with some guards. The elated Spaniard, followed by the felons, started on the long March back to the Chisos.
The prisoners had little enthusiasm for the trip, reasoning that they would never come back alive anyway since dead men couldn’t talk and reveal the location of the mine to others.
Finally arriving south of the Chisos, the Spaniard stopped at the old San Vincent Mission Church, located on the Rio Grande between Hot Springs and San Vincente canyon, and proceeded to take a surveying sight through the mission door.
It seems that he had previously determined that at 7 a.m., the entrance to his mine could be spotted from that position by the shadow of the sunlight moving up the peak.
But now, when he sighted through the door, the sunlight was blocked by some intervening prominence and wasn’t striking the peak at all.
Frustrated, he turned to the good padre who waited patiently behind him, “Es impossible!” he exclaimed. “When I was here before, the sun’s shadow touched my mine at this hour. What is wrong?”
The padre replied, “It is the rotation of the earth. Every day the sun is different.”
Disheartened, the Spaniard returned to Chihuahua with his prisoners and never returned. This discovery is supposed to be near the top of the Lost Mine Trail. This is one of the much-used foot-paths of the Big Ben Country.
William Riddle, farmer and rancher died in 1928 at 86. His death initiated a treasure hunt by his five sons and two daughters for their inheritance that continued for eleven years. The last known attempt to find William’s money was made by Zelie Riddle, watchmaker and son of the deceased rancher, but it was unsuccessful.
Riddle’s ranch was located near Ft. Worth, Texas, and he ran it for over 50 years. During this time, he always voiced distrust of the one-horse banks of Texas and was thought by his children to have buried his crop money somewhere near the ranch house.
Rancher Riddle may also have recovered treasure and reburied it with his own money. When he owned the ranch, two local robbers named Franklin and Givins were said to have buried loot in a dinner pail about 500 yards from the Riddle homestead in the creek bend. Local rumor had it that William Riddle had found the money.
One of his daughters tells of the family huddling in the root cellar as two men attacked the ranch and of her father giving his wife $3,000 to hide with the rest while he drove the bandits off. William shot one of the robber’s horses, and they escaped. Franklin was killed, and Givins disappeared, never to be seen again.
Before Mrs. Riddle died in 1899, she told her children that she had a secret to tell and they must guard it closely. Unfortunately, she died without saying more. William died in 1928 with the same words on his lips but failed to pass on the location of the hidden money.
The Riddle children were firmly convinced that their father had hidden at least $100,000, and three times in the next eleven years, they tried to find it but were unable to find it.
Marion Graham was a man who believed in making money, even if it meant bending the law just enough to serve his purpose. Like the law of self-survival. The small ranch Marion owned was located near Kosse, Texas, between Groesbeck and Marlin.
Most of his money came from the sale of “Spirits.” It wasn’t much of a secret around Kossee that a thirsty person might quench his thirst if he made a trip over to Marion’s place. So the news spread until Marion ran quite a large business, mostly after dark.
Several years passed, and Marion continued his business as usual. Sometimes he cached his profits near a shed that served as his office and warehouse, or he might deposit the excess in his Permanent Bank or Banks.
The sixty-foot well was visited quite often; the family wondered why Marion was making so many trips into it. He kept his business to himself; the family members knew better than to press him to answer their questions.
It was no secret that he had a large depository in a certain wild plum thicket. On several occasions, he would visit the plum thicket while one of the sons stood guard, although the son wasn’t allowed to go beyond a certain point.
One day in May 1928, Marion began feeling sick. At first, he noticed he was bloated but just figured it was an accumulation of gas. Then he began having trouble breathing. Before long, he realized a heart attack had caused his trouble, but by then, he was quite ill.
Realizing the seriousness of his condition, he tried desperately to tell his family members where the large cache was hidden. His speech, by now, was a mumble. He tried again, but no one could make out his words. Finally, he held up one hand and, with a finger of the other, tried to draw a map in his palm. But Plum Thicket was all anyone could understand before he died.
After the funeral, the family searched the plum thicket, but none knew what kind of “Bank” they were looking for, so they failed to turn up anything. They looked everywhere in vain. There was no question about Marion having plenty of money somewhere on his property, but where?
The family decided to settle the estate, so a nephew who was Circuit Judge in Groesbeck took charge of the job. After selling the cattle and liquidating other assets, it was discovered that somewhere near $300,000 was not accounted for.
So the search was renewed for the known caches. One cache was located on the shed floor that Marion had used as an office. Nothing more has been found.
When the estate was settled, one of the sons got the small ranch, and he still owns it. This information came from Albert S. Graham, who lived in Anson, Texas. Albert admitted the story was true, so if you look for Marion’s treasure, don’t forget that it’s on private property, and the owners know about it.
A favorite treasure story in the western portion of Texas concerns the cache, which, if we can believe the available information, repose in a small cave along the rocky south bank of the Concho River. An excellent account of this story appears in Coffman’s 1001 LOST, BURIED, OR SUNKEN TREASURES. I will only recount my brief version here. I do believe the basic story occurred.
Several years ago, an antique clock yielded an ancient manuscript that tells the story of hidden loot. The manuscript was originally written by a soldier stationed at old Fort Concho (which still stands in the restored condition in south San Angelo) and told of existing conditions in and around San Angelo then.
Among other items, it tells of a stage that traveled from Abilene to San Angelo once a week carrying mail and passengers and that the stage was a favorite target for bandits and outlaws.
Now the soldier who enters the picture-he was on his way from the for to the little settlement across the river one night when he stumbled and slipped down the steep, rocky river bank. He landed right at the mouth of a small cave which until that time had been completely concealed by thick brush and rocks.
Investigating further, he found that the cave was somewhat bigger inside and adjoined another small room accessible only through a small hole filled with a pivot rock. The small room contained the remains of a man and a sizeable box filled with coins, watches, and various other paraphernalia as would be taken in armed robberies.
The soldier returned to the post and told nothing of what he had found.
The following day, orders were received to transfer headquarters to another post, and the soldier quickly found himself separated from the cave, which only he knew existed. Matters quickly grew worse as he was sent to the Philippines.
Knowing that, in all possibility, he would never again return to the cave, he wrote the full story and a letter of explanation and sent them to a brother, who we can assume stashed them both in the old cuckoo clock for safekeeping. This is where the story ended until the old clock was opened for cleaning years later.
Researching the facts, I find that a fort was established on the banks of the Concho in 1867, christened Camp Hatch. The name was changed to Camp Kelley in 1868 and Fort Concho in March 1868. In November 1870, the post surgeon, Dr. Noston, wrote:
“Within the last six weeks there have been seven murders in a population of less than a hundred (the village across the Concho) – the body of a murderer was found on the prairie about a quarter of a mile from the post, with a bullet through his breast.”
In March 1880, the T & P Railroad passed Sweetwater and reached Big Spring on April 28, 1881. Immediately, freighters swung their teams north to take advantage of the shorter haul. The army laid out the trail to Big Spring, and a stage ran from San Angelo to Abilene shortly.
The post was relatively inactive from 1881 to 1889. On March 27, 1889, it was ordered abandoned at the earliest practicable date. On June 20, 1889, its flag was lowered for the last time, and its troops were pulled out. The portion of the river banks relative to this story is pretty much the same as it was then. The odds are pretty good that the cave is too.
Before Texas became a republic, Spain had small garrisons at various locations throughout the Red River Valley. The route of pack trains, sometimes numbering several hundred animals, was generally along the south side of the river and never far from it.
When Mexico gained independence from Spain, the Red River garrisons were disbanded, and Indians seized the opportunity to plague travelers and traders from the east and north.
Sometime during the last half of the last century, a Mexican Army officer appeared in the Red River Valley with several crude maps he claimed had been given to him by the survivors of a battle with the Indians.
According to his story, a band of Mexican traders had been traveling down the Red River trail with a train of burros packing a large quantity of gold and silver from northern Mexico mines.
When Indians suddenly attacked them, they threw the rawhide sacks containing the precious metals into a nearby lake to keep the Indians from getting them.
One of the traders escaped and traveled overland to Mexico. Years later, he drew the crude maps and gave them to the army officer, who journeyed to the Red River Valley to locate the treasure.
The army officer was not successful and eventually returned to Mexico. However, some years later, when the land in the vicinity of the battle was cleared and plowed, the skeletons of several men and some rusty gun barrels were uncovered, lending authenticity to his story.
Old-timers also recalled that there had been a small lake in the vicinity at one time, but it contained water only during wet periods. Many have searched, but none has found this elusive treasure.
One of the most sought-after treasures in the Abilene, Texas area is the gold cache in Buffalo Gap, believed to have been buried by Forty-niners returning from the California gold fields.
Travelers headed west would leave Fort Phantom Hill from the north, go south toward Fort Concho and San Angelo, and thence to El Paso and California. The route was equally traveled by persons returning east. Between the north-south outposts was Buffalo Gap, a narrow opening in the mountains through which all had to pass.
In Buffalo Gap, Indians ambushed one group of successful miners. The miners buried all their gold, and as far as it is known, it was never recovered.
The State of Texas has erected several markers identifying the site. Treasure hunters may also enjoy several interesting historic sites in the small community of Buffalo Gap.
Whether or not the buried gold has ever been found is unknown, but the volume of traffic through Buffalo Gap during the last century makes the site a metal detector owner’s paradise.
In the late 1800s, a couple of miles south of present-day Freeport, Texas, stood the small resort town of Quintana. In its heyday, the Quintana had the finest recreational facilities on the Texas Gulf Coast. Among the prominent features of the town were its plush (for that era) two-story hotel on the beach and the race track on the banks of the Brazos River, about a mile away.
Quintana found itself squarely in the path of a monster storm roaring suddenly out of the Gulf of Mexico in 1875. There are a few things big enough or heavy enough to withstand the winds and tides of a hurricane, and little of Quintana was left standing.
After the storm had passed and some of the more important matters had been taken care of (such as burying the dead), one of the most searched-for items was the hotel safe which had disappeared in the story.
The safe was about five feet tall and weighed nearly a ton. It is believed to have contained a considerable amount of gold coins. It was a common practice in those days for the citizens of a town without a bank to use the hotel’s safe as a vault. Quintana had no bank, and the safe was never reported to be found.
Gold and silver have always been valuable enough to make people hoard them away. This happened 100 years ago when a group of enslaved people and their master buried a washtub full of gold coins and gold and silver bars. This fabulous treasure is still missing.
Knowing this burial was a secret until a young carpenter, James William Miller, came in contact with an elderly black man. In his early twenties, Miller was a carpenter in Paris, Texas, just after 1900.
The man, a formerly enslaved person, told Miller that since he was old, he wanted to reveal a secret before he died. The ex-slave said he had helped bury a treasure just before the Civil War. The treasure was of gold coins and gold and silver bars hidden in an old three-legged wash cauldron. The lid was covered with cowhide, and the whole thing was buried under a leaning tree on the bank of Pine Creek near the present site of Paris, Texas.
In 1924, Miller met a local man who was a part-time geologist. He had various instruments, including a mineral rod. Miller confided in the man, and then the two hunted for the treasure but found no trace of it.
Neither man ever looked for the treasure again. Though Miller is now dead, a washtub full of treasure may still lie buried on the bank of Pine Creek.
Colonel Hamilton Washington was born March 5, 1805, to Warner and Sarah Washington, distant relatives of President George Washington. Hamilton owned a sizeable plantation in Virginia, which he sold around 1850.
While visiting Alabama, he purchased land in Texas, on which he started a new plantation. He moved to Texas, bringing along his sister, who has married Dr. John Beasley, and their children. Together they bought a home. Washington stayed with them while his plantation house was under construction. The house was built approximately four miles east of present-day Highway 59, near the Trinity River.
The Alabama and Coushatta Indian reservation was located so near his plantation that some Indians lived on his property. Contrary to most early settlers’ feelings, Washington did not begrudge or try to cause hardships for the Indians. He had a room built in his house, especially for their use.
Hamilton was a very industrious man; not only did he own a fine plantation and many slaves, but he was a lawyer and built river flatboats. By the time of the Civil War, he had accumulated a huge fortune from his various enterprises. The estimates range as high as one million dollars.
As the war raged nearer, he grew fearful that the approaching Union soldiers might ransack his plantation. According to a later story by one of his slaves, Washington collected all of his gold into a huge iron pot.
With a couple of slaves he felt he could trust, they swung the pot of gold on a pole between two horses. After having them get some shovels, he blindfolded the slaves and led them and the horses off into the night.
They arrived shortly at a spot that the Colonel had chosen, a hole was dug, and the pot lowered into it. After completing the job, the slaves were again blindfolded and led back to the plantation.
After the war, he reportedly told friends that he had never felt as secure as he did now with his money safely buried. Then, he died on June 8, 1868, taking the treasure location with him.
There was a great deal of mystery surrounding his death. It was rumored that he might have been poisoned; nevertheless, his gold was never found. The only clue left behind was the statement by the enslaved people that the sound of goats bleating could be heard where they buried the pot.
It was known that goats were sometimes kept at a fishing camp near Drew’s Landing.
As far as anyone knows, the treasure is still waiting for someone.
In 1865 an old man came to San Saba County in search of an ancient, well-used furnace. For several days he searched the countryside alone, obviously not finding what he was looking for.
He finally told several ranchers in the area his story in return for their help locating the furnace. In 1835 he and his partner were engaged in mining with thirty-five Mexicans. Their mine was near the Little Llano River and was rich in gold and silver ore.
They had taken out about 1200 pounds of gold and silver which they had buried along with $500 in Mexican silver coin. It was their custom to conceal the opening to the mine at the end of each month and then spend a month crushing the rocks and preparing the ore in the furnace. In this manner, they did not fear someone working the mine while they were busy at the furnace.
They had just completed burying a month’s supply when Indians swooped down on them, killing all but two Americans and a Mexican girl. They were spared the fate of their friends because they were in the spring some distance away from the furnace. The three survivors stayed just long enough to pick up a few of their supplies before leaving.
He went on to say that the treasure was buried on a high hill, half a mile due north from the furnace. In a direct line between the treasure and the furnace was an old oak tree that had a rock in a knothole in the trunk. The older man offered $500 to anyone who could help him find the furnace.
Dozens of people turned out to help in the search, which proved to be unrewarding. The older man then informed the ranchers that his partner had gone with the girl to Mexico City, where they had filed a plat of the mine in the Archives. Since Texas was a part of Mexico at that time, there was a law requiring anyone engaged in mining to file a plat of their mine at the capital city. A copy of that plat was made by his partner, who always kept it with him.
The partner had married the Mexican girl and, when last heard from, was living in St. Louis, Missouri. The older man started on the long ride to St. Louis to try and locate his old partner. He hoped to let him return to the area to assist in locating the burial site. A few days later, the ranchers heard that the older man was over in Williamson County, mounting his horse, when his gun accidentally fired, killing him instantly.
No other attempts were made to locate the furnace until 1878, when a man named Medlin heard of the story. Every day, while herding sheep, he searched for the furnace. Finally, nearly a year later, he found it. The furnace was in ruins, but from there, he could locate the spring, a tree with a rock in the knothole, and most importantly, the high hill half a mile due north. He spent all his spare time searching for the treasure but found nothing.
He did find, on digging at the furnace, the skeleton of a man and, by its side, a miner’s spoon made of burnt soapstone, used for amalgamating minerals with quicksilver.
Medlin eventually gave up and moved to South America. Before he left, he told a rancher’s daughter, Nancy Bower, what he had found and where the cache was supposed to be. Nancy had no problem locating the old furnace but searching as she could, she could find no trace of the buried fortune.
This treasure has been searched for over the years but has not been found. A trip to the Mexican Archives could turn up an old plat of the mine and surrounding country, which could help in a search.
In 1886, five men robbed a bank in Monterrey, Mexico, escaping with $18,000 in gold coins. Mexican law enforcement officers were hot on their trail, and before they reached the border, two bandits were shot and killed by the Rurales.
Their luck was no better on the Texas side of the border, where Rangers dispatched two more. The lone survivor made his way to the area around the Clear Fork of the Brazos River and dropped out of sight.
Keeping to back trails, he drifted across the abandoned army post of Fort Belknap.
Knowing that the odds of getting away were against him as long as he carried the heavy gold, he decided to bury the loot. At night, he stole a shovel, a bean pot, and a wagon rod from a nearby ranch.
Stashing the money in the pot, he then buried it. He drove the wagon rod into the ground above the gold until just half of the ring protruded about the surface. This marker would enable him to find the cache later.
Not long after, two XIT Ranch employees, Belas Carter and a man named Jackson, were sent on a roundup to the LFD Ranch. While crossing the Pecos River 20 miles south of Roswell, New Mexico, they stopped to watch a group of riders going downriver. Suddenly, they saw two horses and riders race off at breakneck speed, then stop and race back. Carter and Jackson saw one of the men fall from his horse immediately following a gunshot. The remaining men rode off together. Carter and Jackson never knew the reason for the killing.
They rode toward the man’s outstretched body. They could see he was dying, and there was little anyone could do. The dying man was the lone survivor of the Monterrey robbery. Grateful for any help, he told them about the robbery and that a waybill to the cache was in the handle of his warbag, he then died later on.
The waybill said the cache was one mile from Fort Belknap but didn’t say which direction. The cache would be found taking 256 steps north from a small creek and then going 86 steps west along a shallow forked by a prickly pear. From there, he would see the ring with three rocks around it.
Carter and Jackson searched many times but without success. The $18,000 in gold is buried within a mile of old Fort Belknap.
Silver ingots worth $2,000,000 or more may lie hidden in Hendricks Lake in Harrison County, Texas. Historical evidence supports that the treasure was dumped into the lake to conceal it from approaching Spanish soldiers.
In the spring of 1816, Gaspar Trammel was driving north with six wagon loads of silver booty Lafitte had taken from the Spanish SANTA ROSA. The pirate had hired Trammel to transport the boot to St. Louis. While he and his party were camped near Hendricks Lake, a scout rushed up with a word that soldiers were on their trail.
Trammel drove the treasure-laden wagons to the edge of the steep bank overlooking the lake and cut the mules free. The wagons, loaded with silver ingots, rumbled into the water and vanished from sight.
Since that day, there have been many attempts to reclaim the silver ingots. The first was in 1835 when Fox Tatum tried to drain the lake, but rains found his scheme. Later, in 1895, three Spaniards tried to recover the silver, but they, too, gave up.
In 1921, fishermen pulled up three silver ingots, further proving that the treasure rested on the lake’s bottom. Over the years, parts of wagon wheels and other bits and pieces of the ill-fated treasure wagons have been brought up from the lake.
The $2,000,000 in silver still rests at the bottom of Hendricks Lake.
In about 1868, a newcomer to Hardin County, Texas, agreed with Eli Hall to purchase a tract of land. He took a bag of 500 gold coins and started on foot for the White Oak Settlement (now Thicket, Texas) to finalize the deal.
He followed a twisting little creek and eventually realized that he was lost. He wandered for nine days before finally being found, exhausted and near death. During that time, he had existed on the meat from a large water bird he managed to capture by hand.
On the eighth day, weak and despairing, he had about given up hope that he would ever be found. The gold became too burdensome for him to carry, so he cached it in a hole in the creek bank under a large, drooping holly tree.
After he was rescued, he could never locate the spot where he had hidden the gold. His unfortunate experience caused the little stream to be named “Bad Luck Creek.”
This little creek begins in densely-forested Polk County and winds for about 15 miles to join Cypress Creek.
Although several searches have been done for this fabulous treasure, no report of its being found can be learned.
Karl Steinheimer, according to the most accepted version of the story, ran away from his home in Germany at an early age and became a seaman. Among the pirate commanders, he served as one Luis de Aury. This is recorded history: Luis de Aury, a slave smuggler and privateer, was made civil and military governor of Texas in 1816.
He is said to have taken Steinheimer with him and placed him in charge of slave runners. When de Aury and Steinheimer fell out a few years later, Steinheimer drifted around Mexico and finally became involved in mining ventures that produced a sizeable fortune for him.
When Steinheimer learned, in some unexplained manner, that the childhood sweetheart he had left in Germany was in St. Louis and unmarried, he was determined to see her. Terminating his affairs in Mexico, he packed his gold and silver on ten mules and started north for Texas with two Mexican companions.
In San Antonio, Steinheimer debated the danger of continuing through the hostile Indian country. Still, after a few week’s delay, the party set out, avoiding all trails and picking their way through the little-known country.
Reaching the place where three small streams joined to form a single river (Three Forks), Steinheimer decided that his luck might run out. Taking no chances, he unpacked the treasure and buried it here except one small sack of gold, which he kept for expenses.
In an oak tree, some 50 feet from the burial site, he drove a large brass spike to mark the spot. Turning the pack animals loose, the three men set out on their horses, heading in a southeasterly direction.
After some 15 miles of travel, the party came to a group of hills rising from the broad prairie.
While resting here, the three men were suddenly attacked by Indians, and Steinheimer’s two companions were immediately killed. Badly wounded, the German found concealment in some brush atop one of the hills, where he buried his remaining gold except six Spanish coins.
During the fight, the horses had bolted, and Steinheimer was afoot in a strange, Indian-infested land. Wandering northward, Steinheimer was finally overtaken by a party of friendly strangers, but his wound was critical, and he knew he would die.
Steinheimer wrote to his sweetheart about his experiences and the treasure’s location. This he gave to one of the men in the party and secured a promise that it would be delivered to the girl in St. Louis. Shortly afterward, and at an unknown place, Karl Steinheimer died.
In due time the letter was delivered in St. Louis, but for some unexplained reason, it was several years before relatives of the girl did a search for the brass spike driven into an oak tree and marking the burial place of a vast fortune. No treasure was found, but the conclusion was drawn that the three streams referred to in the letter were the Nolan, Lampasas, and the Leon, which unite not far from what became the town of Belton to form what is now the Little River.
Here must lie the vast fortune. In consequence, it is decided that the smaller parcel of gold could not be over two or three miles from the town of Rogers in Bell County, as near it are the Knobs, a small bunch of hills lying between the Santa Fe and the Katy railroads at about the charted distance from the three forks, in Falls County, Texas.
No evidence exists that any part of Steinheimer’s wealth was ever found. Research has proven that Karl Steinheimer did exist and accumulated a fortune through slave-running and mining, and Indians killed him after hiding his fortune.
The only problems in searching for this cache, since it is not on State or Government owned land, are the heat and the rugged terrain. But ten mule loads of treasure (not an unusual amount for Steinheimer to have accumulated in those days of free mining in Mexico) worth approximately $1,000,000 today is well worth the effort in searching.