After Spanish Gold

Reprinted from The Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, August 12, 1894, page 11.


To Renew the Search for Pirates’ Treasure.

Deposits Supposed to Exist in Florida, Near Pensacola—Fate Interrupted a Search—Efforts to Form a Syndicate of Moneyed Men to Renew the Investigation—Capital Needed.

From the New York Advertiser.

St. Louis, Aug. 4. — From the early Spanish and later French settlers of this section, there has descended a love of the romantic, and in no part of the country are traditions so jealously preserved. The old St. Louisan firmly believes in all the strange and wonderful tales of the millions in treasure secured by the pirates of the Spanish main, and the Mexican gulf, and the enterprising gentleman now in the city, seeking to enlist a syndicate of members of the Merchants’ Exchange in au enterprise that contemplates the recovery of $2,000,000 in pirate spoils, buried somewhere on the coast of Florida, near Pensacola, have brought their eggs to the right market.

Certain gentlemen living at Little Rock, Ark., claim to know where this treasure is located. To prosecute the search successfully is, according to these gentlemen, a work of engineering that will require a capital of $6,000 to $10,000. On a previous occasion the Little Rock people endeavored to induce the Merchants’ Exchange to formally engage in the search for the buried millions, and the proposition, had many supporters, but a legal opinion from the counselor of the exchange prohibited an appropriation. Knowledge of the existence of the treasure is not confined to the Little Rock parties. Secretary Morgan of the exchange has in his possession a letter from Charles B. Lewis of Ennis, Tex., secretary of the Texas Dental Association, in which he says: “The Little Rock party knows nothing about the buried treasure on the Florida coast near Pensacola, except what my father told him. My father was the late Gen. L. M. Lewis of Missouri. We lived in Little Rock for twelve years. You can find plenty of St. Louis people who knew L. M. Lewis. He was the pastor of the First Methodist church when it was located at Eighth and Washington avenues. I have the only paper in regard to the buried wealth, and know the history of it. My father believed the wealth to be where the party told him it was. It is in Spanish gold and silver brick, with the Spanish mark on them. Only three men had anything to do with the wealth.

“If J. H. McLaine or Leo Baker are living they can tell you something, for I think they will remember hearing my father recounting of how he came to obtain the secret.”

The renewal of interest in the search for the treasure said to have been buried by the four survivors after the wreck of the ship La Mort has been intensified by the receipt of a letter from Capt. J. C. Peterson of Pensacola, Fla. The apparatus the captain mentions as being used by the man Dutton is not new to this section. “Electric finders,” as they are called, have been in use in the iron, lead and zinc sections of the state for several years in the detection of minerals, and your correspondent has seen the instrument described used in the location of subterraneous water courses with most surprising results. A graduate of the Washington University has grown rich within a few years locating water for Carter, the artesian well contractor. This student has always claimed that metal of any kind can be located by holding in the hands at the opposite end to the pendant bob of a small disk of the metal sought for. Implicit faith is put in the “finder” in Southwest Missouri zinc and lead fields. The “finder” gives no indication as to the depth at which the mineral or water may be found, or whether the quantity be great or small.

Capt. Peterson’s letter is addressed to Secretary Morgan, and is on the letterhead of “J. C. Peterson & Co., Ship Brokers and Contracting Stevedores, Pensacola, Fla.,” under date of July 23.

“Having beard your name mentioned in connection with a hunt for a buried treasure on the coast of Florida, I concluded to write you and relate facts and circumstances connected with my own self and on my own property, so that if you or any of your own friends feel like entering into this scheme of mine well and good. I will lay the matter before you in all its details, and can furnish undoubted proof of everything that I state.

“I live on and own about twenty acres of land situated two miles west of Pensacola, within the city limits, at a place known as Bayou Chico, or Little Bayou. It is an arm of Pensacola bay, three miles long by one-half to three-quarters of a mile wide — deep tide, salt water, a very beautiful spot. I live at the mouth or entrance, about 500 yards from Pensacola bay proper.

“About six years ago a gentlemen by the name of Dutton moved from Topeka, Kas., to DeFuniak Springs, eighty miles east of Pensacola, on the Pensacola and Atlantic railroad. That gentleman bought an interest in a large hotel at DeFuniak Springs. I had a cottage up there during the assembly, and my family became acquainted with the Duttons. Mr. Dutton came down to my place on Bayou Chico and said he wanted to pick out a lot to build a hotel, thinking it would pay to have a public establishment near salt water. One day I took him in a boat and rowed about a mile from my house, where we went ashore at a place called Emma’s Point. After getting away from the beach Mr. Dutton took out a small instrument much like a plumb bob, about two inches long and four inches in circumference, covered with thin leather and suspended by a silken cord about two feet long. He placed his hand on a stump and let this bob hang between his thumb and forefinger at the same time holding it on the edge of the stump. He asked me to see in what direction it swung, for it was plainly moving forward and backward like the pendulum of a clock. After watching it awhile I told him. Mr. Dutton then moved in the direction the pendulum had swung, which brought us to a low land back of my house, which is all but a swamp. Mr. Dutton did not talk much, only once in awhile he would stop and get his course from that little instrument of his. Finally we reached the swamp. Mr. D. stopped near a small creek, and the instrument was placed in position. This time, instead of swinging backward and forward, as it had before, it turned in a sweeping circle. Mr. D. marked the spot. It was an open space of ground formed in a sort of a triangle by three very old gum trees, the creek passing at the apex, with the tree alongside of it and the other two trees at the base of the triangle, as here shown:

The square in the inside of the triangle being the place where Dutton’s instrument had its circling motion. He told me to follow him, which I did. We walked three-quarters of a mile in an entirely different direction, and the instrument brought us back to the marked spot. We then tried a mile on the other side of the bayou, and, after working the instrument, we were brought back to that spot we had marked.

“We then returned home. After supper he related the following: Some years prior Mr. Dutton and a companion had been out on the frontier near the Mexican line. They came upon a sick man whom they helped the best way they could, to no avail, however, and he died Before the end came he gave Mr. Dutton the instrument mentioned above, which the dying man said he had made himself. He was a highly educated German and an expert chemist. He assured Mr. Dutton that the pendulum of the instrument would be attracted by the presence of gold or silver but not affected by iron or steel.

“Mr. Dutton took it and a few days thereafter tried it and satisfied himself and partner that it would do what was claimed for it. They made a prospecting tour and the instrument located a gold mine, which they worked afterward, and at the time Mr. Dutton was at DeFuniak Springs, about two months after locating that piece of ground back of my place, he received the patent for the same from the government.

“To be more sure of the location of gold back of my place, he sent his son to try his hand. The young man went to work, and was brought to the same piece of ground marked off in a triangle. All this was done, too, without the son knowing the spot. Then Mr. Dutton tried it a second time with the same result.

“I had a man working at my place driving some piping. Mr. Dutton got him to drive down a pipe in the center of that triangle. After driving a pipe about ten feet it struck something, and they could not drive any further. Pipes were driven at other places and met with no resistance. The spot where the pipe would strike the object was about five feet square.

“Mr. Dutton then made a proposition to me that if I would give him permission to dig he would pay all expenses and take one-third of what was found. We then entered into an agreement to that effect. Men were put to work. They made a curb about six feet square and started digging, but when two or three feet down the water come in from all sides. Quicksands also began to bother us. It took Mr. Dutton over a month to get the curb over the object that the pipe had struck. The men had to make a larger curb before they could cover the object, which proved to be a live oak stump, cut some five feet from the ground and all the roots trimmed off. Below this huge stump were two pieces of red box wood, seven or eight feet long and seven or eight inches thick, placed side by side, the stump having rested transversely over this, lying on its side. The pitch-pine knots that the parties who had buried the stump had made use of to char the stump were there. The stump is charred over an inch in depth. The stump and the piece of wood on which it rested are now in my possession, and are in the same condition as when taken out. In all our digging we did not find a root or twig. We then dug below where the stump laid, but could not go down very far on account of the water and quicksand.

“To cope successfully with these difficulties, a powerful hoisting machine and syphon pump was needed. Then drive down a cofferdam made of thick boards. Mr. Dutton drove down another pipe, when the stump had been removed, and at twenty-two feet struck an object. The instrument was set to work, and still pointed for gold. Not having the ready means, work was discontinued. We figured that it would require about $4,500 to rig pump and hoisting apparatus, engine and cofferdam. Mr. Dutton then made up his mind to go to his friends in Topeka, Kan., for financial aid, but the morning before leaving [for] Topeka, he was suddenly stricken with heart failure and died. His son had to take his mother home, for she lost her reason over her husband’s death.

“I will give my labor and attention and one-half of what is found to any party or parties who will furnish the means to dig up the gold. Ten thousand dollars will amply cover all expenses.”

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