What started out as a simple crawfish hunt near Fort Pierce, Florida, recently ended up as a fabulous treasure find. Even more exciting is the fact that you could recover some of this treasure yourself.
Jim Gordy, a 16-year-old skin diver, was diligently searching the sandy bottom of Indian River Outlet in 12 feet of water for crawfish when something bright caught his eye.
The bright object turned out to be three $20 U.S. gold pieces. Before the day was over young Gordy and a friend, using a small boat, had found 588 gold coins of various denominations. Gordy reported that the coins, all minted before 1858, were easily uncovered by fanning away sand and marine growth from the bottom with their hands.
The recovered coins, officially inventoried by the state, have a face value of $3,866. Of course, the going price for such coins is many times their face value. For example, the $20 gold pieces are worth around $275 each.
Where did the coins come from? Marine archeologist Carl Clausen, who now lives in Texas, determined that $23,000 in gold was withdrawn by army paymaster Maj. Jeremiah Y. Dashiel from the Charleston, South Carolina, sub-treasury in 1857 to pay federal troops sent to Florida to fight the Seminole Indians.
Maj. Dashiel carried the gold aboard a schooner in a large leather pouch. Off Indian River Outlet he transferred to a small boat, which capsized in the outer breakers. All hands were saved, but the heavy pouch was lost.
Gold and silver coins are often found along Florida beaches after severe storms have churned up the sand. Remember that Gordy and his friend recovered only $3,866 from the full payroll of $23,000. This means that somewhere on the sandy bottom of Indian River Outlet in 12 feet of water near Fort Pierce, another $19,134 may await recovery.