State Treasure - California

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 59 of the March, 2010 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2010 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


Lost at Sea – Treasure of the San Jose
UNKNOWN – With her hold bulging with food, provisions and mission treasures, the San Jose sailed from Cape San Lucas in May 1770 for San Diego, Alta California.
With her bow pointing to the northwest, the San Jose sailed out to sea never to be seen or heard from again.
Some time after 1750, Spain started feeling that her claim to Upper California was in jeopardy.
Believing the English would migrate west of the Mississippi River and the Russians would move south from Alaska, Spain decided to establish a stronger foothold by colonizing the region.
The plan was to institute mission settlements at San Diego and Monterey.
Two expeditions, one overland and one by sea, would first meet at San Diego to begin building the mission and to found the colony there.
The overland expedition traveled north from Mexico and was to rendezvous with two ships, the San Carlos and the San Antonio, at San Diego Bay.
Both Spanish vessels carried needed supplies and provisions for the new settlement.
The San Carlos departed for San Diego on January 15, 1769, from Cape San Lucas, at the southern end of the Baja Peninsula.
One month later, the San Antonio hosted her sails and sailed for the San Diego Bay.
Next, a third galleon, the San Jose, was being readied at San Bias for the sea voyage to San Diego.
The San Jose would act as a reserve supply ship and would transport a large cargo of church treasures, including the finest vestments and three steeple bells supplied by the missions of Baja California.
She would meet the other two ships at San Diego before all three ships would depart for Monterey to establish the new settlement there.
On June 16, 1769, the San Jose sailed from San Bias headed for Cape San Lucas, 330 miles to the northwest.
Three months later she appeared at the Port of Puerto Escondido, more then 750 miles to the southwest.
She had a broken foremast and, after repairs were made, she departed from Cape San Lucas in May 1770 destined for San Diego.
After departing Cape San Lucas, the San Jose simply vanished at sea.
While her exact location is unknown, experts believe she sank in the Pacific somewhere off the southern California coast.
Centuries later, no trace of the vessel has ever been found.

The Eagle’s Peak Treasure
MODOC COUNTY – Holden Dick was a Pit River Indian whose tribe, by the early 1880’s, had been diminished to a small number, a direct result of the California Gold Rush.
The tribe existed a few miles southeast of present-day Alturas, California.
The Native people simply desired to live as they always had, where their needs of shelter, water and food were always provided through their labor. But the Gold Rush all but led to the extermination of the California Indian.
Holden Dick would occasionally travel to Alturas and Susanville for supplies.
He loathed the whites that lived in relative comfort on former Indian lands, as he observed members of his tribe living in squalid poverty and dying of hunger.
At age 27, the Pit River Indian got fed up with poverty and decided to act.
In March 1881, Dick robbed a freight wagon laden with gold that was en route to Sacramento near Moon Lake.
Dick murdered two guards outright and forced one guard and the driver to surrender.
The gunman ordered the driver and guard to start walking towards the nearest town roughly 20 miles to the south.
Once the freighters were about 100 yards out, the outlaw tied his horse to the wagon’s tailgate, hopped into the driver’s seat and whipped the animals into a run in the opposite direction heading north.
Dick drove the wagon to a remote canyon on the west side of the Warner Mountains below Eagle Peak.
The lone highwayman hid the gold in an isolated cave where he had built a crude rock wall across a portion of the cave’s entrance.
Camouflaged from view, there Dick lived as a recluse for nearly a year.
When he needed supplies he went into Alturas or Susanville and purchased them with gold.
It was his usual routine to only carry small quantities of gold, enough for supplies and a few drinks.
One day he carried an unusually heavy pack into a Susanville tavern and pulled out a handful of gold ore to pay for drinks.
That move forever changed the course of his life.
From that time on, anytime Dick appeared in town he was followed when he left.
He always lost his pursuers, except on one occasion when a party tracking the lone Indian suddenly appeared at the mouth of the canyon where Dick’s cave was located.
Hidden in high rocks, Dick shot and killed one of his pursuers, a Samuel B. Shaw.
Arrested for Shaw’s murder in March 1885, Dick was held at the Susanville jail.
On the night of January 23, 1886, Dick was dragged from his jail cell and told if he gave up the location of his gold he would be set at liberty. He refused.
Dick was then forced by his kidnappers into the street where, for an hour, the Indian was beaten, whipped and tortured.
When asked again for the location of his gold Dick spit in the face of one of his captors.
The beating continued until the Indian was dead. His corpse was then hung from the blacksmith shop nearby.
Dick’s cave is located in the southern part of the Warner Mountains in a canyon on the western slope that ascends to Eagle Peak.
No known recovery has ever been made.

The Mystery of the
Church in the Desert
SAN DIEGO COUNTY – The Mission Santa Ysabel Asistencia was founded by Fray Fernando Martin, who presided over the inaugural mass on the last day of September 1818.
Located in the mountains east of San Diego, the dedication took place at Cañada de Santa Ysabel, formally the Indian village known as Elcuanan. The mission was also known as “The Church in the Desert.”
The church served as an agricultural center for San Diego and as a rest stop for travelers between San Diego and Sonora. One resident priest was its sole staff.
During the Rancho Era (1834-1849) the mission fell into decline. The resident priest was no longer present. Regular visits from priests became less frequent and by 1836 they stopped.
Roughly 450 faithful neophytes watched their church crumble with each passing year. Then one year the weight of the mission bells caused the adobe chapel to collapse.
The Indians who had purchased the bells in exchange for six burro loads of wheat and barley decided to preserve them.
The bells, said to be the oldest in Alta California, had been purchased from the Mission of Our Lady of Loreto, in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico, in 1846. Inscribed on the bells was… “N.S. De Loreto 1723,” and “San Pedro 1767.”
The bells were hoisted onto a yoke and hung next to the chapel. That’s where they remained until one summer night in 1926 when the bells vanished, apparently a theft.
The clappers were found the next day, but weren’t returned to the mission until 1959.
It was reported the remnant of one bell was found in 1966, but no details have ever been released to the public.
Opinions vary; some say it was a theft, others that the local Indians, hoping to protect their cultural treasures, hid them in the mountains to keep them out of the hands of corrupted white men.
Although no evidence supports that the Indians hid it, in Russ Leadabrand’s 1965 book, A Guidebook to the Sunset Ranges of Southern California, he states that an unidentified man told him that while exploring an Indian cave in the Santa Rosa mountains he had discovered a very large old bell.
Unable to remove it without help, he left the bell to retrieve later. Years passed before he was able to return to the site with help.
But he failed to locate the cavern and the bell is still there, so far as anyone knows. Perhaps it’s one of the lost mission bells.

Sources:
Miller, Robert, “Lost Mission Bell Galleon,” September 1974, Treasure World magazine, p. 30
Jameson, W.C., Buried Treasures of California, 1995, Little Rock, Arkansas, August House, Inc.
p. 110 – 113
Rascoe, Jesse, Southern California Treasures, 1969, Fort Davis, TX, Frontier Book Company, p. 47-48.