State Treasures - Minnesota

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 50 of the March, 2011 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2011 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved

$100,000 Remains Missing
OLMSTED–FILMORE COUNTIES – January 17, 1934, was a bitter cold morning in St. Paul. Inside the Bremer mansion, the morning unfolded like any other, with hot coffee and breakfast.
As Edward G. Bremer, Jr., President of the St. Paul Commercial Bank and heir to the president of the Schmidt Brewing Company, prepared for another day at the bank, his nine-year-old daughter, Betty, was getting dressed for school.
As was their daily routine, after breakfast Bremer would drive his daughter to school. Right on time, the two pulled out of their driveway at 92 North Mississippi River Blvd. in Mr. Bremer’s black Lincoln, turned south onto Cretin Avenue South, then east onto West Summit Avenue.
The drive to the Summit School at 1150 Goodrich Avenue was less than 2-1/2 miles. As he drove that morning, Bremer was unaware he and his little girl were being watched by men in two separate cars. Bremer pulled up in front of the school and dropped his third grader off.
Betty waived goodbye as he pulled back into traffic, now proceeding eastbound on Goodrich Avenue for one block where he stopped for the stop sign on Goodrich Avenue at Lexington Parkway.
From behind, a speeding sedan shoots past Bremer’s Lincoln while making a hard right onto Lexington Parkway. Instead of accelerating, the sedan stopped directly in front of the Lincoln. Bremer was stunned, but unaware he was in any danger.
Meanwhile, Alvin “Creepy Karpis” had pulled his vehicle up to the rear bumper of the Lincoln - Bremer was boxed in. Dock Barker and Volney Davis jumped from Karpis’ vehicle and approached the driver and passenger front doors of the Lincoln. At gunpoint, Bremer was pistol-whipped and forced face down onto the floorboard of his Lincoln. Bleeding profusely from a gash on his scalp, Barker taped Bremer’s eyes shut and placed a pair of goggles around his head then sped off. The kidnapping took less than a minute; no one noticed anything unusual and no one called the police.
The kidnappers demanded $200,000 in ransom money, to be paid in $5 and $10 denominations from bills in circulation. Nearly a month later, the ransom was paid and Bremer was released unharmed.
The kidnapping was pulled off by the Karpis-Barker gang. Kate “Ma” Barker suspected the FBI had marked the ransom money and sent $100,000 with a gang member to Cuba where the money was passed to a fence.
The remaining $100,000 was transported by Ma Barker and her son, Fred, to a site along a country road off State Highway 52 somewhere along the 18-1/2 mile stretch between Chatfield and Rochester. They buried the cash near a fencepost they used as a marker. No one knows what road the money was cached on, or if the fencepost used as a marker would still exist today.
None of the other gang members knew the location where the ransom money was buried. On January 16, 1935, Ma and Fred Barker were killed in a gunfight with FBI agents at Ocklawaha, Florida. The money has never been recovered.The Bracken Treasure
HENNEPIN COUNTY – The Bracken Treasure, also known as Bracken’s Cache, is said to be… “a treasure of considerable value” reported to be buried on the west bank of the Mississippi River near the south city limits of Minneapolis.
The exact cache site is reputed to be on the grounds of the present-day Minnesota Veteran’s Home, formally the Minnesota Old Soldier’s Home, at 5101 Minnehaha Avenue South.
The story goes that Minnesota settler John Bracken became concerned about the safety of his personal wealth around 1862 after the Civil War erupted. With the war on and an uncertain economy, Bracken thought the safest way to protect his wealth, said to be comprised almost entirely of gold, was to bury it.
After the war ended, folks claim Bracken appeared to have forgotten about his buried gold and for years never made any attempt to retrieve it. In his early 80’s, Bracken’s health began failing.
Knowing he had little time left on earth, Bracken summoned his close friend, Paul Johnson, to his bedside. He told Johnson about the treasure, but, after so many years had gone by, he wasn’t sure of the cache site’s exact location.
After Bracken’s death, Johnson made attempts to locate the treasure, but failed. In desperation, he confided in his friend, Bill Parker.
Parker was certain he knew the exact spot where they’d find the gold, but by then the land had been acquired by the state to build the State’s Old Soldier’s Home on. This occurred in 1887-88.
Permission to dig for the treasure was denied by the State. So far as is known, Bracken’s gold is still there.Robbin Gold
KITTSON COUNTY – Almost 30 miles south of the USA/Canadian border, along the South Red River in the southwest corner of Kittson County, on the eastern bank of the river is the tiny hamlet of Robbin, Minnesota. Across the river on the west bank sits Drayton, North Dakota.
It was during WWII that several children from Robbin were playing on the banks of the river when they found some “shiny rocks” the size of apples. They took a few home, where their parents quickly realized they’d found huge gold nuggets.
The parents accompanied their children back to the riverbank where the kids said there were “thousands of shiny rocks.” But the children could not locate the spot where they’d picked up their gold nuggets. Nothing more was ever found.
Since placer gold is not known to exist in this area, it is thought the nuggets could’ve washed ashore from an old river wreck, or had been buried there by parties unknown.Missing Fortune Never Found!
POLK COUNTY – The newspaper in Crookston, Minnesota, ran a story on October 20, 1904, concerning the murder of a wealthy Mentor farmer.
During the course of the police investigation, police questioned one suspect in the slaying and never recovered any of the victim’s personal fortune. The newspaper account follows…
"Thomas Fontaine, a farmer from Wonsocket, Rhode Island, moved to Mentor, Minnesota, in 1901. A short time later he bought a farm a few miles east of Mentor. Fontaine brought considerable money with him from Rhode Island and was considered well to do.
"During early October 1904, Fontaine was hunting rabbits with a friend, Joseph Cullmette, also from Rhode Island.
"After they had crossed the railroad tracks near Mentor, a family living in the area heard two gunshots. Since there were several hunters in the vicinity, nothing was thought about the shots. The next day, Fontaine’s dead body was found near the railroad tracks. The body had been mutilated almost beyond recognition."
The story states Cullmette was questioned, but it was never proven that he killed Fontaine. It was “common knowledge in the neighborhood” that Fontaine had no trust of banks and carried large sums of cash.
Authorities found very little money at Fontaine’s home and none on his body. Clearly Fontaine had a ready cash reserve hidden someplace, but many believe it was not hidden on his farm. This may have been done for security reasons.
Speculation by many locals was that Fontaine kept his money hidden away from his farm, and that on the day he was murdered he may’ve intended to visit his cache and was OK in doing so with his trusted friend from Rhode Island present.
He may not have reached the cache site at the time he was killed, since Cullmette, the only suspect, never exhibited signs of sudden wealth.
Perhaps he was murdered for the money he carried that day. And perhaps Fontaine’s lost fortune will be found near where he was murdered.Sources:
Latham, Long John, “Treasure World Answers Your Questions…,” May 1974, Treasure World, p. 55
Brady, Tim, “Crime Capitol,” April 2007, Minnesota Monthly,
Bell, Netha and Scholl, Gary, Lost & Buried Treasure of the Mississippi River, 1991, Sioux City, IA, Quixote Press, p. 25-27
Marx, Robert F., Buried Treasures You Can Find, September 1993, Dallas, TX, Ram Publishing Company, p. 206
Lets Go Digging, Treasures in Minnesota,