State Treasure - Indiana

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 41 of the November, 2009 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2009 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


The Black Hand &
$800,000 in Diamonds!
LAKE COUNTY – Born in Calabria, Italy, Giacomo Colosimo arrived in Chicago as a young man during the 1890’s. He found honest work as a street sweeper and was eventually promoted to foreman. By this time he’d become an accomplished pickpocket and was noticed by John Coughlin, a democrat and First Ward alderman.
Coughlin, also known as “Bathhouse,” hired Colosimo and had him trained by “Hinky Dink” Kenna. Colosimo learned quick and soon found work as a Democratic precinct captain and enforcer for his new boss, Bathhouse.
But Giacomo had loftier goals and, in 1902, married a cougar and whorehouse madam, Victoria
Moresco. They soon opened their second brothel and quickly seized control of several more. Luring young white girls to Chi-town with promises of good jobs, the young man, who was now known as “Big Jim” Colosimo, imprisoned and raped them before sending them to work in one of his whorehouses.
Who says an emigrant can’t make it in America? Colosimo’s humble beginnings as a city street sweeper and pickpocket led him to a new life in the political arena as Bathhouses’ shoulder-striker. From there he married into the business of prostitution where he was soon able to add the positions of pimp, kidnapper and rapist to his expanding resume. And life was good to Jim; by 1909 he’d become the biggest pimp working the “City-in-a-Garden” with over 200 brothels.
That year, three Sicilian envoys representing the Black Hand met with Colosimo, intending to extort money from his rather massive “knocking-shop” operations, as the Brits prefer to call it. Jim sent for his Brooklyn nephew, Johnny Torrio, before replying to the Sicilians. His reply cannot be mentioned here, but it involved sending the mob’s three couriers home dead. Big Jim could now add murderer to his resume.
Torrio became Jim’s partner and expanded their business operations into the small nearby town of Burnham, where they soon bought up many local businesses. Jim opened Colosimo’s Café in 1910 at 2126 South Wabash, while Torrio built a fancy casino and brothel just one block away at 2222 South Wabash. Because of its address, the joint was called the Four Deuces and it was there teen-ager Alphonse Capone went to work for Torrio as his bartender and bouncer.
Prohibition became law in January of 1920 and Torrio intended to capitalize on black market hooch in a major way. But Colosimo showed no interest in new ventures and Torrio began to perceive him as a threat. Meanwhile, Colosimo ditched his first love for 19-year-old singer Dale Winter.
On May 11, 1920, just one week after Colosimo wed Winter, he took a call from Torrio asking him to receive two truckloads of whiskey at his café. He agreed and soon arrived at his café where he spoke briefly to his secretary and chef asking, about the delivery. Learning that no one had yet arrived, Jim walked out of his office and onto the entrance vestibule to wait. His secretary and chef then heard two shots from the office. Big Jim was found dead, shot behind the right ear.
Who murdered Big Jim is a mystery that has never produced an arrest. Likewise, the where a bouts of his massive fortune of cash and diamonds worth between $500,000 to $800,000 also went missing after his death. At the time Colosimo was slain he carried $40,000 in diamonds in his pocket, removing robbery as the motive. For years, gangster Frankie Uale remained the number one suspect in the murder, but intelligence produced from FBI wiretaps years later clearly fingered Alphonse Capone as the killer, who’d been hired by Colosimo’s own nephew, Johnny Torrio.
Police, relatives, and thugs working for Torrio are said to have meticulously searched Colosimo’s Café and his Vernon Avenue mansion without success. It was surmised that since Dale Winter had been married to Colosimo for a short time, she likely had no clue as to how much wealth her husband had, let alone where he hid it. As time passed, investigators closely watched Colosimo’s wife, ex-wife, father and other close friends to see if they suddenly came into a windfall of unexplained wealth, but that proved a dead end.
In later years, another possible cache site was identified, although exact specifics have never been completely disclosed. Located 35 miles south of Chicago is Crown Point, Indiana. Colosimo had connections there and it has been surmised it was the most likely place for him to have stashed his missing fortune. Perhaps with local research, an ardent detective and treasure hunter may be able to develop additional clues that will lead to Big Jim’s lost treasure!

Train Robbery
Loot Never Found
JACKSON COUNTY – A train of the Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis Railroad departed the Jeffersonville depot on the night of May 22, 1868, heading north for its destination at Seymour. Around 11 p.m., the train stopped at Marshfield, a small station 17 miles southeast of Seymour, where it took on wood and water.
Out of the darkness, 12 men quietly boarded the train and in a few minutes had seized control. The engineer was held at gunpoint as all the cars behind the express car were uncoupled. Before the passengers knew anything was wrong, the locomotive and express car pulled out of the Marshfield Station, leaving them in the dark and in disgust. Most surmised the notorious Reno Gang had hijacked the locomotive and express car and they would quickly be proven correct.
As the train sped off towards Seymour, the outlaws murdered express messenger Thomas Harkin and tossed his corpse from the train. At the Muscatatuck River bottoms, the engineer was forced to stop the train just north of present day East State Road 250. There the Reno Gang did rob the safe of $96,000 in bonds, cash and currency notes.
The engineer reported that the gang fled on foot with the booty. The engineer then continued on to Seymour and sounded the alarm. A posse quickly formed and went after the gang. They knew the Reno bunch lived in Rockford just north of Seymour and attempted to cut them off from reaching their home. Unfortunately the gang buried the treasure then fled to Canada, thus escaping capture. Three gang members were arrested in mid-July 1868, but refused to talk. Vigilantes would later rid the community of the Reno gang by their own means. In that process nothing more was learned of the train robbery loot or where they’d buried it.
The search area is between Chestnut Ridge and New Farmington just south of Seymour. To date, this hoard remains missing.

The Huckleberry
Queen’s Lost Cache
MARSHALL COUNTY – Local research will help locate this site and the persons involved. This little known story takes place after the Civil War near Plymouth, Indiana. The Civil War had left families scattered and homeless, work was hard to find and, not far outside of Plymouth, the homeless and unemployed founded a place called Tent City. The place was known for its huckleberries and people flocked there from 1865 through the early 1920’s to pick or buy huckleberries from the locals of Tent City. Then a fire destroyed the community during the early 1920’s. Today no trace remains.
This ghost camp is thought to have had a population of around 500 and one large tent, which served as a church each Sunday, also hosted an evening dance on weekdays. On occasion a traveling carnival would set up there. On one such occasion a woman whose name is lost to history quit the carnival and opted to become a full-time resident of Tent City.
She set up a number of tents that operated as houses of ill fame, which gave the homeless community the stain of being an “evil” place by residents of Plymouth and neighboring communities. The woman was known as the “Huckleberry Queen.” It is believed she buried the lucrative profits from her brothel operations at or near her own tent. If this site can be determined it is likely to hold artifacts dating from the post-Civil War era through the early 1920’s, including the lost cache of the Huckleberry Queen.

Sources:
Big Jim Colosimo, http://www.gambino.com/bio.colosimo.htm
Pallante, Anthony J., “Illinois, Big Jim’s Treasure,” March 2001, Lost Treasure magazine, p. 16
Henson, Michael Paul, “Indiana – Gangster’s Cache,” August 1994, Lost Treasure magazine, p. 50
Fear Fair, Indiana’s Scariest Haunted House, http://www.fearfair.com/v3/noFlash/about/index.cfm
Henry, Bill, “Buried Loot in Indiana,” August 1967, True Treasure magazine, p. 60
Henson, Michael Paul, “Indiana – Tent City location, possible relics and coins,” August 1994, Lost Treasure magazine, p. 50.