Vermont

By Anthony J. Pallante
From page 28 of the September, 2000 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © September, 2000 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved

Large numbers of live, 12-pound Civil War artillery shells have been found at the bottom of Number 10 pond at Calais, Vermont, in recent years.

Tory Hole

As an independent republic receiving no help from the Continental Congress, Vermont in 1777 was in a quandary as to how to procure funds to pay troops and purchase munitions to resist the British advance which culminated in the Battle of Bennington. Ira Allen, brother of Ethan, presented the Council of Safety with a practical solution to this problem: all property of British loyalists in Vermont was declared property of the state and confiscated. Since the loyalists tended to draw their numbers from the haves of Colonial society, enough wealth was rapidly accumulated in this manner to finance and outfit a regiment and to supply the republic of a sure source of income for some time to come.

The Tories, thus dispossessed, needed somewhere to repair to. Many fled to Canada, but others of a more obstinate stripe found refuge in caves and natural hideouts in the woods and hills around their former homes. The patriots derisively dubbed such redoubts Tory holes.

There were numerous so-called Tory holes during the Revolution in which these loyalists gathered to wreak revenge by looting the farms and homes of their former neighbors whenever the militia was away. Such raids were pure vendetta, as the Tories could not hope to spend any of the captured loot until the cessation of hostilities. It was a matter of course to cache the stolen plunder in caves, both man-made and natural, until such time as the victorious British Army would restore the loyalists their estates. When it became obvious the British Army would never be victorious, most loyalists were thankful to escape the country with their lives; therefore, stories of caches of hidden plunder left behind should be viewed as having a high degree of authenticity.

In Vermont the most prominent Tory hole was situated on Skitchewaug Mountain just east of Springfield. It was also the reported lair of the Kentfield Gang before their capture, and saw some use during the Civil War as a haven for deserters. Given its history, it would be surprising if there were only one treasure hidden in the vicinity of this Tory hole; it is more likely there are several.

Hawks Mountain Cannon

The lost cannon of Hawks Mountain has taken on some of the attributes of a classic lost mine story. Although lost over 200 years ago, it periodically resurfaces to be discovered by someone who either doesnt realize the value of what has been discovered, or is in no position to do anything about it. The cannon was lost in the early years of the American Revolution on the Cavendish Township side of Hawks Mountain when the caisson that was being hauled behind it broke and dragged the wagon down hill. Because of the harsh weather conditions (the Revolution was fought during one of those mini-ice ages geologists are always warning us about), no attempt was made to retrieve it. By the time conditions became more favorable, the theater of operations had moved much further south and the cannon was never reclaimed. In 1969, a hiker claimed to have seen the rust-covered cannon on a brushy slope, but, not realizing its value, paid scant attention to the landmarks. Later, when he tried to retrace his steps, he was unable to locate the site. Another hiker, in 1974, told a similar story, but, after learning of the failure of previous searches, decided it was not worth the effort to try to relocate it again. He was wrong. The cannon is no doubt quite valuable although, if found, its ownership would be contested by those who have not even bothered to look for it. Still, the thrill of discovering it after its 200 years of playing hide-and-seek on a lonely mountainside has got to be worth something.

Spanish Treasure

The Spanish had no legal claim on New England, and there is no official record of any significant Spanish activity in the region. However, local legends and scattered artifact evidence seems to suggest the early Spaniards were a lot more active in North America than official records indicate. In addition to the legendary Spanish treasure buried at Hells Half-Acre, and a somewhat nebulous mine on Otter Creek in Addison County, there are several more reports of Spanish silver strikes in Rutland County. The story of a lone Spaniard, who appeared in the area around Birch Hill near Pittsford searching for a cache of silver bars buried when their mine was abandoned due to Indian trouble, is especially significant. In the 1870's, silver deposits were discovered in the area near Florence, the next door neighbor of Pittsford, confirming the Spaniards contention that the Birch Hill area was a silver-producing region is correct. However, the hidden mine and the cache of silver bars said to be concealed within were never located. The Lost Money Cave, said to be hidden somewhere in the Green Mountains near Wallingford, likewise is said to conceal a cache of silver bars left behind by Spanish miners. Other versions attribute this treasure to pirates, but it is hard to imagine pirates hauling so deep into the mountains. Local legend said it was Spaniards who buried a vast hoard of gold bullion on the slopes of Ludlow Mountain in Windsor County in the 1700's. Where this treasure came from is not explained. It was the Spanish, they say, that buried $75,000 worth of gold coins on Camels Hump Mountain in 1725. This treasure is sometimes called the Mysterio Treasure probably because no one can explain what the Spaniards planned to do with $75,000 worth of gold coins. But, then again, no one could explain the iron kettle containing $2,750 worth of Spanish coins and five human skeletons that hunters discovered in a cave near Fair Haven in Rutland County.

Indian Joes Mine

In the early 1800's, a regular customer of Riverius Camps store in the Lower Village at Stowe, Vermont, was an old Indian who went by the name of Joe or Joseph. Indian Joes penchant for paying his bills with gold dust or nuggets soon aroused both the avarice and the curiosity of storekeeper Camp and the permanent collection of loungers parked around his stove. They began to pepper Old Joe with not-so-subtle inquiries regarding the source of his supply of gold. But Joe refused to divulge a single clue. The would-be claim jumpers resorted to the old white mans trick of plying the Indian with rum, but this particular Indian became increasingly uncommunicative with each succeeding draught. It was known that Joe lived in a skin-covered hut in the woods on Worcester Mountain, near the source of present day Gold Brook, then known as Hull Brook. So it was decided to set spies around his hut to see where he went for the gold. The spies soon tired of being led in circles through the woods whenever they tried to follow Joe, and no trails could be detected leading away to the gold mine. Interest petered out, and Indian Joe was left in peace and the gold mine forgotten until 1855.

In the summer of 1855, ex-forty-niner Abial H. Slayton was fishing in the stream opposite his farm which was still at that time known as Hull Brook when his practiced miners eye caught sight of a flake of gold. Slayton went home, fetched his gold pan, and soon satisfied himself that Hull Brook carried paying color. The following November, Slayton bought the farm through which Hull Brook ran from Nathaniel Russell and soon had a crew of four men hard at work manning a sluice box.

Slayton claimed not to know how much gold he washed from what was afterwards known as Gold Brook, but natives recalled he quickly acquired a heavy gold watch chain, a large gold bracelet, several rings, and a gold cross in addition to whatever dust or nuggets he had laying about. Slayton searched for, but never found, the mother lode and supposed source of Indian Joes supply.

In 1897, when he had panned a little gold to coat the last spike for the Mt. Mansfield Electrical Railroad, Slayton told a newspaper reporter, Where the supply is, I have no idea. I have frequently followed small veins of quartz, but they have invariably ended soon, not running into large ones, but instead are soon spent. I believe those are surface formations and that these fisher veins have come up from the bowels of the earth.

Please Note: It is the responsibility of the treasure hunter to gain permission before detecting.

Authors Note: I have 20 pages of treasure information on Vermont which I can copy for $6 (I pay postage). Send check or money order to: Anthony J. Pallante, PO Box 353, Haddon Heights, NJ 08035.

Sources:

Bearse, Ray, Editor. Vermont American Guide Series. Houghton Mifflin, 1966.

Bigelow, W.J. History of Stowe, Vermont. Stowe Historical Society, 1988.

Terry, Thomas P. U.S. Treasure Atlas. Specialty Publications, 1985.

Van de Water, Frederic E. The Reluctant Republic. John Day Co., 1941.