1. Carolina Gold:
If you ever get the chance, you should see South Carolina. For the treasure hunter, it is the perfect place to hunt for lost treasure. Its history is so rich in early settlement days and constant wars that its treasure trove is almost limitless. Take gold for instance. When discovered in North Carolina in the early 1800s, it was not long before South Carolina, too, had its share of gold miners. Gold production was so great that South Carolina soon became the third largest gold producer in the United States and continued to operate its gold mines until 1942 and the onset of World War II.
A record sized gold nugget weighing in at 27 pounds was located near the town of Smyrna. Principal gold producing South Carolina counties are Abbeville, Andereson, Cherokee, Chesterfield, Greenfield, Lancaster, McCormick, Oconee, Union and York. Flip a coin, as you can find gold in any of these counties. Anyone wishing to go gold hunting should write for a South Carolina Development Board Bulletin #32 at Harbison Forest Road, Columbia, SC, 29201.
2. The Terrible Fishers:
When I mentioned the likelihood of finding all kinds of buried treasure in South Carolina, a very interesting treasure tale came to mind. Five miles north of Charleston, early in the 1800s, there was a tavern and frequently-used stage stop owned and operated by John and Lavina Fisher. From about 1805 through 1820, so many travelers disappeared in the area of the tavern that the local populace began to be suspicious. Their anger grew to the point that one evening a lynch mob made a call on the tavern owners, the Fishers. In the cellar the mob discovered the skeletons of two apparent murder victims, thought to have been done in by the Fishers.
Along with the dead bodies, searchers found several articles recognized as belonging to known missing travelers. When questioned about a large amount of missing money, the Fishers refused to talk, admitting no guilt as to the whereabouts of several missing people who either stayed at the tavern or passed through. Angered at the sullen behavior of the tavern owners, the mob turned on them and hanged both of them at the same time. No large amount of money or cache of any kind was ever unearthed. It is thought the site might still contain the hidden wealth of the Fishers.
3. The Missing Confederate Treasury:
Did you ever stop to ponder what might have become of the Confederate treasury following the Civil War in 1865? Lots of people have and there is considerable speculation as to what really occurred. A most definite clue to the whereabouts of the leftover funds of the Confederacy lies within the letters of communication between high-ranking officers of both the Union and Confederacy.
Take for example, a letter written by Colonel W.J. Palmer (Union Army) to his Commanding Officer, Major General A. Thomas. The letter says, I had reached the vicinity of Cowpens Battlefield, South Carolina on April 29, 1865, when I received the order to endeavor to intercept Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy), his cabinet and the Confederate specie (treasury). I have ascertained that Davis and the money, with an escort of four brigades of cavalry, under Duke, Ferguson and Dribbrill, with scattered detachments of Vaughns, Hanies and Butlers command, are moving toward Unionville and Abbeville, South Carolina.
One of my regiments, the Twelfth Ohio, ran into the rear-guard of his escort at the ford and captured 10 prisoners, from who definite information was obtained. The specie (treasury) was in wagons and was contained in about 100 boxes of gold and six kegs of silver. Prisoners thought there was about $10 million in specie in all.
The cavalry escort, about three to four thousand men, have been promised their back pay from the specie. Davis and about 35 men have pushed on to Washington, Georgia. Before disbanding, $35 was given to each private soldier, and more to officers. I have not yet been able to ascertain what has become of the balance of the specie, but presume it has either been concealed or shipped by railroad westward, in which latter event it will be stopped either by my party or the railroad, at Madison, or by Colonel Eggleston of Wilsons Cavalry, who reached Atlanta on the morning of the 4th of May, 1865.
A second, follow-up letter to the same commanding officers is more specific regarding the outcome of the specie: Headquarters Cavalry Division District, East Tennessee, Howells Ford, near Warsaw, on the Chattachochee, May 12th, 5 p.m. Major General.
On the morning of the 8th instant, while searching for Davis near the fork of the Apalachee and Oconee Rivers, Colonel Betts, Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, captured seven wagons hidden in the woods, which contained $177,000 in coin, $1,480 in bank notes, bonds, etc., of various Southern States, and about $4,000,000 in Confederate money, besides considerable species, plate and other valuables belonging to private citizens of Macon.
The main portion of the above property comprised the assets of the Georgia Central Railroad and Banking Company, which has been moved out of Macon at the appoach of General Wilson. The wagons also contained the private baggage, maps and official papers of General Beauregard, and the same of General Pillow. Nothing was disturbed, and I sent the whole in by railroad to Augusta, in charge of Captain Patterson, to be delivered to the Commanding Officer of the U.S. forces to await the action of the Government. In regard to the Confederate species, I am satisfied that Davis has not any considerable amount with him, as Breckenridge stated that the government had no more than $60,000 actually belonging to it. It is estimated that the Confederate Government may have had some $32,000,000 removed at various points to avoid capture. It is said that Davis left the funds from North Carolina banks at Charlotte at the insistence of Governor Vance.
Funds belonging to South Carolina banks were no doubt left near Abbeyville, and that belonging to Georgia and New Orleans was either left and concealed at Washington, Georgia, or shipped by railroad from that point. We believe that payment of Dribbrells Cavalry, the only troops not formally surrendered or disbanded, probably took most of the public funds. It seems probable that little specie crossed the Savannah River, which means that the rest could be hidden in South Carolina, for if Davis felt it necessary to have a division of cavalry to guard his train, he would not be apt to move the train without guard, when he found it impossible to take his cavalry escort across the Savannah River. General Bragg states that no specie came this side of Washington, Georgia.
4. Black Beard's South Carolina Connection
No account of South Carolina lost treasure would be complete without the mention of pirate treasure and the possibility of its still being buried there. We could go on at length concerning several well-known pirates of 1700s and 1800s, but we concentrate on one old, wily, veteran pirate named Edward Teach - Blackbeard. For several good reasons, Blackbeard always headed back to Charleston, South Carolina, after each successful foray on the high seas of the Atlantic. Because of the rich trove of goods (from his sacking of rich cargo ships) he was always welcomed by the citizens of Charleston and, in particular, the merchants who could buy his hijacked goods at a very low price. They could ask three to four times the prices they had to pay Blackbeard for his contraband goods and there was a great variety in what he offered them for sale.
Charleston, because of the authorities looking the other way when the pirates were in port, was a perfect place for the pirate crews to catch up on their drinking and carousing. They could relax after considerable rough sea duty without fear of being jailed or told to leave. Also, Charleston was built on swampland that made a perfect place for hiding the fruits of Blackbeards pirate activities. Many times during Blackbeards stays in Charleston, he was seen with a few crewmen rowing out into the swamp to put away some of his wealth.
Most times the old pirate returned alone, leaving no one to divulge the hiding places he chose back in the swamp. Later, Blackbeard was killed and his head displayed in the neighboring state of North Carolina to the north of Charleston. There is a good bet that a well-used detector properly worked in the swamp area might pay huge dividends.
(Acknowledgement: This material, in total or in part, is published and/or reprinted with the permission of Thomas P. Terry, Specialty Publishing, United States Treasure Atlas's.)