The original article from the Cass County Times-Courier, dated October 24, 1879. It was sent to the paper from an unknown person named “A.I.",
and described the location of buried Spanish silver and gold in Cass County
from 1772. Was this person recalling a true story, or was it just an elaborate
fabrication? Read the article and decide for yourself.
Afterwards, take a look at the "Information" page, which has current
information about the locations and history surrounding the article.
(Cass County Times-Courier,
October 24, 1879)
Cass County, MO
“...In my last (letter) I told you a part of what I knew, but I kept back the main feature, for two reasons. First, I wanted to see what others would say; second, I thought probably some person would lose valuable time to no purpose. But, as I told you, I am an old man and have come to the conclusion, as I am the only person living who knows the facts in connection with the affair, and as life is uncertain, I will tell the true location as well as I am able of describing the place, as well as the whole history in connection with it. It may someday enable those who keep the history to find it (the treasure). At least it (the history) will be handed down to another and younger generation.
“..As I stated in my letter some time ago, I came to the West in 1828 and roved over the country as far as Mexico. It was in the year, I think, of 1838 that I returned to St. Louis in company with some traders, and there I came across old Crow, a Spaniard, who gave me the history of the lost treasure about as follows:
“In February, 1772, one thousand men were organized at or near where the present city of New Orleans now stands for the purpose of mining in northern Mexico, there was any amount of gold to be had with little labor. The organizing was done by the authority of the Spanish government.
“The men left their quarters on the 16th of February (1772). After they had traveled some time, probably as far as the northern part of the present state of Texas (which was then part of Mexico) the Indians began harassing them more or less, and they had three or four fights in which they probably lost one- fourth of their number (as Crow said they had about 750 men when they left the mines). This point, at which they had arranged for their return, seems to be where Fort Union now stands.
“After the men had prepared everything for the march they held a council how to proceed. It was proposed by someone to take the course to St. Louis, or rather, to the Great Muddy (or Missouri River as it is now called). They also knew the lattitude and longitude of what is now known as the mouth of the Kaw River. The (latter) proposition was put to a vote and was decided to be the safest.
“As soon as the march began the Indians commenced to harass the moving caravan. They (the Spaniards) crossed the Arkansas (River) where the road crosses, known to old frontiersmen as the Hornally Route. After the fighting and traveling for some time, the men arrived at a point on a high plain. Here they stopped to bury their treasure. They threw up temporary breastworks and dug a hole to bury (the Treasure) in.
“About this time tile Indians seemed to concentrate their whole force for a final and desperate battle. Crow said the whole slope to tile southwest seemed to be alive with Indians, ‘but our only hope was to fight where we were’ (Crow continues the narrative:)
“The charge came in a wild country. After a long and desperate battle, in which many a warrior fell, they drew off to the southeast and seemed to have abandoned the idea of capturing the Spaniards. In this fight we lost in killed and wounded about one-third of our number. We remained there until the second day, worn out and discouraged. We took up the march again. (Right here, some traditions have it, they left their treasure.)
“Packs were put on fresh ponies with the calculation of getting to the river, if possible, by a forced march, before the Indians could concentrate a force to again attack. But on account of our stock being worn out, as well as the men, the march was slow. (They must have left the wounded to their fate, as Crow didn’t speak of them as hindering the march). But fate seemed to be against the marchers.
“On the second day the Spaniards saw a band of warriors that seemed to be of a different tribe and at once showed the marchers their troubles were not at an end. Larger bodies (of Indians) were seen from time to time, waiting for a favorable opportunity to attack. The Spaniards waited and camped. (This seems to be nearly west of the southwest corner of this county, Jackson). We had hardly got fairly into camp when the report came that a large body of Indians was moving toward us along the skirts of the timber. The men prepared to fight. “The Indians came with a terrible crash. I thought our time had come, but we had got accustomed to holding our lives in our hands. The Indians didn’t fight as well as those in the battle at the breastworks — but we were not so well prepared, either. The fight was hard, but did not last long.
“One old chief seemed to take the front and urge his warriors on. A thought struck me (Crow) to take deliberate aim at him. I did and he fell with his gorgeous plumes. The braves faltered, then a few rushed forward, picking up the chief’s body and making a hasty retreat. They went almost as quickly as they came. (This is the place some traditions have it that the treasure was buried).
“We saw at once we could not go to the river and prepare any conveyance to descend it. We had, killed and wounded in this fight, about fifteen men. We moved on a few hours, but changed our course southeast. Suddenly we came to where some mining had been done, and we halted. One of our party came forward and said he had been there with the party that had done the mining two years before, and they came up the Missouri (or as then called, the big Muddy), and it was thirty miles due south of the mouth of the river we were trying to make our way to. Here we left a pick to mark the place. This we concealed in the earth.
“This point is a little south of the head timbers on a small stream. We now thought we would bury our treasure as soon as favorable opportunity offered, and rest awhile. We turned nearly due east, crossed a small stream running southeast to a larger one running south. This we crossed also, then a prairie three or four miles from timber. Again this seemed to be the head of those streams. We came out on the prairie and looked for a suitable place to camp (now I come to where the treasure is really buried.)”
“We found a spring in a ravine that ran in a southeast direction and seemed to empty into the last stream. We crossed here, camped and buried our treasure — the gold about 240 or 300 yards southeast of the spring in a little flat leading down to the first branch. We struck some loose rock as we dug. After we put it (the treasure) down we threw two or three feet of rock on lop of it, and then covered it with dirt.
“We buried the silver still further on, probably three-fourths of a mile further on, southeast in the direction of another spring, across a low ridge, in a sink not far from the spring. The water from this spring ran east to another stream that runs nearly south. Go south from where the gold is buried 500 yards and then due west and you will cross the creek three times. We seemed to be in the fork of the stream.
“This was about the last of October, 1772. We buried some fifteen loads of gold, averaging 130 pounds each, and one thousand bars of silver weighing on an average 20 pounds to the bar. The gold is worth about $375,000.
We moved some seven miles the next day in a southeast direction and found a spring in the open prairie on a bluff with a valley to the south. (This seems to me to be the place you described in the letter purported to have come from New Mexico. A.L.) Here we halted in a valley south of the spring, calculating, if no trouble came, to stay several days and rest.
“We had seen no Indians since the last battle, and all seemed quiet. But on the morning of the fourth day — horror of horrors — (here the old Spaniard almost shed tears) just as the sun rose over the ridge, on the crest of the bluff north of our camp, appeared in one solid mass what seemed to be at least two thousand bold warriors. We might have suspected there was some devilment up when all was so quiet and still. We had a few over four hundred able men and we hastily threw our wagons around (made a circle) for breastworks. Our ponies were out grazing.
“The Indians came with all the desperate yelling that belongs to the savage. They surrounded us and soon all our ponies were run off. Fighting was desperate. We tried to fight our way back north. By the time we reached the top of the bluff, at least two hundred of our men had fallen. Our wagons captured, we made a desperate effort to get to the timber. We knew our only hope was in flight, but only Don Carlos and I (Crow) escaped.
“After traveling principally by night we reached this place (St. Louis) on the thirteenth day (of travel). I don’t know what Indians those were, but they fought like those at the breastworks on the plains.
“We left St. Louis in a few days with some other adventurers and went down to New Orleans. We soon had an opportunity to return to Spain, as I thought, never to return again to America. Don Carlos died in Madrid many years ago. I learned Americans had got possession of the country (probably meaning the western part of the United States).
“After an absence of nearly sixty-six years, I concluded to return (to America) and get what it cost us one year’s time and nine hundred and ninty-eight as brave men as ever lived. But I am worn out and can’t go on. You can get it (the treasure) when you go west again, and if I should recover, and you return, you can give me a share. I wish you better success than we had, and may the blessed Virgin be with you and protect you’.
“After shaking my hand in the true American style, he (Crow) bid me goodbye and as it proved, forever.
“The following I may add by way of explanation. I stayed in St. Louis about a month, thinking probably he (Crow) had recovered. I called to see him but he had died and was buried several days before. So ended the one thousandth of the Spanish gold seekers. “I took a look for the place about twenty-one years ago (in 1853). I found the location. It is probably four or five miles west and one or one and a half miles north of your city (Harrisonville). If I have been correctly informed, there is now a schoolhouse standing about one-fourth of a mile of where the silver was buried. The gold is three- fourths of a mile further northwest.
“I understand the schoolhouse is known as the Rodeman or Bodman school.
“I have given you this that you may publish it, so others may know it after I am gone. It is as Crow (the Spaniard) gave it to me, only changed to suit our language and names of places as we know them now. Otherwise it is the same as originally written by me, except what is enclosed in parentheses (. . .). I have the original in my possession today and had this copied from it.
“The truths that the one who wrote in those first letters (by someone prior to A.I.) were: First, it (the location) being thirty miles south of the Missouri River; second, going south five hundred yards and then due west and one would cross the stream three times; third, the description of the place where the last battle was fought. I have heard many traditional stories about this (treasure) but this is the only true account ever made public since Crow gave it to me forty-one years ago (in 1838). Respectfully yours, A.I.”
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