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The clay bluffs at Pottery Beach, Brooklyn, were pierced with artificial
caves where lawless men found shelter in the unsettled first years of
the republic. A wreck lay rotting here for many years, and it was said
to be the skeleton of a ship that these fellows had beached by false
beacons. She had costly freight aboard, and on the morning after she
went ashore crew and freight had vanished. It was believed that much of
the plunder was buried in the clay near the water’s edge. In the early
colonial days, Grand Island, in Niagara River, was the home of a
Frenchman, Clairieux, an exile or refugee who was attended by a negro
servant. During one summer a sloop visited the island frequently, laden
on each trip with chests that never were taken away in the sight of men,
and that are now supposed to be buried near the site of the Frenchman’s
cabin. Report had it that these boxes were filled with money, but if
well or ill procured none could say, unless it were the Frenchman, and
he had no remarks to offer on the subject. In the fall, after these
visits of the sloop, Clairieux disappeared, and when some hunters landed
on the island they found that his cabin had been burned and that a large
skeleton, evidently that of the negro, was chained to the earth in the
centre of the place where the house had stood. The slave had been
killed, it was surmised, that his spirit might watch the hoard and drive
away intruders; but the Frenchman met his fate elsewhere, and his
secret, like that of many another miser, perished with him. In 1888,
when a northeast gale had blown back the water of the river, a farmer
living on the island discovered, just under the surface, a stone
foundation built in circular form, as if it had once supported a tower.
In the mud within this circle he found a number of French gold and
silver coins, one of them minted in 1537. Close by, other coins of
later date were found, and a systematic examination of the whole channel
has been proposed, as it was also said that two French frigates,
scuttled to keep them out of the hands of the English, lie bedded in
sand below the island, one of them with a naval paymaster’s chest on
board.

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