I have no way of knowing whether there is any truth to the story of treasure on Johns Island, in Casco Bay. Many stories cling to this little island, which is famed as being the summer home of the Lauder family and Gene Tunney. Tradition has it that there was a large frame tavern on the north end of the island, a hangout for seamen. One of these was a Portuguese who never did any work, but always had plenty of gold and silver to spend when he appeared from parts unknown. This went on for years. Finally, he died in a foreign land, but before he breathed his last, he gave a friend a map of Johns Island, showing the location of a hidden well near the tavern. At the bottom of the well, he said, gold and silver would be found because I helped put it there from the pirate craft Dare Devil, commanded by Dixie Bull. Searches have been made for this well, but without success.
Here is a treasure lead in Maine that, to my knowledge, has not been publicized too much. It is based on legend, but dont let that bother you. Legends do come true!
The legend states that Indians under a Captain Sunday mined silver near the town of Cornish, Cumberland County. The place was marked by three small hills flanking the Saco River near its junction with the Ossipee River. The mined silver was stored and never used. After working the mine for several years, the Indians sold the land on which it was located to William Phillips, who spent the remainder of his life searching for the mine, but never found it.
Jean Vincent de lAbadie, Baron de St. Castine, was a French nobleman who inherited land on Penobscot Bay in what is now the state of Maine. He took possession in 1665 and ran a successful trading post at the village of Pentagoet for nearly 25 years, amassing a fortune.
During this time the French Canadians and New Englanders were engaged in fierce border skirmishes. Although de Castine fortified the village, it was plundered by the British several times. Sir Edmund Andros, Governor General of Massachusetts, led one such attack in June 1688. However, the baron had fled with his treasure.
In 1840, Captain Stephen Grindle and his son Samuel were hauling logs to the Narrows, about six miles from the village, when they found a coin, a French crown. The pair dug until dark, recovering 20 more coins. It was in late November, and during the night a severe blizzard struck, so digging was suspended until the spring of 1841.
Returning in the spring, the Grindles dug up nearly 500 coins from France, Spain, South America, Portugal, Holland, England, and Massachusetts. Was this the de Castine hoard, missing for 137 years?
Everyone believed that it was, and that there was much more to be found. The old rumors that the baron had been forced to bury his treasure as he fled were revived. Dying shortly after felling, in France, de Castine had never been able to return to America to retrieve his fortune. Now the Grindles had found at least some of it. In April 1841, Dr. Joseph Stevens, of Castine, Maine, named after the baron, visited the site and was present when more coins were unearthed. He purchased one of each type of coins dated between 1642 and 1682.
The collection also contained 150 Pine Tree shillings and sixpence dated 1652. This was the first coinage struck in the colonies. The Pine Tree shillings are valued up to $2000 each.
It was reported in 1855 that a man named Conolley, another Narrows resident, found an old chest with the remains of clothing and other goods.
Records show Baron de St. Castine fled with six money chests. Thus far, only one has reportedly been found. Records further indicate that a year before the Barons flight, a French visitor had estimated the treasure to be worth $200,000.
Over three hundred years have passed. What is the value of those five missing chests today?
Crawford, in Washington County, once the center of extensive lumbering operations, was the scene of many stagecoach robberies. Favorite yarns of early stagecoach travel tell of how, when deep snow impeded the progress of the coach, packs of wolves would follow the wheel tracks and were warded off only by the alertness of the drivers and the quick cocking and firing of hand-loaded and primed guns.
Other exciting tales abound in this region. One concerns three brothers, living near Bangor, who became highwaymen and terrorized this district, stopping coaches several times a week and extracting all valuables from the passengers and their luggage. It is said that a passenger who had been robbed while traveling through the area, several months later in Boston recognized a man lounging in a tavern as one of the three bandits. Accused, the man shouted his innocence, but a gold nugget, hanging from his watch chain, was found to bear the initials of the coach passenger. It could pay to do local research on this gang.
One of Maines little-known treasures concerns Jim Dolliver, a wealthy sawmill owner who secreted over $10,000 in gold for safekeeping between The Forks, now Manchester, and Murphys. He had previously made an overland journey to Montral, where had converted his notes, checks, shares, and bonds into gold sovereigns. He liked the feel of gold ratherthan paper. This occurred during the 1890s.
During his journey home on the old French trail, Dolliver saw some half-breed Canadians following him. Were they going to rob him? Would they kill him? As Jim tore through the dense woods to evade the real, or imagined, robbers, he went completely insane from fear after hiding his money in an old stump.
Relatives later stated that Dolliver died battling imaginary thieves. These same relatives offered three-quarters of the money to whomever should find it, and they spent $3000 in efforts to discover its whereabouts, to no avail. As far as is known, this cache has never been found.
This little-known treasure was found by accident and then lost again and has never been rediscovered. Manana Island is off the middle coast of Maine. Around 1900, several fishermen stopped their boat at this island to relax. They decided to play a game of soccer. When a wild kick was made by one of the crew-members, the captain of the group ran to retrieve the ball. As he picked up the ball, he noticed rusty metal sticking out of the sand. He dug the sand from around the object, and saw that it was an old iron pot filled with coins. Since he was out of sight of his crew, he stuck the pot into a nearby rock crevice, intending to come back for it later.
After playing for a while longer, the crew went back to their fishing boat. The captain made an excuse to stay behind for a short time. Returning to what he thought was the crevice where he had put the pot of coins, he was amazed that he could not find the right one. Deciding that part of the coins would be better than none, the captain called his crew and told them what he had done.
The entire company spent several hours in search of the coins, but were never able to find them. As far as is known, somewhere on Manana Island, stuck in a rock crevice, there is a cache of coins waiting for a lucky treasure hunter.
One of the few instances of counterfeiting in Maine was done on Ragged Island in Cumberland County. This gang operated for several years until they were finally routed by Federal agents. The island, because of its isolated position, was also a rendezvous for different lawbreakers for several years. This little-known location could pay off, because it is almost certain that something was hidden by some of these outlaws.
This short story has a mystery concerning a treasure location that has never been reported solved. Outer Heron Island, Maine, lies a few miles offshore from Boothbay Harbor.
Around 1900, two young men came to Outer Heron Island from New York. They had a map of the island showing where a chest of pirate gold was supposedly buried. The two never revealed how this map came into their possession. With a specially constructed auger that could be lengthened indefinitely by adding sections of iron rod, they started boring near a lone, grotesquely-shaped spruce tree on the highest point of the island.
After a month of constant work, and at a depth of 30 feet, the auger brought up oaken chips. They penetrated this, and the bit came up with particles of what seemed to be gold. The two then hired two Italian laborers and excavated a 30-foot shaft. At this depth, a 6-foot oak plank was found, and that was all. The gold had come from a copper spike which the auger point had rapped.
The mystery is how did a copper spike and a six-foot plank get 30 feet underground, unless some kind of excavating had been done years before? No report of any treasures being found in the area can be located.