Michigan Treasure Legends……

At the end of the French and Indian War, France ceded the Great Lakes and the Northwest Territory to England. Twenty years later, by the Treaty of Paris in September 1783, England granted the Northwest Territory to the United States. A part of that grant became the state of Michigan which was admitted to the Union in 1837.

The French had monopolized the fur trade for over a hundred years, from about 1620 to 1725, before the British began to offer any competition. Thousands of dollars worth of furs were shipped to France. Most of the fur traders spent their earnings for whiskey and supplies, but there were a few thrifty trappers and government agents who buried or hid their savings.

Sometimes during raids into New York, Pennsylvania and the Illinois-Ohio country, Indians would carry gold and silver with other loot back to their villages around the Lakes. Since money had no value to them, it was lost, buried, hidden or thrown away.

Sixty-eight out of the eighty-six counties in Michigan have shown evidence of free gold and silver has appeared in several places. Also, the state has numerous ghost towns.

During Pontiac’s Uprising in 1763, Alexander Henry, an English trader, was captured by the Indians. Henry had made friends with the Hippewa Chief Wawatam before the uprising. After the Indians fortified Mackinac Island, Wawatam helped Henry escape the stockade, where all the English prisoners were being kept before being killed.

Wawatam took Henry to a cave in a sandstone cliff. While he was spending the first night in the cave, Henry discovered a large pile of human bones, skulls and curious objects.

The next day, Wawatam managed to ransom Henry from the other Indians so that he would not be recaptured and killed. When Henry told about the cave, a band of curious Indians went to see the place for themselves. It was a new discovery for these people, who had often camped on the island. Even the oldest tribesmen could not account for the cave or its contents.

Some of the Indians remembered their tribal story of a great flood and supposed that island dwellers had taken refuge in that high cavern, where they were caught by the rising water and drowned.

Alexander Henry left Mackinac Island with Chief Wawatam and never returned. It is a certainty that the superstitious Indians never bothered the cave. From a treasure hunter’s point of view, there are several questions that are unanswered.

What were the curious objects Henry saw? Apparently the skeletons were not Indian or the Indians with Henry would have known about them. Who were these people? Since the bones were in a dry cave, they could have been there for centuries. Were they the remnant of a race that predated the Indians? I can learn of no mention of this cave or its contents since Alexander Henry visited it in 1763. If nothing more, an interested treasure hunter, in finding this cave in the sandstone cliffs of Mackinac Island, could uncover something of an important historical nature.

From the 1880’s until 1902, a man named Porter Pritchard lived on a small 30-acre island in Higgins Lake in Roscommon County. Pritchard became known as the Hermit of Higgins Lake. No one knew why Porter isolated himself all those years. It was thought that he had murdered his wife and was hiding out, although no authorities ever checked on him.

The most widely accepted story is that Pritchard was a bounty jumper during the Civil War. Men were paid from $300 to $500 to take the place of any man that did not want to serve in the Union army. It is believed Pritchard used this method for three years to collect bounties in seven different states. If this is true, he came to the island with considerable money.

No one ever saw him spend any money except for food and tobacco. The money that Pritchard is believed to have, has to still be on the island because his body was found in 1902, in the dugout he used for a home. The money that was believed to be buried with his body was not found. Since this is a small island, it would be a good place for a treasure hunter to spend a vacation searching for this missing cache.

One of the most blood-thirsty Indians in American history was an Ottawa named Chief Pontiac. He always returned to Acole Island in Orchard Lake, in what is now Oakland County, Michigan, after a raid or foray into English territory. Local legend has told for years that Pontiac buried a fortune in booty he obtained in raids against the white settlers in Pennsylvania and Virginia on this island. This is highly possible, since Pontiac learned early in life of the white man’s greed for gold and silver.

His orders to his warriors were always the same during a raid, “Take what you want, burn everything else and kill the prisoners.” Since Pontiac made dozens of raids during his war on the whites, called Pontiac’s Uprising, it is probably that he buried a large quantity of loot on Acole Island.

Near Dowagic in Cass County, is a very good area to search for glacial diamonds. Several have bee found here within the last few years.

In 1874, Michigan’s biggest industry was logging. In August of that year, a gang of desperados laid to wait for the stagecoach carrying $74,000 in gold to a large lumber camp in the area near Benton Lake. The robbery came off as planned and the thieves made good their escape.

The bandits, knowing that the lumberjacks would soon be on their trail, decided to bury the gold until the news of the robbery had died down. They selected a site between two tree stumps on the north shore of Benton Lake. There they put the money into an old cast iron stove, dug a deep hole, and buried the whole thing.

Historians say the gold is still in the iron stove, waiting for someone to find it. Experts estimate the value of the gold cache to be almost a half-million dollars today.

The general location is easy enough to find but there are some difficulties involved. Benton Lake is still there on the left side of Highway 37, driving north. The lake is also south of Baldwin and west of the hamlet of Brohman. The problems are largely due to the time lapse. The two stumps are no doubt rotted away, and the shoreline of the lake may have changed.

This came from the magazine “Inside Michigan” in July 1953. “In the early autumn, of an unknown year, the Chippewas decided to fortify themselves in a lakeside position where they thought the Menominees with whom they had trouble would be most likely to attack. This was in the northern part of Benzie County, at the mouth of the Platte River.

“By spring the Menominees had not come across Lake Michigan from what is now Wisconsin to fight, so the Chippewas decided to cross the lake in canoes and take the Menominees by surprise.

“Before they embarked, however, the chief took all the money that the tribe owned, two copper kettles full, carried it alone over the brow of a nearby hill, and buried it in a spot that only he knew.

“The Chippewa warriors then launched their flotilla of canoes and crossed to the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. In Green Bay, however, a sudden storm capsized their small craft, and all of the warriors drowned.”

This is an authentic story that could very well pay someone to investigate.

In 1823, Nicholas Biddle, president of an eastern banking concern, induced a group of investors to build cities along good harbors in Michigan. One of the planned cities was Port Sheldon, in Ottawa County. The plan was to create a city the size of Chicago, at a cost of $200,000,000. A railroad spur started the town, along with a large hotel with gambling halls but the project went bankrupt in 1837.

In 1839, a mob of investors planned a raid on the hotel to collect their money from Biddle. He learned of the planned and is said to have buried a quarter million dollars in a well near the hotel. The raid did not materialize, but Biddle was afraid to touch the buried money and reportedly died without revealing its hiding place. I have investigated this location thoroughly and can find no record of this cache having been found.

Michigan’s most noted train robber was John Smalley, known as the Whiskered Train Robber. Most of his train holdups and other crimes were committed outside the state of Michigan, but he made his home in Clare County.

It wasn’t until after his death, at the hands of a sheriff’s posse that his true identity was learned. It is not known how many robberies Smalley and different members of his gang committed during a several year period, but it is believed to have been considerable.

Smalley was visiting his girlfriend, Cora Brown, in McBain, Missaukee County, when the house was surrounded by a posse on the night of August 25, 1895. When asked to surrender, Smalley refused. After his girlfriend and her mother fled out a rear door, the posse began shooting into the cabin. Smalley was hit several times and died with a gun in each hand. He was buried in the McBain Cemetery.

The question has been asked many times, where was the estimated $1,000,000 that Smalley accumulated during the several years of train and other robberies. I believe that local research could payoff on this one.

Shortly after the Chicago fire, a part of the vast plunder taken during the three-day tragedy was brought in boxes to Leelanau County in a small schooner and buried by a group of five men. In 1871, that part of Michigan was sparsely settled, and the region offered an ideal spot for such an undertaking.

It is recorded fact that during the great Chicago fire, October 8-10, 1871, looters made away with an estimated five to twenty million dollars worth of goods and valuables. It is believed by most authorities that most of the stolen property was taken away by boat rather than overland, and if the repeated stories are true, none of the Chicago treasure has ever been admitted found and should still be where it was hidden. Part of this loot is believed buried on Leelanau County’s peninsula near Northport.

Gold has been found in 68 of the counties in Michigan. For those interested in searching, some of the best areas are: near Allegain in Allegain County; on the Antrim River in Charlevois County; on the Boyne River in Emmett County; near the town of Walton and on the Rapid River in Kalkasak County; on the Little Sable and Mainstee Rivers in Mainstee County; near Howard City and Greenville in Montcalm County; on the Muskegon River in Newaygo County; near the town of Whitehall and on the White River in Oceana County;; near Grand Haven in Ottawa County; near the towns of Burr Oak and Marcellus in St. Joseph County; near West Summitt in Wexford County; on Ada Creek in Kent County; on the Maple River in Ionia County; in the area of Birmingham in Oakland County; around Iron Mountain in Dickenson County; and near Harrisville in Alcona County. It could pay to pan any stream in these counties.

Here is information on a mystery ship in Lake Michigan that was supposedly carrying over $30,000,000 in gold. One of the most persistent rumors of sunken treasure is that of the Poverty Island wreck of an unidentified vessel which sank off Escanaba carrying a load of $4,500,000 in gold bullion. If Lake Michigan does hold this ship, it has the richest treasure in the Great Lakes. If legend is true, this nameless vessel was sailing from or to Escanaba. Its gold was being transported in five chests sent by a foreign power to help finance the outcome of the Civil War, in whose favor, however, nobody knows.

One theory is that the gold came from England by way of Canada and was to be shipped across Lake Michigan, taken by land to the Mississippi River, and then sent south to aid the Confederate cause.

The opposition learned of the cargo and attacked the ship. Hoping to recover the gold later, its guards chained the chests together and dumped them overboard. No one had yet been able to identify the gold-laden ship, though it has been referred to on several of the Great Lake shipwreck lists. The missing cargo could be worth as much as $35 to $40 million today.

Fort Michilmackinac was built by the French about 1715, in what is now Emmet County, Michigan. British troops captured the fort in 1761. On June 2, 1763, during Pontiac’s uprising, Chippewa Indians overran the fort. They killed most of the British soldiers and held the fort for over a year. During the battle the British soldiers are supposed to have buried, inside the fort, the large amount of gold and silver they had accumulated in back pay. This fort was abandoned after 1781 and soon reverted to wilderness. As far as can be learned, the gold and silver were never recovered.

This little known cache of $1,300 may not seem like a large treasure to search for until it is remembered that $400 of that money was in gold coins and the rest in silver, all dated 1920 or earlier.

This money was never recovered after six men robbed the Farmers State Bank of Grass Lake, Michigan, on July 29, 1920, and buried the money on, or in the vicinity, of Mack Island.

On the evening of that day, four men entered the bank and tied up two officials and two bank customers with fishing line. The bandits then proceeded to stuff over $69,000 into cloth bags. Making a clean getaway with their driver and lookout man, the gang headed for Mack Island, about five miles south.

When the robbery was reported shortly after it happened, word was sent to Laragee at Jackson, the county seat. After arriving at the bank, a deputy sheriff named Worden noticed the fish line that was used to tie up the captives. He knew that some out of town fishermen were staying at Wolf Lakes, which formed Mack Island. Playing a hunch, Worden took several men and headed for the island to check on the fishermen.

Upon reaching the island, Worden noticed Ted Harris, a known criminal, on the second floor of the tenant house. When Worden wanted to enter Harris’ room, he was refused permission. Becoming suspicious, Worden insisted, and Harris, standing to one side, jerked the door open. A hail of bullets came through the opening. Worden was killed instantly and a deputy named Verl Kutt was seriously wounded.

Two of the gangsters dropped from the rear second story window of the building and escaped into a swamp. Harris broke loose and fled into another swamp nearby. Two others of the gang gave up and the sixth bandit had been shot several times during the hail of lead from the room and was unable to move.

A few weeks later, when al of the gangsters had been captured and were taken for trial, the judge, because of their reputation and the murder of the two deputy sheriffs, gave two fo the gang double life sentences and the rest ten to twenty years for bank robbery and murder. A bank audit showed that $69, 851 in bonds, gold and silver coins, currency ad securities had been taken during the bank robbery. All of this was recovered except $1,300.00 in gold and silver coins, which has to still be hidden near where the tenant house stood on Mack Island, because the gangsters had not left he island. It isn’t likely that any of the gang returned, after long prison terms, for only $1,300.00.

Mack Island is located about five miles south of Grass Lake, between Big and Little Wolf Lakes. The tenant house and original buildings are gone now, and there are new homes in the area, but with the price of gold coins today, this cache would still be worth investigating.

At half past eight on the night of August 28, 1875, the 774-ton steamer COMET was carefully working her way through Lake Superior’s ever dangerous Whitefish Bay. She had just rounded White fist Point and had settled on course for Point Iroquois, 25 miles to the east, and the entrance to the Soo Canal.

The gray fog was thick, but patchy, and extra lookouts were on watch since Whitefish Bay was an area of major shipping congestion and therefore dangerous in clean weather, let along fog. Through a clear area a lookout spotted the pale running lights of another steamer, heading directly toward the COMET. Captain Francis Dugot kept the COMET on her course, trying to ascertain the true course of the other vessel before altering his course. However, because of the fog, he was never able to do so.

Without warning, the mysterious steamer nosed out of a fog bank, her sharp prow aimed directly for the COMET. With a splintering of wood, the strange bow stuck the COMET on the portside, 20 feet forward of the stern. The COMET was an old ship and only careful handling and management had kept her rotten, decayed hull afloat. The force of the collision was simply too much for the heavily loaded COMET to bear. Within ten minutes the old wooden steamer sank, taking eleven of her twenty-one man crew with her.

Part of the explanation for the rapid sinking of the steamer was her heavy cargo of 200 tons of pig-iron and 300 tons of high grade Montana silver ore. The silver ore was considered a loss of $50,000 dollars from 1875. What its worth today would be astronomical.

The remains of the COMET have never been located. Due to the fog at the time of the disaster, no accurate location sights were taken by the COMET crew. The best estimate by the Captain of the COMET placed the wreck 10 miles east of Whitefish Point, in a minimum of 90 feet of water. Subsequent salvage efforts directly after the sinking were completely unsuccessful, failing even to locate the wreck. Searches by monger divers have been equally unrewarding, but it’s out there somewhere and records prove it. $50,000 in silver ore still remains lost for over a hundred years.

UPDATE: Reader supplied new information through contact form.

The Comet was finally salvaged in the 1980s when artifacts from the wreck were illegally removed. The artifacts are now the property of the State of Michigan and are on display as a loan to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The fate of her silver ore cargo is unknown. Her wreck is now protected by the Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve as part of an underwater museum.

Drummand Island, off Chippewa County, is at the northern end of Lake Huron. This island extends about 12 miles east to west at its widest point. Of importance to us is that it is the source of at least four treasure tales.

One take, about a French fur trader who established a trading post on Drummond Island in the 1750’s, is not too well known. As time went on, the fur trader became mentally unbalanced. During one of his more disturbed days, he lugged a pot of gold coins into the woods and secreted it. When his family discovered that the trader’s fortune was missing, they questioned him at length about it, but the old fellow refused to reveal the location of his cache, going to his grave with the secret.

The island was a hub of British military activity in 1813 when the Redcoats built another fort there. General Monk was in charge of the army funds which were kept in an iron chest. As was the custom in those early days, Monk buried the pay chest for safe-keeping. Perhaps the rigors of military life on the frontier were too much for General Monk, for he eventually became hopelessly insane and would not, or could not, tell where the chest was hidden.

The British abandoned the fort in 1828 and were forced to leave without their pay chest. Apparently it is still where Monk stashed it. Old Fort Drummond consisted of 14 buildings, located on the southwestern promontory of the island two miles from the channel landing. There are still traces of foundation walls, chimneys and fireplaces remaining by the natural parade ground and the old fort’s cemetery.

The British had previously occupied Drummond Island in the 1760’s, and there is another old story of a couple of enlisted men having stolen the garrison’s payroll at that time. According to old accounts, it was the soldiers’ plan to hide on the densely wooded island until search efforts were abandoned. This seemed like a good plan until the commandant of the fort announced a reward of $20 in gold for the heads of the thieves. This inspired two Indians to track down the miscreants and a few days later they returned to the fort with the thieves’ severed heads, but not the payroll, which had evidently been buried by the two before the Indians killed them. A further search was fruitless.

Potagannissing Bay, on the west side of Drummond Island, is also the reported site of another treasure, $55,000 in gold coins, but little is known about this treasure, other than the amount.

Old Francois Fontenoy, an Indian trader, supposedly buried a brass kettle full of coins on Wayne County’s Presque Isle in the Detroit River. Many years prior to the date of the burial, the old Frenchman had amassed a fortune in the fur trade. Like so many wealthy men of his time, he buried his fortune in the ground for safekeeping. Old records of the Northwest Territory mention this treasure, but little else is known about it.

The first shipwreck recorded in Michigan’s wild waters is that of Nicolet’s GRIFFIN, near the northern end of Lake Michigan. In the centuries that followed, more than four hundred ships were known to have taken a final voyage, straight down. Here are a few of the most famous:

In 1847, the PHOENIX sank off Sheboygan, Wisconsin, with the loss of 250 lives. Most were Dutch immigrants whose trunks contained their worldly accumulation in the form of gold. At least one family is known to have had more than $100,000 worth.

In 1854 the WESTMORELAND took to the bottom $100,000 in gold, $95,000 worth of whiskey and other cargo.

In 1860, the LADY ELGIN sank off Winnetak, Illinois with 297 lives lost, many of which were wealthy residents of Chicago’s North Shore out on a days outing.

In 1868, the SEABIRD went down off Lake Forest, Illinois, with about 100 passengers, 66 barrels of fine whiskey, and an unknown quantity of gold and silver.

In 1905, the ARGO sank off Holland, Michigan with more than $100,000 of miscellaneous cargo, and intriguing term for divers and salvagers.

In 1929, the car-ferry MILWAUKEE, containing 27 railroad boxcars of general freight sank.

In 1956, the PRINS WILLEM V sank off Milwaukee with a multi-million dollar cargo. Despite its proximity to the shore, this vessel has so far resisted all efforts to retrieve her cargo.

One of the early settlers in central Michigan was a man named William Van Sickle. In the summer of 1838, he settled in the southern quarter of section 31, near the town of Ovid, 35 miles northeast of Lansing.

Van Sickle, a bachelor, cleared a small area and built a fairly comfortable cabin, but all efforts at improvement stopped there.

Several strangers seemed to be Van Sickle’s constant companions. None of the men were particularly neighborly, but this wasn’t unusual, for neighbors were few and far between. When a neighbor stopped by, he was nearly always invited in for coffee or a meal. However, Van Sickle and his friends never returned their neighbors’ visits.

The men made frequent trips, always one or two at a time. Whether they went by horse or buggy, they usually returned in a few days, frequently with provisions. For a time it was assumed they were hunting deer and wild turkey, for the men neither farmed nor made any efforts to clear the land. Even so, Van Sickle always had an adequate larder supplied with wild game and goodies not usually found in early settlers homes.

Soon the local settlers and merchants noticed an increasing number of newly minted Mexican silver dollars in circulation. Also, they remembered Van Sickle always had cash for supplies, though cash was rather scarce. Before long, the nosy neighbors decided van Sickle’s place was a hide out for counterfeiters.

Henry Leach of Scioto, notified the authorities in Detroit, who sent an expedition that captured Van Sickle’s gang. For years afterward, Van Sickle’s old place was known as Bogus Settlement.

Now comes and important question for modern-day treasure hunters, where did Van Sickle acquire his raw silver? Did it come from the Indians? Possibly, he had a supply of silver buried near his cabin that was overlooked when he was captured. Were any counterfeit cousins buried nearby? If so, the silver or the coins could be found, even at this late date.

The cabin is long gone, but a determined treasure hunter might find traces of it. Further research and work with a metal detector could really pay off.

Guesses about the value of ships and cargo which have disappeared into the Great Lakes begin at $50,000,000. The disappearance of many of these vessels is shrouded in mystery, but none more so that the CHICORA.

On the stormy winter night of January 21, 1895, the large passenger steamer CHICORA left St. Joseph, Michigan, for the short trip across the southern end of Lake Michigan to Chicago, Illinois, but she sailed out into Lake Michigan and oblivion.

The CHICORA was last reported off Benton Harbor, Michigan, but after that was seen no more. There was no distress signal, there were no known survivors, there was no sign that the CHICORA ever existed. One board when she vanished were 120 barrels of whiskey and over $50,000 in gold, silver and currency.

In the late 1960’s a fisherman’s net snared bits of wreckage in the southwestern part of the lake, which was though to be from the CHICORA. Other sources believe she never got more than 10 miles southwest of St. Joseph, where she lies in 10 fathoms of water.

The U.S. Coast Guard has recorded no efforts to recover the CHICORA. The U.S. Weather Bureau, which includes the CHICORA on its official list of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, has no knowledge of any part of the vessel ever being located or salvaged.

The Detroit area, which includes Inkster, has produced at least one prime coin shooting area, Sugar Island. This is a deserted piece of land in the Detroit River between Michigan and Canada, just south of the city of Detroit.

Sugar Island was the site of a big amusement park in the early 1900’s. Now only a few battered foundations and docks remain, along with dozens of coins lost by careless pleasure seekers. Most of the coins date from the late 1860’s to the early 1900’s, making them worth many times their face value. You’ll need a small boat to reach the island, but the trip could be well worth the trouble.

Somewhere off the coast of Michigan’s rugged Keweenaw Peninsula, covered by the cold clear water of Lake Superior, les the steamer SUNBEAM, with $10,000 in hard currency , at yester-year’s prices, in her safe and a small fortune in heavy copper ingots stored in her hold.

The 400-ton wooden steamer entered the Great Lakes trade in 1861 with a flourish. Since she was built at a cost of $50,000, Midwest newspapers hailed the SUNBEAM as the finest and most expensive steamer on the lakes. With ports of call at Chicago, Superior City, Wisconsin, Mackinaw Island, Sault Ste. Marie, Copper Harbour, Eagle Harbor and Ontonagon, the SUNBEAM did a very profitable business until Thursday, August 28, 1863.

At 6:00 p.m. on that fateful day, Captain William Dougall was easing the SUNBEAM out of Ontonagon Harbor into the open reaches of Lake Superior. Her next stop was to be Copper Harbor, 80 miles away at the trip of Keweenaw Peninsula. Tucked away in the ship’s safe, as previously mentioned, was an estimated $10,000 while deep in her hold were many tons of pure copper.

At first the SUNBEAM steamed into a moderate easterly breeze, but the wind suddenly shifted to north-northeast and increased to gale force. Until Friday morning, the ship successfully rode out the storm, but then her luck changed. With increasing regularity, waves swept over the SUNBEAM’s deck, washing away everything that wasn’t properly secured and much that was. The constant pounding by the waves had opened her seams and water poured into her hold.

Finally, 24 miles short of her destination at Copper Harbor, Captain Dougall attempted to turn the SUNBEAM away from the teeth of the gale and run with the storm until it moderated. It seemed the only way he could save his ship, passengers and crew.

But the SUNBEAM could not complete the turn. The ship became caught in the trough of the waves. Try as she might, the wooden steamer couldn’t climb out of her dangerous predicament and the inevitable happened. The increasing violence of the storm forced the SUNBEAM over on her beam ends and her fate was sealed.

At 8 p.m., that Friday evening, Captain Dougall reluctantly gave the order to abandon ship. In the heaving seas it was a difficult order to carry out. However, within minutes one life boat and the ship’s yawl were filled with passengers and crew, the other having been washed overboard by the waves. Because of the loss of a lifeboat earlier in the gale, the remaining lifeboat and yawl were dangerously overloaded.

All told, 26 passengers and crew lost their lives. A potential bonanza like the SUNBEAM has not been ignored by divers. The steamer has been the object of many searches, all fruitless. She is still hidden by the icy depths of Lake Superior, and still carries a fortune in currency and copper that is all yours if you can find her.

Silas, called Sile in local communities, Doty was almost a legendary figure in the areas of Branch and Hilldale Counties, Michigan. He is described as being no less than a Robin Hood, though in real life he was quite the contrary as he was the West’s first outlaw of note.

At the beginning of Doty’s career in the early 1800’s, Indiana was considered the West. Doty was mean, cunning as a fox, and was a murderously-inclined thief. He later spent more than half his life in penitentiaries in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. Doty died in 1876 at the age of 76.

When lawmen were after him, Doty hid out on a friend’s fertile farm near the town of Hilldale. Also in times of need he scurried o to his son’s and married daughter’s farms near Coldwater. When Silas wanted to disappear without a trace, he vanished into the swampy lakes in Steuben County near Fremont and Angola.

Doty made scores of little caches, from $100 or so to more than a thousand dollars in gold and silver. Several caches were on his friend’s farm, or on the property of his son or daughter. But most of his secret caches were on little wooded isles hidden in the boggy swamps. He had several cabins on the island, and moved form one to the other whenever strangers searched the country.

Doty’s rakes were selling stolen horses, cattle, swine, butchered meat, loads of sacked grain, new harnesses and farming machinery. He also pulled a few country store burglaries. When not sojourning in jail, he especially cleaned up during the Civil War as the leader of a gang of thieves. When men returned home from the Union Army, he was forced to become more cautious.

Accused of five or six cold-blooded murders, he was convicted only once of second-degree murder early in his life. Jails failed to hold him and he repeatedly escaped, once into Mexico, to allow things to cool off.

Lawmen never found more than a couple of silver dollars on Doty. The rest of his plunder was safe in the ground. Three of Doty’s caches were accidentally found years ago. There was a couple of hundred dollars in one cache, $500 in another and about $1,000 in the third.

Trace down the sites of the old farms where Dota hid out, and the Fremont and Angola regions where he once prowled. You may find a small cache, with either gold or silver minted coins that long ago would bring a nice chunk of money. Most of the swampy lakes have been drained, but the islands are still recognizable.

A legend with some well documented facts behind it is that of Silver Jack Driscoll’s many secret and periodic trips into the Huron Mountains and returning with his packs laden with huge gold and silver nuggets.

It was in the late 1880’s that the close mouthed old lumberjack and prospect first came to L’Anse for supplies. The unusual thing about he old prospector’s visits was that he paid for his purchases with pure gold and silver nuggets.

The lumber jack was forgotten until his second visit, and again his supplies were paid for in the same manner was the first. This now began to excite some of the townsmen. But no matter how hard several of them tried to persuade him to discuss his find, the crafty old lumberjack cheerfully evaded all questions pertaining to the source of his nuggets or to reveal the location where they were found. All that Silver Jack would day was that after his logging days were over he would stake a claim and retire with a fortune from his mine.

On several occasions Jack was followed but he would only return to his regular job in one of the many lumber camps operating on the Yellowdog River. There he would remain until his followers gave up in disgust and returned to L’Anse. This little game between Jack and his pursuers went on for several years, until unfortunately, on April Fools Day in 1895, after returning from the Spring Log drive, Jack caught cold, contacted pneumonia from working several weeks in the icy cold waters of the river. Jack died an untimely death in a boarding house on the outskirts of L’Anse without divulging the secret of his wealth, or having the opportunity to file a claim.

The remote area in which Jack found his gold and silver probably lies near the headwaters of the Yellowdog River where it rises in the foothills of the Huron Mountains, some twenty-five miles east of L’Anse.

Somewhere off Grand Island in Lake Superior lies a golden hoard of $30,000 in double eagles, just waiting for some lucky treasure hunter. The gold and 216 barrels of good drinking whiskey were the cargo of the steamer SUPERIOR, which sank during a savage storm on October 29, 1856.

The SUPERIOR left Sault Ste. Marie on October 29, bound for the mining towns on Michigan’s rugged Keweenaw Peninsula. The gold she was carrying was the payroll for men working in the copper mines.

By 11 p.m., the SUPERIOR was caught in a vicious northwest gale. Gold, gray swells swept her decks and carried away the stack and part of her deck cabins. The steamer continued on, pushing her blunt bow into the onrushing seas, sending a wave of spray into the darkness. About a half hour later, a wave of demonic fury carried away her rudder leaving the steamer completely at the story’s mercy. It was only a matter of time before the SUPEIOR sank.

Early the next morning a crewman cried out a single word, “Rocks!” The rolling waves pushed the steamer inexorable toward them. Before striking the rocks, the captain dropped anchor so the ship would swing into the rocks stern first. He hoped she would hold together long enough for the passengers and crew to scramble to safety, but it was not to be. A towering wave snapped the anchor chain and the SUPERIOR was blown broadside onto the sharpened granite rocks. Within 15 minutes she was completely destroyed. Of 46 passengers and crew, only 11 reached the shore alive. After wandering aimlessly over the desolate island for two days, they were rescued. When questioned, the shocked survivors could not even indicate where the ship had run aground.

Somewhere under the icy waters of Lake Superior, near Grand Island, rests a safe containing 15 canvas bags, which are filled with $20 gold pieces.

About 75 miles north of Michigan’s northern most point, a fantastic treasure trove of silver lies beneath a square chunk of rock. One of the richest silver mines in the world, one ton of ore assayed at $17,000. This is Silver Island located off the north shore of Lake Superior, one of the stormiest waters on the globe. The secret of this 1870 find would be to curtail the high waves that almost completely cover the island during heavy storms.

After several failures with logs and piling, a huge dam of rocks temporarily licked the raging sea. During the following 13 years, some $4,000,000 in silver was mined. The shaft, 100 feet deep and extending out under Lake Superior, was worked year around. However, the mine came to a complete stop in the fall of 1884, when the boat that was hauling the coal to fuel the boilers failed to beat the winter freeze-up. The pumps that kept the shaft dry depended on this coal. So, on November 13, 1884, Lake Superior did seal the mine for good.

Speculation has it that there may be a million dollars along in the massive pillars that support the mine shaft. So, until someone devises a system of recovery, the rich silver vein of Silver Island will stay there.

A reported treasure of several thousand dollars lies buried along the banks f Swan Creek in Saginaw County. The treasure is supposedly a logging payroll for one of the early day lumber camps. The money was being transported to the Saginaw area by water from the company’s southern headquarters. An Indian uprising caused the two men transporting the money to bury it in haste along the creek bank. As it was in the darkness of night, the exact location could not be found at a later date.

One of the landmarks given at the time was an old bridge. Remains of an old bridge are still in the area and are located about one mile south of the Crooked Creek Gold Course.

Big Beaver Island, in Charleviox County, was known in 1847 as the Kingdom of King James Strang. From 1847 to 1856, he was the leader of a group of Mormons. He was shot to death by members of his sect in July 1856, when a disagreement arose. That same month, a mob raided the settlement and forced all the Mormons off the island. The thrifty Mormons had accumulated several thousand dollars in gold which it is believed they hid on the island and neighboring islands before leaving.

King James had two outlaw brothers he had appointed as leaders of a band of robbers, who were to plunder the mainland, waylay visitors to the island and rob the mails. During King James’ reign, these brothers are supposed to have buried loot at the lower end of Big Beaver Island at a spot called Rock Mountain Point.

In the 1870’s, about one mile south of Fayette, in Delta County, a saloon was owned and operated by a man named Jim Summers. He also kept several women almost as slaves inside what was called the stockade. Eventually, a vigilante group raided the place, beat the owner almost to death and burned the buildings. The mob left Summer’s body on the beach, but the next morning it was gone. It was assumed he had revived and tried to get away by swimming and had drowned.

Rumors have persisted for years that Summers had buried a bag of fold coins near his tavern. This is highly possible because the Jackson iron Company paid its employees between $5,000 and $6,000 in gold every month, and a large part of it was spent in Summers’ saloon. As far as is known, the rumored gold was never found.

Douglas Houghton was Michigan’s first geologist. Between 1837 and 1845, he found gold on many of his surveys in the Upper Peninsula. On one of his trips with an Indian guide, he discovered a rich gold vein between L’Ance and Marquette. Several months later, while on another trip, his boat overturned and Houghton drowned. His body was found the next spring. Since he kept no records or notes of his surveys, the gold deposits were lost. All efforts to find his Indian guide failed.

Without doubt, this story contains some truth. More than $600,000 in gold was taken from the Ropes Mine in Marquette County, when Houghton found his gold lode. A spectacular specimen of gold ore from the Michigan mine in the same area was exhibited at the Worlds Fair in Chicago in 1893.

In Section 6 of Bloomer Township, Ionia County, on a hill between Vickersville and Butternut, the proceeds from several robberies are believed buried. Two brothers committed a number of robberies in the area. In 1910 they were killed during one of their forays. Before he died, one of them told the police the location of a large part of the money they had accumulated, but it has never been recovered.


Categories: Lost Treasure | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

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23 thoughts on “Michigan Treasure Legends……

  1. I really enjoyed this, thanks for putting this up.

  2. ada michigan 182o rick robinson buried gold pot cant find furhter information on this jon macvean

  3. zanderboy88

    I found some corrections that need to be made to the last story. It is in section 6 of bloomer township, but bloomer is not ionia county, but in montcalm county. Also, Vickersville is nowhere near butternut. Butternut and Vickeryville are on roads S Vickeryville Road and S Crystal Road bordering the east and west with Condensery Road on the north and E Carson City Road bordering the south. These roads from an approximate 6.25 square mile area with several hills in the middle of this block. A metal detector is needed to search these areas but I believe that it’s never been found. Any other questions, feel free to email me.

    • Even though I left Michigan over 30 years ago, I thought the locations and their proximity was strange. At least now I know it was not me losing my memories. I received this by Email so glanced at it and posted it. Thanks for sending corrections.

    • I know where its baried my dad use to tell the story but at the end of the story he sead theres only one man that can dig it up
      its betwene vickersvill and butternut on a home stead in a cow pasture.
      i would like to now the names sf the robbers to see if there related

    • The story is “a hilltop between Vickeryville and Butternut’, a distance of 5-6 miles. A topo map shows many prominent hills between these 2 towns. I map dowsed and got a great hit on a large hill. When I checked it out, it had been nearly bulldozed, probably just for fill dirt by a local farmer or land owner. The railway used by the trains that were robbed, used to pass thru the area but looks to have been removed.

    • Jeff Kilts

      Zanderboy88, I lived in the Greenville area for most of my life. I’d like to talk to you. Thanks.

  4. Nice Storys in Michigan History cool and fanatic

  5. tanny

    I left Michigan 35 years ago but this was an enjoyable read.. Thank you.

  6. Robert Bennett

    Mackinac island has no Sandstone cliffs… but lots of limestone

  7. Joe Walker

    Very cool story regarding Port Sheldon, Ottawa Co. I live only a few miles from there. Do you have a source or sources for your story? I’m assuming this was found in a book somewhere.

    • I do a lot of historical research, Treasure Legends, ghost towns are a primary. These postings are from my archival information…I have info on all lower 48 States by country in each State.

  8. Pingback: MICHIGAN MYSTERY: An Old Hermit's Buried Treasure on Higgins Lake Island

  9. Garry boblick

    Ive lived in Michigan my whole life mostly in the Detroit area and I’ve never heard of sugarland that was a cool story do you have any more info on it

    • I will see if I can find a bit more on it….

    • Sugar Island is a small island in the Detroit River between Grosse Ile and Boblo Island. Sugar Island is part of Grosse Ile Township, Wayne County, Michigan, United States, and lies about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) west of the border with Canada. Currently the island is uninhabited and was recently converted to a wildlife refuge by the US Fish and Wildlife service . The majority of the island is wooded and it is known for its white sandy beaches and easy access by boat.

      In the early part of the 20th century (c. 1900-1940), Sugar Island was the site of a resort park and large dance pavilion. Access to the island was by steam ferry, including the SS Tashmoo. Tashmoo met her fate on the night of June 18, 1936 while departing Sugar Island she struck a rock. She was able to land her passengers in Amherstburg, Ontario before sinking.

      For many years Sugar island was held in private ownership with plans to build a bridge and residential housing on the island. There were objections to this plan, mainly by environmental groups, as the island is a resting point for many species of migratory birds. The island was recently purchased by the US Fish and Wildlife service for $434,100 and will be made into a wildlife refuge. While the conversion of the island to refuge status is heralded by environmentalists and concerned citizens. However, there is a large population of boaters who will no longer be able to use the island as a weekend gathering space for sunbathing and partying. The island will still be accessible to hunters with in-season permits, as well as educational groups and researchers

  10. Greg

    Any chance you have any sources for the drummond island stories, anything related to them, or could elaborate any more on them?

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