Arthur Flegenheimer, also known as Dutch Schultz, was a New York City gangster during the 1920’s and 30’s. He was born to German Jewish immigrants Emma and Herman Flegenheimer August 6, 1902. His profession, organized crime, netted him a fortune before his death October 23, 1935.
Schultz’s gang related activities included practices such as boot legging alcohol, murder and running a numbers racket. Dutch Schultz had a long criminal history and was once declared Public Enemy #1 by the FBI. Rumors abound Schultz buried millions in Phoenicia, New York, in the Catskills region shortly before his death. However, to date it hasn’t been found.
It was while Federal Prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey was pursuing him on income tax evasion charges Schultz decided to stash his money. He had seen many others incarcerated, and when they reentered society, found their former territories taken over by rival gangsters. So he gathered up his millions he had earned in ill gotten gains and buried it somewhere.
Some say his treasure was all in currency, others say it was double-eagle gold pieces, while still others describe it as a combination of cash, gold, and jewels. The value of the hoarded treasure is also at question. Some versions of the story say $5 million, while other versions claim it was $7 or even $9 million. Whatever the amount was, it was supposedly gathered into tobacco sacks, stored in either an iron box or steel suitcase and hidden away.
Last Dying Words
It was only upon Schultz’s death the existence of this treasure was discovered. On his deathbed, a police stenographer recorded every word Schultz uttered between bouts of fever induced delirium. Itwas mostly nonsense, but some think there may have been a few vague, veiled references to his treasure.
When Schultz’s last dying words hit the newspapers it spawned as many versions of the buried treasure as there were stories of the Dutchman himself. Even while he was dying from gunshot wounds to the colon, liver, spleen, and stomach he refused to name his associates the men who shot him, or the whereabouts of his fortune.
A Mysterious Map
Many theories about the treasure evolved, most involving Phoenicia, and a mysterious map, supposedly drawn by another mobster, Lulu Rosenkranz, in case the location should ever be forgotten.
Several story versions place the location along Route 28 between the roadway and the Esopus Creek. Others believe it’s along railroad tracks leading into Phoenicia. Perhaps the most popular version is Schultz and Lulu Rosenkranz carried a steel safe to Phoenicia on an April night in 1933 and buried it in a grove of pine trees near the Esopus, with an “X” marking the tree under which they buried it.
A more detailed version of the events was revealed by a man over 80 years old who claimed to have first-hand knowledge of the day Schultz buried his treasure. His account has the treasure being buried the fateful afternoon Schultz and his gang were ambushed at the Palace Chop House.
According to the old timer Dutch and one of his men, probably Rosenkranz, stopped for lunch at the Phoenicia Hotel, in the center of town. Around one o’clock they left in a car got in a car, and drove onto Route 214. They proceeded north along the Stony Clove Creek for about eight miles, and hid their loot beneath a skull-shaped rock known as the Devil’s Face. They were back in Phoenicia by three o’clock. From there they returned to Newark…and the rest is history.
Another Phoenicia old-timer, Mickey Simpson, remembered Schultz well. He had his own thoughts about the treasure. “Sure,” he said in 1991, “Schultz might have buried his loot by the Esopus Creek, but if he did, it’s long gone.” Simpson was obviously referring to a number of serious floods over the years. “… and surely even an iron box couldn’t have survived them all. “Personally, I wouldn’t step off this porch for it,” Simpson continued. “It’s probably somewhere at the bottom of the Ashokan Reservoir.”
There are also local stories residents like to tell such as the elderly man who used to walk along the railroad tracks digging holes. When questioned about what he was digging for, he would simply reply, “Dutch Schultz’s buried treasure.” The railroad finally made him stop.
And a Phoenicia motel operator used to let treasure hunters dig on his property. However they first had to sign a legal document promising him a split if they found anything. He soon learned he wasn’t as smart as he thought he was. A particularly resourceful treasure hunter showed up one day with a backhoe. He dug dozens of holes and left without filling them back in. The motel operator abandoned the practice.
Schultz met his end on a Wednesday evening, October 23, 1935. It happened at the Palace Chop House and Tavern in Newark, New Jersey. A group of four well dressed men made their way to a secluded private dining room in the back of the establishment…Schultz was one of the four. After ordering drinks and dinner, the men began talking business. By 10:00 pm the bar and restaurant were empty except for the four diners, a couple on the dance floor upstairs, the bartender and a few employees in the kitchen.
Two men entered, one with a shotgun and the other brandishing a pistol. The two men made their way to the dining room, and opened fire. Three men at the table were shot and wounded. The fourth, the intended “hit”, was found in the bathroom. Schultz, and his three associates were mortally wounded.