Friday, March 13, 2009

The Redbone Cave Treasure

(Colbert County, Alabama.)

Welcome to Colbert County

Colbert County, like its home state of Alabama, has a long and proud history. The county was named after brothers George and Levi Colbert who, despite their anglicized names, were actually chiefs of the Chickasaw Indian tribe who operated a river ferry on the Tennessee River in the late 1700s.

Treasure Hunting

But we are not here to talk about river ferries or the Colbert brothers. We're here to talk about a vast storehouse of gold, silver, and jewelry. You see, Colbert County is home to the Redbone Cave Treasure, a vast trove of gold, silver, and jewelry that to this day remains unfound somewhere within the county's boundaries.

A Chickasaw Village Near Muscle Shoals

In the early 1700s much of what would one day be Colbert County was Chickasaw Indian tribal land. The few whites who entered the area were both mistrusted (mostly for good cause) and sometimes feared. Either way, the Chickasaws did not take kindly to intruders and often attacked them, ending up with their goods and possessions as a "bonus" of sorts.

In 1720 one unfortunate soul we'll call "Benjamin" decided to enter the area to hunt and trap. In short order Benjamin found himself trussed up like a hog and being dragged through the woods by a war party of angry Chickasaws. The Chickasaws brought Benjamin to their village which was located on the north bank of the Tennessee River somewhere near modern day Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Mining Equipment

A Vast Treasure Storehouse in a Cave

While the village elders debated among themselves just how to dispose of our boy, Benjamin was led to a nearby cave where he was untrussed and unceremoniously shoved inside. Left to his own devices while two warriors guarded the cave entrance, Benjamin explored his new prison. Fortunately, the cave was partially lit by a beam of sunlight that streamed in from an opening in the rocks and earth above.

The cave was small, but dominated by a larger central area high enough for a man to stand upright. When Benjamin entered this larger "room" his eyes grew as wide as saucers. There before him were stacks of gold bars and a number of wooden chests filled with silver and gold coins and jewelry, in essence, a vast treasure storehouse.


Likely No Treasure Myth

This cave, now known as Redbone Cave, became the focus of a treasure legend because our hero managed to escape from the Chickasaws, living to spread his tale far and wide to anyone who would listen. How Benjamin pulled that feat off is unknown, but the Redbone Cave Treasure is likely no treasure myth.

Why do I say this? Because in 1971 two lucky treasure hunters (who had obviously done their research) recovered a brick-sized gold ingot near the Natchez Trace Bridge in Colbert County. This ingot, due to its markings, was determined to be Spanish in origin.

Another, similar find was made by a farmer working a field near Smithsonia in Lauderdale County, Alabama. In that well-documented incident another gold bar or ingot was accidentally uncovered. This gold bar was also Spanish.

Part of the Redbone Cave Treasure Trove?

Many treasure hunters (and quite a number of Colbert County locals) believe that both of these gold bars were originally part of the Redbone Cave Treasure trove that Benjamin had seen with his own two eyes. Others disagree and theorize that these gold bars are part of another treasure trove.

Either way, 2 gold bars (probably of nearly 100 troy ounce weight each) have been recovered in or around Colbert County. And remember, these are the only recoveries that were publicized or brought to the public's eye. How many other recoveries have been made in the area by keen treasure hunters who know how to exercise Treasure Hunting/Finding Rule Number 1? (i.e., "KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!")?

Have There Been Additional Finds?

Have there been additional treasure finds in the Colbert County area? Yes, this is very likely in my own opinion. Where did the Redbone Cave Treasure originate? One theory is that the Chickasaws took it as loot in an assault on a Spanish column or payroll train. This is possible, but not proven.

Either way, Colbert County holds possibilities for treasure hunters willing to do a bit of research and then get out there and get dirty. Use caution in your efforts however, and please don't trespass or dig on private property without permission.

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Good hunting to you.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Spanish Treasures on Padre Island"

(c) J.R. 2009

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