Monday, October 4, 2010

Lost Gold and Silver in Bell and Breathitt Counties, Kentucky (Part 2)

(Breathitt County, Kentucky.)

Breathitt County is the location of the second Kentucky treasure I want to bring to your attention. Here's how this tale of lost silver and gold goes:

"Pete" Akeman's Lost Cache

Peter ("Pete") Akeman had been a Union soldier earlier in the U.S. Civil War, but by the Fall of 1864 he was no longer serving in the ranks of the Grand Old Republic. Details are scarce in determining whether Akeman had been permanently furloughed to Breathitt County, Kentucky due to injuries, illness, or other reasons, but one thing was certain: Confederate sympathizers in the County found his presence there irksome if not downright disgusting and disloyal.

Treasure Hunting

At some point Akeman picked up on the negative "vibes" coming his way and decided to take measures to protect both himself and his property, which was located within 3 miles of the mouth of a local stream known as Miller's Branch. Akeman armed himself and just in case, stashed over $800 in silver and gold U.S. type coins either near or underneath a large, flat rock that lay on a ridge behind his house.

(Note: This ridge is said to be an existing terrain feature that lies a scant 2 miles or so from the Barwick, Kentucky U.S. Post Office, somewhere between the communities of Jackson and Hazard. Most of this area is private property unless I miss my guess, so be careful about trespassing, blowing your cover, or getting caught digging up someone else's real estate. J.R.)

Confederate Partisan Rangers "Visit" Akeman

Although regular Confederate States Army (CSA) units were not likely operating in Breathitt County at this late stage of the Civil War, various and sundry Confederate "partisan ranger" irregulars probably were. If these Kentucky partisans were anything like their counterparts in Missouri (i.e., "Bloody" Bill Anderson, William Quantrill), they could be quite vicious and brutal in dealing with Union soldiers or sympathizers. By the way, much of this violent behavior was due to Union atrocities committed against their families and friends.

Eventually Confederate partisans in Breathitt County came to "visit" Akeman at his home. After a brief exchange of gunfire they captured Akeman, ransacked and burned his home, and depending on whom tells the tale, either strung Akeman up over a sturdy tree limb or bound him to a tree and set him afire, burning him to death.

A Small Part of Akeman's Cache is Found

Some years after the Civil War had ended a small group of relatives searched high and low around Akeman's property for his savings which they knew he had hidden prior to being murdered. On the ridge behind the site of his house, Akeman's relatives managed to find about $10 in silver coin and a solitary Quarter "Eagle," or $2.50 gold piece. The rest of Akeman's stash eluded them however.

So there you have it. Find Akeman's old home site and the ridge behind it and who knows? With a good metal detector and a thorough search you may turn up a small fortune (at today's prices) in silver and gold U.S. type coins.

Be safe and good hunting out there.

(c) J.R. 2010
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