Monday, February 6, 2012

$250,000 in Gold Coins in Piatt County, Illinois?

(Piatt County, Illinois.)

Like most other U.S. states, Illinois has its share of treasure trove legends, some of which are questionable and others that undoubtedly hold water. You yourself will have to decide whether the following "Prairie State" treasure tale is worth pursuing:

Army Payroll Location Point

Back in the early 1800s a U.S. Army way station was located near the community of Arthur in Piatt County, Illinois. This way station acted as the monthly payroll location point for at least a battalion of regular army troops which means that somewhere in the vicinity of $250,000 in gold coins was on hand to pay the troops on any given payday.

(Note: $250,000 face value in gold coins today would be worth many millions today, not even counting potential numismatic values. J.R.)

Needless to say, this amount of gold coin provided a magnetic draw for various criminal elements in the area. These n'er-do-wells subsequently banded together into a gang of heavily armed thieves, robbers, and murderers with the express purpose of stealing the payroll gold and killing anyone who got in their way.

Word Through the Grapevine

A few days before the next payday, the station master received word through the local grapevine of what was to occur. With help from a small detachment of soldiers the station master gathered the gold coins together and buried them a short distance from the way station itself and then prepared for the assault to come.

(Buried U.S. gold type coins form the basis for this potential treasure trove.)

The band of robbers attacked the following morning and after brief, but stubborn resistance, the station master and the soldiers were overwhelmed and killed to a man. In their rage at not finding the payroll gold, the robbers burnt the way station and outbuildings to the ground. Some say they also mutilated the corpses of the dead station master and his small detachment of guards.

One Thing Bothers Me...

Does this treasure trove exist? Perhaps, but it's obvious that additional research is needed here. A logical starting point is the history of Illinois in the early 1800s and, in particular, Piatt County.

Metal Detectors
Treasure Hunting

One thing that does bother me about this treasure tale is its overall lack of details except for the location. Were U.S. Army units stationed in this area in the early 1800s? Did the way station outside of Arthur, Illinois exist? Was the station attacked and burnt down? And so on...

At any rate, good luck and good hunting to you if you decide to take this one on.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Treasure Hunting Tips"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2012

Questions? E-mail me at j