Cumberland Times-News

March 5, 2014


We, too, have our lost hoard of buried gold

Cumberland Times-News

— Who doesn’t love a mystery, especially when it involves gold.

Theories are springing up around a $10 million trove of gold coins found on their land by a Northern California couple who wisely have chosen to remain anonymous.

 One idea is that the gold was hidden by outlaw Jesse James and his gang in the hope of financing another Civil War. Jesse and his brother, Frank, were Confederate guerrillas. After the war, they shifted their aim from Yankees to banks, stagecoaches and railroads. The problem with this theory is that Jesse James died 12 years before the last coin was struck in 1894.

It’s also been suggested that the loot belonged to Charles Edward Bowles — a former Union soldier — who went by the name of Black Bart and was considered a “gentleman bandit” because he was courteous, used no profanity, asked the stagecoach driver to “Please throw down the strongbox” and on at least two occasions left poetry behind. This theory doesn’t fit either because Bowles went to prison in 1883, 11 years before the last coin in the hoard was dated.

Our region’s legendary lost treasure is that of “Braddock’s Gold,” said to be the payroll of British Gen. Edward Braddock’s army that was lost when he and about 1,400 men were waylaid and wiped out by the French Army on their way from Fort Cumberland — in what is now Cumberland, Md. — to Fort Duquesne during the French and Indian War in 1755.

What today is called Braddock Road in Cumberland was the first improved road to cross the ridgelines of the Appalachian Mountains. His men had struggled to build about two miles of the road when an easier route west was found through what we now know as the Narrows.

Some say Braddock’s gold was buried beneath a long-vanished walnut tree somewhere near the Youghiogheny River, possibly stuffed down the barrel of a cannon. One of Braddock’s officers was George Washington, and it was said that his coat was riddled with bullet holes.

The trove was said to be $25,000 in gold ... however ... there were no dollars in 1755. What today are our states were colonies of the British Empire, which counted its money in pounds sterling. $25,000 in 1775 dollars would amount to approximately $750,000 today.