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  1. #181
    us
    Jan 2010
    88
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    Connors had easy access to poison!

    Quote Originally Posted by FinderKeeper View Post
    Ya thats the same kind of bullet we found at our site. We found the bullets with the broken bottles against a large , large stone. It looks like target shooting. The whiskey bottle was just broken in a fire pit with other artifacts. We put it back together and the edges where sharp not melted in any way. So the bottle was broken after the fire was out then covered with 8" of sandy soil. I believe the solders where poisen at our site after the gold was buried then taken north ( away from our site and Dents Run ) to Bell Draft where they died. There was no gun fight . No One heard anything. Connors didn't rember where the bodies where at because he knew there was no bullet holes in the uniforms or bodies. Had the army found the bodies they would know there was no gun fight. When the bodies were found they could not tell how they died. Rember Casleton died a quiet death and if Connors could do the same to the rest of them he wins. This was the only for Connors to get rid of the solders and not make any noise to draw attention to the area. Connors did leave camp and if he went down the mountain to Dents Run (store ) he could of bought the posin then returned. The story about the 9 bars of gold found by DCNR looks to be a joke or DCNR got to the people that started the story and shut them up. Time will tell
    If Connors did poison the crew, he didn't get it from the store. I have hiked many miles in this area before around the same time of year this took place (late june -early july). Connors would have plentiful access to poison from the woods around him. There is a mushroom called "fly agaric" amanita muscaria and it grows everywhere in this area at the same time of year! Connors might have known this being a civilian guide! Below I copied and pasted more details of this mushroom from wikipedia!

    Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric or fly amanita, is a poisonous and psychoactive basidiomycete fungus, one of many in the genus Amanita. Native throughout the temperate and boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere, Amanita muscaria has been unintentionally introduced to many countries in the southern hemisphere, generally as a symbiont with pine plantations, and is now a true cosmopolitan species. It associates with various deciduous and coniferous trees.
    The quintessential toadstool, it is a large white-gilled, white-spotted, usually red mushroom, one of the most recognisable and widely encountered in popular culture. Several subspecies with differing cap colour have been recognised, including the brown regalis (considered a separate species), the yellow-orange flavivolvata, guessowii, formosa, and the pinkish persicina. Genetic studies published in 2006 and 2008 show several sharply delineated clades that may represent separate species.
    Although it is generally considered poisonous, there are no documented human deaths from its consumption, and after having been parboiled it is eaten as a food in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. Amanita muscaria is noted for its hallucinogenic properties, with its main psychoactive constituent being the compound muscimol. The mushroom was used as an intoxicant and entheogen by the peoples of Siberia, and has a religious significance in these cultures. There has been much speculation on possible traditional use of this mushroom as an intoxicant in places other than Siberia, but such traditions are far less well documented. The American banker and amateur ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson proposed that the fly agaric was the soma of the ancient Rig Veda texts of India; since its introduction in 1968, this theory has gained both followers and detractors in anthropological literature.[1]
    Last edited by orion024; Jul 01, 2013 at 12:57 PM.
    starsplitter likes this.

  2. #182
    us
    Mar 2012
    PA
    AT PRO- ACE 350-Pro Pointer
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    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Treasure I thought I read somewhere you ended up getting permission again or had some deal worked out about this site. Seems as though there are many of you with alot of information about this site.
    Say Hello to my Little FRIEND!!!!

  3. #183
    us
    Karl

    Jun 2011
    Quakertown PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by schieftain View Post
    The ambush site is at the county line. Some clarification is needed by Frank who found the gun parts there. I believe Frank termed this location the "ambush site" based on his finds?

    I don't think anyone knows exactly where the bodies were found. I think Frank was saying that they may have been found very close to where he found gun parts, (although I didn't see any springs in that specific area). The springs I've seen are a couple hundred yards west of there along the sides of the creek valley. Keep in mind that the crew that found the bodies didn't report them until several weeks later, having known about the gold, and spending that time to look around for it themselves. So who's to say they didn't move the bodies from where they found them to throw people off the trail? The location they described, "near a large spring at the head of Bell Draft", could have been a decoy. They supposedly gathered the bones (which indicates they were spread around a little?) and buried them. (I'm amazed that they reported the bodies at all!)

    In any case, if it was an inside job, you wouldn't have that many bodies. According to the best account I have, there were 8 horse soldiers (Privates), the Lt., the Sgt., Connors (guide), and 3 teamsters. Connors and 2 teamsters were sent for help. Assuming the Lt. dies of malaria shortly after (someone believes they found his grave nearby), you have 8 men: the Sgt., 1 teamster, and 6 Privates. 2 Privates had deserted with a local guide named Joe a few days before, taking 2 horses with them. Say half the patrol turned against the other half, you'd have 4 bodies. Which is what was found (skeletons of 3-5 men) by the survey party.

    As for horses and mules, if I were doing this, I would have tried not to kill the animals so I could use some to ride on, and some to pack the gold out. Two mules were found in 1866 being used by a local who found them wandering in the woods.
    OK, so you are saying that the 'purported' ambush site was near the county line, near those bodies? That sounds very logical, but I had thought that someone here had reported that the wagons were not found in this same area? If not then where were the wagons found and how far away from the 'purported' ambush site? This was my assumption that this area couldn't have been the original ambush site if the wagons were found elsewhere?

  4. #184
    us
    Apr 2011
    Philipsburg, PA
    Tesoro Vaquero
    47
    2 times
    Well, in "the History of Cameron County" 1991, Mary Skinner wrote that the bodies were found about seven miles from where Connors and the rescue party found the wagons abandoned. Connors and the rescue party are said to have ascended the ridge between the East and West branches of Hicks Run, and then they wandered around for a while before finding the abandoned wagons and several trails leading off to the SW. So it appears that the patrol did decide to off-load the wagons after Connors left, and ride out without the wagons. If there was foul play, it could easily have happened after they left the wagons. It would have been easier to hide any bodies in the woods with no wagons/crates/debris around as landmarks for Connors and the rescue party to find. So really, the last location of the wagons isn't that important.

    Someone did find wagon remnants much closer to the county line/ambush site back in the late-1990s. He took photos and measurements, and the parts matched the specs for an Army wagon of that era. But these remnants were about a mile or so NE of the ambush site, on the end of the ridge above Bell Draft. Perhaps this wagon was not from the patrol? Or perhaps the Skinner story is wrong? Maybe it was just a typo, maybe Mary Skinner misread her notes and saw a 1 as a 7. Not hard to do.

  5. #185
    us
    Karl

    Jun 2011
    Quakertown PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by schieftain View Post
    Well, in "the History of Cameron County" 1991, Mary Skinner wrote that the bodies were found about seven miles from where Connors and the rescue party found the wagons abandoned. Connors and the rescue party are said to have ascended the ridge between the East and West branches of Hicks Run, and then they wandered around for a while before finding the abandoned wagons and several trails leading off to the SW. So it appears that the patrol did decide to off-load the wagons after Connors left, and ride out without the wagons. If there was foul play, it could easily have happened after they left the wagons. It would have been easier to hide any bodies in the woods with no wagons/crates/debris around as landmarks for Connors and the rescue party to find. So really, the last location of the wagons isn't that important.

    Someone did find wagon remnants much closer to the county line/ambush site back in the late-1990s. He took photos and measurements, and the parts matched the specs for an Army wagon of that era. But these remnants were about a mile or so NE of the ambush site, on the end of the ridge above Bell Draft. Perhaps this wagon was not from the patrol? Or perhaps the Skinner story is wrong? Maybe it was just a typo, maybe Mary Skinner misread her notes and saw a 1 as a 7. Not hard to do.
    Good stuff! Deserters? Since there is a war going on the penalty for desertion is death, right? And if the Lt. is dead at this time does that mean Sgt O Rourke is in charge? Sounds pretty scary if this is the case from what I've heard about him. And I don't think I would put anything past the Sgt including going after and killing the deserters? Maybe these are the ones at the spring? I think a key component here is still the split of the gold? do you agree? After all, if this was an inside job, wouldn't this tell us how many took part in it and how many bars they got? If there's only four men left that means 6 1/2 bars each. That's a lot of gold to carry don't you think? some 300 pounds? But this is still four bodies unaccounted for correct? What happened to them?

  6. #186
    us
    Apr 2011
    Philipsburg, PA
    Tesoro Vaquero
    47
    2 times
    Quote Originally Posted by kudo623 View Post
    Good stuff! Deserters? Since there is a war going on the penalty for desertion is death, right? And if the Lt. is dead at this time does that mean Sgt O Rourke is in charge? Sounds pretty scary if this is the case from what I've heard about him. And I don't think I would put anything past the Sgt including going after and killing the deserters? Maybe these are the ones at the spring? I think a key component here is still the split of the gold? do you agree? After all, if this was an inside job, wouldn't this tell us how many took part in it and how many bars they got? If there's only four men left that means 6 1/2 bars each. That's a lot of gold to carry don't you think? some 300 pounds? But this is still four bodies unaccounted for correct? What happened to them?

    Desertion rates were pretty high back then. A lot of men figured "I volunteered, I can un-volunteer if I choose." If they were caught, the penalties were very severe, sometimes yes, I think deserters were shot as examples when it was a couple of men in a large company. (Read the book: "All for the Union" sometime). But these guys were far from the front lines, and who's going to go after them? They were really far from home as well, whether they were detailed at Wheeling, or Cincinnati. It would have been a long walk home.

    They deserted while Castleton was still alive. I would assume he sent O'Rourke and maybe Connors out to look for them, but probably wouldn't have sent them too far so they didn't end up lost or delay the mission too long. the Skinner account mentions that the local guide Joe, was drunk when they hired him, and the next morning he was gone, and O'Rourke scouted around and found him and dragged him back. So I'm guessing it would have been O'Rourke's job to scout around for these deserters as well. O'Rourke sounds like a real hard case, great at dishing out discipline probably, but not a great decision-maker/leader. I think if he, or anyone found the deserters they would have brought them back for the Lt. to pronounce discipline. If O'Rourke had trouble bringing them back, and ended up shooting them I think that would have made it into the story.

    If I remember correctly, each bar weighed 600 ounces, roughly 41lbs, so 6-1/2 bars was around 270 lbs. The wagons had been pulled by mules. 4 mules per wagon. I have heard that they were thinking about packing it out in saddle bags made from the canvas wagon covers. How much weight could a saddle bag made out of canvas hold? Maybe 2-3 bars if they doubled-up the canvas? A mule can carry roughly 20% it;s body weight. Say your mule is 1100 pounds, it can carry roughly 220 lbs. almost 6 bars. So figure each mule carries 2 saddle bags of 3 bars each. (I doubt they cared too much about overloading the mules a little in this situation). And each man carries a half bar on the horse he's riding. Or maybe they hid some of the gold to lighten the load, and tried to pack out less.

    Where did the remaining men go? That's the $10,000 question. We don't know if it was exactly 4 men left. Skeletons found were 3-5 bodies. So the remaining count could be anywhere from 3-5 men also. Did they just try to go home? Or finish the mission? Or get wiped out themselves by someone else? Or is the whole story a fable?

  7. #187
    us
    Karl

    Jun 2011
    Quakertown PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by schieftain View Post
    Desertion rates were pretty high back then. A lot of men figured "I volunteered, I can un-volunteer if I choose." If they were caught, the penalties were very severe, sometimes yes, I think deserters were shot as examples when it was a couple of men in a large company. (Read the book: "All for the Union" sometime). But these guys were far from the front lines, and who's going to go after them? They were really far from home as well, whether they were detailed at Wheeling, or Cincinnati. It would have been a long walk home.

    They deserted while Castleton was still alive. I would assume he sent O'Rourke and maybe Connors out to look for them, but probably wouldn't have sent them too far so they didn't end up lost or delay the mission too long. the Skinner account mentions that the local guide Joe, was drunk when they hired him, and the next morning he was gone, and O'Rourke scouted around and found him and dragged him back. So I'm guessing it would have been O'Rourke's job to scout around for these deserters as well. O'Rourke sounds like a real hard case, great at dishing out discipline probably, but not a great decision-maker/leader. I think if he, or anyone found the deserters they would have brought them back for the Lt. to pronounce discipline. If O'Rourke had trouble bringing them back, and ended up shooting them I think that would have made it into the story.

    If I remember correctly, each bar weighed 600 ounces, roughly 41lbs, so 6-1/2 bars was around 270 lbs. The wagons had been pulled by mules. 4 mules per wagon. I have heard that they were thinking about packing it out in saddle bags made from the canvas wagon covers. How much weight could a saddle bag made out of canvas hold? Maybe 2-3 bars if they doubled-up the canvas? A mule can carry roughly 20% it;s body weight. Say your mule is 1100 pounds, it can carry roughly 220 lbs. almost 6 bars. So figure each mule carries 2 saddle bags of 3 bars each. (I doubt they cared too much about overloading the mules a little in this situation). And each man carries a half bar on the horse he's riding. Or maybe they hid some of the gold to lighten the load, and tried to pack out less.

    Where did the remaining men go? That's the $10,000 question. We don't know if it was exactly 4 men left. Skeletons found were 3-5 bodies. So the remaining count could be anywhere from 3-5 men also. Did they just try to go home? Or finish the mission? Or get wiped out themselves by someone else? Or is the whole story a fable?
    OK, great! So I guess in this case all we got is two trails going in the SW direction? By splitting in two and going in the SW direction, away from Driftwood--which is 20 miles to the East? Can we assume at this point the Lt. is dead, the mission has been scrubbed and they are now stealing the gold?
    Also I heard that Pinkerton investigated this for quite some time and came up empty? How did they not find the bodies at the spring, or saw buzzards circling? Did they follow the trails?

  8. #188
    us
    Apr 2011
    Philipsburg, PA
    Tesoro Vaquero
    47
    2 times
    Quote Originally Posted by kudo623 View Post
    OK, great! So I guess in this case all we got is two trails going in the SW direction? By splitting in two and going in the SW direction, away from Driftwood--which is 20 miles to the East? Can we assume at this point the Lt. is dead, the mission has been scrubbed and they are now stealing the gold?
    Also I heard that Pinkerton investigated this for quite some time and came up empty? How did they not find the bodies at the spring, or saw buzzards circling? Did they follow the trails?

    Pinkertons found some gold hidden under a pine stump. Don't know if they were following trails or what. Don't know where this was. Pretty hard to see buzzards when you're below the trees. Remember, at that time, most of that area was still virgin forest. Ever been to Cook Forest in the areas where the old growth pine and hemlock is still standing? It was all like that. Very dark/shady on the ground.

  9. #189
    us
    I deal in reality

    Mar 2010
    Maryland
    XLT , surfmaster PI , HAYS 2Box , VIBRA-TECTOR
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    . To start with, I got the info on this from a guy that had combed the area with a moded detector for TWELVE YEARS of off duty time. He moved and gave me his info. I spent 2 weekends up there looking around. There path is marked by yellow blazes on the trees. The gold bar find area has orange blazes on the trees. I found evidence of logging at the area and the remains of the train bed that carried the logs.
    I had breakfast with the locals there and got the story. This guy was writing a book about the old fable of the gold bars. The forestery dept picked up on it and used the info in the book as a tourist attraction. They even had old looking maps made up and circulated them around. They even rent a cottage at the end of the trail. The story is full of holes. The officer in charge was listed as being stationed out west. There is no record of the gold shippment, etc,etc,etc.
    Frank...

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  10. #190
    us
    Karl

    Jun 2011
    Quakertown PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by schieftain View Post
    Pinkertons found some gold hidden under a pine stump. Don't know if they were following trails or what. Don't know where this was. Pretty hard to see buzzards when you're below the trees. Remember, at that time, most of that area was still virgin forest. Ever been to Cook Forest in the areas where the old growth pine and hemlock is still standing? It was all like that. Very dark/shady on the ground.
    OK great! So lets assume they found some gold bars under the stump on one of the trails. If they had enough mules/horses to carry the gold out what reason do you think that they would hide any gold under a stump?

  11. #191
    us
    Apr 2011
    Philipsburg, PA
    Tesoro Vaquero
    47
    2 times
    Quote Originally Posted by Frankn View Post
    . To start with, I got the info on this from a guy that had combed the area with a moded detector for TWELVE YEARS of off duty time. He moved and gave me his info. I spent 2 weekends up there looking around. There path is marked by yellow blazes on the trees. The gold bar find area has orange blazes on the trees. I found evidence of logging at the area and the remains of the train bed that carried the logs.
    I had breakfast with the locals there and got the story. This guy was writing a book about the old fable of the gold bars. The forestery dept picked up on it and used the info in the book as a tourist attraction. They even had old looking maps made up and circulated them around. They even rent a cottage at the end of the trail. The story is full of holes. The officer in charge was listed as being stationed out west. There is no record of the gold shippment, etc,etc,etc.
    Frank...

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    Just to clarify, I don't think you are the same Frank I was referring to earlier who found gun parts in that area. That would be sgtfda in Arizona. Hope there isn't any confusion thee

  12. #192
    us
    Apr 2011
    Philipsburg, PA
    Tesoro Vaquero
    47
    2 times
    Yes, there is an old logging RR grade there that goes up to the county line/gas line and past it to the site of an old logging camp. It was a spur of the Dent's Run RR and is now part of a DCNR trail. We found railroad artifacts there. The whole area was probably clear-cut around turn-of-the-century.

    The guy who was writing the book is the same guy who found wagon remnants and some other items. I have had several conversations with him also. Some people say he's the one who found the gold bar, but he denies it. He also believes he found the Lieutenant's grave, and claims to have something belonging to the LT.

    The officer in charge was supposedly living in Missouri before the war. The guide, Connors, was inducted into the Army and not allowed to be discharged. He was sent out west after the war, and died in Fort Yuma, AZ, in the 1880s. Photo below is from the Presidion National Cem in S.F. They moved the graves from Yuma to the Presidio when the fort was abandoned. Doesn't mean it's the same James Conners/Connors. That was a pretty common name.

    Yes, the story has holes, but also lots of small, seemingly insignificant details that are true. It's the big names and details that are wrong. Why would this be? Why would the big details that can easily be checked-out be wrong, and small historic details true? If someone was just making this up wouldn't you get your main facts straight and mess up on the little ones? It could be fiction, but somebody sure put a lot of detail into it. I think I can date it to at least the early 1930s. Anybody found an older version?

    Why would some gold be hidden under a stump? Maybe they tried to lighten the load. Take some now, hide the rest and come back later?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by schieftain; Jul 05, 2013 at 01:44 PM.

  13. #193

    Feb 2004
    Mesa Arizona
    2,300
    3715 times
    Before I started a search in the area I looked over a topo map. The only way you could travel in the area with wagons was to follow the ridge lines from Saint Mary's If you look at a topo you can pick out the ridge line. I searched the ridge line to a meadow east of Schaffer draft. Found a spot where a wagon was burned. From that point I searched SW to the county border. Then found the gun parts in that spot. Right where they should be according to the story. Keep in mind the were traveling undercover and would not be using military weapons. 2 gold bars were found about 300 yards from the spot I found the gun parts. I would say its the correct spot. If your going to search the area I would hit the hillside east of Bell Draft SW of the ambush site. It rough and rocky with plenty of hiding spots. I was told one of the men broke his leg in that area going for help with Connors.

  14. #194
    us
    Karl

    Jun 2011
    Quakertown PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by sgtfda View Post
    Before I started a search in the area I looked over a topo map. The only way you could travel in the area with wagons was to follow the ridge lines from Saint Mary's If you look at a topo you can pick out the ridge line. I searched the ridge line to a meadow east of Schaffer draft. Found a spot where a wagon was burned. From that point I searched SW to the county border. Then found the gun parts in that spot. Right where they should be according to the story. Keep in mind the were traveling undercover and would not be using military weapons. 2 gold bars were found about 300 yards from the spot I found the gun parts. I would say its the correct spot. If your going to search the area I would hit the hillside east of Bell Draft SW of the ambush site. It rough and rocky with plenty of hiding spots. I was told one of the men broke his leg in that area going for help with Connors.
    Thanks for sharing sgtfda! What's your take on the 2 gold bars found ? Were their mules too overloaded to carry just 2 more bars? Did the homemade saddle packs burst open from the weight? I think the reason why could be important in determining if more were similarly hidden? Good luck out there hope your enjoying Arizona-I hear only 10% of the gold has been mined out there?

  15. #195

    Feb 2004
    Mesa Arizona
    2,300
    3715 times
    The 2 bars were found sticking out of the ground near the ambush site. The finder tripped on one walking through the area. I think at least one mule ran off during the fight and a bag ripped open. A mule was reported found with US marking in the area. My old partner was shown the bars by the finder. They exist. Otherwise we would not have out so much effort into looking for more. Things are a little hot in Az right now. Was out in the Superstitions looking over some prospecting spots with my club the other day. 118 degrees.

 

 
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