Suwarrow Cook Islands Treasure Search
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Thread: Suwarrow Cook Islands Treasure Search

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  1. #1

    Dec 2003
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    Suwarrow Cook Islands Treasure Search

    Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 30 Sept. 1938.

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    https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/l...rRange&page=72
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  2. #2

    Mar 2015
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    Anchorage Island on swarrow atoll provides a beautiful and protected stopover for voyagers sailing from French Polynesia to the Kingdom of Tonga. Ashore, two park rangers live six months each year without re-supply.



    The island has a long history of treasure. Not one but three, perhaps 4?

    Kanacki
    Last edited by KANACKI; Nov 03, 2019 at 03:22 PM.
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  3. #3

    Mar 2015
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    Hello Jeff

    A good friend of mine Hardluck wrote about the treasure below.

    At the southern extremity of the northern group of the Cook Islands is Suwarrow Atoll. There is no continuous history of Polynesian habitation and therefore no traditional Polynesian name for the island. Its first recorded discovery was on September 27, 1814, by Lieutenant Lazareff, commanding a vessel of the Russian-American Company, for which the island was named.

    Different authorities give different spellings for this name; in addition to the two given above. Findlay spells it Souwaroff. Both ship and island bear the name of a Russian general, famed for his siege of Ismael. For many years the actual position was out making the atoll a hazard for shipping.

    Lazareff records finding no sign of inhabitants, but states that the islets were overrun by crabs, rats, and large flocks of birds. He does not mention coconut palms nor entrance through the reef or sign of past human occupation. 1816 newspapers mentioned his discovery. There is speculation that makes one believe that he did not visit the northern islets. But logically there is only one entrance and Anchorage island the main islet is next to the pass.

    There are legends of skeletons and stone walls and old muskets. Other legends persist about not 1 but 4 possible buried treasures on Suwarrow. There is much speculation that Europeans were certainly in residence over the previous several hundred years because Suwarrow is a true treasure island on which chests of coins have been found.

    In 1850 the Daily Alta, reported the American whale ship Gem loaded with oil, ran ashore. The captain and crew made their way safely to Samoa and later to Tahiti. Here the wreck was sold to Messrs. Hort Brothers.

    In 1852 The Hort Brothers finally sent one of their vessels, the Caroline Hort, to salvage the cargo of the Gem. The captain named Livingston Evans, not only did this to the considerable profit of his employers, but also dug up a chest containing of Mexican and Spanish coins estimated at the time to be worth $15,000, acting on information he received in Tahiti. In which Evans then discreetly retired.

    Later in mid 1855 another man a German trader from Apia Samoa acting on information he had bought for 20 dollars from a drunken beachcomber in Tahiti, dug up an additional $2,400, buried at the foot of a tree. The beachcomber has given the trader a map showing two locations of buried treasure. The Trader as hard as he tried failed in finding the second cache.

    Was these treasure caches related to the wreck of the Gem? Or were they from some thing else? There are persistent legends that stone walls, old musket and skeletons were found in the 1870's. But were these remains from the events of the 1860's

    Suwarrow was quite again until about 1860, a canoe containing seven natives (four men and three women) and an Englishman, Tom Charlton, attempting passage from Rakahanga to Manihiki, drifted to Suvarov. They lived on the island three months, eating coconuts, fish, birds' eggs, and turtle. Then they were joined by Joseph Bird and thirty Penrhyn islanders, landed from the Dart by Captain Samuel S. Sustenance, to collect pearl shell. He was to return in six months and pick up the lot.

    A short time later, the armed schooner Tickler, Captain Thomas F. Martin, from San Francisco, came by and landed a Frenchman called Jules Tirel, to see how the pearl diving progressed, while the ship went to Niue Island for a load of yams. Because of trouble between Bird and the natives, all three white men were murdered. These events were later reported in the British, Australian and New Zealand newspapers.

    In early 1860 Tom Charlton and another man had salvaged gold sovereigns from a wrecked schooner in the Scilly atoll. His share was about $3000 and it was never certain the fate of that money. Is it buried somewhere one Suwarrow?

    Adventurer and explorer of the Pacific, Handley Bathhurst Sterndale came to see Mr. Henderson after hearing of the firms expansion into the Pacific islands for trade. Sterndale had written several articles for the NZ HERALD about his exploits over the years as a trader.

    His article included information about how in May 1873, a young English sailor named Richard Chave, had become stranded on the small uninhabited atoll of Suwarrow for two years with his Penrhyn islander companion called Barney. Together they lived a 'Robinson Crusoe' type existence. Chave was rescued by a Captain Ellicott who's schooner was forced into the lagoon to repair damage he had sustained during a violent storm.

    Mr. Henderson carefully considered Sterndale's proposition of setting up a trading post and base on Suwarrow Atoll. It was well situated and could be used by small vessels to store the cargo of copra, shell, pearl and other commodities brought in from the other islands and atolls in the adjacent areas. Additionally, Sterndale's previous experience soon convinced Mr. Henderson that this could become a paying proposition. The partners agreed that Sterndale should become their Manager for the Pacific region and that he would be based on Suwarrow atoll.

    With the aid of the crew of the firms 85 ton brigantine Ryno, Sterndale put together the house in frames that they had brought with them from Auckland close to the beach on Anchorage Island, Suwarrow. They built a small coral wall in front to form a fortress and laid in the two cannons facing out into the lagoon to ward off unwanted visitors. Nearby they built a brick reservoir to catch rainwater and a long coral wharf out into the deeper water so vessels could load and unload provisions, supplies and cargo's.

    The operation began well and the partners in Auckland were well pleased with his efforts and organising abilities. An ambitious man, Sterndale convinced himself that he was now eligible to become a partner in the firm. This was disputed by Mr.Henderson who informed him that he was nothing more than an employee of the company.

    The dispute continued into 1876 and the partners decided they must end the matter once and for all and ordered Sterndale and his wife to return to Auckland on the first available vessel. He flatly refused to leave. By October, Mr. Henderson took matters into his own hands and dispatched the company vessel KREIMHELDA, under Captain Fernandez, with orders to sail to Suwarrow to bring them back.

    When they anchored off the wharf at the atoll, Captain Fernandez found Sterndale had barricaded himself, his wife and Chinese workers in the house. He appeared at the door, brandishing a revolver, and fired shots at Captain Fernandez as he approached the house.
    Retreating to the ship, the captain and crew placed the house under siege, firing rifle shots into the walls and into the water tank to try to force him to surrender.

    The Circular Saw Line brigantine Ryno was close by and arrived to find the position in stalemate. On board was a close friend of Sterndale named Captain Mair. Forbidden by the ships captain to leave the vessel, Mair slipped quietly overboard that night into the dark waters of the lagoon. He swam strongly for the distant shoreline, aware that in these waters lurked many large man-eating sharks.

    As he lay gasping for breath on the white sands, the faint sounds of a scuffle nearby caught his attention and he found a turtle digging frantically in the sand, having chosen this spot to lay her eggs. Hearing the sound of metal chinking, he decided to investigate further. Disturbed, the turtle scuttled away back into the dark waters, Mair dug around in the hole she had made with his bare hands. Finally he had cleared enough sand to see the dark outline of a rusty metal box, broken on one end, where necklaces and brooches in gold and silver lay in the sand in the pale moonlight.

    Glancing down he recalled he only had on his underclothes. He had nothing to carry it away in. Exposing the box, Mair dragged it along the sand, aiming to re-bury it at another spot so he could return on another occasion to claim his find. Into his vest he slipped a few gold coins and rings and having carefully noted the position he had re-buried the treasure, made his way to Sterndale's house.

    At first Sterndale thought it was some trick to get him out, but finally convinced of the identity of his night caller, opened the door and let Henry Mair inside. Mair was unable to convince Sterndale to surrender and the matter was finally brought to a conclusion when Captain Fernandez and his crew decided to smoke Sterndale out of the house with green pandanus leaves. Sterndale surrendered as smoke billowed through the small house. In the company of Captain Fernandez, Sterndale was placed on board the KREIMHELDA and she set sail for Auckland.

    Sterndale was later charged by the police with 'discharging a firearm with intent to kill', but Captain Fernandez spoke on his behalf in court, and the judge ruled the matter to be out of his jurisdiction. Sterndale and his wife left Auckland shortly after for the west coast of America where he later died suddenly en route.

    Henry Mair left his hoard on Suwarrow and continued to work around the Pacific islands. In a letter, dated 1878, to his brother Gilbert Mair in New Zealand, he wrote:

    "People have been talking to me about my plant on Suwarrow, but they all want the lion's share. I am not afraid of anyone finding it. A letter has been in my box for two years, to be forwarded in case I come to grief, giving an accurate description of the place, with the camp as bearings and distances from various points, so anyone with ordinary care could not fail to hit it......."

    The box was never to reach his brother. In 1881, Henry Mair was clubbed to death by the suspicious natives of Cape Lisbon, on the island of Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides, where he had called there as a recruiting agent on board the Schooner Isabella. His box and its contents were never found.

    The Island continued to attract treasure hunters in 1938 who searched without success. And in the 1960's Tom Neale a hermit lived there 3 times over several years. Visiting yachts continue to visit the island which is a national park today.

    Suwarrow is an perfect example of a treasure Island with a mysterious history of pirates, black birders, treasure hunters, hermits and murderous natives...Enough to wet the appetite of any would be modern day treasure hunter.

    Sadly during my two brief visits we never found a thing.

    Kanacki

  4. #4

    Jul 2019
    8
    21 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by KANACKI View Post
    Hello Jeff

    A good friend of mine Hardluck wrote about the treasure below.

    At the southern extremity of the northern group of the Cook Islands is Suwarrow Atoll. There is no continuous history of Polynesian habitation and therefore no traditional Polynesian name for the island. Its first recorded discovery was on September 27, 1814, by Lieutenant Lazareff, commanding a vessel of the Russian-American Company, for which the island was named.

    Different authorities give different spellings for this name; in addition to the two given above. Findlay spells it Souwaroff. Both ship and island bear the name of a Russian general, famed for his siege of Ismael. For many years the actual position was out making the atoll a hazard for shipping.

    Lazareff records finding no sign of inhabitants, but states that the islets were overrun by crabs, rats, and large flocks of birds. He does not mention coconut palms nor entrance through the reef or sign of past human occupation. 1816 newspapers mentioned his discovery. There is speculation that makes one believe that he did not visit the northern islets. But logically there is only one entrance and Anchorage island the main islet is next to the pass.

    There are legends of skeletons and stone walls and old muskets. Other legends persist about not 1 but 4 possible buried treasures on Suwarrow. There is much speculation that Europeans were certainly in residence over the previous several hundred years because Suwarrow is a true treasure island on which chests of coins have been found.

    In 1850 the Daily Alta, reported the American whale ship Gem loaded with oil, ran ashore. The captain and crew made their way safely to Samoa and later to Tahiti. Here the wreck was sold to Messrs. Hort Brothers.

    In 1852 The Hort Brothers finally sent one of their vessels, the Caroline Hort, to salvage the cargo of the Gem. The captain named Livingston Evans, not only did this to the considerable profit of his employers, but also dug up a chest containing of Mexican and Spanish coins estimated at the time to be worth $15,000, acting on information he received in Tahiti. In which Evans then discreetly retired.

    Later in mid 1855 another man a German trader from Apia Samoa acting on information he had bought for 20 dollars from a drunken beachcomber in Tahiti, dug up an additional $2,400, buried at the foot of a tree. The beachcomber has given the trader a map showing two locations of buried treasure. The Trader as hard as he tried failed in finding the second cache.

    Was these treasure caches related to the wreck of the Gem? Or were they from some thing else? There are persistent legends that stone walls, old musket and skeletons were found in the 1870's. But were these remains from the events of the 1860's

    Suwarrow was quite again until about 1860, a canoe containing seven natives (four men and three women) and an Englishman, Tom Charlton, attempting passage from Rakahanga to Manihiki, drifted to Suvarov. They lived on the island three months, eating coconuts, fish, birds' eggs, and turtle. Then they were joined by Joseph Bird and thirty Penrhyn islanders, landed from the Dart by Captain Samuel S. Sustenance, to collect pearl shell. He was to return in six months and pick up the lot.

    A short time later, the armed schooner Tickler, Captain Thomas F. Martin, from San Francisco, came by and landed a Frenchman called Jules Tirel, to see how the pearl diving progressed, while the ship went to Niue Island for a load of yams. Because of trouble between Bird and the natives, all three white men were murdered. These events were later reported in the British, Australian and New Zealand newspapers.

    In early 1860 Tom Charlton and another man had salvaged gold sovereigns from a wrecked schooner in the Scilly atoll. His share was about $3000 and it was never certain the fate of that money. Is it buried somewhere one Suwarrow?

    Adventurer and explorer of the Pacific, Handley Bathhurst Sterndale came to see Mr. Henderson after hearing of the firms expansion into the Pacific islands for trade. Sterndale had written several articles for the NZ HERALD about his exploits over the years as a trader.

    His article included information about how in May 1873, a young English sailor named Richard Chave, had become stranded on the small uninhabited atoll of Suwarrow for two years with his Penrhyn islander companion called Barney. Together they lived a 'Robinson Crusoe' type existence. Chave was rescued by a Captain Ellicott who's schooner was forced into the lagoon to repair damage he had sustained during a violent storm.

    Mr. Henderson carefully considered Sterndale's proposition of setting up a trading post and base on Suwarrow Atoll. It was well situated and could be used by small vessels to store the cargo of copra, shell, pearl and other commodities brought in from the other islands and atolls in the adjacent areas. Additionally, Sterndale's previous experience soon convinced Mr. Henderson that this could become a paying proposition. The partners agreed that Sterndale should become their Manager for the Pacific region and that he would be based on Suwarrow atoll.

    With the aid of the crew of the firms 85 ton brigantine Ryno, Sterndale put together the house in frames that they had brought with them from Auckland close to the beach on Anchorage Island, Suwarrow. They built a small coral wall in front to form a fortress and laid in the two cannons facing out into the lagoon to ward off unwanted visitors. Nearby they built a brick reservoir to catch rainwater and a long coral wharf out into the deeper water so vessels could load and unload provisions, supplies and cargo's.

    The operation began well and the partners in Auckland were well pleased with his efforts and organising abilities. An ambitious man, Sterndale convinced himself that he was now eligible to become a partner in the firm. This was disputed by Mr.Henderson who informed him that he was nothing more than an employee of the company.

    The dispute continued into 1876 and the partners decided they must end the matter once and for all and ordered Sterndale and his wife to return to Auckland on the first available vessel. He flatly refused to leave. By October, Mr. Henderson took matters into his own hands and dispatched the company vessel KREIMHELDA, under Captain Fernandez, with orders to sail to Suwarrow to bring them back.

    When they anchored off the wharf at the atoll, Captain Fernandez found Sterndale had barricaded himself, his wife and Chinese workers in the house. He appeared at the door, brandishing a revolver, and fired shots at Captain Fernandez as he approached the house.
    Retreating to the ship, the captain and crew placed the house under siege, firing rifle shots into the walls and into the water tank to try to force him to surrender.

    The Circular Saw Line brigantine Ryno was close by and arrived to find the position in stalemate. On board was a close friend of Sterndale named Captain Mair. Forbidden by the ships captain to leave the vessel, Mair slipped quietly overboard that night into the dark waters of the lagoon. He swam strongly for the distant shoreline, aware that in these waters lurked many large man-eating sharks.

    As he lay gasping for breath on the white sands, the faint sounds of a scuffle nearby caught his attention and he found a turtle digging frantically in the sand, having chosen this spot to lay her eggs. Hearing the sound of metal chinking, he decided to investigate further. Disturbed, the turtle scuttled away back into the dark waters, Mair dug around in the hole she had made with his bare hands. Finally he had cleared enough sand to see the dark outline of a rusty metal box, broken on one end, where necklaces and brooches in gold and silver lay in the sand in the pale moonlight.

    Glancing down he recalled he only had on his underclothes. He had nothing to carry it away in. Exposing the box, Mair dragged it along the sand, aiming to re-bury it at another spot so he could return on another occasion to claim his find. Into his vest he slipped a few gold coins and rings and having carefully noted the position he had re-buried the treasure, made his way to Sterndale's house.

    At first Sterndale thought it was some trick to get him out, but finally convinced of the identity of his night caller, opened the door and let Henry Mair inside. Mair was unable to convince Sterndale to surrender and the matter was finally brought to a conclusion when Captain Fernandez and his crew decided to smoke Sterndale out of the house with green pandanus leaves. Sterndale surrendered as smoke billowed through the small house. In the company of Captain Fernandez, Sterndale was placed on board the KREIMHELDA and she set sail for Auckland.

    Sterndale was later charged by the police with 'discharging a firearm with intent to kill', but Captain Fernandez spoke on his behalf in court, and the judge ruled the matter to be out of his jurisdiction. Sterndale and his wife left Auckland shortly after for the west coast of America where he later died suddenly en route.

    Henry Mair left his hoard on Suwarrow and continued to work around the Pacific islands. In a letter, dated 1878, to his brother Gilbert Mair in New Zealand, he wrote:

    "People have been talking to me about my plant on Suwarrow, but they all want the lion's share. I am not afraid of anyone finding it. A letter has been in my box for two years, to be forwarded in case I come to grief, giving an accurate description of the place, with the camp as bearings and distances from various points, so anyone with ordinary care could not fail to hit it......."

    The box was never to reach his brother. In 1881, Henry Mair was clubbed to death by the suspicious natives of Cape Lisbon, on the island of Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides, where he had called there as a recruiting agent on board the Schooner Isabella. His box and its contents were never found.

    The Island continued to attract treasure hunters in 1938 who searched without success. And in the 1960's Tom Neale a hermit lived there 3 times over several years. Visiting yachts continue to visit the island which is a national park today.

    Suwarrow is an perfect example of a treasure Island with a mysterious history of pirates, black birders, treasure hunters, hermits and murderous natives...Enough to wet the appetite of any would be modern day treasure hunter.

    Sadly during my two brief visits we never found a thing.

    Kanacki

    I know that this is an old thread but thought I would add the following.

    1. I have visited this and other of the Cook Islands some of them remain completely unspoiled....literally not a single bit of rubbish on a beach as far as you can see. No commercialism and the smaller islands are only accessible by yacht. There are a couple of Cook Islanders who live on Suwarrow and look after the place and Tom Neales old shack.

    2. I met a fellow sailor on my Cook Islands trip who had sailed around the islands a number of times and on one of them he took a chap from Rarotonga to Suwarrow and back again, he said in 1989 or 1990. Like all good things in the Cook Islands, he met the guy in Trader Jacks on Raro and the gent paid to tag along on his trip to a few islands, as long as he could spend 3 days on Suwarrow. Long story short is that the gent bought a couple of serious metal detecting rigs and spent his time on the easterly part of the atoll, Manu and Motu Tou I think. He did allegedly find a couple of heavily encrusted circular objects which he thought were silver coins but that was it, and they needed conservation which wasn’t possible on the trip. He apparently had no interest in any other parts of the Athol, and really didn’t want to share details of why he was looking in very specific locations. He did however keep in contact with the sailor I met to try and link up to get to Palmerston Island for a longer period of time, it contact ceased.

    Best
    Vicar

 

 

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