The New Orleans Mint Treasure Buried Near Waveland

Tobin

Tenderfoot
Feb 10, 2020
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If you would like to publish this complete true story about 15,000+ 1861-o $20 gold pieces buried along Harbor Drive West of Waveland on April 15, 1861, let me know and I will send you a copy via e-mail to give your members a treasure worth almost a billion dollars on today’s market. Much better than digging up bottle caps and old pieces of iron.

thomasthoke@gmail.com
 
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SeabeeRon

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You posted about this almost 3 years ago in your initial post here, what has happened since then?!?
 
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Tobin

Tenderfoot
Feb 10, 2020
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The New Orleans Mint Treasure

by

Tom Hoke






Figure 1 - 1861-0 $20 Gold Double-Eagle





FOREWORD: The following story is about what took place at the New Orleans branch mint in January,1861. The first part of the series entitled “How the Mint Was Robbed”was published in the September 1994 issue of The Numismatist journal, pages 1263 to 1269. The mint was never actually robbed, but almost all the gold in the mint was selectively removed through a legal exchange of British gold sovereigns for United States $20 1861-O gold double-eagles. The second part of the series, entitled “New Orleans Mint 1861 Coinage Records” was published in the April, 2013 issue of The Numismatist journal, pages 53 and 54. Exchanges during January, 1861 were detailed, as well as gold and silver coinage records from the February 1, 1861 inventory taken at the New Orleans Mint. This last part of the series was pulled from publication in The Numismatist journal. Your author felt it was more appropriate to publish it where it might reach a larger, more diverse audience.





Just outside Waveland, Mississippi, Harbor Drive runs due north from the Old Spanish Trail (Old Highway 90). To the east is Bay St. Louis, and to the west is New Orleans. In 1956 a 99-year-old Choctaw Indian named Joseph T. Favre lived at the north end of Harbor Drive in the only home he had ever known along the intersection of Bayou Phillips and Four Dollar Bayou. The story he told one late afternoon was witnessed by your author, my brother Thad Hoke, and Thomas "Tub" Favre, his grandson.



The Ancestry website shows according to the Census of 1910, Joseph T. Favre was born about 1855. Regardless of his age, his mind was clear in regard to the events which took place one rainy evening at the start of the Civil War which began April 13, 1861.





The Old Man's Story



"I have lived here all of my life. When I was 7 years old, I was out in the woods one rainy night around the time the Civil War began. A wagon driven by a soldier in uniform came up Harbor Drive from the Old Spanish Trail, then turned off the road into an open area, and stopped." At this point, Joseph T. Favre, who was almost blind, waved his left hand in the direction of our home on 16 acres several miles to the south. He continued: "There were two men in the back of the wagon. They jumped out and began to dig a hole. When the hole was deep enough, the two men took something from the wagon and put it into the hole. A few moments later, they got into a violent argument with the soldier, and he shot both men. He got down from the wagon and put both bodies in the hole, filled in the hole with a shovel, turned the wagon around and never came back."





The old man's story was finished. He smiled at us as we sat mesmerized by his interesting tale of long ago. "What did he put into the hole?" I blurted out. "Did you go try to dig it up?" His answer was simple and to the point: "This spot was an evil spot, and it is a Choctaw belief to never go near an evil spot."



It was time for his grandfather to take a nap, so my brother and I thanked the old man and Tub for the story, and we returned to our home along Harbor Drive with thoughts about murder, mystery, and treasure in our fertile young minds. The event which had taken place in April 1861 was so realistic, we felt the story was told from the heart by a man who had no real reason to invent such a tale.





Treasure Is Where You Find It



The discovery of the Saddle Ridge treasure of gold coins in California, the gold and silver bars Mel Fisher pulled off the greatest treasure ship Nuestra Senora de Atocha which was located after many failed attempts, and the gold and silver coins from the treasure ship S.S. Republic prove treasure is indeed where you find it. J. Frank Dobie, author of Coronado's Children was perhaps one of the best authors of treasure stories. Yet these stories of success in treasure hunting would pale by comparison if the New Orleans Mint Treasure story proves accurate, and what was buried in April 1861 is found. The reason is simple: the gold buried was primarily $20 double-eagle coins minted at the New Orleans Mint in January 1861. These coins today would be valued at more than a BILLIONdollars!









Anatomy of a Treasure Story



In order to have a valid treasure story, you need to have a treasure, the identity of the person who took the treasure and buried it, and the location of the treasure. When I began my research, I had only an approximation (i.e., along Harbor Drive) about where something was buried in April 1861. I needed to figure out what could have been buried, and where it originated. The first clue came unexpectedly.



In 1966 while I was living in Quito, Ecuador South America, my mother sent an article with the headline: $1,300,000 in Gold and Silver Possibly Stolen from the New Orleans Mint in 1861. The article suggested a treasure, but it did not provide any clues to the identity of who removed it from the mint. I determined, once I returned to the United States, to research the New Orleans Mint, and to try to discover what happened in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War, and if something actually was stolen from the New Orleans Mint.



In 1994 I finally had time to focus on the treasure story once more. I hired a researcher at the New Orleans Mint, and I explained I wanted to know if there were any events which took place in early 1861 which might have allowed for gold and silver to be stolen from the mint, and I asked her to tell me who was in charge of most of the mint activities. Her letters suggested the Superintendent of Public Works for the New Orleans Mint, Johnson Kelly Duncan, was the most prominent name which appeared on most documents. She did not come up with any possibilities of stolen gold or silver, but she did provide one comment which proved relevant to the story told by the old Choctaw Indian man years before. She said in April 1861 the roads along the coast were inundated by heavy rains. The rains and flooding limited travel through Bay St. Louis, so the soldier in the wagon could only stop and bury the gold and silver somewhere along the Old Spanish Trail, maybe Harbor Drive, and he had to have come from New Orleans. But what was stolen? What was buried? Who was the soldier?





Source Documents in the National Archives



One of the main sources for information in regard to the New Orleans Mint in 1861 was the National Archives in Ft. Worth, Texas. I traveled to Ft. Worth to review the Register of Gold Bullion, Coins & Jewelry Received from 1850-60, the only records in a book called the Gold Book.







Figure 2 - The Gold Book


As I looked at the cover for the Gold Book, something bothered me. Something was wrong. One confusion point turned out to be the date entered on the cover of the Gold Book. It indicated the Gold Book was a register of gold bullion, coins, and jewelry received at the New Orleans Mint from 1850 to 1860, and I was primarily interested in what happened in January 1861, while the United States Government was still in charge of the mint.








Figure 3 – Label on Front Cover of the Gold Book







Opening the Gold Book, it was readily apparent, the person who kept the ledger had a beautiful script handwriting, and every event was entered precisely and accurately, except the book contained the records for January 1861, and they were entered incorrectly as “January 1860.”







i​



Figure 3 – First Page Incorrectly Showing the Date as January 2, 1860







Whether this created confusion over the amount of gold double-eagles minted at the New Orleans Mint in January, 1861 or not is unclear, but certainly it is a strange error in an otherwise accurate and detailed account of every ounce of gold exchanged at the New Orleans Mint, and it may have been the reason the label on the cover of the ancient book incorrectly indicated the book only covered the period through January, 1860. The second page corrected the error, showing January 5, 1861.








Figure 4 – Second Page Correctly Shows the Date January 5, 1861


During prior research I ran across an article which suggested something might have been stolen from the New Orleans mint by a Confederate Officer working through the Citizens' Bank of New Orleans.



As I read in the Gold Book about exchanges of gold during January, 1861, I noticed a representative of Citizens' Bank had come into the New Orleans mint in January, 1861, and each time had plunked down thousands and thousands of British gold sovereigns in exchange for gold in the mint. It was also apparent perhaps the same person had represented the Bank of Louisiana, because identical huge amounts of British gold sovereign coins also were exchanged by the Bank of Louisiana. The reason these transactions stood out was because in all of 1860, and for most of the recorded history indicated in the Gold Book, very few sovereigns were exchanged, and suddenly they were flooding into the mint 5,000 at a time.



The only gold coin minted at the New Orleans mint in January 1861 was a $20 gold double-eagle. Three die sets had arrived from Philadelphia in late December 1860, and according to available information only one set of dies was used, and mintage records supposedly show 5,000 gold double-eagles were minted in January 1861 by the United States Government.



The publication: OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE CONVENTION OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA published in New Orleans in 1861 described in minute detail all the events leading to the takeover of the United States Mint by the State of Louisiana following succession. The publication describes an inventory taken of all mint property on February 1, 1861. The gold and silver coins in the Sub-Treasurer's vault were valued at $483,983.98. How many of the coins were gold and how many were silver was not indicated.







Figure 5 - Official Journal of the Proceedings of the 1861 Convention

of the State of Louisiana



One of my researchers in Maryland who was checking out the only other archived source of information for the New Orleans mint in 1861 discovered a letter sent by A. J. Guirot, Sub-Treasurer at the New Orleans mint to U. S. Treasurer William Price on February 13, 1861. The letter showed the balance of gold and silver coins transferred from the U.S. Depository at New Orleans to the State of Louisiana. The text of a letter in the National Archives Center in Maryland showed the $483,983.98was composed of $308,771.00 in gold coins, and $175,242.98 in silver coins. It also showed $306,592.82 was subject to disbursement offers, and that amount had been set aside for later distribution.



Coin books indicate the United States Government produced 330,000 silver half dollars in January 1861 during the final month of operation before the state of Louisiana took possession, so the amount of silver on hand during the inventory verifies this was possibly correct. But the total amount of gold on hand was $308,771.00 which equates to 15,438 $20 gold double-eagles, not 5,000 as indicated in coin books. Not only were the records incorrect for the gold produced, but it was noted in the letter Guirot sent to Price that $306,592.82 was already spoken for and set aside for an officer of the mint who had previously exchanged foreign gold in the mint and not been paid yet.



It is interesting to note the OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE CONVENTION OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA confirmed this data by stating near the end of the convention:



"Be it ordained by the People of the State of Louisiana, in Convention assembled, That the State depositary of said funds be, and he is hereby authorized to pay all drafts drawn to the legitimate course of disbursement, by the disbursing officers of the United States, on the funds heretofore deposited in the Sub-Treasury of the United States at New Orleans, to the credit of such officers respectively: Provided that no draft shall be paid except out of the balance standing to the credit of the officer drawing the same; and, provided further, that the aggregate amount of drafts hereby authorized to be paid shall not exceed the sum of three hundred and six thousand, five hundred and ninety-two dollars and eighty cents.($306,592.80.)"



This represented almost all the gold in the mint, and the implication the balance would be paid to the credit of the officer indicates only one person who was an officer of the mint would be receiving the gold coins in exchange for the tens of thousands of gold British sovereigns previously deposited in the mint by a representative of Citizens' bank and possibly, Bank of Louisiana. Because of the chaos caused by Succession and the looming Civil War, this payment was delayed until April 1861.



Most of the 1861-O $20 gold double-eagles in existence (approximately 165) show a dropout in the bottom of the 8, 6, and 1 on the date. Previously it was thought these coins were minted later by the Confederate states. This dropout was possibly caused by the sudden increase in production during January 1861 as the mint stamped out 15,000+ gold coins, not 5,000. The first coins were perfect, but more than likely the exchanged British gold sovereigns were used to produce a large quantity of the $20 gold coins, and the British sovereigns contained a different composition, which may have affected the date 1861, causing it to drop out. These were the coins in the sub-Treasurer's vault when the inventory was taken, and all but 108 of the coins were already set aside for the person from the Citizens' Bank and Bank of Louisiana who had exchanged foreign gold sovereign coins for United States $20 gold double-eagles.











Citizens' Bank Records, University of Texas, Austin






Citizens' Bank records from 1861 are difficult to read, but at the University of Texas a small pamphlet at the end of the mostly blank microfilm shows on April 15, 1861 Citizens' Bank gave$250,000 to a Confederate Officer. They didn't loan the $250,000....they gave it. This possibly may have been part of the gold buried about the same time along Harbor Drive some 45 miles away. Another part possibly came from the Bank of Louisiana. It is estimated 15,330 $20 gold double-eagles were taken from New Orleans to Harbor Drive and buried.



But wait a minute! Who was the Confederate Officer, and how do you prove he ever traveled along the Old Spanish Trail to Mississippi? This is where the story gets a little bit weird, to say the least. In my original Numismatist Journal article written in 1994, I had suggested Johnson Kelly Duncan, the Superintendent for Public Works at the New Orleans Mint, was the most likely person to take the gold from the mint to Harbor Drive. What I did not know in 1994 was my deduction had already been confirmed and set in concrete 14 years before!



In a very strange twist of events, while I was looking for a link between the New Orleans Mint and Harbor Drive, what I did not understand was my story was already completed. My home telephone rang one day. The caller on the other end was a great-great relative of Johnson Kelly Duncan, the man I had originally pinpointed. The relative was calling from New Orleans. I was dumbfounded. The voice on the other end of the line only wanted to know one thing: where did I used to live on 16 acres along Harbor Drive. I explained I would send a picture by e-mail, and the conversation ended. I sent a picture of our two-story home which was south of where the old Choctaw Indian man had lived and in the general direction where he had waved his hand when he explained how something was buried in April 1861.



My e-mail reply from Duncan's relative simply blew me away: That was the home we bought in 1980. Immediately I recalled going by our old place in about 1980, and my father and I discussed how strange it was there were high fences and private property no trespassing signs all over the place. "Maybe they are looking for something?" my father suggested.



The New Orleans Mint Treasure story had come full circle, almost, and the anatomy of a treasure story had everything needed: a validated treasure source, the person who possibly transported the treasure, and the place where it was buried. I say almost because there is a final part to the story which explains precisely where the New Orleans Mint Treasure may be located.





The Rest of the Story



My father was a geologist. One day, when we lived on Harbor Drive on our 16 acres, he wandered over to watch as a bulldozer was cutting in a driveway for a home to be built on one of the Bayou Phillips waterfront lots just south of our property. The bulldozer operator struck something in the ground and couldn't move it. He tried several times. His machine could easily move a tree or a large stone, but the object he hit was not yielding. My father suggested: "Why don't you just move over a foot or two and cut in the driveway?" This is what the bulldozer operator did, and he waved thanks to my father. Later my father said with a twinkle in his eye: "You know, this is sandy soil, and there are no big rocks to move. Maybe what he was trying to move was a meteorite? Or perhaps, just perhaps, it was something else?








Figure 6 – Old Spanish Trail (Highway 90) Just to the South.

Something else is possibly located along 8th avenue west of Harbor Drive. The entire area was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. A Google Earth photo of the area shows most of the houses along 8th street (our 16- acre homesite was just to the North of 8th street along the bayou), have been wiped off the map. But somewhere along Harbor Drive, be it 8th or 7th or 6th avenue, there are possibly 15,000+ $20 gold double-eagles 1861-O coins waiting for YOU to come dig them up.

 
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Tobin

Tenderfoot
Feb 10, 2020
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Nothing! You have many members who live nearby Harbor Drive, but I guess they are not interested in the research and history of this amazing true story. No one else has discovered all those British sovereigns that flooded into the New Orleans mint in January, 1861 were traded legally for almost all the gold in the mint.

It would be a simple, pleasurable, rewarding trip to check along the remains of the driveways along 8th avenue in the Bayou Philip estates.

If anyone will take the time and effort to research what I have written,
they might understand better.

Regards to all.


Tom
 
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Tobin

Tenderfoot
Feb 10, 2020
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Nothing! You have many members who live nearby Harbor Drive, but I guess they are not interested in the research and history of this amazing true story. No one else has discovered all those British sovereigns that flooded into the New Orleans mint in January, 1861 were traded legally for almost all the gold in the mint.

It would be a simple, pleasurable, rewarding trip to check along the remains of the driveways along 8th avenue in the Bayou Philip estates.

If anyone will take the time and effort to research what I have written,
they might understand better.

Regards to all.


Tom
 
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T

Tobin

Tenderfoot
Feb 10, 2020
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Here are two explicit photos of the area where I think The New Orleans Mint Treasure is buried along Harbor Drive just West of Waveland. Harbor runs North from OST.
 

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rogueaviation

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Tom,
Thanks for all the information. All the numbers seem to check out, and all the geospatial intelligence looks good, as far as I can tell.
Hopefully, one of us here can get out there and see if it's still in the ground.
What's the chances the fence and the "get off my land" warning years ago have left anything for us to find?
--Matt
 

MikePistons

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Sep 25, 2021
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This is the first I've ever heard of this. Is there a link to more information?
 

rogueaviation

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This is the first I've ever heard of this. Is there a link to more information?
There's an Amazon Book, but the author will send it to you, if you ask real nice! 😉😉😉

Also, this story has a definite ring of truth to it. It passes a few of the checks that you'd ask to verify credibility, for sure.

Charles Garrett would go after this one if he were still around!!!

I talked with the author, and the first hand testimony alone is really good on this cache story.

--Matt
 

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