MONEY DIGGING ON MARTHA'S VINEYARD
This May 8, 2019 Martha's Vineyard Times article discusses old stories of buried treasure, real and imagined. Here's an excerpt -
check out the complete article online. -Editor
In 1833, newspapers around the country reprinted a story from the New Bedford Gazette titled "Money Digging":
"A few days since, three young men on the south side of the Island of Martha’s Vineyard were engaged in laboring in a field which was once an
orchard — two of them ploughing, and the other picking up stones at a distance. As the plough passed over a certain part of the land, the ploughshare
started up two or three pieces of silver coin, which were hastily snatched up by the holder and put in his pocket. His companion observed him stoop
and pick up something, and when the plough went over the spot again, seeing him repeat the movement, he desired to change situations with him.
"This was done, and he, too, reaped his crop; when each finding that the other was master of the secret, they proposed a manoeuvre to get rid of
the third person, so that they could divide the spoil without his coming in for a share. They therefore declared it best to leave off work that
forenoon, as it was nearly 12 o’clock, which was readily acquiesced in. What they obtained no one can exactly state — but it is believed not far from
two or three thousand dollars were excavated. This was divided between the two; leaving [out] the man in the field with them."
As historian Charles Hine later noted, "the story got out in due time." The original article reported that the treasure had evidently been
originally buried in a bag ("ascertained by pieces of cloth adhering to some of the coin"), but a footnote in an 1839 history book by William Dunlap
claimed that it was "a pot, containing $1,800, ploughed up in a field upon Martha’s Vineyard," and attributed the loot to the pirate captain William
Hines noted, "This is said to be the only case actually known where buried gold has been found" on the Island. But that was not for lack of
trying. There were lots of stories of pirates and other mysterious strangers visiting the Island to stash their wealth. An 1811 article in the
Boston Palladium reported that three men were sighted stealthily landing a longboat on the Island’s south shore at three o’clock in the
morning. They spoke broken English and were thought to be Spaniards, and they carried five or six thousand dollars in coins. "Every appearance
indicates them to be villains, who have perpetrated crimes of the deepest dye." They found passage to New Bedford, and vanished before they could be
detained and questioned.
To read the complete article, see:
This Was Then: Money digging
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Wayne Homren, Editor
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