Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Remember When . . . Treasure Was Lost?

Who Shall be Captain by Howard Pyle

Is there anything more fun (especially when we're kids) than a treasure hunt?

Is there anything more fun, as we grow up and (some of us) turn to books for our adventure, than a story that includes a lost treasure?

Allow me to answer for you: nope. ;-)

My vacation book was one of Nora Roberts' latest, and I gotta say, one of my favorite aspects of it was the lost treasure. And would Titanic have been the same with the Heart of the Ocean in it? Nope. Whether it be pirate gold or a legendary gem, we folks love our bling and love the stories of trying to find it. Maybe we're not all out with our metal detectors, but come on--even if we don't actually hunt treasure, we love hearing about those who find it!

So it was fun to integrate a treasure into Circle of Spies, which I'll be turning in here in another two days or so. Best of all, a treasure people really are hunting today!

I don't remember the first time I heard about the lost Confederate gold. I suspect it was on television. Possibly that movie with Penelope Cruz and Matthew Connelly. Then an episode of Brad Meltzer's Decoded (the same show that inspired me to look up the Culper Ring to begin with) did one on it. They're the ones that pointed out it's not just about lost Confederate gold--it's about hidden Confederate gold.

In Circle of Spies, my bad guy is a captain of the Knights of the Golden Circle. The K.G.C. is a Southern secret society that boasted 300,000 members in the height of the Civil War. For most of those it was probably nothing but a social club, but to the higher was serious. As in, in regular communication with the Confederacy's President Davis, receiving instructions on how to undermine the North SERIOUS. And one of the things they were charged with--burying Confederate gold.

Yep, that's right. They hid it on purpose. Only, it wasn't supposed to be lost. And it wasn't just gold. These dedicated Southerners hid everything they would need for a second uprising after the Confederacy surrendered. Gold, yes. And clothes, rations, medical supplies, ammunition, weapons. You name it. There are supposedly caches of this buried all over the South. Booby trapped. And the maps--secret codes hidden in the landscape.

Folks have been searching for these burial spots for decades, and have found enough to keep them searching. How fun is THAT. So in my book, I posit that someone hid some of this treasure in my neck of the woods. In a cave in Western Maryland. Likely? No. But possible. And oh so fun to imagine. =) Because yeah, I love a good treasure story.

What's your favorite treasure story, be it real or fictional?


  1. We have a family legend my mom stumbled on researching our family history. When one of our Mennonite ancestors came over from Switzerland, he supposedly had some jewels in the false bottom of a trunk. But at the port of entry, it was discovered that the dimensions of the chest were not right, and the jewels were discovered and seized. He was then jailed and his lands were seized. This would have been about 1740's. I've done some reading to see if I could discover what situations, political or otherwise might have explained this odd story. It sounds like the governors of the times were often corrupt and pirates abounded. But why he would have been jailed and lands lost, I'm not sure, unless it was a faith/church issue separate from his jewel story. The reading I did seemed to point to the fact that when one governor took over for another, often lands promised to religious settlers was taken back, or they were moved elsewhere. And also, how a poor Mennonite immigrant would have been in possession of "family jewels" is curious as well. It makes me think that this line of ancestors was wealthy before they confessed faith against the Catholic church of Europe after the Reformation.
    My writer mind goes crazy!! :)