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Stumbling across long-lost treasures in bizarre places

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Many years ago when I was just starting life, I had a problem: I didn’t really want to work for a living. I wanted to stumble upon a pot of gold that would allow me free time to pursue my interests.

Oh, I worked off and on at jobs here and there, but somehow I had it in my head that a regular job would hinder me in my other pursuits. A nine-to-five life wasn’t how I planned to make enough money to support myself and anyone I might meet in the future who would want to share her life with me.

Of course, it wasn’t easy finding someone who wanted to share her life with a guy who didn’t want to work for a living. (As you might guess, I also had somewhat of a problem with relationships.)

Well, I eventually worked through all that stuff and wound up with a real job as a teacher (I wound up in a wonderful relationship, as well). It turned out that I loved teaching and came to the realization that working a regular job for a living could be a good thing. I saw that living a nine-to-five existence in the work world did not necessarily mean I had to forgo my other interests.

I thought about my youthful attitude and how I was looking for a pot of gold instead of a weekly paycheck the other day when a friend mentioned lost and buried treasure. He told me of the stories he heard as a young boy growing up near Madison on the Ohio River. He remembered the stories and had investigated the legends. He invited me to do the same, so I did.

The story goes that two caches of gold coins are hidden on or around an old building on a farm about three miles from Madison. The old house was part of the underground railroad before and during the Civil War. The gold was used to help pay the people who transferred the slaves to their next stop on the “railroad.” It is claimed one of the caches is in a tunnel which was accessed from the farmhouse basement and the other is buried in a hollow near the Ohio River. Although he has a real job now too, I suspect a part of my friend still wonders, “If I tried, I just might find that gold.”

Many of the Indiana lost treasure stories feature criminal activity.

A popular one up in LaPorte County tells of mobster Al Capone hiding 2,000 cases of illegal whiskey in a cave on the shores of Lake Michigan and then blowing up the entrance. “Scarface” Capone was gunned down before he could make it back to collect his prohibition booze.

Chances are whoever finds that treasure will be getting a knock on the door, in the tradition of Eliot Ness, from ATF and IRS government agents.

Large sums of money might be found closer to home by a fortunate fortune hunter. Back in the 1860s the infamous train robbers known as the Reno Brothers fled to Canada with a posse hot on their trail, but before they left, they hid $80,000 from one train robbery and $98,000 from another somewhere near Seymour. They never came back to retrieve the money. Hmm. My in-laws live in that area. Maybe I should take a walk on their farm, just to check things out.

Right next door to us, near Mooresville, is the farm of John Dillinger’s father, where the wily criminal reportedly buried $25,000 from a bank heist. The problem is the paper currency, unless it was carefully preserved when it was hidden, probably is in poor shape after all these years. Still ...

I firmly believe I made the right decision back in the day to pursue a more traditional line of work. The treasure I acquired from teaching school is not measured in gold coins or dollar bills or illegal whiskey. I consider myself wealthy. That’s not to say, however, a little hike around my in-laws property wouldn’t be a good idea.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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