By Doug Crowell
Blockhouse Investigations- Nova Scotia
Although the advent of photography brought with it pictorial evidence of drilling for treasure on Oak Island, there is precious little evidence to prove that the 1795 discovery of the Money Pit, or any other treasure hunting was carried out on Oak Island before 1848. We only have stories, starting in 1862, which tell of the early years of the treasure hunt. And, as we shared with you in an article yesterday, the McGinnis family story of the gold cross also has the potential to be evidence of early treasure hunting, if it can be verified or corroborated.
For decades researchers have been hunting for documentary evidence that the Onslow Company really existed and conducted their dig in 1803. Even the date of the Money Pit discovery is in doubt among serious investigators. Some accounts set the date at 1799. Some accounts say Sam Ball was one of the three discoverers, leaving out John Smith. Only one thing is certain among authors and researchers alike, and that is that nothing is certain about the early years.
The Onslow Company, it is said, was comprised of Simeon Lynds of Truro, Colonel Robert Archibald, Sheriff Thomas Harris of Pictou, Captain David Archibald and the three discoverers. No one has ever found, or brought forth publicly, any stock certificates, bills of sale, company ledgers, or letters to support that this company existed. We're not saying that it didn't exist. We're simply putting emphasis on how little can be proven at this point in time.
Blockhouse Investigations recently talked with Dr. Allan Marble, Past President of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society (1978-1982), current board member of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, and the founder and President of the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia. We sought out Dr. Marble, not because of those impressive credentials, but because, as author of ten books on various historical topics in Nova Scotia and the Maritime region, we knew that one of those books was about the Archibald Family. In 2008, Dr. Marble's in-depth research on this family was published in the book The Archibald Family of Nova Scotia. A very gracious Dr. Marble answered the burning question we desired an answer to; in all of his research for his book on the Archibald family, did he ever encounter any evidence that any members of the family were involved in treasure hunting on Oak Island prior to 1848? The answer was no, none.
We've examined all of the archived paperwork that we have found so far for the Archibalds and Sheriff Harris of Pictou (and his son, and grandson, who all held the same position of sheriff, one after the other) and have found no documentary evidence for the Onslow Company or their activities on Oak Island. Again, this doesn't mean it didn't happen, just that physical evidence is wanting.
So after years of searching, what have we found to support truth in the legend prior to 1848?
The answer is that we've found only one solitary printed mention of treasure.
Between December 28th 1822 and March 29th 1823, Thomas McCulloch, founder and principal of Pictou Academy wrote a series of satirical letters to the Acadian Recorder newspaper that related events in his town and province. In the fourth letter we found the following passage:
"...and not do like the Chester folks, who once dug for money, but got so deep at last, that they arrived in the other world; and falling in with the devil, were glad to get away with the loss of all their tools."
This mention of treasure hunting in the Chester area is thought provoking on several accounts:
While all these points can be related to the Oak Island Story, the mention of lost tools is of particular note, because many decades later, tools were indeed found below ground in the area of suspected old workings.
So there you have it. To date, we have one piece of published evidence, from 1823, that suggests that the story of Oak Island, as first related in 1862, may have merit. We continue to dig deeper, and haven`t given up on our quest to find the facts within the legend. Until then, at least a mysterious gold cross may give lustre to legend.
Good night from The Blockhouse!
From The Blockhouse
is published by Blockhouse Investigations and oakislandcompendium.ca
in Nova Scotia, Canada
Editors and Chief Correspondents
Kelly W. Hancock, CD
John Wonnacott, P. Eng.
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