They were fast to sell the island, once he did pass on, so that makes one think that they had no further interest in pursuing the treasure. Could this indicate that they knew the treasure was already found, or could it simply mean that they had more pressing needs for the money the sale would bring, than they had desire to retain rights to any future treasure found? We have heard the stories of the chest of gold that the Vaughan's supposedly had, and know of the gold cross and the story of three treasure chests found, as told by the McInnis sisters in the finale of season three of the History Channel's Curse of Oak Island television series. We know that the story of the gold cross has been around for at least ten years, as Danny Hennigar wrote about it and his interview with the sisters back then. We have read John Wonnacott's story on the Vaughan family and their successful foray into the shipbuilding and lumbering industry.
What of the Smith family? Are there any indications that they prospered beyond expectations? John Smith lost his father as a young boy, and his mother remarried to Neal McMullen, who owned a lot on Oak Island. The family lived there from 1788 and onward. That places John Smith on Oak Island for at least 7 years before the discovery of the Money Pit. He purchased Lot 18 (the Money Pit Lot) in June of 1795, and the deed is written in such a way as to infer that a structure already existed on this lot, and stories say he used the 90 Foot Stone as part of the fireplace in the NEW house that he was building. The truth of the matter behind the discovery story is more likely to be that John, and his friend and fellow island resident Donald Daniel McInnis, and perhaps Anthony Vaughan, discovered the Money Pit while helping John move onto his newly purchased farm. Perhaps they wondered just what old Caspar Wollenhaupt, the previous landowner and wealthy Lunenburg merchant, had been up to on Oak Island? In any event, the treasure hunt had begun.
We do know that John Smith went from owning one four acre lot on Oak Island, to owning about nineteen percent of Oak Island, all of Frog Island, and lots on other islands in partnership with McInnis. Not bad for a farmer who started with just four acres, but not impossible if you manage your money right in that day and age.
So, are there any other indications that the Smith family prospered after the Money Pit was discovered? Maybe. We found mention, in a family genealogy for the Smith family, that John Smith's grandson once donated over 200 rare books to Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
This same grandson donated the funds to build a public library in Port Williams, in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, the area in which he had grown up (and incidentally the place in which Rev. Kempton had grown up during the same general time period). These donations perked our interest, as it seemed that this grandson was fairly well off financially, and he was a direct descendant from John Smith of Oak Island. Earlier we mentioned that John's mother remarried to Neal McMullen , after John's father Duncan had passed away. Well John and his step-father must have gotten along quite well, as John named his first born son Neal McMullen Smith (He honored his father by naming his second child Thomas Duncan). Neal Smith lived on Oak Island, but later moved to Cornwallis Township, in the Annapolis Valley, on the other coast of Nova Scotia. There he raised a family of eleven children, of whom Murdock Smith was the youngest.
We wanted to find out more about this Murdock Smith. The genealogy told us that he was a dentist in the Lynn area of Massachusetts in his later years, so we began to dig for information. Surprisingly, we found out that there was a wealth of information right under our noses, in the form of five old diaries written by Murdock Smith, curated by our local Kings County Historical Society. These were daily diaries kept by Murdock, chronicling his life on the farm and his studies at Acadia. The diaries follow him on his move to California and other travels. Though the diaries made no revelations about Oak Island, they provided us with information to further our investigation. Murdock Smith had the resources to travel and further his education, becoming the forty-second president of the Massachusetts Dental Society. The following biography was extracted from a 1914 publication titled "Biographies of the Founders, Ex-Presidents, Prominent Members and others of the Massachusetts Dental Society" as written by Waldo Elias Boardman.
So did Murdock Smith's wealth come from a life of hard work and diligence? We know from his donations later in life, from the library that is named after him, to his donation of rare books to Acadia University, that he was very financially sound. These donations could have been made possible by years of work as a prominent dentist in Massachusetts. There is the fact that he and his brother owned a farm together early in life to ponder. Did Oak Island treasure play a part in getting young Murdock off to a strong start in life? How much treasure profit could possibly trickle down to the eleventh child of John Smith's oldest child though? That is almost impossible to even guess at, even if we knew the treasure was real.
John Smith himself had fourteen children, the first of which (Neal McMullen Smith) was born on November 11th 1800, though sadly, eight of them did not outlive their father. One of them, James, died by accident on Oak Island on February 4th 1840 while carrying timber for some purpose.
As with everything Oak Island, there is suggestion of intrigue to leave you with in regards to this line of research. Remember those 200+ rare books that Murdock Smith donated to Acadia University? They were from the library of the Marquis of Hertford, who it seems was a prominent Middle Templar. If you look back at Page 128 of Murdock Smith's biography above, you will note that Smith himself was a Knights Templar. Just one of those odd coincidences? Maybe, but it sure makes us want to try and find out more about those books that were donated. Perhaps there is a clue to the Oak Island mystery tucked away in between the pages in one of those books!
Goodnight 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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