By Doug Crowell
Recent episodes of History Channel's popular television show, Curse of Oak Island, have highlighted former island resident Samuel Ball and his various land holdings. One of these holdings has caused many people to ask, "Where is Hook Island?" You will not find it on current maps of Mahone Bay in Nova Scotia, but it is not located very far from Oak Island.
It is a small island of about 3 acres, located only a half mile off the main land of Western Shore.
Formerly owned by Daniel Vaughan (the same Vaughan family as co-Money Pit discoverer Anthony Vaughan Jr.), he sold Hook island to Samuel Ball, labourer, on March 13th 1790, as shown in the following entry in the Registry of Deeds:
As you can see in the record above, Ball paid five pounds for the island, which Daniel describes thusly, "my island situated, laying and being on the west side of Mahone Bay,in the Township of Chester described and known by the name Hook Island."
Many years later, on December 14th 1845, Samuel Ball passed away. His will left his estate to his servant Isaac Butler, and provided for the care of Sam's widow and a Mrs. Best. The story of Sam's will is very interesting and it stipulated that Isaac Butler must change his last name to Ball in order to inherit Sam's land. Whether Isaac did this or not is unclear, but he did take possession of Sam's land holdings because we pick up on the trail of Hook Island almost 40 years later when Isaac Butler (not Isaac Ball) sells Hook island to Archibald Rafuse on May 30th 1884.
In the deed transfer record, Isaac describes Hook Island as "that certain island in Chester Bay known as Hook Island situated near the Western Shore and containing three acres more or less".
Then Hook Island disappears. You can no longer find Hook Island on a map of Mahone Bay. Did it erode away over time? No. Was it renamed? Yes. What is the new name by which Hook Island is now known? You will likely shake your head and proclaim how obvious it should have been, for you can easily see the former Hook Island directly off the South Shore Cove of Oak Island. Only now it is known as Sam's Island.
So how can we be sure that this is the Hook Island Samuel Ball owned (other than it now seemingly being named after him)? The only record we can find of Archibald Rafuse selling an island is in this deed record:
As you can see from the segments of a lengthy deed record above, Archibald Rafuse sold to Anslom Rafuse "that certain island in Chester Bay in said county, known as Sam's Island and which said island lies to the east of lands of Albert Shupe and Edmond Shupe about one half mile from the mainland and containing three acres more or less."
We believe it is certain that the Sam's Island mentioned here was formerly Hook Island, and that it simply became known as Sam's Island to the locals for obvious reasons. There is no doubt that the description matches Hook Island, and the chain of custody of the land went from Sam Ball to Isaac Butler to Archibald Rafuse. Sometime during the ten years that Archibald owned Hook Island, the name was likely dropped in favour of calling it by the name of its former owner, who likely had some notoriety by that time from living on "Treasure Island".
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
By Doug Crowell
As recent episodes of the Curse Of Oak Island television show focus on exploring a cavity in the bedrock under the Money Pit area, we have taken a look at other cavities that have been encountered in the Oak Island area in the past.
Forty-Two years ago, George Young, a project manager for a firm of engineering consultants, was overseeing the installation of a sewer system for the Western Shore area adjacent to Oak Island in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, when an intriguing discovery was made. On the afternoon of October 28th, 1975, while attempting to dig a sixteen foot deep hole, thirty feet above the high tide line, near the current marina at the Atlantica Hotel, they struck bedrock only 7 feet below the beach's surface. That would not be deep enough to install the necessary pumping station, so surveyor Christopher Masland informed Young of the situation. They examined the flat smooth surface at the bottom of the ten foot wide hole and decided to try hitting it with the teeth of the excavator's bucket. To their surprise, it broke through, creating a hole about three feet in diameter, revealing a fifty-two foot deep cavity.
When the cavity was first opened, fresh water filled the cavity to within six feet of the opening. Over the next couple of days, as they worked to relocate the pumping station, it was noticed that the water level was rising in the newly discovered cavity, until it had overflowed the opening, and created a fast flowing brook down the beach to the salt water. Young decided to use two large pumps to drain the water from the cavity, but after a full day of operation, the water level was only lowered back to its original level, 6 feet below the opening of the cavity.
One of the workers, Garry Weisner, volunteered to be lowered down into the cavity to examine it with a flashlight. As Weisner described the cavity, Young made notes of the observations. He wrote:
"With his back towards the sea, the roof curved behind him until it became vertical almost four feet from him. To his right and left the wall curved downwards in a similar nature about four feet on either side, making the cavern about nine and a half feet wide at that point. The walls seemed to widen in an arc, so that they faded from his lighted vision, and in his estimation extended more than thirty feet below the hillside!"
Danny Hennigar, another employee on the crew, offered to explore the cavity in his diving gear, but after careful consideration, George Young decided that it was too dangerous, a decision he would later come to regret. As he learned more about the history of the area, and what he believed may be its possible connections to the ancient world, he realized that they had missed their one chance to explore the cavity for ancient archeological artifacts, as the cavity had been filled in with 660 yards of gravel, a steel reinforced concrete pad placed over the opening, and the seven feet of beach gravel put back over the pad. We can't help but observe that this description is very reminiscent of Dan Blankenship's "hidden shaft" discovery on Oak Island's south shore, during his time working with Robert Dunfield. Dan too broke into a domed cavity, many feet below the surface of the beach. He theorized that someone in the past had tunneled in from the side and then dug upwards.
Mr. Young also wrote that they encountered another 12 foot deep cavity on the Marina road, 120 feet away from the first one. In fact, the area along the mainland coastline near Oak Island is dotted with 'cave-in pits'. So what did Mr. Young make of these pits, and those found on Oak Island? After four years of researching the early history of North America, ancient languages, ancient tide levels, and land formations, Young came to believe that around the year 400 B.C., trans-Atlantic seafaring was routine, and visitation to the New World, then called Asqasamal, was common place. During this time a small group of settlers from Libya, whose heritage was a mix of Phoenician and Greek, came to Mahone Bay, and took advantage of the numerous limestone caves, formed by erosion due to ground waters, in the area of Oak Island. Young believed that these settlers, over time, dug tunnels between the various caverns, and shafts to the surface to ventilate their underground systems. Then sometime around 260 B.C., contact ceased with the old world, likely due to the destruction of the Carthaginian fleet by the time the First Punic War was over. If you note in Young's Mahone Bay map illustration above Oak Island and Frog Island were part of the mainland at this period in time.
Mr. Young then suggests that Mahone Bay was next visited in 470 A.D., by Coptic refugees from the Mediterranean. Young believed that this small group of refugees came with a small flat stone bearing an early Christian inscription which read "The people will perish in misery if they forget the Lord, alas. The Arif, he is to pray for an end or mitigation to escapecontagion of plague and winter hardship." This of course, is Oak Island's 90 Foot Stone, and it's mysterious inscription which had been recently translated by Dr. Barry Fell of Havard University from a copy of the inscription supposedly made by an unknown person in the past. Fell believed the inscription to be in Libyan script, of Libyan-Arabic dialect. As you can see in this illustration from George Young's book "Ancient Peoples and Modern Ghosts", a variation of the Kempton Cipher is shown upside down, and with a different intreperation of the symbol shapes.
Young goes on to write that it is not known how long these people stayed in the Oak Island area, but the 90 foot stone, similarities to their language found in the Mi'kmaq language, and other Egyptian artifacts found along the rivers and coastlines of North America are evidence of their past presence. The next significant event in Oak Island history, according to Young, happened in 1384, when a large group landed on the island with the purpose of hiding something of great value. At this time, the tides would have been 8.3 feet below 1980's levels. Young suggests that this group, likely Norsemen, constructed the Money Pit and its flood tunnels by repurposing the dwellings created by the earlier groups. In the process, they utilized the 90 Foot Stone as a marker of some type in hiding the "treasure". It was this group who Young believed created the fan-like finger drains in Smith's Cove as a feeder system and utilized the exisitng ventilation tunnels into the Money Pit as flood tunnels.
Finally, Young, having learned from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, and from the Department of Energy, Mines, and Resources in Ottawa, Canada, that tides have risen at a rate of approximately 41 centimeters per century over the past 6000 years, suggested that the rising tides created an island, seperating Oak Island from the mainland, and setting the stage for the discovery of the Money Pit by Donald Daniel McInnis, John Smith, Anthony Vaughan, and perhaps Samuel Ball.
This is interesting conjecture which seems to incoporate many of the unproven theories about early visitation to North American shores. Hopefully the efforts being expended at the Money Pit and Smith's Cove on Oak Island this year will provide some evidence suggesting whether or not George Young was on the right track with his self-described conjecture regarding the mystery of Oak Island. If you want to know more about Mr. Young's writings about Oak Island, you can search for a copy of his 1980 book, "Ancient Peoples and Modern Ghosts", published by George Young "Queensland" Nova Scotia, and printed by Lunenburg County Print Ltd.
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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