In our last article, we shared some of our Oak Island 90 Foot Stone research with you, as it pertained to the man thought to have deciphered the symbols on the 90 Foot Stone. The only known representation of those symbols that we have today comes from what is known as the Kempton Cipher, so named because Rev. A. T. Kempton produced it in 1949 to both Oak Island treasure hunter Frederick L. Blair, and to historian and author Edward Rowe Snow. From this single source, we now have a few variations in the symbols because of interpretations made from the information Kempton supplied. For example, Snow reproduced the rectangle symbol as a Roman numeral two, while Blair's notes show it more as a rectangle. As Kempton's original notes can no longer be found, the best copy comes to us from the R.V. Harris archive papers housed at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. Harris obtained his copy from Blair. In the image below, using an exact copy of how the cipher was presented in the Blair papers, we get the idea of how the symbols could be open to various interpretations. All four symbols highlighted below represent the letter "D".
Rowe also interpreted the letter "M" as a Roman numeral one, as show below.
Over a year ago, at the same time we were preparing to screen the movie Shakespeare: The Hidden Truth as a fundraiser at our local theatre, we discovered a photo of the never seen before Professor Liechti. No book on Oak Island had ever published a photo of Liechti before, so we were quite excited to make this find. That find led to another, which would open up a whole new ongoing line of investigation for us, pertaining to the 90 Foot Stone and the Kempton Cipher. Of course, to current knowledge, there is no proof positive that the Kempton Cipher represents the actual symbols that were carved on the 90 Foot Stone, taken out of the Money Pit on Oak Island, but it is the best conjecture currently floating around out there. So what was this new find? Notebooks from the Liechti household.
These four old notebooks produced some very interesting and tantalizing possibilities.
Within the pages of one notebook is related the story of The Red Cross Knight. For those who favour the theories revolving around Sir Francis Bacon and the Rosicrucians, this is interesting indeed. Another notebook was a visitation log, kept by Professor Liechti's wife Minna, which recorded visits with people bearing such names as Creighton, Smith, Marshall, and McNab. The brief notations of these visits do not tell us whether or not any of these people were related to the people who figure so prominently in Oak Island history. Perhaps Minna visited with them for reasons of church? We can't be sure, but it was interesting to see those names in her log book. What really caught our interest very quickly is that we started to see symbols from the Kempton Cipher jump out at us from the pages of the notebooks. Imagine trying to keep quiet in the viewing room of the archives when that happened!
Take a look at this page from one of the notebooks. How many symbols from the cipher do you see on just this page alone? The centre dot circle, the triple dot, the triangle, the plus symbol, and depending on your interpretation, the letter "C" (some people think of it as a left bracket in the cipher, and maybe it is). Take a look at another page from the notebooks.
Even the badly written Roman number one makes an appearance.
One frustrating observation we made was that the first four or five pages were cut out of this notebook. What was on those pages that some previous Oak Island researcher made off with? Perhaps I assume too much. Maybe the original owner of the book had need of paper and cut those pages out. You can tell, from what remains of the pages, that some of those cut out had been written on.
Now before we go any further, I do have to draw your attention to evidence that this particular notebook was used by Professor Liechti's daughters in their studies at Dalhousie University. One daughter was named after her mother Minna, and the other daughter was named Bertha. As one of the notebooks in the collection (the visitor log) belongs to Minna the mother, it may be her name on the page in the image below, but I suspect the names reference the two daughters.
So where do we stand? Here we have Liechti notebooks, containing seven or more of the eighteen unique symbols that make up the Kempton Cipher, but they do not appear to belong to the Professor himself. What we realized was that many of the Kempton Cipher symbols were mathematical symbols in use in the late 1800s.
Are all the symbols in the Kempton Cipher mathematical symbols?
Mathematical symbols? Is it possible that they are nothing more than mathematical symbols? Not an ancient language? Not Alchemy symbols? Not Masonic symbols?
To be sure, some of the symbols can be found in all of the above, but as it turns out, only mathematics uses the whole symbol set. None of the others use every symbol. This was very intriguing. Kel Hancock, Thomas Kingston, Petter Amundsen (who was not researching with us but was involved in the conversations in the discovery process), and myself, had a few exciting weeks as more and more of the symbols prove themselves to be a part of mathematics and mathematical notation. But how can we use this realization? If we accept that all the symbols are mathematical in origin, what does that tell us about the cipher and the person who created it?
One of the loosely scientific tests we did was to ask a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds to fill out a form that was divided into 18 blocks. I asked these people to write one unique mathematical symbol in each of the 18 blocks. This was done without an explanation as to why. I wanted to see how easy it was for someone to be able to cite eighteen mathematical symbols. Out of the 30 people I tasked with filling out the form, twenty-six of them had a university education. Only one person filled out the whole form. The average number of symbols written on the form was 9. The only value in this exercise was that it illustrated that it isn't easy to come up with 18 unique mathematical symbols from memory. The only person to cite 18 unique characters was a mathematician. This suggests to me that the person who created the cipher was likely either trained in higher mathematics, like a mathematician, engineer, or surveyor would be, or this person turned to a mathematics textbook for his symbol set. That doesn't really narrow the field to much, but then again, how many people had a book on mathematics at hand in the 1800s or earlier?
Perhaps we could analyze the symbols and prove the cipher a fake.
Finding the symbols in the Liechti notebooks also drove home the point that many of those symbols were in use in 1887, and that perhaps Liechti himself used them to fake the cipher. Many Oak Island authors and researchers have raised the possibility that the cipher was made up to excite people and help sell shares in a new treasure hunting venture on Oak Island. If this was true then perhaps we could analyze the symbols and prove the cipher a fake. After all, symbols in mathematical notation have a documented origin. If any of those dates of first use were after 1804, then the cipher was more than likely a fake (if you accept that the were derived from mathematics).
Let's take a look at each symbol in the cipher. To help us determine the date of first use of a symbol, we used the book shown below and written by Florian Cajori, which was recommended to use by the Professor of Mathematics at Dalhousie University. He said that this book was the go to book for reference by todays mathematicians.
Here is a brief excerpt from Wikipedia about the expertise of Cajori in the history of mathematics:
Cajori's A History of Mathematics (1894) was the first popular presentation of the history of mathematics in the United States. Based upon his reputation in the history of mathematics (even today his 1928–1929 History of Mathematical Notations has been described as "unsurpassed") he was appointed in 1918 to the first history of mathematics chair in the U.S, created especially for him, at the University of California, Berkeley.
We couldn't prove the cipher a fake
Several times during the assessment of individual symbols I thought I had found proof that that particular symbol was too new to have been used in a cipher that was supposedly on a stone and in the ground before 1804 (the year the stone was supposedly found), but each time I was able to push the "first use" date back to a time prior to 1804. We couldn't prove the cipher a fake in this manner. What I came to realize was that mathematical symbols get used and reused to represent different values in mathematics. Over the years, decades, and even centuries, one mathematician would use a symbol in his work, but no other mathematician would use it. Some symbols came into vogue and fell out of vogue, only to be snapped up again in the future, to be used for another purpose. To reach this point in my research, I have read more books on mathematics than I ever did in all my years of schooling combined. I scanned math books written in different languages all the way back into the 1500s, looking for these symbols in their equations. Sometimes the same symbol was used to represent totally different things. You see, as I came to find out, duels and been fought and cold wars had developed over the centuries due to disagreements in mathematical notation. European mathematicians would use a symbol to mean one thing, and British Mathematicians would use the same symbol to mean something else. Neither accepting the others methods. As David Blankenship commented to me, "What a stupid thing to fight over".
After proving to myself that all the symbols used in the Kempton Cipher could be identified as being in use prior to 1804, I turned my focus towards the country of origin for each symbol. Perhaps a clue could be found there? Before we discuss whether that bore any fruit, lets take a look at what I was able to find out about each of the symbols as a mathematical symbol. As was mentioned before, some symbols are so universal that we can find them used in languages, and signage other the math, and some are so universal within mathematics that they are basic geometry that go back to math's misty beginnings.
Let's identify and set aside those universal symbols right away. I have a page from an early textbook to help illustrate these symbols.
As you can see, some of the symbols used in the cipher can be said to be derived from the very basics of math. Take a look at the image immediately above. Look in the narrative to the left. See the cross at the end of the fifth line?
The following images show the information we gathered on the symbols:
Note: Research by author Joy Steele has shown that a duplicate crossed out character in written word can mean that the preceding letter should be capitalized. I mention it here because it is an intriguing insight, though just like a crossed out character, it does not change the meaning of the cipher.
Note the date of first use (always in red in the lower right-hand corner. the name of the mathematician to use the symbol will be displayed here as well). This was one of those instances where I though we had proven the cipher a fake.
Further research turned up that this symbol's first known use was in 1720 by Christian Schlesser, and fit the symbols even better than the idea that it was an aleph did. I also investigated the idea that it was a poorly carved division symbol as well, which would have also suggested that the cipher was a fake.
The "colon" symbol is one of the first symbols that started to suggest to me that maybe the symbols chosen in the Kempton Cipher could be used to determine a country of origin for either the cipher or the education of the person who created the cipher. The use of the colon symbol in a mathematical symbol set suggests that the person who wrote the cipher might be from the European Continent, or at least had been educated there. As our Professor Liechti had been. See, I wasn't yet closed to the idea that the cipher was faked.
Was this another basic geometry shape like the others?
Was it a poorly written Roman numeral one? It was really interesting to see it turn up in the Liechti notebooks as well. Other examples within the notebook were written properly, so perhaps this was simply hurried handwriting. It makes one wonder though. Kempton's eyesight was poor and his handwriting really large and messy when he wrote Blair in 1949. Kempton apologizes to Blair for this and states that his assistant wasn't there to write the letter for him. If Professor Liechti was the unnamed teacher who sent Kempton the Oak Island story with the cipher somewhere around 1909, he would have been older and retired as well. Did his daughter write the story up for him? Would that explain the Roman numeral one looking like it does, if indeed this is what this symbol is? As far as mathematics go, the symbol used in either manner as shown in the above images, were in use well before 1803.
This 17th century German math book shows the Roman Numeral one in use back then.
In the above image we see that the triple dot triangle as used in the Kempton Cipher is of the German usage, and not the English usage which would have seen it inverted. I feel that we are starting to see a bias towards mathematical symbols as used by German mathematicians.
So there you have it. One and a half years of researching this possibility has led me to the observations noted in this article. Does it help clear up any of the mystery surrounding the cipher? Maybe not. Does it prove the cipher was faked? No. Does it prove the cipher is real? No, but it does show that it could be. There are no symbols within it that were not in use before 1803. I believe it also shows that someone with a higher education created the cipher. Could it have been Swiss educated Professor Liechti, at the bequest of less than honest promoters? It could. Could it have been an engineer or surveyor employed by the originators of a pre-1795 Money Pit. Yes, it could.
Let me leave you with one other surprising piece of information. Let's look again at the minus oder weniger.
The Swiss Mathematician Christian Schlesser is the only mathematician to use this symbol, that I have been able to identify in the last year and a half. Back then the trail ran cold on this angle of research. I could find nothing on this man.
Recently however, in talking with a cousin of mine whose mother is German, he enlightened me to the fact that Schlesser is an Americanization of the name Scheßler.
Armed with this new piece of intel, I just tried looking this mathematician up again, with much better results. Guess what? Christian Scheßler wrote books on mathematics and the design of fortifications!
What does that mean? On the surface, it suggests that this man had the knowledge to engineer the legendary Oak Island works and to create a cipher that contains his unique symbol. If only we could place him in the service of the usual suspects. I have written to the mathematics society in Germany asking for a biography on Christian Scheßler. The research continues. Here are some illustrations from one of his books on the subject.
This illustration seems to show a weapon which focuses the power of the sun to burn up ships. I can't read the German language, but if one of you can and would care to find out the details about this illustration, I would love to hear about it.
Update: Howard, a reader, tells us that the "weapon is not of German origin, It's Greek, its Archimedes fire ray developed before 212 BC "
Our time is more limited than when we started this line of investigation. I wanted to disclose what we have been working on, in hopes that someone with an interest in Oak Island and better suited to explore the Swiss and German archives might be inspired to look into this further. As stated in the above image, "Nothing could be learned about this author of this very rare work".
If you have managed to read this far into the quagmire that is this line of inquiry, I would be interested in what you think on the possibilities raised here. It may all be a strange coincidence, but I never suspected that it would lead here. Occam's Razor suggests that our Swiss Educated Professor Liechti created the cipher by drawing upon his European education. That would fit with the evidence that suggests the symbol choices seem to be derived from that region. However his motivation to fake a cipher depends upon the perpetration of a fraud by men trying to raise funds for continuing a treasure hunt, and that is something that has been suggested by some, but proven by none. On the other hand, would Liechti have chosen a symbol that fell out of limited use over a hundred years before he even began his education? I hope to hear feedback on the content of this article from those with a fresh eye.
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
If such an artifact exists for Oak Island, then the container(s) may be able to be evaluated and pinned to a time period. This is what I have been able to turn up so far.
The earliest mention of mercury flasks on Oak Island, that I was able to find, was found in author D'Arcy O'Connor's book, "The Big Dig: The $10 Million Search for Oak Island's Legendary Treasure". Published Oct 18th 1988.
In following up on this mention in his book, I found a statement by O'Connor on Jo Atherton's Oak Island Treasure forum, in which he said:
"What was found, according to correspondence between Gilbert Hedden and Burrell Ruth (and later confirmed to me by Hedden and Ruth's widows, as well as by Amos Nauss, Hedden's on-site foreman), were thousands of shards of broken pottery flasks in a shallow dump in Joudrey's Cove (north side of the island) in the summer of 1937. Some of the broken flasks contained traces of a liquid silver residue which Hedden had analyzed in Halifax, and which was found to be mercury. This was discovered at the time when Hedden had his crew scouring the island for any markers that might tie into the famous Mar Del map. And no, neither the mercury nor the flasks were (or could be) carbon dated, as neither is an organic substance.
Those are the only first-hand accounts of the presence of mercury on the island that I have ever come across. "
- D'Arcy O'Connor Sun Apr 08, 2007 5:36 pm
So it sounds as if O'Connor found some primary source papers that document this find. We have a substantial library of Hedden papers that we have either purchased or gathered from archival sources, but none of those mention the discovery of mercury on Oak Island. I would love to be able to read those papers in D'Arcy O'Connor's collection. It sounds as if he went to great effort to verify the paperwork by talking with as many of the people closely involved with Hedden efforts as he could.
So is this the only credible mention of mercury flasks being discovered on this treasure island? Recently we related to you part of the contents of a white paper written by Dr. Mark Schmalz, in which further work in enhancing underwater photos of the 10X Cavity. Well that report also purposed work to verify the existence of the mercury flasks as well. Here is an excerpt:
So in the Schmalz paper (1) we find corroboration of D'Arcy O'Connor's research. However O'Connor's book was published in 1988, and the Schmalz paper was written in 1995, so O'Connor's book may have been the sole source of this information for the Triton personnel, who Schmalz states made him aware of this knowledge.
In reviewing the reference section of the Schmalz paper we find the following:
(10) O'Connor, D'Arcy. The Big Dig, New York: Ballantine (1988)
(11) Telephone conversation with D. Blankenship, Triton Alliance Ltd (1994)
(32) Telephone conversations with D. Tobias, Triton Alliance Ltd. (1993-95)
(39) Personal correspondence with D, Tobias, Triton Alliance Ltd. (1994)
I suspect that O'Connor's book and the research behind it stand as the sole primary source stating that mercury flasks were found on Oak Island. Gilbert Hedden conducted one of the most thorough and organized searches of the island to date, so if he wrote that they found these flasks with mercury residue in them in a shallow dump near Joudrey's Cove, I would be inclined to accept it as fact.
In season three of the History Channel's Curse of Oak Island television series, Rick Lagina facilitated a historical reconciliation between Fred Nolan and the Blankenships, who for decades were competing treasure hunters often at odds with each other. With the new collaboration between these parties the search for this shallow dump of mercury flasks should become a priority for the new alliance this summer, seeing as its location near Joudrey's Cove is more than likely on Fred Nolan's land. Incidentally, the "stone paved road" is said to run from Joudrey's Cove to the Pit area. It is interesting that the shallow dump is said to be in the same area. Relocating this dump would be a major find. Here's hoping!
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
1. Schmalz, Mark. Ritter, Gerhard. Image Enhancement and Data Analysis in Support of Archaeological Field Studies. Extended White Paper. 1995.
There is no source document (yet found) that identifies Liechti as the teacher/professor that was said to have translated the symbols on Oak Island's mysterious 90 Foot Stone, but after his death in 1925 the idea that it he who had deciphered those symbols seems to have taken root in the minds of most writers and researchers. Perhaps it was because of his position as a professor of modern languages at Dalhousie University, that people thought he would be the person capable of making sense of strange "writing", or perhaps it was because his personal timeline fit so well with the timeline of the stone.
As we can see in the timeline above, Liechti began work as a modern languages tutor at Dalhousie University in 1864. He resided in Halifax during this time. The 90 Foot Stone is thought to have been removed from the fireplace in John Smith's farmhouse on Oak Island as the then current operations were wrapping up sometime in 1865 or 66. This puts the stone on display in Halifax at the same time as Liechti would have been living and working there. In 1877 he takes on a 2nd job in the Halifax High School, thereby becoming a school teacher. Seven years later, he gives up his high school job when he becomes a full professor at Dalhousie University. During the years he was at the High School there is evidence he knew the PitBlado family. A John Pitblado was one of his students, and a James Pitblado was a fellow director for the Ladies College. If you recall, a John PitBlado was said to have pocketed something that came up to the surface while drilling on Oak Island, left the island, and tried, unsuccessfully, to gain the right to hunt treasure on the island himself. He was soon after killed in an accident. Were these individuals relatives of that John Pitblado? This may be something worth pursuing.
Let's for the sake of argument, allow that Professor James Liechti, the man who certainly was in the right place at the right time, did decipher the stone while it was on display at the bookbindery. It would then be reasonable to say that Liechti had a copy of the symbols/cipher that were on the 90 Foot Stone. If this were true, then perhaps a copy survived. No such copy has ever surfaced though, or has it? Rev. A. T. Kempton produced a copy of the 90 Foot Stone Cipher in 1949.
You might be wondering if a copy of the cipher could have made it from Professor Liechti to Kempton. If such a connection could be made, then the Kempton Cipher that everyone is familiar with today, takes on more legitimacy. Let's take a look at how Kempton said he obtained his copy of the cipher.
Kempton writes that he asked a minister he knew to find him someone who could write him a good account of the Oak Island mystery. The minister found a teacher in the Mahone Bay area who wrote him an such an account, which also included the cipher as we know it.
In his letter, he states that he received this story and cipher in 1909. Who do we know that was a retired school teacher in the Mahone Bay, Lunenburg County area in 1909, who should also be expected to have a copy of the cipher?
If you check the Liechti timeline above, you will see that Professor James Liechti retired from Dalhousie University in 1906, and he and his family moved back to Lunenburg County to live, the home of his wife. So Liechti was living in the Mahone Bay area in 1909. The Liechti timeline also shows us that Professor Liechti died in 1925, seemingly fitting the Kempton scenario in which the teacher had died by the time Kempton tried to follow up on the story (sometime before 1949).
Could Professor Liechti be the school teacher (he taught both at Dalhousie University and Halifax High School) who deciphered the 90 Foot Stone? Could he also be the teacher from the Mahone Bay area in 1909 who provided the Oak Island Story and a copy of the cipher to Rev. Kempton? Liechti's personal timeline certainly provides evidence in support of an affirmative answer to all of those questions. Of course, it is only circumstantial at best, as most Oak Island evidence seems to be. On the other hand, if Professor Liechti was indeed both the teacher who deciphered the symbols on the 90 Foot Stone, and the teacher who sent the cipher to Kempton, then the Kempton Cipher gains a little more legitimacy in this whole mystery as it suggests a direct connection between the stone and the Kempton Cipher. It could just be the only known surviving copy of the symbols said to have been on the 90 Foot Stone. That possibility warrants further research, because the skeptic in me says it is equally possible that Liechti created the cipher himself for commercial interests back in the days when his salary was half of what the full professors at Dalhousie University were being paid. There is no proof of him having faked the cipher though, but we are researching this in a non-bias manner and must consider all the possibilities.
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
By Doug Crowell - Blockhouse Investigations - Nova Scotia, Canada
In an Extended White Paper sent to David Tobias, of Triton Alliance, from Doctor Mark Schmalz and Doctor Gerhard Ritter, dated January 12th 1995 and entitled "Image Enhancement and Data Analysis in support of Archaeological Field Studies" we have found some very interesting information to relate to you regarding Oak Island and, in particular, the 10X Cavity. The two doctors worked together at the Center for Computer Vision and Visualization at the University of Florida in Gainesville Florida.
The white paper summarized their "proposed work in image processing and data/technology characterization, in support of Triton's efforts in the Mahone Bay area", as was discussed with David Tobias and Bob Atkinson. It was quite a comprehensive proposal regarding the image enhancement of various film and photos taken on the island, as you can see from the Table of Contents from this proposal (shown below).
The image enhancement techniques they used and the science behind those techniques were documented in great detail in their 66 page proposal, of which this excerpt is just a small sample (see image below).
Did you catch that first sentence in the Proposal excerpt above? It reads, "Based upon our previous experience with Triton-furnished imagery".
Previous experience. So this proposal was submitted as a plan to perform further work for the former treasure hunting company. Does that make you wonder what Oak Island photos or film they had previously worked on enhancing? It sure did for us.
Efforts to contact Dr. Schmalz have not received a reply as of yet, but we did discover images from the 10X cavity that they had enhanced. These were found in the late Paul Wroclawski's Oak Island research collection. They were included in a 2007 PowerPoint presentation created by Oak Island researcher and author Les MacPhie, who told me they were gifted to him by David Tobias. We are grateful for Les MacPhie's permission to reproduce them here.
These are the clearest images we have seen yet of the contents of the 10X cavity. Doctors Schmalz and Ritter performed some impressive image enhancement on the blurry images most of us have seen in the past. It is unfortunate that Triton does not seem to have taken them up on their proposal for further work in this area. It would have been really interesting to see what they could have done with images of the rest of the cavity.
So what do you think after seeing these images? Is it an actual chest?
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
Just when we ponder throwing in the towel and declaring the treasure a hoax, Oak Island slips us a new clue, such as the triangle rock from Season 3 of The Curse of Oak Island, which doesn’t figure in any of the known theories. These include pirate treasure, Viking gold, Aztec gold, the bones of Jesus Christ, the lost manuscripts of William Shakespeare and even the medieval Knights Templar, among others. The Templar theory is one of the more colourful ones. It is usually dismissed as fantasy due to a lack of hard evidence. And yet the Templars continue to hover in the back of our minds and those of the protagonists of the History Channel’s series. Oak Island and the Knights Templar have much in common in terms of secrecy, mystery and lore. Oak Island and the Templars were made for each other.
Another version sees the Ark spirited away to Ethiopia, home of the Queen of Sheba. Ethiopian tradition places the Ark inside one of the churches of Lalibela. These remarkable 12th-century edifices were hewn from basalt, one of the hardest rocks on earth. They look as if they were made with a cookie cutter shaped like a Crusader cross. (3) Who built them and with what tools? Ethiopians believe it was angels who took 24 years to accomplish the task and who stamped their creation with Templar crosses. (4) Not surprisingly, other parties took a deep interest in Ethiopia and the Ark: Portugal’s Knights of Christ in 1454 as well as the Jesuits in 1557.
There is no solid evidence that the Templars possessed any of the great religious relics from the Bible, be it the Ark of the Covenant or the Grail. We suspect, however, that they owned the Shroud of Turin, which is believed to be the shroud of Jesus Christ. It surfaced in the 1350s, when it was put on public display by the de Charnay family. The de Charnays had strong ties to the Templar order: Geoffroi de Charnay, preceptor of Normandy, died next to grand master Jacques de Molay in 1314. (5) Curiously, no relic such as the Shroud of Turin was recovered from the Paris Temple, commanderies or Templar churches during the raids of 1307, when Philip IV had all of the Templars in France arrested. If the Knights Templar had the shroud and were able to keep it a secret from most of their members and King Philip, it opens up the possibility that they did the same with other treasures as well.
With the return of the Crusaders and Templars from the Holy Land, Grail romances started to flourish and circulate. In Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, the guardians of the Grail are called Templeisens. Templeisens, or the Grail company, were knights who travelled overseas on secret missions, past Rohas (now Lalibela in Ethiopia). (6) Was it a beautiful literary coincidence or a not-so-subtle clue? More such clues exist in Chartres, whose magnificent Gothic cathedral was allegedly financed and masterminded by the Templars. As author Louis Charpentier describes: “There are at the north door of Chartres, called the door of Initiates, two small columns, carved in relief, one picturing the transport of the Ark by a couple of oxen, with the inscription Archa cederis; the other showing an Ark that a man is covering with a veil, or is taking hold of with a veil, near a heap of corpses among which one discerns a knight in his coat of mail, with the inscription, Hic amititur Archa cederis … or ‘Here things take course, you are to work through the Ark.’” (7) Were the Templars the last keepers of the Ark?
The idea that the Templars had any sort of sizable treasure, let alone the Ark or the Grail, is not accepted by most historians. They see the Order of the Knights Templar as aged, defunct and broken in 1307. It is true that little of value was found by King Philip’s men when they ransacked the Paris Temple and all the commanderies. But it is also true that King Philip witnessed the Templars’ riches when they sheltered him from a rioting Parisian mob in 1306. He also saw the bullion brought by Jacques de Molay upon his return to France in 1307. Yet, within a year, all the visible or portable wealth was gone, as well as weapons and ships. Logically, we must ask ourselves if the Templars were forewarned and took precautions prior to the hour of doom on October 13, 1307.
There is a long-standing tradition that a contingent of Templars escaped to Portugal and to Scotland. In Portugal, a kingdom they had helped create, they were welcomed by King Diniz, who incorporated them into a new order, the Knights of Christ. In Scotland, they allegedly entered the service of Robert de Bruce, who controlled the Highlands and who had been excommunicated by the Pope. For this reason alone, the Bruce-controlled part of Scotland was a perfect haven for the outlawed Templars. Robert de Bruce, who until then had mostly engaged in small battles, saw his luck change after 1308, when the Templars are believed to have boosted his ranks. His fight for independence culminated in 1314, when his army, outnumbered by three to one, won at Bannockburn. (8) Whether he sheltered the Templars or not, the knights were always treated leniently in Scotland. Despite King Philip’s urgent letters and a papal bull, the Scottish Templars were not brought in for questioning until 1309, two years after the trouble in France. At that time only two knights could be found. One of them explained that his brethren had fled overseas. We would assume he meant Ireland or continental Europe, but there is a possibility he was talking about Nova Scotia or North America in general.
We learned in school that North America was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. But long before Columbus dreamed of sailing west, it was already known to the Norse, who even resided in it. The Columbus throne shook in 1960, when Helge Ingstad came upon the remnants of a Norse settlement in L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. It is generally agreed that the place served as a stopover and was not the famous Leifsbudir (Leif Eriksson’s abode). There are various theories about how far south the Vikings actually travelled, and the destinations include Nova Scotia’s Yarmouth (9) and Cape Breton (10). Based on archaeological findings and written records, the Norse frequented North America for over 300 years, with the first voyage occurring around the year 1000 and the last one in 1347. In 1121, Bishop Eric Upsi (or Gnuppson) took it upon himself to sail to the continent. (11) Is it possible that the knowledge of North America was not limited to Norwegian monarchs and the Catholic Church but trickled down to the Knights Templar? Could the Norse have supplied the fledgling knights with a means of transportation? Among their crews were men from Orkney, and Orkney is only a raven’s fly from Scotland, metaphorically speaking.
Why couldn’t the Templars stay in Scotland under the protection of Robert de Bruce? Initially, the Scottish king might have welcomed them, especially if they offered manpower, weapons, money and provisions from their properties in Scotland and Ireland. (12) However, things would have changed after Bannockburn, when the excommunicated king sought reconciliation with the Church, and harbouring fugutive Templars would not help the matter. They had a choice: throw off their white mantles and blend into the woodwork or find a new homeland where they could practise their (Gnostic) beliefs without fear. What of their treasure? Did it factor in their decision? Many people believe it remains hidden in the vaults under Rosslyn Chapel, a church famous for its pre-Columbian stone carvings of maize, aloe vera and other plants indigenous to North America. But there is also a legend that sees the treasure in Iceland (13) and, of course, on Oak Island.
The Templar theory usually only considers 1307 as the year when the Knights Templar set foot in Nova Scotia for the first time. Templar researcher Gerard Leduc believes this happened much earlier and that Oak Island’s Money Pit was marked on a 1500s map by Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. The map shows the inscription “Cavo di Brettoni CLMERI,” which was translated as “the well of Brittons in the year 1150” by Professor Emilio Spedicato, University of Bergamo. (14) Professor Leduc points out that the Templar order had property and commanderies in Brittany, France. If both professors are correct and the Money Pit dates back to 1150, the Templars came to Oak Island as explorers, not as fugitives, and at a time when they were in full power. Can we find an artifact that would fit this scenario?
Interestingly, there is an artifact from Oak Island just like that – one that throws colonial theories in disarray: coconut fibre. It is said that treasure hunters removed large quantities of it from the Money Pit and heaped it on the ground. Unfortunately, none of the Money Pit’s coconut fibre remains, and what samples we have come from the beach in Smith’s Cove. This wet fibre was subjected to numerous tests by reputable laboratories over a span of decades. The results were startling, dating it to 1168-1374, a perfect time frame for the Knights Templar. Skeptics dismiss this as a fluke or say that pirates, too, could have brought old coconut fibre with them in the 16th or 17th centuries. But why do this when coconut has annual growth and there is a fresh crop of it every year? If, however, the coconut fibre was actually brought by the Templars, it makes us wonder which route they took to Oak Island. Did they take the southern route to North America (like Christopher Columbus) or did they come from the north to Nova Scotia, sail south to the Caribbean and return to Oak Island? Why did they need coconut fibre? What delicate item was in their cargo hold?
In 1168, the earliest year shown by the coconut fibre carbon-14 tests, the Templars were not yet in need of emptying the treasury in the Paris or London Temples. But if the treasure they protected was not monetary but religious, then a 12th-century journey is not so far-fetched. This was during the time when Prince Lalibela lived in exile in Jerusalem (from 1160 to 1185). After his return to Ethiopia, perhaps in the company of the Templars, he started building his seven churches. (15) The Ark of the Covenant would have been a hot item during the Crusades, and it is easy to picture the Templars with their hands on it. Similarly, the Grail became increasingly popular around this time – the first story about it was composed in 1182 by Chrétien de Troyes, followed by the Cistercians’ Queste del Saint Graal in the 1200s. (16) As romantic as it sounds, the 12th century was the prime time for the Templars to come in contact with the Ark and the Grail and to be entrusted with their safe removal from areas of deadly conflict.
If these magical relics were not the reason why the Templars sailed to Nova Scotia in the 12th century, then what was? The majority of the theories of Oak Island see it as a repository, a place to which treasure was brought. Should we turn it around and consider it a place that was a source of treasure, we may find an explanation for the strange lines on the bathymetric map of Oak Island or for the triangle rock found in Season 3 of The Curse of Oak Island. What if the Templars mined gold on Oak Island? Its proximity to the Gold River and the Ovens, which experienced a gold rush in the 1800s, indicates such a possibility. The parallel shapes on the bathymetric map could be tailings from a mining operation. Are these tailings in the water because the gold digging happened in a distant past, when the ocean levels were lower? Or were they dumped there so as to not leave a visible trace on land? The Templars were involved in all kinds of industries, including mining. We know they owned mines in France and Scotland, and it is said that they also mined silver in Mexico. (17) If they could have accomplished that (i.e., extracting silver as far away as Mexico), mining gold on Oak Island would be much closer to home. Indeed, it has been suggested that Robert de Bruce’s secret source of income for his wars came from overseas. It would be quite the twist of fate if it were the Templars who had brought it to him from Oak Island.
The Templar theory of Oak Island received a brief boost during Season 2 of The Curse of Oak Island, when treasure hunter Gary Drayton found a coin on the ridge above the Money Pit. It was cleaned up and held in front of the camera, where it flashed a tantalizing but very faint cross on its surface. The object was quickly dubbed a Templar coin and sent to the Nova Scotia Museum. Then came the crushing blow: The coin was not really a coin but a copper disc without any markings whatsoever. It was put on display in the Museum of Natural History in Halifax, next to authentic coins such as a Spanish piece of eight. That seemed to be the end of it – there were no medieval, let alone Templar, coins on Oak Island. But other coins have surfaced, ones that the museum is not aware of. These were allegedly found in Chester during road construction some time ago. They were identified as being from the Republic of Genoa, Italy, and dated to the 13th-14th centuries. Interestingly, among the Templars who fled to Scotland were Templars from Italy. But coins are notoriously unreliable proof – especially when they are found on the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean – and so we cannot be certain how the Genoese coins came to be there.
A much more substantial artifact that could be associated with the Knights Templar is Nolan’s Cross. It was discovered by Fred Nolan, who surveyed the island in the early 1960s and ended up owning a portion of it. He soon realized that a group of boulders, known as cones, formed a Latin cross with arms of 360 feet and a stem 867 feet long. (18) Where they intersected was a stone resembling a human head. The mystery deepened in 2003, when author Petter Amundsen located additional cones and proposed that Nolan’s Cross was part of a much larger design, the Cabbalistic Tree of Life. This symbol consists of 10 points called Sephirot, each representing a mystical or divine concept. The Sephirot have names – one of them is called Mercy. If we may bring up the Ark of the Covenant again, its gold lid was referred to as a mercy seat. Our thoughts stray to Nolan’s Cross and its cones, one of which could be Mercy. In classic Oak Island style, the Mercy point is missing or hasn’t been located yet, and so we are unable to ascertain if the Ark of the Covenant was buried under it.
Petter Amundsen’s theory centres on the Rosicrucians, a secret society very active at the time of William Shakespeare and Sir Francis Bacon. The Rosicrucians sought to build the New Temple in a spiritual and intellectual, rather than physical, way. That they adopted the Tree of Life concept from the Cabbala is likely, but were they the first and only Christians who could have installed it on Oak Island? According to Rabbi David Joseph Hayim Azulai, Zohar, a book of Jewish mysticism and source of the Cabbala, was brought to Spain on a Templar ship. (19) It would appear that the Knights Templar, who professed to be “of the faith of Solomon,” (20) might have gleaned the design of the Tree of Life before the Rosicrucians.
Did they actually use this symbol and leave us with an example? In Domme, France, which served as a Templar prison, there are many pieces of Templar graffiti. One looks like a group of crosses arranged in a pattern resembling the Tree of Life. (21) The Templars were accused of devil worship, but it is more likely that they held Gnostic and perhaps mystic beliefs. These beliefs would have had to be hidden, for the Templars were the champions of the Catholic faith. Nolan’s Cross is a good example of a pattern within a pattern, of a complex symbol hidden in plain sight. It is a Christian cross but also a Jewish Tree of Life. It is a directional marker but also a homing beacon for it is aligned with Jerusalem, as demonstrated by researcher Øystein Bruno Larsen. Incidentally, Oak Island is not the only place with a large directional cross. Another one is in the Pentland Hills in Scotland, where trees form a Templar cross on a 60-degree axis, also pointing to Jerusalem. This Templar “wooden cross” lies on a straight line from Balantrodoch, the former headquarters of the Knights Templar in Scotland, and Rosslyn Chapel. (22)
Getting back to earthly matters, could any of the legendary underground works on Oak Island be attributed to the Knights Templar? The Order was renowned for its impregnable fortresses and castles. Even their churches had walls that were several feet thick and could be defended from within. The Templars always thought of exit strategy and often equipped their buildings with spacious underground tunnels. (23) Some of these were discovered only recently, making us wonder what other surprises the Templars have in store for us. The knights are known to have employed master masons Sons of Solomon, and the grand master himself “carried an abacus, the master builder’s staff.” (24) When we consider that masons such as these built Chartres Cathedral in just 26 years (1194-1220), the stone works of Oak Island pale in comparison. That being said, we have no proof that either the Templars or the Sons of Solomon built the coffer dam, artificial beach, box drains, flood tunnels and Money Pit on Oak Island, as much as some of us wish they had.
Taken as a whole, the clues and artifacts from Oak Island do not make sense. They contradict one another. Why spend years building booby traps and a secret Money Pit only to leave a stone triangle pointing to the treasure’s location? Why cover up excavation by dumping the tailings in the ocean but then erect a giant stone cross to state “We were here”? Why pack ship crates with 500-year-old coconut fibre when fresh fibre is waiting on the coconut tree? Why make a triangle stone marker and place it on the bottom of the ocean so that only squids and divers can study it? It does, however, make sense if we perceive Oak Island as a project of multiple groups who came in different centuries and incorporated the existing structures into their own design.
The Templar theory sees them returning to Scotland or Portugal, where they passed the secret of the Money Pit on to future generations. On the other hand, they could have stayed in North America, where they were free to live and practise their beliefs. There are numerous artifacts strewn over the East Coast and along major waterways – from Newfoundland to the Great Lakes and New York State – that bespeak of a Templar or other medieval presence. (26) Equally intriguing are the tiny Templar crosses marked on the early maps of Canada by its 16th-century explorers. Are we the first ones to look for the Knights Templar on this side of the Atlantic?
The architects of Oak Island’s enigma did not want to be identified. They made sure that the more we’d dig, the deeper into the earth the elusive treasure would sink. We can theorize that they were the medieval Knights Templar, who would have been the envy of Indiana Jones. But short of finding an intact Templar tomb on Oak Island or the Ark of the Covenant wrapped in a Templar mantle, we simply cannot prove it. This does not mean, however, that we should scrap the theory altogether – none of the other theories fare any better when pressed to produce sufficient and irrefutable evidence. Until such time as Oak Island has yielded its last clue and all of its artifacts have been made public, the Order of Knights Templar will continue to be a contestant for the truth.
(1) Ralls, Karen (2003) “The Templars and the Grail,” p. 223
(4) Hancock, Graham (1993) “The Sign and the Seal,” p. 120
(5) Hopkins, Marilyn (2007) “The Enigma of the Knights Templar,” pp. 84-85
(6) Hancock, Graham (1993) “The Sign and the Seal,” p. 113
(7) Charpentier, Louis (1975) “The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral,” p. 75
(8) Ferguson, Robert (2010) “The Knights Templar and Scotland,” pp. 115-125
(10) Stewart, Wess (May 20, 2005) “No Mi’kmaq Legend About Chinese, says Marshall,” Cape Breton Post
(11) Holand, Hjalmar “The Kensington Rune Stone,” p. 15
(12) Ferguson, Robert (2010) “The Knights Templar and Scotland,” p. 102
(14) Leduc, Gerard “Evidence of Pre-Columbian Contact Between Native People and Cross-Atlantic Immigrants in North Eastern North America,” p. 30
(15) Hancock, Graham (1993) “The Sign and the Seal,” p. 105
(16) Ibid., p. 59
(18) Crooker, William S. (1998) “Tracking Treasure,” p. 85
(19) Hogan, Timothy (2015) “The Way of the Templar,” p. 34
(20) Loucao, Paulo Alexandre “The Templars of Portugal”
(22) Sinclair, Andrew (2002) “The Secret Scroll,” photo between p. 154 and p. 155
More tunnels under former Templar castles and commanderies were uncovered in Slovakia (Slovenská L’upča, Mnich) and Austria (Kronberg).
(24) Charpentier, Louis (1975) “The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral,” p. 49
(25) There is a theory that Oak Island’s gold was tapped by American revolutionaries in the 1700s. Many of the founding fathers were Freemasons, and Freemasonry has a strong Templar tradition. A different theory, discussed by D’Arcy O’Connor in The Secret Treasure of Oak Island, claims that it was the British who hid money on Oak Island because they feared it would fall into the revolutionaries’ hands.
a) A Templar cross carving found in the crypt of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel in Montreal. This cross was either placed there by 17th-century missionaries or the chapel was built on a former Templar site and the cross was simply incorporated into the crypt. More information can be found in The Templars’ Legacy in Montreal, the New Jerusalem by Francine Bernier, pp. 62-63.
b) The Sulpician seminary in Montreal has a stone tower that dates back to the 17th century. In the walls of the tower are very small arrow slits that we would normally expect in a medieval building. Were the Sulpicians fighting monks? Correspondence with Gerard Leduc has revealed that these slits are not large enough for a gun barrel. He has also determined that they are aligned with equinoxes and solstices, similar to Newport Tower in Rhode Island.
c) The Haystack Rock in Newfoundland was carved with a symbol that appears in medieval churches in England, some of them Templar (Temple Bruer). It also appears in the Wemyss Caves, Scotland, where it was suggested that the symbol might be of Templar origin. https://nlarchaeology.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/graffiti-part-two/
d) An old stone medallion with a Templar cross found by a diver in New York State
e) The Codex Canadensis, written and illustrated by Father Nicolas in the 17th century, shows drawings of the Iroquois with Templar crosses painted on their bodies.
f) Father Le Clercq, a 17th-century missionary in New Brunswick, found that the Mi’kmaq he had come to preach to already knew of the cross symbol. Theirs was a double cross, which they venerated and displayed in a prominent place in their abodes. Curiously, the double cross can be found among the Knights Templar, on a seal of the preceptor of Poitou, as well as on the shield of Hugh, Count of Champagne, one of the founding knights.
g) Chain mail found in the ground in Vermont, early 1800s. There is no surviving picture of it, but it was reported to the British Archaeological Association and described as being of a fine oriental design.
h) A gargoyle-like stone head and dam on Lake Memphremagog
i) A castle and orchards in the Genesee Valley, New York, described by W. L. Stone in the early 1800s. The Mohawk leader Joseph Brant was aware of pre-colonial settlements by white people who, unfortunately, got slaughtered by the Mohawks. He took it upon himself to investigate their origin and ended up in archives in France.
Leduc, Gerard “Evidence of Pre-Columbian Contact Between Native People and Cross-Atlantic Immigrants in North Eastern North America”
j) In Swords at Sunset, Michael Bradley mentions a study by Concordia University that took a sediment core sample from Adolphus Reach. There was a layer of lye at a depth corresponding to the pre-colonial era. The Iroquois did not manufacture soap.
k) Newport Tower, Rhode Island. This colonial “windmill” was built in the medieval Norse style that can be found in Orkney. The unit of measure corresponds with Scottish ells.
The tower also bears a resemblance to the round Templar churches of Bornholm, Denmark, as well as the Templar baptistery in Convento de Cristo, Portugal.
l) Westford Knight, Massachusetts. This stone carving is believed to be the effigy of Sir James Gunn, a knight in the service of Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney. Sinclair’s journey to the New World was described in the Zeno Narrative; however, it is not taken seriously by mainstream history. If the effigy does not represent Sir James Gunn, the question arises as to which other 14th-century knight it could have been.
Alessandra Nadudvari © 2016
As you can see in the picture above, the seat on which Dan would have been sitting was not much smaller than the pipe into which it must fit. This is the same 27 inch casing that the five divers (including Dan Blankenship) known to have entered the 10X cavity prior to 1973 used to access that cavity at 235 feet below the surface.
After the diving program ended, the searchers turned to investigating the suspected voids, encountered while drilling, in the glacial till above bedrock.
Their plan was to cut observation holes in the drill casing in order to find the void that they suspected was a tunnel. As you can see in the excerpt from Dan Blankenship's report of November 1st 1976, this was done at several locations. They then fashioned a pressure washer of sorts, to wash away soil and bore into the surrounding areas. It was during this time that the close call on Dan's life occurred on October 27th. Dan relates the events of the incident on page three of his report, as follows:
Later the collapsed casing was removed and this is a picture of that removed section:
There is little doubt that Dan Blankenship had a narrow escape from becoming the seventh person to die while treasure hunting on Oak Island. The fact that he carried on after this event is a testament to his dedication to solving the Oak Island Mystery.
Thanks for reading and goodnight from The Blockhouse!
P.S. Many thanks to Les MacPhie and John Wonnacott for their research materials used in writing this article.
Since 1973 it’s possible that some rock may have fallen from the roof of the cavern, and it’s also possible that debris from further up in the shaft may have fallen into the cavity, piling up on the floor. So the shape and height of the cavity today may be a bit different from what it was in 1973.
This cavity has been the target of many dives, camera inspections, and sonic investigations and it appears that more work may be planned at 10X for the future. But people who are serious about resolving some of Oak Island’s mysteries should understand the history of the shaft we now call 10X.
During the summer and fall of 1969, the Triton Alliance had been drilling a series of exploratory boreholes in the vicinity of the Money Pit, when Dan Blankenship used his dowsing skills to find an apparent anomaly about 180 feet northeast of the Money Pit. That became the location for Borehole 10. In those days Dan was supervising all the work at site, and he reported periodically to David Tobias in Montreal. Here is Dan Blankenship’s Nov 29, 1969 report to Tobias. It’s a bit long, but if you will bear with me, you’ll see how important it is to report Blankenship’s exact words:
“Hole #10: 181 feet east of #24 (2), by the door of the old Restall house.
We started with a 9 inch rock bit (3) and went very fast through overburden and glacial till. We hit a small cavity from 140 feet to 143 feet and another from 165 feet to 169 feet (4) and hit bedrock at 185 feet of gypsum (5). We drove 10 feet into bedrock with the 9 inch bit and stopped at 195 feet at which point we put on the 6 inch rock bit in order to leave a shelf in case we hit a cavity, for our casing to seat into (6). We drilled down to 195 feet at which point his hydraulic motor for his rotary head broke. He pulled 25 feet off the bottom and it stayed for 5 days until he had a new motor. When we continued, we hit a cavity at 230 feet to 233 feet (7). I was standing there and my orders were to stop the rotary immediately when he hit a cavity. This he did, and lowered the drill until it stopped at 233 feet with no turning. He then pulled the bit out and put on his 6 inch core barrel 22 feet long which is supposed to take a 3 inch core. At this time there wasn’t any casing in the hole, so in order to get the core barrel down to the bottom without getting clogged with the debris in the hole, Bowmaster (8) tied a red rag on the end of the bit with wire and lowered it to 233 feet, at which time he turned his air on which operates at high pressure and started turning his drill. He cored for about 1 foot to 234 feet and because he wasn’t getting his return (9) back decided to pull out and see what was in the core barrel. Only a few pieces of gypsum were there, and so we pulled out of the hole and went down to do hole #9.
After #9 was finished I talked Bowmaster into casing the hole [Author’s note: meaning Hole #10] in lieu of the second hole which he owed me.
He put down 124 feet of casing before it stopped and hung up. He put the 6 inch rock drill inside and drilled to 150 feet. The casing then went to 148 feet before it hung up again, at which time he again put the drill back down into the casing and drilled. At this time Joe Stein (10) came onto the site and was present. Bowmaster was using air and the return was very good. I was collecting the return that was coming out and I noticed bits of rag and small pieces of metal (11). This metal and rags came up from about 166 feet to 175 feet. It is very important to note at this time a lot of water was coming up and upon tasting it I discovered it was salt. We collected a quart bottle of it and Joe Stein took it back to the laboratory with him.
We continued drilling down to 198 feet and then drove the casing to 178 feet. While driving this, the last piece of casing broke off 14 feet below ground level. The next day I took the samples to Halifax and we had a conference call that evening. Friday, the next day I used a backhoe and dug down and cut the casing. Not having a welder, I put a 16 foot long piece of 8 inch diameter casing over the 6 inch and back filled in preparation for Warnock-Hersey (12). Friday evening they came and unloaded gear and set up.
Saturday they came and started dropping 3 ½ inch casing inside Bowmaster’s 6 inch casing and it went easy to about 212 feet at which time they started drilling it down. They then put a roller cone bit on and drilled inside of their casing. The drilling was hard at first and then eased up, breaking through of its own weight at about 218 feet (13). [Please be sure to read footnote #13]. The 3.5 inch casing was then turned for about 1.5 inches into bedrock, which interesting enough was 237.5 feet. This measurement was exact. I went back to Bowmaster and he is positive his depth was no lower than 234 to 235 feet. I believe the measurements are correct. Bill’s machine has a scale marked every 1 foot with every 5 feet in large numbers. I measured the core barrel with Joe Stein and it is 22 feet and his rods are 25 feet. The difference of 3 feet is very important.
After the 3 ½ inch casing was seated, Warnock Hersey started coring with a 2 ½ inch core barrel 5 feet long. They just started coring when it was quite evident that the 3 ½ inch casing was loose and bouncing around. We were using water and no water came back.
We cored for 5 feet but only recovered 2 feet 6 inches which was the top of the hole which we were interested in. It was pure gypsum.
Decided to pull out of the hole and pulled 24 feet of 3 ½ inch casing and casing jammed and machine broke. They took the part to Halifax and didn’t return until Tuesday morning. Tuesday morning Warnock Hersey put down a split spoon and had no recovery. I had made a bailer at the machine shop on Monday and we tried that. The first time he came up with about 2 feet of sand, in which was a small piece of metal, the same as that found with Bill Bowmaster. After repeated tries he came up with about 6 pieces of this small metal and a little piece of the red rag that Bowmaster had used.
A very important point to remember is that when we started with the syfon tube the sand was at 212 feet. The bottom of the hole was 237 feet 6 inches less the 24 feet of casing pulled out which meant that the bottom of the casing was 213 feet 6 inches down.
The recovery while Warnock Hersey was working was sand, gravel and a piece of granite rock every so often. The fact that the metal was still near the bottom of the hole lead me to believe that it was coming from that depth. However later events proved me wrong. It was decided to continue with a churn drill as this would bail out the hole the fastest.
At this time I had to redig the casing down to 15 feet below the surface with a backhoe again so I could weld the 6 inch pipe back on. This was done and backfilled.
We set up over the hole with Harold Verge’s (14) churn drill and drove the casing down 10 feet to begin with. This meant from 176 feet to 186 feet. He then started to bail out the hole. The sand was so tight that he had to use his drill in order to loosen it up, after which he would alternate with the bailer. The hole was at 210 feet when the churn drill started.
He started bringing up pieces of metal almost immediately and continued until he reached about 232 feet 6 inches and the material was sand, gravel and a small piece of granite rock every so often. We noticed that the bottom of the hole would fill up about 2 feet over night and so drove the casing another 2 feet to 188 feet.
It was thought at this time that the metal was coming from the bottom of the hole and so we decided to blast. We blasted and bailed out a total of 4 times at the bottom of the hole. It was during this time that we started getting clay in pieces and also pieces of gypsum rock. However no metal at all came out. I did get a large amount of cement-like material that later proved to be natural. We then terminated the drilling with Harold Verge and he pulled out.
After consulting with Bill Bowmaster, it was agreed the metal came from higher up. The drilling at 215 feet had been hard and soft with a little drop of 2 feet. I set up a tripod with Gerald Dorey about 30 feet high and rented a gasoline-driven hoist that would pick up about 1200 pounds. Harold Verge loaned me his bailer and his cable, I purchased a case of dynamite in Halifax.
We then started systematically to blast and bail at the bottom of the hole and worked our way up. The blasting was done with two sticks of 2 inch by 8 inch of 75% dynamite using a cap for each stick and this was done every 2 feet and bailed out each time to 232 feet. The total height reached was 215 feet at which point we put a total of 5 sticks 2 inch by 8 inch. After blasting we could hear the rocks falling in, about 4 times and dropped our measuring rock down and found that a total of 12 feet had piled at the bottom of the hole. This was after dark Saturday night and so nobody would get hurt we quit work and started to bail out Monday morning at which time only 6 feet was piled at the bottom of the hole, so the blasting done at the bottom had to be extensive. We bailed the hole out again to 232 feet and not one piece of metal was found. It was then painfully plain that the metal came from higher up behind the casing and that driving the casing had effectively sealed it off as well as sealed the sand and rocks.
The hole was then sealed and the equipment taken back to Halifax. It should also be noted that we made an electric magnet and dropped it to the bottom of the hole before activating and pulled it slowly up the hole without any effect. This was of course done before any blasting.
[This ends Dan Blankenship’s report on borehole 10]
So there you have it: borehole 10, (which later became shaft 10X when the hole was widened to accept a 27 inch casing) was first drilled as an open hole using a 9 inch diameter bit through the glacial till and a 6 inch diameter bit through the bedrock. The zone from 217 to 230 feet was drilled without incident, indicating that it was bedrock (15) and a small cavity was found from 230 feet to 233 feet. The big cavity that we know today, which extended from a depth of 217 feet to about 233 feet, was caused by systematically blasting and then bailing out the broken rock from the bottom of the cavity (16). From other field notes prepared by Dan Blankenship, we know that he blasted in this zone a total of 14 times. Here is an illustration which summarizes the blasting:
This is why I started today’s article with a statement that the 10X cavity was man-made. Dan Blankenship created the cavity by blasting, during November 1969. There are no ancient artifacts in this cavity – there couldn’t be. Before 1969, the “cavity” was continuous weathered bedrock. Everything “seen” on video images and sonic surveys in the cavity since 1969 is either recent materials dropped down the 27 inch shaft, or drill casings misinterpreted as support posts, or shadows created by down-hole lights, or pieces of rock that have been misinterpreted as ancient artifacts, a dead body or treasure chests. An early down-hole video seemed to show a horizontal tunnel, but that too has turned out to be another misinterpretation. (17)
Writing this article has been particularly painful for me. Dan Blankenship is a good man. He has shown himself over and over again to be a hard-working, resourceful and particularly brave Searcher. He has stuck to the Oak Island search for over 50 years and he is still at it. I have met and talked with Dan several times and I am convinced that he is motivated to solve some of the mysteries of Oak Island and I am certain that he has never had any intention of misleading or wasting search efforts on 10X for any underhanded reasons. Dan Blankenship is an honest guy and I do not like reporting in a way that contradicts his observations and beliefs, and yet I think serious readers should know the truth about how 10X was created.
So why has 10X become the obsession that it seems today, when it is obvious that there is nothing in the cavity? I think the answer is a result of several things:
When the first 9 inch “open” drill hole was advanced through the glacial till, no remarkable metal pieces or other artifacts were found. But when casing was later installed in the same hole, a double handful of strange metal pieces were recovered as the casing was being advanced. They consisted of bits of “ferrous rolled metal”, according to an expert from Stelco, who examined them.
These metal pieces, and Dan Blankenship’s observation that the 3.5 inch drill bit fell under its own weight when drilling from 218 to 237.5 convinced him that a treasure cavern had been found. I think he forgot that the 3.5 inch drilling was done in the same hole created by the 6 inch drilling done earlier, and of course the smaller drill string would fall down the larger, previously-drilled hole.
We know from other field reports, that Dan Blankenship initiated the down-hole blasting activities because he thought the metal and the false appearance of a cavity meant that he had found a treasure-filled cavern and he used explosives to blast open some of the presumed treasure chests, and he bailed the material from the hole after each blast, hoping to recover coins that had been blown from the treasure chests.
At first I thought that the explanation for the metal pieces found at hole 10 in 1969 came from the opening line in Dan’s report to David Tobias: The hole was located “by the door of the old Restall house”. I said to myself: “How did Restall get water for his house??” We know the site is on glacial till, so he must have had a drilled well that went down to the fractured anhydrite bedrock, because no useful amount of water could be recovered from the low permeability till. “Where would the well be located?” I asked myself – and the answer I thought was “close to the back door, no doubt”. But then I learned that the Restalls did not have a water well. Mildred Restall told a researcher that her boys had to carry fresh water from the swamp, and it had to be boiled before it could be used. So I’m guessing that the pieces of metal that Dan Blankenship found, could have been pieces of another old well (18) or abandoned drill casing from earlier investigations. The tungsten carbide teeth of Dan’s modern drilling equipment would have broken up an older, more brittle, partly rusted pipe if it was run into. In fact, the site of an old drilled well or casing could be the explanation of why and how Dan Blankenship found the location for 10X – when he dowsed in the area, the water source for the well and the old metal pipe itself would have been an attractive dowsing target. The pipe used for drilled wells and old drill casings would have been “ferrous rolled metal”, as described by Stelco. That’s how pipes are made – by rolling flat steel sheets, bending them into pipe shapes.
Another possible source of Dan’s strange metal pieces is that someone could have dropped some old metal down the drill hole after the workers had quit work for the day – such actions do occur occasionally on the most mundane drill project. A further possibility, although I think the probability is remote, is remnants or artifacts of tunneling activity done by the Halifax Company dating from 1866 and 1867. We know that the Halifax Company energetically dug quite a few tunnels at a base depth of 110 feet, in their efforts to locate the Flood Tunnel – but there are no plans or drawings that show where those old workings were constructed.
There is another inconvenient fact relating to hole 10 and shaft 10X. When the hole was widened to about 8 feet in diameter, by installing a steel casing from the surface to a depth of 181 feet, the soil that was excavated was carefully examined. No unusual artifacts or apparent source of the unexplained metal pieces was found in all of that excavated material, although a few small individual metal pieces could possibly have been overlooked.
The main point of interest for serious Searchers at Oak Island has always been the Money Pit. It was bad luck that led Dan Blankenship to find an old water well or drill casing or whatever was the source of the metal pieces, when he dowsed to determine the place to drill hole 10. And it was more bad luck for Dan’s drilling to actually hit part of that old metal, break it up and return strange pieces of metal where he was hoping to find a treasure cavern. That led to high explosive blasting and bailing that created the current cavity – and 45 years of exploration of the deep cavity at 10X, where there are no ancient artifacts or old treasure to be found.
I think it is time to close the book on 10X and focus future work on the Money Pit. No one has explained the wood/clay/wood/6 feet of space sequence under 30 feet of bedrock that was found by the Becker drilling right beside the Money Pit. That is a real mystery with very promising possibilities for treasure Searchers.
by Danny Hennigar
When all the oaks are gone and seven have died the treasure will be found, or so goes the legendary curse of Oak Island. No one knows for absolute certainty where the curse came from, who first penned it or even if there is any truth to it. One thing we do know, all the original, unusual looking oaks that gave the Island its present name are gone and six men have perished in the centuries old treasure hunt.
Over the years local people were hired at Oak Island as labourers, drillers, helpers and many people still have close connections. I worked there as a tour guide, both my grandfathers were involved in one way or another and my father, a writer, wrote a poem about the famous Island. I only learned of my two grandfathers participation long after their passing and my awakening to the history of Oak Island. My maternal grandfather was a hard rock miner in the Chester Basin gold mines, he later worked for Gilbert Heddon driving shafts and tunnels in the late 1930s. My paternal grandfather owned and operated a saw mill and many a board foot of wood cut by grandad’s mill must surely lay deep under Oak Island’s surface.
So it was, men looked to Oak Island for a chance to make a few bucks, feed their families and work at a job very much unlike anything available locally in fish plants, Christmas tree yards, barrel manufacturers, fishing on sea-going trawlers and a smattering of other small business opportunities. Word of mouth spread to those who wanted a job close by and to be paid a fair wage, one of the men who answered the call was Jim Kaizer from Robinson’s Corner, very near the Village of Chester.
Jim was a short-statured, handsome man, powerfully built and used to a hard day's work for an honest dollar. He worked odd jobs, had his own dump truck at one time, had a beer bottle recycling business and worked on and off with a cement contractor from Chester Basin, Hilliard Cameron. He was also a Mi’Kmaq who was very proud of his heritage.
He had a big family of eight boys to take care of and he snagged a job with Oak Island treasure hunter Robert Restall. Oak Island offered work such as digging holes, shoveling muck, moving boulders, repairing things, burning brush, moving heavy equipment and other jobs that would break an ordinary man's back, but to the Restalls and Jim Kaizer, it was all in a day's work. Later, after the tragedy, Jim was hired as a night watchman for Dunfield. I have often said, treasure hunting is not as glorious as it looks on TV or is portrayed in books and as general romanticism portrayed it. One of Jim's last pay days August 6th to the 13th 1965 grossed him a whopping $41.90. By today's standard that is not much, but back in 1965 even a five dollar bill went a long way.
By the time it was over, four had died at the bottom of the pit and two were rescued.
By all accounts, the afternoon of August 17th 1965 was a hot muggy day. A small crew of labourers was busy burning piles of brush while Robert Restall and his wife Mildred readied themselves for a short boat ride to the Village of Chester where a multitude of chores awaited them. Robert went down to Smith's Cove to check how the gasoline pump was working at the head of a shallow shaft they had been working on. What happened next will never be known for sure, but what we do know is that Robert Restall fell into the shaft, possibly overcome by carbon monoxide gas, an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas that may have accumulated at the top of the shaft head due to a present air inversion that day. If you have ever seen smoke from a chimney fall back down toward the ground instead of rise to the sky, you have seen an air inversion. Restall landed into approximately six feet of water, and as others nearby saw him fall, they followed with the hopes of a quick rescue. His son Bobby went down the shaft for his father as did Cyril Hiltz, Carl Graeser, Leonard Kaizer and Andrew DeMont. By the time it was over, four had died at the bottom of the pit and two were rescued. The autopsies declared the deceased had died by drowning. Much speculation and heated debate has developed over the years about why Restall fell in the hole. Leonard and Andrew were heroically rescued by a visiting fireman on vacation from New York State who happened to be there at the time of the tragedy and with the assistance of others at the scene, they were kept alive. These two men later made a full recovery.
Witnesses at the scene reported that the smell of rotten eggs permeated the air (possibly dangerous, heavier than air hydrogen sulfide) around the hole and no one had the desire to immediately descend the shaft. Fire departments from Chester and Western Shore who responded to the tragedy devised a plan to recover the bodies. It was considered too dangerous to send a man down the shaft to recover the bodies so they intended to use a sharp grapple hook, it was the safest way and most agree, it was a tough decision made by practical men.
Jim Kaizer's widow Beulah told me Jim was working around home while the tragedy unfolded on Oak Island and all day long had an odd burning desire to leave what he was doing and head for the Island even though he was not scheduled to work that day. When his Uncle Maynard came to give him the horrible news, wild horses could not keep Jim away and he sped off to the Island.
A sobering and solemn scene confronted Jim as he arrived at the site. Firemen clad in black coats, helmets and rubber boots told Jim what had happened as best they knew and the heart wrenching plan was unfolded before him. By all accounts, the Restalls liked Jim a great deal and he thought the world of Robert and Bobby. Armed with a World War II vintage gas mask on loan from the Chester firemen on scene, Jim went down the shaft with a rope tied around his waist and recovered the four bodies of his friends and co-workers. Jim later said he could not live with himself if the recovery went ahead as previously planned, it just was not going to happen, not on his watch. He felt they deserved better care, even in death.
Jim later told his wife a little about his experiences but he was hard to pry details from. The coveralls he wore the day of the tragedy smelled so bad of rotten eggs, even after repeated washing, Mrs. Kaizer could not wash the smell out of them. They were hung in the mud room and were never worn again. It did not end there for Jim Kaiser. Jim got hired on with treasure hunter Robert Dunfield shortly after the tragedy and continued with his Oak Island employment.
Jim said he saw a pair of red eyes staring at him and was told to leave and never come back.
One night, months after the tragedy, Jim stayed overnight alone in the tiny cabin once the home of the Restall family. Late in the evening, Jim was awakened by the sounds of the cabin rattling violently and experienced the sensation of having a heavy weight on his chest. Upon opening his eyes, Beulah told me Jim said he saw a pair of red eyes staring at him and was told to leave and never come back. Not being a believer in ghosts and the supernatural, he bolted from the tiny building to see nothing that could explain the noise, he was sure someone was having him on. But, next morning, to his utter shock, he found he was covered with bruises. He told Beulah one set of bruises in particular looked like four fingers and a thumb had gripped him tight around his arm.
Jim was also a playful practical joker as often happens when men work together. One day he and another man, Murray, were in the Restall cabin and Jim being the senior guy on site directed him to light the propane stove. He didn’t tell him about a small build-up of gas in the oven and when Murray lit it, the stove exploded, singed his hair and being off balance, he stumbled across the cabin scaring the living daylights out of him. Next day, he and Jim were on their way to do something in Smith's Cove and Jim got caught in the fresh mud and muck created by Earl Armstrong's bulldozer and started to sink in, quicksand style. Murray told him he was going to let the Island swallow him whole but came back and threw him a rope and pulled him out after he was sure Jim was taught his lesson
Jim's end of life in 1976 did not go well and it was premature but before I end my story there is another detail you should be aware of with regard to this remarkable man. Because Jim had such a long involvement with Oak Island he can fairly be credited with making a discovery of his own. On the southern shore of the Island, very near where Dunfield dug hole 10G over 100 feet deep looking for a strongly suspected second flood tunnel, he found a rock with strange markings. Some describe the rock's carving as depicting a ship, others say it is the letters AC H or AT H. The rock was broken into pieces by a treasure hunter and a section of it was placed on his fireplace hearth where it remained for decades.
As a young man, I knew Jim, his wife and all of his eight boys, I attended school with some while others were too young to enter my circle of acquaintances until later in life. I have great respect for his whole family and he remains one of Oak Island's lesser known treasure hunters and dare I say, a hero.
This fictional (at least we believe it to be fictional) story was written by Mrs. Freda, and submitted to The Suburban, which was a weekly periodical published in Nova Scotia between 1903 and 1907. It is interesting to note that Mrs. Freda also had an account of the Oak Island Treasure Hunt published in Collier's Magazine (September 23rd 1905) titled "The Lure of Pirate Gold".
The Freda family seems to have had Oak Island connections spanning several decades as the author of this story, Josephine Freda, also submitted several photos of Oak Island for publication during the 1903-07 period, and later in 1950 a man by the name of Arthur Freda was in charge of the workings on Oak Island at that time. Without further ado, here is Josephine's Oak Island Halloween story.
A TALE OF HALLOW-E'EN
One in a series of stories published by Mrs. Freda under the series titled
The Diary of a Nova Scotia School Ma'am
The “Clique” was a secret society, composed of five members, so closely incorporated, as to be regarded by the community at large, as a unit. To enumerate, there was Timmy Murphy, as slick and polite as any prize Sunday-school scholar, yet devising mischief in his heart continually. He could pull the wool over one’s eyes with a skill and address that were truly artistic. He could pull the wool over one’s eyes with a skill and address that were truly artistic. He could tell a more plausible story than the other four combined, and his tongue had rescued the clique from many a tight corner.
Next came “Frisky” Brown, whose name was essentially descriptive of his nature. He was never to be found in a state of rest, except under compulsion. But he was just the dearest boy! If you know any one kind of boy that is more likeable than all the rest of the species, he was that kind. He was a prime favorite and always ready for any fresh escapade which might offer.
Then there was “The Dude”, whose title was thrust upon him in scornful acknowledgement of his immaculate appearance, on emerging each morning from maternal supervision. But once around the corner, he endeavored to erase from his attire, all outward signs of ultra-nicety. The spotless collar and fresh necktie were hastily removed and jammed into his coat pocket; his hair was next rumpled beautifully and his cap adjusted at a rakish angle with the peak over his left ear. The nearest mud-puddle completed this readjustment of his morning toilet. There was no room for reasonable doubt that The Dude fully realized the ignominy attached to a starched collar and shiny shoes.
The “Captain”, who was a born leader, and “Puddin’” Smith, whose name is also self-explanatory, completed the circle of friends, and a right jolly crowd they were.
A favorite place of rendezvous was the “Boat-Shop”, whose proprietor made and repaired boats of all sorts and welcomed the clique at all times and seasons. He was always ready to loan then his tools or donate a dab of paint or putty towards the building of their little yachts, which was a favorite occupation in winter. These little yachts, from two to three feet long, were constructed with considerable skill, and were exact duplicates of favorite boats belonging to the Yacht Club. In summer the boys held races on Saturday afternoons as regularly and with as much enthusiasm as their elders.
In the Boat-shop, too, on stormy days they swapped yarns and held many a dark and fearsome conference. To this resort, too, many a night, they dragged driftwood, and made roaring fires in the great box-stove; and here, betimes, they cooked and ate the food, pilfered with painful stealth from garden-plots or cellar-bins at home; any and all of which they might have had for the asking, but which were as dust to their palates, unless secured with cautious cunning. And after supper they lounged about the fire and pretended they were pirates, or shipwrecked mariners, or something equally attractive.
Outside their own special circle, probably the clique extracted most clear enjoyment out of Uncle John Moss. Uncle John spent a good deal of his time either in doing things for the boys, or in escaping from them.
Uncle John was an old, broken down sailor. He lived alone not far from the school-house, and the clique seldom failed to call on their way to and from school. He had many accomplishments, but chiefest of all, he could lie. He lied with such unblushing effrontery, and such artistic effulgence of detail, that the boys fairly turned green with envy of his skill. In the course of his very ordinary existence he had hunted lions and fished whales; he had been through earthquakes and cyclones; (he called them sizzle-ones); but, best of all, he had seen, yes, and could describe real ghosts. He was always ready to help the boys with a kite or yacht, except at rare intervals when a deadly feud was in progress, on account of some too strenuous practical joke perpetrated upon him.
For some time before Hallow-E’en, Uncle John’s patience had been sorely tried. The boys had sprinkled pepper on his stove and tobacco in his teapot. They had laid a trap for him by which he had got a good ducking. Worst of all, they shaved the face of his beloved cat, while The Dude, dressed as a young lady, called upon Uncle John, and was most politely entertained. The old man laid crafty plans for speedy retribution.
About this time he began to fill their heads with stories of hidden treasure. The story of Cocos Island was recounted with several artistic additions. Sadie Mason’s treasure in the Magdalens was discussed in solemn conclave. Then he enlarged on the story of Oak Island, with its millions in gold and jewels, lying almost at their doors. He hinted that he could tell a thing or two about the location of this treasure to a few discreet and close-mouthed friends. Having brought their curiosity to the proper pitch, he extracted a solemn and blood-curdling oath of secrecy, and confided to them his story.
He told them how, coming across by boat from Western Shore, one dark and starless night, he had been attracted by a strange and lurid glare in the curve of Smith’s Cove. Paddling softly inshore, he distinctly saw a dark, wild looking man in broad, plumed hat, flowing cloak, great top-boots and armed to the teeth. Instinctively he recognized Captain Kidd, or rather, his ghost, who was directing the removal of three great casks which were being rolled to the beach by three giant negroes. He described with great prodigality of detail, how the iron hoops of the casks glowed red as blood and flamed up when the hands of the negroes touched them, yet never really burned away. He told how the gold chinked as the casks were loaded into a queer looking waiting boat, and how, on their departure, he had followed at a discrete distance, and witnessed the ultimate deposit of the treasure at a point which he persistently refused to disclose.
By this time the boys began to lie awake at night, to whisper secretly by day, and to dream of large divisions of recovered treasure. In fancy they sat around a camp-fire and plunged their hands deep in masses of shining coins, or watched great strings of jewels slip through their fingers in a glittering stream. By the last of October, Uncle John had worked them up to the proper climax. If they would come to him at dark on a certain night he would disclose to them the hiding-place.
For days there was much sharpening and secreting of picks and shovels, and making of torches and bags in which to carry home the spoil – hidden where? Only Uncle John knew and he would not even whisper it until the date agreed upon. In their excitement they quite forgot that that date was Hallow-E’en.
At length came the appointed time. The clique, having severally presented plausible excuses for the evening’s absence from home, trooped to Uncle John’s abode. There, with a final charge of extreme caution, and a last solemn pledge of secrecy, the old man named the place. He directed them to proceed to the spot and begin to dig, and as soon as he finished up his chores, he would come across in his boat and join them.
They walked, when they did not run, a long three miles to the rendezvous, reaching the spot nearly an hour ahead of the time Uncle John had promised to arrive. The night was dark and gloomy. Not a star was visible. The wind was rising and fitful gusts rustled the trees about the lonely little clearing. But the clique at once set to work to dig in the spot designated by Uncle John. Beginning with great enthusiasm, nearly an hour elapsed before their zeal began to cool. No Uncle John appeared.
Suddenly, from out the gloom sounded a long, blood curdling groan. A chain clanked and a flickering, bluish flame glimmered under a tree on the edge of the clearing. The boys dropped their tools, and, with starting eyes, drew together at the edge of the excavation. Cold horror chilled them to the marrow. Every hair on their heads prickled as they watched the sulphurous light resolve itself into the figure of a man – yet not a man, for they could plainly see the entire framework; its whole ghostly shape flickered with uncertain cloudy flame. A moment more they gazed, and the gruesome shape lifted a skeleton arm, all dripping with blue flame; they heard its bony fingers rattle as it pointed towards them, while another awful groan broke the stillness.
It was too much. The clique turned and fled wildly away through the darkness. “they stayed not for brake, and they stopped not for stone”, till, more dead than alive, each crept trembling into his own little bed.
Back in the lonely clearing, Uncle John and the young medical student regarded their evening’s work with keen satisfaction.
“By gosh, it looked mighty fearsome”, said Uncle John. “I felt kinder scared myself, for all I knowed it were you workin’ the thing.”
“Yes, sir; he is a bird, all right,” laughed the young chap, as he rattled the skeleton back into its box. “If the boys have no further use for these picks and shovels, we might as well remove them, Uncle John.”
Folks say that even the oldest inhabitant can scarcely remember when Hallow’E’en passed so quietly in our village.
We hope you enjoyed this story by an author local to the Oak Island area.
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
In reviewing the R.V. Harris fonds, held at the Nova Scotia Provincial Archives (MG1 Volume 380), we noted that the following statement was written, “The full history of the stone was written up in “The Suburban” about 1903 or 1904.”
What was The Suburban? Much speculation has taken place regarding what “The Suburban” is or was, but no copy of this article has been revealed as of this date. Some have speculated that it may be a periodical from Chicago. It is not the large Quebec weekly newspaper by the same name, as that publication was not founded until 1963. We believe it to be a weekly publication local to Nova Scotia, as we have found a short lived periodical named “The Suburban News”, published in Rockingham Nova Scotia, a suburb of Halifax, from 1903 until 1907.
We felt it was very important to find this article, as former Oak Island Treasure Hunter H.L. Bowdoin wrote an article, published in the August 19th 1911 edition of Collier’s Magazine, in which he states that he viewed the 90ft Stone at Creighton’s Bookbindery and that there were no markings on the stone, and that they could not have worn off as the staff of the store said, because the stone was too hard.
This article about the 90ft Stone in The Suburban would predate Bowdoin’s viewing of the stone by several years. It is our hope that the article would either confirm or refute Bowdoin’s statement. Some believe that Bowdoin may have been spiteful when he made his claim, as it is said he was denied a desired second attempt at a recovery effort. This missing account of the inscribed stone could very well shed new light on what we have been told about the stone.
We were able to find archived copies of many of the issues, all with accession dates after Harris’s mention of the periodical, meaning that these collections would not have been available to Harris at the time in which he was looking.
We found collections in the following places:
We had been able to view the copies held by Acadia University and we had also reviewed all of the microfilm at the Public Archives by October 22 of 2015. None of the issues reviewed contained the article sought, but it quickly became evident that The Suburban was a weekly publication, issued every Saturday. This gave us an idea of how many issues we had to find.
The issues archived at Harvard University are not available directly to the public, only via inter-library loan. This also has its limitations, as full copies of an issue cannot be requested. They required that the article be identified. Since we did not know which issue actually contains the article, we were at an impasse with Harvard. Also, none of the above collections are complete in and of themselves, so we had to find a way to view all of the collections
In the summer of 2015, about the same time we were chasing this lead, we had the pleasure and good fortune to meet Paul Troutman, an Oak Island researcher and son of Oak Island treasure hunter, James Troutman. Paul's father worked alongside of Robert Dunfield and Dan Blankenship on Oak island back in the mid 1960s. Paul lives in the New England states.
When we mentioned to Paul that we were following up on this lead from R. V. Harris' research papers, but had hit a hurdle with Harvard. Paul offered to see what he could do about gaining access to the collection at that university. He recognized the importance of trying to find this full history of the 90 foot stone, and began what turned out to be a time consuming quest to gain access and review the collection at Harvard University. Paul had to first obtain a time limited visitors pass which involved about the same level of effort as getting your passport approved does. He was required to get someone to vouch for him and submit an application, which had to be approved before he would be granted a pass. This accomplished after a long wait, he then spent most weekends, for over three months, driving several hours each way, back and forth between his home and the Harvard archives. During his visits he scanned their issues of The Suburban. During this time, our hopes rose high several times when mention of Oak Island was found. For example, the cover for the June 16th 1906 issue looked very promising.
Despite the cover photo, which is valuable in its own right, the issue did not contain the article on the full history of the 90 Foot Stone. A Halloween ghost story that involved Oak Island was found in one issue, and several different Oak Island photos were found, but we never found the article sought.
The Suburban issues contain a wealth of Nova Scotian history, some of which we have never seen published elsewhere. It would provide historical researchers on other Nova Scotian topics with a great source of information on all corners of the province, so it is with great enthusiasm that we get to tell you that Paul Troutman has generously provided the Public Archives of Nova Scotia with a complete copy of the issues he laboriously scanned, making this rare resource available to all researchers. Thanks Paul!
As often happens when chasing down a lead, the end goal is not achieved, but in this case at least some minor Oak Island discoveries were made, and a huge amount of general history has been made more widely available. We have accounted for every regularly issued Saturday edition. We did find mention of one special business edition, which was released on a day other than a Saturday, so there remains a possibility that there is more than one special edition of The Suburban that was printed, and that they are out there somewhere waiting to be discovered.
The search for the Full History of the 90 Foot Stone article continues, so please keep your eye out for issues of The Suburban and give them a quick review, because you might just stumble across a special edition that hasn't been discovered yet.
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
Missing! An investigative report into Oak Islands long lost 90 foot stone (part 3 in a special series)
By Doug Crowell Blockhouse Investigations
In the summer of 2015, we found a picture in the Creighton Family Archives at Dalhousie University that was labeled as A & H Creightons. The sign above the door read Halifax Seed Co. Ltd. As we know from the well known statement given by Harry W. Marshall in 1934, about the 90 foot stone (click here to view it), the bookbindery business of A & H Creighton merged with Edward Marshall's business in 1879 and became Creighton & Marshall Stationers. We also know that when Creighton & Marshall closed down in 1919, the Halifax Seed Company took over their premises.
Here is where the confusion is encountered. R.V. Harris and the Marshall Statement indicate that A & H Creighton bookbindery was located at 64 Upper Water Street in Halifax Nova Scotia, and it was. Marshall recalls that it was 64 Upper Water Street, but Business Directories for the 1870s state the address was actually 68 Upper Water Street. Street numbers may have changed by the early 1900s.
However, we do know for certain that the route of Upper Water Street changed at some point in time and most people believed the building gave way to urban development and was lost to history. Take a look at a map of Halifax in 1830
Upper Water Street, Brunswick Street, Hollis Street, and Lower Water Street all converged in the same area indicated by the red arrow (which we added). Now look to the right side of the map to where you see the word "UPPER". We had to crop the map here for display in this article, but the full map indicated "UPPER WATER STREET". Note that the street address numbers are rising as you travel to the left along Upper Water Street. Now look back to our red arrow. Note that the building on the lower right corner of the block labeled "E" is angled. Now look at a current Google Maps image of the same location.
A more modern traffic flow system has been developed in this area and Upper Water Street now continues on a straight path, rather than passing by the angled building indicated by the red arrow in the above image. This gives the impression to current researchers that the now existing overpasses, the Casino, and the Purdy's Wharf Office Towers now reside where 64 Upper Water Street was likely to be located, when in fact the addressing at this location would now likely be listed as Hollis Street.
Now take a look at the picture we found in the Creighton archive papers at Dalhousie University.
See how the Halifax Seed Company unit is on an angle from the unit to the left of it. This angled feature is almost as well known to those who know their way around Halifax as the Flatiron Building in New York is to most New Yorkers and movie goers, so it was easy to go and check out the location.
Here is a comparison image of the same building then and now.
The doors, the 2nd Floor windows, and even the off white bricks above the NSCAD awning, marking where the small windows and the vent had previously been located, show us that this is the same building.
So to recap, the building in which the Oak Island 90 Foot Stone was taken and put on display, which was A & H Creighton's Bookbindery, located at 64 (or perhaps correctly 68) Upper Water Street in Ordnance Square, still exists. This is where Captain H. L. Bowdoin would have gone to see the stone in 1909, when it was then known as the location of Creighton & Marshall. After Creighton and Marshall closed up shop in 1919, R.V. Harris wrote that the premises was renovated and a company by the name of S. R. Cossey & Co. occupied the location from 1919 to 1927, at which time the Halifax Seed Company moved into the unit. Harris further writes that he, Frederick L. Blair, and Tregunne (owner of the Halifax Seed Company) "made a thorough search of the premises and basement today and found no trace of the stone."
On August 28th of 2015, after confirming the building still existed, Kel Hancock, Thomas Kingston, and myself gained access to the building and conducted a search. The fellow that arranged the access for us had said that a lot of old equipment was still tucked away in the basement, so it was with a high state of excitement that we walked down the steps and into the basement.
Did we come up as empty in our search as Harris and Blair did in 1935? Did we find the stone described in the 1935 Statement of Harry Marshall? Did we see the 90 Foot Stone as seen and described by Oak Island Treasure Hunter Captain Bowdoin in 1909?
We reveal that very soon in Part 4, which is the final installment of this special series.
Thanks for reading and goodnight from The Blockhouse!
By Doug Crowell - Blockhouse Investigations - Nova Scotia
In February of 1979, a prolonged spell of bitter cold weather caused a wide area of Mahone Bay to freeze over, during which time an interesting phenomenon was observed just off the shoreline, on the south side, of Oak Island. Four sets of fairly evenly spaced holes opened up in the otherwise solid ice. This caused some excitement as the treasure hunters were pretty quick to conclude that this oddity was somehow connected with the pumping they were doing to facilitate their digging of 10X. Maybe it is best to let Dan Blankenship's activity report for March 21, 1979 describe the events.
"Report on four flooding systems discovered in ice during extreme cold spell in February 1979. During Feb. past, we had two weeks of bitter cold weather. The ice froze in Mahone Bay, from Chester to Lunenburg. Using our derrick for an observation vantge point, it appeared that the ice extended all the way to Tancook Island. We estimated the thickness to be from 5 to 6 inches just south of the island where the enclosed pictures were taken.
During the time the ice was freezing, we were working in 10-X. That meant that we would start our large pump up at about 7 to 8 A.M. each day and pump most of the day quitting around 6 P.M.. During this time the pump would run steadily until about 11 - 11:30 A.M., at the rate of about 800 - 900 g.p.m. The pump is set up the hill, about 100 ft. away. We have a 6" pump hole that use to contain our small pump, about 5 ft. away from 10-X. This hole is used for monitoring the water level. The water in 10-X is partially plugged off in the bottom, consequently we usually have to lower the level of the water in our 6" hole to between 125 - 130ft. before it completely drains in 10-X, even though at that time we probably were only working at the approx. 70 - 75 ft. depth.
As soon as the bottom becomes workable we shut off our large pump. By constantly checking the water level in the 6" hole adjacent to 10-X we know when the water is rising close to where we are working and then we turn the pump on, until the water gets down to about 125 - 130 ft. again. This way we save a considerable amount of fuel. Each evening we shut the pump off until the next morning.
By diligently monitoring the water levels, especially on recharge we have pretty much established the fact that a large reservoir exists between 95 to 115 ft. This has been repeated many times and the recovery is quite constant. the enclosed graph shows the water recovery rate [Editor's note: Graph is missing from report].
After a few days of extreme cold and the bay was frozen over, we noticed an area to the south that wasn't frozen, however, it was hard to really make out any distinct shape at first.
The colder it got and the more the ice froze, the more distinct the shapes became. the enclosed sketch shows the shapes that eventually resulted, before we had a mechanical break-down, that shut our pump down for about four days"
"We noticed a thin film of ice forming after the second day we were shut down and by the fifth day when we finally started pumping again, the whole area was frozen to approx. 1 to 1 1/2 inches. the difference in the ice could clearly be seen for several days until the weather changed and we got fog and rain.
The enclosed pictures were taken one or two days before they were reduced to their smallest size before they froze over when the pump was off. Bad weather, consisting of driving snow and wind, prevented any better pictures later. Some pictures were taken, however, they didn't show much."
"Using our derrick for a vantage point, sight lines were spotted and steel pipes driven in the frozen ground so that we wouldn't lose these locations when the ice melted.
As soon as the ice melted, I went out in a row boat and a view box, which I made up in 1965. The whole area was riled up and you couldn't see the bottom. However, you could see air bubbles rising in the water on our sight lines. when the weather and conditions are right and I have the time, I will again put the view-box to use, and I am certain these area can be pin pointed accurately.
Of course, the conclusions that we came to are obvious. During thee day, our pumping dewaters the flood tunnels. Monitoring the recharge seems to place this area between 95 and 115 feet (The wide spread is to be expected, if the tunnels are inclined).
After we shut the pump off, the water again fills up the flood tunnels. However, air occupies the space that was water filled. Consequently, the air is compressed as the tunnels fill and a considerable amount escapes thru their tunnels to their vertical shafts and their collection area in the ocean.
We know that this is true, because much of this air can be heard coming from the pumping hole after it is shut down for a while and the water is recharging.
Back in 1973 - 74 we had a similar incident regarding a flood tunnel. We had the water lowered in 10-X to about the 100 ft. level and we had a driver from Liverpool down 10-X. The water was clear until he reached the depth of 181' where the casing is partially seated in bed-rock. Muddy water was coming into 10-X from an elliptical space about 3" x 12" between the 27" casing and the bed-rock. He went below this area but couldn't see anything because of the muddy water and so terminated the dive.
Upon searching around Smith Cove, we found an area just north of our coffer dam that was all riled up and the water muddy. I took pictures showing this condition clearly.
Seeing the area was close to the shore we hired a bull-dozer and pushed earth over the suspected area.
A week later we hired the same diver again and he repeated the dive under the same conditions. This time, no mud came under the casing and he went to the bottom with the visibility remaining good until his shoulders hit the rock walls entering the cavity at the bottom, partially obscuring his vision.
When the weather improves and we have the finances , we can use this same principal to cover the areas found in the ice. However, seeing these are out approx. 200 ft. in about 7 - 8 ft. of water, dumping dirt on them isn't practical and won't work.
They have concrete pumpers available that pump concrete up a 3" hose, maybe as much as 20 stories high. It seems to me to be the most practical method to employ in order to greatly reduce or maybe even stop the water from coming from these particular locations. I believe that these are at least the most active if not all the water coming into this particular system.
The application of the concrete would be quite simple, with a diver walking on the bottom and by using the 3" concrete hose, place about 3 to 4 inches of concrete over these area. Of course these areas would be clearly defined with markers before starting with the concrete. The road is good right to the shore at this location so getting the material close wouldn't be a problem. Naturally, we would check with an engineer first to find out what thickness of concrete would be sufficient, as well as what kind, if any, of additives should be incorporated in the concrete mix to facilitate quick setting of the concrete place in salt water with a minimum of separation."
- Daniel Blankenship, March 21st, 1979
It does not appear that the sealing of the possible flood tunnels, indicated by the ice holes and the air bubbles, was pursued as we found no further mention of such work in the subsequent reports that were filed. We found no other mention of the ice holes until another report, that was filed submitted on November 9th of 1987. Here is what that report had to say:
"We first noticed these holes in the ice in Feb. 1979. It was bitter cold and the bay had frozen over with about 2 to 3 inches of ice. We were working enlarging our shaft from the existing 27 inch casing to about an 8 foot diameter steel and concert shaft. In order to conserve fuel we would shut the pump off each night, and restart pumping very early in the morning. At that time it took about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to dewater. It was while the shaft had reached the level of about 105 to 110 ft. that we noticed the phenomenon of the spaced holes in the ice. When we first noticed them, there were four sets of holes widely spaced of two holes each. These holes were quite symmetrical in that they contained two holes each of about 25 to 30 feet and the holes aligned themselves at right angle to the beach, in other words, one hole behind the other. The hole to the right apparently was the most active and it enlarged itself to compass both small holes into one.
At that time it was assumed that we had reached a level of man made flood tunnels, out dailey pumping dewatered these areas. when the pumps were shut off for the night it allowed these areas to fill up and the compressed air found its way thru the system where the warm air bubbles prevented the direct area above them to freeze.
This conclusion seemed to be confirmed this last February when the same phenomenon occurred again. The ice had formed on the bay, but not as thick as in 1979. We were working in our shaft at about 127 feet when our shaft broke on our pump and the area recharged with ocean water. The next day the ice holes appeared in the same location. We took pictures of this occurrence again but have not been able to locate these pictures. Before we had a chance to hire an airplane to take pictures, the wind came up and broke up the ice.
I have talked with people from the Dept. of Fisheries who do a lot of flying and asked them if they have ever seen any holes like this in the bay, and they said "NO".
- Dan Blankenship, Nov. 9th 1987
No further mention of the ice holes, or attempts to uncover and follow these suspected flood tunnels have been made in the reports that we reviewed. It is intriguing to think that the location of the mouth of these possible tunnels have been identified, and it is frustrating to know that current laws forbid 'working' these locations in a marine environment. Proof of original works may be so close, and yet so far away.
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
By Doug Crowell -Blockhouse Investigations - Nova Scotia
In the October 13th 1934 issue of the Toronto Star Weekly, a Canadian periodical published from 1910 until 1973, there appeared an article entitled, "Oak Island Mystery." This article was written by Frederick Griffin, recounting his experience while visiting Oak Island in Mahone Bay. He related the events of his visit and what he learned in talking with many of the locals and current treasure hunters. Here is the original article:
Oak Island Mystery
"What is the secret buried deep in back of Smith's Cove on the east edge of this mile-long island in Mahone Bay? What, actually, is the mystery that has baffled generations of treasure seekers?"
A CHURN drill has this year bored nearly a score of holes around the "money pit" on Oak Island off the coast of Nova Scotia. As I write, the umpteenth expedition in the last 149 years to see treasure there pauses with disappointment. The island still guards its secrets. The tide rises and falls with mysterious mocking inconsequence. What is the secret buried deep in back of Smith's Cove on the east edge of this mile-long island in Mahone Bay? What, actually, is the mystery that has baffled generations of treasure seekers? Is it a pirate hoard of old-time implications? Doubloons, pieces of eight, bullion, gold of the Incas, jewels of Peru, spoils of the Spanish Main, loot of caravels ravaged by sea gangsters sailing under the black flag of piracy?
Did Captain Kidd, credited with fabulous exploits, or some other big league buccaneer, actually dig down deep to hide a king's ransom? If so, why did this ocean Dillinger dig so deep a cache? Why did he construct a veritable catacomb? Why did he not scratch a hole by the light o' the moon, so many steps this way, so many paces that, in traditional story book fashion, stick his iron-bound chests down and then draw a map of the place in faded ink or blood, all covered with cryptic references?
Why did he excavate mightily for at least a hundred feet, building a series of sturdy oak and spruce platforms each ten feet up as he filled in the big hole? Why did he, further, excavate tunnels whereby the sea might surge inland - underground - and flood his safety deposit box?
Yo, ho, ho and a whole barrel of rum, but this thing seems beyond the powers of a seventeenth-century sea dog. Why should he dig down deep, apparently to bed rock, as if he were going to build a skyscraper or a pyramid?
Incidentally, as every schoolboy now knows, Captain Kidd was not the great ruffian of myth, but was hanged as the fall guy in some political intrigue. Cross out Kidd, Morgan, Blackbeard, and other knights of the Jolly Roger. What then?
If this treasure was not left by a buccaneer - if truly, there is no treasure - by whom, before the memory of the first Nova Scotian, was this Oak Island engineering done?
That is the mystery of the place which it would be worth while solving. It is a mystery to which a man might well devote his money and his life - as men have devoted themselves to digging up dinosaurs in Alberta, or the Gobi desert or excavating tombs in Egypt or scratching for buried cities of Sumeria or the skulls of paleolithic man. What of history lies buried back of the shore of Oak Island? Was it here the Norsemen made a cache before Columbus came or the Mayflower landed? Did the ancient Irish erect here a subterranean retreat?
Or, more startling thought still - any why not? - was Oak Island the outer fringe of a lost Atlantis?
I have just come back from hearing the man in charge of the present digging expedition suggest that the treasure there, which he does not doubt, either came from an ancient monastery of St. Andrews, Scotland, or was placed there in times long past by the Aztecs. The Aztecs, no les. And why not again?
Lure of Treasure
If I were a millionaire I could imagine no more fascinating idea than to seek to solve the secret of Oak Island, not to earn dividends from some treasure chest of the ancients, but possibly to dig up something more wonderful than coins or gems. History! Human knowledge! I would hire the kind of engineers who build big hydro plants, put up coffer dams or breastworks to keep back that old debbil sea which has beaten a score of treasure-hunting groups in the past and then have them excavate until they found, once and for all, the secret of Oak island.
Even if they found that the whole thing was a joke - that shrewd Nova Scotians of a hundred-odd years ago had planted come-on hints of buried riches to lure the first tourists and money-spenders to these fair shores - I would still think that my cash had been well spent.
Some people calculate exaggeratedly that up to a million dollars has already been spent by treasure hunters digging holes on Oak Island - only to be driven back by the waters of the ocean which pour in through the mystery tunnels, already referred to. Again, who built these tunnels and why? - on this otherwise not very remarkable island, on e of 365 islands, an island for every day of the year, which dot with beauty this beautiful Mahone Bay which lies between Halifax and Lunenburg and of which the lovely town of Chester is the central point of habitation.
By the way, you don't find any of the Chester natives digging for mystery treasure on Oak Island. They leave that to outlanders who spend welcome money in Chester. This year's expedition came, it is said, from British Columbia. On my recent visit to the island, I saw evidences of their faith and work this summer. A drill, described to me as a churn drill, a tall affair which gave the place an oil field look, had, up to that time, bored some seventeen holes in the vicinity of the "money pit" without, I was told, finding as much gold as you would find on a crowned tooth.
Thar's gold in them thar hills of British Columbia, they say - why you can pan it in streams there - but I talked to a man who had come all the way from Victoria, B.C., to bore for mythical riches on Oak Island.
I did not blame him, for the island lures with question marks. As you approach Smith's Cove by heaving motor boat from Chester, with Still Smith at the helm predicting a storm and the need of hurry, you feel as if this might inded be a Treasure Island. an island of the south, it seems, soft, mystic, tropical. You would not be surprised to see in the offing the ghost of a long, low, rakish craft flying the skull and cross-bones - and, on the low spit of shore, to come on a bunch of scoundrels with colored kerchiefs on their heqads, pistols in their belts, rings in their ears and scowls on their black, villainous faces, digging.
Puzzle of the Live-Oaks
Illusion of the Spanish Main and the age when piracy was in flower comes from the presence of half a dozen live-oak trees. You'd swear they were palms on the sand spit. They are without branches or foliage low down and their spreading tops have a palm tree look.
These oaks are a part of the island mystery. Where did they come from? How did they grow here? These live-oaks, it is said, are southern trees, found not north of Texas and Louisiana. Yet here they are on Oak Island. None was ever found on any of the other 364 islands of Mahone Bay which are, in many cases, crested with the trees of the region, including many northern conifers.
"...there is a legend that when that when the last live-oak dies, the island will yield the secret of its treasure..."
Fifty years ago, old Chester people remember, there was a regular little grove of these live-oaks on the spit at Smith's Cove. Most of them have died. Now a mere half dozen hoary and moribund old-timers remain with a kind of struggling majesty. I would like to say that there is a legend that when that when the last live-oak dies, the island will yield the secret of its treasure, but I heard of no such legend. It seems a pity.
What is the significance of those oaks? In back of them lies the spot where men have dug and still dig for buried riches.
To reach Oak Island I hired Still Smith and his motor boat on a somber afternoon and pushed out through the mists, past island after island. Two Nova Scotia ladies. Mrs. W. D. McNeill and Miss May O'Regan, came along to make sure Still Smith did not lose his way among the islands. There are so many of them, Goosebury, Frog, Clay, Quaker, Hume's, and Mrs. Finney's Hat, the last, with its crest of trees, like a tufted toque - and many others. At last we made a landing, four miles out from Chester in Mahone Bay, at Smith's Cove on Oak Island. The top of the drill and a smith's forge were the only signs of recent activity, but the sight of a small tent over by the other shore spelled the presence of men.
Beside the drill was a deep pit, possibly 12 feet wide, dug by a previous expedition two or three years ago. It was boarded over but a hole permitted sight of heavy planking with which it was shored all the way down. A dropped stone went deep before sending up a splash of the sea, which had, as always, come pouring in through those mysterious tunnels, to defeat this as it had defeated other projects.
All around were unspectacular evidences of other earlier diggings. An old fence surrounded a partly filled-in pit in which lay rusted tin cans and junk. Yet other pits showed. Heaps and ridges of earth showed how the place had been tortured by men seeking treasure.
A lean man came strolling over from the tent. He was a pleasant but uncommunicative. He gave his name but refused to let it be printed. He said he was an engineer from Victoria. I pressed him for results of his drilling. "We have seen - and heard - strange things," he said cryptically. I pressed for more.
There was a ghost, it appeared, On Oak Island.
One moonlight night, he related, he and a partner were sitting in the tent when they heard a sound like that of a man dropping an armful of timber from the vicinity of the place where they had been drilling - "money pit" so called. They went out and looked and listened. They saw nothing. But again, distinctly, came the sound of an armful of timber being dropped.
"We ran out," the engineer went on. "I went toward the drill. the other man made a circle and came in over there. Our idea was to hem in whoever was there. We each got to our places and waited. There was nothing to see. But suddenly, right there between the drill and the forge, came the sound as if a man was dropping planks. Yes, sure, we heard it again, five times altogether that night. Then it stopped."
He stopped, too, and his eyes twinkled. A ghost? Sure, and he shrugged. Explanation? Another shrug. Yes, sure, it had been heard again. One night he was away from the camp. An old fellow was left behind. "Anything doing?" asked the engineer on his return. "Somebody," said the old fellow, "has been trying to build a cabin up by the money pit. I looked out, but could see nothing. Guess it's a ghost."
Then he, the engineer, had on a third occasion heard the ghost in action.
"Would Startle the World"
But what of the treasure? Ah, now he was pretty silent. They had, he said, bored seventeen holes. One had gone as deep as 170 feet. That one, right there, went to about 110 feet. No, they had done no digging. His idea was to locate some real evidence before going to the expense of digging. It would cost $125,000, he figured, to get the treasure forth. "Is there treasure?" I asked him bluntly. "A treasure that would startle the world," he said. "I believe that down there in a great vault is a great religious treasure." "Why religious? I thought it was commonly credited with being a pirate treasure. Don't you believe, like so many people, that Captain Kidd buried it there?"
"That's bunk. Captain Kidd was never within a thousand miles of Oak Island. Who buried it then? I think it might be buried by one of two parties. It may be the St. Andrew's treasure or it may have been buried by the Aztecs."
Quizzing brought little further light on his theory. The St. Andrew's treasure, he said came from St. Andrew's monastery in Scotland at some vague time of persecution, possibly the time of Henry the Eighth was spoiling the English monasteries. He did not know about this and I did not press him. I asked him what proof there was that the Aztecs of Mexico had ever come sailing north. Well, at any rate, there was the treasure. He had seemingly no doubt of that.
What proof had he? Were there any charts, maps, evidences in his possession heretofore unknown? No, he said. But he had faith. There was the evidence of the past. He cited the history of the digging: the fact of the oak and spruce platforms every ten feet down to a depth of a hundred feet and evidence of previous digging having brought up a worked stone with hieroglyphics on it which had never been deciphered.
"My belief," he said, "is that that stone had the key to the vault and how to get into it. But it was built into a fireplace and later used by a bookbinder who hammered all the language off of it."
He cited the fact that cement had been found in the "money pit" and that stuff like cocoanut fibre had been disclosed. As he reconstructed it, down deep had been placed the treasure vault, sealed. Above it had been an empty space. Then there was a platform and over this was placed oak, iron bound chests. the purpose of these? To throw any possible discoverer off the scent and make him think he had found all the treasure there was, whereas the real treasure was in the secret vault below. The original pit, he believed had been filled in over these chests, with planking every ten feet up. But the purpose of the planking? To keep the weight of the fill off the vault below.
Yes, he said, there were the tunnels. but why the tunnels? So that the sea might come in and guard the treasure from intruders, as it had , so far, done. But would not these same tunnels and sea prevent the people who buried the treasure from getting it again themselves? No - and he smiled enigmatically. There had originally been gates to the tunnels, he said. He explained further about the tide, but this was beyond my engineering grasp.
But would not the sea, I asked, defeat him - if he found evidences of treasure - as it had defeated previous expeditions? No, he claimed, modern engineering could defeat the sea.
"You spoke of finding something since you started boring," I said. "Has the drill actually brought up anything? Have you any proof that you have struck the hiding place of riches?"
"No, but we have found things." What things? I pressed him and he said that the drill had brought up a piece of oak and a piece of china. what kind of china? Blue and gold china.
"It wasn't," I said, "by any chance, five-and-ten-cent-store china?" He did not answer. In fact, he did not give any further information - though he hinted that some fine day there might be a story that would astonish the world. He repeated his faith that down there was religious treasure that was one of the world's most startling hoards."
What is the Secret?
On my return to Chester I sought out the veteran longshoreman, Clyde Walker. He was resting in his boathouse. The eyes of this white-haired man twinkled at mention of Oak Island treasure. "In my time," he said, "I have moved on and off seven companies seeking it."
"And did any of them ever discover anything?"
"not a one. I was always on the receiving end myself, naturally." And he laughed.
"Some thirty-seven years ago, he forgot the names, but there was an outfit went down, if he remembered, 112 feet. They struck what they thought was coin. they put their drill through what they thought was cement and planking, then into space six inches. "Then," said Mr. Walker, "this man told me with all the faith in the world that the drill seemed to be going for about three feet as if it was going through tin caps or loose metal. That's what they thought was a chest of money or jewelry or whatever it was, left by the Perus or some other people a long time ago."
That expedition failed. Years later, he said, the same outfit came back. There had been a lot of digging in the meantime and the man could not find his original pit. He got down, if he remembered, however, to 160 feet. He was off, he told Mr. Walker, his old line by four feet.
"So," the old man went on, "he starts and tunnels in four by six feet. He built a door six by six to shut so as he wouldn't lose any men, if anything happened. but one morning there was a rumpus. the stuff came running in on them like mortar and they backed out in time. What was it? It was the same stuff as you find on the beach at the island."
"What did that prove - that there was a tunnel such as is spoken of?"
"To my mind it didn't prove anything. The salt water, you can't keep it out. All I know is at low tide the pressure of the water falls off. That goes to show there is an underground drain of some sort, but no man knows what it means. I've known people who make a study of such who can't explain."
"Did people dig elsewhere on the island and not strike salt water?"
"There's been an awful lot of pits dug, but they always fill up."
"Do you yourself think there is treasure on Oak Island?"
"That's a long story, My father - he's dead now twenty years and he was 84 when he died - he always thought there was something but that it was taken out a hundred years ago nearly. He worked as a young lad on the island with a broad axe. The man he worked for sent him off on a vacation and when he came back paid him off. the explanation he had was that the treasure was removed while he was away; a vessel came and took it off."
"Mr. Walker, do you think there is a treasure there now?"
"I tell you, there is supposed to be $17,000,000 there, but I don't see how it could be put down a distance of 100 feet. Besides, how in the devil would they dig a tunnel from the seashore and why would they? That's what I think."
He referred to the presence of the live-oaks, foreign oaks he called them, on Oak Island. Why were they there? His father told him that when he was a boy the island had been all oaks. There was also said to be foreign clover growing there, near what was afterwards called the "money pit." What was the explanation of that foreign clover? Then there was something else. You could dig up cocoanut husk on the island. He had seen it himself, thirty-odd years ago.
But then walnuts have been dug up along the Humber river near Toronto and other evidences that southern Ontario was once a tropical zone. Might it be that Oak Island's mystery may be simply linked with ancient geological chance and that its buried treasure hints are simply relics of another age? There would be a fact to unearth, of folk who put up planking and used cement maybe millions of years ago. Talk about a lost Atlantis! Maybe on Oak Island is the proof, the missing link, with a drowned continent, a buried civilization - maybe. I do wish some millionaire would finance the most extensive sort of engineering and dig it up.
Mr. Walker was not much impressed by the fact that the present expedition had drilled and brought up a bit of blue and white china. "Things have ben brought up," he said, "but this china - that might have been thrown in by some other company."
I asked him how he explained the oak planking which had been allegedly found by the earlier digging expeditions.
"There's a funny thing," he said. "My father told me once that when he was a boy, his grandfather was out on day on another island, not Oak Island, Ann Church's Island, shoveling loading sand on the shore and they came to planks hidden underneath, piled up lumber. they covered it up and went away, thinking maybe they had found something. But when they went back they could never find it again."
So, there's not only Oak Island, but An church's island! Over 75 years ago planks were found there, but never found again. Who put this planking there? What does it denote? Were these merely outposts of early French occupation as in the days of Louisburg? But why on insignificant islands in Mahone Bay? Certainly Oak Island bristles with whys.
Ann Church's Island, Mr. Walker said, is four miles from Oak. On that same island, he went on, a bar of silver had once been found about the size of a plug of tobacco. And gold buttons had been plowed up. No, he had never seen them, but he had heard they were officers' buttons.
All this, so far as I know, is new treasure information. Notice to potential treasure hunters; there is not merely Oak but there is Ann Church's Island as virgin treasure ground.
"The local people play the game," said Mr. Walker smiling. "Naturally we're on the receiving end, not spending. If people want to come down here to Chester on a treasure hunt, naturally we don't want to do anything to discouraged them. Maybe there is. It's all very strange and it's hard to say just what there is."
The fact is that for generations a belief has persisted that a shaft thirteen feet in diameter and 100 feet deep was sunk on Oak Island and treasure buried there, and that this was connected by an underground tunnel with the ocean about a hundred yards distant.
The beginning goes back to 1795, when three men; Smith, Vaughan, and McGinnis, landed at Smith's Cove and strolled among the forest of Oaks then growing there. They came, unexpectedly, to a clearing which denoted the hand of man and, still more unexpectedly, according to the tale generally accepted to this day, came on a block and tackle attached to the stump of a lower limb sawn off a big oak. Beneath was a depression of the earth.
Buried treasure! They began to dig and found the earth loose. At ten feet they came on oak planking. they removed this and digged on. At twenty feet they came again on planking, and again at thirty feet. They quit digging and left the spot. They sought help on the mainland, but the people were a superstitious and tales of ghosts on the island were rife. No one would help. Half a dozen years passed and then men came back, backed by a company of prominent Nova Scotians - and they dug. Every ten feet down marks were found, either planking as at the 10, 20, and 30 foot levels or of charcoal spread over cocoanut fibre or of putty sufficiently good to be used subsequently in the glazing of a number of windows in houses being built in Chester.
At the 90-foot level was found the stone with the curious inscription already referred to. At 95 feet the diggers came on a wooden platform. Then water, not previously encountered, came in on them and arose in the pit. Baling proved useless. they were beaten. They sank another pit alongside, meaning to tunnel across, but again the water came in to beat them.
Such is the tale of the original discovery and digging out of the "money pit" whose secret many expeditions since have tried to solve in vain.
There would be little purpose in reciting details of the succeeding attempts. Always they ended in failure. The sea - for it was proven that the water was sea water - came in on them.
Records show that the digging and drilling was not altogether fruitless. Reference has been made in the interview with Clyde Walker of Chester to the fact that a drill once passed through a chest of coin. This first happened in 1849. The drill struck the oak platform at 95 feet, as recorded by the first diggers. It went through 22 inches of metal in pieces and brought up three gold links resembling an ancient watch chain. Oak splinters and cocoanut fibre were brought up from an even greater depth.
There is a lure to it. you cannot visit the island and not feel it. It's a living mystery story. What is the solution?
The End of Frederick Griffin's 1934 article
We wanted to relate this article to you in full because as far as we have been able to ascertain so far, it is the origin of the idea that the treasure would be found only after the last oak tree died. Even though it was presented as a fanciful legend that he wished he could say it was true, he acknowledged that no actual legend existed at that time (1934). It seems the idea caught people's imaginations regardless, and the idea took root. Frederick Griffin also gave us a look inside the local lore at the time, relating the ghost stories and thoughts of the locals from some 82+ years ago.
As for the second treasure island Griffin talks about, we have tried to determine which island in Mahone Bay, 4 miles from Oak, is Ann Church's island. We cannot find it on current maps, and we have not been able to find it named in property deeds. If the Church family owned an island, perhaps it was known by another name. The only island owned by a Church family that appears in property deeds is an island named Saddle Island. There is a present day Saddle Island between Mahone Bay and St. Margaret's Bay, but it is a little over 12 miles away, and the Ann Church's Island mentioned by Griffin was said to be four miles from Oak Island. Maybe one of our readers might know something about Ann Church's Island? If so, we would like to hear about it.
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
By Doug Crowell - Blockhouse Investigations - Nova Scotia
Borehole 10X has received a lot of attention during the last couple of seasons of History Channel's Curse of Oak Island television series, as everyone waits to hear the final answer on whether or not treasure or evidence of original works will be found down there. We want to take a look at 10X for another reason. As one of the more recent shafts dug on Oak Island, what can it tell us about the soil conditions above bedrock? Back on February 21st, we published an article called Does Science support a man-made flood tunnel on Oak Island?
In that article, we spoke with John Wonnacott, who outlined the reasons why he felt that the glacial till that makes up the east end of Oak Island resists natural water flow through the soil and is unlikely to have natural voids within the tightly compressed till, and therefore makes the existence of the much sought after man made flood tunnels much more likely. It occurred to us that reviewing the reports filed with Triton Alliance during the digging of the 8 foot wide 10X Shaft might reveal more information on what the soil conditions are really like on the Money Pit end of Oak Island. Afterall, the 10X Shaft was dug from the surface to bedrock, some 181 feet below. Sure enough, we found a wealth of information, as reported by a man who spent many years working on the project alongside Dan Blankenship. You might be familiar with this man from the TV series. His name is Dan Henskee, and from his reports, we have created the illustration below, directly compiled from his descriptions of soil types, depths, and water conditions during the dig.
"We never found any significant horizontal flow of water at any depth from the surface down to bedrock at 180 feet."
- Dan Henskee, February 21st 1997
"By the 155' depth, we were using a 'pavement breaker' to break up the 'marl', which was too tough to be broken up by the 'clay cutter'."
- Dan Henskee, December 9th 2008
Dan Henskee's observations on the soil conditions at the 10X site, and the lack of a water problem while digging, right down to the very bedrock, certainly seem to support the idea that the glacial till in this area of the island does not allow for a strong flow of water naturally. The Money Pit is only 175 to 180 feet away from Borehole 10X, and slightly downhill. What can we infer about the Money Pit and possible flood tunnels from what we have found in the reports on the construction of 10X? Let's let Dan Henskee have the last word on that...
"I consider it probable that there is an open tunnel in the limestone having its 'floor' at the 166' depth, corresponding to the 158' depth in the Money Pit region, which is the depth at which would have been resting the bottom of the presumed chest from which the parchment was brought up in 1897. We know from our own experience that the ideal depth range for safe excavation in the limestone is from 160' depth to 166' depth. That would be above the sandy material we found between 170' and 180', and below 15 feet of tough material which would probably not cave in even if no shoring were used! We actually used a pneumatic pavement breaker to excavate in that material, since the lighter pneumatic spade could not break it apart fast enough! In previous centuries, the material could have been excavated by physically-fit labourers using not the modern 'garden variety' picks that we see for sale in hardware stores, but rather somewhat shorter, somewhat heavier picks having somewhat shorter handles than the ones we are used to seeing. Because the limestone contains many discrete pieces, the excavated places would look rough and rugged and would appear to an intruder to be very unsafe, which would be just fine from the point of view of people who were leaving treasure there. I note in passing that Erwin Hamilton could not say for sure whether a certain cavity in the limestone was natural or artificial. That is very likely to have been a result of the rough and rugged appearance I have mentioned, since the cavity itself was almost certain to have been man-made, the natural formation seeming to be completely void-free.
- Dan Henskee, 1997
So there you have it. Henskee has made the same observations as John Wonnacott has posited in our previous article. This glacial till is not apt to have voids in it unless they are man-made and it does not allow a strong flow of water through it naturally. It gives those who demand real evidence for man-made workings on Oak Island something to ponder.
Thanks for reading, and goodnight from The Blockhouse!
by Doug Crowell - Blockhouse Investigations - Nova Scotia, Canada
On Saturday August 30th 1862 a schooner by the name of Good Intent arrived at Oak Island, carrying William Smith, superintendent of The Oak Island Association, and five others. One of the first tasks performed upon their arrival, was to send all hands to Frog Island for stuff to build a wharf. Frog Island is just under a half of a mile away from Smith's Cove on Oak Island. You have likely seen it in the background of many scenes from the History channel's Curse of Oak Island series. We didn't know that it has had a long standing connection with the Oak Island Mystery, until we reviewed the record of work kept during the Oak Island Association's attempt to recover treasure in 1862.
Throughout the work journal, it is noted that men and horses were at work on Frog Island, cutting timber to crib the various shafts being dug at the Money Pit area, and other structures, such as the aforementioned wharf. Why Frog Island though?
We knew that Anthony Graves, the man who is said to have bought his goods in Chester with Spanish money (see our article on that here), had leased the use of the land around the Money Pit to the treasure hunters. Could he also own Frog Island as well? To find the answer, we turned to the property records of the time. John Smith had died on September 29th 1857, and his property went to his heirs. Those heirs promptly sold the property, on December 5th of the same year, to a man by the name of Henry Stevens for the sum of four hundred and sixteen pounds. This included all of the Oak Island property, and all of Frog Island, so obviously John had bought up the lots on Frog Island at some point. Henry Stevens turned around and sold all of the Oak Island lots, and all of Frog Island, to Anthony Graves less than two months after buying the land. His selling price? Four hundred and sixteen pounds. This means Stevens made a total profit of zero on this sale. Odd. I saw this happen once in my lifetime. A local business owner was selling his shop and another local business man wanted to by it. They didn't like each other very much, and the one business man refused to sell to the other. The second business man hired an elderly couple to buy the business and once the paperwork was signed, he walked in and ordered the former owner off of the property. Was there friction between Graves and the Smiths? We don't know, but it is an interesting side note.
We do know that John Smith started out as a property owner by buying Lot 18 (the Money Pit lot) on Oak Island in the summer of 1795. When and how did John Smith acquire Frog Island?
This gave Smith total ownership of Frog Island, with at least two houses upon it. Did John Smith buy up this nearby island simply because opportunity presented itself (Smith had married Ann Floyd, and Mary Floyd may have been related to his wife), or did he buy it in further pursuit of treasure? Recorded history hasn't revealed his motivation as of yet, but is there any hint that treasure hunting took place on Frog Island?
In his book, The Oak Island Quest (Windsor, Nova Scotia: Lancelot Press, 1978), William S. Crooker speculated that any original builder with enough engineering experience to build the structures thought to be on Oak Island, would have no problem digging a tunnel over to Frog Island, and caching the treasure there, with no disturbed ground or workings on the surface of the island. An interesting thought indeed, especially knowing that Smith, one of the men who discovered the Money Pit on Oak Island, bothered to buy up the lots on Frog Island as well. While there is no known evidence to support such an idea, we do know that there is at least one site on Frog Island in which it seems as if treasure seekers invested some effort. On the North side of the island, there lies the remains of a pit.
We worked all of Frog I. in the years, 76, 77, 78, 79, 1983... There is strong evidence that suggests many men were housed on Frog I. during the period of Oak I. construction."
- Daniel J. Sullivan
Sullivan was one of the people who worked the pit on Frog Island down to a depth of 27 feet, at which point water became a problem. The story of his work on Frog Island can be read on Jo Atherton's Oak Island Treasure Blog here. It indicates that they thought the pit was a sinkhole, but that they had found manmade artifacts down as deep as 25 feet. So we can infer that a pit of some type existed there before they dug into it in the years between 1976 and 1983, be it a sink hole or the remains of a previous dig.
There also exists a copy of a map that suggests that Frog Island was the site of a landing by unidentified parties in 1347AD. Details of this map will be released by a researcher and author who is completing a book on a related treasure topic in the near future. We look forward to learning more about this mysterious map and the people/group behind the alleged fourteenth century visit.
So there you have it. Oak Island and Frog Island are long standing companions in an enduring mystery.
Thanks for reading and goodnight from The Blockhouse!
By John Wonnacott- Contributing Writer- for oakislandcompendium.ca
It's now generally known that the story of how the Money Pit was discovered on Oak Island by three boys who rowed out to an uninhabited island in Mahone Bay in 1795 is simply not true. Learning the real story has not been not easy, and although we know a few important facts now, many more remain to be pieced together by patient researchers.
So if the popular story is not true, how was the Money Pit actually discovered, and by whom? And when? It’s human nature for treasure seekers to want to keep their activities secret whenever public knowledge could compromise their work somehow. I think that's why the story of the three boys discovering the Money Pit was not explained to the public until more than 50 years later – the principals involved had something to hide. So we shouldn't expect to find an old diary with all of the facts dutifully recorded and we’ll have to build the real story ourselves, piece by piece. One way to get at the truth, is to study the people who had the means, motive and opportunity to find and explore the original Money Pit. So let’s look at the first lot owners, and follow one family in particular. You’ll be surprised and intrigued, I promise!
Among the very first Oak Island lot owners was Anthony Vaughan Sr. He acquired Lot Nos. 15 and 17 in 1765 and then Lot No. 14 in 1781 – the same year that Anthony’s brother Daniel bought Lot No. 13. The Vaughn (or Vaughan) family history  says that Anthony Sr. and Daniel moved from Duchess County NY to settle in the Chester area in the 1760’s. The two brothers had equal shares in a saw mill somewhere in the local area. Possibly, they bought the island lots to have access to the timber for their mill.
Daniel Vaughn had lived an interesting life before he settled in the Mahone Bay area. He had been a commissioned British naval officer, with the rank of Lieutenant (equivalent to the rank of Army Captain), serving as a privateer. At that rank, he would have been in command of vessels smaller than three-masted ships – the size of vessel frequently used as British privateers. I don’t know any details about Daniel’s military service, but it would be fascinating to learn more, because privateers figure prominently in local history – including the 1782 sack of Lunenburg by privateers during the American Revolution (OI Lot owner Jonathon Prescott, a local magistrate at the time, is recorded to have entertained one of the privateer captains the night before the raid). In 1791 Lt. Daniel Vaughn sold his mill shares to his brother, he sold his Oak Island lot to Nathanial Melvin and he moved to Newport, NS. Then in 1793 Daniel moved to St. Martins in the newly formed province of New Brunswick, where he received a large grant of land from the Crown . And then things got very interesting for the Vaughn family in St. Martins.
From these apparently prosaic beginnings, Daniel Vaughn and his family started a ship-building business in St. Martins. Daniel’s son David Vaughn launched their first ship in 1803, the "Rachel", and other ships quickly followed. The Vaughns built ships, and they sailed and traded very successfully. At the peak of their success, the Vaughn business had offices in seven ports around the world – including New York, Seattle and Liverpool. And the question that I can’t answer is: Where did the Vaughns get the money to start a ship-building industry?
One hint regarding the source of Vaughn’s wealth can be traced to the rumors of smuggling in and around St. Martins. There are many delicious stories of smugglers linked to the community and this could be the whole story.There is another clue in Stuart Trueman’s book, “Ghosts Pirates & Treasure Trove: The Phantoms that Haunt New Brunswick”, . Trueman reported that $8000 worth of gold coins were found along the bank of the West Quaco Creek in Southern New Brunswick. (That would be around $480,000 at today’s price of gold). The story says that a box of coins had been washed out of the bank beside the stream, where a passerby found it. The story was printed in the Saint John Telegraph newspaper on 26 Oct 1864. What I found fascinating is that West Quaco Creek runs through the land that Daniel Vaughn was granted in 1793!
I've tried to find a copy of that newspaper article, with no luck. The current Editor of the Telegraph told me that the paper was not in print in 1864, and he thought the date might have been transposed incorrectly – maybe it was 1894? The late Oak Island researcher Paul Wroclawski told me he had always wanted to follow up on this buried gold coin report, and he gave me a microfiche reference number that he thought would lead to the missing newspaper article. But when I looked for the microfiche it turned out that that the critical page of records has gone missing! Not giving up, I located two researchers in New Brunswick who would help me, and I started looking for newspaper stories of gold having been found in the St. Martins area. And lo and behold, I actually found three articles. Here is the first one:
This is a remarkable story. At $5 per gold coin, the find would have amounted to 60,130 coins and the value of the gold would be over $36 million today! The article does not say exactly where the gold was found – only that it washed out of a bank. If we estimate that each coin weighed half an ounce, the physical weight of the hoard would have been over 1800 pounds! Is this the same basic story that Trueman reported on, with one story or the other exaggerated? Or were there two separate finds of gold coins in St Martins?
Now I know we can’t believe everything that is printed in a newspaper. People lied, exaggerated and just got their facts wrong 150 years ago, just as we do today. But I checked up on Mr. W.H. Rourke, who gave the interview for the amazing story. He was a well-known and well respected magistrate in St. Martins and he was a Justice of the Peace. He was also quite wealthy. That doesn’t automatically make him an honest person, but it does make one wonder why he would make that newspaper report, if it was fictional or exaggerated.
The next article that I found was recorded as being published in the same newspaper on the same day. I don’t know if the Saint John Daily Sun had two editions per day, or whether the recorded date for one of these articles is wrong, but whatever the case, the following article was printed:
This article looks to me like someone did not want the first newspaper article printed and had this one printed in an effort to discredit the story. Which one of the articles is true, if either one is? Before I discuss the implications of finding a huge hoard of gold coins on the property of a former old Oak Island land-owner, I’d like to share the third and last newspaper clipping that I found:
This story may be unconnected to the preceding discovery of gold coins at St Martins – after all Mispec is a few miles south of St. Martins, down the Bay of Fundy coast. The helmet and sword have nothing to do with gold coins, and there could be a dozen explanations for their discovery. But the reference to a “pot of old gold coins” found on the same property four years ago (ie.1879) certainly caught my eye. Finding old gold coins is rare, and two or three finds in the same small geographical area goes beyond pure co-incidence, I believe.
My working hypothesis is that Lt. Daniel Vaughn and his brother Anthony, and possibly some other OI lot owners discovered the Money Pit sometime after 1766. I think they could have dug down, found and recovered a decoy treasure that some people believe was buried at a depth around 100 feet. When they attempted to dig further, a flood tunnel was encountered and the hole filled with water to sea level. Those first searchers kept the whole story a secret, known only to close family members. Daniel Vaughn took his share of the recovered treasure and moved away, setting up himself and his family in the shipbuilding business in St. Martins, New Brunswick. Anthony Vaughn Jr. stayed in the Mahone Bay area and in 1795 he started exploring the Money Pit, trying to find more of the treasure that his uncle had found. When Anthony Jr. finally told the story to the public 50 years later, he used his uncle’s description of the log platforms etc, and somewhere between then and now, someone embellished the story with an account of an old oak tree and a ships pulley hanging over a depression in the soil.
Ok, I admit this is a fantastic theory, based on a few thin facts – and in this blog we want to stick to facts and serious investigations. So I want to challenge other readers to investigate other parts of this story. Let’s investigate the details of the lives of the early Oak Island Lot owners. How many of them came into unexplained wealth around the same time as Daniel Vaughn left the area? Can we generally agree to use this as a working theory that further research will help us prove or disprove?
Somewhere in the world, I hope there are old documents sitting in the bottom of a forgotten box, that shed some more light on the Vaughn family and the possibility that Lt. Daniel Vaughn found treasure on Oak Island. Somewhere there may be a few family heirlooms that originate from Oak Island – possibly some gold coins. It would be so gratifying, if this story helped find some of those documents and heirlooms. Studying them would be invaluable!
No matter what you think of all of this, I hope you’ll agree that it is interesting and intriguing. It’s part of our Nova Scotia heritage.
The author of this article writes an excellent review of the treasure hunt on the island, of the Restall family's part in that hunt, and introduces us to the newest treasure seeker, Robert Dunfield, who Sivley describes as, "a fleshy young petroleum geologist from California". Sivley seems to have visited the island and interviewed Dunfield and several others before writing this article.
So who is responsible for the first known citing of the Seven Must Die curse? Is it an embellishment created by Sivley for his article? In the article itself, Sivley credits a Nova Scotia resident, a pretty woman intimately related to the deaths, as the one to tell him about the curse, as seen in the following excerpt from his article which states:
"But along the Nova Scotia shore, the people who have lived with Oak Island all their lives are restless. They are a charming people, but uneducated, suspicious, and highly superstitious. Sitting in her kitchen on the shore, a pretty woman intimately related to the deaths could say without consciousness of oddity. "Legend says that seven men must die before the treasure will be found. One died a hundred years ago in a boiler explosion. Now four more are gone. Maybe someone wants that treasure badly enough for two more to die."
We draw your attention to the fact that the woman mentions the unknown person who died in the boiler explosion, and the four who died on that fateful day in 1965, but she didn't account for the death of Maynard Kaiser, who died from a fall down a shaft on Oak Island in 1897. It's evident that she's only accounting for five deaths when she says, "Maybe someone wants that treasure badly enough for two more to die". (You can read our previous article on the death of Maynard Kaiser here.)
Sivley doesn't identify the woman by name, only that she was intimately related to the deaths. Four people died that tragic day. Robert Restall was the first to topple into the shaft. His son Bobbie (age 23) saw this happen and rushed to his father's aid, but he too was outcome by gas in the shaft. A man named Karl Graeser, longtime friend and financial backer of the Restalls, without hesitation went into the shaft to save the two men. He quickly succumbed to the gas as well. Then Cyril Hiltz (age 16), and Andy DeMont (age 17), both members of the work crew, descended into the shaft, and both collapsed near the bottom. Two other men who had started down the shaft, retreated to the surface. A tourist from Buffalo, New York, a firefighter named Edward White managed to save DeMont, who afterwards said that he was choking on the gas and felt like his legs were failing.
So if we consider who this "pretty woman" was, then we have to consider the families and friends of those who died that day. This same article tells us that Bobby Restall and Cyril Hiltz were both in love and hoping to soon be married. Perhaps our unnamed woman was one of their fiancées, or a sister, mother or other family member of those involved. Whoever she was, we wonder did she fabricate the legend or was it something she heard from another source? For now it remains a mystery.
So we now know that the "Seven must die" curse existed as early as 1967, and that an anonymous local Nova Scotian woman, is the earliest person on record to to speak about it. Whether the curse existed before this article, we can't say, since we've found no previous mention of it. We suppose it is possible Sivley created the idea of the curse himself, but we should extend him the courtesy of believing that it came from his unnamed source.
At this time we can say that the legend has been around for at least 49 years now. Our investigation continues, but for now we hope this information is of interest to all of who've been asking about the curse since it became such a popular, and rather sensational, aspect of the Oak Island mystery.
Thanks for joining us again and, as always, Goodnight from the Blockhouse!
by Doug Crowell - Blockhouse Investigations - Nova Scotia
We've often heard it said that Dan Blankenship chose the spot to sink Borehole 10X on Oak Island, Nova Scotia, by dowsing. So we dug into the records to see if we could find indication of whether this oft repeated "fact" was true or not.
Dowsing is a technique used in search of subterranean targets, such as minerals, water and, even grave sites, through the use of a pointer; usually a forked stick or a pair of dowsing rods.
What we found shows that Blankenship did indeed use dowsing to select the spot. And, not only that, but he also reported many other items of interest, in the same manner. While dowsing is far from a scientifically accepted method, and is often referred to as a pseudoscience, there are those that firmly believe in the method. Blankenship, as you will see, performed extensive investigations by applying the technique, and reported some intriguing outcomes.
In this article we bring you information on dowsing discoveries from the archival records of Triton Alliance.
Dan Blankenship describes the Dowsing Method used
"These particular 'Divining rods' are made of welding rods about 30" long x 1/8" thick probably steel. They are bent at right angle making a handle to hold about 8" from one end. They are then placed in front of you and gripped rather firmly and held horizontally. Upon hitting an attraction the rods will twist and cross in your hands regardless how tightly you grip them. I have had a second person grab the end of the rod while they are motivated by some unknown force and pull them straight. As soon as he lets go the rods return to their original strained position. The force is unmistakable. Following are the tests and controls which I have made in order to check out the authenticity and accuracy of these so called "divining rods". These tests were made with the help and participation of Gerald Dorey, Western Shore, Nova Scotia, when these "rods" work for equally as well as myself." - Dan Blankenship report, 1966
The following is Blankenship's explanation of how they tested the accuracy of dowsing. He'd been in the tunnels at the bottom of the Hedden shaft prior to dowsing, so was familiar with their layout. He let the tunnels fill back up with water and had Gerald Dorey try to identify where the tunnels were and how they were laid out using the dowsing rods. This is Blankenship's own report on the outcomes of his test dowsing.
"#1 Extending outwardly from the Hedden Shaft are two major tunnels at a depth of 110". While we had the shaft pumped down a year ago, I've been in these tunnels many times. In fact I took pictures of them with my movie camera and also my polaroid. I have measured these tunnels with a 100' tape. One is a straight and goes to the Ss.W. 87' where it blanks off. Another short one branches off from it at a sharp angle and extends for about 8' where it blanks off. The third one goes out from the S. side of the Hedden Shaft and circles around to the West coming back into the same shaft in the N.W. corner. This tunnel is about 85' long. Gerald had no way of knowing of the existence of these tunnels, as he never worked on Oak Island until this year and I was the only one currently working there that has been in them. Shortly after I was down in January of last year, the pump was shut off and pulled out of the shaft, the water quickly rising to tide level. I started Gerald walking in the vicinity of the tunnels and told him what to look for. He quickly picked up each tunnel and followed it accurately, encluding telling me where the first two evidently blanked off. I checked his findings with a tape and found he was 100% correct, including telling me the exact width of these tunnels, the circeling one being about 1' narrower than the straight ones. These tunnels incidently go back to the Halifax Co. in 1860 and were still in pretty good shape." - Dan Blankenship report, 1966
Report by Dan Blankenship on the results of dowsing performed on Oak Island.
The following report on the use of dowsing to search Oak Island was written by Dan Blankenship in 1966.
"#2 We found a total of sixteen little fingers sticking out between low and high tide which were made by the original people in order to collect the ocean water and carry it to a central shaft which was filled solid with stone in "Smith's Cove". After finding them with the rods we could actually see twelve with the naked eye, of which we dug up four, and found out how they were constructed."
"#3 We were able to pick up all of the known searching tunnels put in by Halifax Co. in 1868. these were confirmed by comparing our findings with old drawings which Mr. Chappell showed us."
"#4 A complete new system was found in Smith's cove which takes up a different direction than the flood tunnels found. This system was dug into and the old leather soul of a man's shoe was found as well as a man made heart shape stone. The chisel marks are still quite obvious."
"#5 A complete new depository location has been discovered with its own flood tunnel system. The drilling of holes #43-44 and 48 proved their existence. Subsequent tunnels, and small rooms away from the work chambers complete with their own spiral tunnel have been found. This opens up a brand new theory of what was done by the original people and one that could at last explain why nobody before us have been successful. This discovery also explain how they (depositors) fooled their own people and kept their treasure safe."
"#6 In checking a certain area of beach removed from Smith's Cove, I got an attraction about 5' wide and 245' long running parallel with the beach between low and high tide. We quickly dug into this and found these conditions to be true. The original sides of the trench were very obvious and the trench was full with stone, gravel and sand."
"#7 We also traced out a flooding tunnel from the "Money Pit". This tunnel was followed 1155' away to the opposite side of the island. We later put in dye in the "Pit" and pumped in thousands of gallons of water, and went skin diving in order to find out where it was leading to. It showed up at this location 1155' away about 3 to 4 hours later."
"#8 At least eight new flood tunnels were found by the use of "diving rods". All of these have subsequently been checked out either by digging or by skin diving.
"#9 In following the longest of these flood tunnels from the "Money Pit" we found sunken areas of depressions. In digging these up a few feet we definitely would find the circular outline of a shaft. These are air shafts which these people had to have."
Out of these items reported, #7 caught our attention the most, as it seems that they confirmed the dowsing results with a dye test. Not only that, but it seemed to indicate a channel through the island in terrain vastly different from that of the Money Pit location. We've not found a follow-up on this report as of yet.
Regardless of the end results of dowsing on Oak Island, its application in the search has given us major milestones in the history of the island, such as:
Who knew dowsing could generate such interest?
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
by John Wonnacott - Contributing Writer
In 1970, David Tobias and Dan Blankenship built a temporary earthfill cofferdam at Smith’s Cove on Oak Island, located in a position where it would isolate a section of the shore from the ocean - the place where the artificial beach, coconut fibre filtration system and finger drain system had once been said to be located.
David Tobias raised the money necessary to do the work, and he collaborated with Dan to decide on what work they would attempt to undertake in the cove.
The cofferdam was built out of glacial till, dug from the higher ground nearby. Here is the full report regarding its construction, as written by Dan Blankenship on September 18th, 1970:
"On August 13th, we started the dam around Smith's Cove. The purpose of this dam is of course to more fully explore original workings. I am very glad that this course was recommended by Ben and agreed to by David. Personally, I have felt all along that this was the logical area to explore and quite possibly prove or disprove past history. According to the record, this beach was never thourghly and systematically explored and some evidence even after these many years should still be there. After all, if any one of these five drains are encountered, when followed into the beach, should lead to the vertical shaft that would almost have had to be there in order to make the flooding effective.
The dam took 13 working days and cost $5778.72 in direct costs, which included two dozers, on front-end loader, two trucks, all common labor and bags for sand and spikes for making log coffer cribbing, which were sunk with rock in order to stabilize the deepest part. Aug. 22nd we lost the end 30 feet due to a storm and Aug. 24th we lost over 40 feet and only succeeded in saving another 100 feet by taking emergency measures which included installing a 2in. continuous plank wall 4 ft. high and about 100 ft. long to save our earth from washing away. The dam was completed August 28th.
This dam is well beyond any previous one put up by earlier searchers according to the rocks that were left. The inside top of the road measures 450ft from original shore line and the outside is much longer. the base averages 60 or more and the top is about 15 ft. wide with remaining average high tide. Approximately 12,00 yds. of earth was used in its construction."
What transpired, after the water was pumped out of the cofferdam, was that Dan Blankenship exposed a number of very interesting artifacts that were buried in the old sea bottom inside the cofferdam. One of the most interesting finds in that investigation was what has been called the “U-shaped Structure” (item #2 in the photo below).
Les MacPhie has done some great work, by keeping track of the location of many different investigations, tying them together by resolving differences in the survey systems used to locate significant items in each investigation. Following is a drawing that I received from Les, which accurately shows the U-shaped structure in relation to the finger drain system (and other notable Oak Island features) discovered by Robert Dunfield Senior, but which was mostly obliterated by the time that Dan Blankenship’s cofferdam was built.
An unusually high tide flooded Dan’s cofferdam before the Tobias and Blankenship investigation at Smith’s Cove could be completed. Subsequent tides washed out the cofferdam and the work was never repeated.
In 1970 Blankenship had observed (and recorded in photographs) that the U-shaped structure had notches sawn into it every 4 feet along the base log and also along each “arm” that pointed toward shore. Each notch had a different roman numeral cut with a hand saw beside the notch. The bottom of each notch was 6 inches wide and pointed upward and shoreward at an angle of 45 degrees. Several timbers were also found, still attached to the base log, with their upper ends rotted off, with the lower end of the timber secured into one of the notches, with a 2 inch diameter oak peg. It looked like the timbers were used to support lateral planks that would have been caulked, to form a water-tight wooden structure.
Many people have speculated that the U-shaped structure was built to serve as the inner water-tight barrier, that would have been buried inside an earthen cofferdam, to make it more permanent and more water-tight. We know that there were cofferdams built by Searchers in 1850 and again in 1866, in about the same location as the U-shaped structure; and quite possibly the U-shaped structure is partial remains of one of those searcher’s cofferdams. However the shape of the structure is a concern for me. All indications are that earthen cofferdams would be built in a smooth concave arc shape, stretching from one shore, out into the ocean as far as low tide or possibly lower, and then back to shore. Instead, the U-shaped structure has 2 asymmetrical arms that form sharp angles with the base log that runs parallel to the shore. I always ask myself: “Why would anyone build a water-tight structure in that shape – why not build it along the alignment of a cofferdam? The sharp angles between the arms and the base log are a mystery to me.
Another oddity in regards to this structure is that it does not line up with the artificial beach and the finger drain system. If the structure was part of a cofferdam, it would have been intended to either cut off the water supply to the finger drain system and flood tunnel that connects to the Money Pit - if it was built by a Searcher – or it would have been built to allow construction of the finger drains and flood tunnel if it was built by an original Depositor.
Back around the year 2000, when I was working with David Tobias and Les MacPhie, we started talking about the U-shaped structure, wondering about its real purpose, and who built it. We decided that we should go back to Smith’s Cove at low tide, dig up the shoreward end of one of the U-shaped structure arms, and recover some pieces of it so that we could do some scientific testing to determine the age of the structure.
So I used the old photograph of Dan Blankenship’s diggings, and I measured distances between large rocks to establish a scale factor, and then I went to the site where I marked out the probable location of the shoreward end of the north arm of the structure. I hired a backhoe and with the help of two laborers, we started digging an 8 foot deep trench that should intersect the structure. We set up my portable water pump to keep the excavation reasonably dry and quite miraculously we found pieces of an old log in a matter of a few minutes. At first I didn’t think we had found the structure, because everything was covered in mud. But as soon as I washed off some of the mud, I could see notches with roman numerals beside them. We recovered 3 pieces of log, backfilled the trench and tidied up the site..
After carefully washing the log pieces, I collected a clean sample of wood from one piece and sent it off for radio-carbon dating. Unfortunately the lab test came back indicating a probable age of 1860 plus or minus 30 years. I had taken the wood sample from near the center of the log, with an average of 30 tree growth rings out to the outer edge of the log, so radio-carbon dating was saying the log was cut in 1890, plus or minus 30 years. This was not very encouraging, as I was hoping that the wood was much older.
The next thing that was done, was to cut an end off one of the log pieces and send it off to a specialist in dendrochronolgy. That’s the study of tree ring growth, that allows researchers to determine the exact year that a tree stopped growing, by matching the pattern of tree rings in a log sample, to a master data base of tree rings which span a long time period. Each species of trees has a different pattern of growth, and each regional weather pattern would create a different growth pattern. So we needed to find a dendrochronological researcher who has a data base valid for Oak Island, and valid for the red spruce which was the species of log used to make the U-shaped structure. Again luck was not in our favor, and the dendrochronology researcher failed to find a match for our sample.
"...basically all radio-carbon dating results for objects less than 500 years old are unreliable."
So these two negative results discouraged me, and not much more was done on this front until 2015. However last year, when I was looking at the radio-carbon dating test results that the Lagina brothers obtained for a sample of wood they had had recently tested, I noticed two things. First, they used the same test lab that I had used 15 years ago (Beta Scientific in Miami). And secondly, the test result came back with five different age ranges. It seems that recent research into the Carbon-14 isotope concentration in the atmosphere has determined that the atmospheric C-14 concentration varied a lot in the past 500 years, and basically all radio-carbon dating results for objects less than 500 years old are unreliable.
So I decided to go back to the U-shaped structure pieces that we recovered about 15 years ago, get a new sample and have it examined by a new dendrochronological researcher who has a much bigger and more detailed set of data bases for Nova Scotia tree species. I had donated the U-shaped structure samples to Danny Hennigar, for his use as displays in his Oak Island museum in Mahone Bay. So I asked Danny to help me get a new sample from one of those log pieces. Danny supported the new research completely, we got a good sample from one of the old logs and I sent the sample off for dendrochronological testing. And that’s where we are right now – waiting for a dendrochronology researcher to see if he can get a match with the new sample. I say “we” because Les MacPhie and Danny Hennigar have supported this new research and have contributed ideas and suggestions all along the way.
It’s pretty exciting for me. If we can get a match to a date earlier than 1795, we might have the first scientific proof that the U-shaped structure was built by the original Depositors. Of course there is a bigger probability that we will just prove that the structure was built by Searchers. But if we can pin an exact date to the U-shaped structure, that will at least fill in a few blanks in the Oak Island mystery.
“Why do you think the U-shaped structure was built in the shape and location that it is?”
I would like to challenge all our readers with a question: “Why do you think the U-shaped structure was built in the shape and location that it is?” If we can learn the real purpose that the structure was built to serve, it might unlock some more answers to this part of the mystery. If the U-shaped structure was built by Depositors, it could be a vitally important question.
Missing! An investigative report into Oak Island's long lost 90 Foot Stone (Part 2 in a special series)
by Doug Crowell - Blockhouse Investigations - Nova Scotia
In Part 1 of this special series, we related the story of the discovery of the inscribed stone found ninety feet deep in Oak Island's Money Pit in 1802 or 1803, which is often referred to as the 90 Foot Stone. We also took a look at what it was said to look like. The image shown here at the top of this article is an artist's (G. Metson) conception of what the stone may have looked like. It was conceived for a map of Oak Island printed by the Provincial Government's Book Store in 1979. Can you see the error the artist made in the cipher?
In this article, follow the journey of the 90 Foot Stone from its discovery on Oak Island, to the store in Halifax from which it disappeared some 116 years later- a time period in which no known drawings, tracings, or photographs were created of this famous and much described artifact. The following is a timeline we've created from source documents. Let's follow the stone(y) path!
Timeline of the 90FT Stone
The story of the 90ft Stone begins in 1862, when mentioned in passing by treasure hunter Jotham B. McCully in a letter. As a date of discovery for the Money Pit eventually emerged, that letter helped to set a date of 1803 for the discovery of the stone, so we will start our timeline at that date of discovery, but we want to emphasize that no documents are known to exist to firmly set the date of discovery of the stone, or the date that the first company of men, known as the Onslow Company, performed their dig to that depth.
The 90ft Stone is found in the Money Pit on Oak Island.
"About seven years afterwards, Simeon Lynds, of Onslow, went down to Chester, and happening to stop with Mr. Vaughn, he was informed of what had taken place. He then agreed to get up a company, which he did, of about 25 or 30 men, and they commenced where the first left off, and sunk the pit 93 feet, finding a mark every ten feet. Some of them were charcoal, some putty, and one at 80 feet was a stone cut square, two feet long and about a foot thick, with several characters on it."
- Source: A letter written by McCully of Truro on June 2 1862, and printed in the Liverpool Transcript in October of 1862. Since a discovery date of 1795 was eventually stated elsewhere, it is generally believed that the dig in which the stone was found took place in 1802 or 1803, because of the statement here, that the dig occurred "seven years afterwards".
The first public mention of the 90ft Stone.
The first public mention of the stone was made in a letter written by McCully, who was responding to criticisms on the treasure hunt being performed at that time on Oak Island. A local paper had written an article entitled, "The Oak Island Folly", to which McCully responded with his letter relating why those involved in the current attempt had faith in their endeavor. The stone was mentioned as one piece of evidence for their conviction.
“at 80 feet was a stone cut square, two feet long and about a foot thick, with several characters on it. “
- Source: A letter written by J.B. McCully of Truro on June 2 1862, and printed in the Liverpool Transcript in October of 1862.
Note that the stone is said to be cut square, and measure two feet long, and about a foot thick.
The 90ft Stone is used as part of a chimney in a house on Oak Island.
At some point after being taken from the Money Pit, the stone was used in the chimney of house on Oak Island.
“…and the eighty feet mark was a stone about two feet long, cut square, which is yet to be seen in the chimney of an old house near the pit.”
- Source: 1863 February 19 – Yarmouth Herald (Newspaper)
Note that the stone is said to measure two feet long, cut square.
John Smith's house on Oak Island is identified as the house in which the 90ft Stone was used to build a chimney.
"This remarkable stone was pretty far down in the pit, laying in the centre with the engraved side down. As it was preserved in the family of Mr. Smith it may be seen by the curious at the present day.“
- Source: 1864 January 2 - The Colonist, Tri-weekly Edition, Halifax N.S. (Newspaper)
First mention that the inscribed side of the stone was found facedown in the pit.
"a flag stone about two feet long and one wide, with a number of rudely cut letters and figures upon it. They were in hopes the inscription would throw some valuable light on their search, but unfortunately they could not decipher it, as it was either too badly cut or did not appear to be in their own vernacular."
- Source: 1864 January 2 - The Colonist, Tri-weekly Edition, Halifax N.S. (Newspaper)
The Historical Society of Nova Scotia asks who currently has the stone.
On January 2nd of 1864, John Hunter-Duvar, secretary of the Historical Society of Nova Scotia, writes to George Cooke, a member of the current treasure hunters on Oak Island, asking to learn who currently possesses the 90ft Stone.
“Sir, An interesting sketch of the Oak Island enterprise appears in the “Colonist” newspaper of this morning, and of which I believe you are the author. You mention a flagstone bearing an inscription was found and as it was preserved in the family of Mr. Smith ‘it may be seen by the curious at the present day.’ May I beg, in the name of the society, to be favored with the name of the person in whose possession the stone is, as, if authentic, it cannot fail to be important as a historical object. I have the honor to be Sir, Your most obedient servant J. Hunter Duvar Corr. Sec.
- Source: 1864 January 2 – Letter written by John Hunter Duvar to George Cooke
George Cooke replies to the Historical Society and says the stone as still part of the chimney/fireplace.
“On my return I found your letter of the 2nd instant, desiring information respecting the flag-stone bearing an inscription taken out of the Old Pit on Oak Island, awaiting me… The stone in question was saved by Mr. Smith, who owned the place. About 40 years ago, at a time when nothing was doing at the island & when the prospects of the treasure seekers appeared altogether hopeless. Mr. Smith built, what was then called, his new house. In building it, he found that this interesting stone would suit admirably a corner in the back part of his chimney, and as he began to consider it of no value to himself or to any one else, on account of the operations at the island having ceased, he unfortunately put it into the chimney, the flat side out. Fourteen years ago Mr. Smith pointed out the stone, then & I believe still in the chimney, and assured me that it was the identical stone taken out of the “Money Pit” on the Island, in his presence. Mr. Smith has since died & the property has passed into other hands. Mr. Graves now owns the property & building is occupied by the present Oak Island Association. I am not aware whether Mr. Graves knows anything about the stone being in the Chimney. On making inquiries since receipt of you letter, I find that the chimney has been boxed round by a wood partition, and that a flight of stairs goes up near where the stone is inserted. I was not aware of this before. This may prevent the stone from being got at without trouble, and perhaps, expense, but as it is very important for the interests of the “Oak Island Association” if for no other object that the inscription on the stone should be deciphered, its position in the chimney ought not to ___ be an insuperable barrier to the attempt to decipher it being made. At the time I saw the stone I noticed that there were some rudely cut letters, figures or characters upon it. I cannot recollect which, but they appear as if they had been scraped out by a blunt instrument, rather than cut with a sharp one. I have the honor to be sir, Your Most Obedient Servant George Cooke
- Source: 1864 January 27 – Letter written by George Cooke to John Hunter-Duvar
This account of the 90ft Stone is notable as the first Eyewitness account. George Cooke is the first person to indicate that he has personally seen the stone and was not simply passing a story along. He does not mention measurements, but describes the inscription as rudely cut and that they "appear as if they had been scraped out by a blunt instrument, rather than cut with a sharp one. The stone is still part of the fireplace as of January 27, 1864.
The stone appears in the first work of fiction about Oak Island. Indications that it hasn't been decoded as of yet.
In 1873, author James De Mille (also a Professor at Dalhousie University at the same time as Professor Liechti, who is credited with deciphering the inscription on the 90ft Stone), wrote a book entitled, "Treasure of the Sea". This book, though fictional, relates the state of Oak Island at that time. De Mille summered in Chester, so was well positioned to learn of all the developments in the treasure hunt as they happened. De Mille is noted for including real history, places, and events in his books. As the book is a work of fiction, we can not place too much weight on the facts presented in it about Oak Island, but we can assume that De Mille related them as they actually were.
“They went to work and dug away for a little distance, when they came to something hard. It was a stone hewn, - not very smooth, - a kind of sandstone, and on this they saw some marks that looked like strange letters. They were ignorant men, but they knew the alphabet, and they knew that this was no kind of English letters at all; but it seemed to them that they might be letters of some strange alphabet. They took this stone away, and it has been preserved ever since, and it is there yet on the island, built into the wall of a cottage there for safe keeping. That’s what I mean when I say I’ve seen the traces of Captain Kidd, for it’s my solemn conviction that he cut that inscription on the stone in some foreign letters, or perhaps some secret cipher.”
“Then there’s that stone with the mysterious inscription. It’s been seen by hundreds. No one has ever been found yet who can make out what it means. As I said before, it is either some foreign language, or else, as is quite probable, it is some secret cipher, known only to Kidd himself.”
“They have the impudence to say that it isn’t an inscription at all. Actually, because no one can decipher it, they say it ain’t an inscription! They say it’s only some accidental scratches! Now, I allow,” continued the landlord, “that the marks are rather faint, and irregular; but how can any man look at them, and say they are not an inscription – how can any man look at them and say that they’re accidental scratches – is a thing that makes me fairly dumb with amazement.”
- Source: 1873 – Treasure of the Seas (Book) by James De Mille
We take note of two points that De Mille's story seems to convey to us.
1. The statement "that the marks are faint, and irregular" seems to agree with George Cooke's earlier account.
2. De Mille states that "No one has ever been found yet who can make out what it means." One would think that if the "Ten Feet Below", or even the "Forty Feet Below" decoding had been made by the time De Mille wrote this book, he would have related that in his story, as he seems to have kept very close to the details stated in the non-fictional reports.
The 90ft Stone has been removed from the chimney, taken to Halifax, and decoded.
A Prospectus is published in Boston to attract investors for a new attempt on recovering the treasure. A history of the discovery and the attempts to date are given in the prospectus.
“The 90 Foot mark was a flat stone, about three feet long and 16 inches wide. On it marks or characters had been cut. Afterwards it was placed in the jamb of a fireplace that Mr. Smith was building in his house, and while there was viewed by thousands of people. Many years afterwards, it was taken out of the chimney and taken to Halifax to have, if possible, the characters deciphered. On expert gave his reading of the inscriptions as follows: “Ten feet below are two million pounds buried.” We give this statement for what it is worth, but by no means claim that this is the correct interpretation. Apart from this however, the fact remains that the history and description of the stone as given above has never been disputed.”
- Source: Oak Island Treasure Company Prospectus, published in 1893 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA
We learn, for the first time, that the stone has been taken to Halifax to have the characters deciphered.
This prospectus seems to be the origin of and the first mention of the inscription having been deciphered. after this point in time, most newspaper accounts start mentioning the decoded message of "Ten Feet Below Two Million Pounds are Buried."
We also now know that sometime between George Cooke's letter to John Hunter-Duvar (January 27,1864) and this Prospectus (after November 23rd, 1893) the stone was removed from the chimney of John Smith's former home (Smith died in 1857, and his house was being rented by the new owner, Anthony Graves, to the Oak Island Association for their base of operations on the island. We still do not know where in Halifax it was taken.
Creighton's Book Store is named as the place in Halifax where the 90ft Stone is residing, but the inscription is worn away due to blows from a bookbinder's mallet.
The 90ft Stone is now located in Creighton's Bookstore (which may be because former owner A.O. Creighton was a member of the earlier treasure hunting companies in the 1860s). It is thought that he was displaying the stone in the window of his bookbinders shop (A&H Creighton), in order to raise interest in buying stock in a new attempt on the Oak Island Treasure. By 1909 though, Augustus O. Creighton had passed away and Herbert Creighton had merged the business with Edward Marshall to form Creighton & Marshall Stationers and Blank Book Manufacturers. We know that this is where Captain Bowdoin, who was heading up the latest treasure hunt (with future U.S. President FDR), went in person to see the stone. He later wrote about his visit to the shop in Colliers Magazine in 1911.
’The quaintly carven stone’ is on exhibition at present in Creighton’s Book Store, in Halifax, but the inscriptions were erased long ago after the stone had endured the blows from a bookbinder’s mallet. But at the time of the discovery of the stone the inscriptions were translated to read: ‘Ten feet below, 2,000,000 pounds lie buried.’”
- Source: 1909 April 29 – Fairbanks Daily News Miner (Newspaper)
The 90ft Stone is still in Halifax. Was used for beating leather in a book-binder's shop until the inscription had worn away.
“Ninety feet below the surface, the laborers found a large flat stone or quarried slab, three feet long and sixteen inches wide, upon which was chiseled the traces of an inscription. This stone was used in the jamb of a fireplace of a new house belonging to Smith, and was later taken to Halifax in the hope of having the mysterious inscription deciphered. One wise man declared that the letters read, ‘Ten feet below two million pounds lie buried.” But this verdict was mostly guess-work. The stone is still in Halifax, where it was used for beating leather in a book-binder’s shop until the inscription had been worn away.”
- Source: 1911 – The Book of Buried Treasure (book) by Ralph D. Paine
We learn the inscription was worn away because of its use as a surface upon which to beat leather, which is more specific than the 1909 statement, "the inscription is worn away due to blows from a bookbinders mallet.
Captain H.L. Bowdoin sees the 90ft Stone at Creighton's Bookbindery.
“…and at ninety feet a large flat stone was found, upon which was a curious inscription. The stone was taken to Halifax, and one expert declared the characters read as follows: ‘Ten feet below two million pounds lie buried.’” –Page 19
“I have seen the rock found in the Money Pit, which is now in Creighton’s bookbindery in Halifax.” –Page 20
“While in Halifax we examined the stone found in the Money Pit, the characters on which were supposed to mean: “Ten feet below two million pounds lie buried.” The rock is of a basalt type hard and fine-grained.” –Page 20
“Sixth – There never were any characters on the rock found in the Money Pit. Because: (a) The rock, being hard, they could not wear off. (b) There are a few scratches, etc., made by Creighton’s employees, as they acknowledged, but there is not, and never was, a system of characters carved on the stone.” –Page 20
- Source: 1911 August 19 – Collier’s Magazine [H.L. Bowdoin’s Eyewitness Account]
Whether from sour grapes at being denied a second attempt to recover the treasure, or because he really felt that the stone never had an inscription on it, Bowdoin stated as much in the 1911 Collier's Magazine article he wrote about his expedition to Oak Island. Regardless, it stands as one of the few eyewitness accounts that can be referenced at present day.
The 90ft Stone taken to Truro, Nova Scotia.
A newspaper article published on November 17, 1920 seems to be the first to mention that the stone may have been taken to Truro. No source is mentioned for this claim.
“At 95 feet they came across a stone, with an inscription chiseled into its surface. The stone was taken to Truro where people said they could read on it: ‘Ten feet below $10,000,000 lies buried.”
- Source: 1920 November 17 – Waterloo Evening Courier (Newspaper)
This is the first indication that we have found of the 90FT Stone being taken to Truro.
The 90ft Stone goes back to Halifax, to the Bookbinder's shop.
“At ninety feet, the diggers unearthed a thin flat stone, about three feet long and sixteen inches wide. On one face it bore peculiar characters which nobody could decipher. The searchers felt, however, that the treasure hunt was getting hot. The stone was shown to everyone who visited the Island in those days. Smith built this stone into his fireplace, with the strange characters outermost, so that visitors might see and admire it. Many years after his death, the stone was removed from the fireplace and taken to Halifax, where the local savants were unable to translate the inscription. It was then taken to the home of J. B. McCulley in Truro, where it was exhibited to hundreds of friends of the McCulleys, who became interested in a later treasure company. Somehow the stone fell into the hands of a bookbinder, who used it as a base upon which to beat leather for many years. A generation later, with the inscription nearly worn away, the stone found its way to a book store in Halifax, and what happened to it after that I was unable to learn. But there are plenty of people living who have seen the stone. Nobody, however, ever seriously pretended to translate the inscription.”
- Source: 1929 June – The Oak Island Treasure by Charles B. Driscoll (Book)
Driscoll tells us the 90ft Stone went from Oak Island to Halifax, then on to Truro to the home of Jotham B. McCully, and then back to Halifax to the Bookbinder's shop. From there it went on to the book store, which sounds like the transition from A&H Creighton Bookbinders, to Creighton & Marshall Stationers, after A.O Creighton's death.
The 90ft Stone is missing!
“Am sorry that the stone you refer to, cannot be located. Several attempts have been made to trace it, but without success. The last authentic word I had of this stone, was from Jefferson McDonald, who told me in 1894, that some thirty years before that, he helped to take down a partition at the rear of a fire-place in which the stone was used as a back, with the cut characters at the rear. The Partition was torn down for the purpose of examining and reading, if possible, the characters. He said the characters were easily discernible, but no person present could decipher them. The house and stone have long since disappeared, and no trace of the later has ever been obtained. This is most unfortunate, but it is just one more illustration of the great neglect of all connected with this project in the early days, to the historical features of this most interesting island.”
- Source: 1933 December 19 – Letter from F.L. Blair to Thomas Nixon
In this letter from Oak Iskland Treasure Trove License holder and former treasure hunter Frederick L. Blair to Thomas Nixon, Blair indicates that the stone is missing. The way he tells the story agrees with George Cooke's letter of 1864, but the wording is vague as to whether the stone ever left John Smith's house before it was torn down.
A detailed description of the 90FT Stone is given by Eyewitness.
“The business of ‘A. & H. Creighton’ bookbinders, 64 Upper Water Street, Halifax, was established in 1844 and lasted until 1879 when A. Creighton either died or retired, and Herbert Creighton and Edward Marshall my father, formed the firm of ‘Creighton & Marshall’. I was born in 1879. One of the Creighton’s was interested in the Oak Island Treasure Co. and had brought to the city a stone which I well remember seeing as a boy, and until the business was merged in 1919 in the present firm of Phillips & Marshall. The stone was about 2 feet long, 15 inches wide, and 10 inches thick, and weighed about 175 pounds. It had two smooth surfaces, with rough sides with traces of cement attached to them. Tradition said that it had been part of two fireplaces. The corners were not squared but somewhat rounded. The block resembled dark Swedish granite or fine grained porphyry, very hard, and with an olive tinge, and did not resemble any local stone. Tradition said that it had been found originally in the mouth of the “Money Pit”. While in Creighton’s possession some lad had cut his initials ‘J.M.” on one corner, but apart from this there was no evidence of any inscription either cut or painted on the stone. Creighton used the stone for a beating stone and weight. When the business was closed in 1919, Thos. Forhan, since deceased, asked for the stone, the history of which seems to have been generally known. When Marshall left the premises in 1919, the stone was left behind, but Forhan does not seem to have taken it. Search at Forhan’s business premises and residence two years ago disclosed no stone. The full history of the stone was written up in ‘the Suburban” about 1903 or 1904. Alfred Tregunno of the Halifax Seed Company stated to Messrs. Blair and Harris that S.R. Cossey & Co. occupied the premises 64 Upper Water Street from 1919 to 1927. The premises were remodeled and occupied by the firm in 1919. In 1927 the premises was taken over by the Halifax Seed Store. About 6 mos. After being occupied, enquiry was made of the premises but failed to locate the stone. Blair, Harris, and Tregunno made a thorough search of the premises and basement today and found no trace of the stone. Mr. Laing and Mr. Tracey of the Brookfield Construction Company states that that Company remodeled the premises 64 Upper Water Street in 1919. Laing does not remember the stone, but says that it is possible that it would have been taken to their storeyards on Smith Street, or mill-yard on Mitchell Street, to be used in construction if suitable. The yards are now covered in snow, but a search will be made at an early date.
- Source: 1935 March 27 – Statement of Harry W. Marshall to R.V. Harris and Fred L. Blair
The investigation, by Harris and Blair, in to the whereabouts of the 90ft Stone, tell us many new pieces of information. It gives us another supposed eyewitness account of the 90FT Stone, along with the most detailed description of it yet. Two Smooth surfaces, with rough sides . the corners not squared but somewhat rounded. The letters "J.M." carved in one corner, and lastly but not least it "resembled dark Swedish granite or fine grained porphyry, with an olive tinge. These details given in a statement by Harry Marshall, son of Edward Marshall, who was one of the owners of Creighton & Marshalls.
We also learn that Creighton & Marshalls closed down in 1919, and the Halifax Seed Store eventually took over the premises in 1927. Harris and Blair made a thorough search of the Halifax Seed Store and did not turn up the stone.
Rev. Austen Tremaize Kempton produces a copy the alleged inscription, and its decoding, for the 90FT Stone.
“In their digging they came to charcoal, planks, putty, and coca nut fibre. But the most important thing they found was when about 90 feet a stone 3 feet long, 16 inches wide with this inscription cut on it with much care, as the cutting was said to be very distinct and protected by pieces of board carefully laid over the inscription.”
- Source: 1949 April 19 – Kempton Letter to Frederick L. Blair contains Oak Island Story alleged to have been written in 1909
Rev. Kempton had been given this story and a copy of the cipher in 1909. It was written by a retired school teacher from Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. Kempton did not name the teacher in his letter to Blair. Right or wrong, this cipher has been used as the basis for all illustrations of the 90ft Stone since this time. It is interesting that the version of the Oak Island Story that accompanies this cipher, and which relates that treasure was found in the early dig, has not gained wide acceptance.
This version of the story describes an inscription that was more than rudely scratched symbols.
Kempton first gave the cipher to Edward Rowe Snow, a popular treasure hunter and author of books about treasure. Edward used the cipher in a book of his, in 1954, in which the story of Oak Island was told. Edward knew Frederick Blair, and this may be how the connection was established between Blair and Kempton.
Kempton Cipher revealed in print for the first time.
“The mystery grew stranger and stranger, but when the ninety-foot mark was reached, the greatest mystery of all awaited the diggers. It was a round, flat stone, about three feet high and sixteen inches wide. On the face of the stone curious characters had been cut. Reverend A. T. Kempton of Cambridge, Massachusetts, believes that an old Irish schoolmaster worked out the code and translated the inscription to read, letter for letter, as follows: Forty Feet Below Two Million Pounds Are Buried. However, it is only fair to state that there are many who claim that the above inscription was not the one found on the stone… Perhaps the continuous flood of the shaft was caused by the removal of the strange, flat stone. In order to defeat anyone who persevered in looking for the treasure to the extent of digging ninety feet underground, the stone many have been placed as a key to unlock the drains from the ocean."
- Source: 1954 – True Tales of Buried Treasure (Book) by Edward Rowe Snow
Edward Rowe Snow introduces the public to the Kempton Cipher, and suggests that the message of the cipher, Forty Feet Below Two Million Pounds are Buried, was enticement to cause anyone persistent enough to dig to a depth of 90 feet to remove the stone and spring the flood traps. Or perhaps the message was meant to mock the treasure hunters with the knowledge that they were so close, and yet so far, to recovering the treasure.
Professor James Liechti, of Dalhousie University, named as the person who decoded the 90ft Stone.
“McNutt states: At forty feet a tier of charcoal; at fifty feet a tier of smooth stones from the beach, with figures and letters cut on them; at sixty feet a tier of manila grass and the rind of the coconut; at seventy feet a tier of putty; at eighty feet a stone three feet long and one foot square. With figures and letters cut on it, and it was freestone, being different than any on that coast.” -Page 15
“An Inscribed Stone The DesBrisay account says: Farther down was a flagstone about two feet long and one wide, with a number of rudely cut letters and figures upon it. They were in hopes this inscription would throw some valuable light on their search, but unfortunately they could not decipher it, as it was too badly cut, or did not appear to be in their own vernacular. This remarkable stone was pretty far down in the Pit, lying in the centre with the engraved side down. As it was preserved in the family of Mr. Smith, it may be seen by the curious at the present day (1864).” –Page 19 & 20
“Other versions of the story of the inscribed stone differ as to the depth at which it was found, and respecting its dimensions. The stone was removed and later placed in the back of a fireplace in John smith’s house, which he was building near the site, and while there was seen by hundreds of people. About 1865-1866 the stone was removed and taken to Halifax. Among those who worked to remove the stone was one Jefferson W. MacDonald, who told Mr. F. L. Blair, in 1894, that the inscription was easily traced, but that no person present could decipher it. Apparently no photograph or rubbing was ever made.” –Page 20
“The stone was brought to Halifax by either A.O. or Herbert Creighton of A. & H. Creighton, bookbinders, 64 Upper Water Street, Halifax, a firm established in 1844. A.O. Creighton was Treasurer of the Oak island Association, formed in 1866, and it was exhibited in the shop window when the company was endeavouring to sell shares. It is said that James Liechti, a Professor of Languages (1866-1906) at Dalhousie College, expressed his opinion that the inscription meant “Ten feet below two million pounds lie buried” but most people were skeptical respecting this version, because of the concurrent efforts being made to sell stock.” –Page 20
“The business of A. & H. Creighton continued until 1879, when Mr. A.O. Creighton either died or retired and Mr. Herbert Creighton and Edward Marshall formed the firm of “Creighton & Marshall” and carried on business at the old stand. Mr. Harry W. Marshall, son of Edward Marshall, was born in 1879, and entered the employ of the firm as a boy in 1890. In a statement made on March 27th, 1935, by him to Frederick L. Blair, and the writer, Mr. Marshall said: I well remember seeing it as a boy and until the business was merged in 1919 in the present firm of Phillips and Marshall. The stone was about two feet long, fifteen inches wide and ten inches thick, and weighed about 175 pounds. It had two smooth surfaces, with rough sides and traces of cement attached to them. Tradition said that it had been part of two fireplaces. The corners were not squared but somewhat rounded. The block resembled grained porphyry, very hard, and with an olive tinge, and did not resemble any local Nova Scotia stone. While in Creighton’s possession someone had cut his initials “J.M.” on one corner, but apart from this there was no evidence of any inscription either cut or painted on the stone. It had completely faded out. We used the stone for a beating stone and weight. When the business was closed, in 1919, Thomas Forhan, since deceased, asked for the stone, the history of which seems to have been generally known. When we left the premises in 1919 the stone was left behind, but Forhan does not seem to have taken it. Search at Forhan’s business premises and residence two years ago (1933) disclosed no stone.” –Page 20 & 21
“Thorough searches of the old premises in 1935, and of the stone yards of Brookfield Construction Company, on smith and Mitchell Streets, failed to discover the stone. Captain H. L. Bowdoin, mentioned in a later chapter, saw the stone in 1909. It was then at the Creighton book-bindery but no characters were found on the stone at that time.” –Page 21
“(6) There never were any characters on the rock found on the Money Pit.” –Page 118 (Bowdoin's claim)
“Sixth: The existence of an inscribed stone and the tradition respecting it were also matters in the same class as the ring-bolt. Its history was incontrovertible, and spoke for itself.”- Page 120
“…It should be recalled that no satisfactory explanation has yet been found regarding the untranslatable inscription on the porphyry stone” –Page 173
- Source: 1958 June -The Oak Island Mystery (Book) by Reginald Vanderbilt Harris
R.V. Harris relates much of what we have already reviewed about the 90ft Stone, and the search for this stone, in his famous 1958 book. What he tells us, which is a new revelation, is that Professor James Liechti is the school teacher / professor who translated the inscription (or cipher). Liechti passed away in 1925, so it was not possible for anyone to confirm this with him directly after publication of Harris' book.
An Alternate Decoding of the 90FT Stone is made by Professor Wilhelm
"As has been indicated above, the present whereabouts of the carved stone is not known today. All reports are that the stone has been "lost". It seems very doubtful that such a possible key to the mystery could be lost or carelessly treated, since there is the tenacious belief that the Oak Island structure contains an enormous treasure. It seems much more likely that the stone was hidden away by one of the treasure seekers. since the persons who have been associated with the Oak Island effort have been in many cases second and third generation relatives of the earlier seekers, it is more plausible that the carved stone still exists. The depth at which the carved stone was found as well as its dimensions and appearance also are a matter of controversy. From the deciphered message set forth below it seems likely that the stone was found at eighty feet or less as is indicated in the DeBrisay account. The message carved on the stone also is in doubt. However, as will be shown below, the message, as remembered, appears to be substantially correct. Faulty memory, erosion of some of the carving, and XVI Century cryptological practices could explain the few "errors". When the author (Wilhelm) first examined the message on the carved stone, he was struck by the resemblance between the symbols and those used on the Cipher Disk which were first described in Porta's book De Furtivis Literarum Notis, published in 1563..."
- Source: Bureau of Business Research Working Paper No. 23, The Spanish in Nova Scotia in the XVI Century: A Hint in the Oak Island Treasure Mystery (Research Paper) by Ross Wilhelm, Associate Professor of Business Economics, University of Michigan
Dr. Wilhelm uses the Kempton Cipher to create his decipherment of the inscription, "At eighty guide maize or millet estuary or firth drain F" and clarifies his translation by inserting his own words in parenthesis as so, ""At eighty (you) guide maize or millet (into the) estuary or firth drain F". Doctor Wilhelm also makes a couple of adjustments to the Kempton cipher to make his decoding work. He attributes the need to do this, rightly or wrongly, as errors in the Kempton Cipher due to incorrect recollection of the remembered cipher. There is no real indication of whether the cipher given to Rev. Kempton as part of an Oak Island Story, and written by a retired teacher in Lunenburg County was a remembered inscription, or taken directly from an unknown tracing or drawing of the cipher on the stone. Dr. Wilhelm may be making an assumption here, based on the knowledge that no cipher copies were known to exist in the public knowledge.
Dr. Wilhelm uses DeBrisay, Harris, and Snow for his source materials and therefore duplicates their descriptions of the 90FT Stone. He does not provide us with a new descriptive of the stone itself, just of the cipher that may have been inscribed upon it.
Stone said to read, "Forty Feet Below Two Million Pounds lie Buried"
“Shortly after the shaft was discovered a team of sweaty excavators was supposed to have written (etched in flag-stone) announcement, left by the original diggers no doubt, which read: ‘Forty feet below two million pounds lie buried.’”
- Source: 1972 November 29 - Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper)
First mention that we have found that changes the "Ten Feet Below" decoding to "Forty Feet Below". This seems to be an adoption of Kempton's decoding as released by Edward Rowe Snow in his book.
Blockhouse Investigations finds the Book Store and inspects the premises.
Kel Hancock, Thomas Kingston, and Doug Crowell search the former premises of Creighton & Marshalls and make some interesting discoveries.
Join us in Part 3 when we relate our investigation of the Creighton Book Store premises. More to come...
By the way, did you catch the error in the 90ft Stone illustration from the Provincial Governments Tourist Map? It decodes to read, "Forty Feet Bebelow". There is an extra "T:" in the cipher.
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
by Doug Crowell - Blockhouse Investigations - Nova Scotia
There has long been an argument over whether the supposed man-made flood tunnels on Oak Island are real or not. Those in favor of such structures point to the physical indications that had been found at various times over the history of the search, like finger drains and an artificial coconut filtration system in Smith’s Cove. Opponents to the existence of the flood tunnels point to the geology of that part of the island, and posit that it is simply natural fissures in the bedrock or overburden which cause the flooding, with no man-made work required other than the digging of a hole.
When the topic of geology enters the debate, it is time to turn to science for an answer. For science, we here at Blockhouse Investigations turn to men or women of science. Better yet, should those individuals already be very familiar with the Oak Island mystery and the physical island itself. We sat down with John Wonnacott this past weekend and he enlightened us on a few facts about Oak Island that we are sure you are going to find really interesting.
Mr. Wonnacott (he prefers John) began his career as a military engineer in the Canadian Armed Forces, overseeing engineering and construction projects, and rising to the rank of Major by the time he finished serving. He has worked as a field engineer on such private sector projects as the Alaska Highway Gas Pipeline project, and managed construction projects for JD Irving Limited. He was awarded the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers’ Award for Engineering Excellence for his work as Deputy Project Manager for the Diavik Diamond Mines north of Yellowknife, Canada. He met David Tobias and Les MacPhie about 20 years ago, and this led to a deep interest in all aspects of Oak Island. David Tobias and his wife Pearl became his friends, and he spent many hours reading documents, talking over theories and making new investigation plans with Les and David. Back around 2000, John conducted an excavation at Oak Island, which resulted in the recovery of several pieces of the U-shaped structure built at Smith’s Cove. In recent years, John has done some work to assist the Lagina brothers in their on-going investigations, and he is currently working with Les MacPhie and Danny Hennigar on an important Oak Island project.
John has graciously agreed to share some of his insights with us and we are extremely fortunate to gain his knowledge and experience in both engineering and Oak Island. We know that he has already opened our eyes with some of his island insights and we are sure that you are going to really enjoy hearing what he has to say about some components of the mystery.
Doug Crowell: When Kel and I sat down with you for a chat this past Monday, you surprised us by stating that the flood tunnel or tunnels on Oak Island are most likely real. Can you elaborate on this for our readers?
John Wonnacott: I would like to mention some common engineering properties of the soil that covers part of Oak Island – and some basic physics – to explain why I am convinced that there must be a manmade Money Pit and at least one Flood Tunnel approximately where they have been believed to exist.
DC: By all means, please continue!
JW: There is not much hard physical evidence regarding Oak Island that an open-minded, skeptical person would accept without question; but here are a few points that I think we can all agree with:
DC: I would agree with that. Oak Island is like a huge pincushion of boreholes in the Money Pit area.
DC: So what was found in those boreholes to convince you that man-made structures exist?
JW: Glacial till.
DC: Now I am curious indeed.
DC: How does glacial till prove flood tunnels?
JW: Glacial till is a type of soil that is common in Canada. It consists of an unsorted mixture of sand, gravel, cobbles, boulders, silt and clay, that was deposited by glaciers. In many cases, including at Oak Island, thick glaciers lay on top of the till for many centuries, causing the soil to be heavily compressed. Because till has so many different size pieces of soil, the voids between pieces are filled with smaller and smaller pieces and because it is often very heavily compressed, it is a dense, impervious material that water cannot even seep through, except in very small quantities over very long time periods.
DC: So the weight of the glaciers, sitting on top of the soil for a long, long time, compacts that soil so tightly that it is water tight?
JW: Yes. Glacial till is so reliably impermeable, that engineers often use natural till deposits as water-tight barriers when designing dams etc.
JW: That’s because glacial till does not form deep, permanent cracks that could conduct ground water. It’s soil that would shift and move if water was moving through cracks, so if any cracks did form, they would naturally seal themselves. If there was ever a large cavity in the till soil, it would naturally collapse over time.
DC: So this applies to the Money Pit side of Oak Island?
JW: It does, and that said, no drill hole in the Money Pit area has ever found cracks, natural cavities or porous zones in the till.
JW: By the way, you might think that glaciers must be so cold that the soil beneath them would be frozen - so that liquid water could not be squeezed out of the till by the weight of the ice - but that is not usually the case. Ice is a decent insulator, and with glaciers, at a depth of somewhere between 200 and 300 meters there is liquid water along with the ice. So when thick glaciers lie on the ground, the soil beneath them is unfrozen.
DC: If the glacial till doesn’t naturally allow water to run or seep through it, how did the Money Pit flood?
JW: I can answer that by explaining what I believe, and the easiest way for me to do that is to get you to cast your mind back to the time when the first of the Searchers excavated at the Money Pit. Where did the water come from, that flooded them out once they reached about 100 feet below ground surface? There are only three possible situations to consider:
DC: Very interesting John. This may change the way people think in regards to the flooding.
JW: The way I see it, it does not matter whether there was a Money Pit or not. When the first Searchers dug down about 100 feet and were flooded, the water had to have come from a Flood Tunnel. It does not make any sense at all, for a man-made Flood Tunnel to exist without there being a Money Pit that was dug to at least 100 feet. And it does not make much sense either, to have a Flood Tunnel unless the Money Pit went somewhat deeper than 100 feet. So I believe there was a Money Pit and a Flood Tunnel. How else can anyone explain the water?
DC: Thanks for the great insights from a scientific and engineering perspective John. We really look forward to our next interview with you, and the research you are going to share.
We here at Blockhouse Investigations hope that you find the implications of what John Wonnacott conveyed to us, in the above interview, as thought provoking as we have. As John has stated that glacial till is water tight and self sealing, and since it is what the Money Pit was created in it, and is surrounded by it on all sides, including the bottom, then this suggests that water could not have found its way into the shaft unless a man-made water delivery system had been created for that very purpose. Many of us may have assumed that those who point out that water can move through fissures in the anhydrite bedrock had a legitimate argument to counter the idea of flood tunnels, but maybe we didn't know the rest of the story until now.
Stayed tuned, because John hasn't finished surprising us with science yet.
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
Doug Crowell- Blockhouse Investigations- Nova Scotia
You never know what you might find when searching through archives for information on Nova Scotia's Oak Island mystery. Sometimes you'll stumble upon a little treasure. That's what happened on cold and gloomy Saturday afternoon in January when Blockhouse Investigation's Kel Hancock and Doug Crowell, found an old yellowed newspaper clipping in a scrapbook held at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, in Halifax.
The article was printed in the December 1st 1971 issue of the now defunct Dartmouth Free Press under the headline, Local diver who worked on Oak Island describes descent into mystery chamber, and was written by reporter, Graham Colville. What's significant about the piece is that it describes the descent of a lone diver into the cold, dark depths of Oak Island's famed Borehole 10x.
“I suddenly fell into a small cavern, rather square in shape, and about 12 feet deep, with a flat floor. There seemed to be odd-looking things there, irregular contours on the side of the chamber jutting out.”- Alan Sagar in the Dartmouth Free Press, 1971
In 1971 Alan Sagar, a retired Lieutenant Commander and former Commanding Officer of the Fleet Diving Unit HMCS Granby, was owner-operator of Merganser Diving Services in Halifax, when he was contacted with a unique job offer on Oak Island. In October 1971 he descended down into Borehole 10X, gaining access to the cavity at 235 feet. His dive involved being lowered into the 27 inch pipe which, at that time, ran all the way from the surface down into the bedrock -the shaft had not been enlarged above bedrock yet. The first 90 feet was dry shaft and above water. He didn't use traditional diving gear because the narrow space wouldn't accommodate a diver with large tanks. Instead, he hugged a small bottle of compressed air to his chest as they lowered him into the chamber, in order to reduce the risk of snagging.
“I wouldn’t let it out of my hands. It’s very hazardous using it in their conditions because it gets bashed around a lot.”- Alan Sagar, 1971
Blockhouse Investigations interviewed Sagar, now 90 years old, at his sea-side home, earlier this week, where he recalled that when he emerged into the cavity, he could see the far wall. He was looking through the camera, filming the cavity. As he slowly panned the camera over the area, he attempted to move forward, and the motion caused the silt to bloom up and he could no longer see anything at all. There was nothing to do but return to the surface.
“I got caught up on a weld between pipe segments”
One thing the 1971 newspaper article doesn’t tell you, is that during his ascent he became stuck in the pipe while still underwater. The humble veteran diver didn't mention this at first. But it was quickly pointed out by his wife Margaret, who has just lately learned of some of these fascinating details of her husband’s Oak Island adventure. The couple recently watched some episodes of The Curse of Oak Island TV Show, and that spurred some family discussions. Sagar then matter-of-factly told us, “I got caught up on a weld between pipe segments”
“Once I came up, I didn’t want to go back down again. A bit stupid to do that”
Sagar told us that he got caught up on a weld while being pulled up out of the pipe, and it caused some tense moments. He was unsure of just how long it took them to get him moving again, but he recalled that he thought those on the surface used a backhoe to apply enough upward pressure on the steel cable to free him. When we asked this very experienced diver if he found this situation frightening, he gave us very reserved answer, suitable to a wartime veteran,“Once I came up, I didn’t want to go back down again. A bit stupid to do that” .
“I met Blankenship at a diner on the mainland. We had breakfast and then headed over to the island.”
Lt. Commander, The Reverend, Alan Sagar began his British Naval career in 1943, at age 18, serving in the Royal Navy as Signalman, visiting Hiroshima not long after the bomb was dropped. In 1954 he qualified as a Clearance Diver at HMS Vernon, Portsmouth, and in 1955 joined the Royal Canadian Navy in Halifax as an instructor for Clearance Diving. He retired in 1970, and founded Merganser Diving Services, utilizing knowledge of underwater explosives, camera work, and exploration for various clients. Among the less desirable tasks was diving to recover bodies. It was these skills that likely brought him to the attention of Triton Alliance of Oak Island and led to his historic dive in 10X. “I met Blankenship at a diner on the mainland. We had breakfast and then headed over to the island', he told us.
When we questioned him on the details of what he observed in the 10X cavity Sagar said that his focus was on working the camera, while the crew on the surface were monitoring the video feed, so he no longer recalls much detail. We learned from Margaret that the surface crew for Merganser Diving Services consisted of an employee and Sagar’s then 12 year old son Robie, who often assisted his dad on his dives for the family owned business. During our pleasant afternoon chat with these fine folk, we learned that Alan Sagar had inaugurated a magazine for divers , back in 1954, called Dippers’ Digest, which is still being published today. He not only wrote articles for the digest, he also drew illustrations and cartoons for it. We were treated to a look at some of those excellent cartoons. In later years, he gave more attention to his artwork, and very kindly gifted us with a couple of his illustrations featuring Nova Scotia’s maritime heritage.
After meeting with Alan we determined that we should try and interview the Merganser surface crew, and Margaret was instrumental in helping us set up an interview with Robie Sagar, who also graciously agreed to meet with us. On Monday, February 15th 2016, we took a road trip to visit with him, at his home, and over a cup of tea, Blockhouse Investigations conducted the following interview.
Kel Hancock: Thanks for meeting with us to talk about your dad’s dive into Borehole 10X in October of 1971. The newspaper article says your dad had a very expensive underwater video camera that he used to film in the 10X Cavity.
Robie Sagar: He would take that to go look at wharves and stuff. He would dive down and sort of record all this stuff.
KH: In regards to the camera your father used, do you know if this state of the art video camera was something he had utilized in his company before diving 10X, or did he acquire the camera to do 10X?
RS: No, no, he definitely had it before. We were doing all kinds of funky stuff with it.
Doug Crowell: So going into pipes; diving into pipes; your dad wasn’t a stranger to that?
RS: Well there was a couple we took on, one crazy one for Scotia Square in Halifax. Their sceptic there was built in 4x4 chambers. I was down there with him at 4am in the morning. We were filming the system, and there were rats there too; big rats! Yeah, he would go down in these manholes, some of them really deep. So he was pretty accustomed to going in pipes. So there was a lot of that.
KH: I am trying to put together how Blankenship may have heard about your dad and why he may have contacted him. His work was more or less specialized and he had this high tech camera.
RS: Oh yeah, he was high tech. They [the Navy] would send him in to demine these mines, and do explosives. Then when he retired, and he got this camera, Oak Island would be the perfect scenario for him, because, like you know, it was tight quarters, and he was a top end highly qualified diver as it were. He’s gotten the bends I don’t know how many goddamned, I don’t know. We thought we lost him many times. He was once in the decompression chamber for two weeks one time.
KH: Your dad worked with Triton Alliance from the end of July until October in 1971. Besides a consultation period, in which your dad told us he met Dan Blankenship for the first time over breakfast in a diner on the mainland, do you know what else he might have been doing for them in that period?
RS: I know there was quite a buzz around it for a period of time. For my involvement, was like, I am there for the work, but yes I do remember there being quite a bit of a buzz around for one summer.
DC: Were you aware of the Oak Island mystery, the story, before you went down there for this job?
RS: No, not really. Not really; twelve years old, I’m just kind of like, “Oh Jesus, I’ve got to go off to another frigging job.”
KH: At that time in 1971, we believe that Borehole 10X was still only 27 inches in diameter all the way from the surface down to the cavity at 235 feet. The diver, John Chatterton, would dove into the cavity this past year, in 2015, only have to navigate the 27 inch pipe and hole from a depth of 180 feet, where the expanded shaft ends at bedrock, down to 235 feet. That would be 55 feet of the 27 inch pathway. Your dad had to dive 235 feet of 27 inch pathway. Can you confirm this for us?
RS: I remember when we were there, you know, if the pipe wasn’t 27, it was pretty small around. Right. And they had; I am trying think; to remember details as clearly as I could, and I remember I was the one feeding the line to him, and every 10 feet there would be a mark. 100 feet. 110, you know, and all that sort of stuff. Feeding the cable and watching the monitor. And Dan the man; they called him Dan the man; Blankenship I guess it was. Dan the man, they always referred to him as that. He was there, looking into the back of the camper.
KH: The camper was part of your Dad’s business?
RS: Yeah, that’s right. That was his thing. He did it all, the cable came out of the camper, went into this double recording tape. So there should be a record of the whole thing, and I’m surprised it hasn’t shown up yet, because I was watching it recording when I was lowering the cable and all the boys were there watching. He hit water at 50 feet, or even less than that; 30 feet; can’t remember. I am getting vague about when he hit the water. He had a single tank on, and a regulator, and you know, he was like this. [ holds his arms out like he is hugging something to his chest]
DC: He was holding his canister of air?
KH: Oh my god. Clutched to his chest?
RS: Yes, he was. You had to. He was like this, holding this frigging full tank. Crazy, absolutely insane.
KH: That must have been quite a day?
RS: You know, at the time it didn’t seem like anything, other than I knew he was putting himself at a lot of risk. I mean, oh man, you are going down like, what was it 230 feet.
KH: So there were no comms?
RS: No what?
KH: No communications?
RS: No, no, no, no. Nothing. I mean the only way you could say; and this is the crazy part, because one tug is yes, two is stop, and one is yes, pull me up, or whatever.
DC: So you say there were other people there besides Dan Blankenship, you, and your dad the day of the dive?
RS: I was twelve years old. I’m just; been thinking about it a lot. About what went down, and yeah, there was a lot of guys there. Dan the man, and all the other guys with the hard hats, and they were standing over top of the hole, and I was lowering it and lowering it and lowering it, and I was thinking it was really deep, he was going down; down. And um anyway, he went down, and like I said, he finally hit the bottom, and he came around and I distinctly remember that, that – hopefully it is on the tape to back me up – but as he comes along, and as he sees the pole, and then, I do believe, there was some part of a hand. There was a skeleton hand, and when he did see it, I noticed that there was kind of like this type of thing [indicates with his own arm that a forearm and hand were sticking up in a vertical position]. Oh Jesus, you know.
DC: You said earlier that that was sticking up out of the silt?
RS: Out of the silt. Yeah, out of the silt, not far away from the beam. And it was across this; this sort of; sort of a room I guess, or a cavern size, but you opened up into it, it seemed like a good; a good size, and you know, these guys were just freaking out at this point in time, “Oh my god man, this is it, it’s got to be here!”, right. So there is a real big commotion up top. It really got them stirred up. And so anyway, you know, he did that, and then I just remember he was looking at it, and he held there for a little bit, and then he ah, and he sort of like moved forward, and the silt was so fine, it was about, at least, a couple feet thick. So as soon as he went forward it just ballooned up, and it just; it just blackened out right after that. But that was enough to just set these guys, like, smiling, and just get them really excited, about; you know, what is going on. So the hard part was getting him back out of the hole. So again, no communication, so they’re pulling him; you know, winding him up out of the hole on a steel cable, and pulling up and winding him up, and where the; the pipes got stuck together, the welds, he got hung up. I don’t know if it was part of a regulator, or part of his suit, I can’t remember what part actually was getting hung up. And we were sort of pulling him apart, cause we were cranking on him, right. Trying to get him to hell out of there, and he was pulling on this thing himself.
DC: What kind of winch, manual or electric?
RS: A cable, steel cable and a winch. No, not electric. It was manual. So that was one thing that did kind of save him, because, like, if it was electric, or like much stronger…
KH: It would have pulled him apart?
RS: Yeah, because he got totally fetched up. I’m just not sure if it was his regulator or suit. I can’t; I’m not going to say which one it was, and he didn’t tell ya which one it was?
DC: No, he said he got hung up on a weld, and then he said he thought they used a backhoe to get enough force to pull him out of there.
RS: Ah, yeah…
DC: That was his recollection
RS: Yeah, I guess. Wow. Man. I don’t know… geez. It could have been, I just know he was really freaking out, and he was hung up, what; like, when he came out, he was really upset because of the fact that, you know, he was hung down there, and thinking he was going to run out of air you know.
DC: The newspaper article said the water was drained down to 80 feet. So there was air down to 80 feet and then the water started and we asked him, did he make it out of the water before he got hung up, or was he still under the water, and he said he was still under the water.
RS: Yes, that is how I remember it.
KH: How long do you think he was down total?
RS: An hour, hour and a half.
KH: How much of that time do you think he was actually in the cavern?
RS: Probably not that long, because once he was in the cavern and moving towards this hand, or… the silt just went black.
KH: They are having the same problems today.
RS: So then he had to find his, you know, come back out, follow the cable, and just head for out, because there is nothing else you can do. So he wasn’t there for more than a few minutes.
DC: Did they pull the camera out ahead of him?
RS: Oh, what did we do?
DC: Because in the newspaper article they talked about the camera being lowered down ahead of him.
RS: It had to go down below him, and then he did the filming, and I can’t remember if; yes, it would have to, it would have to, it would just be an awful mess.
KH: So he sent it up?
RS: Yes, he sent it up first, and then they wound him up and then he got snagged in the pipe.
DC: You would almost think you would loosen off a little bit, a give him a little slack.
RS: Well, see, you would just think he is getting heavier or whatever, or something, I’m not sure. But there was a certain point where, hey, he isn’t coming anymore.
DC: Our understanding is that that hole isn’t plumb either, so when he was being raised up through the pipe, he likely was brushing up along one side of the pipe. So it is easy to believe that he could snag on the welding of a joint between pipes.
RS: So there is no way to find out; I know there is a tape out there.
KH: We are going to try and find it.
RS: There is a tape out there, I’ll tell ya. I was there when it was made.
DC: So that is what you remember. Your dad came out into the cavity, and with the camera, he was panning and you saw what looked like a hand and a timber?
RS: Yeah, yup, oh definitely the timber. That is why I was hesitant about saying there was like a hand because geez, like I mean you know, but; that’s what we all kind of thought it was.”
RS: I wish you could see the tape.
DC: It was your impression that it was a wooden timber?
RS: Oh god yeah.
DC: It wasn’t drill casing or pipe?
RS: No, no; it was square. That is something I am pretty clear on.
DC: Have you ever been back to Oak Island since that day?
RS: No, never been back. Like I said, it was a one-time thing.
KH: Robie, we greatly appreciate you for allowing us to interview you. Thank you!
On our drive back to the Annapolis Valley, we marveled at what it must have been like for those present on that day in October of 1971 when, as video recordings were being made, they viewed what they perceived to be a man-made timber post and a skeleton hand sticking up out of about a 2 foot thick layer of silt. No chest was mentioned this day. The diver himself, then as now, was more reserved in his comments to the press in that article back in December of 1971.
“I think all these things are sort of open to interpretation. On screen there were various sorts of wood-shaped or wooden-looking objects which can be interpreted as man-made.”- Alan Sagar, 1971
Thanks for reading, and Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
also a well known and sad event in the history of the Oak Island treasure hunt. More can be read about the Restalls in the book Oak Island Family, written by Lee Lamb. We highly recommend it as an excellent look into work on the island in the 1960s, and the life of a treasure hunting family. You will also enjoy pictures from the island that have rarely been seen.
Here at Blockhouse Investigations, when researching the "curse" to try and determine its (most likely recent) origins, we wondered just how many people could be proven to have died on the island since the Money Pit was discovered. Many of those engaged in the treasure hunt have passed away since the inception of the recovery operations back in 1795. Simeon Lynds, Jotham McCully, Frederick Blair, and Gilbert Hedden, have all passed beyond the material concerns of this world, just to name a few, but how many have departed while on the island itself? The following is a list of those that are documented to have died on Oak Island since 1795:
The work of one Oak Island researcher suggests that there is at least one cemetery on Oak Island, the location of which has been lost to current knowledge. Some of the 14 who have died on the island, as listed above, may be buried on the island itself, as their graves are yet to be found on the mainland. Of those fourteen people listed, seven of them can be identified as having engaged in treasure hunting on the island. Does this mean the "Curse of Oak Island" has been fulfilled? We leave that up to you, the reader, to decide what you believe, and believe in.
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Blockhouse Investigations-Nova Scotia
By now most people have heard about Oak Island being cursed and that seven men must die before the mysterious treasure reveals itself. In fact the aptly named reality television show, The Curse of Oak Island, makes full use of the legend. But is Oak Island really cursed? And, if so, whom?
Blockhouse Investigations has sought to answer those questions and, not surprisingly, like most of the legends associated with Oak Island, nobody seems to know. The mention of a specific number makes it a rather specific legend so one would think that somewhere there is a specific reference that could lead us to its origins.We do know that a couple of authors writing about Oak Island have attributed it to famed Nova Scotia folklorist, Dr. Helen Creighton, but we’ve found no reference to it in either her published works or her archival material. There are a number of local anecdotes that allude to the island being haunted and that a ghost guards the treasure, but nothing about a curse. Some people say it’s mentioned in her 1957 book, Bluenose Ghosts, and some say it comes from her earlier, Folklore of Lunenburg County, published in 1950. But there is no specific seven must die curse mentioned in either.
One thing that Creighton’s work can tell us though is that the legend contains two very common folklore motifs: the magical number 7, and a treasure requiring blood to be shed in order to recover it. The former is almost ubiquitous in treasure and ghost lore- the other number being 3. And the latter is also a common theme that’s normally based on belief that blood was shed when the treasure was first gotten or when it was buried so therefore, it must be shed to recover it. Although several newspaper accounts over the past two centuries have made use of allusions to the island being haunted and/or cursed in some way, we’ve yet to find specific mention of the seven must die motif or information on the origins of the curse.
“Men fear death as children fear the dark, and as that natural fear is increased in children by tales, so is the other”- Francis Bacon
There is a tradition handed down in the McGinnis family, descendants of famed Money Pit discoverer Daniel McGinnis (Donald MacInnes), that the Mi’kmaq in the area placed a curse on them but it only applies to McGinnis men for some reason. And, of course, immediately following the 1897 death of worker Maynard Kaiser stories sprang up that his demise was no accident but the work of the supernatural- in fact, the ghost of Captain Kidd himself. But once again, neither of these make specific reference to a seven must die curse.
Recently a bit of a sensation resulted from the untimely death of a young producer on The Curse of Oak Island’s production team. This was shamelessly exploited and sensationalized by a self-styled treasure hunter who had made a brief appearance on the show. The gist of the many unfounded rumours that began to spread was that, perhaps, this young man’s death represented the 7th and that the treasure may now reveal itself. We won’t comment on how deeply repulsed we were by these repugnant rumours that led to this man’s death being discussed in the most uncaring and insensitive way. But we will say that it was shameful and was made even more so by the people right here in our home province who, not only bought into it, but fueled it with more rumour and nonsense.
“If you want to tell a grownup fairytales, you have to look for the dark side” –Juan Antonio Bayona
Regardless, even if there was any truth at all to the legend, we have no way of knowing that the six people whose names appear on Oak Island's monument to fallen treasure hunters, are the only diggers who have died on the island. McGinnis family tradition has it that sometime before 1827 young Henry McGinnis, son of Daniel, drowned when the pit flooded- presumably the Money Pit. We’re continuing to investigate.
Although we can’t yet tell you the origins of the Seven Must Die curse, we can tell you that it has never been an intrinsic element of the telling of the Legend of Oak Island. This leads us to think that it may be something that is relatively new and, either totally made-up or the result of a misinterpretation of local folklore. We are continuing our research into the legend and hopefully we will be able to establish how it came to be. We welcome any thoughts and comments our readers may have on the subject.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a quote from a fisherman and storyteller whom Dr. Creighton interviewed when collecting folklore, “Sometimes I tell the truth and sometimes I don’t”. This reminds me of what I often tell kids when I’m entertaining them with tall-tales, “All my stories are true except for the ones I make up”. Folklore, although it may often have an intrinsic relation to a real event, is after all just folklore. And I personally feel that it behooves serious and ardent Oak Island enthusiasts to recognize it as such. Don’t get me wrong, the legends and myths in the Oak Island mystery are great. They are fun, interesting and intriguing. They add colour, mystique and a unique Nova Scotia flavor to the entire story. But in the end, they are not evidence. Here at Blockhouse we’ve been accused of being outright skeptics and we’ve even been accused of seeking to destroy the entire Oak Island mystery by disproving everything. Nothing could be further from the truth. And truth is the operative word.
Many Oak Island theorists have either willfully or unwittingly repeated countless untruths. Many times an entire theory that is otherwise very well researched and presented, totally falls apart because so much is being supported by one little linchpin of fable. We urge readers to be attentive to this fact and not to believe everything they read just because it’s on a website or even in a book. To theorists that wish to be taken seriously I have but two pieces of advice, only use credible information and always, always, be truthful.
Good day from the Blockhouse!
Hedden was referring to Sir Francis Bacon and the theory that Bacon was responsible for the workings on Oak Island, created to hide documents and manuscripts that may include, among other things, the original manuscripts of Shakespeare. If you remember from our last article, one of the three things that Hedden absolutely believed in was the piece of parchment said to have been brought up out of the ground, from 153 feet below, during drilling done by William Chappell in 1897. Hedden believed that it would be of interest to study this theory more, with Oak Island in mind. Here in his own words, is what he imparted to Harris:
"One correspondent was a Mr. B. F. Ruth of Ames, Iowa, who wrote me after the article in the Saturday Evening Post. He wrote a thirty page letter giving his arguments as to why the cache was undoubtedly that of Bacons lost manuscripts and some of his arguments were quite plausible. He gives two references as applying to the work done at Oak, both taken from Sylva Sylvarum. The first - Page 7, Century 1, Experiment 25 (2nd edition(1628)) refers to an artificial water course. The second describing the preservation of objects is Page 33, Experiment 100 which refers to preservation in Mercury. He also notes that Bacon went into the preservation of documents at great length all through his writings in that book. He also makes appoint of Bacon's will in which he says "As for my name and memory, I leave it to men's charitable speeches, to foreign lands, and to the next ages." He accepts the date 1669 as the probable time of origin and states that it was probably planned and executed by Bacon's chaplain Rawley, after Bacon's death.
I also corresponded with a Mrs. Gladys Stewart of Rochester, the daughter of a prominent Baconian - Dr. Owen. Dr. Owen in his life had made many discoveries and interpretations of the Baconian cipher messages contained in early printings of Shakespeare and others and had found enough to induce him to lead an expedition to the river Wy in Scotland in search of a buried cache. He was successful in finding a cement vault under a river in its center but found it to be empty. It received quite a bit of publicity at the time and is a matter of record. Mrs. Stewart wrote me much along the same line as Ruth, also quoting the Sylvarum and somewhere between them I received the information I passed on to you. I paid little attention to it at the time being more or less amused and feeling that recovery was necessary to prove anything. I met Mrs. Stewart when she visited New York and was quite impressed with her knowledge and sincerity."
R.V. Harris, though in receipt of this information from Hedden, did not include this theory in the first edition of his book, The Oak Island Mystery, published in 1958 by the Ryerson Press of Toronto. He did however, preserve this letter from Hedden in his research papers donated to the Nova Scotia Public Archives. We're very fortunate he did, otherwise it might never be known that this particular theory, quite popular now, was being considered in relation to Oak Island some 63 years ago. Hedden didn't know about Nolan's Cross or the swamp though. We have more current researchers and theorists to thank for that.
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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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