Friday, October 4, 2013

Buried Bullion, Eureka Sentinel,1877

                                      BURIED BULLION

[The Eureka Sentinel, May 6th, 1877]


If our old residents will recall the Spring of 1872, they will remember a bold stage robbery that occurred on the Pioche and Hamilton road at that time.

Not only was the stage robbed of a large amount of bullion, but the driver, James Mann, was killed, and a passenger wounded.

The plunder — six bars of bullion — amounted to over $8,000, and it was believed that it was buried somewhere in the vicinity.

Two men were arrested and taken to Belmont, and after an examination were discharged for want of proof of complicity in the robbery.

As these men were lurking around Eureka canyon both before and after their arrest, it was suspected that they had planted the treasure in the canyon, and in view of this suspicion they were shadowed for some time.

The men were too shrewd for the officers, and after lingering here for a couple of weeks they departed for Colorado Territory.

This was rendered necessary by the constant vigilance of the authorities and the impossibility of raising or disposing of buried bullion.


They proceeded immediately to Denver City, and their career in that place was very brief.

Three weeks after their arrival there they became embroiled in a saloon row, in which one of them was killed and the other severely wounded, having been shot in the head.

He lingered along in the hospital for three months, an operation having been performed by which the bullet had been extracted and his skull trepanned.

He was finally discharged as cured, and in about a week became violently insane.

He was arrested, and after a proper examination committed to the asylum, where he was confined until about two years ago, when he died.

During his incarceration it was always necessary to confine him in a straight jacket, as he was very violent.

His attendant, a bright young follow, was impressed with the persistency with which he recurred to the fact of his having concealed a large amount of bullion in Eureka canyon.

When he first spoke of the subject, it was looked upon as the mere ravings of an insane man, but the constant reiteration of the story, and the details accompanying the statement, induced Bryson, the attendant, to listen with more attention.

By questioning the crazy man, he found out the whole story, from the inception of the robbery until his discharge from the hospital.

Bryson still looked upon it as the fancy of a disordered brain and gave it but little thought, except in building day dreams on the remote possibility of its truth.

During the last six months of Smith's (the surviving highwayman) imprisonment, he became very reticent, his mania taking another form, in marked contrast with his former garrulousness; moody and morose fits were finally succeeded by an idiotic state, and the poor fellow died from softening of the brain.


Soon after this, Bryson had an altercation with the resident physician and was discharged.

This was some eighteen months ago, and he left for his home in Winterset, Iowa, where he went to work on a farm.

It was a dull life to him, and the probabilities are that he would not have remained in that humdrum community very long had it not been that he met his fate in the person of a charming young lady, the daughter of his employer.

He was a bright, and withal a good-looking young follow, and his manly ways soon wrought an impression on the girl's heart, and in a short time she reciprocated the passion.

It was the old story, love's young dream, "When love's well timed, 'tis not a fault to love; the strong, the brave, the virtuous and wise sink in the soft captivity together."

With mutual vows and tender flame those two lived on, concealing from the stern parent their passion and dreading the moment of its discovery.

He was penniless and she the only daughter of a sire who counted his acres of waving corn by the hundreds, and annually fattened numberless hogs for the Chicago market.

The disparity of their positions was great, but after a year's faithful service at the plow and around the farm, Bryson finally picked up courage to declare his love and ask the old man's consent.


The storm burst at once and our hero was covered with contumely.

How dare he aspire to the hand of an heiress of broad acres, the belle of the country and the apple of the old man's eye; he is a penniless adventurer, a hired man, etc.

He was discharged instanter, and found himself adrift on the wide world with the savings of a year's work as a nest-egg of the fortune that he must have to placate the father's anger, He went to town after a stolen interview with his beloved, in which both swore eternal constancy.

He tried to persuade her to elope, but her fears got the better of her love and she declined to precipitate matters, but suggested that it would be better for him to make a fortune and then demand a reconsideration of the old man's fiat.

He left for town, and, while pondering over his forlorn condition, his thoughts reverted to the chatterings of his former ward in the asylum.


Cogitating on the subject he finally wrote to Eureka to learn if any such robbery had ever been committed, and was startled to receive an answer that it had.

The more he thought over the matter the more he became possessed with the idea that there might be a grain of truth in Smith's story.

As there was no fortune in sight in Winterset, he came to the determination of taking the desperate chance and verifying the truth of the tale.

After a last stolen meeting and most affecting parting from his true love, he purchased an emigrant ticket, was soon en route, and at the conclusion of the eight-day journey he landed safely in Eureka [California].

Smith had dwelt on the particular spot that he had buried his stolen treasure and Bryson's excellent memory served him well.

Go up Eureka canyon to the gulch just north of the Roslin furnace, up this gulch 320 yards, and then turn up the hill to a clump of dwarfed cedar trees, and just 13 feet to the west of the first tree the bullion is buried.

Those were the directions that Smith had reiterated numberless times.

His first inquiry was for the Roslin furnace, and the next move was a visit to the locality.

There was the ruins of the old works, sure enough, and he quickly paced off 320 yards up the gulch.

The clump of dwarfed cedars were growing on the hill, and he was satisfied that everything tallied so far.

He did not examine further, but waited patiently for a moonlight night, when he once more proceeded to the spot and commenced his explorations with a beating heart and excited brain; he plied the pick and shovel lustily, and, after an hour's work he was rewarded with — but we will let his future movements tell the balance of the story.


The next day he bought a stout packing case, and hiring a team, once more proceeded to the canyon.

After a short absence he drove to the depot and shipped the case to Chicago. The railroad boys grumbled terribly at its unusual weight, but did not suspect the contents.

He had money enough to purchase a return ticket, and departed on that evening's train.

In about a month from that date the Winterset Gazette contained the following item:

"Mr. Charles Bryson has purchased the farm adjoining Geo. Barrett's, paying $1,000 cash for the property."

The same issues of the paper recorded the following, under the head of "Married."

"At the residence of the bride's parents, by Rev. J. McKelvey, Chas. L. Bryson to Alice M. Barrett, all of this place."

Where did he raise the cash to buy that farm and pay the expenses of his wedding tour?

Echo answers, up in Eureka Canyon.

-- end of article.


The story above is printed here as published in 1877. The original Eureka Sentinel article was reprinted in the Reno Evening Gazette on May 8th, 1877.

Only second to the California Gold Rush in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, prospectors discovered gold in the nearby Trinity region along the Trinity, Klamath, and Salmon Rivers.

Because miners needed a convenient alternate to the tedious overland route from Sacramento, schooners and other vessels soon arrived at the recently discovered Humboldt Bay.

Though the ideal location on Humboldt Bay adjacent to naturally deeper shipping channels ultimately guaranteed Eureka's development as the primary city on the bay, Arcata's proximity to developing supply lines to inland gold mines ensured supremacy over Eureka through 1856.

"Eureka" received its name from a Greek word meaning "I have found it!"

This exuberant statement of California Gold Rush miners is also the Official Motto of the State of California. Eureka is the only U.S. location to use the same seal as the state for its seal.

In the United States, Eureka, California is the largest of about a dozen towns and cities dating from the mid-nineteenth century that have the name Eureka.

It is interesting to note that the gold was worth more than $8,000.00 in 1872.  Gold prices at the time set gold at $23.19 an ounce.

To give you an idea of how much money that was in 1872, a Cowboy made between $25 and $30 a month in wages at the time.

At today's Gold price of say $1,400.00 an ounce, that same gold would be worth about $483,000.00!

That's a lot of money!

Tom Correa
The American Cowboy Chronicles



  1. It doesn't tell you the markings on the bullion in the story but Vincent Raymond Martin of eureka Cali found that bullion cause the markings say WXL 178-1 and each bar weights 6,000 grams that shadowed road agent in the story marked 1 bar threw it in the road with a map to the rest of the bullion where he found the bars making his title from prospector into a hillbilly multimillionaire!!!!!!!.....

  2. Chasin' dat booty. But not the kind you're thinkin' of. Haha.


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