I grew up hearing a legend about my great-great-grandfather burying treasure so his brother wouldn’t find it. Long story, but that’s what we heard. He was one of two men who ran the Old Red Light District in Los Angeles, California.
Several years later, when I was working on family history, I found out that it wasn’t just a family legend, but it was a story that had made the rounds in Old Los Angeles. After his death, the family tried to find it in the early 1900s. Nothing.
He and his legend inspired A Well-Kept Family Secret - A Sandi Webster Mystery. Although this story took place today, it involved the 1800s. There was a lot of research to be done. I discovered an old newspaper article about the treasure while researching. As late as the 1940s, people were still searching for it. Interesting?
I read an article in the newspaper back in the 1990s about an archaeological project in Los Angeles, and it involved the area where my great-great-grandfather did business. Fascinated, I contacted the archaeologist in charge. He sent me a great amount of information which included so much more than I’d expected. He has no idea how thankful I am.
I included a buried treasure in Awkward Moments - A Bogey Man Mystery, too. Interestingly, not long after this book was released, there was an article in the newspaper about a couple taking a stroll around their property, and lo and behold, they found a buried treasure. I think I mentioned this in an earlier post.
Wow! Reality mimicking fiction? It happens.
Recently I found another interesting article in the newspaper. In the remote mountains of eastern Nevada, someone discovered an old Winchester rifle resting against a juniper tree during an archaeological survey. The serial number was still visible on the gun and it was determined it was manufactured in 1882. It’s possible the rifle has rested against that tree since the late 1800s.
Herbert Houze is the former curator of what became known as the Cody Firearms Museum in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, which is located in Cody, Wyoming. After looking at photos of the gun he said it blended in so well with its surroundings that it wasn’t surprising no one had found it until now. Someone on the project apparently just happened to look at the tree in just the right light, at just the right moment.
The wooden stock on the rifle is cracked but still intact. The barrel is rusted. I can’t help but wish I’d been the one to find it.
One would have to wonder who left the gun leaning against the tree, and why they never went back for it. Did he get lost? Was there a bear attack? Was he injured in an accident? This is a mystery that may never be solved, but please, someone take the idea and run with it. Write a mystery revolving around the rifle. It would be a book I’d like to read.
I went on a trek with a few other people a few years ago. We were accompanying a gentleman creating an archaeological map for a new area about to be studied. We found all kinds of Indian artifacts (which we left onsite), and it amazed me when I realized we were seeing things no one had laid eyes on in hundreds, or quite possibly, a thousand years. Exciting stuff!
When you least expect it, you might find an article in the newspaper that grabs hold of you and won’t let go. Legends can grab you, too. So can a simple walk down a trail.
I know some people don’t care much about history, but I do and these articles put a hem in my skirt. Well, I generally wear jeans, but you get the idea.
Until next time, if you’ve ever made a discovery, please share it with us. You could stir up someone’s imagination and a good book might be born.
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COMING SOON: How Now Purple Cow – A Bogey Man Mystery. What could purple cows and elderly spies possibly have to do with each other? Ask the Bogey Man.