During visits to his cabin in the Adirondack Mountains, Johnny recounts a few episodes from his trove of tales; locating gold and silver mines in the Mojave Desert, throwing bad horses as a young wrangler, bar fights with cowboys, and more!
The Saga Of The Sagamore Mines
There are treasure stories, and there is buried treasure. They are not necessarily the same. The professional hunter must prove that there is a logical reason for such a treasure to exist. He should be able to establish the who, the why, and the how. In some cases this is easy, in others it is not. A case in point is the legend of the "Hadley Money Rock." Located near the Hadley beach, south of where the Hudson and Sacandaga Rivers converge, the huge rock stands guardian over the treasure site today as it did more than two hundred years ago.
In 1767, shortly after the close of the French and Indian War, Edward and Ebenezer Jessup received a land grant from the King of England for what now includes the towns of Corinth, Luzerne and Hadley. They built sawmills at "The Big Falls" on the Hudson and named it Jessup's Landing - now Corinth. Above this point they maintained a ferry and a road which followed the river upstream five miles to Jessup Falls, now known as Rockwell Falls at Luzerne and Hadley, where they built spacious log homes and entertained such royalty as Sir William Johnson and Governor Tyson. They obtained additional land grants as far north as the headwaters of the Schroon River and rafted logs down stream to their mills. They also held grants as far west as the West Canada Lakes. They prospered and became the first of the great lumber barons of the Adirondacks.
Near the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the Jessup's took note of the increasing unrest among the colonists and they and other Tories formulated plans as they quickly lost favor among the American rebels. The mills were closed down, workmen laid off, and provisions were packed. It was recorded that they had in their possession much silver plate and sterling, as well as a fortune in Spanish coin. (The Spanish dollar was considered the median of exchange in the colo&nies prior to the minting of the American dollar.) Knowing it would be foolhardy to weigh themselves down with such valuables if forced to flee on a moments notice, it was decided they would bury the bulk of the treasure.
Late in the fall, under a full moon, the brothers loaded their treasure into a bateaux and crossed the bay of the Hudson below the river fork. They made several trips carrying the heavy treasure from the boat to the vicinity of the huge rock. A few yards due south of the rock they built a pile of stones as a distance marker. By taking a compass reading and doubling the distance due East from the rock, they proceeded to dig an excavation in the center of the road which ran along the river.
The sand made easy digging and within an hour they had dug to a depth of six feet. The plate, candlesticks, and silverware were wrapped in oil cloth and the coin secured in buckskin bags. This in turn was placed in several large earthen crocks in the bottom of the hole and heavy planking placed on top; after which, the hole was filled back in and tamped down. Replacing the sod which had grown in the middle of the road, they carried the surplus dirt to the river, thus destroying all evidence of their work.
Throughout the winter of 1775, although war had not officially been declared, the colonists were already burning the homes of those remaining loyal to the crown. In the spring the Americans burned the mills at the landing and destroyed the ferry (The Jessup's bronze swivel gun was recovered during the construction of the new bridge at Corinth and is now in a private collection.).
At the threat of death, at the hands of the Americans, the Jessup's burned their homes and fled up the Sacandaga River on snowshoes where they joined with John Johnson and other Tories at Fish House. From here the party continued up the West Branch and over the Long Lake military road and on to Canada. Two of Johnson's cannons were abandoned near the outlet of Long Lake on this trip and were recovered in the 1920's.
In 1780 near the close of the war, John Johnson and Joseph Brant with a party of forty Tories and Indians led several raids throughout the Sacandaga and Mohawk valleys burning and looting the scattered settlements. During one of these raids, Johnson recovered the coin he had buried in the cellar of Johnson Hall and Brant recovered the silver he had cashed near Tribes Hill. Knowing of the Jessup's cache at Hadley, they proceeded down the Sacandaga in an attempt to recover it.
Arriving at dusk, Brant scattered a number of Indians to act as lookouts, while the remainder of the men built a fire and took turns digging under the rock where they believed the money to be hidden. They finally had removed so much dirt, the monstrous weight of the boulder caused it to shift and slide down the bank into the hole burying one of the Indians. By this time dawn was fast approaching and one of the scouts reported a well armed group of Americans on the march up the river a mile to the south. At this point the Tories felt it best to abandon the project and retreat to Fish House.
There is little doubt that the Jessup's planned to return for their treasure at some later date, though they never did. A sizable bounty was placed on the heads of the Jessup's and other well known Tories if apprehended within the American colonies after the close of the war.
As late as the 1870's treasure hunters came from as far away as Canada to dig at the site. Holes were dug, shafts sunk along the rock, and the ground probed with steel rods. The rock was even drilled and blasted in an effort to force it to give up the silver hidden there. All to no avail for it would be another hundred years before anyone would decipher the significance of the pile of stones to the south of the money rock.
From the book: 50 Years a Trapper – Treasure Hunter by Johnny Thorpe