This story offers clues on where to start digging
Buried treasure in Bluffton?
Nah. Well, maybe.
We’ve collected several local stories involving buried coins, plus the discovery of coins older than your great-great-grandmother. The following stories reveal some of the loose change that could be waiting discovery, plus stories of rare finds right in our back yard.
If only X marked the spot.
Note: This story is part of a book to be released this fall titled "Where Bluffton's ghosts sleep," compiled by Fred Steiner. Watch for additional book details coming soon.
From the May 3, 1940, Bluffton News - An old English copper coin, dated 1806, was found by E.D. Boutwell in the flower bed he had made on the John Rogers farm, three miles north of Bluffton on the Dixie Highway. A likeness of George III, King of England, can be distinguished plainly and also the inscription of the date.
A COPY OF THE 1806 COIN
FOUND IN A FLOWER BED
IN RURAL BLUFFTON
A hole was punched through the coin, leading to the belief that an Indian had obtained it from English traders, perhaps at Detroit, and wore it on a string or leather thong as a necklace. If this assumption is correct the coin likely was lost on the farm long before there were any settlers in this area, and in all probability before the fighting of the War of 1812.
Also, there is the possibility the coin might have been lost by a British solider, for the English had extensive movements on troops through this area about the turn of the nineteenth century.
Pioneer’s buried gold coins
Is $57,000 – estimated value in 2023 – in gold coins buried somewhere in southern Richland Township?
If so, it is our version of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, supposed to be tucked away in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix, Arizona. No one ever found either gold cache. Or, did someone find one or both, and simply kept it a secret?
Our buried gold mystery involves Daniel Casey, perhaps the second settler in southern Richland Township. Described as an eccentric bachelor, he built a cabin on the banks of the Riley Creek, beside a spring, one-half mile west of the Riley Creek bridge where an old orchard stood on S.W. Bentley’s farm bordering today’s County Line Road.
There were no banks, so Casey told neighbors that he believed the best way to keep his money was to bury it. He had brought considerable gold coins from the east, which some have said was as much as $2,000.
Casey grew old. He was found dead one day outstretched on his cabin floor. A search was made for the gold but it was never found. This is a great story, even if it ends here, but it doesn’t. A retired Bluffton College alumnus decided to search for the buried treasure. He obtained a copy of the oldest available map of Richland Township, dating from 1880.
After studying it, he determined that a road on the map no longer exists. That missing road was a crucial point in discovering the Daniel Casey gold. Jesse Huber, former Bluffton News editor, wrote the Daniel Casey story.
Following his time as editor, he regularly contributed stories to the News. Often his stories related to Huber relatives who were among early Swiss settlers in southern Richland Township. Huber probably knew more details of the buried goal than he placed in the story.
What became of the coins? Does an 1880 Richland Township map, showing a road no longer in existence serve as a clue or is this just another story like the infamous Nova Scotia, Canada, Oak Island, buried treasure?
Jesse Huber didn’t share his opinion in writing and the BC alum never shared the results of his search. Perhaps the gold coins are still within a shovel’s reach below ground one-half mile west of the Riley Creek bridge beside a spring in southern Richland Township.
Another backyard to dig up
Also from the Bluffton News - Next, consider the case of Edward Bright, who in the 1820s bought land along what is today U.S. Route 224, two or three miles east of Findlay. He, too, was known to have large sums of gold. None of it was found after he died. It’s probably buried at the same depth of Daniel’s Casey’s underground deposit, if that helps anyone attempting to discover either site.
Dillinger’s buried loot
Enter John Dillinger, public enemy number 1. At noon on Monday, Aug. 14, 1933, Dillinger’s gang robbed the Citizens National Bank of $2,100. While that episode in Bluffton’s history connects the town forever in the Dillinger lore, what became of the loot was never resolved.
The bank assured the public that the money was insured and no one lost a penny. But, Bluffton bank customers’ hard-earned cash, certainly including some gold coins, gold $10 small note bills and miscellaneous change that disappeared into the Dillinger myth.
Theories place some of the money buried anywhere between rural Leipsic, Wisconsin and Arizona. One of the Leipsic theories claims that if you dig in the right place on a seven-acre wooded lot on a former Pierpont farm near Leipsic, you will strike it rich.
A second theory says gang members took the secret location or locations with them to their graves. Of course, another theory is that the money was spent and was not buried anywhere.
A lesser-known theory places the cash in Oregon. More than 70 years after the Bluffton robbery a letter from the west coast arrived in Bluffton inquiring about family history.
The letter writer told a story that a Bluffton resident found a bag of money left behind after a car crash near his house. Going outside to see what had happened, he found no one around, saw the bag in the ditch and took it home only to find it full of money.
The man became frightened, rounded up his family and took off to the west coast never to return. The letter writer, a second-generation family member, was under the impression that somehow the money was related to the Bluffton bank robbery.
The family who left town in the middle of the night traveled all the way to Seaside, Oregon, and did not contact anyone from Ohio for several months. That family’s version of the suitcase of money tied it to the Dillinger Bluffton robbery.
However, some of the dates did not connect to the local robbery, unless those dates were changed on purpose by the father who found the money.
1775 Spanish coin
Finally this story from the 1941 Bluffton News - Finding of an old Spanish coin with Latin inscriptions and dated 1775 at the Moses Steiner farm, four miles northwest of town, aroused considerable speculation here the fore part of the week as to how the coin ever found its way to this part of the country.
The coin was buried about a foot under sandy loam and turned up during plowing operations by Melvin Dudgeon, tenant at the farm, who first did not even bother to pick it up. After passing it several times, Dudgeon picked up the piece and upon cleaning it recognized it as a coin of some probably worth.
The coin is in excellent condition and is about the size of a half dollar. It is a silver alloy and the markings are all clear and distinct. The face side of the coin has the following inscription: Carolus III Dei Grattia 1775. The reverse side contains the following identification: Hispana Et Ind. Rex.
These inscriptions give clues to the coin’s location in the Bluffton area. Charles the III was King of Spain from 1759 to 1788 and the coin was apparently minted in this period. Charles was not only king of Spain but also of the West Indies, as the reverse side indicates.
A COPY OF THE 1775 COIN FOUND
IN A BLUFFTON FARMER'S FIELD
It is a known historical fact that there was no American money before 1790 when the first minting order was issued. Therefore, it was necessary for the colonists and pioneers moving westward to use the moneys of other countries.
At that time this country was trading chiefly with the West Indies and Space and naturally a considerable amount of Spanish money was used here as the medium of exchange.
Quite a bit of English money was in circulation also but it was predominantly Spanish.
Very likely the coin found by Dudgeon was lost by an American colonial trader between 1775 and 1790. It was thought at first that the coin was lost by a Spanish explorer going thru this area.
In view of the fact that no explorations were being made at that time, that explanation would be unlikely.
Like we stated earlier: If only X marked the spot.