Author WC Jameson’s book “Buried Treasures of New England” tells stories of pirated gold, lost church silver and hidden precious gems from all six states . But two of the most interesting stories may actually lie dormant under the eastern fork of the Salmon Brook River in Granby, Connecticut (USA).
Though not much is written about this folklore, they are characterized in his book as “The Neptune’s Inland Cache” and the “Lost Washington Dollars.”
Neptune’s Inland Cache is based on the legend of Dutch Pirate David Marteen. Marteen and his crew raided a Spanish galleon named the Neptune in 1655. After they slaughtered the entire crew, they allegedly stole over twenty million dollars worth of gold coins. The story then suggest that Marteen and his crew sailed up the Connecticut river to around the Windsor area. From there it is believed that they buried several chests of gold coins somewhere along the east fork of the Salmon Brook. To date, no known trace of the treasure has ever been found. According to the former University of Central Arkansas professor, at one time, some treasure hunters found rocks with strange markings but were never able to decipher the directions they gave. He alleges that these markings on the stones will lead to Marteen’s buried loot.
“The Lost Washington Dollars” are a large cache of gold coins that belonged to the Continental Army. Jameson states that the treasure was stolen one night from the then Bates Tavern in 1779 in what is now, East Granby. According to lore, several Tories (British Loyalists) buried it near the east branch of the Salmon Brook River. Tragically, all but one of the thieves were killed by Native Americans in an ambush when they went to retrieve the multi-million dollar treasure. The one survivor never was able to retrieve the coins as he had gotten into trouble with the law and had fled to England to escape prosecution. To date, the treasure has never been recovered. However, the book states that in the last sixty years, there have been three occasions where individuals have found Washington Dollars in the Salmon Brook River. The most recent incident being in 1987 when a woman went down to the bank of the river near the Route 20 bridge and found a Gold coin. Jameson explains that the discovery of these coins in the river are a good indication that the chests that held the coins has “rotted away” and that vast majority of the coins are in or near the river, not far from the Route 20 bridge. Unlike the Marteens treasure, the Washington Dollars have been a subject on the forums of Teasurenet.com for several years. Some are avid treasure hunters that believe a fortune exists of gold coins that the French government gave to the Continental Army to help them meet payroll so they could defeat the British. Others ask for proof and wonder why there are no pictures of the coins and who the people were that found the Washington Dollars.
Is there treasure in Granby or is this an attempt to sell books?
There is not much known about pirate David Marteen, but his piracy was centered around Central and South America. It would be difficult for any pirate to sail up the Connecticut River and then walk several miles with large chests of gold. But there is little information about Marteens, so it is possible that there could be treasure there.
The Washington Dollars stories with it’s accounts of people finding it’s coins would be a more realistic story. Yet, there are key questions relating to the “Lost Washington Dollars” as Eastern Connecticut University History Professor Emile Pocock explains.
“The Continental Army was chronically short of any form of money (save at times paper bills printed by the Continental Congress) and thus it seems doubtful it ever had gold coins for very long, if ever,” Pocock explained. “The Continental Army operated only briefly in New England (Boston primarily) in mid-1775.”
As far as the alleged thieves being murdered by a band of Native Americans, Pocock added, “There were few natives resident in Connecticut and Massachusetts, but well organized and powerful tribes still occupied lands not so far to the west and north. The Mohawks, for example, maintained villages just west of Albany and participated in raids on towns and settlements in New York as British allies during the revolutionary war. So I suppose it is possible some natives could have been in or passed through Windsor sometime after 1775.”
But perhaps the biggest question is, where did these accounts of people finding the coins come from. There were no newspaper articles (Hartford Courant) or books that mentioned these discoveries.
When WC Jameson was contacted in regards to his references for this article, he politely declined stating that his notes were in storage and would not be able to retrieve them because he was currently on a speaking tour.
Professor Pocock summed it up best as to whether there is buried treasure in the town of Granby. “Romantic, but like most buried treasure stories, probably quite fanciful. Sometimes there is a germ of a story that got embellished, telescoped, and confused over time.”
That is until someone finds another Washington Dollar in the Salmon Brook River. But I’m not counting on it….
(Article was originally written over ten years ago but never published for the local newspaper. Would still love to see those notes though…)