New Mexico - State Treasure

By Tom Vance
From page 48 of the June, 2006 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2006 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved

1. Here is a lost treasure story that has considerable validity. A Spanish treasure map dating back into the 1500's originally told where the mine was located, but sometime after being discovered and located by the Spaniards the map was lost.In the year 1850, a man from the east coast of the United States came to the New Mexico Territory. John M. Gunn was a civil engineer and he had come to New Mexico to ply his trade and work in his trained profession. Gunns past and previous work life back east are unknown. But, coming to New Mexico he decided to change his lifestyle a good deal. Gunn had decided to live like an Indian or Indians did in the New Mexico Territory. He managed to settle in a place called Laguna Pueblo and set about gathering background information to tell the history of the Laguna and Acoma Indian tribal cultures. Gunn named this early work, Schat-Chem and the piece traced much of the early history of the early settlement of the area around Laguna Pueblo.Included in Gunn's history was the mention of an early day discovery of a silver mine near the Acoma Pueblo located on one of the earliest Spanish trails through the area. An Indian agent named Thomas Griner somehow had obtained the Spanish map showing the mines location. Griner did nothing to further his information concerning the lost silver mine, since he considered the old maps lack of authenticity.Considering that there were dozens of old documents relating to the Indian revolt against the Spanish rulers in 1680 and none of them had been cataloged or investigated by any authorities, Griner felt that it would be a waste of his time to investigate the lost mines possibilities. He simply put the old document away for safekeeping. Meanwhile, the 1880's saw the coming of the A&P Railroad through the area. In 1889, a timekeeper for the railroad, Matthew Daley was making a routine check of the railroads right of way when he chanced to meet an old Indian along the track.The Indian gave Daley a heavy chunk of silver ore and confided in the railway employee that there was a rich silver mine hidden nearby. The Indian tried to impress upon Daley that there was a considerable amount of the silver ore, but would not tell Daley where the lost silver mine was located.Daley, on a tight schedule could not take the time to look for the missing silver mine. Instead, Daley gave the silver ore sample to his foreman, William Brockman who had the ore assayed in Denver and in San Francisco where the two reports agreed on the value of the ore as being $800 per ton of materials produced from the source.Brockman, with the aid of an Ohio Congressman began to attempt to get the mining rights to the land in the area where the Indian had said the mine was located. But, even though they used every political trick they could think of, could not get permission to prospect or mine on the Indian Reservation lands. Brockman and Daley soon gave up in their attempts to locate the rich silver mine. The area lying between Bluewater and Rio Puerco certainly showed the scars of early day mining in the area, but the whereabouts of the rich silver mine still goes unfound.A treasure hunter writing to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1980 got the following reply from that organization. There is no Bureau of Indian Affairs policy on the use of metal detectors on Indian Reservations. If persons are interested in using such instruments on Indian Lands they should contact the tribe and request permission to enter their reservation to conduct a search. This is of utmost importance because, while tribal lands are under limited administrative jurisdiction of the Federal Government, tribes have imposed their own restrictions governing uses and trespass on their land.2. It seems that on January 27, 1877 a Lieutenant Henry Wright of the 9th Cavalry stationed at Fort Cummings was given the order to pursue a band of Apaches headed for the Florida Mountains, 25 miles to the south of the fort. Lieutenant Wright left the post with eleven enlisted men and three Navajo scouts to give them direction in locating the Apaches. Although the detail of soldiers and scouts searched the western portion or base of the Florida Mountains, they saw no outward sign of the Apaches being pursued. However, by exploring a canyon by going on foot for a mile and one-half they finally cut the sign of the Apache band they were looking for.A short battle followed and five Apaches were killed and four others wounded with no casualties among the cavalrymen. A few days later when Lieutenant Wright returned to the battle scene to complete his report on the Apache run-in, he found several leather pouches full of bullets made of gold.The question remains to this day - Why were the Apaches using bullets made of gold? Was there a gold mine somewhere in the vicinity of the canyon where the battle had taken place? There is a pretty good possibility that the gold source could be relocated in the Florida Mountains since they are not a long range. But which canyon did the battle occur in and is this canyon the source of the gold? In case youd like to pinpoint the Florida Mountains, they are 12 miles southeast of the town of Deming, New Mexico.3. About the year 1879, just when the town of Tombstone, Arizona began to really boom, a party of young prospectors who had come out west from the east set out to make their fortunes by attempting to locate rich gold and silver mines in the vicinity. Traveling northeast across several rugged mountain ranges they prospected as they went. Soon, they found themselves in the Horseshoe Mountains which occur along the Arizona-New Mexico border.Here in the Horseshoes, they found a rich outcropping of opals. With provisions dwindling, they picked up a few choice samples from the opal source and continued on toward the camp at Lordsburg where they hoped to restock supplies and possibly sell off the opals. Without funds to pay for new provisions, the young prospectors spread the word among the inhabitants at Lordsburg that they had precious gems for sale at a reasonable price.Two well-seasoned prospectors heard the story of the precious gems and went to look for themselves. The sight of the opals impressed them so that they made a deal to trade supplies for the opals. The young prospectors took their supplies and left, never being seen in Lordsburg again. The two prospectors with their newly bought opals set out to find the rich opal outcropping.There was a problem in prospecting in the Horseshoe Mountains. It was Apache country and it was dangerous during the 1880s. Following the directions of the young prospectors who had originally found the opals, the two prospectors did manage to locate the opal ledge. They started mining the precious gems, financing their work through the sale of some of the opals. The larger share of the opals were hidden away somewhere near where they were mining.In 1885, the luck of the two prospectors turned bad, however. Roaming Apaches soon found the men, their camp and the mine they were working. The two prospectors were killed outright, their possessions destroyed along with the mining equipment. The Apaches made a complete job of their attack on the two prospectors for they covered over the mine and did away with any trace of the mining activity carried on there.Time passed and the opal mine and its fabulous gems was forgotten until 1909 when talk among miners and prospectors caused many to once again search for it. The Apaches were no longer a menace in the Horseshoe Mountains, but the lost opal mine continued to go missing.If you are interested in searching for the lost opal mine youll need to start at the town of Lordsburg, New Mexico. Take U.S. Highway 70 toward the Arizona border. The lost opal mine is located somewhere between Summit, New Mexico and Duncan, Arizona.4. Unaware of its past bloody history, Frank Rocha (Frenchy the Recluse) homesteaded in Dog Canyon in the Sacramento Mountains of southern New Mexico. A quiet man of solitude, Rocha preferred to be alone with his ranch and cattle in Dog Canyon.He built a solid rock cabin and enclosed the canyon with a rock fence to keep his cattle and horses in and outsiders out. The steep cliffs of the canyon contained the livestock and Rochas rifle assured that strangers were not welcome at the ranch. Water and grass were plentiful in the canyon and Rochas herds thrived. He sold off excess animals and pocketed the money, growing rich as the ranch prospered.Many area ranchers attempted to graze their cattle in Rochas Dog Canyon, but Rocha continued to keep the grazing lands with their fine, available water strictly for his own use. His rifle kept intruders at a safe distance.Then one day, Rocha was found dead, evidently ambushed by a jealous area rancher. No one was ever convicted of Rochas murder and since law authorities found no money on the dead body, it was believed that he had buried his money somewhere near his stone ranch house where only he could get to it.Many believe that Frenchy the Recluses fortune still remains buried today where he hid it. Rochas Dog Canyon is located on the west slope of the Sacramento Mountains in Otero County, New Mexico.(Acknowledgement: This material, in total or in part, is published and/or reprinted with the permission of Thomas P. Terry, Specialty Publishing, United States Treasure Atlas's.)