State Treasure - Indiana

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 29 of the January, 2012 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2012 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved

McBride’s Bluff Choctaw Gold
MARTIN COUNTY – The Choctaw Indians originated from middle and southern Mississippi regions as well as parts of Georgia. There were, however, nomadic Choctaw families that separated from the main tribe during the 1700’s.
The Choctaw Tribe began migrating to the Oklahoma Indian Territory in 1832 while the nomadic families traveled as far west as the Rocky Mountains before turning east and settling in present-day central Indiana.
These nomadic Choctaws settled near McBride’s Bluff on land of the Piankeshaw Tribe who agreed to allow the Choctaw to remain in peace. As American settlers moving west arrived, they recalled the Indians seemed to know the white man’s value of gold and traded with them in gold nuggets.
Eventually the nomadic Choctaws were driven from the area or killed by Indiana militia, with only a few escaping who never returned. White settlers searched for the Choctaw’s gold, but found nothing.
During the 1880’s, a descendant of one of the Choctaw who escaped is said to have traveled to McBride’s Bluff from Oklahoma and searched for the gold, but he, too, was unsuccessful.
This descendant, whose name is lost to time, said his ancestors passed down the story of buried gold near McBride’s Bluff. According to Indian legend, while the nomadic Choctaw were in the west before settling in Indiana, they acquired 10 pounds of gold kept in three bags. All three were entrusted to a medicine man who carried them as they traveled for protection.
The story claims the Choctaw buried the bags of gold beside a large boulder near the riverbank, not far from a cave in the bluff. A beech tree nearby had been carved with symbols of a buffalo and turtle to mark the cache.
The beech tree is long gone so the remaining landmarks would be the bluffs and perhaps the large boulder that sat along the riverbank.
McBride’s Bluff is roughly 4 miles north of the town of Shoals. From Shoals, go north on U.S. Hwy. 50, which is 4th Street within the limits of Shoals. Go right onto Poplar Street for 7/10ths of a mile and make a right onto White River Road. Proceed north for about 4.7 miles. McBride’s Bluff is along the East Fork of the White River directly west of the pavement’s edge. There are no reports this cache was ever recovered.Plate Number 6
DEARBORN COUNTY at STATELINE – Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville {December 29, 1693 – April 14, 1759}, also known as Céloron de Bienville, was a French Canadian Officer of Marine born in Montreal. He entered military service in 1713 and served honorably.
During the King George’s War {1744-1748}, France’s claim to the Ohio Valley based on the La Salle expeditions of 1669 and 1682 was challenged by the British and New England colonists.
To reassert their claim to the region, France commissioned the Lead Plate Expedition of 1749 under Captain Céloron de Bienville. Céloron led the 300-man flotilla of large boats and canoes from Montreal on June 15, 1749. Father Pierre Bonnecamps, a Jesuit mathematician, served as missionary and navigator.
Céloron’s mission was to establish relations with the Indians in the valley, as well as traders and settlers living in British outposts, and make it clear this land belonged to France. Along their journey, the expedition buried six inscribed lead plates and posted a tin or copper plate bearing the French royal arms affixed to trees at the mouth of principal tributaries along the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers.
In all, six engraved lead plates were buried that claimed the land for Louis the 15th, King of France, but the first one buried at Warren, Ohio, was acquired by Seneca Indians who delivered it to British allies. Two more Céloron Plates have been recovered, which leaves three outstanding.
Research indicates plate number six is buried on the Indiana-Ohio border near the confluence of the Great Miami and Ohio Rivers. Céloron’s journal reads: “Enterre sur la pointe formee par la rive droite do l’Ohio, et la rive gauche de la riviere a la Roche, Aout 31, 1749.”
Translated, it reads, “Buried on the point formed by the intersection of the right bank of the Ohio, with the left bank of the Rock river, August 31, 1749.” Note: In 1749, the present-day Great Miami River was known to the French as Rock River.
The Ohio Historical Society has two Céloron Plates in its collection. One was found at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers near Gallipolis, Ohio, and Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The second was discovered at the mouth of the Muskingum River near Marietta in Washington County, Ohio.
To view photographs of these plates and for more information, visit the Ohio Historical Society Website at and Forgotten Sites in Indiana
Conrad (NEWTON COUNTY) – The ghost town of Conrad was founded in 1908 and located about 2-1/2 miles south of Lake Village just off State Highway 41.
Conrad had a population of roughly 200 people with a church, hotel, post office, school, railroad depot, and a concrete block factory. The streets were named after members of the founding Conrad family.
A fire devastated the small community and it never recovered. The site sits on the east side of the railroad tracks 2/10ths of a mile south of County Road 725 N.
Tent City (MARSHALL COUNTY) – The ghost town of Tent City was a large camp where people lived after the Civil War, established for the unemployed.
Carnivals visited and the community held evening dances in a large tent, which on Sunday served as the church. As people found work and moved on, Tent City disappeared.
For decades the site was popular for picking huckleberries, but in the early 1920’s a fire swept through, damaging the plants, and people stopped visiting. Its actual location is undetermined; local research is necessary.
Fort Azatlan (SULLIVAN COUNTY) – Fort Azatlan was a prehistoric Native American defensive works of an ancient mound builder culture. Little is known of its history. It was in present-day Merom in the field northwest of the intersection of 3rd Street and Cooper Street.
Brouillett’s Trading Post (HARRISON COUNTY) – Brouillett’s Trading Post is thought to have been a fortified British or American post. Little is known of this site - nothing remains today.
Brouillett’s is said to have been “on the north bank of an unnamed creek west of the Wabash River, near Shepherdsville,” east of the Wabash in Kentucky.
Based on map research, I suspect Brouillett’s was on the north bank of Four Mile Creek at the Y, west of the Wabash about 1.8 miles south of Rosewood.
White Oak Springs Fort (PIKE COUNTY) – This was an American settler’s blockhouse built by Woolsey Pride in 1806 along the Buffalo Trace at or near Petersburg, which was still standing as late as 1915.
The Northwest Rangers built a fortified camp here in 1811 and saw action when attacked by Indians in 1813. Check locally for location.
Fort Vallonia (JACKSON COUNTY) – Vallonia was founded by French settlers in the late 18th century between the Muscatatuck River and the East Fork of the White River. Hostilities erupted around 1810 between the Indians and American settlers who then occupied the town.
Governor General William H. Harrison ordered a fort, large stockade, garrison and blockhouses built to protect the 90 some families.
During the War of 1812, numerous battles and skirmishes were fought between Native warriors and the Rangers who garrisoned here in 1813.
Overlooking the community higher up was Huff’s Fort and Ketcham’s Fort, exact locations unknown.
Vallonia today sits 3.75 miles southwest of Brownstown just off State Highway 135.Sources:
Henson, Michael Paul, “Choctaw Treasure In Indiana,” April 1975, True Treasure Magazine, p. 39
Pallante, Anthony J., “Indiana,” February 2000, Lost Treasure Magazine, p. 28
Journal of Captain Céloron de Bienville, entry dated: August 31, 1749, at: la rive droite do l’Ohio, et la rive gauche de la riviere a la Roche, archived in Paris, France. Can be read online at
State of West Virginia Archives & History:
McCulloch, Delta A., “Celeron de Blainville Buries Lead Plates,” November 20, 1924, Pocahontas Times,
Ghost Towns of Indiana,
Indiana Forts,