State Treasure - South Dakota

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 39 of the August, 2010 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2010 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


Ned’s Lost Spruce Gulch Gold
LAWRENCE COUNTY - Located on the northern fringe of the rugged Black Hills of South Dakota, Deadwood was founded in the mid-1870’s after Colonel George Armstrong Custer announced the discovery of gold on French Creek in 1874.
Custer’s announcement became the precursor for the Black Hills Gold Rush that spawn the lawless gold camp of Deadwood, which in its heyday reached a population of about 5,000.
Early on in 1876, Charlie and Steve Utter piloted a wagon train to Deadwood loaded with stock and provisions for the camp. Among the necessities they brought were gamblers and working girls.
Mining the miners was big money in Deadwood, and the two most profitable ways to do so were at the gambling tables and in the brothels.
Perhaps the most unforgettable event in Deadwood’s history was the cowardly murder of Wild Bill Hickok on August 2, 1876. In a town filled with miners, speculators, businessmen, prostitutes, card sharks, and gunfighters, all rubbing elbows in the same saloons, brothels and gambling houses, violence frequently broke out and law enforcement was pretty much non-existent.
One day a professional gambler named Ned, whose last name has been lost to history, drifted into town to check out the action.
In a short time Ned had established himself as a sharp and cunning poker player. He was hired by several saloons and gambling houses as a dealer for a percentage of the take. Not only did he make a handsome profit for his bosses, Ned soon had amassed his own small fortune in gold.
Ned made his home in a one-room cabin in town. He decided that the cabin wasn’t safe or secure enough to continue to hide his gold there.
With no trust of banks, one night Ned took a large amount of his gold and filled two fruit jars with it. After making certain he wasn’t being observed, Ned set out on foot into Spruce Gulch to bury his wealth.
The rugged canyon offered an endless number of options for hiding places, and Ned finally chose one large boulder whose features were unique enough that he could remember it later.
He dug a deep hole alongside the boulder and placed his two fruit jars of gold into the hole and covered them over.
Two months passed before Ned had acquired enough gold to make a second deposit. This time he entered Spruce gulch during the daytime and found that everything looked different than at night.
Second, the gulch is littered with hundreds of large boulders and the features he’d noted on his boulder were not distinguishable from the others. He searched and dug at a few boulders that he thought might prove to be the right one, but they were not.
Ned continued his trips for several months into Spruce Gulch, but never did re-locate the correct boulder that held his cache below.
Ned is said to have quietly left Deadwood after some time and may have moved to Nevada, where some claim he later died penniless.
As far as anyone knows, somewhere buried below one of the hundreds of huge boulders found in Spruce Gulch, Ned’s two jars full of gold nuggets are still waiting to be claimed.
Spruce Gulch is located just east of the intersection of Sampson Street and Railroad Avenue in Deadwood.

Indian Gold!
MARSHALL COUNTY – With the United States Congress engaged in the bloody affairs of the ongoing Civil War during the summer of 1862, funds appropriated to provide food for the starving Sioux Indians at the Yellow Medicine and Redwood Falls Indian Agencies in Minnesota were never sent.
Famished Sioux got into a dispute with a white farmer over some stolen eggs on August 17th, which resulted in bloodshed. The incident precipitated a bloody coup effecting Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota that lasted for over a month.
When the Army restored order, 48 Indians and 732 whites, mostly civilians, were dead. Another 200 white females had also been taken captive.
The United States dealt with the incident by ignoring the Indian’s condition and grievances.
Four hundred and twenty-five Indians were arrested and tried in the aftermath by military authorities.
Three hundred and three were sentenced to death. Of those condemned, President Lincoln commuted the sentences of all but 38.
During the uprising, an Indian named Gray Foot had been one of a band of Indians that attacked the Minnesota agency and carried off an Army payroll of $56,000 in gold specie.
Knowing the Army was arresting any Indian found in possession of gold, Gray Foot buried his share of the loot near the east shore of Long Lake located less then 2.5 miles east of Lake City. He never returned to recover the gold.
As an old man, Gray Foot told the story to his sons, who did attempt to locate the cache, but failed.
Over the years, others have also tried to locate the Indian’s cache, but likewise failed. To date no reported recovery has been made.

The Metz Massacre Treasure
FALL RIVER COUNTY – In 1875, Joseph Metz and his wife left Mankatoo, Minnesota, hoping to start a new life in the west. They settled in Custer, South Dakota, and opened their own small, but lively bakery.
The business prospered and the couple did well. But recent Indian attacks in the area against mining camps and small villages left them feeling uneasy in their new surroundings.
In April 1876, they decided to sell the bakery and move to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Metz received as payment for the bakery $2,000 or $3,000 in gold dust.
Local freighters tried to convince Mr. Metz to wait for an organized wagon train before making the move across hostile territory to their new destination, but on April 24, 1876, Metz would wait no longer.
He pulled out of Custer with his wife, their maid, Rachel Briggs, and a teamster named Simpson.
Not far out of Custer they came upon a party in-bound to Custer. The in-bound party told them they’d be safe if they remained on this side of the Cheyenne River.
On April 27th, just three days and 30 miles south of Custer, superintendent Voorhees with the stagecoach line was passing through Red Canyon and discovered the remains of Joseph Metz, their wagon and campsite.
Metz had been shot in the head. Mrs. Metz and the driver, Simpson, were both discovered shot to death about a mile away. Their maid was not immediately found.
At first the massacre appeared to be the work of Persimmon Bill and his gang, since they frequently robbed travelers passing through Red Canyon and all of the victims had been shot.
But in May the body of Rachel Briggs was discovered up a small draw from the campsite. Her body had been hit by several arrows, fixing the outrage on the Sioux.
The gold was never found. It was reported years later that a small tin can was dug up near the Metz campsite; inside was a single gold nugget.
Whether the tin can had anything to do with the Metz party or not is unknown.
It was the practice of the times, especially in known hostile territory, to bury your money in or near your camp at night.
With a good detector who knows what one might find in Red Canyon?

Sources:
Baier, Edward D., “Lost Gold of Spruce Gulch,” December 1979, Lost Treasure magazine, p. 13.
Lost Gold US, Uprising cache, http://www.lostgold.us/html/south_dakota1.htm
Church, Tim, “Massacre Gold,” March 1973, Treasure World magazine, p. 46.