State Treasure - South Dakota

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 39 of the January, 2012 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2012 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


Hidden on the Dirty Woman
HAAKON COUNTY – Grindstone, South Dakota, was once a small crossroads settlement in the late 1800’s on the stage road from Ft. Pierre to Deadwood.
Ed Sanchez, aka: “Mexican Ed,” arrived here in 1878 when the town consisted of two orderly rows of buildings neatly facing each other, which sat on opposite sides of the dusty stage road.
Grindstone proper, a village of about 200 souls, hosted a two-story hotel, a bank, blacksmith shop, barbershop, general store, dancehall, and a few saloons along its Main Street, which also served as a stop for the stage and express companies.
This rural hamlet served local farmers, their families and weary travelers as a small business, supply, and transportation center.
Grindstone was just a brief stop or an evening layover along the road to somewhere else, so it’s difficult to imagine why any single man, including Ed Sanchez, would seek his fortune in such a place. But he did.
Purchasing a lot on Main Street, Sanchez started building his dream; three weeks later it was complete and Mexican Ed’s Roadhouse opened for business.
Mexican Ed’s offered the weary traveler hot food, drinks, and a chance to relax, socialize or to enjoy a friendly game of poker.
With travelers in and out of Deadwood, it was an instant hit, as it was with the locals since the bar and gaming tables represented the only social meeting place and recreation for miles around.
Ed’s place always did a robust business and Sanchez became a popular and respected merchant, who was regarded as a shrewd businessman and skillful poker player.
Three years after opening his roadhouse, Ed had accumulated a substantial personal fortune and, in 1881, he confided in a trusted friend, Rubin J. Ebright, that he’d stashed all his money inside fruit jars and buried them, admitting he feared being robbed by some of the rough and transient clientele who’d passed through his doors over the years.
Ebright, a lifelong resident, told the story a number of times before his death in 1946 at 96 years of age.
Many old-timers supported his claim, stating every couple of weeks Sanchez was seen leaving his place carrying a long-handled shovel and a fruit jar, always walking west of town to nearby Dirty Woman Creek and following it in a northeasterly direction, making several trips per month.
He would stop frequently to make certain that no one was following him before he finally disappeared from view.
An hour later, folks would spot him following the creek back to his place, shovel in hand, but no fruit jar.
Everyone knew Ed buried his money nearby, but nobody from the community ever gave serious thought to waylaying the man, or following him.
And though the railroad put the stage companies out of business in 1886 when the Northwestern Railroad completed its line from Omaha, Nebraska, to Deadwood, South Dakota, Mexican Ed’s Roadhouse remained popular with local farmers, ranchers, freighters, cowboys, prospectors and drifters simply passing through on their way elsewhere for 24 years.
But Ed’s 24-year streak of luck come up short on March 16, 1902, when two out-of-work cowboys from Ft. Pierre, Robert “Bob” Adams and Alex Meader, tired from their journey, decided to stop in at Mexican Ed’s for supper and few drinks before moving on.
As usual, it was a lively evening inside the roadhouse.
After finishing their meals and some drinks, the boys, with their final pay in their pockets, figured they were good for a few hands and joined Ed at the poker table.
They played hand after hand as the hours passed. It was during a high-stakes hand when Adams suddenly blurted out that Sanchez was a cheat!
Sanchez soundly rebuked his accuser just as a hidden “hold-out card” suddenly appeared and fell silently to the floor, landing at his feet.
Adams pushed his chair back and, standing, again called his gracious host a common thief and a vile cheat of the lowest order.
Not so drunk as to have missed all that, Ed leaped to his feet whilst drawing his pistol.
Having cleared leather first, Adams made quick work of the matter, firing a single shot resulting in a fatal head wound to Sanchez.
Adams panicked and fled on horseback to Alex Shoemaker’s farm.
Shoemaker, a trusted friend, listened to Adams’ story and convinced him to turn himself in at Ft. Pierre, explaining that his case was one of self-defense, and pointed out that Mr. Meader and others could confirm that for the sheriff.
Adams surrendered to the sheriff at Ft. Pierre the next morning and explained what had happened at Mexican Ed’s. Adams was released without charges.
The town of Wall, located 17 miles southwest of Grindstone, in the next couple of years surpassed Grindstone as the region’s new trade center while Grindstone slowly declined; eventually it became a ghost town.
To locate the site of Grindstone from Wall, go north on Creighton Road for 8 miles.
Just before the intersection of 191st Avenue and Cedar Butte Roads, Creighton Road veers at a 90-degree angle to the right and becomes Kelly Hill Road.
Proceed eastbound for 13 miles and turn left onto 206th Avenue. Continue north for 2 miles until you reach 225th Street. This is the old crossroads site of Grindstone.Rustler’s Rendezvous Near Forestburg
SANBORN COUNTY – The Sand Hills near Forestburg in Sanborn County became a safe haven for horse thieves and cattle rustlers in 1876, after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police discreetly let it be known they’d pay up to $200 a head for good horseflesh and top dollar for beef with no questions asked.
At that time, the RCMP was expanding rapidly into the Northwest Territories and was in desperate need of beef for food and quality horses to mount their officers.
The immediate demand for quality horses and beef at top dollar meant moving cattle and horses north from Texas along the Chisholm Trail into Montana.
Horse thieves and rustlers, however, frequently ran their stock into South Dakota off the Chisholm Trail by way of the White and Bellefourche Rivers.
The Sand Hills region provided the outlaws with a number of isolated hide-outs and the space needed to hold the stock before moving them north into North Dakota and Montana, where they were sold to unscrupulous dealers.
Old timers once told stories about a cave not far from Forestburg that these outlaws often used as a rendezvous point to meet others.
This cave, it is said, was also used as a safe place for them to bury a number of treasure caches while on the move.
The site of the cave was never divulged and its location today remains unknown.
It will take some local research and fieldwork to locate this cave, and perhaps the untold riches it is said to hold.Lost and Forgotten Sites of South Dakota
GT: Carbonate (LAWRENCE COUNTY) – The ghost town of Carbonate was a mining camp founded in 1881 and occupied mostly by those working at the Iron Hill Carbonate Mine.
In 1885, a town developed after gold, silver and lead was discovered at the Iron Hill Mine. In six years the mine produced $667,000 in ore.
Other good producing mines in the vicinity were the Pocahontas, the Union Hill, the Richmond Hill, Seabury-Calkins Mine, and the Adelphi.
By 1892, the mines had played out and the town declined. Many original buildings and ruins remain. From Spearfish, South Dakota, take Spearfish Canyon Highway (US Hwy 14 Alt) south for about 10 miles.
Turn left or east onto a dirt road at Squaw Creek, which is the old Carbonate Road, just north of Maurice and continue for about 1.5 miles to the historic mining town of Carbonate.
The cemetery coordinates are Lat: 44° 24’ 00”N, Lon: 103° 52’ 05”W.Robert McClellan’s Trading Post (YANKTON COUNTY) – A typical fortified and independent trading post that operated from 1805-1806 by American Robert McClellan (1770-November 22, 1815), an Army scout, Indian trader and explorer.
It was located east of Yankton just below the mouth of the James River and is mentioned in the records of the Lewis & Clark Expedition as it moved downriver in 1806.Sources:
Baier, Edward D., “Missing Fruit Jars of Cash,” September 1972, True Treasure Magazine, p. 19
Concoles, Trini, “Mexican Ed’s Jars of Gold,” July 2000, Lost Treasure Magazine, p. 36
South Dakota, Rustler’s Paradise, http://www.lostgold.us/html/south_dakota1.htm
Stymiest, Steven, Carbonate, South Dakota, 2004, The American History and Genealogy Project,
http://www.usgennet.org/usa/sd/topic/ghost/carbonate.htm
North American Forts: South Dakota, http://www.northamericanforts.com/West/sd.html