State Treasures - Connecticut

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 27 of the January, 2013 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2013 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved

The Guatmozin Treasure
(NEW HAVEN COUNTY) - Just a half mile off the coast east of Milford, Connecticut, sits 14-acre Charles Island, reputed to have been the depository of more than one noted treasure.
The island's history is shrouded in mystery, legend, and curses.
No one who’s ever lived on the island stayed very long after Ansantawea, chief of the local Paugussett tribe, sold it to early settlers in 1639.
Ansantawea had used the island as his summer home for years, but every enterprise undertaken on the island after 1639 is said to have ended in failure.
In the mid-1600's, a tobacco plantation located here, later a fish oil factory, a mansion, a hotel and religious retreat; all ended in failure for their owners.
The first curse associated with the island is said to have come from a Native American chief in response to his daughter’s kidnapping.
The second curse and most famous is said to have been bestowed by infamous pirate Captain William Kidd, who is reputed to have buried a cache of treasure on the island.
Legend claims that whoever finds the cache will be rewarded with death.
The third curse, according to legend, was imported to Charles Island by five sailors who, by accident, are said to have discovered the Guatmozin treasure in a cave in Mexico in 1721.
Guatmozin was the Mexican emperor who succeeded his cousin, Montezuma, who’d been killed by Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés, who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés captured Guatmozin on 13 August, 1521, attempting to escape the Spanish siege.
Cortés knew of the Aztec wealth and demanded to know where their treasure was. Guatmozin was tortured without ever giving up its location.
Cortés had him executed in 1525 at Chontal Maya capital of Itzamkanac.
Known as the Guatmozin treasure ,nothing more was heard of it for nearly 200 years.
The story states in 1721 that five sailors from Milford, Connecticut ,discovered the Guatmozin treasure hidden inside a cave in Mexico.
They recovered the hoard and returned to Milford where it was hidden in the basement of an old Milford Inn.
Four of the five adventurers who discovered this treasure are reported to have died terrible deaths.
The fifth man and owner of the inn claims a customer stumbled upon the hoard while searching the basement of the inn for beer.
The inn’s owner then hauled the treasure to Charles Island in the dead of night where he buried it before imposing the final curse upon the already vexed island.
To date, both the treasure of Capt. Kidd and the fallen Aztec empire have never been found.

The Lost Loot of the Santa Barbara
(HARTFORD COUNTY) Sailing out of Santa Barbara in the West Indies in 1655 was the Spanish galleon Neptune.
The ship carried $20 million in gold. Waiting at sea to plunder the Neptune was pirate Captain David Marteen who’d been tipped off to the amount of gold the Spanish galleon was transporting.
Marteen pursued and overtook the Neptune and plundered her.
But shortly after Marteen sailed with the prize he realized that other pirates were now pursuing him.
Marteen landed at the island of Tortuga to bury the loot, which was done.
Once Marteen was convinced it was safe he had the treasure unearthed and re-loaded onto his ship.
Sailing northward along the Atlantic coast, his next stop was at Long Island Sound off the Connecticut shore.
From here Marteen sailed up the Connecticut River to the area of present-day Windsor.
At Windsor, the pirate received an unfriendly welcome and was told to move on.
Marteen continued in a northwesterly direction and dropped anchor somewhere between Salmon Brook and East Granby, which is where the treasure is still presumably buried.
This treasure had all but been forgotten when, in 1966, a story about two treasure hunters searching for the loot ran in the Thompson Yule News under the byline of George ORiordan (sic).
The account of the Santa Barbara treasure was told by a Shaker Pines Lake resident, 80-year-old Richard Nelson.
After serving in the U.S. Army in the Philippines Nelson mustered out in 1910, but re-upped later to capture the Mexican bandito Pancho Villa.
On the onset of WWI, Nelson was wounded in France and honorably discharged with a disability pension.
Nelson became a treasure hunter when he returned home and spent years searching for the Santa Barbara treasure, convinced it had been buried somewhere between the Old Newgate Prison north of East Granby and west a distance of 2.6 miles to Salmon Brook.
Nelson did recover several marker stones that were etched with symbols, which he believed pointed to the burial site.
Sent off to an expert to interpret the stones, Nelson received word that the stones were authentic and supported Nelson's story of a buried treasure.
The expert reported he believed the stones had been etched by English pirate Robert Cadwell.
Additional research confirmed Cadwell was with Marteen when the Neptune was plundered.
At this point, 63-year-old treasure hunter Anthony Ruches, who was nearly crippled from arthritis, joined Nelson.
They purchased a metal detector in order to secure the great wealth that awaited them.
Shortly after, the 80-year-old Nelson became too infirmed to continue his decades long quest.
Nothing more was heard of Ruches after that and the treasure of the Santa Barbara is still believed to be buried right where Marteen put it into the ground over 350 years ago.   

Lost in Connecticut - $4 Million in Gold & Silver
(NEW LONDON COUNTY) Little is known about an unidentified Spanish Galleon that sank off New London in 1753.
It is rumored to have carried $4 million in gold and silver that was never salvaged.

Connecticut’s Other Sunken Treasures
(FAIRFIELD COUNTY) The vessel Three Brothers sank off Bridgeport around 1779.
It was a 14-gun ship which may’ve been used during the Revolutionary War.
The 16-gun Fancy Nancy was also sunk during the Revolutionary War off Bridgeport.
On March 13, 1778, two unidentified American pirate ships were sank off Bridgeport by a British warship.
In 1840, the sidewheel steamer, Lexington burned off Bridgeport and sank with $100,000 in silver specie.
On the beaches around New London during the 1980's, a number of shipwrecks from the 18th and 19th centuries could still be seen.
A hurricane struck here in 1770 destroying more than 20 ships that smashed to pieces and scattered along the New London beaches.
In 1812, the merchantman Osprey wrecked during a storm on Pleasure Beach south of New London.
The Spanish ship Anion ran aground on Goshen Point south of New London in 1816.
Two large, unidentified merchantmen vessels were wrecked in New London Harbor during the 1770 hurricane that left large numbers of the ship’s crew drowned.
The American frigate Defense sank in 1779 during a storm 5 miles off Goshen Point at Bartlett Reef.
The Defense was carrying 500,000 Continental silver dollars and was found in 30 feet of water off the reef in 1960.
No salvage occurred due to severe currents around the reef.
The Spanish frigate San Jose sank on a reef off New London Harbor during a severe storm.
She went down with a cargo valued at $400,000, including 40 chests of silver pieces-of-eight and one chest of gold doubloons, none of which was recovered.

Lost Gold Mine
(NEW HAVEN COUNTY) Little is known of three Italian men who worked a secret gold mine in the hills near New Haven.
In 1900, the men covered over their mine and returned to Italy.
Their mine has never been relocated.

Ghost Town: Hampsted
(LITCHFIELD COUNTY) I found little on this ghost town, which should not be confused with Barkhampsted.
The town was located on the extreme northeast county line two miles south of East Hartland.
The site can be found on Barkhampsted Road immediately north of S.R. 219, or Gavitt Road.

Ghost Town: Green Farms
(FAIRFIELD COUNTY) Green Farms was on Long Island Sound.
Founded in 1648, over 200 buildings were burned in 1779, likely during a Revolutionary War battle.
Green Farms is 2.3 miles southeast of Westport and walking distance due north from I-95 and Beachside Avenue. 

Schurman, Kathleen, “This Island’s for the Birds,” April 11, 2001, Millford Mirror
Wikipedia: Conquistador Hernán Cortés, and Mexican emperor Guatmozin
History of Hernando Cortes,
Kelly, Pat, “Cluster of Connecticut Caches,” April 1994, Lost Treasure p. 36
Terry, Thomas P.,” U.S. Treasure Atlas - Vol. 3,” 1985, La Crosse, WI, Specialty Publishing Co., p. 224 - 227.