State Treasures - Michigan

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 50 of the February, 2011 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2011 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


The Mack Island Treasure!
JACKSON COUNTY – As a retired police chief from a small police department in rural Oregon, I certainly recall many quiet weekday mornings passing as folks awoke and started about their daily affairs.
So I’d image the morning of Thursday, July 29, 1920, quietly began like any other in the rural Michigan hamlet of Grass Lake. But, by mid-afternoon, everyone knew it was a day that would be one not soon nor easily forgotten.
At 11 a.m., four armed men enter the Grass Lake Branch of the Farmers State Bank. Two other men remained outside - one acting as a lookout - and the other driving the get-a-way car.
Inside the bank, two bank employees and two customers were tied up with fishing line; meanwhile the other gunmen were busy filling cloth bags with cash and bonds.
Minutes after entering, the four men gunmen emerged, having just executed a daring and bloodless daylight bank robbery.
With all six bad-guys and the take safely secured in the get-a-way vehicle, the gang was last seen speeding away from the bank southbound on Wolf Lake Road towards Page Avenue at a high rate of speed.
Within minutes, the Sheriff’s Office in Jackson was notified of the bank heist.
Undersheriff Harry Worden, a resident of Grass Lake, was first to arrive at the bank, followed by Deputy Verl Kutt.
Victims and witnesses provided officers with a description of the suspects and their get-a-way vehicle, and Worden took note that the fishing line used to bind the victims wasn’t a type that was sold locally.
Worden developed one possible lead from local residents who claimed to have seen a group of strangers fishing on Mack Island for the past several days, adding they were likely staying in one of the tenant houses on the island frequently rented to fishermen and vacationers during the summer months. It was a long shot, but Worden decided to check the group out.
At 1 p.m., Undersheriff Worden, Deputy Kutt and a small posse from Grass Lake arrived at Wolf Lakes where local residents had seen the group fishing on Mack Island.
The lawmen proceeded to the island and soon learned which house the fishermen were renting. Worden and Kutt went to the front door and attempted entry.
One suspect inside the house instantly appeared at the door and forcibly kicked the door closed.
A second later, gunfire erupted as the suspect fired through the door at officers. One bullet struck Worden through the heart, killing him instantly.
Deputy Kutt did capture the killer, but was shot and wounded in the process. Seven other men fled the house; the posse apprehended four immediately and the other three were later captured that afternoon hiding in the swamp surrounding the house.
There are a couple of discrepancies between the legend and the official accounts of this incident, so local research is necessary.
First, according to legend, the robbers netted $69,000 in cash and bonds. The official report indicates the bank’s losses were $37,000 in cash and bonds. Both versions agree that nearly all of the bank loot was recovered.
What remains outstanding is $1,300 in gold and silver coins that was never found. People generally agree the coins were buried in the vicinity of the tenant house, which has since been razed.
The second inconsistency is the location where the suspects were caught. Legend states this occurred at Mack Island, on Wolf Lakes, south of Grass Lake.
According to Undersheriff Worden’s memorial, he was killed at a “summer home in Pine Lake.”The Fur Trader’s Lost Fortune
PRESQUE ISLE COUNTY – Old records of the Northwest Territory make a short reference to a treasure that was buried on Presque Isle.
Those records indicate an early French explorer named Francius Fontenroy amassed a fortune in the fur trade. Just before his death, he buried all of his wealth somewhere on Presque Isle.
I have nothing more on this lead, so local research will hopefully provide additional details.Treasure of the
Underground Railroad
CASS COUNTY – Prior to the Civil War, slaves escaping to Canada that were fleeing through Indiana and Illinois were guided to a location a half-mile west of the rural village of Vandalia.
Vandalia was the junction for two vital lines of the Underground Railroad where local Quakers and others provided shelter and aid to run-a-way slaves.
From there the fugitives were guided to the next stations on the line. Residents of Cass County have heard stories for decades of small slave caches being buried and lost near here. There are many such legends associated with the Underground Railroad stations.
Said legends claim fleeing slaves commonly buried their small caches of money around most of these stations to prevent slave hunters from getting their hands on it.
I’ve also read that many guides were paid for their services and they would pick up their pay and any additional funds to be used to assist the run-a-ways at predetermined locations along the route.Lost and Forgotten
Forts of Michigan
STATEWIDE – Like old mines, mining camps and ghost towns, old fort sites often prove to be great detecting sites. Some of the first forts built were erected by explorers, fur traders, and vanguard pioneers; many pre-date the period of American settlement.
Later forts that were government built and garrisoned with troops will often produce government issued artifacts and military insignias as well.
Many old forts are linked to stories of lost treasures, buried caches, weapons caches and more.
Camp Butler (MACOMB COUNTY) – Located in Mt. Clemens, Camp Butler was an American Civil War training camp from 1861 – 1865.
Ontonagon Trading Post (ONTONAGON COUNTY) – Located at the mouth of the Iron River near Silver City, it was a trading post and fort owned by the American Fur Company (1808 – unknown).
L’Anse Trading Post (BARAGA COUNTY) – This trading post / fort was located near L’Anse. Originally built and operated by the Northwest Fur Company from 1800-1812, it later was operated by the American Fur Company from 1817-1838.
Fort Collyer (LOST FORT) Fort Collyer was a British post established and garrisoned in 1812. The garrison was moved to Fort Drummond in 1815.
Its location may have been at Sault Ste. Marie, Drummond Island, or Mackinac Island in present-day Michigan, or possibly on St. Joseph Island, Ontario, Canada.
Fort de Repentigny (CHIPPEWA COUNTY) – This was a French fort built just east of Sault Ste. Marie to protect the fur trade in 1751. Captured by the British in 1761, the fort was destroyed by fire in 1762. This may have been the site of a French trading post dating back to 1670.
Moreau’s Trading Post (BARRY COUNTY) – Moreau’s Trading Post was located about six miles northwest of Hastings on Irving, or West Irving Road; a rock monument marks the site. It served as both an American trading post and settlers’ fort from 1827-1836.
Fort Miami (BERRIEN COUNTY) – This French fort was located on the St. Joseph River near the city of St. Joseph. Fort Miami was founded by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, or Robert de LaSalle, in 1679.
La Salle built the fort from timber in a triangular shape roughly 40 x 80 feet on the defended sides. The fort was burned down sometime during the 1680’s.
Wayne Stockade (MONROE COUNTY) – This was an American settlers’ stockade blockhouse located near East Elm Street and North Monroe Avenue in the city of Monroe.
Americans began settling there in 1793. The blockhouse was erected in 1796 and became the first American-flagged post in Michigan. The British burned it down in 1812.
Remember, always check local laws first before using your detector and digging.Sources:
Vance, Tom, “A Novice Treasure Hunter,” October 1998, Lost Treasure, p. 54
The Quest Shop, Where is the lost treasure of Mack Island, http://www.thequestshop.com/legends/legends142.php
The Officer Down Memorial Page,
http://www.odmp.org/officer/18485-undersheriff-harry-victor-worden
Lost Gold U.S., Michigan, http://www.lostgold.us/html/michigan1.htm
Henson, Michael Paul, “Colorado Silver Mines,” March 1990, Lost Treasure, p. 64
North American Forts 1526-1956, Michigan Forts, http://www.northamericanforts.com/East/mi.html