State Treasures - Minnesota

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 28 of the August, 2012 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2012 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


Pet’s Gold
OTTER TAIL COUNTY – This lead appears for the first time in a treasure hunting publication, as far as I could determine.
I acquired this new lead while data mining the Internet for lost or buried treasures in Minnesota and found it on the Pelican Rapids Chamber of Commerce’s website.
According to this old legend, a Swedish immigrant named Pet Johnson, also known as Pet Kronquist, arrived in Minnesota in 1886 and settled on a farm northeast of Erhard.
Many years later, Johnson suddenly took ill and was resting at home in bed.
That evening Johnson called his family to his bedside to tell them something important.
By now Johnson was weak and struggled to get his breath. His family helped the old man sit upright and, after clearing his throat, Johnson said… “The gold, the gold is buried…” just then the family hears Pet draw is last breath and, without uttering another word, his head falls to the pillow as the Swede passes from this world.
Having never heard anything previously about Pet’s gold, the family was bewildered and confused.
Some family members were angry at not being told earlier; arguing that if Pet had let someone else in on the secret the family could’ve already retrieved their fortune.
Instead Pet’s intended gift now cursed the family who spent the rest of their lives searching for it, though none of it could be found.
Arlo Lund owned the property some years ago and he’d heard the story from Bill Toso who’d grown up as a boy living next door.
Toso thought Johnson may have been tied in with Jessie James somehow, but there is no supporting evidence that can confirm this.
Lund also spent much of his time looking for Johnson’s lost hoard, but like the others, never did find anything.
Local research will help locate Johnson’s original property lines.
And remember, it is your responsibility to obtain permission from the landowner today before entering private property to search.

Minnesota’s Gold Rush
OLMSTED & DODGE COUNTIES – Holden Whipple and his son were walking along the riverbank of the Zumbro River in 1856 when Holden spotted something shiny on the ground.
He bent down and picked it up, but couldn’t believe his eyes it when he recognized it as gold.
Word of Whipple’s good fortune spread quickly throughout the region leading to the formation of the Oronoco Mining Company, whose plans called for them to systematically mine the river.
The Minnesota gold rush began in 1858, but before the company was completely operational, winter set in forcing the company to put things on hold until the following spring.
But the spring of 1859 arrived with hot temperatures, causing the winter’s snows to melt much too fast, which raised the water well above normal in the creeks and rivers.
With the rivers above the flood mark, the company’s equipment and all the work accomplished the previous fall were swept down river.
The decision was made to reorganize and to raise more capital by increasing the number of members.
By July the Oronoco Mining Company was ready for business and needed to prove their claim.
Though the company men were using rugged primitive sluices, by the end of the first day they had acquired several ounces of gold and knew they had a bright future ahead of them. But disaster struck on July 3, 1859, when an unseasonable storm dumped torrents of rain down, which caused the rivers and creeks to rise to flood stage. Once again floodwaters carried all traces of the mining operation downstream.
With their resources and courage spent, the company called it quits. Another interested party of men decided to find out if gold was not only in the river, but in the ground along the river as well.
This group sunk a shaft on College Street about 50 or 60 yards below the College Street Bridge with good results.
Mining here paid men from $3 to $6 a day and continued for some time.
Another location on the Zumbro where gold was found was at the town of Sacramento in Dodge County. Sacramento eventually became a ghost town, but with new technology and modern mining techniques it may behoove someone to do some prospecting on the Zumbro.        

Depression Era Caches
OLMSTED COUNTY – Following the Stock Market crash on October 29, 1929, it’s well documented that many Americans buried their money and other valuables for the uncertain times that lay ahead.
In Rochester, prosperous doctors and wealthy businessmen were doing the same thing.
For whatever reason many of these long forgotten depression era caches were never reclaimed; today many of them still remain buried.
Starting in the 1970’s, several of these caches were unearthed in Rochester by treasure hunters; much more is believed to remain buried here waiting to be discovered. 

Henderson Brewery Mystery
SIBLEY COUNTY – Charles Ney for many years owned and operated the Henderson Brewery until prohibition went into effect.
Shortly after prohibition became law Ney died, leaving behind a mystery that remains unsolved.
Ney had amassed a personal fortune in gold specie, none of which was found in his home or deposited in any bank.
In 1924 the brewery was razed; two years later treasure hunters obtained permission to dig a 30-foot shaft below the old brewery site.
They believed Ney had a secret underground vault where he’d hidden his fortune.
The search for the underground vault was unsuccessful and what became of Ney’s gold is unknown.
Doing some poking around while researching this story, I discovered some of Henderson’s elderly residents remember the brewery before it was razed. The brewery was supposedly located “on the south edge of town.”
Henderson even today is a small town, and another person recalled the brewery as being “just south of town” with a “meandering lake known as Brewery Lake” back in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
But the most interesting point not mentioned in the treasure legend account is there was the “Old Brewery Cave,” described as having a “substantial brick arched entrance” that housed the spring that cooled the beer, which was located in a cellar below the brewery.
Why the treasure hunters in 1926 believed there was an underground vault 30 feet below where the brewery once sat is unknown.
But with the recent confirmation of the existence of the Old Brewery Cave, it becomes clear that this cave was certainly part of Ney’s business operation.
Perhaps Ney did have an underground vault where his gold fortune was stored. Perhaps the only access point to that vault was through this cave?          

Lost and Forgotten
Minnesota Sites:
GT: Arnesen (LAKE OF THE WOODS COUNTY) The ghost town site of Arnesen was first homesteaded in 1897 by Bernhard Arnesen.
The village that sprung up here was home to many commercial fishermen and their families.
Agnes Arnesen, wife of Bernhard, was the first postmaster here and she also worked at developing a small resort.
By the 1930’s, Agnes was renting cabins and boats and ran a small store.
Today the Arnesen family still lives at Arnesen’s Rocky Point as they have for more than 100 years where they have raised six generations of their family.
The family still provides visitors with an excellent fishing and resort experience though the town itself is gone.
Arnesen is located on the Lake of the Woods at the end of Highway 17 at Rocky Point Road Northwest.  

FT: Fort Greene (BIG STONE COUNTY) Ft. Greene was an American Fur Company trading post located on the “River au Gris of the St. Peters” below Big Stone Lake.
The American fort existed here in 1826 and there is not a lot of information available.
This is a lost fort whose actual location is undetermined.

FT: Marysburg Fort (LE SUEUR COUNTY) This is a lost fort whose actual location is also undetermined.
Sadly, very little information exists on this site, but I did turn up some information by doing an online search of archived records at the United States Department of the Treasury for military expenses incurred during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.
Marysburg Fort was established and garrisoned in 1862 by the Marysburg Home Guard.
It was one of several fortifications that created a defense line from New Ulm to the Iowa border.

Sources:
Pelican Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Lost Gold Eludes Three Generations, http://www.pelicanrapi
dschamber.com/historyhappenedher
e/lost_gold_eludes_three_generatio.htm
Braun, Kurt, “Minnesota’s Ill-fated Gold Rush,” December 1980, Lost Treasure, p. 73
Marx, Robert F., “Buried Treasure of the United States,” 1978, New York, Bonanza Books, p. 243
Terry, Thomas P., “US Treasure Atlas – Volume 5,” 1985, La Crosse, WI, Specialty Publishing Company, p. 522
Henderson on the Minnesota Forums, Henderson Brewery, http://www.hendersonmn.com/chatter/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=2329
North American Forts, Minnesota, http://www.northamericanforts.com/West/mn.html
U.S. Dept of the Treasury, http://www.mnhs.org/library/findaids/m0635.xml