State Treasures - North Dakota

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 41 of the May, 2012 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2012 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


Hidden Gold -
Lost in Nelson County
NELSON COUNTY – Not much is known of the old Swede, Gustav Halverson, who is said to have arrived in the United States a wealthy man. He’d been in the U.S. for years before purchasing a large wheat farm on the North Dakota Plains in Nelson County.
Halverson lived alone in the big farmhouse on the property for several years and employed several workers to run the farm.
Known as a semi-recluse, his farm hands rarely saw the man outdoors. People living at Grand Forks, the closest town to his farm, said he was rarely seen in town and only came into Grand Forks a few times a year, usually to order books for his vast library at home. And it was in this library where it is reputed that Halverson spent most of his time.
The Halverson farm sat adjacent to the Grand Forks – Minot Trail that was the main route across northeastern North Dakota for travelers. When Halverson was seen outdoors it was often to greet travelers who’d pulled off the trail to rest and get water for themselves and their stock.
Halverson always was pleased to have visitors and personally led them to the well and showed them how to draw the cool water. If they needed anything he tending to their every need and then, when they continued their journey, Halverson returned to his house and it could be several more days before he would be spotted outdoors again.
As automobiles started replacing animal powered conveyances, Halverson’s farmhouse continued to attract motorists who needed water for their overheated radiators. As always, Halverson welcomed visitors and took them to his well, which he would show off with pride.
Halverson, when he first arrived to settle, had dug his well to a depth of nearly 60 feet; once he struck water he hauled rocks in from miles around to line his excavation to prevent cave in.
One summer after no one had seen Halverson for a couple of weeks one of his workers entered the farmhouse to check on him. The old man was found dead, lying on the floor of his library. The authorities were called and, after removing the body, sealed up his house.
For several weeks investigators conducted an extensive search for any heirs to his land and personal fortune in both the U.S. and Europe, but none were found.
It was common knowledge in that part of North Dakota that Halverson was considerably wealthy, but no bank in the state held an account for him. One banker in Grand Forks did report that several years earlier Halverson had come into his bank and asked about converting his entire savings into gold coins.
The banker reported it took several weeks to complete the transaction and when finished Halverson had well over $1 million in gold. But he never opened an account so what he did with it is unknown.
Law enforcement supervised a very thorough search for his wealth at his home, the barn and other out buildings, and the grounds, but found nothing. The Halverson farm eventually went into receivership and was sold.
By that time the farmhouse was in bad shape and the new owners had it and the other buildings torn down and the well was filled in. They built a new home about a mile away on the land and, as the years passed, the prairie grass reclaimed the old Swede’s forgotten home site.
Years after Halverson’s death a man purchased an old wooden trunk for $5 at auction in Bemidji, Minnesota. Thinking it would be perfect in his shop to store tools, he drove home with it and off-loaded it into his barn.
When he opened the trunk he was surprised to find it containing old documents, legal papers written in German, old photographs from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and a hand written journal written in English in a handsome script.
Reading further into the journal, the man realized it was an account of the life of Gustav Halverson who’d once owned a large wheat farm in Nelson County, North Dakota.
He surmised from the journal that Halverson was an avid reader who was very wealthy.
When the man came to the part about how Halverson had converted his savings into over a million in gold, which he hid in the rock lined well he’d dug somewhere on his farm, the man who’d purchased the old trunk was determined to find it.
Although the man found no dates in the journal, he did find a description of the old Halverson farm.
Several days later the man arrived in Nelson County and was shown where the old farmhouse once stood.
All he found was rolling hills covered in prairie grass, but no trace of the old structures.
After several more days of making inquires and looking at records, he finally located the new owners of the land who had a vague memory of the old Halverson farmhouse.
Though the property owner and the man who owned the journal searched for several days, they found no trace of where the well had been located and the effort ended without success.
Local research is required to determine where Halverson’s farm once was and from there, if the well can be located, a fortune in gold well exceeding its original value may still lay waiting to be unearthed.

Gold Specie Lost
During Gunfight
MCLEAN COUNTY – Fifteen miles SSE of Parshall on SR 37 (also known as 23rd Street NW), at the intersection of County Highway 1, is where the town of Raub was located in the late 1800’s.
Though a ghost town today, in 1877 a trader’s pack train was attacked by road agents near here.
The hold-up occurred on the east side of the Missouri River near Raub.
The outlaws fled with the cache of gold coins the traders had hidden in one of their wagons.
The amount they took is unknown, but it is said to have been a large amount. The traders quickly determined to run the outlaws down and reclaim their loss.
They pursued the highwaymen during a short chase of only a few miles before they had killed all of them in a running gun battle. No gold was found. The traders searched the route of the chase, but came up empty handed.
It is believed the outlaws had hastily buried or hidden the stolen loot somewhere along the short chase route, which was never recovered. Local research should help acquire more information on the robbery and the direction of the chase.

Massacre Gold
MERCER COUNTY – A successful party of 16 miners were returning home after finding a bonanza in Montana’s gold fields. They carried $200,000 in accumulated gold with them and brought their boat ashore near Stanton where the Knife River enters the Missouri River. Anticipating being camped at the confluence for several days, the party sent one man out to hunt while the rest buried the gold by their camp for safekeeping. When the man who’d been out hunting returned to camp he discovered his 15 partners had been slaughtered during an Indian attack. Because he was away from camp when the massacre occurred, he was the only one in the party who knew not where the gold was buried. It was never recovered.

‘Wilderness Metropolis’
Now A Ghost Town
TRAILL COUNTY – Belmont’s fame was known far and wide. Once a river port town, Belmont was established as “Frog Point” in 1871 and in 1879 the name was changed to Belmont.
The town became the head of navigation for hunters, teamsters, trappers, and others.
Floods and fires resulted in the town being abandoned. The post office closed in 1909.

Trikk Gold
CASS COUNTY – In 1900, George Trikk robbed an express car in Fargo escaping with an undisclosed amount in gold specie.
A Fargo posse raced out of town heading southwest just minutes behind.
At Leonard he was taken by the posse, but had no gold on him. While in custody as the posse searched, Trikk made a break for freedom and was killed. No recovery was made.

Sources:
Jameson W.C., Buried Treasures of the Great Plains, 1998, Little Rock, Arkansas, August House, Inc., p. 95-98
Terry, Thomas P., US Treasure Atlas – Volume 7, 1985, La Crosse, WI, Specialty Publishing Co. p. 759, 760, 765, 766.