State Treasure - Wisconsin

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 52 of the October, 2012 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2012 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


Treasure Tales of
the Apostle Islands
ASHLAND COUNTY - Somewhere on a group of remote islands in Lake Superior, known as the Apostle Islands, located off the most northern tip of Wisconsin, there are reports of several buried treasures.
According to Leonard Kiedrowski, a number of treasure laden ships sank during severe storms in the vicinity of Bayfield.
An ancient Indian legend tells of a rich copper mine that was worked by the Chippewa tribe on Madeline Island.
In 1727, the French established Fort LaPointe on the island and learned of the valuable mine.
In 1733, fort commander Louis Denis, Sieur de La Ronde, received approval from the French government to mine the Chippewa’s mine.
The mining endeavor was hailed a great success and plenty of copper was shipped to France.
Hostilities broke out in 1759 and the fort’s new commander, Joseph Marin, stopped shipping to France due to the French & Indian war.
Marin ordered the mine closed and buried until hostilities ended and mining could resume.
But the Chippewa attacked the fort and rooted the entire French garrison to the mainland and burned the fort to the ground. Since then the mine has remained lost.
During the Revolutionary War, the British established a fort on Hermit Island.
The Chippewa sided with the American cause and attacked the British outpost.
A bloody battle raged for several days and, when it became apparent the Brits would lose the fort, four soldiers were selected to bury the Army’s payroll, intending to return later to recover it.
When the British took to flight from the fort, the Chippewa massacred the garrison to the last man.
The fort was put to the torch and burned to the ground.
According to Kiedrowski, the actual location of the fort became lost over time and no recovery was attempted.
Since the treasure was buried during the heat of battle, it has been assumed that the cache site is located very close to or inside the fort itself and most likely wasn’t buried too deep.
A recluse, remembered today simply as a man named Wilson, lived on Hermit Island during the time of the Civil War.
Wilson made frequent trips to the mainland where he was known to spend his money quite liberally, though his source of income was never known.
It was generally believed Wilson was well off and likely kept his money buried near his cabin.
Wilson was later discovered in his cabin dead and, when word reached the mainland, a search for his money was made, but only a few coins were found.
The area immediately surrounding Wilson’s cabin was dug up, but nothing was found.
Wilson’s cache is believed to still remain undiscovered on Hermit Island.

Stolen Gold & Silver
Specie Leads to Arrest
of 22 Greedy Lawyers
MARINETTE COUNTY - This little-known Wisconsin treasure is still thought to be buried in the vicinity of Beaver in southwest Marinette County.
On October 16, 1924, Martha Battaglan was arrested in St. Paul, Minnesota, for felony theft of $11,200 in gold and silver specie, which she had stolen from her father, Gottleib Mattrick, when visiting his farm near Beaver, Wisconsin.
She was brought to trial in Marinette and pleaded guilty to larceny.
She was sentenced to five years in prison, an order which the judge immediately vacated, placing her on parole instead.
Six months after Martha’s arrest, on the night of Saturday April 25, 1925, deputies with the Marinette County Sheriff’s Office were summoned to the farm of Gottleib Mattrick.
Upon their arrival, they found a group of local farmers armed with shotguns had surrounded a party of 22 men that’d been caught prowling the Battaglan farm with flashlights.
Not only had the farmers arrested the 22 men, but they’d also put armed men to guard their cars discovered hidden nearby.
The men were caught with shovels digging about the premises when captured by Gottleib, his sons and neighbors.
The 22 men were arrested and all their vehicles were impounded by the Sheriff.
The Sheriff’s Department conducted the investigation and concluded that all 22 men were attorneys and all had some connection to Martha Battaglan’s criminal case six months prior. 
After Martha’s arrest in October, she confessed to the theft of her father’s money and informed police she had hidden the bulk of the treasure on her father’s property and had taken several thousand dollars home to her residence in Minneapolis.
Officers searching Martha’s residence did recover an undisclosed amount of the loot.
Meanwhile, officers were searching the Mattrick farm for the rest of it.
Martha stated she buried the balance of the treasure 20 feet in a line straight south from a tree stump on her father’s land.
Deputies located the stump and, by following her instructions, recovered another $3,000.
The total amount recovered by officers cannot accurately be set since law enforcement only told the media they’d recovered “several thousand dollars” from Martha’s Minneapolis home.
Local research may reveal the amount seized from Martha’s home as well as the location of the Mattrick Farm.
With the price of silver and gold today, the value of the cache would greatly exceed that of the face value of the coins.
The Tainter Treasure
RUSK COUNTY - David Tainter was a successful trapper and fur trader in the late 1800’s who lived in a 1-1/2 story house on the west end of Bucks Lake.
Every time Tainter came to town he always paid for services and goods with gold coins.
Over the years it was rumored that Tainter had accumulated about $30,000 in gold specie.
Anytime he needed cash, Tainter would leave home for only a few minutes then return with the necessary gold pieces.
Tainter, an accomplished woodsman and hunter, did live frugally off the land.
Because Tainter was a bachelor and lived as a hermit until his death in 1917, he only spent money on necessity items he required.
Local research is necessary to determine where Tainter was living.
It’s still believed that a cache of gold coins remains buried there.          

Lost and Forgotten Sites
Lake Pipin (PIPIN COUNTY) - The steamboat Sea Wing sank during a storm on July 13, 1890. Loss of life was 100 and the ship carried an undetermined quantity of cargo and valuables. No salvage attempt was reported.

Washington Island (DOOR COUNTY) - The I.N. Foster wrecked off Washington Island on August 7, 1887.
Salvage value was listed as $15,000.
The Louisiana sank off Washington Island in 1913.
No further details are known. Research required.

Fort Diamond Grove (UNKNOWN) - This fort was an American settler’s stockade established in 1832 during the Black Hawk War.
It is a lost fort that may’ve been located in Lafayette County.

Fort St. Croix (BAYFEILD COUNTY) - This French post was established in 1683 and is said to have been at the headwaters of the St. Croix River near Upper Eau Claire Lake.

Lost Payroll (COLUMBIA COUNTY) - There is an old legend concerning $100,000 in gold that is said to have been lost when the riverboat transporting the payroll from Fort Crawford at Prairie du Chien to Fort Winnebago at Portage sank during a storm on the Wisconsin River.
According to legend, the unidentified riverboat capsized on the east bank of the river below some high cliffs a few miles south of Portage.
All hands were lost and the gold payroll was never recovered.
The legend states that a boy found three 10 pound gold bars at this site in 1953.
The legend lacks much detail, which may explain why this site has been largely forgotten.
From research, Fort Winnebago was established in 1828 and destroyed by fire in 1856. If the legend is true then this incident must’ve occurred prior to 1856.
The alleged 1953 recovery of three 10 pound gold bars is unconfirmed and was considered suspect at the time.
Perhaps, with some local research and military payroll records documenting the shipment and loss, this legend could be pieced together and the gold recovered.  

Sources:
Kiedrowski, Leonard, “Treasure of the Apostles,” March 1970, Treasure World, p. 25
Smith, George F., “Wisconsin Coin Cache,” April 1977, Lost Treasure, p. 17
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, “Quest for Stolen Treasure, Buried on Farm,” Fails, April 27, 1925, p. 1
The Manitowoc Herald-News, “Buried Gold on Marinette Farm,” April 29, 1925, p. 1
Terry, Thomas P., “US Treasure Atlas-Volume 10,” 1985, La Crosse, WI, Specialty Publishing Company, p. 1097, 1099, 1101, 1108
North American Forts: Wisconsin. http://www.northamericanforts.com/East/wi.html