Researching the treasure hunt's origins

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Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:47 pm

Thought this would be a good topic to get folks looking and sharing.

I'll make two initial postings.

The first being the three friend's version, the second being a version some readers may mot be familiar with. After reading the versions, be so kind as to offer your comments on either version, could it be one version or the other.....or perhaps a combination of both :shock:

Here is an attempt to rationalize the three friends version.

The story of Oak Island as told today commences with the tale of three young or teenage boys rowing out to an uninhabited island during the summer of 1795; or one boy making discovery then returning to the mainland to fetch two other boys.

One must naturally wonder how ‘three boys’ became the descriptive language of choice for the 20th Century when all early written accounts have always indicated men. Dissecting the stories of discovery and wading through the various accounts must be made for the purpose of understanding the following:

The year 1795 was introduced by Frederick Blair in his Prospectus of 1894, and
At no time were boys ever mentioned in any account prior to the 20th Century.
Essentially there are two varying accounts which narrate a discovery of the pit. These two versions are the following:

1. One version of discovery has Donald McGinnis as a participant, with varying co participants depending on the narrator. All of these accounts are known as the ‘three friend version’ which can be further examined to contain two sub variations.

a. Judge DesBrisay in his History of Lunenburg County, First Edition, says McGinnis, Ball and (a) Vaughn of unknown first name were involved,

b. Anthony Vaughan Junior’s version as relayed to Robert Creelman during 1849 has McGinnis, John Smith and Anthony Vaughan Jr. Anthony Vaughan’s story is the version which authors have adopted and which eventually was transformed into “in 1795, three boys rowed out to an uninhabited island”.

2. The second main version comes from James DeMille through his Treasure of the Sea. Essentially, DeMille tells of a father who discovered the pit forty years before the ‘three friends version’ and who engaged with his son to work the pit. DeMille’s version then continues on with the ‘three friends’. His addition was for the pit to be previously worked before the three friends; thereby implying the Loyalist discovery is actually a rediscovery!

Below are snippets of published articles which narrate the accounts of discovery. The information below was extracted for the purpose of indicating when the pit was discovered. The three friend’s version comes in five articles of which all others are based, with the eighth article from the Blair Prospectus of 1894. Blair’s Prospectus is the first document which attempts to conjure the history for the purpose of selling shares; thus it has legal implications.

Article 1. 16 Oct 1862 Liverpool Transcript
by J.B McCully – Truro, June 2, 1862

“ Sometime after the arrival of these persons a Mr. McGinnis went to Oak Island to make a farm, when he discovered the spot in question from its being sunken, and from the position of three oak trees, which stood in a triangular form round the pit."

Comments: There is no mention of 1795 or his age. McGinnis arrived in the area between 1785 and 1787 and purchased his first Oak Island property 3 March 1788. The article implies discovery when McGinnis first went to the island, thus 1788.

Article 2. The Colonist of 1864
(author now known to be Mr Cooke of the Association)

Thus Captain Kidd and his treasure remained for several years following the death of the old sailor, when three men named Smith, McGinnis, and Vaund, emigrated from New England to Chester, Nova Scotia. Smith and McGinnis took up land on Oak Island, and Vaund settled on the adjacent main-land.

Comment: A mention of men but no 1795. Smith arrived in the area during 1784 at the age of 14. His father Duncan Smith was granted lot 24 in 1784 and his biological uncle Hector McLean being granted lot 23. Smith moved to Oak Island in Oct 1789 with his mother and new step father Neal McMullen.

The Vaughn family was already established in the area dating to the 1760s and the family owned several Oak Island lots prior to the arrival of McGinnis and Smith; therefore, it cannot be implied for the Vaughn family to have arrived at the same time as Smith and McGinnis. The article indicates the Vaud (Vaughan) involved had emigrated from New England; thus this Vaud (Vaughan) could not have been Anthony Jr. because he was born in Chester during 1782.

McGinnis did not come from New England; the closest he ever got to New England was New York. The time period implied by this article would be 1789.

Article 3. Toilers of the Isle 22 Aug 1866 New York Times and reproduced in the British Colonist

“Among the spots I have visited is a small island in Mahone Bay, on the south coast of Nova Scotia, known as Oak Island, where for over a century has been centred quite an interest. I give you the story as ‘twas told to me:-“

Comment: The author indicates interest for over 100 years and therefore would be consistent with the DeMille version of '40 years prior to the three friends'.

Article 4. The Scotsman - 22 Sept 1866
Nearly a quarter century later, three men, named Smith, Vaud (Vaughan), and McGinnis, emigrated from New England and settled in Chester NS. Smith and McGinnis taking up land upon Oak Island. As soon as these men had erected their huts, they commenced their work of felling the forest that covered the island.

Comments: This article is based upon article 2. It mentions men, no 1795.

Article 5. History of Lunenburg County – FIRST EDITION 1870 by Judge DesBrisay
“a man named McGinnis, living on the mainland when visiting the island…” and “rowed back to the mainland and got two men Ball and Vaughan”.

Comment: A ‘man’, and the judge actually provides the date of 1799. The year 1789 is a more reasonable date and I suggest 1799 may have been either a typing error, or the Judge’s personal recollection from recalling the story he learned as a boy via the daughter of John Smith. This version indicates a period prior to McGinnis owning property (1788) as he was visiting, perhaps even working. In stating Ball was on the mainland, one must wonder if Ball yet owned his first lot? A date of 1787/1788 means Anthony Jr. is 6 years of age and is not a likely person for McGinnis to have fetched, especially since the Judge mentions men. The Judge learned of discovery from Mary Smith, the daughter of John Smith, and who was a family servant. It was she who never included her father in discovery. Why the Judge's 1870 first edition is so different from the previous articles can only mean his source was different.

Article 6 Treasure of the Sea 1873 by James DeMille
“Well, after this nothing was done for a long time. These two, father and son, went home, and for a while they kept the whole business a secret; but after some years the old man died, and the son married, and so the whole the whole story leaked out, till everybody knew all about it”.

Comments: While published in 1873, DeMille's knowledge was gained from living on the island during 1868, and from many years of having a summer home in Chester Basin. DeMille does not provide a date, but he says a father and son were the primary discoverers and implies with the Loyalists either re-discovered the pit, or discovered a pit hidden by the Planters. De Mille further states “these diggings to be about 40 years before the friends". Demille further states that after the father dies, the son get married, then talks openly about the pit.

In dissecting the Demille's version against the folks of the area, the father can only be Robert Melvin, and the son can only be Nathaniel Melvin. From 1766 onwards, Robert showed great interest in the island. After his death in 1787 the Loyalists would coincidentally start arriving on the island. His son Nathaniel would take control of his father’s Oak Island lots and further acquire several others including lot 17 during 1790, which he purchased from Anthony Vaughan Sr. With this purchase, the Melvin family would own the lots on either side of lot 18. Further to the DeMille’s version, Nathaniel married in 1795. While DeMille says for the son to have only talked about the pit, I don’t think this means Nathaniel widely publicized the pit; but rather disclosed to the Loyalists what the pit may have been used for during the Revolution. The silence of community or public record regarding this pit speaks for itself; surely the news of a virgin pit thought to contain Capt Kidd’s treasure would have made it to some record.

Article 7 1885/86 Life of James Pattillo – Recorded by Rev Rakey
James Pattillo’s testimony says “the pit was discovered when his father still owned property on Oak Island”.

Comments: Alexander Pattillo possessed lot number one from 19 Feb 1785 to 9 Sep 1794 and lot number 27 from 17 Nov 1786 to May 1791. In both cases he sold both lots to Donald McGinnis. The actual book is linked below

Article 8 Blair Prospectus 1894
“In 1795, three men –Smith, McGinnis and Vaughn, - visiting the island, and while rambling over the eastern part of it, came to a spot…”

Comment: This is the first mention of 1795, but the participants are still referred to as men. By 1795 Smith was already a resident of the island and living with his mother and step father on lots 9, 10, and 11. McGinnis possesses lots 1, 23, 27, and 28, he resides on

Article 9 The Oak Island Treasure by Charles B Driscoll 1929
John McGinnis’ is the great grandson of Daniel McGinnis. John was born on Oak Island and maintained an unbroken chain of McGinnis’ on the island. John and his father were present during the time of Blair’s activities and historical investigation of the 1890’s, yet John’s testimony is not recorded by Blair.

His testimony – “He was one of the original discoverers of the treasure. After he got interested in the work here, he settled down and built a house right on this spot”.

Comment: McGinnis was already a resident by 1791 as shown on the Poll Tax and owned his first lot in 1788. The testimony indicates he was already aware of the pit and was interested prior to coming to Oak Island. The testimony also suggests work may have already been going on.

Analysis of the nine articles
The various accounts of the 19th Century never mention three boys, with only Blair’s Prospectus mentioning 1795 as a date to discovery.

Other than 1795 being the year in which Smith bought the property, there is nothing else to suggest 1795 as the year to discovery. DeMille indicates ‘the son’ got married and then communicated information about the pit. If this son was Nathaniel Melvin, he married in 1795.

All of the texts, except for Blair’s, suggests the pit was discovered, or at minimum became known to the Loyalist group before 1789.

All of the three friend versions, except for Judge DesBrisay’s, are all based upon the Anthony Vaughan Jr. to Creelman exchange of information.

Implications of an earlier than 1795 discovery date are far reaching; but most significant is for Anthony Vaughan Jr’.s age becoming a factor. Born in 1782, a discovery date of 1787 would see Anthony Jr. only five years old; therefore he would not have reasonably been the Vaughan who McGinnis fetched on the mainland. Additionally Jr. would not have been of sufficient age to have participated and not as a reasonable eyewitness to discovery. One must wonder why Junior’s version of events, as told to Creelman in 1849, is so disjoined from the documented history of the island.

By 1849, McGinnis, Ball, and the various Vaughan men who could have been the one McGinnis fetched were all dead. A discovery date before October 1789 would now exclude even Smith as a participant and would be consistent for Judge DesBrisay’s version he learned as a boy.

Simply put, Anthony Vaughan Jr. must certainly have told Robert Creelman more than 30 seconds of worthy text to detail discovery. We do not hear from Smith or relatives, and we do not hear from any of the McGinnis relatives. We do not hear the version of discovery from any of the Loyalists; but rather from the son of a Planter who did not live on Oak Island and never owned property on Oak Island.

Including the information provided by DeMille now means the Loyalist either 're-discovered' a pit, or merely became aware of the pit. This awareness idea is substantiated through the testimony of McGinnis' great gandson who said Donald first became interested in the work prior to buying on Oak Island. Could this mean the operation was already on the go before McGinnis (1788)?

One can only conclude the Anthony Vaughan Jr. version was conjured, with the only outstanding question being “Why?”

So when was 'discovery'? Regardless of any possible activity as told by DeMille, this researcher thinks the Loyalist became aware of the pit at some point between the death of Robert Melvin in Aug 1787 and before Smith moves to the island in Oct 1789. Based upon property deeds and specific language used in the above texts, I think this can be narrowed down to between Aug 1787 and Mar 1788.
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:02 pm

and here is the not so well known version.

The first possible connection to treasure hunting on Oak Island can be established in 1755/56 when elements of the 4th Massachusetts Militia were sent to Nova Scotia to protect the town of Lunenberg from Indian raids.

As part of this militia Lt. Robert Melvin first met the Payzant family while conducting rounds of the inhabited islands, they were also the troops to respond to the island after the Indians killed Mr Payzant and kidnapped the remainder of the family, secreting them away to Quebec City.

Lt Melvin of Concord, wife, and four children would return to Nova Scotia and is named in the Shoreham Grant of 1759. Phillip Payzant would also return to Chester from his captivity in Quebec and whose name appears in the 1764 grant declaring Shoreham as Chester.

The Chester township papers show the first mention for Oak Island as a proper name on 24 October 1764 when it is recorded “Oak Island and others not yet wholly drawn must be referred to a plan of the same taken by Mr. Josiah Marshall and accepted at the same time as above” The term drawn of course refers to the island being surveyed and divided like Mr Marshall did with so many others. The purpose of dividing the island was to ensure that all grantees were able to draw (from a hat) a slip of paper that gave them ownership of an island share. They were all granted a town lot, a wood lot of varying sizes and an island share from amongst the many island lots within the township limits.

The first person recorded to draw for an island share from amongst all the available islands was Edward Smith. He was Chester's first town clerk but was no relation to John Smith who would come to own lot 18. On 20 August 1766 Edward drew for lot number 19 and he also drew for lot number 2. The second draw was most likely due to him being the town clerk.

Later in that same day and recorded on the same page, Phillip Payzant would draw for lot number 6.

It is now worth mentioning that one version of the treasure hunt's history was submitted by James DeMille in his book Treasure of the Sea. While his version was published in 1870, he learned of his version from the locals and while residing on Oak Island shortly after a mysterious inscribed stone was removed from John Smith's fireplace. The essence of Demille's version is for a father and son to have been told of the pit by the French and to have worked in the pit for 30 years before the 'three friends' ever came to the island.

DeMille's version is a departure from a contemporary version adopted by treasure hunters; however, DeMille's basic elements of the pit being discovered by the island's first resident, who moved there with his family, and knowing he was the first person to live on the island, was also being told a large group of investors from Yarmouth. On 19 February 1863 the Yarmouth Herald publishes a very detailed history of the treasure hunt (perhaps the most detailed information to date) and wrote by one of the investors. Mr Paul Pry is clearly told the discoverer of the pit lived there on the island alone and with his family for a period of three years before discovering the pit.

Returning back to the Robert Melvin and Phillip Payzant segment, we know these two men had a very close friendship. Phillip would meet one of the Indians responsible for his captivity in Chester and extract a measurement of revenge by killing the man with a pistol. For whatever the reason, Robert Melvin then assisted Phillip by sending him to Concord to stay with his (Robert's) family. For this, Phillip gave to Robert his Oak Island lot number 6 for “being such a good friend”.

Robert Melvin's connection with Oak Island only expands from here. He eventually comes to own the largest number of Oak Island properties with only himself and eldest son meeting the criteria established by the investors from Yarmouth and by DeMille.

As interesting as this might seem to be, the Payzant family connection does not end here. About 20 years or so later during the mid 1780s, Rev John Payzant is ordained in the house of Thomas Lynds of Onslow, he of course is the father of Simeon Lynds.
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby badinfluence63 on Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:18 am

Dude..write a book.....I'd buy it and others would to.
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby Cowtown Pattie on Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:00 am

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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby Cowtown Pattie on Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:09 am

I know it means nothing, but didn't Sir Francis Bacon also occasionally use a pen name of "Kydd?
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:33 pm

Here is a link to the Yarmouth Herald of 19 February 1863 mentioned above. At minimum it speaks to this other version of discovery, but it also gives one of the best descriptions of Smith's Cove as orginally uncovered. ... land&hl=en
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:29 pm

Now would be a good time to introduce you to Robert Melvin and his family from a book on the Melvins. While I have only detailed Robert and his children, you might do well to read of the tremendous level of participation Robert's brothers and cousins had while fighting for Independence.

Lt Robert Melvin ... %3Bseq=276

This segment on Robert is a very good primer. There is additional information at NSARM not included in the book.

Eleazer ... %3Bseq=306

This son was literate and wrote letters while in Halifax. Obviously the letters still exist to have been mentioned in this book. Reading this passage closely, we can see that Eleazer remained loyal to the British Crown during the Revolution and for that his family shut him from their memory.

The passage above reasonably indicates the remainder of Eleazer's family were supporting the American cause, this would of course include his father Robert, who at the time of the Revolution owned the most number of Oak Island lots.

Finding these letters might cast some additional light on Oak Island or activities of his father.

James ... %3Bseq=309

This son was literate and kept a diary of his time in Chester, he also kept a very detailed diary of his participation of attacking Quebec in 1775. This diary was made into a very famous book accounting the adventure.

Clearly this diary was still in possession of the family at the time of this Melvin Family book, with James details his days in Chester. It is possible for other letters to exist or for information on Oak Island.

Nathaniel ... %3Bseq=317

If the other version of discovery holds true, then Nathaniel would be the son who assisted his father. As you can read, Nathaniel bought two Oak Island lots from Daniel Vaughan during 1790 and clearly shows this son's interest in the island after his father's death in 1787.

Elijah ... %3Bseq=318

The John Smith mentioned in the passage is not the Oak Island John Smith, yes there were two John Smiths and they both married daughters of Simon Floyd! RV Harris got the wrong John Smith, so don't worry, our Oak Island John was married to Ann. This passage does hint at the family farm and house on 'a' farm lot 7. The passage does not specifically mention this as being Oak Island; however, lot 7 on Oak Island was the first lot owned by Robert Melvin when he purchased this from John Seccombe Jr on 17 November 1767, paid 2 pounds. I have yet to make it to this part of the Lunenburg County Deeds to confirm if this lot 7 was on Oak Island. If it is then it would reasonably substantiate Robert Melvin having a house on Oak Island prior to his death in 1787.

David ... %3Bseq=319

There is some great detail in this passage, specifically connecting John Smith and wife Ann, with Ann being related through marriage to the Melvin family. Ann obviously cared a great deal about a family member with her and John contributing to 'uniting in a deed for one of the Floyd women'. In return, John and Ann are given her father's home estate on the mainland. This passage also shows more of the old Chester Planter families selling property and going to St. Martin's NB. This is a reoccurring theme for many of those families who owned property on Oak Island and to have removed themselves from Chester to NB. This migration appears to have commenced in about 1791 with Daniel Vaughan.

Amos ... %3Bseq=320

Jacob ... %3Bseq=322

Jacob sold to Donald McGinnis lot 22 of Oak Island 14 March 1796. He must have inherited this property from his father who bought lot 22 on 18 June 1784. Here we also read of the strong family connections between the Melvin and Floyd families, thus Ann and John Smith.

Robert Jr. ... %3Bseq=323

Sold his Oak Island lot number 8 to Samuel Ball on 23 May 1798. Robert is yet another Oak Island property owner who sold his land and removed to St. Martin's NB, like so many others.

Lucy ... %3Bseq=324

Through this woman is the link to the family of Timothy Houghton. Timothy of course was the founder of Shoreham, he and William Keyes were appointed as guarantor for both Shoreham and Onslow (this pre-dates the Shoreham grant of 1759; however, Timothy obviously settled Shoreham and was Chester's first Justice of the Peace...he was the power broker. There is much information on Timothy including the publication called “The seditious trial of Timothy Houghton”. Many records are contained in the Halifax Supreme court records regarding Houghton's activities during the Revolution. He was apparently the only man in NS to be convicted of sedition during the Revolution. The accusations were many and included, speaking in support of the American cause, refusing to apply the Oath of allegiance, offering protection to those avoiding the oath, and helping POW who were able to escape from Halifax.

I hope you enjoyed reading about one such family owning property on Oak Island and whose connection to the island originated in 1767 and lasted until the 1800s. If anything, there are new letters and a diary to locate!

The next post will try to tie together, it is surprisingly straight forward when we examine the known information.
Last edited by n4n224ccw on Sun Jul 24, 2011 4:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby Vincent on Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:17 pm


Thanks for posting this, it is not only interesting but also I believe a sceptic's worst nightmare!!
By cross referencing names, dates, land ownership titles etc it appears that the "1795" discovery date could easily be questioned ( a sceptic's dream) but it would also appear that given the constant mention of a "pit"/"alleged treasure" from various sources that may or may not have been connected and over a period of time leads me to think that the age old adage of "there's no smoke without fire" could in fact be very true, this alone has made me rethink the sceptical view of OI because I cannot accept that a possible hoax/fraud that perpetuates to this day could have been started so long ago, therefore the early mentions of "the pit" even prior to the 1795 date must be considered as written factual proof that a "pit/anomaly" was present at that time (a sceptic's nightmare)

Another oddity is in the news paper article that mentions that there are no fresh water springs on OI, I know for a fact that David and Garnette Blankenship have one as I have seen it but at the time of the article this may not have been a physical possibility so taking that into account what are the 3/4 beach stone lined shafts on the south shore? are they wells? Has any freshwater ever been drawn from them?
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Sun Jul 24, 2011 4:01 am

Donald McGinnis and Samuel Ball were most likely employed with the Vaughan brother's lumber operations for a year or so before buying their first Oak Island properties in 1788 and 1787 respectively. McGinnis self identifies himself as a Yeoman on his first Oak Island deed, which was the period term for a woodsman. Ball identifies himself as a labourer on his first Oak Island deed. Oral tradition says, he (McGinnis) did fetch 'a' Vaughan upon returning to the mainland, reasonably his boss.

Oral tradition indicates that shortly after arriving and building his shelter, McGinnis casually explores the island and finds a circular depression covered in red clover that was the only spot on the island for this to grow, a large tree with a wooden block attached, and a path supposedly paved with flag stones and leading by the pit.

The oral tradition is innocent enough as a stand alone statement provided the island was never visited or worked on since the founding of Chester; however, property records clearly show this not to be the case because a few deeds before 1788 clearly mention 'improvements'. In the language of the day the term improvement means for a minimum the land being cleared.

The Vaughan's logging and milling operation on the mainland opposite Oak Island, combined with their ownership of many Oak Island lots and the massive forest fire of 1770 between Chester and Lunenburg would make Oak Island's trees a valuable commodity. We can read of the Vaughan's 1788 petition to cut down sundry pines and of the Surveyor's count of a few large trees within 900 acres of the Westernshore. This survey return clearly illustrate the damage left by this forest fire.

The first recorded presence of post Shoreham activity on Oak Island dates to October 1764 when Josiah Marshall divides the island and from there the activity commences, especially the 'improvements'.

We must discount the notion for the island to have gone without post Shoreham activity prior to the arrival of McGinnis. We must consider if Anthony Vaughan Jr is responsible for this suggesting a quiet island or was this impression created as part of a later embellishment?

Imagine if you can of the forest and vegetation of the area as McGinnis may have found it in 1788. Now subtract 23 years of accumulated flora and fauna growth and forest floor accumulation to imagine what it looked like in 1764 when Josiah Marhsall divided the island, especially a supposed older path leading right by the pit and paved with flag stones. Logic dictates that if this path was clearly visible in 1788, then it ought to have been visible in 1764 providing this path was indeed that old.

Does it stand to reason for McGinnis to be the first person to ever notice a depression, a block hanging in a tree, or a flag stone paved path while casually exploring the island, when those who were working on the island never noticed any such feature?

What are the various possibilities to rationalize, explain, or otherwise incorporate into the story these elements and to make the story of McGinnis' discovery a truthful statement? This researcher is of the opinion McGinnis' discovery is not an embellishment, so what are the possibilities?

Note: these are only my suggestions and I'm open to other possibilities to further the research.

1. these feature predate Shoreham and were noticed by others but no one thought about buried treasure or showed any interest,

2. others knew exactly of the origins; therefore they knew no there was no buried treasure,

3. the path and pit predates Shoreham; however, the immediate area of the pit was not.

3. the pit's surface was of post Shoreham origins are of recent age; thereby making McGinnis the first person to 'discover' it and if so, really the first person of the Loyalist wave to discover it, or;

4. McGinnis heard of rumours of the pit and went to look for it.

Before answering, we must consider additional information for the purpose of putting into a proper context the pit's surface conditions as described in the oral tradition. This of course is the pit's surface covered by a patch of red clover.

You can read in this forum about the red clover research; however I shall summarize the main information in point form.

-red clover is not native to North America and was brought to New England as feed for livestock,
-red clover must be planted in disturbed ground. This clearly indicates the ground below the red clover must have been disturbed. Additionally, anyone familiar with the ground conditions in the few remaining virgin lots on the island will know it is not suited to grow red clover.
-the life cycle of red clover is between 5 to 7 years of age.
-Red clover will not sew itself and needs the assistance of man or its seeds transported through animal dung.

As you can see, the mention of red clover is very significant for dating when that plant was sown, it must have been 5 to 7 years before McGinnis; thus planted somewhere between 1781 to 1783 at the earliest. Since the red clover was only contained to the pit area, we can eliminate this being an accidental planting on the wind because wind distribution dictates it should have also propagated on other cleared lots. For this very same reason, we can eliminate livestock from having accidentally deposited the red clover seeds because there was no reported island source to eat from. We must conclude the red clover was intentionally planted in an attempt hide the disturbance.

We are now faced once again with an age old question about the island. Given the desire to conceal the disturbance and the use of the red clover, we must conclude whoever planted the red clover was marking the spot for future access. This certainly is not a new argument and clearly stands to reason; however, the life span of red clover dictates it is only a few years old.

Certainly much to think about; however, we are not done yet. The most important part of the entire treasure hunt's history is about to become clear and I must remind you of the initial question I posed. What version of initial discovery is correct? Is it the three friends version, the father and son version, or a combination of both because they did take place at different times?

My next statement comes with the caveat for all supposed surface markers being authentic and predating Shoreham, ie left by the yet unknown original depositors.

Why would anyone conceal the disturbance with readily identifiable and unusual red clover if they were already employing another marking system to located the pit through surface markers made of stone?

Obviously the person who planted the red clover to mark the pit for later access was not aware of the surface markers such as covert triangles made of stones or the drilled stones; otherwise there would have been no need to use something so overt as red clover.

Clearly the pit had one 'ancient' locating system through the use of surface stones, yet a more recent locating system through the use of red clover.

We can now successfully argue for both discovery stories being true and can revisit McGinnis and the four possible options I put forward earlier; however, just a little more information is needed to set the context.

You can get all of your background information on Donald from my website. There is absolutely no information to suggest he came from a farming background and even his time on Oak Island seemed more to do with logging and fishing rather than farming. By the time he arrives at Oak Island, he was only in the New World for a few short years with his army regiment seeing action in the south and New York. Even as the story goes, his time on the island before discovering the clover was brief and he was in transitioning from being a Yeoman to becoming a farmer. One must reasonably wonder if he understood the significance for a patch of red clover and if this stop him in his tracks, so to speak?

Certainly the paved path would have been noticeable feature but apparently this path wrapped around the hill side from Nolan's wharf and extended towards Smith's cove but did not terminate at the patch. So was the red clover enough to stop McGinnis in his tracks?

Regardless, McGinnis found a patch of red clover and went back to the mainland. One such person we know that he told or fetched was Samuel Ball. This man was from the deep south and certainly would not have understood the significance of red clover because there was no need to feed livestock with red clover in the deep south as they did in New England. Ball owned his first Oak Island property 6 full months before McGinnis but the three friends version does not start with Ball; thus, Ball either never noticed the clover, or never thought anything of it, or did not report it.

Now imagine the following two similarly worded statements which McGinnis may reasonably have used upon returning to the mainland. Which statement might motivate you to dig in a patch of red clover?

“Hi guys, I found a patch of red clover”


“Hi guys, I found the patch of red clover”

We can now revisit the four possibilities.

What are the various possibilities to rationalize, explain, or otherwise incorporate into the story these elements and to make the story of McGinnis' discovery a truthful statement? This researcher is of the opinion McGinnis' discovery is not an embellishment, so what are the possibilities?

1. these feature predate Shoreham and were noticed by others but no one thought about buried treasure or showed any interest. This is impossible because the red clover would have died;

2. others knew the exact of the origins of the pit; definitely because they concealed the surface with red clover during a few years before McGinnis;

3. the path and pit predates Shoreham; however, the immediate area of the pit did not. Possible but unlikely because of 23 years of activity on the island and never a mention of this feature.

4. the pit's surface was of Shoreham origins and are of recent age; thereby making McGinnis the first person to 'discover' it and if so, really the first person of the Loyalist wave to discover it. This is the most likely scenario because someone planted red clover in the few years before McGinnis.

5. McGinnis and others heard rumours of the pit and went to look for it. This would be consistent with how DeMille introduces the three friends into the story because after the father died, the son told of the pit and story. Robert Melvin died 1787, McGinnis and Ball arrive on the island shortly there after.

“Hi guys, I found a patch of red clover” said McGinnis. “Ya, so what?” replied Ball.

Now considering scenario #5,

“Hi guys, I found the patch of red clover” said McGinnis. “Giddy up!” replied Ball, "Lets go dig it up".

Put into this context with the DeMille and Yarmouth information, the only subtle change to the oral tradition would have McGinnis intentionally looking for a patch of red clover, not casually exploring the island and noticing a patch of red clover.

The James Demille version is a great read and really makes sense of it all when we consider the father and son activity, a concealment/short break, then followed up by the three friends. These versions do not compete with one another, they actually compliment one another.

Here is a link to DeMille's version:

The final part will come shortly and will clearly explain all of the disconnects which any Oak Island enthusiast readily knows and understands.
Last edited by n4n224ccw on Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:57 am, edited 3 times in total.
The post Revolutionary history of Oak Island is a complex web of lies and partial truths to sort through.
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Sun Jul 24, 2011 4:38 am

Vincent wrote:N4n,

Thanks for posting this, it is not only interesting but also I believe a sceptic's worst nightmare!!

Those suggesting the 'work' (i'm intentionally refraining from applying the term treasure hunt) is rooted in fraud can think what they wish. That angle died out when that group proposed no documents or stories existed about the treasure hunt prior to 1864. They have of course revised the 'earliest' date several times. They have yet to identify the travelling mystic which would make such a suggestion consistent with period treasure scrying scams.
The post Revolutionary history of Oak Island is a complex web of lies and partial truths to sort through.
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