Researching the treasure hunt's origins

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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:31 pm

The mention of McGinnis finding red clover has always been a disconnect when attempting to suggest the pit predates or at minimum was not accessed since the founding of Shoreham.

Through the discovery version told to (and relayed by) the investors in Yarmouth and told by James DeMille, we learn for the first time of someone digging in the pit in the years immediately preceding McGinnis.

The mouth of a clearly defined pit and clearly visible pick marks are two such descriptions which now makes sense. We no longer have a need to dismiss or resist natural surface altering erosive forces of rain, water leakage, and annual frost cycles to defend a belief for the top portion of the pit being of great age.

Given a few years, the frost damage alone would not have allowed for the mouth of the pit to remain clearly defined. The description of flag stones just below the surface does not make for a sound water tight barrier, thus an accumulation of rain and snow melt should have accumulated in the fill layer just above the first platform of logs. Remember this ground is clay and would have made for a natural watertight container. As the age for the top part of the pit increases, the more rain and snow melt would have accumulated tuning the fill into a moist dense and firm layer, unlike the described loose fill which made for easy digging.

Depending what version is followed most do not mentioned other flora and fauna to be growing in the patch. Only Mr. Cooke mentions young trees and that should be expected; however, they were obviously not large enough to obscure the pit. More importantly, there is no mention for a layer of tree roots radiating through the top layer of the pit. The forest on Oak Island does recover quickly with much time laps photographic evidence supporting this. One initial account does mention someone previously cutting down trees in the immediate area surrounding the pit with a new second generation of trees already taking root. Once again, we can examine the more wildly forested lots on the island to clearly see just how dense the trees still grow today.

We must now put into a proper context and clear understanding of what was actually being told to us through the initial texts describing the top portion of the pit.

Through these initial descriptions there is never an attempt to describe or to make the top portion of the pit sound of great age.If the top portion of the pit was of great age or an attempt of deception, the text describing the top portion of the pit would be much different.

Clearly they are telling us very loud and clear the top portion is not old.

Just as the initial stories always started off with three men and morphed into a romantic tale of three boys, so had the top portion of the pit.

The inclusion of a father and son team digging in the pit and prior to McGinnis removes the need (for us moderns) to offer logic and scientific defying arguments defending a belief for the entire pit to be of great age.

Prior to February 1863 the Yarmouth investors were told of the father and son's activity by the Association, just as Demille was told by locals in Chester; but with DeMille going to great lengths to qualify this information.

The more astute student of Oak Island's history will recall officers of the Association telling two significantly different stories at this time, with the Yarmouth inclusion making three. One must wonder if they didn't know the true history or they merely did not yet perfect the story?

This researcher thinks the treasure hunters from after 1849 knew exactly what the true story was through the efforts of James McNutt. As RV Harris rightly notes, most of McNutt's journal/narrative survived but picks up in mid paragraph “to dig in the clover patch, at ten feet found a tier of wood and the pit to be 12 feet in diameter.” There is no introduction or preceding information with RV Harris implying, the preceding pages(s) are obviously missing. McNutt's missing pages obviously make the 'to find' list; however, I suggest these were destroyed and will never be found.

Clearly someone was digging in the pit just a few years prior to McGinnis, but why the need to exclude them from the Association's final version of the story or any suggestion which hints at this?
Last edited by n4n224ccw on Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:51 pm

Who could have dug on the island before McGinnis? Previously posting links of the Melvin family suggests that is who I think did it; however, it could be others.

The document at the following URL is my spreadsheet style summary which represents many 100s of hours in the archives and finding many documents which have never been published in any Oak Island book. The sources of information are listed to the right. This chart is the best known information as of 17 Feb 2009 and will be updated when new sources of information are found. This chart takes us to John Smith purchasing lot 18.

Perhaps one of these families were digging on the island?

I have provided snippets of information on these folks and which can be accessed at the following url: ... &Itemid=58

Additional genealogical information can be found at the following url; however, it does not contain information on children who were not born in Lunenburg County, married in Lunenburg County, or dies in Lunenburg County, such as some of the Vaughan children, Prescott children, and others:

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.anc ... burgCo.htm

While some archives have been accessed, many have not. The current archive having my attention is
the Office of Secretary for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Boston. Does anyone live close by and would like to find some potentially incredible information?

Here is a link to a very interesting book with you only needing to read the introduction as the reason for this attention. ... 3/mode/2up

If you care to dive into the book, you will find one or two folks who connect into the island. Poole is very clear to say no documents existed in NS which detail this period and activities; however in Boston are volumes of records covering the entire Province with him only focusing on Barrington and Yarmouth.

The folks of Chester were for the most part from Massachusetts and openly supported the American cause, with Halifax Supreme Court Records showing this very thing.
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby D'Arcy on Tue Jul 26, 2011 10:22 pm

Hi Paul:

You have done some excellent primary historical research! I too now accept the fact that the MP's "Discovery" may predate 1795 by a decade or more. But that only helps to narrow down the DISCOVERY WHEN. I and you and everyone else here are still scratching our heads over the various possibilities of the DEPOSITORY WHEN. (Not to mention, of course, those three other nagging Ws - WHO, WHERE, and WHY).

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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:24 am

Hi Darcy,

Thank you for your kind praise.

A head scratcher it has been for sure. I still have some other questions which are in need of study.

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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:01 pm

Accepting the possibility that someone worked the shaft prior to McGinnis now forces us to re-examine everything about the shaft.

The only possible original description available to us is through DeMille. While DeMille and the Yarmouth investors separately confirm the story for someone digging before McGinnis, there is no other independent source to verify the description offered by DeMille.

We can argue the veracity of the original description told to DeMille or we can accept/give weight to DeMille's description just as we have given the McGinnis description. In the end, DeMille's original description doesn't really matter, so we do not have to pursue this as an exercise.

What really matters is the knowledge that someone dug before McGinnis.

So someone dug in the pit before McGinnis, what's the big deal?

The description of clearly visible pick marks on the wall of the McGinnis period are the big deal. Suggesting McGinnis observed pick marks made by the original depositors means these picks marks would need to survive a previous excavation with the clay exposed to air and being subjected to mechanical damage. The only possibility for these pick marks to have survived is if the original depositor did not back-fill the shaft and with the father and son working the shaft with the care of an archaeologist.

The reasonable explanation for McGinnis period pick marks is through the father and son's efforts. This of course suggests the father and son expanded the original shaft's diameter.

We are now faced with many new considerations, such as the shaft's original diameter as made by the depositors which in turn might hint at original purpose. Certainly the diameter of the McGinnis period shaft has been the historical premise to suggest main access for moving something large underground; however what if the depositor's original design was only 2ft in diameter?

The domed shaft identified by the Restall's provides the context and provenance for a small original shaft. The purpose for the domed shaft is thought to be for ventilation and was excavated in an upwards manor. At minimum, it does prove a much smaller diameter shaft does exist and attributed to original construction.

Unless we can obtain a written account from the father and son, we will never know the accurate original description for the shaft they first found. We can further investigate the folks who owned property on the island prior to McGinnis in our attempt to look for such information.

Providing anyone after McGinnis did not secret away items of value, it becomes clear why such extensive efforts in the MP area yielded zero results, they were unknowingly following something other than the main shaft, through no fault of their own.

On the bright side, any blame for McGinnis and subsequent searchers to have destroyed the archaeological integrity of the MP can be removed and put on the father and son.

I can finally conclude this post feeling confident to remove the McGinnis description as being attributed to original construction. The only remaining question about the father and son's efforts is, just how far down did they expand the pit?
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Fri Jul 29, 2011 3:08 pm

I think we can conclude there is much more significant Oak Island information out there and which is waiting to be found and studied. In my own experience, some of this information has been found to clarify parts of the story with other information to contradict parts of the story. It can be most confusing when attempting to evaluate new information against the story because of long held beliefs elevated to the status of gospel truth.

Anyone truly familiar with the story knows the further we go back in time, we approach the period of tales and legends. We see the story develop over many decades with changes here, additions there.

For this researcher, new information has forced me to re-examine much of the information and primarily before 1849.

At some point in the story's development, the diggers from Onslow are first introduced. They are mentioned in McNutt's history (not public but quote by Harris) and in JB McCully's article published 16 Oct 1862 Liverpool Transcript. Both articles say 7 years after McGinnis and friends gave up Simeon Lynds came to visit; however, neither author gives a date. The Halifax Colonist 1864 says 15 years after McGinnis found the pit, Simeon came to visit. These articles are clearly talking about two different reference dates. FYI, the Colonist article was submitted anonymously; however, we now know that to be from Mr Cooke, Secretary of the Association. None of these articles provide a start date for the Onslow folks.

The missing information of course is how long did McGinnis and friends dig and how long did it take for Lynds to form a company and return to Oak Island?

The date of 1795 originates with Blair in the company's prospectus. Asking people to invest without knowing the most basic of details, such as when did this start, does not give potential investors the confidence for the entire history to be known. Blair used 1795 for a McGinnis discovery because this was the year John Smith bought the property and he discounted the previous narratives. Blair then based all of his calculations on this without allowing for McGinnis digging time. Keep in mind Blair also wrote the islands was previously uninhabited prior to 1795 and we now know he got that very wrong. This disconnect, disregard, and misinterpretation is clearly illustrated in RV Harris' opening paragraph of Chapter 3.

For those without RV Harris' book handy....

Some time between seven and fifteen years after events in the last chapter, operations at the Pit were resumed. Most accounts say “seven years”, which would place the resumption of work about 1803; although the account in the Colonist of 2nd January 1864 gives the time as “fifteen years” after the first discovery. The weight of evidence; however, fixes the date as 1804.

This is a more carefully worded paragraph than initially meets the eye.

Here we can see RV Harris to subtly exclude from “most accounts” the simple phrase of 'after giving up'; however he clearly associates fifteen years to 'after first discovery'.

Unfortunately for RV, Blair already proclaimed 1795 as the date in his prospectus from the 1890s. I think RV was not going to openly challenge that because it would make the prospectus a fraudulent document. RV provided the carefully worded paragraph above which, on the surface, supported Blair; but gave us clear insight when reading between the lines. This is not the only instance when RV does this, only the first you'll encounter in his book.

Knowing the Liverpool Transcript and Halifax Colonist stories, we can now recalculate when a McGinnis discovery took place and determine approximately how long they dug. You must keep in mind the timing were not wrote in stone and are clearly passed by word of mouth.

Discovery would be
(McGinnis discovery) + 15 years = Lynd's visit (15 years taken from Halifax Colonist 1864)

Duration of McGinnis dig would be
Lynd's visit – 7 years (7 years taken from McNutt and McCully accounts)

This of course means there was 8 years (thereabouts) between McGinnis discovering the pit and giving up. I'm not saying he dug for 8 years, only the window of opportunity for him to dig was 8 years long. Once again, this is not to be taken as a calculation to the very day, but it does show McGinnis had much more time than we have been lead to think.

Before applying RV Harris' 1804 must consider his phrase “The weight of evidence, however, fixes the date as 1804”. Anyone who has reviewed the RV Harris collection will tell you, there is nothing more in his files to suggest any other evidence than the previously mentioned articles. You can take my word for there to be no other evidence contained in the Blair files. So what could RV be implying through his use of “weight of evidence”?

Given RV's background as a lawyer, he has reasonable knowledge for the existence of court records and how to access them, additionally Nova Scotia had already built its original archive with the Supreme Court records donated. It does not stand to reason for RV to have never have checked court records during the decades of his involvement as this was his profession after all.

RV describes the Onslow participants as men of standing and substance in their community. RV is once again following Blair's lead and I think RV could not provide contradicting information that would challenge Blair's prospectus, doing so would mean Blair's prospectus was fraudulent.

Did RV Harris need to use the specific phrase “weight of evidence” to suggest something else exists to fix the date at 1804? This of course is a common phrase but with particular meaning in law. RV was a lawyer and it would not be unusual for him to use this term, but he could have said it another way to get the message across. This is only a suggestion, but I think RV was telling us to go to the legal records to find out more about 1804 and these men.

With very little effort by this researcher, I have found much contradictory information contained at NSARM in Halifax.

The Archibald, Lynd, and Harris families gave our Supreme Court in Halifax much business. Robert and David Archiblad, Thomas and Simeon Lynds, and John Harris are listed in various documents as complainants (one or twice), but for the most part as defendants, for a total of about 25 combined records. As I recall, all are for failing to pay outstanding promissory notes. Robert Archibald was the defendant in five different case between 1783 and 1805, David Archibald five different times, and Thomas Harris of Pictou 5 different times.

The most interesting of course is 1805 as it pertains to suggested activity by the Onslow group. Robert and David Archibald, Simeon Lynds, and Thomas Harris of Pictou are all defendants in Halifax Supreme Court during 1805 for failing to pay promissory notes issued in 1804. This certainly proves all of these men borrowed money in 1804 and only suggest in our context to have perhaps funded a dig.
We must keep in mind for Onslow participation to be of legend and tales, with zero documents which directly connect these men to the island. I think these court records are the only indirect evidence to even suggest something in common between these four men and during this time. Either way, the record shows they were not up standing or of substance. In my opinion only, these records can be the only “weight of evidence” to which RV hints at. Ref RG 39 Series C Box 89

On a side note, one document worth mentioning comes from NSARM microfiche reel 15428 and called Township Settlement Records. Our Col Robert Archibald and his son David are both listed as men refusing to take the Oath of Allegiance during the Revolution. Looking closely we can see just about all of the adult Archibald males in the whole family tree are listed, along with other names attached to the story such as Creelman and Cook. If you care to examine this further you will find some excellent stories on these folks which also include Thomas Harris' uncle being caught while transmitting rebel communication between Philadelphia and Truro.

We can now reasonably apply RV's 1804 to commence Onslow, subtract 15 years means a McGinnis discovery is 1789, just as all of the other documents suggest. This also means 1804 subtract 7 years has McGinnis giving up in about 1797.

This does get much more interesting as the remainder of the Onslow information is examined, then compared against other government records and as it relates to McGinnis' efforts.
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Sat Jul 30, 2011 2:54 pm

Referring to the three main documents which introduce us to the Onslow folks, we are presented with the following:

James McNutt's history of the island as captured by RV Harris,

J.B. McCully's article published 16 Oct 1862 Liverpool Transcript, and;

An anonymous letter published 2 January 1864 The Halifax Colonist. As previously stated, we now know the author to be Mr. Cooke, Secretary of the Association. Just for now, ask yourself why did Cooke publish the letter anonymously? You can obtain a copy of the original manuscript letter from NSARM microfiche reel #10599. Page 345 is the first page of the request for publication letter with subsequent pages missing. The story commences on page 346 until page 371. You can also find this story contained in Israel Longworth's History of Colchester County Cira 1886, ISBN 0-9693757-0-0.

Once again we must examine how the story develops in regards to Onslow.

McNutt and McCully mention Simeon Lynds. They do not provide additional names and other than some very basic information on the attempts, they do not provide additional details.

Mr. Cooke provides much more additional information. Here for the first time we learn of Robert and David Archibald, Thomas Harris, and a Mr. Mosher. Cooke also tells us that Simeon's motive to form a company was to assist the 'pioneers' with their search to complete it; however Cooke notes this is a Vaughan project . This version is a great read with Cooke proving clear mention of three very significant passages when counting back the years. Cooke mentions the provenance to his version and coming from the very folks who knew, specifically the Lynds. Cooke also says he has been directly involved since 1848.

The first significant passage is when Cooke mentions about 30 years ago a few individuals came together to continue the work of the old diggers. Cooke's letter is dated to 1863, thus we can deduce 1863 – 30 years equals 1833. Recall DeMille also counted off an attempt between 1805 and 1849. Cook then carries on with the men of 1848/49.

Prior to the above passage and the next significant passage, Cooke says the first association from his area was Col Robert Archibald and the other familiar names. Cooke differs in his timing from McCully by saying Onslow's first attempt was about 50 years before the men of 1833, thus 1833 - 50 years equals 1783. Once again, his timings must be interpreted as approximations and not literally to the day.

Recall Mr. Cooke is the first person to ever mention the inscribed stone's location in the fireplace and he is the first person to give much better information regarding Onslow. We must remain mindful of why he requested to remain anonymous; after all he was the secretary in a public company so it certainly cannot be to keep a low profile association with Oak Island and the treasure hunt.

Before getting to the third significant passage, this would be a good time to mention Cooke's other inclusions which cast a different light on things.

Cooke writes about 1848:

“In the early part of 1848 a gang of men belonging to the second association left Truro for Oak Island....After arranging with Mr Smith who owned the ground they opened the pit to a distance of 6ft and struck the old pump left by their predecessors. Twelve days after they were down eighty six feet, and inside of the old cribbing

We know that by 1849 the government already became aware of the 'circumstances' when Archibald applied for, and was granted permission to dig, this ref must apply to the men of 1848. Cooke provides us with the first confirmation that cribbing was being used down the shaft and prior to 1848. This point has been debated at large with the general belief for no cribbing before 1848/49.

Cooke continues to describe in excellent detail the subsequent boring attempts and does not mention copper wire or gold wire ever being found This totally refutes McCully's claims.

Other than the above, Mr Cooke's general narrative differs little from McCully's account except Cooke provides much more detail and for one little tidbit of information which breaks this wide open.

This brings me to the third significant passage offered by Cooke. He clearly states that during Onslow's first attempt, they encounter the water problem. Cooke writes " In accordance with this determination, they appointed a committee to wait upon Mr Mosher of Newport, who was considered the best mechanic in the Province, for some contrivance to remove the water. Mr Mosher furnished a pump at a cost of 80 pounds'..

The following is highly circumstantial; however it fits within the estimate of Cooke.

Ref: PANS RG 39 Series C box 35 Halifax Supreme Court – 1785.

Robert Archibald vs Thomas Lynds – Robert and two others sue Lynds for a promissory note in the amount of 80 pounds. We know Lynds and Archibald were involved in the early efforts and they were brothers-in-law. The specific amount of 80 pounds is just too coincidental, yet highly circumstantial.

Notwithstanding the Supreme Court record, Cooke's real contribution is through the addition of Mr. Mosher. For this reason and for refuting McCully is why I think Cooke requested to remain anonymous. 'A' story was already out thanks to JB McCully and I think the body of evidence shows McCully was not on the up and up. Mr. Cooke would be one such person to know the real story and I think he must have been a man of conscious. If he were to keep quiet and let McCully's version go unchallenged, he would then be party to deception; however telling a version which discounted McCully would have the potential to cause him much friction in a small community, company, and with investors. The Yarmouth newspapers were already starting to report stories hinting at suspicious by Paul Pry which illustrate this point. I think Cooke provided the information about Mosher as an easy means for any interested party to investigate the veracity of McCully's timings; thereby not having to strictly rely upon interested parties in Chester or Truro for 'factual' information. Cooke's letter requesting anonymous publication is dated 20 Dec 1863. Perhaps the spirit of Christmas motivated Mr Cooke to come forward?

We can now look towards Mr. Mosher from Newport and the significance of Mr. Cooke's addition.
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:18 am

..but before I get to Mr Mosher, now would be a good time to ponder the timings offered by Mr. Cooke and his mention for this to be a Vaughn operation. This is a very hard segment to write because there is just so much myth to dispel about the implied historical context of Chester.

Whoever crafted the initial parts to this story was very clever by keeping it simple. So simple in fact that anyone could learn it and regurgitate without error. The more detail, the more likely someone (in the know) might screw it up when pressed for details. You will come to see this does happen by the very person who claims to be in the know.

The folks of Chester area are illuminated in such a light so to perceive them as a god fearing superstitious lot, who are illiterate and poor, and just too busy and without the time to dig for pirate treasure. This impression is an essential basic element to the story and is absolutely needed as the impetus to rationalize Onslow's involvement.

There are literally 100s of original documents at NSARM and literary works which describe Chester during the 1790 and into the 1800s. A tremendous influx of Loyalist settlers from 1784 onwards and a huge departure of old Planter families to Newport and eventually to New Brunswick caused a community with basically zero work other than on the land which they owned. For town folks, this left them for the most part unemployed. There are a few exceptions; but not many.

Below is one such petition sent to the government describing the conditions. I think this petition is the single best document to use for illustration purposes to dispel the Chester myth. Thomas Thomson was a Justice of the Peace, so this is really how Chester folks are describing their own community and not some travelling author who is merely visiting the area. The petitioners are clearly saying some folks have no regard for the community's established values which are of course rooted in church values and teachings. Take note the petition dates to the very year Simeon supposedly visited Chester.

Taken from: A Calendar of Official Correspondence and Legislative Papers, Nova Scotia, 1802-15.

1803 13 June Chester Petition of Thomas Thomson, and other inhabitants of Chester, stating the inconveniences they suffer through having to travel to Lunenburg, over extremely bad roads or fifteen miles by water, to the County Court, and praying that the Court may sit once per year in Chester, where "there is sufficient houses of entertainment… to accommodate the Court and Suitors etc", and offering to build a Courthouse. They "farther beg that they may be granted the Privilege of having a weekly market, established in the town of Chester, on such a day as may be thought most convenient, the want of which in any Town is the Cause of many growing evils- in the first place it makes the People under a kind of Necessity of making bargains (as they seldom meet but) on the Sabbath day, notwithstanding the existing Laws, they find means to avoid Detection. Such habits must produce nothing but Dissoluteness in Young People and Children, who think there can be no evil in such practices, when they see their parents resort to shops and Taverns, as soon as they come out of the place of public worship, and often Drunkenness and Quarreling ends the day. Your memorialists are convinced that a weekly market would in great measure prevent many of the evils stated in the above, and be a means to Promote Good Order, and prove convenient both for Town and Country. " Signed with 7 names.

Consideration deferred to a future day.

The other myth is about locally available money to fund the dig. I have previously posted on this forum many historical documents to show the Vaughn family had much wealth. Even after the departure of Daniel in about 1791/93, the two main brothers of John and Anthony Sr were quite well off.

Continuing on to the Vaughn operation and so that no reader is at a disadvantage, I will provide snippets of Mr. Cooke's narrative. Here is the text concluding the McGinnis effort.

“At this juncture they were unable to proceed further without more help, and concluded to drop the work until they could obtain more assistance. Before leaving off however, they drove oak sticks into the mud and covered over the mouth of the pit. They could not devote more time to Captain Kidd and his treasure. They looked about them, however, and sought to interest others in the search, but none felt inclined to render them any assistance.

Covering over the pit seems reasonable enough and there is clear indication for them to have sough help.

Mr. Cooke then introduces Onslow. I must note possible subtle change and implications to the story as the time line shifts about. We just don't know for sure when Simeon visited so we must consider any time after McGinnis discovered the pit.

“Thus matters remained for about 15 years when the late Simeon Lynds of Onslow, a man well-known in many parts of Colchester at the time, happened to visit Chester on business. As Lynds father and Vaughn were related, he called and stayed an evening at his house.”

Simeon was a wheelwright by profession (b. 15 Nov 1774, d.15 Aug 1857), I can only wonder what business he had in Chester? I suggest we do not have full disclosure about Simeon's visit and this will become more clear.

The time line for Simeon could be at anytime after discovery until 1803. A visit by Simeon one month after McGinnis discovers the pit takes on an entirely different meaning than one 7 to 15 years after discovery. This is one such thing to consider.

Here is a link to the Lynds' family genealogical tree followed by a link to the Vaughn family tree. Please feel free to search these links to find where Thomas Lynds and any Vaughn in Chester are related through either blood or marriage. There are also many good websites besides the two listed below, feel free to search.

The term 'related' does not strictly mean a blood relation and can be used to loosely describe two or more people joined in a common goal, purpose, or organization. The language of the day and rooted in a religious context would have them use the word “Brother” when greeting referring to one another. This is just one such example.

Mr Cooke continues,

In the course of conversation during the night, Lynds was let into the secret of the Pit on Oak Island
and the opinion entertained about it by Vaughn and his companions. The next day Vaughn crossed over over to the place with Lynds in a boat, to let him pass his own judgement upon it. The result was that he became of Vaughn way in thinking in the matter

It is only inferred for Vaughn's companions to be McGinnis, Smith etc.

Overall this passage is most ambiguous, it could mean treasure, it could mean something else. We are presented with another contradiction as clearly the pit is still mentioned as a secret. How could the Pit itself be a secret when other passages say the McGinnis crew gave up “due to being in want of money and manpower to carry on and could not interest their neighbours to help” and even in Cooke's own words above, clearly say McGinnis sought help. In an attempt to keep the basic elements rooted in truth we could just as easily infer Cooke to meant the secret of the Pit (meaning purpose) was the real secret, not the Pit itself, since McGinnis found it but still did not know of the purpose and was telling others about its existence.

Here is where full disclosure may not be at play and and once again we find ourselves delving into the mystical world of tales and legends. This is best illustrated by attempting to visualize what Vaughn could have possibly shown Lynds on the island, so that Lynds was of Vaughn's way of thinking?

As far as we are made to believe by the time of Simeon's visit, the McGinnis attempt was covered over, perhaps caved in, with only sticks planted in the ground to mark the spot. All of the early accounts agree on detail and it making perfect sense for these conditions at any time after McGinnis' attempt. Surely to Jesus, Simeon was not sold by a single hole in the ground or what was left of one.

We can eliminate any tangible item of mystery and value being previously discovered in the pit and shown to the Onslow visitor. This item would have made it into the story and a financially secure Vaughn would be unlikely to just 'invite' the Onslow folks to just come dig up whatever else remained. This is suppose to be Captain Kidd's freaking treasure, right?

Cooke describing this as a Vaughn operation totally eliminates any reasonable possibility for this to be a treasure hunt for Vaughn; however, it most likely remained a treasure hunt for McGinnis and remained that way for the time being. A Vaughn operation implies some level of control or responsibility and this does seem strange for a pit discovered by McGinnis and on property owned by Smith, should those two elements be true and Simeon's visit of 1803.

Now would be a good time for a humorous interlude “Hello Simeon from Onslow. Please invite all of your friends to come dig in the hole for Captain Kidd's treasure. Fill all of your pockets with whatever you might find and carry away whatever your stout frames shall bear”.

Getting back to reality....

Did our Onslow visitor observe the block in the tree, strange characters carved in trees, drilled stone (which supposedly were not yet discovered), a path paved with flagstone leading by the pit? Perhaps the pit was only covered over and he saw the pit?

Just now while you read that, did you try to imagine everything I described? We all did, and that is just where the story's originator wanted to direct us towards, thoughts of tangible items to view and nothing else to think about as they transition you to the next part of the story.

Vaughn told Simeon the pit was discovered and Loyalists are digging in it. Does one need to row over to the island to see a simple hole in the ground and to confirm it exists? I suggest Simeon's visit to the island was most likely to speak with McGinnis, Ball, and Smith for discovering just what they knew and to determine their immediate intentions. This information would allow Onslow to know just how much time they had to intervene. We can infer through the various texts that because the pit was idle and the McGinnis crew were still looking for help, that Simeon was able to exploit this and to strike up some type of deal to assist the McGinnis crew in digging for Captain Kidd's treasure.

Suggesting a tangible object convinced Simeon to engage would make him out to be a gullible fool; thus implying those from Onslow who engaged were also gullible fools and rightly more so, because they would have only be going on the word of a gullible fool.

We can deduce the McGinnis crew had future intentions for the pit because they only covered it over; however, it does not appear they had any immediate plans and none are mentioned in any record. It is my opinion only that had the McGinnis crew gave indication to reopen the pit, say like the following week, then we would have a McGinnis, Ball, and Smith headstones indicating an end date coinciding with Simeon's visit.

The secret Vaughn passed to Simeon the night before was nothing more than a local plan of how to remove their stuff from the Pit without the Loyalists knowing about it. As you will come to read, that plan was not successful.

Concluding this post, we can actually remove Simeon and the year from the story's stage as these elements are an inconsequential slight of hand to distract the casual reader, they make little difference towards what any observer from Onslow saw or when they saw it after McGinnis opens the pit. The essence of observation is rooted in the knowledge gained, which in turn, determines action. In this case, a quick time reply by our other Onslow participants
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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby GrailKnight7 on Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:02 pm

n4n224ccw wrote:The time line for Simeon could be at anytime after discovery until 1803. A visit by Simeon one month after McGinnis discovers the pit takes on an entirely different meaning than one 7 to 15 years after discovery. This is one such thing to consider.

Here is a link to the Lynds' family genealogical tree followed by a link to the Vaughn family tree. Please feel free to search these links to find where Thomas Lynds and any Vaughn in Chester are related through either blood or marriage. There are also many good websites besides the two listed below, feel free to search.

Hi Paul! I hope all is well with you and your family. You've got some amazing research in this thread (as usual). We've discussed the potential Lynds/Vaughan link previously but I don't believe I shared what I believe the link to be? The link seems to be very straight forward, although I don’t have all the actual marriage records to prove it. Much of my genealogy research came from Jane (Currie) Wiles’s excellent and very thorough website/database which is not currently up (although I still have tons of printed material from the website)

If you click on your Vaughan link above and then click on "13. Anthony Vaughan Sr" and then onto his son "4. Anthony Vaughan Jr." you will see that Anthony Jr was married to Elizabeth Nelson (b. 1787) from Truro. It also shows that Elizabeth's Mother was Margaret Archibald (b.1759). What this particular link doesn't show is that Margaret's father (and my 6xGreat Grandfather) was Samuel Archibald (b.1719).

Samuel Archibald (b.1719) was the brother of David Archibald (b.1717) and David’s son was non-other-than Onslow Company member Col. Robert Archibald (b.1745), the brother-in-law of Thomas Lynds (b. 1748). As I’ve mentioned before, Thomas Lynds married Rebecca Blair around 1770 and then Robert Archibald became his brother-in-law in 1774 when he married Rebecca’s sister Hannah. Here’s one link that shows the Blair connections: ... 02546.html

Col. Robert Archibald’s son David (b.1775) (who was also a member of the so-called Onslow Company) was therefore a 1st cousin of Thomas Lynds’ son Simeon (b.1774) (another member of the Onslow Company). David was also a 2nd cousin of Elizabeth Nelson (b.1787) (as her Mother Margaret was a 1st cousin of Col. Robert).

Therefore, when Anthony Vaughan Jr. married Elizabeth Nelson in 1803 he became related to the Archibald and Lynds families of Truro.

To simplify: Anthony Vaughan’s Mother-in-Law was the 1st cousin of Col. Robert Archibald (who was the Brother-in-Law) of Thomas Lynds.

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Re: Researching the treasure hunt's origins

Postby n4n224ccw on Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:15 am

Hi Scott,

All is well and I hope all is well for you and yours, thanks for asking.

Thank you for your reply and for sharing the family links to third party readers who may not be aware of the family connections. My next post was going to cover some of this and now you have saved me some time.

The family connections do show all the familiar names and just how involved and to the depth these families were connected to the treasure hunt. Even after all of these years, it never ceases to amaze me when going through these genealogical sources and following these folks. Even as they spread out from Onslow and Truro and towards Pictou, Cumberland, Stewiack, Musquidoboit, and Cape Breton, they always seem to have one or two per generation connected to the treasure hunt.

Anthony Jr. (20) from Chester marrying Elizabeth (16) from Truro does suggest some type of communication between both places and families. We could consider any number of possibilities which brought these two together and consider a courtship period, or even an arranged marriage between the families; however, given the marriage was on 26 May 1803 in Chester, the significance removes the implied first contact between these folks to be Simeon Lynds happening to be in Chester on business (if 1803 was the year for his visit)

As you rightly point out there is strong possibility for an element of truth and the family relationship is disclosed in the story, just not totally disclosed by indicating Robert Archibald to be even a closer relation to Anthony Jr.

Since reading your post I've rooted through my has been a few years for sure.

We did trace the Nelson connection and attempted to trace that back; however, the records at that time were inconclusive with the best information coming from Historical and Genealogical Record of Colchester County by Thomas Millar.

-Margaret, the fifth daughter of John and Alice Archibald, was born in Musquodoboit. She was married to John Nelson. They had five sons and three daughters.

This John is Robert's younger brother. There is no further mention of children names or birth dates which is a very rare exclusion for Millar for this generation.

Millar also provides,

Margaret, the third daughter of Samuel and Eleanor Archibald, was born in New England in the year 1759. She was married to David Nelson, November 28th, 1775. They lived on the interval of Salmon River, near the place that Samuel J. Blair now resides. They had four sons and two daughters. Mr. Nelson died August 28th, 1788, and she was married again to Jeremiah Murphy in the month of June, 1789. They had two sons.

The above mentioned Samuel is the one you mention in your post, and uncle of Robert. Again, Millar does not elaborate on the children names or birth dates.

The Nelson records are not as good as the Archibald records.

The most likely candidate for Margaret would be the daughter of Robert's uncle Samuel as shown through sources outside of Millar.

It does appear that if this to be the case, we did have to go back to Ireland for the common blood ancestor, that being the grandfather of Robert and father of Samuel.

There relationship would be

Anthony Vaughn Sr


Anthony Vaughan Jr via marriage to Elizabeth Nelson

from Margaret Archibald

from Samuel No. 2 ARCHIBALD Born: 1719, Ireland

*****Common Ancestor FATHER Unknown in the record******

to David Archibald Born: Sep 20, 1717, Londonderry, Ireland

to Robert Archibald via Marriage to Hannah Blair

from Captain William Blair and Janes Barnes

to Rebecca Blair via marriage to Thomas Lynds

FINALLY to Simeon Lynds

I think it is a bit of a stretch to imagine Simeon knocking on the door of Vaughn and saying “Hey Cuz, I happen to be here on business, can you put me up for the night?" Lynds in turn convincing Vaughn of his extended family (and VERY recent relationship) so that Vaughn let Lynds in on the secret”. There has to be something else at play with Anthony and Elizabeth's union resulting from previous contact.

Here is a great link that you or anyone else might find usefulness

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.anc ... /Index.htm
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