Current Status of Early Period Research

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Current Status of Early Period Research

Postby n4n224ccw on Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:08 am

In my opinion, issues with the tales and legend elements should be summarized and compared against the collected research and documented primary sources of information, sort of to see where we are at.

The early story commences with discovery and ends with the departure of Onslow folks. This can be considered the period of oral history when defined/compared against recording efforts after 1848. Attempting to understand the oral history period demands a vigorous search for records which detail this period. We must apply this research against the story and any reasonable questions generated by the oral story for the purpose of determining context and truth.

Below is a summary of where my investigation is at. I am providing this for anyone wishing to join in.

This is a two part list of elements relating to discovery. The first part is the element, the second part is my opinion of the element, your opinion might differ. An * proceeding my opinion indicates a conclusive opinion based upon documented fact.

Ancient work on island prior to Shoreham – * confirmed.

Possible underground work between founding of Shoreham and McGinnis– most likely, two sources as ref, conflicting early history.

Implied quiet island immediately before discovery with no activity – * refuted

Uninhabited island at the time of McGinnis – * refuted.

Existing clover patch – needed as element, indicates attempt with contemporary period concealment

Concealed shaft – required element, essence of story

Existing shaft of unknown origins – most likely

Existing shaft of known origins – most likely

Existing multiple shafts (by 1787) and not related – most likely

Implied no prior knowledge of clover by anyone – suspect, doubtful, possible prior knowledge

Implied innocent visit to island/no connection– most unlikely, most likely Vaughn employee, first deed says Yeoman. Same to be said for Ball

Discrepancy between Onslow version and Mary Smith version re Ball – cultural stigma for Ball inclusion, suggests Onlsow avoidance of Ball element.

Shortly after McGinnis arrived on the island – * plausible, still valid; 1795 as the definite year, refuted.

Single discoverer of clover patch– valid; ramifications if more than one were intentionally searching

Use of clover – * not native, consistent as live stock feed of the period, life cycle eliminates ancient concealment, max 7 years of age,

Use of clover as location identifier – * not a reasonable method to maintain concealment, suggests planter possessed clover and in turn raised livestock. Familiar with red clover and area to know it would grow in the unique clay soil of eastern drumlin, suggests farming experience in finite area of glacial till zone within the area, suggests youthful person concealed, suggests single person concealment without consultation, suggests concealment plan not well thought out. perhaps used as a cultural based warning sign too keep away. If flowering could determine time of year. If not flowering at discovery, reduces chance for casual observation against the background.

Need for block in tree –required as element to suggest prior work, suggests sloppy work by previous worker, inconsistent with theme of concealment, suggests final concealment done at night, suggests person did not return to the pit else block would be removed, suggests avoidance of area

Character's carved in trees – * explained through government tree surveyor method in the area for that period.

Small clearing – essential element to suggest prior work, original terrain suggests clearing of trees and large stones, suggests sloppy work of concealment, suggests small work party for concealment to not replace stones.

Stone paved path transiting area – * element needed to suggest prior work, parts still observed today

Stone paved path unobserved prior to McGinnis – *highly unlikely, does not stand to reason, logging operations by the Vaughn before McGinnis.

McGinnis as discoverer – ramifications to story if another, questionable inclusion of McGinnis element

Location of clover patch on lot 18 – still valid, consequences if on another lot

Belief to immediately conclude Captain Kidd's treasure – unlikely, element can be introduced at any time.

Belief for elements to suggest something buried or prior work – reasonable if only for depression.

Implied returning to the mainland in short time –never considered, time is a factor to consider, short time indicates urgency.

Informed Vaughn – possible depending on which Vaughn with consequences to the story, Anthony Vaughn senior as prime candidate; however John or Daniel depending on year.

Informed third party prior to informing Vaughn – possible

Vaughn's awareness – * at some point, circumstance leading to becoming aware are uncertain

Vaughn's location on mainland – * Family house at western shore after 1790, otherwise little Vaughn Lake. Lumber and grist mill on Little Vaughan Creek early 1780s.

Witness present during discussion with Vaughn – * MOST PROBABLE, all stories say another present.

Return to island with Vaughn to observe clover patch – at some point,

Return to island in quick time – factor to consider, quicker return suggests importance or prior knowledge, a long delay suggests less importance.

Employment status of McGinnis and Ball – most likely with Vaughn depending when initial excavation took place. Subsequent deeds show when men self identified as farmers.

Employment status of other residence – unknown, Marshall's profession of millwright and married to a Vaughn suggests employment with Vaughan.

Dug in clover patch to expose a pit – * most probable

Dug immediately – unknown, time is a factor

Digger's names – suspect inclusion of element, contradicting primary sources

Primary dug with secondary – suspect; questionable; however, stands to reason for more than one digger.

Authentic description of pit – no, contradicting versions from primary sources.

Main hewn stone with characters – found near pits mouth, possible stone at McGinnis foundation, re DeMille.

Found something – * definitely, if even for flagstones

Shaft diameter – * unclear, conflicting testimony

Well defined mouth to shaft – more unlikely with age

Pick marks in side of shaft – * more unlikely with age, clearly visible suggests recent age, combined with varying pit diameter may suggest recent expansion of existing shaft.

Filled in shaft – suggest permanent concealment, no desire to return

Buried Flagstones – needed to suggest prior work, placement suggests permanent concealment, more than one person effort, possible to have borrowed flagstone from the path.

Wooden platform – possible misinterpretation, possible collapsed wooden walls of previous excavation, top two levels as logs, third level partially hewn , third level suggests hand axe use only, top two levels suggest more hast with no time to trim with axe, suggests sloppy work or gaps to permit drainage.

Duration of post discovery initial excavation – unknown, testimony by subsequent excavations suggest reported 30ft dig of loose fill would be easily removed in little time, mere days to two weeks for purposeful dig.

Found something, perhaps of value – most likely, find explains short duration of initial excavation

Literacy level of known island residence – *Ball illiterate, McGinns illiterate, Marshall literate, Munro illeterate, McMullin literate, John Smith most likely and definitely literate later in life.

Island residence engaged for help – most likely

Ask for help from non islanders – * most unlikely

Help – highly subjective term, implied help to dig or finance, context needed, misleading

Story told all around the bay – * highly doubtful, no contemporary record from 25-30 local records

Wealth of locals 'poor'– * refuted; several wealthy folks in the area, including Vaughn

“Ignorant” locals – * subjective and misleading, uneducated and illiterate refuted for the most part; can only mean true sense of the word, Lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular

Ignorant discoverer – * MOST LIKELY

Illiterate diggers – * Ball, McGinnis yes, Marshall, McMullin, literate, Munro unknown (yet)

No available local labour for hire – * refuted

No local labour to volunteer – * doubtful if Captain Kidd's treasure or anything of tangible value to motivate the less wealthy unemployed folks

Captain Kidd Treasure introduced by Vaughn or Onslow – all stories indicate someone from New England brought this tale. * Ball, McGinnis, Marshall, Munro, McMullin not from New England, Smith family from Scotland and in Boston 1 year, John Smith born Boston, departs for Halifax 2 years of age.

Innocent arrival of Lynds from Onslow – * refuted; visit results from possible motive other than business.

Previous contact between Lynds family and Chester - * yes, Halifax Supreme Court records deposition of witness against Timothy Houghton 1777.

Previous contact between Vaughan family and Truro - * Marriage of Anthony Vaughan Jr in May 1803 and first child born Oct 1803, indicates Jan 1803 as traceable date and perhaps earlier.

Reason for Simeon visiting Vaughn – related, suggestive, no requirement to say Father is related to Vaughn when easily have said Simeon was related to Vaughn, misleading, suggests different meaning for related whereby Thomas Lynds and Vaughn were specifically tied together in activity which did not include Simeon.

True purpose of Onlsow 1804 – unknown, not defined, implied treasure hunt.
The post Revolutionary history of Oak Island is a complex web of lies and partial truths to sort through.
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Re: Current Status of Early Period Research

Postby n4n224ccw on Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:26 am

Documents refute some of the oral story but also introduce new information. This new information cannot be lightly dismissed and are of such significance they do have a bearing on the oral story. We can easily understand why some information was excluded and why other information kept in a grey area. Including such information would change the essence of the story and open it up to obvious questions.

Inferring from the records, it appears Vaughn was reluctant to hire non-island locals to find the very thing which was hidden; however it appears he had no such issue for the Onslow folks digging. Perhaps Vaughn only hired illiterate locals to dig, Ball and McGinnis do fit the bill?

This could mean the hidden object was of common interest to Vaughn and Onslow but excluded local Loyalists, and/or it could mean Onslow were digging in a pit other than the one covered by red clover.

In an attempt to understand this possibility, I must make mention and give weight to a single observation mentioned in ALL narratives originating by folks of Onslow/Truro. These narratives ALWAYS provide text to ensure a provenance type statement is used for locating the pit during 1804, while they are mighty shy on providing other details. There is always a statement made to ensure a local is met during 1804 and who uses some means to identify the location. We must wonder of any need to emphasize the pit's location. Given the description of the pit as found in 1804, I wonder how confusing it could have been to locate? Vaughn took Simeon over to the island in 1803 and by all indications Simeon returned in 1804, thereby providing Onslow with the exact location and eliminating the reliance upon a local. We can establish Simeon already knew where the pit was, so was there a need by any narrator to include anyone from the island to point out the pit during 1804?

A need to emphasize location during 1804 then again in 1848 does seem out of place and could suggest multiple similar appearing features which caused confusion. This of course would suggest multiple objects resembling pits, especially for 1804. Another possible explanation is an attempt to draw our attention to this location, or rather, take our attention away from another location.

I do expect an initial rejection for such a suggestion; however, we must examine the entire body of evidence before accepting or dismissing any hypothesis. In this effort and for the purpose of thinking another pit may have been at play, we only need to examine the original Cave In shaft accidentally discovered by Sophia Sellers during 1878.

There is not much material describing the original cave in pit. RV Harris provides a good reference in various parts of his book and with the main information starting on page 85 and can be attributed to Robert Creelman gathering the information during 1893. Another source of information is the treasure hunting prospectus of 1894 which is the following:

“About sixteen years ago, the present owner of the island was plowing with oxen near these pits, and when about eighty feet from the pit over the tunnel toward the "money pit", both of his oxen suddenly went down into a hole some six or eight feet in diameter and ten or fifteen feet deep. It is supposed that this washout had something to do with the tunnel itself, as it was apparently directly over it. But no further investigation of the cause of this collapse of the earth’s surface have ever been made.”

The crew returned to work on the island and here we can turn to RV Harris page 86. “..upon removing the stones to a depth of fifteen to eighteen feet it was found to be a well defined circular shaft, six to eight feet in picks were used cleaning out this shaft. The walls however were so hard that is was very difficult to drive a pick into them.”

We can easily compare the Cave In pit's diameter to varying reports on the MP's diameter and see it is within an acceptable range. Since the oxen broke through, we can gather a void existed for them to fall into. The hard walls does suggest the clay to be exposed to air for a period of time; thereby causing it to dry and harden and since no mentions for the signs of heat or scars of flame to suggest why it was so hard.

The depth is reported to be within an acceptable range for the MP's initial excavation after discovery.

The treasure hunters came to a few conclusions. The first conclusion was for this shaft to date to the MP, how they determined this date is unknown. Secondly, they concluded it was the hypothetical air shaft that was thought to exist.

Subsequent exploration easily concluded this was not an air shaft because later after digging down further, the diggers intersected a side of a Halifax Tunnel. This was also the reason for water below the Cave-in Pit, not because it was over a 'flood tunnel'. We can conclude through this very statement for this pit to have terminated well above the Halifax shaft as was demonstrated by the diggers. We can then conclude this shaft could not be a ventilation shaft because it did not extend deep underground and it was not consistent for the design of a ventilation shaft.

The domed shaft discovered by Restall is also thought to be a ventilation shaft; however, Restall's domes shaft was much smaller and better reflects those type of shafts which were dug in an upward manor.

We are left with the only possibility for this to be stand alone shaft.

One question or observation never provided by Creelman is for the type of roofing or ceiling material which supported the ground immediately above the void. It could have been a dome made of stone, however, that would call for stones with a diameter of about 7 feet. It was not a single stone because it never would have collapsed. I doubt it was just made of clay because there is zero evidence of the pit going anywhere. This only leaves the possibility for the pit to have a wooden roof and covered in clay for concealment purposes...just like they left the MP after initial discovery.

In the opinion of Fred Blair, the Cave-in Pit might be the whole key to it all.
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