Sunday, September 16, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week #38

Week 38: Funny Ancestor Stories. Tell us a funny ancestor story that stands out in your mind. When did you first hear the story? Do other family members tell different versions? Does this tale play a large part in your family tree?

I can tell several funny stories on my parents, but surely wouldn’t want to embarrass either of them!

I do have a funny tale about my great-great-grandfather [which is about as far back as I can go with funny tales!].

It seems that during the Civil War, gr-gr-grandfather Bean decided that with renegade soldiers making their way toward his home, that he would hide his cache of gold. [This was in 1863. And gr-gr-grandfather was considered one of the wealthiest men in the state at the time. His cash assets worth over $50,000 in 1862. And his property well over a $50,000, then.]

The gold was to remain hidden until either the War was over, or there was no longer any threat. This was in 1863.

On January 1st, 1864, gr-gr-grandfather was leading a posse after some renegade soldiers, as part of the “home guard”. He was 72 years old. As he led the group into a hollow, they came upon a cabin where the outlaws were hiding. On approaching the cabin, one of the renegades was hidden in the cabin loft, and as gr-gr-grandfather stepped toward the cabin after dismounting, he was shot and killed.

Unfortunately, he did not tell anyone where the gold was hidden. And the cache of gold has never been found. It was reported to have been worth tens of thousands of dollars back then.

Over the past 150+ years, many have tried to locate the gold. Metal detectors and shovels and picks were routinely carried into the forest near the family farm over the years and hopefuls searched and dug for the treasure.

About 65 years ago, a cousin decided to search. After several days of walking through the forest he came upon a strong signal with his metal detector. The spot where he got such a positive hit was in a wet, marshy piece of the property. Undeterred, however, he enlisted the aid of several cousins in the dig. They dug for two days; when finally they hit something sharp and metallic.

[The problem was that as fast as they dug, the boggy mud and slime was covering up the spot just dug!]

Working as hard and as fast as they could, the uncovered a large squared iron top, about 40” x 40”. Unable to extract the giant monstrosity, and with bated breath and every single man believing he was suddenly going to become unbelievably wealthy, they enlisted the aid of a mule to pull the thing from the bog.

The mule heaved, and pulled, and heaved, and pulled, until finally it pulled the object from the ground.

Imagine the amazement when the “thing” was an old cast iron cook stove!

Not to be undone, they searched through the interior of the stove in hopes the cache of gold was hidden inside.

There was nothing but mud and slime.

For years the joke was that the Bean men found the treasure of old William Bean…his treasured cook stove.

The story about the gold is believed to be true, as William’s wealth was well documented. Whether he hid it, or he lost it [he was a true Confederate sympathizer, and may have had his gold exchanged for Confederate dollars] is not known. But there are those still living who recall the great search for it, and the find of old William’s treasured cast iron stove!

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