Legend of the Lost French Gold
The story begins at the French occupied Fort Duquesne before an oncoming battle* against the English.
Not knowing the outcome of the battle, the French spared ten men to escort a hoard of gold and silver to a place of safety, presumably Fort Detroit. According to the legend there were sixteen packhorses carrying the load. If trouble should arise the men were told to bury the treasure and mark the spot.
After several days on the trail the French escort spotted what they believed to be an advanced guard of British soldiers. The treasure was quickly buried and landmarks made to relocate the spot.
Soon after, a skirmish took place and eight of the ten Frenchmen were killed.
Hints of the Treasure
The story seemed to be lost until 1829, when a nephew of one of the two Frenchmen who escaped the ordeal found memorandums of his uncle's adventures. Among the papers was the story of the unrecovered French treasure.
The young man made a search for the lost treasure in the area between East Rochester and Minerva.
The search stirred much excitement among the citizens in the area. He told them of the landmarks where the treasure was supposedly buried: two springs, a deer carved on a tree one mile east, and another tree with a rock in its branch, by a spring 1/2 mile west. After a long and unproductive search the stranger gave up and returned home.
The Search Continued
This was not the end of the search. People in the area continued for years to look and dig for the treasure. Between 1829 and 1875 the landmarks were found, mostly by accident***. The two springs were known and believed to be Beaver Hat Spring and Cranberry Spring.
The carved deer was also known, at that time, although this tree was cut down at a later date. The stone in the forks of a tree was found while cutting the tree to make fence rails. Other evidence has also been exposed. Artifacts from the period were said to be found in this area, such as a musket, shovel, bullet mold, musket balls, and other like relics.
If the treasure ever existed, no one will ever know, that is unless such a treasure should ever be found. The newspaper article of 1875** once again stirred interest and people again began to pit the ground in hopes of finding such a large sum of gold and silver. Even today people return to this area to try their luck at locating the treasure. As of yet, no treasure has been found and the story of the hidden treasure lives on only as a legend.
The Celebration Today
Today the village of Minerva annually celebrates the legend with its Lost Gold Festival.
*Some sources say it was during the advancing army under General Braddock in 1755, others say it was during the approach of General Forbes in 1758.
** The site is believed to be in the area of the southwest intersection of Augusta and Ridge roads.
***The legend of this treasure was first printed in the April 3, 1875 newspaper, The Minerva Commercial.
This article by Doug Angeloni.