Lost treasures in the Ozarks

51519bc9700196119e365f67326c7b47bbf12_640A few miles northwest of Jacks Fork, Missouri, near the Current River, is said to the remains of a hidden mine that is rich in copper ore. In the mid nineteenth century, a man by the name of Joseph Slater regularly appeared in New Orleans with huge raft-loads of high-grade copper ore. During these regular visits, he sold more than $50,000 worth of the rich mineral over a three or four year period.

Wanting to keep the location of his mine secret, Slater filed a mining claim on a tract of land that was actually about two miles from the shaft.  

Living in a cabin near the Current River with his daughter, Slater continued to mine until he learned through a government survey that the mining claim he had filed was on another man’s property.Though he would have liked to have bought the land, he knew that an offer might reveal the location of the mine. Instead, he and his daughter sealed up the mine, careful to hide any signs of digging, and made plans to go “Back East.” His plan was to stay away for two or three years and then approach the owner about buying the land, under the pretense of farming the acreage.

However, Slater never made it further east than St. Louis, where he could keep up on the progress of Missouri mineral exploration and development. But before he was able to return to the Jacks Fork area, he died and his daughter eventually married, moving west without ever returning to Missouri. Though the folks in Shannon County never saw the miner nor his daughter again, the legend of the lost copper mine continued to be told.

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On June 4, 1926, the Kansas City Star ran a story about the Slater diggings, stating in part, “There were those who believe that at some time the lost mine will be found and that it will reveal a deposit of copper and perhaps other metals that may revolutionize the Ozark region of Missouri.”

The mine is said to be in the vicinity of the junction of the Jacks Fork and Current Rivers, and though many have searched for the mine for more than a century, it has never been found. Shannon County is located in the Ozark Hills of southern Missouri.


Parson Keithly’s Hidden Gold

In the mid nineteenth century, there was a strange character by the name of Parson Keithly who roamed the Ozark countryside. On Sundays he preached, but on the other days he walked aimlessly throughout the area with his gun on his shoulder and his dog at his heels. Sometimes disappearing for days, his family would hear nothing from him until suddenly he would return as quickly as he had gone.

By the time the news of the California gold rush hit Missouri, Parson Keithly was already an old man. But, one day he walked out of the house and wasn’t heard from for months, until his family finally received a letter telling them that he had gone to California. For two years and eight months they heard nothing further until the Parson suddenly reappeared and returned to his old habits.

Over time, the family learned that Keithly had found gold in California, estimating its value at the time at about $6,000. Never knowing where the Parson had hid the gold, the family speculated that it might have been in a garden with an apple tree some distance from the house. They also wondered if it might be kept in a cave near there property. Both the garden and the cave were places that the Parson often liked to visit.

Over the years, Keithly would often pull from his pocket a $10 gold piece, and as he handed it to his daughter he would say, “See here what I’ve found.”

The Parson’s visits to the cave became more frequent. Entering the cave to meditate, he was there so often that the cave became known as Keithley’s Cave. Shortly after the Civil War ended, the eccentric Parson was sure that his death was immanent and he made it known that he wanted to make the cave his final resting place. The preacher began to make plans for his tomb by walling off a room built of rocks and an entrance of five feet leading to it. At the entrance he built a double stone door inclined at an angle. When the Parson entered the room he was able to pull the door shut, with the weight and angle of the door securing him snugly. When the Parson finally passed away, he was more than 90 years old.

The cave is located near Galena, Missouri in Stone County.


Somewhere in the Fox Creek Hills is supposed to be the buried treasure of Alf Bolin, a Missouri outlaw who operated in mid 1800s. Many years ago a man came to a farm on Highway JJ south of Kirbyville in Taney County, Missouri, looking for the buried cache. He had been told by one of Alf Bolin’s gang, that Bolin had buried gold and silver from his many robberies near a cave in the Fox Creek country. The cave is located in the vicinity of Section 20, Township 22, Range 20 in Taney County,Missouri about two miles southwest of the Old Mincy Store and Mill site. The old man related to the farmer that the treasure was not buried in the cave but according to the story, nearby, using the cave as a landmark.


It is highly probable that Bolin’s loot is buried in those hills. The activities of the Bolin gang centered around “Murder Rocks” on Pine Mountain south of Kirbyville, Missouri. “Murder Rocks”, also known as the “Alf Bolin Rocks,” are located on Highway JJ about 10 miles south of Forsyth, Missouri, the county seat of Taney County, Missouri.


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Murder Rocks, by Samuel C. Dyer,
courtesy Missouri State University

This is a rugged section of the Ozark Mountains in southwest Missouri. The present highway up the mountain is about 60 feet east of the old road. The old road passed within a few feet of these great limestone rocks.

The great limestone rocks stood beside the Springfield-Harrison Road near the top of the mountain. The outlaws hid behind these rocks with a perfect view of the road to the north and the south. Many travelers were held up and robbed here and several others were murdered by the gang.

During the Civil War, Bolin, along with his gang of about twenty men raided northern Arkansas and southwest Missouri. While all the able bodied men were off to war, the gang easily terrorized the farms left with only old men, women and children to defend them.  

Though Union soldiers were sent to capture the outlaw, Bolin and his band were hard riders and good woodsmen and the bandit eluded every attempt to capture him. Finally, the soldiers devised a plan to trap him instead. Held captive by the Union was a Southern soldier by the name of Foster who was from Bolin’s area. His wife, living near the Arkansas-Missouri state line about three miles south of Murder Rocks, was approached by the Union soldiers. If she would help to capture the outlaw, the Union soldiers would release her husband. Though a dangerous plan for Mrs. Foster, she agreed.

A union soldier by the name of Thomas, pretending to be a sick Confederate soldier, stayed at the Foster home for several days. As was Bolin’s practice when he was in the area, he often took his meals at the Foster home. Finally, Bolin came to the house alone for his dinner and Thomas upstairs, made a noise. When Bolin what it was, Mrs. Foster explained that he was a poor Southern soldier making his way back home. Bolin demanded that the man come down from the attic, threatening to kill him.

Appearing weak and hardly able to move about, Thomas joined the pair at the dinner table. Still suspicious, Bolin laid his pistol on the table as he ate his meal. However, as time passed the outlaw apparently calmed down and when he turned his back to Thomas, the union soldier struck Bolin with a fire poker. Though his death was not immediate, Thomas continued to hit him until he was dead. It was February 1, 1863. Bolin was 21 years old. When Bolin’s body was brought to Forsyth, Missouri, his head was cut off and taken to Ozark where it was placed on a pole. The entire area rejoiced at the death of Alf Bolin.

During his many raids along the main road from Harrison, Arkansas to Springfield, Missouri, the outlaw amassed a considerable fortune in gold, silver and other valuables. Obviously, he couldn’t keep his ill gotten cache in a bank, so he buried it somewhere near the cave on Fox Creek near the Missouri and Arkansas border. The exact location of the burial spot died with the outlaw, the treasure remaining in the ground near the cave for more than a century.


Spanish Treasure in Cass County

 On October 24, 1879 an article in the Cass County Times-Courier described the location of a hidden Spanish treasure near Harrisonville,Missouri. The text read:

“Before being massacred by attacking Indians in 1772, several hundred Spaniards buried 15 loads of gold averaging 130 pounds each and 1,000 bars of silver weighing an average of 20 pounds to the bar… in the area four or five miles west and one or one and one-half miles north of Harrisonville. The silver was buried within one-fourth of a mile of where the present day Rodman School is standing; the gold is three fourths of a mile farther northwest.”

More than fifty years later, a construction crew was building a bridge in 1930. The location was several miles southeast of the old Rodman School. During the excavation, the crew found evidence of a battle between the Spanish and the Indians, locating old weapons, skeletons, and part of old armor.

Harrisonville has dramatically grown in the last several years, so locating the exact location of the old Rodman School will, no doubt, require some sleuthing skills.

Outlaw Loot at Huzzah - About three miles out of Huzzah, Missouri is said to be a cache of stolen outlaw loot. The treasure was carried up a small hollow from Haunted Springs to a rock shelter, placed in a fox hole under the bluff and covered with rocks. At the time it was buried, the skull of a horse head was left as a marker. Huzzah, Missouri is approximately 100 miles southeast of Jefferson City, Missouri on Missouri Highway 8.

 More Spanish Treasure - Legends abound throughout the area of Noble Hill that a cache of Spanish treasure is buried in the area somewhere. Noble Hill, is about thirteen miles north of Springfield, Missouri on Missouri Highway 13 on the Polk-Greene County line.

Kaffer Treasure - A cache of gold coins known as the Kaffer Treasure is said to be buried in the area of Armstrong, Missouri. Armstrong is about forty miles northwest of Columbia, Missouri.

Sunken Treasure in the Mississippi - In the Mississippi River that runs along the banks of St. Louis, Missouri there were several steamships that went down in the river long ago. Some of these are said to be laden with gold coins.

 Hillary Farrington Loot - The outlaw Hillary Farrington was said to have buried a cache of loot on the Old Duram Farm at Jeona, Missouri.

Independence Jewelry Heist - Sometime around 1927, $25,000 in jewelry and gems was taken by bandits who robbed an area jewelry store. Supposedly, the bandits were said to have buried the loot at the foot of an old oak tree between two large roots about six miles east of Independence. Now, for the difficult part. If the “six miles east of Independence” was back in 1927, this could be very difficult to find today asIndependence, Kansas City and other small suburbs have virtually melded into one large metropolitan city.

Forty Niner Gold in Missouri - Long ago a Missouri man was said to have struck in rich in the gold hills of California. Returning to his home near Waynesville in Pulaski County, he was said to have buried $60,000 in the hills.

Spanish Mine in the Ozark Hills - Three centuries ago, Spaniards worked mines in the
Ozark Hills of Missouri. One of the mines containing lead and silver, eighteen miles
southwest of Galena, was worked by seven men, who could not agree as to a
division of the yield. One by one they were killed in quarrels until but a single man was left, and he, in turn, was said to have been killed by the ghosts of his previous victims. In 1873, a man named Johnson from Vermont went there, trying to find the old Spaniards’ mine. He did work there for one day, and was then found dead at the mouth of the old shaft with marks of bony fingers on his throat. The exact location of the cursed mine remains unknown.

Sinking Creek Mine - A St. Louis doctor by the name of Tyrell was treating a dying man who was delirious.  In his delirium, the man told the doctor of a silver mine near Sinking Creek. The next thing you know, the doctor started buying up land near the creek and built himself a house. His son, followed in his footsteps and continued the search believing that the area contained sulphite of silver. The mine was never found. Sinking Creek is in Shannon County, Missouri.

Tin Whistle Loot North of Milford - In 1997 my grandfather passed away. However, before he died, he spoke to me of a buried treasure just north of Milford, Missouri. Only 16 at the time, I didn’t fully believe him, as my grandfather suffered from mental illness in his old age.


Soon, I told my mother of the story, which I thought to be outlandish. However, she looked at me with amazement, explaining to me that she had been told this very same story when she was a child. My grandfather lived in Tulsa,Oklahoma and if he had ever even been in Missouri, I was unaware of it, but Mom told me different.


The story began in the 1930s when my grandfather was running a bootlegging operation out of Frontenac, Kansas. One evening, he and a couple of friends made the journey to Kansas City to deliver their illicit merchandise.

Along the way, the two friends held up a farmhouse near Arcadia, Kansas, taking guns, jewelry, gold and old photographs.

They then crossed the state line and buried their loot just north of Milford, Missouri about thirty miles west of Arcadia, Kansas.

When I asked my mother why they hadn’t taken the loot with them, she didn’t know. Well, then, how did they know of Milford, Missouri and why did they choose that place to hide their stolen cache? Evidently, another bootlegger who made moon shine for my grandfather ran his operations from Milford.

Though grandfather said there wasn’t much cash taken at the time, the guns, jewelry and gold would be worth a significant amount today. According to grandpa, the loot continues to be hidden in a small cavern near Horse Creek northeast of Milford. The cave, utilized as a moonshine location long ago, bears the names of the bootleggers carved within its walls.

Today Milford, Missouri is all but a ghost town with only about 50 souls calling the small community home. Milford is located 27 miles southeast of Nevada, Missouri. From Nevada, travel south on US-71 for approximately 18 miles, turn left (east) on MissouriState Highway MO-C for 7.5 miles. Milford is just north of the intersection with MissouriState Highway CC.

Good luck to treasure hunters looking for this place and finding out who owns the land.

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