Delaware is rich in history because it was the first of the original 13 colonies. Along with Delaware being the oldest state it also has a few lost treasure stories to tell. Delaware was called by a few other names before it was admitted to the Union on December 7, 1787, including Delaware Colony, New Netherland, and New Sweden.
I know you are going to enjoy this journey into the past of Delaware and dredge up 4 lost treasures of Delaware. I promise you I won’t leave you disappointed and maybe you will discover one of these treasures just waiting to be found in Delaware!
4 Lost Treasures of Delaware
Thomas Gooch’s Buried Cache
Thomas Gooch was a wealthy gristmill owner near Newark, Delaware during the Revolutionary War. Gooch and his wife owned a late inheritance of family heirlooms in the form of silverware and jewelry.
Gooch’s gristmill and property were located between Elkton, Maryland, and Wilmington, Delaware which was the exact area the British were traveling through in 1777. Gooch worried about his family heirlooms being looted by the British so he set out to bury them. He quickly had two of his servants load one of his carts with the heirlooms, a chest of gold and silver coins, and a bowl of gold coins.
They took the cart with the treasures out to the Purgatory Woods that was nearby to bury the valuables. They buried the chest and valuables in a hole and covered it up with dirt and shrubs. One of the servants then carved a V in a nearby tree.
The three men then dug a separate hole for the bowl of gold coins about six feet away from the first. Before they could mark this spot they heard British loyalists in the distance and they left abruptly.
Gooch Moves to Pennsylvania
Fearing for his safety Gooch, and his wife and daughter moved to Pennsylvania where they would be safe from the British. Gooch’s mill was taken over by the British when he was gone. One of his servants Hatfield was left to tend to the mill and he was subsequently captured and questioned but he never told the British where the buried cache was. Hatfield escaped and fled to the Purgatory Woods where he set it on fire.
Years later Gooch and Hatfield returned to the Purgatory Woods that was largely burned to the ground. But amazingly the tree that was marked with the V still stood and they recovered the chest of gold and silver coins and the valuable heirlooms. But they couldn’t find the spot that the bowl of gold coins was buried.
Over two hundred years later the bowl of gold coins has never been found and could still be somewhere near Newark, Delaware.
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4 Treasure Chests Buried By Captain Kidd
William Kidd or Captain Kidd as pirate lore has it buried treasure all along the east coast of the U.S. From Florida to Rhode Island you will find a buried treasure story about Captain Kidd. This story of buried treasure takes place around Millsboro, Delaware.
There was a treasure map associated with this lost treasure that was found and lost many times. The last time it was found was in the walls of an old house that two men by the names of Jefferson and Morris were renovating. The map brought them to the town of Millsboro, Delaware where they hired a local boy to help them in the search for the treasure.
The Treasure Map
The treasure map had many detailed instructions on it. First, you would need to find an oak tree along the border of a meadow. The boy took them to the tree he believed to be the tree on the map. The next clue was that there was a diamond-shaped mark carved on the tree six feet up.
One of the men was to stand two hundred yards from the tree and the other one hundred yards from the tree. They utilized surveying rods and a compass. With both rods pointing north of the tree, the treasure map instructs to go 190 paces to the north. The boy stepped the 190 paces and put a stick into the ground to mark the spot.
The map then instructed them to walk sixty-six paces to the East and thirty-three paces to the North. The map indicated that there would be a stone cannonball buried under the ground in that spot. They dug but didn’t find the cannonball.
The map indicated that under the stone cannonball would be buried, 4 treasure chests six feet down. One of the chests contained gold coins from China, another contained gold coins from India, the third contained raw diamonds, and the fourth contained precious gems and jewelry.
To find this treasure you would need a very expensive deep-seeking sonar metal detector and a backhoe because it is buried six feet down. Millsboro has a ton of oak trees and the area where the treasure is supposedly buried is a highly developed area now. So finding this treasure would be a major challenge, to say the least, but it would be worth millions!
Captain Neub’s Buried Gold
William Neub was a pirate in the early Sixteenth Century. He had acquired chests full of stolen gold and silver from years of plundering and pillaging on the high seas. Neub knowing he was about to be captured and knowing he had enough treasure to last him for the rest of his life he decided to part ways with his life of piracy and started searching for a safe spot to spend the rest of his life.
Neub ended up in a community in New Castle, Delaware. Here he bought a farm and proceeded to pretend that he was a farmer. After a while, people noticed he had nothing on his farm. No cows or pigs or even crops. He had nothing to sell from his farm but he always had money. The townsfolk started to wonder where he was getting all of his money. He was reported to a sheriff who started to think that had been a pirate in the past.
Neub’s Treasure Map Is Found
Neub buried his treasure on the farm and left a map. In 1843 the map was found by a man named Thomas. The map stated that the treasure was located by a large rock that had an anchor and cable carved into it. The cable supposedly pointed to where the treasure was buried.
The treasure is estimated to be worth $300,000 in gold has never been found and could still be buried on Neubs old farmstead in New Castle, Delaware.
Patty Cannon’s Buried Treasure
Lucretia Patricia Hanly better known as Patty Cannon was a ruthless serial killer, tavern owner, and illegal slave trader in the early 1800s. She was also, part leader of the Cannon-Johnson gang in Maryland, Delaware. In her early years, Patty was a prostitute in a local brothel in Reliance, Delaware where over the years she amassed a hefty profit which she socked away.
With all the money Patty made from prostitution she eventually opened up a tavern in Reliance, Delaware. Patty had grown in size and became a mean, to say the least woman. She treated her customers poorly and sometimes literally carried them out of her establishment when she didn’t like what they had said to her. Patties business started to fail because of her abusive actions. Patty ended up marrying a man by the name of Jesse Carver who was by all accounts a constant drunk.
Patty and Jesse hatched a plan to start making more money. They decided to start stealing freed and fugitive slaves from plantations on the Delmarva Penisula and sell them back to the south. The Cannon-Johnson gang’s operation lasted for ten years and became known as the Reverse Underground Railroad. The two also would kill rich businessmen who went to their tavern and stole their money.
In 1829 Patty Cannon was indicted for murder because four black people were found buried on her property and later she confessed to committing almost 24 more murders. She committed suicide by ingesting poison while awaiting trial.
It is said that Patty had accumulated more than $500,000 in gold which has never been recovered and is presumed to be buried on the land where her tavern stood. The tavern is long gone but there is a house on the location where the tavern stood with a historical marker close by. Could the treasure be there? Who knows but you will need the landowner’s permission before you started digging.
Well, there you have the 4 lost treasures of Delaware. I hope you enjoyed this article and if you did you might want to check out some of my other lost treasure articles. If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below. Thanks for reading and Happy Treasure Hunting!
Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.