11 Lost Treasures of Illinois

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Cory Haasnoot

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Illinois was the 21st state to the Union on December 3, 1818. Before Illinois became a state it was considered Illinois Territory. Since that time there have been Indians, early settlers, and gangsters that have frequented this land of Lincoln.

It also has the 25th largest land holdings of all the United States. With all that land and people it’s no wonder that there are treasure tales to be told about Illinois. Keep reading on as we explore these 11 lost treasures of Illinois. I promise it will be an interesting look into the history of Illinois and an introduction to what is still lost and buried in the great state of Illinois!

11 Lost Treasures of Illinois

Henri de Tonti’s Buried Gold$100,000 worth of gold coinsStarved Rock on the Illinois River between La Salle and Ottawa Counties
Buried Loot of Gangster Sam Anatuna$70,000 worth of cash, gold, and jewelsAlong the famous Route 66 near Briarwood Glen in Cook County Illinois which is south of Chicago
The ‘Cave In Rock’ Treasure$200,000 in silver and gold coinsThe western bank of the Ohio River, near a town called Cave In Rock, Illinois.
Harvey John Bailey’s Lost Loot$1 millionOn a farm near Richmond, Illinois.
August Wunderlich’s Buried ChestA lifetime worth of wealthOn a 40-acre farm in Randolph County Illinois
Mobster Vito Giannola’s Buried TreasureTwelve waterproof lunch boxes full of moneyOn a farm near Horseshoe Lake in Granite City, Illinois.
Sunken Riverboat RichesAmerican Silver Dollars from the 1800sWestern bank of the Ohio River near Golconda County Illinois
Officers Buried Silver Coins$3,500 worth of silver coinsWest Bank of the Mississippi River, close to Chester, Illinois in Randolph County.
Buried Stagecoach Loot$44,000 in gold coinsNear Chester, Illinois in Randolph county
John Hill’s Buried Gold CacheFortune in gold coinsSix blocks south of the Carlyle, Illinois courthouse
John M. Hoffman’s Buried FortuneMillions worth of gold and silver coins and jewelry.Somewhere in Chicago.

Henri de Tonti’s Buried Gold

Henri de Tonti
Henri de Tonti’s

Henri de Tonti lived from 1649 to 1704. Although born in Gaeta, Sicily he joined the French military in 1668 and became an officer. De Tonti lost his hand in the Franco-Dutch war and replaced it with a hook. Considered a modern-day prothetic at the time. After that, he was known as Iron Hand.

De Tonti was an early explorer of Illinois and Mississippi and while traveling on a ship he claimed them for Louis XIV of France. He ended up being left in command of Fort, St. Louis in the Illinois Territory which is now known as Peoria, Illinois.

Legend has it that De Tonti while he was in command as Governor of Fort St. Louis he had accumulated $100,000 worth of gold coins. He had accumulated this much because he was a paymaster for the French during the French and Indian wars in Illinois. It is said that he told a priest on his death bed that he buried the gold coins near a place called Starved Rock on the Illinois River between La Salle and Ottawa Counties.

If that treasure is still out there it would be worth a lot more than $100,000! What a find that would be!!

Buried Loot of Gangster Sam Anatuna

Historic Illinois U.S. 66 Sign

Sam Anatuna was a gangster who was the leader of the Unione Sicilone Group, an Italian Chicago mob family that was highly powerful during the prohibition days in Illinois. Anatuna was worried that Al Capone would take over his operations plus steal the riches that he had accumulated.

He was going to make a deal with Capone. But he didn’t know how it would go so he decided to bury his wealth before the deal. He decided to do this in case the deal didn’t go through. Sam wanted insurance money that he could use later to start over his crime family business elsewhere.

According to Anatuna’s chauffeur, Sam buried his wealth in two different spots. First, he buried $20,000 north of Pell Lake in Walworth County Wisconsin along U.S. Highway 12. The second area he buried about $50,000 worth of cash, gold, and jewels along the famous Route 66 near Briarwood Glen in Cook County Illinois which is south of Chicago.

Sam Anatuna was never able to retrieve his loot because he was shot to death in Chicago while he was sitting at a barbershop. Rumor has it that he was killed by Capones Gang. To this day the money and gold or jewels have never been found.

The ‘Cave In Rock’ Treasure

The Cave in the Rock which is now in a State Park by that name was a hideout for thieves in the area. It is reported that these thieves buried their spoils in this area.

One such story states that after some outlaws held up a stagecoach that they buried $200,000 in silver and gold coins in this area. It is said that the cave is close to the western bank of the Ohio River near a town called Cave In Rock, Illinois.

People in the area report that gold and silver coins can be found on the banks of the Ohio River there after heavy rains. Might be worth looking into but since it’s in a State Park I would get permission before doing any metal detecting or digging. But you don’t need permission if you just look along the banks of the river there for gold or silver coins after it rains. Never know you just might find something interesting.

Harvey John Bailey’s Lost Loot

Harvey John Bailey's Mug Shot
Harvey John Bailey’s Mug Shot CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Harvey John Bailey also known as “ The Dean of American Bank Robbers” was a gangster in the 1920s and early 1930s. In 1931 Bailey and his gang robbed the Lincoln National Bank in Lincoln, Nebraska. They say he got away with $1 million a hefty sum in those days and today.

Rumors have it that Harvey and his gang had been staying at a farm near Richmond Illinois and that they buried the loot there. As far as it’s known Harvey never got his million dollars back and it could still be buried on that Richmond farm in Illinois!

August Wunderlich’s Buried Chest

August Wunderlich was a German farmer in the mid-1800s. According to Wunderlich’s children, he distrusted banks which was wise in those days because your money was not insured and you would lose it all if the bank got robbed. And in those days banks got robbed quite often.

Wunderlich would hide his wealth in paper money around his house. One day Sam Hilderbrand a Missouri guerilla was poking around his neighborhood. August got worried that Mr. Hilderbrand would come to his house and steal his money because it was widely known that Wunderlich kept his money hidden in his house because he distrusted the banking system.

Wunderlich Bury’s The Treasure

So in the cover of darkness, Wunderlich buried his strongbox of treasure on his 40-acre farm. Not telling anyone where exactly he had buried it. He ended up selling the farm and moving the family away. August Wunderlich ended up dying along with the knowledge treasure that he had buried on the farm.

It was 30 years since he had buried the treasure when he died. His children in need of money decided to go search the farm for the buried strongbox but nothing was found by them.

A few years later a man who was employed on that farm named Jules Chenot ended up quitting his job. It seems he suddenly came into a lot of money. Some think that Chenot found the treasure on the farm but he would not say. So the treasure may have been found but the Wunderlich family doesn’t believe that Chenot found the treasure.

Who knows it could still be buried on that 40-acre farm in Randolph County Illinois.

Mobster Vito Giannola’s Buried Treasure

Vito Giannola was the Boss of The Green Ones in the 1920s that were a Sicilian crime family that operated out of St. Louis, Missouri. Vito is said to have had a farm near Horseshoe Lake in Granite City, Illinois where he kept a still to illegally make and run moonshine.

Legend has it that he buried twelve waterproof lunch boxes on his farm that were full of money. Vito was murdered on December 28, 1927, during the gang wars in Illinois. He never revealed where his money was buried and it could still be out there on his farm near Horseshoe Lake.

Sunken Riverboat Riches

American Silver Dollars from the 1800s have been washing ashore along the Western bank of the Ohio River near Golconda County Illinois. These coins are usually found after flooding on the river. The possible source of the coins is a riverboat that sunk in the area in the 1800s.

These silver dollars if in good condition could be worth a pretty penny. Would be worth taking a metal detector to the area especially after heavy rains. You just might strike it rich!

Officers Buried Silver Coins

George Rogers Clark
George Rogers Clark

An officer in the George Rogers Clark expedition of 1778 where they captured the village of Kaskaskia, Illinois is said to have buried $3,500 worth of silver coins on the west bank of the Mississippi River close to Chester, Illinois in Randolph County.

Not much information on this treasure but if the coins are still there they would be worth much more than $3,500.

Buried Stagecoach Loot

In 1809 a stagecoach was robbed near Chester, Illinois in Randolph county. The robbers got away with $44,000 in gold coins which are said to have been buried in that area.

John Hill’s Buried Gold Cache

John Hill had a stockade which he named John Hill’s Fort in the early 1800s. It was located about six blocks south of the Carlyle, Illinois courthouse. It is said that before Hill died in 1830 that he buried a fortune in gold coins around where his fort was.

The coins have never been found and could still be buried a little ways from the courthouse steps in Carlyle, Illinois.

John M. Hoffman’s Buried Fortune

John M. Hoffman was a famous author in the early 1900s. He lived in Chicago. At the time of his death in 1928, he was worth millions. It is said that Hoffman distrusted banks so he kept all his money and valuables in his house.

Some say that he buried his millions which consisted of gold and silver coins and jewelry somewhere close to his home in Chicago. His fortune was never found and could still be awaiting discovery from some lucky treasure hunter in Chicago!

Lost Treasures of Illinois Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed the 11 lost treasures of Illinois. There are so many great lost treasure stories from every state in the Union it makes one’s head spin. If you are lucky enough to find just one lost gold or silver coin from that past you could be a rich person.

There are many unclaimed treasures still out there awaiting discovery. Will you be one of the lucky ones to find it? With a good metal detector, research, and a lot of luck it is possible. People have found treasure in the past and there will be many more that do in the future!

If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below. Until next time Happy Treasure Hunting!

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Author: Cory Haasnoot

Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.

2 thoughts on “11 Lost Treasures of Illinois”

  1. Great article!! Thank you for sharing!!!
    Three questions:
    1. How accurate these legends? And where did you get this information from?
    2. Where would I be able to find more information on how to pin down the certain or exact location of these treasures? (Library) (Residents)?
    3. What kid of metal detector do you recommend for most accurate reads? Thank you so much!!


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