11 Lost Treasures of Mississippi

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Cory Haasnoot

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In the lost treasures of Mississippi, we will explore many amazing stories of buried and hidden treasure. Mississippi has a rich history full of legends from buried pirate booty to lost Civil War gold and the buried fortunes of those who distrusted banks in the 1800s.

Mississippi was the 20th state to be admitted to the Union on December 10, 1817. The first Spanish Explorer Hernando de Soto traveled through the northeast area of Mississippi in 1540 on his second trip to the new world. 

In April 1699 the French erected the first settlement in Mississippi called Fort Maurepas which was also known as Old Biloxi. The French proceeded to claim the Mississippi area as the New France. But after the French and Indian War, the British took over the territory.

Join me as we explore some of Mississippi’s fascinating lost treasure tales. And maybe you will be one to find a lost treasure in the great state of Mississippi!

11 Lost Treasures of Mississippi

Buried Treasure Near Rocky Springs$75,000 in gold and silver coinsIn a cemetery at Little Sand Creek near the town of Rocky Springs, Mississippi.
Pirate Patrick Scott’s Buried BootyUnknownSomewhere near Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
James Copeland’s Hidden Barrels of Gold$30,000 in goldCatahoula swamp in Hancock County Mississippi.
The Sunken Treasure of Steamboat The Ben Sharrod$75,000 in gold coinsThe east bank of the Mississippi River, about 30 miles south of Natchez, Mississippi.
Farmer Zack Goforth’s Buried Wealth$30,000 in gold coins On a 640-acre farm near Little Rock, Mississippi.
Civil War Paymaster’s Buried Gold Coins$80,000 in gold coins Somewhere in Holly Springs, Mississippi near the old railroad station.
Buried Train Robbery LootStrongbox filled with goldClose to an old bridge south of the town of Taylor Mississippi off of Mississippi Highway 7.
Doctor John Young’s Buried WealthUnknownYoung Street in the town of Walter Valley, Mississippi.
Buried Treasure Along The Yalobusha RiverUnknownClose to the Yalobusha River near Greenwood, Mississippi!
The “Pirate House” of Jean LafitteUnknownIn tunnels underneath The Pirate House, that’s located at 649 Beach Boulevard in Waveland, Mississippi
Bonaparte’s Buried Gold Coins$80,000 in French gold coinsNear the east fork of the Pearl River which was on the southern border of Mississippi and Louisana.

Buried Treasure Near Rocky Springs

Rocky Springs Cemetery
Rocky Springs Cemetery – CC BY 2.0, Link

The Harpe brothers are known as the first documented serial killers of the United States. Although they considered themselves brothers they were actually cousins. Joshua Harper ( Micajah “Big” Harpe and William Harper (Wiley “Little” Harpe) were river pirates and murders who raped, murdered and pillaged through the states of Tennessee. Kentucky, Illinois, and Mississippi in the late 1700s.

They were known to disembowel some of their victims and weigh them down with rocks to sink them to the bottom of rivers. They were a very viscous pair, to say the least. All together the Harpe Brothers murdered over 40 men, women, and children.

A posse finally caught up with the Harpe Brothers in July of 1799 and it resulted in the death of Micajah Harpe but Wiley Harpe got away. In 1802 Wiley Harpe joined forces with Samual Mason another river pirate and murder.

Rocky Springs

Together the men made their way to Rocky Springs, Mississippi which was a popular stopping point for travelers on the Natchez Trace. Harpe and Mason were being followed by a posse led by Colonel Daniel Burnet.

It is here in Rocky Springs that Harpe and Mason are said to have buried $75,000 in gold and silver coins in a cemetery at Little Sand Creek near the town of Rocky Springs. The outlaws later fled the area.

In 1803 Mason and Harpe were caught but they got away with Mason getting shot in the leg. A total reward of $2500 was offered for the capture dead or alive of Samuel Mason by Mississippi Governor William C.C. Claiborne. Wiley Harpe hoping to claim the reward brought in Samuel Mason’s head.

Pirate Patrick Scott’s Buried Booty

Paddy Scott born Patrick Scott was an Irish pirate who headquartered in Mobile Bay. Scott and his crew would overtake ships that frequented Mobile Bay. They would take guns, gold, coins, and whatever they could get their hands on.

Scott and his mates caused havoc in Mobile Bay with their sloop called the John Fowler starting around 1824 up until his death in 1844. Scott was considered a small-time pirate more of a nuisance than anything. He was caught many times by authorities but either got off or slipped away.

Legend has it that while Paddy Scott was sailing on the Mississippi River they anchored their sloop the John Fowler off of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. While there Scott and his crew are said to have buried some of their booty there. Ocean Springs is located in Jackson County Mississippi.

Paddy Scott was later caught and put on trial for piracy and murder in 1840. He was convicted of murder. The Louisiana Governor later commuted his death sentence and he was to spend two years of hard labor. According to the newspaper, Times-Picayune Paddy Scott died on New Year’s Eve of 1844.

As far as is known Paddy Scott’s treasure has never been recovered and is still buried somewhere near Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

James Copeland’s Hidden Barrels of Gold

Sketch of the Execution of James Copeland
Execution of James Copeland

James Copeland was considered a land pirate who was one of the leaders of the Wages and Copeland Clan. It is said that the gang consisted of 60 members in total. They committed many crimes mostly in Southern Alabama and Southern Mississippi in the mid-1800s.

According to James Copeland before he was executed he said that he and his clan buried $30,000 in gold in a swamp near Mobile, Alabama and they reburied the gold which was in barrels in the Catahoula swamp in Hancock County Mississippi.

Treasure hunters have been searching for this treasure up and down the Gulf Coast for years now with no luck.

The Sunken Treasure of Steamboat The Ben Sharrod

The Ben Sharrod was a side-wheel steamboat that made her last voyage in May of 1837. She was carrying 200 passengers, whiskey, brandy, gunpowder, and $75,000 in gold coins when it caught fire and exploded because of the gunpowder aboard.

The Ben Sharrod was racing another steamship called the Prairie at the time of the explosion. The ship sank about a mile from Fort Adams and was found under 70 feet of sand and silt in the Mississippi River. Over half of her passengers perished in the fire and sinking of the ship.

Gold coins have been found on the east bank of the Mississippi River about 30 miles south of Natchez, Mississippi. The coins found are probably coming from the Ben Sharrod and more will probably wash ashore from time to time.

The ship is now being recovered and I’m sure more of this treasure will be found.

Farmer Zack Goforth’s Buried Wealth

Zack Goforth was a wealthy farmer who had a 640-acre farm near Little Rock, Mississippi in the first part of the 1900s. It is said that after the stock market crash of 1929 Goforth buried $30,000 in gold coins in various spots around his farm.

Mr. Goforth died in 1938 and by all accounts, his treasure remained buried on his farm. After his death, people started searching his farm for the gold coin stashes and two boys found one of his stashes. An iron pot with about $800 worth of gold coins in it.

The rest of Zack Goforth’s wealth has yet to be found and could still be buried on his 640-acre farm near Little Rock, Mississippi.

Civil War Paymaster’s Buried Gold Coins

Holly Springs Railroad Depot
Holly Springs Railroad Depot

According to various accounts, a Union Paymaster during the Civil War was carrying $80,000 in gold coins when he got into a fight with Confederate troops in the town of Holly Spring, Mississippi. It is said that he buried the gold coins before the fighting broke out.

Reports claim that the treasure was buried close to the town’s railroad station. The paymaster ended up being killed in the fight. The gold coins were never recovered and are presumed to still be buried somewhere in Holly Springs, Mississippi near the old railroad station.

Buried Train Robbery Loot

In April of 1909 three men Charlie Bowman, James B. Cartwright and Bob Tyson who were train track repairmen heard of a train that was going to pass by in a week that was said to be carrying a strongbox filled with gold.

So the three men hatched a plan to rob the train of its gold when it stopped in Taylor, Mississippi. So on April 29, 1909, the three men boarded the train. They made the engineer stop the train and they threw the strong box of gold along the tracks. The men then told the conductor to continue on to Water Valley.

The strongbox was very heavy and the three men took turns dragging the gold-filled box until they got to a bridge. Unprepared for the heavy loot they decided to bury the strongbox about 100 feet west of the bridge. They then fled to Arkansas where Bob Tyson’s sister lived and they would hide out there.

Before long a posse had caught up with the train robbers and a gun battle ensued. Bowman and Tyson were both shot to death and Cartwright was taken into custody. Cartwright was asked where they buried the strongbox but he would not tell them.

Cartwright Gets 20 Years In Prison

Some of the posse members thought it would be easy to find the buried strongbox because of the heavy drag marks that the box created when the bandits were dragging it. But when they went to look for it the next day rain had washed away the drag marks.

Cartwright ended up getting 20 years in prison for his deeds. While in prison Cartwright contracted Tuberculosis and was given only weeks to live. Cartwright sent for his brother Robert to be by his side while he was dying. Cartwright told his brother the location of the buried strongbox of gold before he passed away.

Robert Cartwright then went in search of the buried gold. But when he arrived at the area that his brother had mentioned he was very discouraged because a huge fire had recently swept over the area destroying all the landmarks that his brother had told him about.

Robert never did find the buried gold and it could still be buried close to an old bridge that’s located south of the town of Taylor Mississippi off of Mississippi Highway 7.

Doctor John Young’s Buried Wealth

John Young was a wealthy doctor during the Civil War. It is said that when Union troops were advancing to his town of Walter Valley, Mississippi that he buried a large iron pot that was filled with his entire wealth somewhere in his backyard.

His house still stands to this day on what is now Young Street in the town of Walter Valley, Mississippi. If this story is true there could be a large sum of gold and silver coins buried in the yard there.

Before you go digging for it make sure you get permission from the owners!

Buried Treasure Along The Yalobusha River

While Union troops were getting close to Greenwood, Mississippi in 1865 it is reported that the townsfolk got their valuables together and put them in two large wooden kegs. The Mayor of the town then took the kegs and buried them along the Yalobusha River so as to keep them safe from Union troops.

Before they could dig up the kegs the river flooded concealing the location of the buried treasure. It has never been located and could be buried under the Yalobusha River near Greenwood, Mississippi! The wooden kegs would now be rotted away but the valuables would still be there.

The “Pirate House” of Jean Lafitte

Jean Lafitte
Jean Lafitte

Jean Lafitte was a well-known pirate who was actually celebrated by some. He spent much of his illegal activities up and down the Gulf of Mexico in the early 1800s. Jean and his brother Pierre were known to smuggle contraband and possibly slavers into Louisiana and Mississippi.

Legend has it that Jean Lafitte owned a few houses along his pirate route and one of them was in Waveland, Mississippi. The house in Waveland was an actual house that was destroyed by Hurricane Camille in 1969.

The Pirate house which was located at 649 Beach Boulevard in Waveland, Mississippi was built in 1802. It is believed that the house had tunnels that led down to the Bay of St. Louis where Lafitte and other pirates would unload their plunder and bring it up through the house for safekeeping or leaving it in the tunnels until it was safe to bring it out.

If those tunnels exist they could hold some valuable treasure that Lafitte would have acquired during his pirate operations. The house is now gone but the tunnels underneath it leading to the Gulf would still be there albeit collapsed at this point.

Bonaparte’s Buried Gold Coins

Jerome Bonaparte, 1850
Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon’s Brother

This story takes place around the time Napoleon Bonaparte the military leader of the French was imprisoned on the Island of St. Helena after he was defeated at Waterloo in 1815. A number of people supportive of Napoleon and his efforts were hatching plans on how to free Napoleon from prison.

One such group was led by Napoleon’s brother Jerome. Jerome wanted to break Napoleon out of prison and restore him as emperor of France. He also planned on creating a new France in Louisiana.

Around 1817 Jerome and a crew of French soldiers and sailors set out to North America from France. They brought along a wooden treasure chest with $80,000 in French gold coins that were to be used for expenses on their voyage and to help build the New France in Louisiana.

When they arrived in the Gulf of Mexico they were worried that pirates and others opposed to Napoleon were in and around that area. They planned on docking in New Orleans but they knew that pirates may attack them there and steal the gold coins.

Jerome and his men decided to land in Waveland, Mississippi, and travel overland to New Orleans. When they landed in Waveland they meet up with Jeremiah Henley former soldier and supporter of Napoleon. After a few days, the men got all the supplies together to make the trip to New Orleans.

Making Camp Near The Pearl River

After some time of traveling, Jerome and the group decided to set up camp near the east fork of the Pearl River which was on the southern border of Mississippi and Louisana. While setting up camp Jerome got word that gangs of thieves had been following the group.

Word had gotten out of Jerome’s arrival and the gold coins that they had in their possession. So before going any further Jerome and his men decided to bury the wooden chest of gold coins that they had with them. They brought the chest about 1,000 feet from where they were camping in an area with thick vegetation and oak trees and buried the treasure chest there.

Jerome worried that some of his men might steal the treasure went later in the night and reburied the treasure chest about 20 yards from the original spot. In the morning the group continued on their journey leaving the treasure chest behind.

Jerome Bonaparte and His Men Arrive in New Orleans

The group made it to New Orleans but Jerome quickly realized that most of the supporters of Napoleon were no longer interested in pursuing the endeavor to get Napoleon out of prison. So discouraged Jerome and his men decided to go back to Mississippi but they were told that gangs of bandits were still waiting for them along the route they took to get to New Orleans.

Instead of going back to Mississippi Jerome and his men decided to board a ship in New Orleans and they sailed back to France. Leaving the wooden treasure chest of gold coins behind.

Lost Treasures Of Mississippi Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the many lost treasures that are awaiting recovery in Mississippi. Armed with the knowledge of these lost treasures, a good metal detector like the Garrett AT Pro, a good metal detecting shovel, and some luck maybe you can find one of these treasures.

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any questions or comments please leave them 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.

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