12 Lost Treasures of Rhode Island (Pirate Booty Awaits)

Rhode Island may be the smallest U.S. state but it is fascinating with its numerous legends of lost and buried pirate treasure, Revolutionary War treasure, and more. In this article lost treasures of Rhode Island, we will be discussing 12 lost treasures that are buried around the islands, in the caves, and on the mainland of Rhode Island.

So much important history happened in the last few hundred years in Rhode Island. It was one of the original 13 colonies and became the 13th state admitted to the Union on May 29, 1790. The famous Pirate Captain Kidd once lived here and he is said to have buried numerous treasures on some of the Islands around Rhode Island. Many other pirates frequented its shores and buried untold amounts of booty!

You will learn about some of these pirate legends of buried treasure along with treasure buried during the Revolutionary War in this article. So read on and let me take you on a journey of the 12 lost treasures of Rhode Island. I know you will enjoy them!


12 Lost Treasures of Rhode Island

TREASUREAMOUNTLOCATION
Gaspee Point TreasuresUnknownGaspee Point is located on the west side of Narragansett Bay.
British General Richard Prescott’s Buried TreasureGold CoinsOn the Prescott Farm, that’s located near Middletown, Rhode Island.
Revolutionary War Treasure at Potterville CampsiteWar relics and other valuablesPotterville campsite east of Potterville, Rhode Island on Town Farm Road.
Pirate Charles Harris’s Buried Treasure ChestTreasure ChestOn a beach at the base of Newport Cliffs.
The Rhode Island Pirate’s Buried Treasure100,000 pounds sterling silver and gold Somewhere in Newport, Rhode Island.
Block Island TreasureUnknownBlock Island on Block Island Sound is nine miles from the mainland of Rhode Island.
Treasure on Hog IslandUnknownHog Island lies in the Narragansett Bay and is part of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
Brenton Point TreasureUnknownBrenton Point can be found on the southwestern tip of Aquidneck Island in Newport, Rhode Island. 
Treasure on Patience IslandUnknownPatience Island is near the town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
Kidd’s Treasure in Pirate CaveUnknownPirate cave is located on the tip of Conanicut Island near Collins Beach
Buried Treasure at Watch HillA large treasure chest filled with gold and silver coinsWatch Hill is located on the tip of the southwest part of Rhode Island. 
Sakonnet TreasureUnknownOn the banks of the Sakonnet River.

Gaspee Point Treasures

Burning of the HMS Gaspee

Gaspee Point lies on the west side of Narragansett Bay near the town of Warwick, Rhode Island. This story takes place on June 9th and 10th of 1772 when a British customs Schooner The Gaspee ran aground in shallow water here. The ship’s captain Lieutenant William Duddington who was in charge of enforcing the stamp act and customs in the waters of Narragansett Bay decided to wait until high tide in hopes that the Gaspee would let loose.

Lieutenant Duddington was very much disliked by the colonists of Rhode Island and especially the Sons of Liberty. Word got out in the town of Providence of the Gaspee being run aground. Over a hundred Sons of Liberty led by Abraham Whipple and John Brown boarded long boats a set out to attack the ship. Joseph Bucklin shot Lieutenant Duddington which became known as the first shot of the Revolutionary War by the residents of Rhode Island.

All the crew members and Duddington were eventually taken off the Gaspee and brought onshore. Abraham Whipple and John Brown stayed behind and set fire to the schooner which burned down the waterline. Explosions from the gun powder that was on board could be heard onshore. This became known as the Gaspee Affair some believe, was one of the first causes of the Revolutionary War that started a few years later on April 19, 1775.

To this day treasure and artifacts can be found on the beaches of Gaspee Point presumably coming from the wreck of the Gaspee. Gaspee Point is located on the west side of Narragansett Bay.


British General Richard Prescott’s Buried Treasure

British General Richard Prescott
British General Richard Prescott

Lieutenant General Richard Prescott was an officer for the British during the Revolutionary War. Prescott while he was in command of the British forces in Rhode Island and before the Battle of Rhode Island he occupied what’s now considered the Prescott Farm.

Here he had a guardhouse, windmill, and even a country store among other buildings. The Prescott Farm was originally called the Overing and Page Farm and was owned by two brothers Emond and Thomas Nichols in 1650.

On July 9, 1777, General Prescott was kidnapped from the farm by some colonels from the town of Providence, Rhode Island. Before he was kidnapped it is said that he buried a large sum of gold coins somewhere on the farm. Soon after during the Battle of Rhode Island, the Patriots took control of the farm.

Today the Prescott Farm is historically preserved with the work done by the Newport Restoration Foundation starting in 1973. Most of the farm including some walking paths, a pond and some of the buildings are open to the public. But some of the buildings and land are privately owned.

So before doing any metal detecting or digging make sure you get permission from the rightful owners or you may find yourself in trouble. But a pile of gold coins may still be waiting for discovery on the Prescott Farm that’s located near Middletown, Rhode Island.


Revolutionary War Treasure at Potterville Campsite

The Potterville campsite is a skip and a jump east of Potterville, Rhode Island on Town Farm Road. This campsite was used by both the Patriots and the British during the Revolutionary War. Some firepits and wells from that time can still be found here.

Soldiers from both sides would bury their valuables here for safekeeping while they went off to fight. Many of them never returned to reclaim their treasures and some of them are probably still buried on this site. Over the years people have been finding Revolutionary War relics and other small valuable caches here.


Pirate Charles Harris’s Buried Treasure Chest

Pirates Treasure Chest

Charles Harris was a pirate in the early part of 1720. After commanding a number of ships during his short stint as a pirate he ended up with a French sloop called the Ranger. Harris sailed to the Carolinas up the east coast of America.

When his ship the ranger and another vessel called the Fancy captained by Edward Low another pirate made their way in the Delaware Bay they decided to go after what they thought was a merchant-ship that was fleeing but it turned out to be Greyhound a British 20-gun man of war captained by Peter Solgard.

Both the Fancy and the Ranger fought for hours against Greyhound which became known as “Action of 10 June 1723”. The Ranger became inoperable Edward Low and the Fancy left Charles Harris there. Harris was eventually caught and put on trial in Newport, Rhode Island. Harris and 25 other pirates were found guilty of piracy and murder and were hung on July 19, 1923. This was the largest mass execution in Rhode Islands’ history.

Before Charles Harris went to the gallows he said that he buried a treasure chest on the beach near the Newport Cliffs. Surprisingly in 1949 a couple of girls playing on the beach there found a treasure chest that had been uncovered after a recent storm had gone through.

But when they came back with some adults to help them remove the chest another storm had come through burying the chest again. Supposedly the treasure chest has not been seen since and could still be buried beneath the sands on a beach at the base of Newport Cliffs. Today huge mansions dot this area so make sure you get permission before digging or treasure hunting here.


Digging Deeper: Legal Metal Detecting


The Rhode Island Pirate’s Buried Treasure

Thomas Tew and Gov. Fletcher of New York
Thomas Tew and Gov. Fletcher of New York

Thomas Tew is also known as the Rhode Island Pirate is said to have emigrated to the Americas when he was a small child sometime in the seventeenth century. Tew became a privateer and then pirate. It is said that he had family in Rhode Island and once lived in Newport with his wife and two daughters.

Tew is said to have gone on two pirate cruises before he was killed in the second. On the first pirate cruise, he was given a letter of marque and a 70 ton sloop called the Amity by the Governor of Bermuda. He was successful in capturing a Ghanjah dhow that was headed out of India to the Ottoman Empire in the latter half of 1693. Tew and his crew boarded the ship and got away with 100,000 pounds sterling in gold and silver among other riches of ivory, spices, and gemstones. He then sailed his ship back to Newport and arrived in April 1694.

On the second pirate cruise, Thomas Tew was not so fortunate because he was disemboweled by a cannonball when the Amity was fighting the Fateh Mohammad ship in September of 1695. With Tew dead, his crew surrendered.

Legend has it that after the first pirate cruise that Thomas Tew and his crew buried that 100,000 pounds sterling silver and gold somewhere in Newport, Rhode Island.


Island Treasures of Captain Kidd

Portrait of Captain William Kidd
Captain William Kidd

The famous pirate Captain William Kidd spent a considerable amount of time in the waters around Rhode Island in the late seventeenth and very early eighteenth century. There are a number of buried treasure legends of Captain Kidd taking place on seven islands in the waters off of Rhode Island.

We know that in 1699 Kidd was dispersing his many treasures on islands off the east coast before he turned himself and his family into Boston to dispute claims of his piracy. Kidd thought he would only be reprimanded by Lord Bellomont of the British navy. He was later sent to England. There he was tried for piracy and murder and hung on May 23, 1701.

Like many buried pirate treasure stories, there is very little documentation of these treasures. Mostly they have been handed down through the centuries and have become legends. But there are a few that actually have some documentation associated with them.

 The following I present to you seven lost treasure legends of Captain Kidd’s.


Block Island Treasure

Aerial View of Block Island
Aerial View of Block Island – By Timothy J. Quill, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

In June of 1699 Captain Kidd is said to have visited family and friends on Block Island. This island is in Block Island Sound about nine miles from the mainland of Rhode Island. At this time he knew he was being pursued by Lord Bellomont of the British Royal Navy. Kidd was burying treasure all over the islands around Rhode Island and many other islands off the east coast. So it is presumed since he set anchor off of Crescent Beach on Block Island that he would have hidden some of his treasure here.

We know Kidd came to Block Island because of a letter that Gardiner one of the families that he left some of his treasure with earlier claimed that Kidd sailed to Block Island in June 1699. Kidd also wrote a letter to Lord Bellomont telling him of his intentions of turning himself in. He wrote the letter from Block Island Road which was a known roadstead on Block Island. One of Kidd’s crew also wrote an affidavit to Lord Bellomont that they sailed to Block Island in June of 1699.

In 1955 two groups joined forces, the Rhode Island Development Council and Radiac Company. They took to the island with metal detectors that they said could detect gold, copper, silver, iron, and more several feet below the surface. Their efforts produced no results. But you never know William Kidd’s treasure could still be waiting to be dug up on Block Island!


Treasure on Hog Island

Hog Island lies in the Narragansett Bay and is part of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. About 100 summer vacation homes dot this island. Legend has it that Captain Kidd once visited Hog Island and buried some of his treasure here in 1699.

Hog Island is only accessible by boat and is privately owned so you will need permission to hunt for Kidd’s treasure here.


Brenton Point Treasure

Brenton Point State Park, Newport Rhode Island – By Kenneth C. Zirkel Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Brenton Point can be found on the southwestern tip of Aquidneck Island in Newport, Rhode Island. Captain Kidd is rumored to have buried treasure here in 1699. Today the location is Brenton Point State Park located on Ocean Drive in Newport.

Treasure hunting is probably not allowed here and park rangers enforce its regulations even after dark. But it wouldn’t hurt to ask permission.


Treasure on Patience Island

Patience Island in Rhode Island
Patience Island – By Swampyank at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Patience Island is another island where Captain Kidd supposedly buried some of his treasure. Patience Island is near the town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The island was given as a gift to Roger Williams a Puritan Minister by the Narragansett Indians. Roger Williams was an early colonist in Rhode Island who founded the Providence Plantations that later became the colony of Rhode Island.

There is now only one house on Patience Island so if you want to do some treasure hunting make sure you get permission from whoever owns it.


Kidd’s Treasure in Pirate Cave

Aerial View of Conanicut Island
Aerial View of Conanicut Island – By from Santa Barbara, USA – originally posted to Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Pirate cave is located on the tip of Conanicut Island near Collins Beach that can be reached via the Newport Bridge. Jamestown now sits on Conanicut Island. Legend has it that Kidd hid one of his treasures in Pirate Cave and maybe elsewhere on Conanicut Island before he was hung in 1701. If one of his treasures is in this cave it has never been located and could still be there.


Buried Treasure at Watch Hill

Watch Hill in Rhode Island
Watch Hill – By Stephg82988 Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Watch Hill is located on the tip of the southwest of Rhode Island. This is a coastal village now but was one of many places that Captain Kidd is said to have buried his treasure. Legend has it that Kidd Buried a large treasure chest filled with gold and silver coins here.

This community which lies close to Newport is considered a wealthy community that values their privacy. So if there is a treasure here it may never be found unless the locals get curious and start searching for it.


Sakonnet Treasure

Sakonnet River
Sakonnet River

Between Mount Hope Bay and Rhode, Island Sound lies a river named Sakonnet. According to legend Captain Kidd buried a treasure on the banks or in caves close to this river. It’s a 14 mile stretch of river that separates the Aquidneck Island from the eastern part of Newport County.

If there’s treasure here it has not been found and could very well be waiting for discovery on the banks of the Sakonnet River.


Digging Deeper: Lost Treasures of Maine


Conclusion – Lost Treasures of Rhode Island

You can say that the waters around Rhode Island and parts of the mainland were once a pirates haven from all the pirate treasure legends that have been told of this state. If you are a lover of history like I am you will want to visit Rhode Island and see for yourself all of the historical places from the Revolutionary War and stand where pirates once roamed the land. Rhode Island is truly one of the birthplaces of this County that we call the United States! I hope you enjoyed this history lesson on the lost treasures of Rhode Island.

Before you do any type of treasure hunting make sure you get permission before going on anyone’s property. Many of these pirate treasures are pure legends but I love writing about them and pondering if they are really there nonetheless! If you’re interested in reading more about lost treasures in other states I have written articles about lost treasures in almost all of the 50 states. You can check them out here. Until next time Happy Treasure Hunting!

2 thoughts on “12 Lost Treasures of Rhode Island (Pirate Booty Awaits)”

  1. Hi Cory,

    I have been doing a lot of reading on treasure hunting, historical archaeology and shipwrecks, etc. I’ve been trying to find information on the pirate Peter Collins who supposedly hid treasure on Warwick Neck. I have only found one story about him and one YouTube posting on him as well.

    I just read your article on the 12 Lost Treasures of Rhode Island and you didn’t list it, so now I’m leaning towards believing it’s a myth but I still want to know more and I have a nonfactual hunch about its location. My first objective is to find a person or group who would like to do some additional investigating both physical and historical. In another word, I would like to join forces with someone as crazy as my wife thinks I am. Happy Hunting.

    Reply
    • Hi Randall,
      Yeah, all I could find online about the pirate Peter Collins aka Peter Gifford, and his buried treasure chest story are the videos. But I did find the story in a book called Buried Treasures of New England that could be just fanciful storytelling which, to be honest, most of these pirate treasures are just tall tales handed down through the centuries but once in a while one comes up as true. So crazy or not lol it’s fun to ponder and dig up as many facts as one can and just wonder at the possibility.

      If you are interested in digging deeper into the pirate collins I would suggest doing a search of old newspaper articles from Rhode Island or Massachusetts where they said collins was from and see if you get any hits. Another suggestion would be trying a name search on Ancestry.com The story had to come from somewhere unless the guy just made it up for his book. Good luck on your quest and Happy Treasure Hunting!

      Cory

      Reply

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