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Old 05-31-2011, 11:47 PM  
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Pirate Treasure Motif-index


Some of the motifs from OI common to other treasure stories include:

1) stone slab atop the treasure's resting place
2) box slipping away or vanishing
3) indecipherable inscription
4) accidental discovery of the site
5) tapping on the chest/box just before disaster strikes
6) site noticed by child, not by adults
7) guardian (OI: the flood tunnels/water trap)
8) breaking the spell causing loss of the treasure (OI: going to church, tapping on the still-buried chest before uncovering it.)

Something I need to think about: the "going to church = loss of treasure" idea might have other implications. I have a sense that since the treasure represents avarice (greed), perhaps the church attendance represents "the devil's revenge," in the respect that the men are punished for not completing the "evil" work of pursuing earthly gain. I seem to recall there are numerous examples of this motif in other tales, but I'm away from my references right now.

Other motifs that appear common include:

1) use of ritual to uncover treasure:
a) divination
b) not speaking during excavation
c) reading of scripture to ward off "guardians"
d) digging only at night

2) guardians
a) dead pirates
b) "large black man" executed and buried atop the treasure
c) demons/imps
d) witches
e) other supernatural forces

3) person watches treasure being buried
a) dies before recovering it
b) is not believed by others until it's too late (Peter & the Wolf?)
c) thinks to keep it for himself, repents on deathbed
i) dies before disclosing location
ii) discloses insufficient detail to permit recovery (OI: sailor's tale)
d) is unable to locate it later on

Also see: The Treasure of Craig-y-Ddinas | Mysterious Britain & Ireland

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Old 05-31-2011, 11:52 PM  
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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Report

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Report.....

It has long been rumored that the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, a prestigious research organization located on coastal Massachusetts, had conducted a study on Oak Island. Various messages hinted that the study had been commissioned by the people at Triton and that it was being kept secret due to some sort of confidentiality agreement. One site, run by a fellow named Bill Milstead who is an investor in Triton's efforts, seems to suggest that secret findings are involved and that the results of the study are somehow proprietary ("I cannot divulge the 200 page report...").

Thus it seemed time to track down the facts surrounding this report. Enquiries were made to the Institute requesting access to the data or an interview with one or more of the scientists who were involved. A reply was received and two of the scientists consented to be interviewed by phone.

The first myths to be dispelled were that the study was paid for by the Triton organization and that the contents were somehow confidential; one of the scientists specifically said 'there are no secret Woods Hole files about Oak Island' in order to clear up this misconception. The research was actually commissioned by a Boston-based philanthropist whose name I am witholding from publication in order to prevent him from being deluged with requests for additional information. This individual has no known link to the Triton folk and it is not presently known why he requested the study be performed.

The Findings

The work performed was very brief (only a few weeks) and thus no extensive study of the area was possible. The researchers also did not have full access to the site -- some areas apparently were restricted by Triton. However several very interesting findings were made, and most of these prove much of what we 'know' about the island to be false despite Bill Milstead's assertion to the contrary .

The "Box Drains" Refuted

The Woods Hole scientists introduced an extremely sensitive dye into Borehole 10-X and then monitored the coastline around the island to check for outflow. Absolutely no dye was detected emerging anywhere around the island despite the fact that the water level in the 'borehole' varies with the tide in the same manner as is claimed of the Money Pit. Also, the water in the hole is not actually seawater. Instead it is brackish, indicating that a freshwater 'lens' exists on the island, riding atop the surrounding seawater due to the density difference between the two. This is apparently quite common where island geologies are concerned (Aubrey, 2002). If the so-called 'box drains' actually existed we would expect to find only seawater in the Pit. Instead, the findings indicate that a subterranean stream, normal water infiltration through the deeper 'sand and boulder' soils, and/or other natural mechanisms have caused the flooding of the Pit and other shafts.

This finding is reinforced by the results of side-scan sonar studies that were conducted at the same time. No indications of any sort of channel or 'drain' between the Pit area and the shoreline were found. The scientists summarized this finding during the interview by stating that 'no direct connection to the surrounding ocean was found during the study (Gallo, 2002).'

The CBC Video "Evidence"

The scientists viewed the enhanced CBC video that, according to the Triton folk, clearly showed a 'severed hand' and also a portion of a wooden chest or cask in the waters at the bottom of 10-X. Despite careful study, the Woods Hole researchers were unable to discern anything of the sort on the video; indeed one said the water was so murky and the video so poorly lighted that it was nearly impossible to distinguish any objects clearly (Aubrey, 2002). This should put to rest much of the speculation involving the video material and the spectacular findings it was purported to contain.

Coconut Fibres Found

One potentially interesting finding that was made involved the legendary coconut fibres. The Woods Hole team were taken to a site on the Northeast coast of the island by people from Triton, who 'dug down a bit and produced a handful of fibres from under the sand (Aubrey, 2002).' When analyzed, they were indeed confirmed as material from some species of coconut, possibly of Mediterranean origin but too decayed for a positive identification (Aubrey, 2002). Also surprisingly, carbon dating indicated a date of roughly 1100 CE for the fibres, which should prove very exciting to various authors although numerous explanations for the presence of the fibres and their age can be given.

It should be noted (and this was stated categorically by the chief scientist involved in the project) that the researchers were led to the spot and handed material retrieved from under the sand (Aubrey, 2002). No archaeological dig was conducted and the researchers did not have the time to search for additional samples. Thus it is possible that quantities of fibre were planted by prior treasure hunters in order to mislead potential investors, or (as one of the scientists suggested) the material might have been deposited on the eastern coast of the island by storm action sometime in the distant past; it is this side of the island that faces toward the Atlantic and consequently would receive more storm surge and other severe weather. Also, as this author has previously suggested the material may simply have been dunnage (shipping material--the ancient equivalent of 'packing peanuts') that was dumped at the site when materials or cargo were being unloaded. Items A and B above suggest the legendary 'box drains' are just that, e.g. the stuff of legend. If they don't exist then there's no reason to believe the coconut fibres have any connection to this aspect of the tale.

If the fibres were part of shipping material or cargo that was unloaded on the beach, then the questions become more interesting. Was the island used as a delivery point for rum smugglers? Did wreckers or more traditional pirates use it as a conveniently isolated location to unpack and disperse looted cargo? Each of these explanations is far more plausible than the suggestion of some elaborate system of 'box drains' that don't show up on modern sensing equipment.

More problematic is the reported age of the material. It seems quite possible the 1100CE date is correct, but it may also be the case that exposure to weather, salt water, or some other environmental influence has caused the date to be misreported by the carbon dating process. It should also be remembered that this date simply shows when the material began to decay?not the date it was deposited at the site.

The Woods Hole study, brief as it was, is very important since it represents the only impartial research that has ever been done on the island by people who have not had a vested interest in the results. It is very revealing that a two week scientific study was sufficient to dispell several of the key points surrounding the legend, and we can only speculate what would happen if a fully funded research group was able to spend several months performing unrestricted work at the site. Would they confirm some of the details of the legend or would we see each element crumble in the face of unbiased enquiry?

Perhaps someday...

Note: All material on these pages is ? 1995-2002 Richard E. Joltes

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Old 05-31-2011, 11:59 PM  
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1100 ce


The V?king Era (793-~1100 CE)


This timeline is a work in progress. Eventually we hope to have links to articles and/or illustrations about all the events and personalities mentioned.

793 Norse raid and plunder monastary on isle of Lindisfarne.
794 Norse raid Jarrow in Northumbria.
795 First Norse raids on Scotland and Ireland.
799 Norse raid Aquitaine. 105 Norsemen killed by locals after their ships are blown off-course in northern Aquitaine.
800 Frankish King Charles the Great (Charlemagne) organizes defenses against Norse raids.
808 King Godfred King of Denmark sacks Slavic town of Reric; merchants moved to Hedeby. King Godfred of Denmark repairs and extends the Danevirke against possible Frankish aggression.
809 Papal legate captured by Norsemen in the North Sea while en route to Northumbria.
810 King Godfred of Denmark raids Frisia, is later killed.
820 Norse fleet is twice driven off by Franks before penetrating Aquitaine.
823-824 Archbishop Ebo of Reims undertakes missionary work in Denmark.
~825 Danes begin minting coinage at Hedeby. Irish monks are driven out of the Faeroe Islands.
829-830 Anagar undertakes missionary work in Svearland (Sweden), at Birka.
832 Norse raid Armagh three times in a single month.
834-837 Norse raid Dorestad every year.
837 Norse raid Frankish fort at Walcheren and slay or capture most of the Emperor's closest advisors.
839 Svear (Swedes) reach Constantiople.
839-840 Norse raiders winter in Ireland for the first time.
840 Armagh (center of the Irish church) is sacked three times.
841 Town of Dublin established by Norse. King Lothar grants province of Walcheren to Harald Klak.
842 Norse winter in France for the first time.
843 Norse attack Nantes.
843-885 Frisia under intermittent Danish rule.
844 Norse raid Spain for the first time, are driven off with heavy losses. King Raedwulf of Northumbria killed by Norsemen. Norsemen sack Lisbon. Norsemen sack Seville, but are defeated five weeks later by the Muslims and retreat.
845 Norse sack Hamburg and Paris; Franks pay first weregeld to Norse raiders. Turgeis is captured by King Mael Seachlainn of Meath and drowned in Lough Owel.
847 King Mael Seachlainn of Meath defeats Norse army south of Slane.
849 Irish sack Dublin.
850 Anagar builds first Christian churches at Ribe and Hedeby. Norse raiders winter in England for the first time. Norsemen defeated by Anglo-Saxons in naval battle off the coast of Sandwich. King Lothar grants province of Frisia to Roric.
851 Danes take Dublin.
852-854 Anagar undertakes missionary work in Svearland (Sweden).
853 Norse Kingdom of Dublin founded as Olaf and Ivar (from Norway) drive the Danes from the town.
854 Danish King Horik killed in civil war. Muslims capture two Norse ships off the coast of Cordoba.
858 Charles the Bald beseiges Vikings on the isle of Oissel, but the seige is lifted when his kingdom is invaded by his brother King Lothar.
859 Norsemen raid Algericas, burn mosque.
859-860 Vikings winter in the Camargue (southern France).
859-862 Norse raid Mediterranean lands, led by Bjorn Ironsides and Hastein.
860 Gardar the Swede mounts exploration of Iceland. Rus attack Constantinople. Hastein and Bjorn attack the Loire. Norsemen sack Luna, Italy. King Charles the Bald hires Weland to fight Norsemen on his behalf; he beseiges Norse forces on the Isle of Oissel-- they pay 6,000 pounds of silver as ransom; Weland is finally defeated by Anglo-Saxons at battle of Winchester. Gardar sights Iceland for the first time.
861 Muslim fleet defeats Norse fleet outside the Straights of Gibraltar while en route home.
862 Frankish King Charles (the Bald) fortifies rivers against Norse raiders. Rurik becomes King of Novgorod. Kiev is captured by Askold and Dir.
864 Count of Auvergne defeated and slain at the battle of Clermont. Rus sack Abasgun.
865 Great Army of the Danes invades England; East Anglia obtains peace by supplying horses to the Danes.
866 Norsemen rout Frankish army on the Seine River; King Charles the Bald pays them 4,000 pounds of silver to leave; they disperse to England and Frisia. Danes capture York.
867 Northumbrians attempt to recapture York, but are driven off. Mercians and West Saxons beseige the Danish camp at Nottingham, but the seige fails.
869 King Edmund of East Anglia is killed and slain at the battle of Hoxne. Norse under the command of Kjarval defeat Irish fleet off the Hebrides.
870 Initial Norse settlement of Iceland begins; a handful of Irish monks are driven out. Earldom of Orkney established. Danes capture East Anglia. Norse from Dublin destroy the capital of Strathclyde.
871 Alfred becomes King of Wessex.
873 King Charles of the Franks drives Norsemen from Angers. Danish Great Army captures Repton.
874 Danish Great Army divdes into two sections.
874-914 "Forty Years Rest" in Ireland.
875 Halfdan driven from Dublin by Norweigans.
876 Danish settlement of England begins. Halfdan sets up the Norse Kingdom of York.
877 Halfdan of York killed by Norweigans while trying to conquer Dublin.
878 King Alfred of Wessex defeats the Danes under Guthrum at the battle of Eddingon; the Danes agree to withdraw from Wessex. The Treaty of Wedmore establishes the Danelaw.
882 Novgorod and Kiev are united under Oleg. Franks defeated at the battle of Ascloha.
884 Forces under Sigfrid are paid 12,000 lbs. of silver to leave Amiens.
885 Harald Finehair wins battle of Hafrsfjord; begins unification of Norway. Norse begin Siege of Paris. Norse attack on Rochester is driven off by King Alfred of Wessex. Sigfrid's fleet arrives at the Seine.
886 King Alfred of Wessex recaptures London from the Danes. Siege of Paris ends as King Charles of the Franks allows them to pass upriver and ravage the countryside.
888 King Odo of the Franks defeats the Norse at the battle of Montfaucon. Norse at Chezy are paid Danegeld and begin to retreat from the Seine valley.
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Old 06-01-2011, 12:01 AM  
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1100 ce ii

1100 CE II.........

891 Arnulf defeats Norse at battle of the Dyle.
893 Norse unsuccessfully beseige Pilton and Exeter. Danish camp at Buttington is beseiged; Danes break out and retreat to East Anglia. Chester is captured by the Danes, who must move into Wales to replace their destroyed food stores.
895 Rollo arrives in Normandy.
896 Danish army in Mercia and Wessex disperses to East Anglia and Frankia.
899 King Alfred of Wessex dies.
~900 Harald Finehair completes unification of most of Norway. Norse begin settlement of northwest England.
902 Norse driven out of Dublin. West Saxons begin attack against the Danelaw.
907 Constantinople attacked by the Rus under Prince Oleg of Kiev.
910 16 Rus ships attack and pillage the Persian coast along the Caspian Sea.
911 Rollo founds Duchy of Normandy. Rollo unsuccessfully beseiges Chartres. Rus and Byzantium sign treaty.
912-913 Rus raiders active in Caspian Sea.
913 Rus fleet is ambushed and destroyed by Khazars at the battle of Itil.
914 Norse conquer Brittany.
917 Norse recapture Dublin. Danish defeated at Tempsford; king and garrison are slain. Danes unsuccessfully attack Towcester and Wiggingamere. Aethelfaed King of Mercia captures Derby from the Danes.
918 Ragnold defeats Northumbrians and Scots at the battle of Corbridge.
919 Rognold captures York. High King of Tara and twelve lesser kings are killed trying to drive the Norse from Dublin. Nantes made capital of Norse lands in Brittany.
922 Arab merchant Ibn Fadlan meets Rus slave traders.
924 Norse from Dublin attack Norse at Limerick, but are defeated.
927 King Athelstan of Wessex captures York, driving out Guthfrith. King Athelstan is recognized as supreme by Scots, Stathyclyde Britons, and Northumbrians.
930 Al?ing established in Iceland. First sighting of Greenland by Gunnborn.
934 German King Heinrich (the Fowler) defeats Danes.
936 Duke Alan Barbertorte of Brittany invades Brittany to expel the Norse invaders; captures a party of Norsemen at a wedding at Dol and kills them; defeats Norse at the battle of Peran.
937 Norse-Scottish army under Olaf Guthfrithsson defeated by English under King Athelstan of Wessex at the battle of Brunanburh. King Olaf Sihtricsson of Dublin destroys fleet belonging to Norse of Limerick at Lake Ree. Norse are expelled from Brittany.
939 Olaf Guthfrithsson recaptures Kingdom of York.
940 King Edmund of Wessex cedes Five Boroughs to Olaf.
941 Rus unsuccessfully attack Constantinople under Igor and make treaty. King Muirchertach of northern Ui N?ill, attacks the Hebrides in reprisal for Norse raids.
942 King Edmund of Wessex retakes the Five Boroughs. Norse settlers in Normandy begin pagan revival.
943 Rus capture Barda from Muslims, but retreat after an epidemic breaks out.
944 English recapture Kingdom of York.
948 Bishoprics established at Ribe, Hedeby, and Arhus. Erik Bloodaxe captures Kingdom of York, becomes King.
954 West Saxons conquer the Danelaw. Erik Bloodaxe killed at the battle of Stainmore. Final end of the Norse Kingdom of York.
958 Gorm the Old dies.
960 Danish control over Norway reestablished by Harald Bluetooth. Scots attempt to recapture Caithness, but are defeated.
964-971 Svyatoslav wars with Bulgars, Khazars, and Byzantines.
~965 Danes converted to Christianity by Harald Bluetooth.
968 Danevirk fortified against German aggression. King Mathghamain of Dal Cais conquers Limerick.
969 Norse recapture Limerick.
~970 Town of Sigtuna founded.
974-981 Germans occupy Hedeby.
980 Norse raids on England begin again. Varangian Guard formed at Constantinople. Dublin pays tribute to King M?el Sechnaill of Meath.
983 Erik the Red makes first voyage to Greenland.
985 First sighting of Vinland (North America) by Bjarni Herjolfsson.
986 Beginning of the settlement of Greenland by Erik the Red.
988 Prince Vladimir of Kiev converts to Christianity. Bishopric established at Odense.
989 Dublin pays tribute to King M?el Sechnaill of Meath.
991 Olaf Tryggvason defeats English at the battle of Maldon. Norse defeat ealdorman Byrhtnoth in East Anglica.
993 Danes attack London, but are driven off with heavy losses.
994 Olaf and Svein receive 16,000 lbs. of silver as Danegeld. King ?thelr?d of England baptises Olaf.
995 Norway united under Olaf Tryggvason. Olaf Sk?tkonung first King of both G?tar and Svear. Dublin pays tribute to King M?el Sechnaill of Meath.
997 Danes attack southern Wales and western Wessex.
998-999 Danes set up base on the Isle of Wight, begin raiding Sussex and Hampshire.
999 Dublin pays tribute to King Brian Boru of Munster.
1000 Iceland converts to Christianity. First explorations of Vinland begin under Leif Eriksson. King ?thelr?d of England attacks the Isle of Man in reprisal for Norse raids.
1001 Danes attack southern Wessex, defeating the Saxons at Pinhoe and Dean.
1002 Svein Forkbeard attacks England from Normandy.
1007 Svein Forkbeard defeats Saxons at the battle of East Kennet, continues his march to the sea.
1009 English fleet divided by dissention, Danes land at Sandwich unopposed. Danes under Thorkell raids Hampshire, Sussex, and Berkshire.
1010 Danes under Thorkell raid East Anglia and Mercia.
1013 Norse army fights under King Richard II of England against the Count of Chartres. Svein Forkbeard conquers Northumbria, Winchester, London, the Five Burroughs, and the West Country. King ?thelr?d of England flees to Normandy.
1014 Leinster and Norse army is defeated by King Brian Boru of Munster at the battle of Contarf; Jarl Sigurd and King Brodir of Man are killed. Svein Forkbeard dies, and King ?thelr?d of England returns. Last Norse attack on Brittany.
1015 Norway conquered by Olaf Haraldsson.
1016 Danes attack London, but are driven off.
1016-1035 Cnut is King of England.
1030 Olaf Haraldsson killed at the battle of Stiklestad. Jarl Thorfin of Orkney gains control over most of northern Scotland at the battle of Tarbet Ness.
1035 Scots attempt to retake northern Scotland, but are defeated by Jarl Thorfin.
1041 Ingvar the Widefarer travels in Serkland, attempts to re-open trade routes; he is killed somewhere in central Asia.
1042 Danish rule ends in England.
1043 Wends defeated by Magnus the Good at the battle of Lyrskov Heath.
1045 Last attack on Constantinople by the Rus.
1047-1067 War between Harald Hardrada of Norway and Svein Estrithson of Denmark.
~1050 Bishopric established in Orkney.
1066 Harald Hardrada killed at the battle of Stamford Bridge. William the Conquerer wins the battle of Hastings.
1069 Svein Estrithson invades England.
1071 Norman Kingdom of Sicily established.
1075 Last Danish invasion of England; Danes sack York.
1079 Godred Crovan unites the Isle of Man and the Hebrides at the battle of Skyhill.
1085 First grant of land to Christian church in Scandinavia. Cnut IV abandons planned invasion of England.
1095 King Malcolm Canmore of Scotland recognizes Norweigan control over the Hebrides.
1098 King Magnus Barelegs of Norway takes over the Kingdom of Man and the Hebredies.
1104 King Magnus Barelegs of Norway killed while raiding Ulster.
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Old 06-01-2011, 12:48 AM  
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The Mystery Pit of Oak Island

The Mystery Pit of Oak Island....

One can only wonder what would have happened if young Daniel McGinnis had chosen to go exploring somewhere else on that fateful day in the summer of 1795. If he had, perhaps nobody else would have walked the woods on the eastern end of Oak Island for the next ten years. In that time, the clearing McGinnis found might have been reclaimed completely by the woods. In a forest, the thirteen foot-wide depression in the ground might never have been noticed. Thick, leafy branches might have obscured the old tackle block hanging from a branch directly over the pit. Without these markers, there would have been nothing to indicate that this was the work of man. And there might have never been the two-hundred year long treasure hunt that cost several fortunes and many lives.

But McGinnis did see the clearing and the depression and the tackle block. Visions of pirate treasure did fill his head. He did return later with two friends, John Smith, age 19, and Anthony Vaughan, age 16. And together, with picks and shovels, they did start perhaps the most famous treasure hunt of modern times.

Undoubtedly, the three must have thought they were on the verge of discovering the treasure of Captain William Kidd. Stories that the captain had buried a treasure hoard on an island "east of Boston" had been circulating since the 1600's. Legend had it that a dying sailor in the New England Colonies confessed to being a part of Kidd's notorious crew, but he never named an exact location for the hidden booty.

The island McGinnis, Smith and Vaughan were on was one of 300 small isles in the Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada. It was peanut-shaped and about three-quarters of a mile long and 1,000 feet wide.

Cutting away the smaller trees, the three young men started digging in the depression. After two feet they hit a floor of carefully laid flagstones. This type of slate was not found on the island and the group figured it had been brought there from about two miles north. Below the stones they saw that they were digging down a shaft that had been refilled. The walls of the shaft were scored with the marks of pick axes, more evidence that this structure was the work of men.

At the ten foot level they hit wood. At first the group figured they'd hit a treasure chest, but quickly realized that they had found a platform of oaken logs sunk into the sides of the shaft. Pulling up the logs they discovered a two-foot depression and more of the shaft. Continuing to dig, they finally reached a depth of twenty-five feet. At that depth they decided they could not continue without more help and better planning. Covering the pit over, they left. One thing the three were sure of, though, was that something must be at the bottom of the pit. They concluded that nobody would have gone to the trouble of digging a shaft deeper than 25 feet unless he had something very valuable to hide.

Nineteenth Century Excavations

Not much more was done with the pit until around 1802. While stories differ, it seems likely that the three spent the previous years searching for a financial backer to provide assistance for a more sophisticated dig. Simeon Lynds visited the money pit that year, was impressed by the story, and formed a company to support the excavation.
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Modern Excavations

In 1959 Robert Restall, a former daredevil motorcyclist, took up the challenge with the help of his 18-year-old son. By then the Smith Cove's flood tunnel had become unblocked and Restall made it his first order of business to seal it off. He had sunk a shaft to the depth of 27 feet near Smith's Cove when tragedy struck. His son found him laying at the bottom of the pit in muddy water. Climbing down to help his father, the boy suddenly fell off the ladder and lay next to him. Kal Graseser, Restall's partner, and workers Cyril Hiltz and Andy DeMont climbed down to assist, but also collapsed before reaching the bottom. Edward White, a visiting fireman from Buffalo, New York, immediately suspected carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust of a nearby gasoline pump and descended the pit with a rope tied around his waist. He was able to rescue DeMont, but the others died. In one day Oak Island mystery claimed four more lives.
If any of the above theories were true why did McGinnis discover the pit in the heart of a clearing? The trees around the money pit must have been cut when it was constructed. Given the rate oak trees grow, that meant someone had built the pit not more than fifty years before McGinnis stumbled across it.

Who would have hidden a treasure between 1745 and 1795? William Crooker, author of several books on the Oak Island mystery, suggests that the pit was built as a part of plot by King George III of England and several of his close advisors. On August 12, 1762, British forces captured the city of Havana, Cuba, from the Spanish. Havana was a rich, important city where much of the gold from the New World was shipped back to Spain. Two shiploads of the captured booty, Crooker suggests, was taken by the Earl of Albemarle to Oak Island. Previously the conspirators had arranged for military engineers to come to the island and build what they thought was a secret ammo dump complete with flood tunnels. Albemarle arrived with the treasure in sealed boxes. The treasure was placed in the pit, the pit was closed, and the engineers departed still thinking they had built an ammo dump.

Albemarle returned to England with the idea of retrieving the treasure later. Something, perhaps the madness that afflicted King George toward the end of his life, prevented getting the booty and it was forgotten about.

Crooker's theory raises another possibility, though. Suppose there is no treasure at all and the pit is simply an old ammo dump?
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Old 06-01-2011, 11:05 AM  
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Property Owners of Oak Island to 1795

Property Owners .....

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# Article Title
1 Jacob Hatt
2 James Sharp
3 James Anderson
4 Ambrose Allen
5 Edward James
6 Neil McMullen
7 Hector McLean
8 Duncan Smith
9 Nathaniel Melvin
10 Martin Marshall
11 Alexander McNeil
12 John Kinghorn
13 Alexander Patillo
14 John Cochran
15 Captain Thomas Hovey
16 Thomas Young
17 John Pulsifer
18 David Ellis
19 Moses Holt
20 Jeremiah Rogers
21 William Hopkins
22 Samuel Gray
23 Joseph Whitemore
24 John Munrow
25 James Webber
26 Elijah Crocker
27 Phillip Payzant
28 Timothy Lynch
29 Edward Smith
30 William Bowie
31 Richard Cunningham
32 Casper Wollenhaupt
33 Robert Melvin
34 Daniel Vaughn
35 Dr. Jonathan Prescott
36 Reverend Seccombe
37 Donald McGinnis
38 John Smith
39 Samuel Ball

John Smith


John Smith's family originally came from Dumbarton Scotland, via a period of time in Boston, then to Nova Scotia. Thankfully in 1884, a Smith family member produced a genealogical chart on the family. John was born in Boston on 20 Aug 1775; he had another brother who did not survive birth. John's father was Duncan Smith and his mother was Margaret (nee McLean)

According to the Ward Chipman Papers MG 23 D 1, Series 1, Volume 24 1, the Smith family arrived in Nova Scotia during 1776. According to the Smith family records, the family first went to Halifax where Duncan applied his blacksmith trade.

In 1784 the Smith family is part of five family memorial (grant request) for land, then are approved and included in a 31,500 acre general grant at Chester, this is when they arrive in the area. As part of Duncan's grant, he was permitted to draw for an Oak Island lot. The Island Shares document covering the post Loyalists period and dating to 1784 indicates Duncan to own lot 24 . Duncan sold this lot to Ambrose Allen on 24 Feb 1785 for 10 pounds Halifax money.

Duncan dies at some point between the sale of this property and 1788. His passing is not recorded in the Chester records, nor is it recorded at the Lunenburg County level, no grave marker exists, no Will, and even the family records do not give an exact date. I can only conclude that he did not die in the Chester area. We know from the family papers that Duncan received threats while living in Halifax, perhaps this was the location for his demise?

John Smith's mother Margaret was not long in seeking a new husband. She and Neil McMullen were legal published at some point between 27 Apr 1788 and 26 Oct 1788 2. The Smith family papers tell us that after Neil and Margaret were married, they moved to Oak Island. Neil purchased lot 11 on 6 Oct 1789 from Daniel Vaughn, then lots 9 and 10 on 17 Jun 1793 from Martin Marshall. Considering John was only 13 years of age when his mother married, it stands to reason that he too moved to Oak Island.

The 1791 Poll Tax returns for Chester records Neil McMullen as a farmer on Oak Island. Unfortunately the Poll Tax was not a census and was not required to list family members; however, it is a likely conclusion for Oak Island to also be the family?s residence and no other mainland lots are in Neil's name. The family records, deeds, and poll tax, when all combined indicate the family was living on lot 11.

On 26 Jun 1795, John Smith of Chester, Yeoman 3 purchased lot 18 from Casper Wollenhaupt for seven pounds ten shillings currency. The deed itself, or rather the deed registration process, falls outside of the established process for Chester township properties. This deed appears to be the only deed from Chester Township which was not processed through the Chester's Justice of the Peace. Chester's J.P was required to maintain the proprietor papers and island shares document, thus all deeds would pass through him for recording. He would then forward an administrative note to Lunenburg to have the deed filed in the county book of deeds. John Smith's deed totally circumvents this process.

The Smith family papers say John and Anne Floyd married on 2 May 1799. Their first child, Neal McMullen Smith, was born on 11 Nov 1800. John and Anne would go on to have eleven more children, with the last being Elizabeth born in 1829. The family papers record all of these children being born on Oak Island with seven also dying on Oak Island.

There is not much additional information at this time, except for a letter dated 1854 from John Smith Jr. in which he speaks of the diggers, and a letter from Mr. George Cooke of the Oak Island Association dated 27 Jan 1864. In this letter Mr. Cooke tells of the inscribed stone and John Smith's second house where he placed the stone in his fireplace.


The facts tell of a much different story to John Smith and illuminates a much different history of the island than was supposedly passed by Anthony Vaughan Jr. to Robert Creelman in 1849, from that information the legend took form. While points of discovery may have elements of truth, it clearly could not have occurred in 1795 as the way it was supposedly described. One must wonder what, if any, participation Smith may had in discovery. Considering the testimony of Judge DesBrisay, this would exclude Smith and Anthony Vaughan Jr. from discovery; however, they are the folks who are alive in 1849 with Ball dying in 1846 and McGinnis in 1826.

First residing on lot 11, then after Neil McMullen purchased lots 9 and 10 from Martin Marshall, Neil would now own two houses on Oak Island. Did John Smith take residence in Martin Marshall's previous dwelling? Either way, John was residing on either lot 9, 10, or 11 until he built his second house in about 1810 on lot 18. This can be important as we know from a few descriptions of discovery that smaller carved rocks were found shallow in the pit. As with the inscribed stone, these smaller stones were most likely taken away, but to where? McGinnis's and Ball's foundations are clear of any such small carved beach stones, but until now, we didn't know the aforementioned information of John Smith; thus those stones might be located in or around an old foundation on lot 9, 10, or 11.

A note for all those R.V. Harris readers, he identified the wrong John Smith as there were two John Smiths in Chester with the other marrying Sarah Floyd, thus R.V. also got the wrong marriage date.

An additional note is for Mary Smith to have lived in the house of Judge DesBrisay while he was a boy. He claims to have visited Oak Island as a boy and obviously gained his knowledge from her. In his 1870 History of Lunenburg County, the Judge does not include John Smith in discovery.
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Old 06-01-2011, 11:38 AM  
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Property Owner Biographies I

Property Owners of Oak Island to 1795

Jacob Hatt
Jacob Hatt owned lot 31 and came into possession of the property by marrying Mary Hovey. He would sell this lot in 1802 to John Jacques Bezanson. Jacob?s family settled Lunenburg and had deep roots in the area. He would remain in Chester without much information on him.

James Sharp
James Sharp was granted lot 28 in 1785 as part of a 12,400 general land grant to settlers. He sold this property to Donald McGinnis on 3 Mar 1788 and identified himself as a mason of Chester. This would put him in fine company with Alexander Pattillo who was also a mason in Chester, and who also sold his lots to Donald McGinnis. Records show he remained in the area.

James Anderson
James Anderson is listed in many Loyalist documents and appears to have been listed as an Armed Boatman on the Muster Roll of Captain William Luce's company. He appears to have been in the 74th Regiment which was the same as Duncan Smith. James was granted lot 26 at some point in 1784 and sold this property to Samuel Ball on 10 Nov 1788.

Ambrose Allen
Ambrose Allen bought lot 24 from Duncan Smith on 24 Feb 1785. Ambrose was identified as a fisherman on this deed. Ambrose sold this property on 20 Oct 1791 along with Plumb Island and March Island. In the deed of sale a road is mentioned on Oak Island. Ambrose was from Manchester Massachusetts. Born 17 Mar 1749, died 22 Mar 1840 at Chester. He was a resident of Yarmouth during the American Revolution where two of his children were baptized. His second wife, Mary Compton Vaughn, was a granddaughter of Anthony Vaughn Sr. and a niece of Anthony Jr.

Edward James
Edward James bought lot 20 on 20 Oct 1791 and would keep lot 20 to well after 1795. Edward was a ? pay officer with extensive service in the King?s Navy and the King?s Orange Rangers during the Revolution and for a period commanded troops at Liverpool. He was a very colorful individual who preferred to turn to the sword or pistol during arguments or even when approached to pay the Poll Tax. He married a daughter of Phillip Knaut who was the most powerful politician in all of Lunenburg County, and entered into politics himself in 1793 as a representative for Lunenburg County.

Neil McMullen
Neil McMullen bought lot 11 on 6 Oct 1789, he paid 8 pounds. We know from the township records that he and Margaret Smith (nee McLean and mother of our John Smith) were married in the summer of 1788. From the family records at PANS, they moved to Oak Island. Neil further purchased lots 9 and 10 on 17 June 1793 and he paid 22 pounds. Neil is listed on the 1791 Poll Tax as a farmer on Oak Island. There is a Neil McMullen listed on a muster roll of Annapolis County for 1784. Not much is known of him; however, his wife Margaret died in 1812 and Neal remarried in 1814. Neil possessed his Oak Island lots to well after 1795.

Hector McLean
Hector McLean was the brother -in-law to Duncan Smith, and biological uncle to John Smith. Hector bought lot 23 in 1784 from William Bowie. Buildings were mentioned in the deed of sale. Hector sold this lot to Donald McGinnis in 1790.

Duncan Smith
Duncan Smith owned lot 24 in 1784. He was a blacksmith from Dumbarton Scotland and joined a Scottish Regiment, the 74th, which fought in the Revolution. His wife was Margaret McLean, the bother of Hector McLean (below). At some point the family was in Boston where John was born. By 1784 the family arrived in Halifax, then off to Chester as part of a 31, 150 acre land grant to disbanded soldiers. Duncan died in 1785.

Nathaniel Melvin
Nathaniel Melvin was the son of Robert Melvin and is the prime candidate to the son involved in discovery as mentioned by DeMille. Born at Chester in 1765 and married in 1795. While he was not a true Planter, he would be the only one of that generation to show a continued interest in Oak Island after the arrival of the Loyalists. After his father died in 1787, Nathaniel would acquire lot # 17 from Anthony Vaughn Sr. on 25 June 1790, then lot number 13 and 14 on 9 Oct 1790. By this date Nathaniel and family would own the largest number of Oak Island lots at 13, which included lots 17 and 19.

Martin Marshall
Martin Marshall came to Nova Scotia in 1784 and owned land at Shelburne. His previous activities are unclear; however, I think he may have come from the south as he will return to Georgia before 1800. The 1786 tax rolls of Shelburne list Martin Marshall as a Millwright; however, he is noted as ?privately gone?. Martin would marry Ann Vaughn, daughter of John Vaughn in 1788. During the same year, Martin would buy lots 9 and 10 from Anthony Vaughn Sr. The Poll Tax of 1791 shows Martin as living on Oak Island and he self-identified as a wheelwright. Martin would sell both of these properties in 1792 to Neal McMullen, step father of John Smith. Martin and his wife would remove themselves from the area. Records do show a Martin Marshall to be seeking land in Burke-Screven Georgia. A book called ?Family Bibles of Gasper County Georgia? includes a reference to Martin Marshall?s family bible. We know it to be him as Ann (Vaughn) from Chester is his wife, etc. Of all the follow-up books to find, obtaining Martin?s family bible is most important. Martin was most likely attracted by the Vaughn brothers to Chester for his millwright skills and stands to reason he may have been an employee of the Vaughn brothers for their lumber and grist mill on Vaughn Creek.

11 Alexander McNeil
12 John Kinghorn
13 Alexander Patillo
14 John Cochran
15 Captain Thomas Hovey
16 Thomas Young
17 John Pulsifer
18 David Ellis
19 Moses Holt
20 Jeremiah Rogers
21 William Hopkins
22 Samuel Gray
23 Joseph Whitemore
24 John Munrow
25 James Webber
26 Elijah Crocker
27 Phillip Payzant
28 Timothy Lynch
29 Edward Smith
30 William Bowie

31 Richard Cunningham
Richard Cunningham owned lot 32 during the Revolution. Richard was part of the merchant class from Halifax and in 1779 was appointed to represent Yarmouth in the NS Assembly during the later part of the Revolution. History does show these folks of Yarmouth to have actively traded with the Americans and helped on numerous occasions to repatriate American prisoners who escaped Halifax. This was appreciated to such a degree, that Massachusetts based Privateers were eventually forbidden hostilities along the coast from Yarmouth to Barrington. Additionally, many folks of the Yarmouth to Barrington area were provided with passes to enter and exit Massachusetts and Rhode Island ports.

Casper Wollenhaupt
Casper Wollenhaupt owned lot 18 of Oak Island; he was a wealthy business man with political ambitions. His business was diversified into fishing, logging, retail sales, and mortgages. He would eventually become elected to represent Lunenburg.

There is no record of how he came to possess lot 18 of Oak Island, and there is absolutely no record of anyone being connected to lot 18 prior to the deed of sale to John Smith. This is most unusual because Wollenhaupt was very meticulous in all of his land transactions, with the books of Lunenburg County deeds contain very comprehensive sales records for Oak Island properties. The various Island shares documents maintained by the clerk of Chester provides a highly detailed record of who possessed what lots on OI and when they came into possession of these lots. Wollenhaupt never appears on any record as coming into possession of lot 18.

Casper Wollenhaupt would be a central figure in the Sacking of Lunenburg, 1 July 1782.

Robert Melvin
Robert Melvin was from Concord Massachusetts. He possessed the largest number of Oak Island lots during the Revolution and is without a doubt, the person who was described by author James DeMille as originally starting the operation. Robert was in the 4th Massachusetts militia and appears to have been with the element sent to Lunenburg during the French and Indian Wars. Robert?s first lot, #7, was purchased in Nov of 1767 and is actually the first record of sale for a lot on Oak Island. His second lot, #6, was given to him by Phillip Payzant out of friendship! Phillip was a surviving son of the Payzant Island massacre. I think their friendship may have started before the massacre or immediately after the massacre. There were soldiers sent to Payzant Island to protect the family; however, they were not present on that day. Based upon the gift from Payzant to Melvin of lot #6, I think the connection between the two dates to this period. This connection might have significance, as author James DeMille tells us the original discoverer was told of the pit by the French. Aside from his other properties on Oak Island, the other lot of any sort of significance was lot #2. Deeds show Robert trading his town lot to Edward Smith for his Oak Island property within 30 days of Timothy Houghton?s death. Family records state he built his house on lot 7. At the time of his death in 1787, he would own 9 of 32 Oak island lots including lot 19. His son would acquire further lots, including lot 17 during 1790. With this 1790 purchase, the Melvin family would now own the lots on either side of the Money Pit.
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Old 06-01-2011, 11:40 AM  
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Property Owner Biographies II

Daniel Vaughn
Daniel Vaughn originated from Scituate, Providence, Rhode Island (via New Dublin NS, 1764). Daniel was in the King?s Navy out of Rhode Island. Documents show him to have engaged as a privateer against the French during the French and Indian Wars of the late 1750s. For his servitude, he and his brothers were privately granted 900 acres within Shoreham. During the American Revolution, they bought Rafuse Island, possessed the second largest number of Oak Island lots, and operated a lumber and grist mill at the mouth of Vaughn Creek. This creek is the modern day dividing line between the Western shore and Martin?s Point. The mill would have been in clear view from the western end of Oak Island. The Vaughn bothers were also granted the majority of the western shore area, which spanned from the Gold River to Martin?s point. While Vaughn Creek would not be a very good choice for a mill due to the low volume of water flow, it would provide an ideal and legitimate cover for a ship being anchored off Oak Island. Daniel would quickly depart the Chester area for Horton in 1791, then by 1793 for New Brunswick. This was part of nothing less than an exodus from Chester by many old Planter generation families. They would depart Chester in such haste that they did not bother to sell their properties. Daniel and family, along with his brother-in-laws from Newport would go on to build the largest wooden ship building business in Canada.

Dr. Jonathan Prescott
Dr. Jonathan Prescott was from Massachusetts via Halifax and Louisburg, a surgeon and Captain of the Engineers during the 1745 siege of Louisburg. He died in Chester on 11 January 1807 from cancer of the lip. There is no single person or family connected to Oak Island that is more interesting than Jonathan Prescott. Volumes of information have been previously written on his life; however, no authors have connected him to owning Oak Island lots 8 and 22. For the purpose of this article, I will briefly cover some of the more important information.

Prescott came from Louisburg during the founding of Halifax and was a very wealthy businessman. He owned much property in Halifax, distilled rum (accepted as currency), owned a fleet of fishing boats and was able to set the price for fish. His neighbors in Halifax were the most wealthy and influential people of the city who spanned from businessmen to government officials and tax collectors.

I will insert here more information about Prescott detailing the founding of Shoreham.

During the American Revolution, many of his closest friends would be arrested for sedition; however, Prescott maintained the political clout and friendships to keep his name out of it. On the founding of Shoreham, he operated lumber mills and a lime quarry that supplied Halifax with building materials. As you will come to read, he will assume the Justice of the Peace duties from Houghton and will play a critical role in Chester?s history towards the end of the Revolution for his participation in the Sacking of Lunenburg. While the American Revolution tore many families apart, Prescott?s family was in full support of it.

The family of Dr. Jonathan Prescott is one of the most interesting families connected to Oak Island with deep roots maintained in Massachusetts.

Joseph Prescott b.1762, second son from Jonathan?s second marriage, was sent to Massachusetts at a young age for the purpose of gaining an education. He would pursue medical training under the guidance of Jonathan?s only nephew a Dr. Samuel Prescott. By 1775, Samuel was already regarded as a high son of liberty. Samuel was in fact the fellow who finished the ride of Paul Revere to warn Concord the British were coming. Specifically the warning was passed to Amos Melvin who was first cousin to Robert Melvin listed below. Joseph and Samuel were recorded as serving together at Ft. Ticonderoga in 1776. Dr. Samuel Prescott would be captured later in 1776 on an American Privateer. He would be taken to Halifax where he would die a prisoner in 1777. History records Joseph as being a Doctor in the Rebel Army with close connections to George Washington via the Order of Cincinnati. Another of Dr. Jonathan Prescott?s sons was at the battle of Lexington Green and is known as the famous shot heard around the world. Yet another son, Charles Rampage Prescott, would become very wealthy at a very young age from smuggling, blockade running, and dabble as a privateer during 1812. He would retire young, and become the father of Nova Scotia?s apple orchards in the Annapolis Valley.

Reverend Seccombe
Reverend Seccombe was from Harvard. He was the spiritual leader in Chester and a prominent clergyman in Halifax. He owned lot #7 and quickly sold it to Robert Melvin in 1767. Rev. Seccombe and some of his congregation in Halifax would be charged with sedition during the Revolution. As you will come to read, this single event and those also arrested will play a prominent part of smuggling manufactured good between NS and Mass during the later part of the Revolution. Reverend Seccombe maintained a diary/journal of his early efforts in Chester and recorded much important information. His daughter Mercy also kept a diary which is thought to be the earliest diary by a woman and is held in high regard. Mercy was also an avid watcher of the night sky and was well versed in astronomy. She recorded several astronomical observations.

Donald McGinnis

A few things we do know from the Chester records is for his surname to have been spelled McGinnis, McInnis, McInnes, and McKinnis. Of all the Oak Island participants associated with the legend, Donald McGinnis appears as the most elusive to trace.

Some have suggested his roots were from Scotland via South Carolina or Georgia when he joined the British Army during the Revolution. Muster Rolls of this Regiment do not appear to have survived, thus we may never know when or where exactly where Donald joined the Regiment. On 1 Nov 1783 Corporal Donald McInnis is discharged from the 76th Regiment at Shelburne NS.

On 4 Feb 1784 Donald McGinnas purchased a town lot in Shelburne. In 1784 a McEnnis, Donagh was part of the Chester Grant. In 1785 he was listed in the Port Hebert grant in Shelburne County. This was not uncommon for ex-soldiers to request land in various locations of NS. Recall the government was really just giving it away. These discharged soldiers would pick a final location to settle and either sell the other properties or the unsettled grant would revert back to the crown. This could explain the multiple grants in Chester and Shelburne.

Obviously our man settled in Chester but why?

On 3 Mar 1788 Purchases Oak Island lot #27 from James Sharpe, paid 7 pounds 15. On 4 May 1790 bought lot 23 from Hector McLean (uncle of John Smith) paid 7 pounds. In May 1791 he bought lot 27 from Alexander Pattillo, paid 6 pounds. In 1791 he is listed as a farmer on Oak Island for the Poll Tax. On 9 Sep 1794 he bought lot 1 from Alexander Pattillo, paid 6 pound.

During Sep 1795 he married (Barbara) (Maria) (Anna) Sawler (Siler, Seiler, Sellars, Zellars) of Western Shore NS. These are the variations of her surname and do show she came from German stock. This also shows the Sellar's family attachment to the island dating back to this period and NOT originating almost 100 years later and after the time of Smith.

The Chester papers record the following births:

John McKinnis, Son of Donald, and Barbara McKinnis, was born in Chester on the twenty Eighth day of Febuary, one thousand, Seven hundred and Ninety Seven. Recorded March 3d, 1806. Ebenezer Fitch, Town Clerk.

Catherine McKinnis, Daughter of Donald, and Barbara McKinnis, was born in Chester on the twenty third day of Febuary, one thousand, Eight hundred and one. Recorded March 3d, 1806. Ebenezer Fitch, Town Clerk.

Mary McKinnis, Daughter of Donald, and Barbara McKinnis, was born in Chester on the fifteenth day of Febuary, one thousand, Eight hundred and two. Recorded March 3d, 1806. Ebenezer Fitch, Town Clerk.

Donald McKinnis, Son of Donald, and Barbara McKinnis, was born in Chester on the Eighteenth day of December, one thousand, Eight hundred and four. Recorded March 3d, 1806. Ebenezer Fitch, Town Clerk.

Henry McKinnis, Son of Donald, and Barbara McKinnis, was born in Chester on the fifteenth day of April, one thousand, Eight hundred and Seven. Recorded October 22nd, 1807. Ebenezer Fitch, Town Clerk

On 4 Jan 1827, Donald makes his last will and testament stating he is very sick of body but sound of mind. While there is no record of his death or even a tombstone marker found in any of the local cemeteries, we know probate for his estate was executed by James Smith on this 27 Feb 1827.

James McGinnis, Donald's great grandson tells us that he was buried on Oak Island.

Samuel Ball

Samuel Ball is mentioned in the History of Lunenburg County (First Edition) as being one of the persons who McGinnis fetched after discovering the circular depression1. Samuel is one of the more interesting characters associated with the island.

Here is the story of a black slave from South Carolina, born in about 1764, and who escaped slavery by joining the King's Army under General Clinton2. We know from an 1808 Petition for Oak Island's lot 32, that he fought under a Major Ward as a wood cutter at Bergen Point New Jersey, in efforts to supply New York with firewood. Samuel Ball came to Shelburne Nova Scotia in 1783 and remained there for 2 years. There are many S. Ball listed in the Book of Negros for Shelburne and Birchtown.

You can further read on Samuel and his friends in the book shown to the left. Our Samuel Ball is specifically mentioned on page 385.
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Old 06-01-2011, 11:41 AM  
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Property Owner Biographies III

Further reading can be found here Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia

In understanding Samuel Ball and how he fits into the island's history, one must know how he finished. The Will of Samuel Ball, shown at right, gives clear indication that he owned a substantial area of land and goes to show he had some success at creating a life in Nova Scotia. Property deeds show that at the time of his death, he possessed Oak Island lots 6, 7, 8, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31, and 32.

We also read he employed a servant named Isaac Butler, a Negro who arrived in Nova Scotia after 1812 and speaks to Ball's weath to afford a servant.

During the time he was acquiring his Oak Island properties, they were the most expensive acre for acre lots in all of Lunenburg County as recorded in the County Book of Deeds.

Samuel first deed dates to 22 September 1787 for the sum of 8 pounds money. Comparing this cost against mainland property shows he could have easily acquired 100 acres or more on the mainland.

Why would he be willing to spend so much money for an Oak Island lot, or did he? One strange fact identified in Ball's early deeds are for them to have been registered almost 20 years after the date of purchase.

One valid question after examining these deeds and spotting the irregularities is to ask, was Samuel Ball bribed with property? If so, then why?

The other obvious question would be to ask if Ball may have received a cut from anything of value which may have been found. This is a central theme which fits a pattern of wealth for several families connected to the island during the late 1780s.

1846. Will of Samuel Ball, Oak Island, Book 1, pg.37, Dated 1 Oct. 1841,

Probated 5 Jan. 1846, wit. John Barkhouse Sr., James Brewer, George Keddy
and John Zwicker, Gold River.

Executors Rev. Joseph Dimock, Anthony Vaughan and wife Catherine.

After funeral expenses etc.

I Give my wife, Catherine, the furniture, wearing apparel and all Real and Personal Estate during her life. First, situated and lying between lands owned by John Berghaus and Daniel Mc Innis containing about 100 acres; also an Island called Hook Island containing 3 acres, all my farm at Oak Island containing ?? acres more or less. All Cultivated Land during her life and then to Mrs. Best until her decease.

(admin note: this was the son of Daniel McGinnis of discovery),

Grandson, Simeon, to have the half of the 100 acre lot between John Barkhouse and Daniel Mc Innis the Ploughed Land, house and barn from John Mc Innis's line. (admin note: this was the son of Daniel McGinnis of discovery),

I give all my real estate and personal estate, the half of the 100 acre lot to my servant Isaac Butler, if he takes the name Ball, if he dies without male issue it is to go to friend Henry Joudrey's son, Alexander William, and if he dies without male issue to Isaac Parsons' son. None shall possess same unless they take the name Ball.

Mrs. Elizabeth Best to be comfortably maintained during her life, and if she should survive his wife she is to have control of house and farm during her life.

If grandson dies without male issue the land results to Isaac Butler. After decease of wife and Mrs Best, the Executors to give cattle to the amount of ? 15 to the Bible Society. "
The executor of Ball's will was Rev. Joseph Dimock

His Excellency Sir George Prevost

The memorial of Samuel Ball, a black man - Humbly sheweth

That your memorialist was born in South Carolina, and after the war took place in America that your memorialist joined the Kings troops in that part of the country then under the command of Lord Cornwallis and soon after came to New york with General Clinton, when he was ordered to join Major Ward, who commanded the refugees at bergan Point in the woods where he continued to serve till the end of the war; when he came to Shelburne and remained there two years, when he left that place, and he came to Chester, where he has resided twenty three years.

Your memorialist has no lands but, but that he has purchased, never having got any from government, and as there is a four acre lott vacant, No. 32 on Oak Island, joining a lot purchased by your memorialist.

Your memorialist therefore prays your Excellency will be pleased to grant, or otherwise order him to have said lott, - your memorialist has only one son living.

Chester 8th September 1809

This day, the above named Samuel Ball came before me, and made oath on the holy Evangelist that what is said in the above memorial is strictly true, which I verify to be so.

I do hereby further certify that I have known said Ball, above twenty years, and I believe he is an honest, sober and industrious settler, and worthy of encouragement.

Thos. Thompson, Jus? Peace"

At left is Ball's 1809 request for lot 32 of Oak Island, joining a lot (31) which he already owned. From his memorial, we can read of Ball's early history prior to Chester and can deduce he arrived in the area in 1786.

In his first deed he is noted as a "labourer", thus he was employed at this occupation for about 1 year. We can tell in his second deed that he identifies himself as a farmer.

The information after 'Chester 8th September 1809', is an administrative note by Thomas Thompson, Justice of the Peace.

Samuel is identified in the Poll Tax of 1791, 1793, 1794, and 1795 as being a resident of Oak Island. Here is an extract of the Chester Township Records showing his marriage, birth, and death records.


Samuel Ball, and Mary (could also have been Maria) ______ were Legally joind in Marriage on the twenty Seventh day of April, one thousand, Seven hundred and Ninety Seven. Recorded December 4th, 1806. Ebr. Fitch, Town Clerk.


Andrew Ball, Son of Samuel, and Mary Ball, was born in Chester on the thirteenth day of August, one thousand, Seven hundred and Ninety Eight. Recorded December 4th, 1806. Ebr. Fitch, T.C.

Samuel Ball, Son of Samuel, and Mary Ball, was Born in Chester on the third day of January, one thousand Eight hundred and one. Recorded December 4th, 1806. Ebenezer Fitch, Town Clerk.

Mary Ball, Daughter of Samuel, and Mary Ball, was born in Chester on the Second day of December, one thousand, Eight hundred and five. Recorded December 4th, 1806. Ebenezer Fitch, Town Clerk.


Samuel Ball, Son of Samuel, and Mary Ball, departed this Life on the tenth day of September, one thousand, Eight hundred and three. Recorded December 4th, 1806. Ebr. Fitch.

Mary Ball, Daughter of Samuel, and Mary Ball, departed this Life on the fourth day of February, one thousand, Eight hundred and four. Recorded December 4th, 1806. Ebr. Fitch, Town Clerk.


There are no further records in the Chester books for when his first wife Mary passed or when he met his second wife (mentioned in his Will). An interesting note from Judge DesBrisay's History of Lunenburg County, Second Edition, says Mary Ball was once a domestic in the house of Treasure Wallace in Halifax 4.

Ball meeting Mary must have occurred in Halifax, which means Ball travelled to Halifax, if only once. What could prompt Mary to leave a job and no doubt good accommodations for life on Oak Island?

Samuel's eldest son Andrew appears to have survived to adulthood, as his son Simeon, is mentioned in the 1846 Will and is mentioned as still living on the Western shore in 1870. History does not record what became of Andrew, his grandson Simeon, or his wife.

At the time of Samuel Ball's death, it was noted he died on 14th December 1845; he was 81 years of age, thus Samuel Ball must have been born in 1764. This would have placed him at about 19 years of age when he travelled to Shelburne, thus explains why he was not listed in many of the records as they tended to list adults of 21 years of age or older.

When cross referencing against a listing of Lunenburg County Cemeteries 5, one cannot find a single entry for Samuel, either of his children who died young, or his wife Mary. Could they all be buried on Oak Island? This is not so strange when we consider the period and neither would it be unique to the Ball family. You will come to read that Donald McGinnis was reported as buried on Oak Island and many of the Smith members who died on Oak Island are not in mainland cemetaries.

After providing all of this information, one must wonder why Samuel Ball was not, and was never mentioned in any account told by the Truro Company or Oak Island Association. He was on Oak Island at some point in 1787, before McGinnis and before Smith, and he was a resident from 1791 (verified via 1791 Poll Tax), perhaps even to 1787. Neither his servant Isaac Butler nor his grandson Simeon's testimony was ever provided.

Did those folks from Truro intentionally leave out information about Ball?
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Old 06-01-2011, 12:01 PM  
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Nova Scotia

Under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, the peninsular part of Nova Scotia (or Acadia) was ceded to the British. The capital was established at Annapolis Royal and remained there until shortly after the 1749 founding of Halifax.

Many government documents from the 1713 to 1749 period have survived and in the first decade of the 1900s, they were compiled into letter books by the Nova Scotia Archives. Not a single mention or item of interest can be found in these letters that relate to the Mahone Bay area.

The English commenced settling the Mahone bay area in 1753 with the founding of Lunenburg. The requirement to create Lunenburg was a result of idle German and French Protestants in Halifax and who were quickly becoming disgruntled with broken promises of good farm land.

Later in 1753 several fishing companies from the Province of New York petition for land grants in Mahone Bay. Fishing agents John Gifford and Richard Smith are granted three islands, one of which is Oak Island. Modern day Rafuse Island is granted to another New York fishing company. Did these New York folks already have fishing operations established in Mahone Bay and thereby ensuring a grant to keep said islands, or did protection with soldiers in Lunenburg allow them to start a fishery?

In 1754, Ephraim Cooke was granted the lands at the mouth of the Mush-a-Mush, later to become the Town of Mahone Bay. Further in 1754, the ?twenty wealthiest men? from New York seek to establish a community deep in the bay. The previously mentioned John Gifford acts as consultant for these men and he provides recommendations on where to settle. This role as a consultant could speak to Gifford?s previous knowledge of the bay and might indicate he was fishing prior to the establishment of Lunenburg. The Governor could not promise protection for this proposed settlement, thus it was never established.

During 1757 and 1758, several private land grants were made for land around the bay with a few tracks along the Gold River.

In 1759, a general invitation to New Englanders was made to come and settle Nova Scotia. Communities such as Chester, Horton, Truro, Onslow, and Liverpool all have origins rooted to this invitation. The folks who responded would become known as the Planters. This generation of settlers will play an important part of Oak Island?s history.

The final groups of folks to arrive in Mahone Bay were the United Empire Loyalists followed by disbanded soldiers at the end of the American Revolution. Commencing in 1776 to 1786, large and small groups of these folks escaped the American Revolution and came to Halifax. Many were granted land in Chester and a few came for work. These Loyalists and ex-soldiers will also play an important part in the island?s history.
Geographical description

Local History
The geographical centre of Mahone Bay is located at 44?29'37.65"N and 64?12'21.53"W. The bay is approximately 22km in depth as measured from the high tide mark in Chester Basin to the open Atlantic past Iron Bound Island. The entrance to Mahone Bay is 16.5 Km measured from Blandford to Rose Point which makes for a total area of approximately 288 square km.

The bay is generally surrounded by hills which are a result of complex geological origins and are between 50 and 70m in height; however, the eastern shore of the bay is enclosed by the Aspotogan Peninsula with its seaward promontory measuring about 145m in height. This highland is known as Mount Aspotogan and is the highest point on the Atlantic coast of mainland Nova Scotia. This geographical feature can be seen at a distance of 20km+ out to sea, and as historical text do show, was an obvious point of reference for early seafaring folks.

Hudson, Champlain, and even Cornwallis during the founding of Halifax, all gained the Atlantic coast at this latitude. This author thinks Mt Aspotogan flanked by two large bays were an obvious feature which allowed navigators to know exactly where they were or rather, at which latitude they were at.
General History of Mahone Bay to 1753
Native?s were the first into the bay perhaps 10,000 years ago and are still present to this very day. History tells us they came into the bay each summer for the purpose of fishing, and then went inland for the winters. Shell middens, fishing weirs of tremendous lengths, and stone art work is what remains of their activities.


The 1494 Spanish and Portuguese Treaty of Tordesillas 1 divided the world from pole to pole between Spain and Portugal for all lands not belonging to a Christian Prince. Lands to the west of this line were granted to Spain and all lands to the east were granted to Portugal. This demarcation line was 370 leagues west of Cape Verde Islands. Due to errors in cartographic and navigational knowledge for this period, the line intersected the coast of North America at some point in Nova Scotia. While history says Spain and Portugal planned a joint venture to actually measure the distance and to mark the shores of North and South America, there are no texts which indicate this trip ever happened. Cartographers of Spain and Portugal were required to place this treaty line on their maps. Depending on the country of origins, this line varies from west to east with Portuguese cartographers moving the line west and Spanish moving the line east. Few maps exist today which clearly identifies the treaty line. The first map thought to show the treaty line is known by Cantino in 1502 2. One map by Spanish cartographer Diego Ribero in 1529 gives Spain more land 3, while the 1554 map by Lopo Homen has the line giving Portugal more of Nova Scotia 4.

This treaty was beneficial to both Spain and Portugal, but more so for Spain, as it gave its fleets access to Portuguese ports such as the Azores. Any type of settlement by either country in Nova Scotia would have caused concern due possible infringement into the other country?s lands. Spain showed very little interest in Atlantic Canada and beyond the 1529 trip of exploration by Esteban Gomez 5 , there is no evidence the Spanish Crown ever returned.

Interest in Atlantic Canada was the opposite for Portugal, especially for those folks of the Azores Islands. The settlement attempts by the families of Fagundes 6 and Barcelos are recorded, but were not well known. The Barcelos attempt was not even brought into light until the 1950s by the Azores Chief Archivist, Dr. da Lima Ref:

Boletim do Instituto Historico Vol. XVIII (1963). Originally discovered by Dr. de Lima, Chief Archivist. Translated by L.A. Vigneras, published as ?The Voyages of Diogo and Manoel de Barcelos to Canada in the Sixteenth Century?. Terrae Incognitae Vol. 5 7.

Due to the concerns of infringement, this author thinks both settlements were kept quiet outside of the Azores.

By 1508, the Azorean family of Pinheiro de Barcelos was granted/claimed part of the Nova Scotia. We can tell through period maps 8 (HM44 f.3v, f.4, f4v) and court documents illuminated at Ref 7, of two big double bays given the designate ?Gulfo? and drawn at 44.5 degrees North latitude. This latitude precisely intersects Mahone Bay; with the Mahone/St. Margaret?s Bay combination being the only two bays of close proximity to be representative of this cartography.

Ref 7 documents dating to 1568 still shows the family is associated to the area. They were raising livestock for trade with whalers off Labrador and they were mining lime for use as lime mortar back in the Azores. Most likely this family remained associated to the area until 1588, when records show the Portuguese withdrew from Atlantic Canada as they could no longer protect their activities. In 1580, the King of Spain claimed the crown of Portugal, with the defeat of his armada in 1588, the crown could no longer offer protection in Atlantic Canada and thus wisely chose to focus its remaining warships to protect more lucrative trading routes.

The last attempt by Portugal to maintain its claim to Nova Scotia (via cartography) can be seen in the 1583 map by Sebastiao Lopes 9.

In a later article, I will present much more information on the Portuguese and how they connect to Oak Island.
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