The Granville Treasure

The Granville Treasure

When I was 12 or 13 years old my dad told me to fill up the water jug and hop in the truck, then he told my younger brother to grab a few apples. Daddy told us that we were going to see something really different, something that he didn’t believe existed.

We hopped in the back of his green Chevrolet pickup truck and climbed up on the frames so that we could catch all of the late summer air. Any day that we weren’t working in tobacco or hay was a good one, and we were excited about this trip.

(I’ll take a moment to pause right here and tell you that I cannot tell you where we went, exactly, or to tell you the name of the man we were meeting. If you lived in Granville in the 1960s and 70s, though, you knew him.)

It was only a few miles to our destination, so we arrived fairly quickly. The old man was sitting in a white metal glider on his carport and he told us to come on up. I had never been to his house before, and was there again only one other time in my life.

Daddy walked up to the older gentleman, shook his hand, and said that he was glad to see him The old man asked us to all grab a seat, and he asked Daddy if he wanted to hear about the mystery that was back in the woods. My dad replied that’s why he drove up there, and that he always loved a good story.

The old man said that there was a treasure buried on his land, back in the woods. When he was a boy, the story went, his grandfather took him back into the woods and showed him the place where the treasure was buried. The grandfather, as a boy back in the early 1800s, was told by an old Indian woman that a group of Spanish explorers had come through that area centuries earlier, and that they had been slaughtered by the natives. The treasure, she said, was silver.

She said her ancestors had put the silver in a cave and had sealed it up with rocks to make it look like a natural limestone formation, and had used some type of cement to further seal and disguise it. She believed that the place was haunted, that it was marked in the way of her people, and she wanted to warn away the owners to never touch it.

The old man told us most of this story as we sat on his patio, then he said that he thought he might be able to walk back there one more time, and that he wanted to discover whether the story was true. My dad asked why he called him for help, and he told us that the spot was on a hill and that he had been unable to get a bulldozer up there to knock the wall in. Daddy was pretty good with dynamite back then, and the old man wanted Daddy to blow up the wall so he could see what was in there.

It took us at least a half hour to walk back there, with the old man slowly guiding us along. After climbing up one last hill, amid the late summer vines and brambles, we finally found the place. We were told that for at least 200 years there were huge trees on either side of the wall that had Indian carvings on them, but that he had cut them down in the 1930s for their timber. The old man felt that the carved trees were probably set there either as a signpost, or perhaps as a warning. He didn’t care which, because the thing had been drawing his curiosity for decades.

Daddy walked up to the wall and my brother and I went around the back and climbed up to the top. But to us it just looked like a natural rock formation, the kind of limestone stack that you’d find in any old “holler” in the Upper Cumberland. The old man agreed, but said that he knew there was something in there, that it was just a disguise. He could still picture the trees, and he described their carvings: animals and people and lines and circles. He told Daddy that he didn’t have any money, but that if we would dynamite it, that he would share the ancient silver with us. Just wait until winter when the growth had died down, and we could blast it all away.

Daddy told him that he didn’t think it was a wall that anyone had built, and that he was afraid he would hurt or kill himself messing with dynamite. A few days ago I posted a story on my blog about a man fishing with dynamite, and that was really the extent to which Daddy felt good with explosives.

So we left the place with my brother and me begging Daddy to go back and get the treasure. The old man died soon after that, and his son inherited it. His son passed away a few years later, and he never had an interest in any “fairytales.” Today I’m not sure who owns the place, but I think about it a lot. I don’t think Daddy could walk back to that spot again, but I’m sure that I could. The logical side of me knows that Spaniards never quite got to Granville, and that it really did look like a natural formation. But I have recently looked at some maps of where Spaniards traveled, and there are unknowns and possibilities out there. The kid in me wants to believe what that old man and the old Indian woman thought - that there is a silver treasure hidden in that cave.

My dad’s memory isn’t what it was back then, so I think that my brother and I are the only ones who know the story and the place. Maybe I need to just go up to that old house and knock on the door and ask the current owners if they want to hear the story about Spaniards and their lost silver. Would they like to take a walk back into the woods?


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