MICHIGAN LOST TREASURES & HISTORY

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Explore Michigan Treasure Stories

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Gold in Michigan (starts on page 355)

Gold of "Old Whit"

Gold Kettle of Wabasis Creek

High Island Lost Treasure.  High Island, which is part of the Beaver Island archipelago, has been the home of Native American fisherman, and The House of David religious cult who resided in a village near High Island Bay on the east side of the island.  The island, which is currently uninhabited, got its name from a large sand dune on the west side of the island where the lake winds had blown the sand into a dune elevated 780 feet above sea level.  From 1912 to 1927 The House of David had a timber and vegetable farm on the island, but the operations were abandoned in 1927 after a scandal involving the sect leader Benjamin Purnell who was said to have amassed millions of dollars in gold, currency, and jewelry that have never been recovered and may be on the island or hidden in or near the Diamond House mansion in Benton Harbor. Also, the Royal Treasury of the Kingdom of Beaver Island, ruled by James Jesse Strang until he was shot in 1856, is thought by some to have been secreted on High Island.  After he was wounded by an assassin, he was taken to Wisconsin for medical treatment, but died of his injuries.  The treasure is said to have been buried 30 paces from a large tree, easily noticeable in 1856 from its prominent location overlooking the island's northeast harbor.  High Island was logged shortly afterwards, thereby removing the landmark vital to the recovery of the treasure.  As of 1987, the treasure had not been recovered.

Lost Treasure of Berlanquette.  The old Fayette ghost town area in Delta County has been the scene of many treasure hunts for legendary buried gold, but the most credible story relates to money hoarded by a saloon owner in the 1870s named Alphonse "Alph" Berlanquette.  He ran a tavern called the Hole in the Ground located about a mile and a half south of Fayette on the curving sandy shore of Sand Bay.  

 Sand Bay Beach Photo

Sand Bay

Rum runners had become as active bringing liquor from Green Bay as later bootleggers were bringing the wet stuff across the Detroit River in the 1930s, and Hole in the Ground was visited regularly by furnace workers from the Jackson Iron Company in Fayette town, especially on weekends and paydays.  As the only saloon in the area, Berlanquette's profits were reported to be immense, but he spent very little of his money and did not trust banks.

There were floating saloons at that time also, and usually on paydays or festive occasions a well-stocked liquor boat would anchor off Fayette and small boats were sent ashore to collect customers. One stormy night, three men drowned when one of these small crafts capsized.

 Old Fayette Photo 

Berlanquette died and his widow was suddenly left penniless not knowing where he hid his fortune.  Although he could have hid his treasure among the trees, under the sand, or around the saloon, since he often hid his liquor in caves, especially along the Burnt Bluff region south of Sand Bay, many dug in the area and searched these caves suspecting that he might have stashed his money there also, but his savings were never found.  

By company decree, the town of Fayette had gone "dry" and no alcohol was permitted, but the company allowed a disabled plant worker named Fred "Pig Iron" Hink to take over the saloon just outside of town on the Garden road, although the notoriously rough Jim Summers gang soon overran the place and transformed it into an infamous seedy bordello called "The Stockade" where a high wooden fence was erected around it to keep women who had been kidnapped and forced into prostitution from escaping.  

When one of the girls escaped and tried to seek asylum at Fayette, the sheriff did not protect her but turned her back over to Jim Summers, which enraged the citizens.  They formed an armed posse of vigilantes, descended on the brothel, freed the girls, attacked the gang, and burned the building, leaving Summers lying beaten and bleeding on the beach to die.  

Although left for dead, Summers regained consciousness during the night, and when a friend returned to bury him, he was gone. He crossed Big Bay de Noc in a rowboat to lead a homesteading group as a hired gun for farmers in the Atkinson/Gibbs City area never to return again.

This likely enormous lost treasure still remains cached somewhere around either the location of the burned down saloon, near the beach, or in the woods or caves.

Although metal detectors are not permitted in Fayette State Park  (Michigan Detecting Laws) and certain objects cannot be removed, it appears that the beach and campground area along Sand Bay where the old saloon was is accessible, as some other areas may be, for digging with a small trowel and refilling.  Along the trails or in the woods Berlanquette may have left some mark to indicate where he buried his loot.  It has also been said that the Burnt Bluff area is on private land, and permission might be gained to search the caves in that region.  

If you are visiting the Fayette area, there are no gas stations on the peninsula leading to the 711-acre park, so make sure you have plenty of gas before you turn off the main highway.  Call ahead for information about fees, regulations, and reservations. The port is also open for visits by boats, there are 7 miles of hiking trails, and swimming, fishing, and scuba diving is permitted.       (Topographical Map)  (Modern Pictures of Fayette)

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Bring Your Child's Party to Life with Our Fun & Unique Printable Themed Treasure Hunt Party Clue Games

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(Clues lead to a pot, picture, a map, paper towels, a cookbook, light switch, glue, broom, a decorative or toy frog, & a clock)

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NEW! SPOOKY HUNT
PERFECT FOR KIDS HALLOWEEN PARTIES
10 Themed Clues per Game. Only $7.99! 

(ages 5-9)

Fun and spooky kids Halloween, holiday, dress up, or costume birthday party clue solving treasure hunt for young kids children all ages parties plan exciting interactive ice breaker scary creepy clues riddles reality team games party supplies

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(Clues lead to a bat, spider, pumpkin, broom, skeleton, bandages (mummy), black cat, witch, apple (poison), and a bed fssheet (ghost))

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Easy Outdoor Treasure Hunt #4 (around the home)

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(Clues lead to a door mat, a garden hose, a tree, a mailbox, a bench or chair, a pot, a downspout, a rock, a car, and a flower)

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