Can the Beale Ciphers be Decoded?

United_States_Declaration_of_Independence[1]In 1885, a pamphlet, detailing a tale of hidden treasure and including three pages of numerical codes to solve for the location of the story’s secreted stash, was published by James B. Ward in Lynchburg, Virginia.  Today, the story cannot be fully dismissed as a hoax or proven to be totally genuine.  It would seem the only way to confirm the story is true, or at least hides something of value, is to solve the remaining two codes given in the pamphlet.

But can they be solved?  Those who believe the pamphlet was written as a mere entertaining story to be sold for profit feel the unsolved codes are just random lists of numbers.  If this is the case, then there is nothing to solve.  They were created to add adventure to a story.

It is not wholly believed the lists of numbers are random, though.  There are those who feel there is enough evidence to suggest otherwise; and that the codes do then conceal messages yet to be deciphered within them.  Whether this decipherment would lead to the supposed millions worth of treasure, however, as said within the tale, continues to be another debated topic.

Nevertheless, the pamphlet recounts and demonstrates how one of the three codes was solved by the person entrusted with the box containing the Beale Papers.  The method he used was a ‘book cipher’.  Numbering each word in a copy of the Declaration of Independence and then taking the first letter of the word which corresponded to the number listed on Beale Paper 2, a message was revealed.  It is roughly as follows:

“I have deposited in the county of Bedford, about four miles from Buford’s, in an excavation or vault, six feet below the surface of the ground, the following articles, belonging jointly to the parties whose names are given in number “3” herewith; The first deposit consisted of one thousand and fourteen pounds of gold, and three thousand eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver, deposited November, 1819.  The second was made December, 1821, and consisted of nineteen hundred and seven pounds of gold, and twelve hundred and eighty eight pounds of silver; also jewels, obtained in St. Louis in exchange for silver to save transportation, and valued at 13,000.  The above is securely packed in iron pots, with iron covers.  The vault is roughly lined with stone, and the vessels rest on solid stone, and are covered with others.  Paper number “1” describes the exact locality of the vault, so that no difficulty will be had in finding it.”

Yet, using the same method of numbering the Declaration and taking the first letters for Beale Papers 1 and 3’s numbers provides only gibberish.  Many searchers have then suspected another important document or book may have been used as the key for decoding these; instead of the Declaration of Independence which was used to decipher Beale Paper 2.  Bible passages, other government papers, classic books, etc. have all been tried on codes 1 and 3 without success.

I find, however, that written within the story is a sentence which leans towards the decipherment of the remaining two codes to actually suggest they use the same key as Beale Paper 2 (the Declaration), but seemingly with additional steps involved for decoding 1 and 3.  The tale includes;

“The papers enclosed herewith will be unintelligible without the key, which will reach you in time, and will be found merely to state the contents of our depository, with its exact location, and a list of names of our party, with their places of residence, etc.”

It says ‘THE KEY’ not KEYS.  For me, this passage implies only one key would be sent.  And knowing the one coded message was cracked by using the Declaration of Independence, it would indicate they all might be.  What might need to be realized are different methods of using the Declaration for breaking the codes.

Other strong support for the Declaration to be the key for the remaining two elusive ciphers is an extreme anomaly found when it is applied to Beale Cipher 1. Although a lucid message isn’t given, a string of numbers within the coded page deciphers to a very suspicious alphabetical sequence.  Called the Gillogly String, after the cryptographer who discovered it, the letters abfdefghiijklmmnohpp indicates a possible message is to be found by using the Declaration as a key, but in a two stage process or layered steps applied.

Because the odds of this string being discovered is highly improbable if the numbers were randomly selected for the tale, many feel this offers proof something remains to be discovered within the Beale Cipher story.

Determining the additional steps or methods for using the Declaration of Independence to decode the Beale Ciphers seems to remain the challenge.  And although this isn’t for certain, the possibility exists for this to be the solution to the codes of the Beale Papers.

 

Best of luck with whatever you seek!

 

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28 Responses

  1. Iron Will says:

    Love hearing about that Jenny. This mystery of VA has been on my radar for a few years.

    • Hammertime says:

      I recently have briefly looked into the Beale story. Its very interesting. Its definitely right up your alley Iron, and the setting is very close to you. I know he wrote several letters and left them in a box, I wondered how he would be so sure that the Key to de-cipher would reach him. I imagine that he thought of that, and he would have found a sure way for his relatives to receive the treasures, since it was so imperative. So, to me, the only sure way would be that he left the key in the box. Such as the letters he wrote were the key, and that would “reach him in time”, But then the Declaration of Independence, would be too much of a coincidence… So now I am on the fence if it is even real. lol. Great story and adventure though.

      • Jenny Kile says:

        Hi Hammertime—welcome! There are numerous reasons to lean towards the story being just that; a story (with or without the possibility the codes can still be solved and hold something of value)……But there is one piece of information that is coincidental if the story is totally made up.

        It has been proven that a Thomas ‘Beall’ did pass through St. Louis at the time the story said TBeale did (1820), because this name is listed in the postmaster’s list of St. Louis.

        It has to be questioned then, is this a coincidence, is there some truth to the story, or did the writer use information known to him for adding credence to a hoax? And if he knew this information- maybe it is important to a deeper level to the ‘story’ if the story as told is not fully correct??

        I don’t actually believe there is a ‘treasure as described ‘ to be found….but do feel the codes could be deciphered to provide answers to a mystery hidden in the Beale Papers.

  2. Jenny Kile says:

    It’s such a neat story, Iron Will. The Beale Ciphers continues to be one of my favorites(but I have many..lol)…..

    However, I will be visiting the area in about another month….so if you have anything special you would like me to take images of or scout around, just let me know….:) I will be happy to. (as long as it’s legal–I should add that..lol)

    • Iron Will says:

      Have you ever been there yet Jenny? If not I can give you some information. Buford’s Tavern had another tavern in Black Horse Gap, called the Black Horse Tavern..which I think is part of the Appalachian Trail… here is a picture http://runtrails.net/2009/sept28.htm

      Do you know where the Old Buford’s Tavern is? If not I can direct you to its location where there is a gift shop and you might get some cool history or info on it… The original tavern of TJB burned down right behind the new one which is on the side of US221 in Montvale…

      https://www.google.com/maps/@37.386565,-79.737091,3a,75y,214.42h,78.28t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sUn3W3bJiob9KblRsGtnagA!2e0

      That is the front view, and I believe its a gift shop now for the Beale story. Funny its about an hour and 10 minutes from where I live and I’ve never been there. If you look on the map I am in Radford which is SW of Roanoke. Some beautiful national forest up on there…you should have an awesome time! 😛

      • Iron Will says:

        Also another thing that is interesting about this…. Thomas Jefferson Beale and his party of 30 hunters supposedly found the Denver/Pikes Peak Gold Rush 3 and a half decades before anyone else. There was a time at the start of the gold rush when there was a lot of free gold, meaning “easy” to collect as opposed the the harder to get sulfide ores. According to the story that is one heck of a wild happening and would make sense with the amount of gold and silver they acquired.

        But then again, it is a story….a story that was published by J.B. Ward in 1885… 20 years AFTER the Denver gold rush was a national headline. So it is possible that it all could actually be a fake story. Who really knows but those men who live no longer.

        • Jenny Kile says:

          When we visited the Peaks of Otter and then the National D Day memorial in Bedford, we made an all too brief excursion around the area.

          This trip, however, is specifically for scouting out Beale Territory. lol. And I appreciate the information!

          One of my interests is I want to explore some of the cemeteries in the area. Would you have any locations of those less known about?

          thanks!

  3. Alan says:

    It is so nice reading about this. I’ve never yet been actively invested in the Beale treasure, but have been interested. I’d like to become more involved on this sometime in the next few months maybe, after I get another certain hunt finished. I’m just outside Lynchburg, Va. if anyone wants to collaborate on this one sometime. I would need to get up to speed, but that would happen quickly.

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Alan,

      The Beale treasure has such allure. It’s hard not to become interested! Even though the story consists of contradictions, it includes enough factual details for the buried treasure to remain a possibility. I believe the codes can be broken once finding the correct key; and if not leading one to an physical treasures, still holds a powerful purpose.

      We visited the area last week and I will posting pictures and some articles on Beale soon.

      Would love to discuss it with you….

      • Alan says:

        Thank you Jenny for your website. I considered looking into this some time ago right after I was done with “A Treasure’s Trove,” but I figured it could wait since it has been so long without a complete solve (if there is one), and I had other things more pressing at the time. I’m aim to look at Beale more closely in the coming months. You and your family are always welcome to this area; I know the best Lynchburg restaurants!

  4. Paul Stewart says:

    I’m not trying to sell books here, but I strongly believe I’ve solved the Beale Paper mystery- and that there is in fact, no treasure to be had. I prove this in my new book “Solving the Beale Papers”. Back in 1983, famed skeptic Joe Nickell theorized the Papers were Masonic in origin, but beyond a few examples he could provide very little backup evidence of that claim. Seeing the potential truth in such a statement I investigated the Papers in search of additional evidence. What I found provides, beyond a shadow of a doubt, proof that the Papers were indeed penned as a highly complex Masonic allegory; written in celebration of a event unique in the history of Freemasonry. While I am perfectly willing to answer any question and back up my claim on this site, it may be easier if you write me- or check out my new publication. See attached link:

    http://www.amazon.com/Solving-Masonic-Answers-American-Mysteries/dp/1515397564/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1457986318&sr=1-1&keywords=Solving+the+Beale+Papers

  5. Paul Stewart says:

    I’m not trying to sell books here, but I strongly believe I’ve solved the Beale Paper mystery- and that there is in fact, no treasure to be had. I prove this in my new book “Solving the Beale Papers”. Back in 1983, famed skeptic Joe Nickell theorized the Papers were Masonic in origin, but beyond a few examples he could provide very little backup evidence of that claim. Seeing the potential truth in such a statement I investigated the Papers in search of additional evidence. What I found provides, beyond a shadow of a doubt, proof that the Papers were indeed penned as a highly complex Masonic allegory; written in celebration of a event unique in the history of Freemasonry. While I am perfectly willing to answer any question and back up my claim on this site, it may be easier if you write me- or check out my new publication- available on Amazon.com “Solving the Beale Papers” by Paul Stewart

  6. Paul Stewart says:

    For example: there is a consistent usage of durations of 23. The Papers are 23-pages long. When Morriss is given the box from Beale, he waits 23-years to open it. Less obvious is the fact that the anonymous author is given the box in 1862- and waits until 1885 to publish- another 23-years. There are also 23 mistakes made in the Beale version of the Declaration when compared against the actual. There are also 126 commas used in the Beale-version of the DOI, while just 103 were used on the actual- a difference of 23. Why is 23 important? Because, if one numbers the signatures located at the bottom of the actual Declaration of Independence, starting from the top left, and working downwards, column-by-column, one finds that the 23rd signature is Robert Morris; the same name (albeit with one less S), as Robert Morriss the innkeeper. 23 was used repetitively by the author in hopes someone might notice. Less obvious is the fact that there are 56 total names on the DOI; and 56-23 = 33. The surname Morriss is used 33 times in the Papers. Why? Because 33 points to a third Robert Morris; Robert Morris the Grand Master of Kentucky, who became a Mason at Oxford Lodge #33, in Oxford, Mississippi.

    • astree says:

      I’ve been looking at cross-up into other puzzles. For example, in “The Thrill of the Chase” poem, there are 23 W’s, and W is the 23rd letter of our alphabet. There are 3 lines in the poem where W is the 23rd letter (so possibly linked to the “Where Warm Waters” alliteration).

      Also, tracking the 33. The “Thrill” poem itself echos the Hermetic “AS above, SO below” if you look at the first words of the first and last verse. There is another more elegant way, but not obvious. Did you know that Forrest just referenced the HOD (part of the Kabbalah Tree) in a post Jenny had last week?

      I was a bit shocked to find “Beale, VA” referred to by the poem some time ago.

      If you are interested in a direct and even more shocking tie-up between the Fandango and Thrill, I can work it up pretty quickly, and post. This would be getting into the deeper, common substrates of the puzzles.

      Thanks for posting some of your findings. I am looking to purchase your Beale book.

      astree

  7. Paul Stewart says:

    Numbers are everything to Masons, for they believe God cannot speak in language as these are human-created and thus the meanings of words open for interpretation. Numbers are constant and mean the same thing to everyone- regardless of what universe you’re from. Perhaps the most famous of 19th century Masons was Albert Pike, who had this to say about the number 3: “There are three Degrees in Blue Masonry…The candidate gains admission by three raps, and three raps call up the Brethren. There are three principal officers of the Lodge, three lights at the Altar, three gates of the Temple; all in the East, West and South. The three lights represent the Sun, Moon, and Mercury; Osiris, Isis and Horus; the Father, the Mother, and the Child; Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty; Hakamah. Binah, and Daath; Gedulah, Geburah and Tepareth. The candidate makes three circuits of the Lodge: there were three assassins of Khir-Om, and he was slain by three blows while seeking to escape by the three gates of the Temple.”

    So, is it coincidence then, that within the Beale Papers there are:

    Three ciphers in the Beale Papers
    Three voices in its narrative (Beale’s, Morriss’, and the unknown author’s)
    In 1820, Beale would stay at Morriss’ hotel for three months
    Three Beale party members first visit Morriss’ hotel (Beale and two unnamed men)
    Three letters from Beale were written to Morriss
    Three spans of 23 (the length of the Papers, 1822-1845 (the amount of years Morris waits before opening Beale’s box, and 1862-1885 (the amount of years which have passed before the unknown author publishes the Beale Papers))
    Three types of treasure buried by Beale; (gold, silver and jewels)
    Three reasons why Morriss chose the unknown author: (friendship, youth, confidence)
    One edition of the Beale Papers begins with the number 3 (see page 206)
    There were to be three deposits of treasure in Virginia; the party never returned after making the second.

  8. Paul Stewart says:

    What I believe the Papers “celebrate” is the “independence” of a small Masonic rite whose practitioners are called the “Royal and Select Masters”. Today, the rite is better known as “Cryptic Rite”. Throughout the 19th century, the degrees of Cryptic Rite were never formally recognized as required for a Mason. Because of that, their governance varied from state to state. For many decades other Masonic bodies claimed jurisdiction over the degrees, but finally, in 1880, the degrees declared their independence at a meeting held in Detroit, where a General Grand Council was formed. Why the Beale Papers are centered in Virginia is due to Virginia’s peculiar relationship with Cryptic Rite. Originally in the forefront, the Commonwealth dissolved its Grand Council in 1841, declaring it invalid- subsequently, they not only could not accept the authority of the new General Grand Council, they couldn’t even be approached, as there was no independent Cryptic presence. Because of this, it is important to note the dates used by Beale in his letters to Morris.

    For example, is it coincidence that:

    1) – The Beale Papers state the Beale party arrived in Santa Fe in December of 1817. Jeremy L. Cross created the first Cryptic Council at Richmond on December 25, 1817.

    2) – The Beale Papers state gold and silver was discovered by members of the Beale party approximately in the middle of March, 1818. The two Degrees of Royal Master and Select Master were first combined by Jeremy L. Cross on March 21, 1818.

    3) – The Beale Papers state the Beale treasure was excavated until the summer of 1819. Once Jeremy L. Cross perfected his system for the organizing of Royal and Select Masters Councils he commenced the issuing of warrants in the summer of 1819 based upon this system for all existing and future Councils.

    4) – The first deposit was made by Beale in November of 1819. In November and December of 1819, “The True Chart or Hieroglyphic Monitor” the first book containing the Degrees of Royal Master and Select Master, was published by Jeremy L. Cross.

    5) – The second deposit was made by Beale in December of 1821. On December 8, 1821, after nine Cryptic Councils in the Commonwealth of Virginia were constituted, the Cryptic Grand Council of Virginia, the second in the nation, was formed.

  9. Paul Stewart says:

    Another interesting tidbit….Beale’s treasure is said to be buried “about 4 miles” from Bufords. If one takes a protractor and first draws a circle 33-miles emanating from Robert Morris’ hotel in Lynchburg, and then produces another at 3.98 miles from Buford’s, the two intersect twice. The southern intersection is in rolling farmland, the northern location is literally right atop the Blueridge Parkway. Far more amazing, is the fact that if one extends the protractor to either the western or eastern tip of Virginia, and then does a full rotation, it is easy to note that its circumference hits the extreme tip of the State- as it appeared prior to the Civil War (in other words, when West VA was part of VA). Beale’s treasure is buried in the literal center, the heart, of the Commonwealth.

  10. Rich Wassmer says:

    You can thank Mr Stewart for using the concept of 3 in the Beale Papers Without giving me credit for it.
    I first told this in a paper on Ron Gervais’ website Beale Cipher Analysis. Since then he replaced that
    with another of my papers. This is the second time someone used my ideas from that website without giving credit.Someone else even used my words verbatim. I gave my opinion of Mr. Stewart’s ideas
    and he sites Ron Gervais in his paper so I know he could have read my previous paper on Gervais’
    website. So much for honor

  11. I meant to add that I do not believe some Masonic Conspiracy led to The Beale papers.
    I believe the concept of 3 ( e.g. 3 Vaults in Cipher 2, 3 uses of “Key” in Beale’s letters etc.)
    were symbolic of the following:
    Jefferson was our 3rd President
    The DOI led to The Revolutionary War with King George 3
    The DOI was used as a Key to Cipher 2 and Thomas J Beale was implied to be Thomas Jefferson
    + Beale as many researchers assume. 1776 was not mentioned in order to puzzle the reader
    It seems whenever there is some such mystery someone thinks it relates to the Masons or Knight’s
    Templer. The relation to Jefferson and King George 3rd is much more obvious and direct

  12. Jenny Kile says:

    Thanks all for the recent comments! So much to consider and I will.

    @Paul: I’ve ordered your book and am looking forward to reading and learning more about the Freemasonry connections you’ve stated. I do believe the tale could all be Masonic in nature.

    thanks again

  13. Paul Stewart says:

    Richard- You’ve never provided me with anything nor did I canvass Ron Gervais’ website for stuff to steal and then not credit people for it. I believe if you read my work you’ll see my reasoning for the overt use of the number 3 is entirely different from the reasonings you state above- all of which are new to me. You can speak with Ron Gervais himself and ask him if you don’t believe me.

  14. Paul Stewart says:

    Richard- of the examples of three that I provide, how many of them did you provide (I haven’t looked at your material- so you tell me)?

  15. 3 ciphers
    3 people (Beale,morriss,TheWriter
    Beale + 2 men visited Morriss
    3 Beale Letters
    Gold, Silver, Jewels(3 types)
    3 Vaults in C2
    3 “Keys” in Beale’s Letters
    3 cities(St Louis, Lynchburg, Santa Fe)
    3 initials(TJB) etc
    3 words in The Beale Papers

    Ron Gervais hasn’t responded to my emails or another respected membe’rs in over a month or more.
    I suspect something is wrong. He is usually very prompt.

  16. Paul Stewart says:

    Richard- no one, including myself, can claim that they came up with the idea that there were: 3 ciphers, 3 visitors, 3 Beale Letters, 3 types of treasure, 3 deposits of treasure. Those are fairly self-evident to anyone from a reading of the Papers. Saying YOU came up with them is like taking credit for algebra.

    You did find; 3 cities (St Louis, Lynchburg, Santa Fe), 3 initials (TJB) etc, 3 words in The Beale Papers, King George III, and Thomas Jefferson being the third president- and if you read my book, you’ll notice I did NOT use those examples in my solution. Frankly, its new material to me- and now that I see them, I don’t find most of them relevant (at least to my solution).

    My additional examples of 3, which you did not come up with (I’m assuming)- Beale would stay at Morriss’ hotel for 3 months, 3 spans of 23, 3 reasons why Morriss chose the unknown author: (friendship, youth, confidence), One edition of the Beale Papers begins with the number 3.

    Fair enough? The fact is, you and I BOTH see the same thing; that the number 3 is foundational to the Papers, and this is why I first believed they were Masonic in nature, as the use as numbers as allegory is central to Masonry. I have not plagerized your work. Again, I quote Albert Pike; the 19th Century’s most famous Mason, on the importance to the number 3 to Freemasonry:

    “There are three Degrees in Blue Masonry…The candidate gains admission by three raps, and three raps call up the Brethren. There are three principal officers of the Lodge, three lights at the Altar, three gates of the Temple; all in the East, West and South. The three lights represent the Sun, Moon, and Mercury; Osiris, Isis and Horus; the Father, the Mother, and the Child; Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty; Hakamah. Binah, and Daath; Gedulah, Geburah and Tepareth. The candidate makes three circuits of the Lodge: there were three assassins of Khir-Om, and he was slain by three blows while seeking to escape by the three gates of the Temple.”

  17. Rich Wassmer says:

    Paul, OK, I accept your word for it. Three found separately, Sorry…Rich

  18. Tony says:

    Arguably, I noticed an intriguing thing about the Beale papers. I watched it on an episode of expodition unknown where the guy went searching for it. He also went searching for Forrests Treasure in a different episode.

    The cyrptologist that analysed the paper thought the Beale papers were nothing more than a hoax… He noticed the pattern of the declaration for two of the cyphers where one made a solution and the other made letters in sequence.

    So, I noticed an intriguing thing some of the numbers in the other paper were much larger than any of the ones in the other two. (The paper that had no connection with the Declaration).

    So, I had a thought. What if the guy who recieved the paper had no idea what to do with the (one cypher) so he wrote the other two using the declaration as the key and them sold these papers, which is part of the story, because he couldn’t figure out what else to do with it. Then the thrid (string of letters)paper he got lazy and decided that it would be unlikely that anyone would get that far and by then he would have already profited the money. And, maybe he hoped on the off chance someone did solve the other code maybe they’d share the actual loot with him since he was the one that turned them on to the quest, or a finders fee if you will.

    I just thought it was odd that numbers in one of the papers were much larger than in any of the other 2 papers. Like 2700ish and it was like 1300 for the other two…

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