Six Questions with Justin Cannady: Searcher for the Beale Treasure and Guest on Exhibition Unknown
You may recognize Justin Cannady from his appearance on Travel Channel’s Exhibition Unknown with Josh Gates. They were in search of the Beale Treasure in the episode Code to Gold.
Although the treasure wasn’t found during the show, Justin’s adventurous and daring spirit was easily recognized, and it was obvious that if anyone could find the Beale Treasure, it would be him!
I was so excited to get the chance to ask Justin the following Six Questions about his appearance on the show, and what he has been doing since.
Has he made any other discoveries concerning the Beale Treasure or others? Let’s find out! Enjoy!
Six Questions with Justin Cannady
- 1Q) In the Expedition Unknown episode it is mentioned you having in your possession an old Declaration of Independence which you feel is linked to the Beale Treasure. Where did you discover this copy of the Declaration and why do you feel it could share the location of where the Beale Treasure might be hidden today? How did Expedition Unknown learn about your theory?
My friend’s father purchased an old iron box in the 60’s at a flea market near Philadelphia. While hauling off scrap in the early 90s the box got tossed and hit a wood burning stove and broke. While investigating the broken box, there was a false bottom with a rolled up piece of paper inside it. The paper was rolled up and stuck thru the drawstring of a small leather bag with gold like dust on it. One of the drawstrings was keeping it rolled up and the other was tied around a handle, the kind that would be attached to a box of some kind. The handle had a hole thru the center with hieroglyphics on it. When we unrolled the paper from the drawstring we were shocked to find a Declaration Of Independence(DOI).
The DOI went on this vigorous authentication process and it proved to be real; an original Dunlap Broadside from 1776 signed by John Hancock, woven rag paper, iron gal ink, and was type set. The DOI was quite ragged on the edges, and it had lots of holes, handprints, and removed letters. While examining the edges and holes of the DOI under magnification it was noticed that some of the fibers were cut, and some stopping points crossed. It was clear, all of the ragged edges and holes had been purposely placed.
As I searched for an explanation, I started doing some research, and an online search revealed the Beale Treasure story. I have always been a what if kind of guy so I started to number the DOI. I was at my coffee table doing some counting and numbering, with the TV playing in the background when the movie commercial for National Treasure came on, “there is a map on the back of the Declaration of Independence”. What did he say? So I rewound it to make sure I wasn’t hearing things, yep he said it “there is a map on the declaration of independence” and just like that it dawned on me to look at the back for maps.
Excitedly I started gathering up cameras, blacklights, other gear I thought necessary for map discovery. When I applied the blacklight to the back of the DOI to look for maps I saw the initials T.J.B. and immediately knew I had a connection of T.J.B. from the letters from the beale pamphlet. For comparison purposes I got some maps of the Bedford Va. area and where the Beale treasure was supposedly buried and after a few looks, boom I got a match.
That’s a long story short. I have been in pursuit ever since. Expedition Unknown learned of my theories from a friend who also researches the Beale mystery
- 2Q) Also in the Expedition Unknown show, it shows you and Josh using the curious edge of the Declaration of Independence to locate the treasure. Have you tried using it in other ways than just lining it to mountain ridges? Like maybe the path of rivers, valleys, or other rock ledges? Do you think it could be used differently?
At first glance the edges on the declaration looks like ragged paper caused by just being old and/or worn. Under micro examination the edges were purposely altered, for example the stopping points crossed and the rag paper fibers cut. While compiling data for comparison purposes there were some old photos laying on the table and just so happened to be laying next to the “curious edges” of the DOI. I was shocked at how similar the terrain looked when in comparison to the DOI.
Here is where the other terrain data like rivers ,creeks, and hills come into the picture. Remember in the Beale story where it said, “the key I left in the hands of a friend” well there are these hand prints on the DOI. I took the newly found info I learned from the curious edges, and applied it to the hand prints. It was like OMG handprint topo maps, the thing as a whole being constructed beautifully and well thought out.
- 3Q) When did you first hear about the Beale Treasure? Are you confident the Beale Treasure is there to be found? And have you tried to solve the codes of the Beale Pamphlet with your copy of the Declaration?(is it different than the one published in the pamphlet)
I learned of the Beale mystery while looking for explanations to my own pile of mysteries. Yes, the treasure is there to be found. At first I made many comparisons and was constantly attacking the codes. The one thing I learned is that code number two which tells the contents of the Beale vault can almost be done with any declaration. Paper number one that tells the Exact location is the DOI-key that has the maps. Paper number three is with the treasure and the portions.
- 4Q) During your searches for the treasure, what would you say is the most interesting or promising find to date? Either on the Beale Treasure or other exciting items?
Let me first add that it is a pleasure to be part of something of this caliper. I have made so many discoveries in the past few years, but my favorite would have to be when I took my newly discovered DOI info and got a pinpoint on a map in Bedford Virginia. I traveled to the pinpointed area, accessed the property , and found exactly what was being conveyed. There were some very interesting carvings there as well.
- 5Q) Before getting involved in the hunt for the Beale Treasure had you researched any other hunts? Do you continue to work on the Beale hunt (and others)?
Ever since I can remember I had this natural ability to find things, it’s almost like things found me. I worked on several idea produced projects before becoming involved with the Beale mystery. To this day I continue working on other projects, but “The Beale Treasure” comes first.
6Q) Do you think you will ever quit looking or researching for Beale or ‘treasure hunting’ in general? What do you and your family enjoy doing when not out searching for real life treasure?
I will never stop looking. I will continue to search till the sum that I’m striving for is secured. I like to teach my daughter, a future treasure hunter, that there is magic in not giving up. The family and I enjoy going on exploration trips, making memories, and having fun doing it, YOLO …. Thanks
All so extremely fascinating, Justin! The Beale Treasure is such a mystery, and is one of the legendary lost treasures of America. Thanks for sharing with MW the back story you have to this all, and the incredible adventure you, with your family, are having.
It’s inspiring to hear about those chasing after dreams and going after treasures. I believe there are treasures, of all different types, that await for each of us to discover. We just must have the courage to search for them! They are there!
Best of luck to you on your continued pursuit for the Beale Treasure! Please keep us updated!
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