The Chimney of Buford’s Tavern and Location of the Beale Treasure
The story of the lost treasure of Beale was revealed to the public in 1885 by way of a small pamphlet. This booklet described events leading up to the burying of gold, silver, and jewels around the 1820’s, and included circumstances for why it remained undiscovered at the time of the story’s printing. (more details on this here: Lost Treasure and the Beale Ciphers)
Today, the Beale Treasure remains undiscovered. Some believe the reason for this is because the story was all a hoax and there isn’t a treasure to find. Others struggle with that call. For if it was all a hoax, it is extremely sophisticated, and one which seems a bit too elaborate for it not to hold something of hidden value.
The tale cannot be proven to be either fully true or fully false; and so the prospect for unearthing a treasure, physical or other, endures.
James Ward published the work entitled; The Beale Papers, containing authentic statements regarding the treasure buried in 1819 and 1821, near Bufords, in Bedford County, Virginia, and which has never been recovered. In the Beale Papers, Ward says he was acting as an agent for a person who had given up hope for finding the Beale treasure. According to the story, this person, who wanted to stay anonymous, was given three coded papers to decipher. He worked for years trying to understand the codes in order to find the treasure.
Even though this unidentified person did have one success, he was unable to realize a final result. He was in hopes that by releasing all that he knew, by way of the pamphlet, someone else might further his quest and discover the treasure.
He shared how he decoded one the three encrypted Beale Papers by recognizing it as a ‘book code’. He demonstrated how he used the Declaration of Independence as a key for Beale Paper 2. The Declaration’s words were numbered, and the first letter of the word, matching each of the numbers in the coded Beale Paper, provided roughly the following message: (shown without mistakes. This Paper details the contents of the hidden buried treasure).
“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.”
The above message states Beale Paper 1 would direct a searcher to the exact location of a vault once decoded. Even though this Code has not been broken to date many searchers try to deduce the vault’s location by what small amount of information is gained in Beale Paper 2, letters, and story.
The decoded message of Paper 2 includes, ‘about 4 miles from Bufords’. Many take ‘Bufords’ to be the old Tavern, now along route 460. At the time, the Tavern was a popular meeting place and Beale could have referred to is as simply ‘Buford’s (since it was owned by Henry Buford). The chimney is all that remains of Buford’s Tavern. (Shown at top- 2015). This offers a search area to begin from.
Without precise instructions, however, the exact location of the hidden Beale treasure is a mystery.
When we visited the spot, we traveled numerous narrow, winding roads within the 4 mile area and scouted out a few locations (more later on this). But one thing that caught our attention was if we traveled from the ‘Chimney’(Buford’s) ‘about 4 miles’ on 460 (not exactly 4 miles) we were on the borderline of Bedford and Botetourt Counties, near a small church and graveyard. (picture of border signs in front of church lot)
This was interesting. It makes me wonder if the phrase ‘about 4 miles from Buford’s isn’t to be taken more generally and cryptically, as ‘borderline’. This changes the focal search area. For the decoded message could then be interpreted as, “I have deposited in the county of Bedford, along the borderline, in an excavation or vault…….”
It might seem questionable. But the message says the exact location will be given by solving Beale Paper 1, and so possibly Beale was being a bit cryptic when offering ‘4 miles from Bufords’ in Beale Paper 2. The treasure could actually be deposited along the border of Bedford County further than 4 miles away. A place like Hearkening Hill, Luna Mountain, or Thunder Hill. This interpretation widens the area of chief search and could be why the Beale Treasure has not been found. More soon!
Best of luck with whatever you seek! Please feel free to friend/follow me on facebook for continuing thoughts on Beale and other treasures.
Looking at the Peaks of Otter: