Friday, September 27, 2013

Buried Treasure in Beauregard - Opelika, Alabama

The plantations and family homes of Lee County’s first settlements are mostly forgotten by today’s standards of local history. Family stories and legacies die hard in the rural south and verbal traditions of storytelling are sadly dwindling away with every generation. However, one legend from Opelika’s sleepy Beauregard community is almost completely unknown. A very old story; written by Rev. Cherry during the first fifty years of recorded history in Lee County, Alabama.

Near the Watula Creek, close to the old Watoola church, in Opelika, Alabama, there is a dense forest covering many acres of land. All private property today, the land was once the burial grounds of Creek Indians who lived in the area. Most notably, Paddy Carr, a half Creek - half Irish native who lived near Fort Mitchell during his adult hood. Carr’s history is a bit of a mystery since his father allegedly returned to Ireland just after his birth in 1807, leaving his Creek mother to care for him and his siblings. He later deferred the European traditions of Christianity and took three wives of his own. The Creek tribe, his mother hailed from, was from the Watooa area (which is today Watoola). The settlement was located near the Watula creek and the burial mounds of Paddy Carr’s ancestors were buried throughout the location.
Paddy-Car Half Creek Indian and Irish interrupter 

Somewhere, within the vicinity of the settlement and the burial mounds, there was a small hill where the chieftains were buried. Within the burials were clay pots, made by the natives, filled with silver. The silver coins were given to the town’s chiefs as partial payment for land by the American government. Of course the Native American’s had no use for American currency and instead of trading it, they buried it to avoid it be stolen by rival tribes or other white settlers.

After 1836, the location was known as “Dog Scratch Hill”. Once settlers and pioneer people became aware of the rumored buried treasure, despite the Indian curses associate with burial sites, they flocked to the mounds to unearth the clay pots in search of silver coins. Paddy Carr’s Creek grandfathers were buried on the hill, and he was particularly upset to find that the “grave of his fathers” had been disturbed, and more importantly that the deposits of silver were also missing. It was noted that certain parties, living within the areas were met with a sudden stroke of good fortune and that no one reported the removal of any Native antiquities in the area. The clay remains of the pots were reported to be visible up until 1846, but no record or indication as to where they are or were located outside of that report has ever been documented.

The last written testimony to the treasure was listed by Rev. Francis Lafayette Cherry in The History of Lee County.

“ I have referred to the above only from the fact that it is believed by some that there are still large deposits of coin hidden by the Indians in that locality, which have never been reclaimed by the depositors, and consequently the “place of their sepulture in unknown to this day.” Some lucky farmer boy may run his plowpoint into one of those long hidden Indian treasure pots when these old “clay-roots” and hollow stumps have disappeared and “left no sign”. “

Rev. Cherry lived with the Creek tribes of Lee and Russell County for more than a decade and recorded their history. Verbal traditions and ancestry were spread through generations but most of America’s Native American history is lost because it wasn’t recorded. Paddy-Carr (Patrick Carr) lived well into age and was very influential as a translator and interrupter for the Creek tribes and European settlers. As for the buried silver near the Watoola creek, one could only guess today where the treasure could be found, or if it was ever there at all. Still the story stands as part of a legend in Lee County and more importantly, one that was written down and documented by historians.

Maps and demographics of Creek territories in Alabama vary but tell little of the minor settlements that were established throughout the rural south, before removal of Native Americans in 1836

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