Context: J is 80 years old and grew up in Spearfish, SD. He told me about a local legend from the Black Hills, a region in South Dakota.
Text: “The Thoen Stone story was always a part of the local folklore in and around the Black Hills of SD, where I spent part of my youth. A sandstone rock with names of some deceased gold prospectors carved or scraped into the surface of the sandstone was supposedly found on a hill called Lookout Mountain. In addition to the names, a story of hidden gold was part of the message on the rock. It was carved by one of the prospectors named Ezra Kind who was hiding from Native Americans who were hunting for him and the gold, which he claimed he had hidden on Lookout Mountain or in the general area. This story created a “search for the gold” mentality with the kids in the area. When my brother and I were growing up, we, along with friends, would spend many summer days searching for the hidden gold while hiking or riding horses. BTW we never found it nor has anyone else!”
Analysis: This legend is a local legend of the area in which these people grew up. This legend like many others is a legend of gold to be found (similar to El Dorado). It’s interesting how most people probably know it’s just a legend since many have spent so much time and energy searching, but somehow the legend is still alive and the folklore persists. This is an example of childhood folklore that is exclusive to the Black Hills, as it is almost like a shared experience and a part of growing up in this region. The hope and possibility for gold remains.
“Supuestamente se dice que si alguien ve lumbre en cualquier lugar, es que hayi ay un tesoro Escondido. En Zacatecas hay muchos tesoros escondidos porque cuando empeso la revoluccion, la gente escondia sus tesoros para cuando vinieran los soldados no les quitaran nada. Entonces pues a mucha gente la mataron, o los hisieron que se movieran a fuersas, asi que todos esos tesoros se que daron ayi. Por eso dicen que si alguien ve lumbre, es que el espiritu del que le pertenecia el Tesoro te esta llamando para darte su Tesoro… estas historias se cuentan mucho en el rancho y supuestamente asi fue como mucha gente se fue hacienda rica. Dicen que un senor era bien pobre y de un de repente, mando hacer una casonona y puso mucho negocios y pues dicen que de donde agarro tanto dinero para hacer todo esto de repente, asi que se tubo que haber encontrado dinero.”
“Supposedly it is said that if one sees fire in any place, it means that there lies a hidden treasure. In Zacatecas there are many hidden treasures because when the revolution started, the people would hide their treasures so that when the soldiers came, they wouldn’t take their belongings from them. But then they killed off a lot of people or forced them to move out so all those treasures stayed behind. That’s why they say that if one sees fire, it means that the spirit of the owner’s treasure is calling you to give you his treasure… these stories were told back in the ranch and supposedly, this is how many people stared becoming rich. They say that there was a very poor man and out of the nowhere he had a huge house made and also had a lot of businesses so they then say that where did he get all that money to make all that happen in so little time, he therefore had to have found some money.
The informant is a 61 year old man who was brought up and lived in mexico until the age of 26. He then migrated to the US and has lived there since. He never attended school, so most of his education came from knowledge others around him bestowed upon him. He also relies on many first hand experiences to account for the things he believes in. therefore, most of the stories he knows have been directly informed by himself.
This story is interesting because it is in a sense giving people hope in regards to somehow coming up on some money. It is also even more interesting to have found out that the story of lost treasures is very common to the village which lets one infer that the people living in the village tend to know the same stories as one another which means that essentially, what one in the village knows, everyone does. This then means that this society relies on learning from one another rather than by institutions. Regardless, this legend is really cool, because it gives one motivation to begin the haunt for a treasure that is somewhere hidden around the village.