Tag Archives: treasure

The Bull that Leads to Gold

Informant: The informant is a very good friend of mine. She and I met in my sophomore year of high school. She is currently an undergraduate at Cal State Dominguez Hills. The following transcript is a retelling of a ghost story that she heard from her mom and that has been passed down by the family. 

Context: This story took place in Jalisco, Mexico, around the late 1980s. It was an experience and encounter that the informant’s mom had. My informant states that this story is a little hard to believe yet based on how there is evidence of such occurrence, she has now been obligated to believe it. The informant states that the reason why she believes this ghost bull might have appeared in front of her mom was because children are innocent, and unselfish.

Story: This is another story from my mom that took place in Mexico when she was a kid. She was at home with her younger brother, just playing and her mom was out. They saw this full-sized bull that ran from one wall and ran to another wall straight through it and disappeared. The bull looked dark gray and a little bit of dark gray. A regular bull-like light reflects off of it. She and her brother were scared out of their minds, and they ran out of their house. They went looking for their mom and ran around the small town and told a few people about what they saw. No one believed them. Present-day today, that house has been torn down and the wall where the bull had appeared from years ago was found out to contain a lot of gold.” 

Analysis: I find this ghost bull, a little hard to believe myself. It might be because I haven’t seen this wall of gold which my informant says to exists or because the individuals who experienced this where children. However, I think it’s important to note that children do not lie. Well at least, in Mexican culture, children as taught to not lie. Therefore, when my informant stated that the townspeople did not believe her mom demonstrates just how much children are not relied upon. If whoever at that time had listened to the informant’s mom, then they could have gotten away with so much gold/riches. I think it is important to have faith and trust children a little more. Although, a child might have a crazy imagination, children do not make up stories to scare themselves.

The Legend of Captain Kidd’s Treasure – New England Legend

Description of Informant

NM (49) is a Massachusetts native living in California. He commits to a regular exercise routine and owns/operates a metal decking supply firm. NM enjoys strategy games, world news/current events, and participates in a weekly chess match with friends. From 1970-1980 (his birth through elementary school), NM lived at 118 Andover Street, Wilmington, MA (the address is significant given the legend). Wilmington was a bit further inland, about 20 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean.

— 

Context of Interview

The informant, NM, is met in his garden by the collector, BK, his nephew. They speak poolside.

Interview

NM: Ah, there was a pirate legend when we lived in Wilmington. In the back of that house, there was a huge rock wall, and a cave at the bottom of it, and, uhh… the legend… and we would have people come and knock on our door, in Wilmington, to take their little metal detectors and walk around the backyard. Because the legend was that Bluebeard or Blackbeard or some old pirate was seen coming down the street with a chest and a couple slaves. And then he left that street with just the cart. With no slave, and no chest. So the legend was that he buried his treasure, killed the slaves to protect it, buried them with it, and that there’s treasure somewhere in that backyard. And the cave is called Devil’s Den. So we would have people looking for that treasure in our backyard every once in a while with their metal detectors. But obviously *laughing* none was ever found!

BK: Was there a ghost story associated with this legend?

NM: No. Just that story. That the slaves were killed to protect it. But yeah, we were never, as kids, nervous about being back there. I climbed pretty far into that cave but it had a dead-end. There was no treasure down at the bottom of it. It was just a dead-end, and extremely claustrophobic. You start getting really nervous when you’re surrounded by that much stone.

I wouldn’t be surprised— I’ve got to ask my mom if I’ve got the pirate’s name right… I think it was like Blackbeard or Bluebeard.

BK: Was your house in Wilmington close to the sea?

NM: *thinking* No! Yeah, what the heck was he [the pirate] doing in that area? Yeah like I said, we were a good 15-minute bike ride, 20-minute, hmm, maybe 15-minute car ride. So I don’t know what he would be doing that deep into, uh, suburban. Yeah, that raises a flag on that legend. Why he would go that far into suburbia to bury his treasure.

BK: When you say this was in your backyard… could you give me some sense of scale?

NM: That property was like an acre-and-a-half, I guess, and I think our property line probably ended above this rock wall. Y’know it was an old, 1800s type of house. Sort of victorian. Mainly people would go from just, near the cave, and wander within a 50 meters circle. Wandering around to see what they could— the trouble was there was a lot of magnetic rock in the area so *laughing* they got a lot of false… probably made them give up pretty quickly when they realized how much magnetic rock was around there and not finding anything worthwhile.

NM: If you were looking out the backdoor or the back window, you could’ve easily seen everything. It was probably about 100-feet from the backdoor to the face of the rock wall. And you could see the cave and… uhh… everything was pretty open.

BK: Would people ever come dig up your yard? Would your mom get upset about it?

NM: I don’t remember anybody doing any digging. I feel like they— they’re thing would go off. They might go a few inches deep and realize it was a rock. I’d have to ask them [my parents] if anybody ever got really serious about digging a hole. But I don’t remember ever going back there and seeing a big hole that somebody dug. I mean, by the time you were really looking where they were looking, it was woodsy. It wasn’t like our lawn. So, maybe they didn’t care, and maybe that’s why we didn’t know. Maybe they were digging holes, filling them in, covering them with leaves, and we just didn’t know.

BK: If you could figure out who the pirate was, that would be really helpful.

NM: I’ll ask them. I don’t know why I think they had a beard in it… but I’ll ask my mom.

Collector’s Reflection

It seems the pirate did not have “a beard in it” after all; Captain William Kidd is the legendary swashbuckler said to have hidden his treasure in Wilmington’s Devil’s Den cave. According to local legend, Kidd would frequent Harden Tavern. Today, the tavern is a preserved, victorian style home. NM’s mother used to volunteer there as a guide for tourists, and he has visited several times. Given Kidd’s seeming regular presence in the town, the idea of him burying his treasure there does not seem so far-fetched.

Contrary to NM, versions of this legend do account for a ghostly aspect. It is said that the slave Kidd murdered remained there in spirit; his ghost would move the treasure should anyone try to find it. 

I find the legend dubious, as (1) the supposed treasure has yet to be found, (2) I find it dubious that such an infamous seafarer would move his treasure so far inland, and (3) the original legend is based on an eyewitness account from children, who claimed to have seen Kidd’s oxcart move down the lane. Regardless, it’s a fun tale and an exciting piece of Wilmington, MA culture.

For another account of Captain Kidd’s legend, please see:

Neilson, Larz F. “Buried Treasure in Wilmington?: A Look Back at Wilmington of Yesteryear….” Wilmington Town Crier, 22 Dec. 2008. 

LINK: http://homenewshere.com/wilmington_town_crier/article_a807bfb2-2228-5cc0-b2de-647c2e04f97d.html 

Legend of Lost Gold in Mexican Cave

Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and fellow business major.  He is a junior at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  His family is from Mexico but he has lived in Southern California for nearly all of his life.

 

Context: I was talking to Fabian about Mexican stories and folklore.  He originally learned this story at age 13 from his mother when he went hiking in mountains in which the specific cave is supposed to be located.  His uncle had previously gone exploring and looking for the gold in this area.  The tale is well known in the informant’s state of Michocoan.

 

Item: “So there’s this famous bandit, and, um, he like stole a lot of gold, but the thing is, he disappeared all of a sudden along with all his gold.  They never found his body or his gold.  People think that he buried it in some tunnels in the mountains.  The legend around the gold is that you can only find it if you are looking for it by unselfish means.  People who have been looking to get rich have never found the gold, but, people who have explored the cave for fun have randomly stumbled upon gold coins.  And then at night, sometimes you will the bandit’s spirit running on his horse”.

 

Informant Analysis: Ghost riders are an extremely common phenomena in Mexican legends and tales.  Unlike in the U.S. where ghosts and dead spirits are seen to be creepy, dead spirits are common in Mexican tales.

 

Analysis: Many Mexican tales seem to have an emphasis on intentions and values.  The bit about only the unselfish/non-evil searchers being able to find the gold out of virtue seems to be a common thread in other cultures across the world.  Mexicans are highly religious in general and also place great importance on familial duty, honest work, and honor.  If you perform honest work then no one criticizes you while you can be ostracized for doing dis-honorable, illegal or morally question deeds.  This tale seems to celebrate the fact that if you have good intentions and live purely, that you will indeed sew good luck and receive benefits in the end.

Persian Tale- Man of Baghdad

This is a tale my informant heard from her mom, who is Persian. The story goes that a man living in Baghdad was very poor and so asked God to help him. That night, he dreamt of treasure that was at a certain place in Egypt. When he arrived, though, he was arrested because the police thought he was a thief for some reason. They beat him nearly to death. Later, when the police chief asked him why he’d come there, he said he dreamt that he’d find treasure if he did. The man just told him that he was a fool then. He continued that he’d often dreamt of finding treasure in a certain place in Baghdad but never pursued it because it was just a dream. It turned out that the spot the man had described in Baghdad was actually the house of the first guy. So, he returned home and found the treasure there.

My informant likes this story because of the reversal of fortune, which is unexpected but satisfying because as an audience, we want to see the man succeed after he is brought so low by the world. She also likes it because it emphasizes hope and trusting the universe to give you what you need. The man follows his dream and eventually succeeds, even though the police chief calls him foolish for this. Maybe sometimes you need to be foolish to just do what you think is right or what you think will get you what you want, though.

The tale speaks to a lot of different themes. For one, that we will generally get what we need in life, but it won’t simply be given to us. The man asks God for treasure, but he has to travel to Egypt to find out it was under his own house the whole time. He had to undergo a journey, as well as suffering (being beaten) to get the reward. The story also seems to say that dreams are meaningful. While we might not really believe this, it seems very human to want to, so this story serves as wish fulfillment in that way. The police chief gives the realist view that trusting dreams is foolish, but it pays off for the main character because we like the idea that a dream can guide us to something good.