Saturday, July 24, 2010

Coin Collecting and Confederate Gold

Coin Collecting and Confederate Gold
23 Jul, 2010

Jason Whitney, the President of First Fidelity Reserve finds the hobby of coin collecting uniquely interwoven into the history of America. Beaumont Texas the home of First Fidelity Reserve is steeped in exciting history dating back before the Civil War. Texas was in fact one of the last state to declare it’s secession before Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861.

About four years later when General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox in, 1865, the War Between the States officially ended and Texas once again became a part of the union. During those war years many stories were told of hidden treasures of gold and silver coins buried by military and government entities.

In one of them…a secret, subversive Confederate group, the Knights of the Golden Circle, hid fortunes in ill-gotten Confederate gold to finance a second Civil War. Cryptic clues are said to lead to coin caches.

Sounds similar to the Walt Disney’s National Treasure Book of Secrets movie theme, a sequel to the 2004 hit? Nicholas Cage stars as Ben Gates, a treasure hunter in hot pursuit of a mythical treasure through a series of clues passed down for centuries? Thought a lunatic, Gates perseveres and discovers the greatest cache of treasure of all time, Cibola, the Seven Cities of Gold.

Truth is often stranger that fiction. Bob Brewer is a modern day Ben Gates and actually served as a consultant on the Disney film. Brewer, a native of Hatfield, Arkansas, traces his passion for hidden Confederate gold to a cryptic reference by his great uncle, W.D. “Grandpa” Ashcraft 58 years ago. The old man had pointed to an old beech tree etched with carvings when they were deep in the woods near Brushy Creek. “Boy, you see that tree? That’s a treasure tree. You see that writing? If you can figure out what it is, you’ll find some gold.”

The old man said no more, but his words stuck with Brewer throughout childhood and two tours of duty in Vietnam as a Navy helicopter crewman. So did memories of Ashcraft’s frequent, unexplained rides into the nearby Ouachita Mountains.

Retiring from the Navy in 1977, Brewer took up an illusive quest…for buried treasure and his family’s links to the mysterious Knights of the Golden Circle. Many years of research placed Brewer among a growing following who believe the group buried millions in gold across a dozen states, to finance a second Civil War that never came to be. And Brew believes Grandpa Ashcraft and his son Odis were somehow involved with it.

In Brewer’s Ben Gates journey, he has unearthed about $200,000 worth of gold and silver coins, proving he’s not some old coot with a metal detector. For those numismatist and history buffs who like these types of stories Whitney of First Fidelity Reserve recommends that you read Shadow of the Sentinel: One Man’s Quest to Find the Hidden treasure of the Confederacy, which Brewer co-authored in 2003 with Warren Getler, a former Wall Street Journal reporter. Reissued in paperback as “Rebel Gold,” the book gives new information of the hidden history of the KGC and details Brewer’s research into his family connections and his work in cracking the KGC hidden code.

Many KGC symbols are recurring: snakes, turtles, crescent moons, crosses, numbers and letters with odd flourishes. Brewer believes they may be cryptic indicators of distance and direction, all clues to buried treasure.

He is now working in Oklahoma, after a “big, big one,” big enough to validate his 30-year search. The Oklahoma cache was reportedly two million dollars when it was buried with today worth about 80 times that face value. “Coins steeped in this type of exciting history virtually addicts us who love collecting these beautiful, fascinating links to our historical roots,” states, Jason Whitney, First Fidelity Reserve’s president.