Sunday, January 2, 2011

History Channel airs hunt for Confederate treasure in Danville

Published: December 31, 2010

On Thursday night, “Brad Meltzer’s Decoded” examined possible clues but found no treasure in the “Confederate Gold” episode on the History Channel.

Christine McKinley and Buddy Levy of the Decoded team met up with author and treasure hunter Bob Brewer at Green Hill Cemetery in Danville to see if clues carved on tree trunks could lead to the legendary hidden Confederate treasure. The show filmed in September.

Legend has it that as Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his staff fled Richmond in 1865, a train carrying the Confederate treasury of about $500,000, including Confederate currency, gold coins, jewelry and Mexican silver dollars left Richmond and stopped in Danville. When the treasury was inventoried as the train moved south, about $200,000 worth was missing.

Brewer grew up in Arkansas where he noticed strange symbols in trees that the older men in his family seemed to be able to read. He suspects his family was connected to the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secret society that he said guards the hidden treasures of the Confederacy.

Brewer told the Decoded show the KGC still might still be guarding the treasure, leaving the team to wonder why. He said the symbols like an “H” and “8” on tree trunks in Green Hill Cemetery in Danville were also symbols used on the tree trunks near his family home.

Brewer spent years trying to interpret the symbols and said he eventually found $200,000 worth in gold and silver coins.

The Decoded team had a hard time understanding Brewer’s interpretation of the clues in Danville and wondered if they were wasting their time.

Brewer and his friend checked out the paths between clues with metal detectors and the show brought in ground-penetrating radar to scan the area near the Confederate Soldiers Monument.

Show host Brad Meltzer described Brewer as being not just on the “crazy train,” but also the “engineer,” but said that doesn’t mean Brewer’s wrong, especially given that he’s found treasure before. In the end, Meltzer respected Brewer for his quest not just for treasure but clues about his family.

Meltzer acknowledged if Brewer is finding new clues, “… that to me is real decoding.”

During the course of the one-hour show, the team also stopped with Brewer to check out a gravesite at Glascock farm in South Boston. The team also convened at Bogies to talk.

If you missed the show, it will air again at 8 p.m. Jan. 8 and at 9 p.m. Jan. 13.