Stone fuels rumors of Pirate Kidd’s buried treasure near Cape Henlopen

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In a scene straight out of “2001, A Space Odyssey,” workers at contractor WH Virden had excavated about five feet of sand for the foundations of the new marine hospital ward surgeon’s headquarters, when a ring Sharp metallic was heard as a shovel struck. against something hard.

“Humph! A worker exclaimed, “Here is part of an old wreck.” Further excavations revealed a large, smooth stone; and when the workers found the edges of the blue rock, it was a perfect rectangle, six feet long, two feet wide, and two feet thick.

According to the July 31, 1890 edition of the Delaware Gazette and State Journal, “In the meantime, other workers had gathered around this strange monolith to comment on it, some believing it to mark the grave with a long forgotten sailor.

Charles Beeker, director of university programs in diving and underwater science at Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, films a cannon and other shipwrecks allegedly from Captain Kidd's Quedagh Merchant, which sank in 1699. Photo courtesy of Indiana University

After the strange stone was freed from the sand and turned over, the newspaper reported: “On the underside the deeply engraved capital letter K. tradition appeared to the effect that this famous pirate buried his immense treasure of coins. ‘or… in the vicinity of Cape Henlopen. “

In June 1699, when the pirate, Captain William Kidd, entered Delaware Bay aboard the Saint Antonia, he had just completed a long voyage to the Indian Ocean; and his ship was filled with goods acquired by dubious means.

At anchor near Cape Henlopen, Kidd welcomed several Lewes residents aboard the Saint Antonio. Dazzled visitors reported that there were tons of treasures aboard the ship; and they bought some of the pirates’ booty.

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According to a report from the Maryland Archives, “Captain Kidd has come to this bay, he’s been here for ten days, he sends his boat ashore at Hore Kills (Lewes)… where he gets what he wants, and the people frequently board (his ship).

Another report in the Maryland Archives said: “While Captain Kidd was in this bay, he sent his boat ashore every day and was in supply, and these men were constantly getting on board and bringing in large quantities ashore. of East Indian goods. “

After his stay in Lewes, Kidd sailed for Boston, where he was arrested and charged with piracy. Taken to London, Kidd was tried, convicted and executed before explaining the whereabouts of the loot he had captured.

Fueled by reports from the people of Lewes who had been aboard Kidd’s ship, the tradition developed that Kidd had buried some of his treasure in the sands of Cape Henlopen.

Michael morgan

According to the Delaware Gazette and the State Journal, “The treasury has been variously estimated at between one and two million Spanish doubloons, each doubloon being a gold coin valued at $ 16. The fact that almost all of the port towns on the Atlantic coast have a similar tradition with regard to Kidd’s treasure has not seemed to detract in the least from the strength and blindness of the faith that locally rests in this. story.

The newspaper added: “So far nothing other than the stone has been found. No further excavations have been made in the area because the government owns the land and all that it contains.

According to the Delaware Gazette, “The conclusion of Mr. Virden’s reasoning is that he needs the treasure and Uncle Sam does not, but he secretly suspects that Uncle Sam will not view it that way. The case therefore stands, and the treasure is still buried – somewhere on the Atlantic coast. “

Main sources:

Delaware Gazette and State Journal, July 31, 1890.

Robert C. Ritchie, Captain Kidd and the War against the Pirates, New York: Barnes and Noble, 2006, pp. 176, 284.

Maryland Archives, Vol. 25, p 589, https://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc2900/sc2908/000001/000025/html/am25–589.html


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