Laverne Johnson Theory

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Laverne Johnson (Possibly W.L. Johnson)
Born(1914-09-09)September 9, 1914 *Not validated
DiedDecember 1, 1999(1999-12-01) (aged 85) *Not validated
Vancouver BC *Not Verified
Notable work
Revealed, the secret of Oak Island
Revealed, the Secret of Oak Island
SecretOfOakIsland Book.jpg
AuthorLaverne Johnson
Published in English

Most of the details of Laverne's Theories can be found at Excerpts are included below.


Summary of Theory[edit]


Finding the Treasure[edit]

Stone Triangle[edit]


The Stone triangle was first mentioned in 1897 when Captain Welling pointed it out to Fred Blair. Mr. Blair had come upon the drilled stone north of the Money pit in 1895. The drilled stone near Smith’s Cove was discovered by Mr. Hedden while he was trying to connect Oak Island with the treasure map in Wilkins' book. R.V. Harris, in his book The Oak Island Mystery described the triangle as follows:

The most interesting discovery made by Mr. Hedden in this period was the mysterious triangle in the grass just above 'high-water'mark on the south shore of the Island, which had been previously discovered by Captain Welling and Fred Blair in 1897. This triangle was equilateral, each side measuring ten feet and was composed of large round beach stones; from a point on the 'base line', four feet from the west end of the line and six feet from the east 'end,'ran a medial line, composed of beach stones connecting the point with the apex, and pointing directly to True North or the Pole Star, thus eliminating the variations of the magnetic compass. There was also a curved line about three feet below the base and connecting both ends, the pointer line being extended southerly to meet the curved line, making the whole design resemble a giant sextant. This triangle undoubtedly has some significance as the vertical line, or pointer, passes through the Money pit 210 feet away to the north.


Actually, taken from the Rope Survey the distance from the triangle to the Money Pit is approximately three hundred feet rather than two hundred feet, but obviously Mr. Harris had been given the two hundred and ten foot value by someone who was still trying to equate Oak Island with the treasure map in Wilkins' book. The westerly drilled stone lay approximately fifty feet north of the Money Pit, but of course when the Roper Survey was made nobody knew precisely where the original shaft lay. It was agreed that the two drilled stones and the triangle must have lain in their existing positions for a very long time, and were no doubt connected in some way with the original depositors. Until 1959 nobody seemed to connect the marks to each other. It was impossible for them to have anything to do with telling anybody how to go about recovering anything from far down in the flooded depths, so they were either ignored or treated as an unsolved mystery. Some people have suggested that the big triangle was laid down to point the way to the deep filled-in shaft when the depositor returned, but at any time since the deposit was made it was easier to find the site of the shaft than the location of the triangle, or it would have been easier if the parade of searchers had not devastated the area where the shaft had been. If some of the searchers had given more consideration to the large triangle and the drilled stone True North of the Money Pit area after the marks were first reported in 1895 and 1897 they could have come to some very interesting conclusions. They would have learned that a line running true North from the triangle apex ran through the Money Pit area and right through the drilled stone. If they had paused to consider that the triangle and the drilled stone were probably part of a code left by the depositor, they should have realized that since the depositor placed the triangle and drilled stone on a True North South line it was very probable that he placed the drilled stone True North of his shaft, and the triangle True South of it. With that knowledge they would have understood that the lost original shaft had lain along that line, and they would have had a better chance of finding it again. We have to remember that the depositor was operating in a remote area on an uninhabited Island. There were no settlers living around the shores of Mahone Bay or on the islands in the bay, and he had no reason to believe that settlers might come into the area before he could manage to return and recover his deposit. Therefore he would see no necessity for setting up some kind of intricate code to confuse somebody. Whatever he did on the Island was done to serve his own purposes. It is true enough that he did drive the long flooding tunnel out to Smith’s Cove, but he did it to seal off his deep workings, not to confuse somebody who might be so shortsighted as to think that what was buried was buried down in the flooded depths. Likewise he did not place his code marks to confuse some searcher who might come along. He placed them to direct him to the exact spot where he would dig and recover the deposit. He must have considered his deposit worth all the work he went to, but he also knew how safely he had buried it, and he made his code as simple as he could with as little room for error as possible.

The Depositor[edit]

The depositor never intended to leave his treasure below tide level, and it would never have occurred to him that if some chance searcher did come along he would assume anything as ridiculous as a suspicion that the treasure lay in the flooded depths. The depositor did all that work to flood the depths simply to prevent any chance searcher from getting down into the depths and finding the beginning of the treasure tunnel running up into the high ground. At some time prior to 1749 when settlers began to appear around Mahone Bay, a ship or ships, no longer sufficiently seaworthy to chance the Atlantic crossing, made their way into Mahone Bay and up to what became known as Oak Island. They carried cargo considered by them to be of great value, and it was deemed necessary to leave that cargo safely hidden on the Island until they could return for it in a seaworthy ship. Among those men was at least one man with the experience and ability to devise a suitable concealment for that valuable cargo. He may have been a relatively simple man, but he knew how to get things done. He used the simplest plan he could devise that would give him absolute assurance that recovery of the deposit would be a relatively simple matter, but which would certainly foil any treasure hunters. Treasure hunters since 1795 have learned how successful his plan was.

Hiding the Treasure[edit]

Building the Money Pit[edit]

The first part of his plan called for the digging of a deep shaft in which he would not encounter water. Perhaps he just used trial and error, but however the depositor managed it, he did dig a deep shaft without encountering water. Some people find it hard to believe that such a crew could dig such a deep shaft, something more than one hundred feet, but as a boy in Saskatchewan I remember one well, hand dug, that was one hundred and fifteen feet deep. I remember it because I recall hearing grown men talking about it and saying that when you stood at the bottom of it and looked up you could only see a crescent of light like a new moon because there was a bend in the shaft. That well was hand dug by early settlers, and they could not have been very experienced or they would have managed to keep their excavation straight as they went down. The significant thing about it is that they did manage to dig the well. Through the ages men have sunk vertical shafts and driven horizontal or inclined tunnels almost at will. The biggest problem they encountered was water that they could not control. With no power driven pumps only a limited amount of water could be coped with.

The workers at Oak Island sank the deep vertical shaft and drove the two inclined tunnels through hard dry clay, and because they did not encounter water until they were prepared for it at Smith’s Cove it was simply a labour intensive but routine undertaking. Much has been made about the engineering expertise necessary to construct the flooding system to seal off the depths of the Money Pit, and there has been a good deal of conjecture regarding the purpose of the Cave-in-Pit, into which Mrs. Sellers' ox fell in 1878, and which was a necessary part of that system.

Treasure Shaft[edit]

The system was not complicated, but was just part of the mastermind’s simple overall plan. Perhaps to understand what did happen at Oak Island we should go back to the beginning. As the deep shaft was being dug ladders would be used to enter and leave the shaft. Partial platforms were set into the sides of the shaft at intervals to support those ladders. The shaft was put down to something over one hundred feet, and from the bottom of the shaft the treasure tunnel was driven up into the high ground, where the deposit was made.


Flood Tunnels[edit]

From a level slightly above the treasure tunnel the flooding tunnel would have entered the shaft. According to R.V. Harris, "On June 9,1897 the workmen at a depth of one hundred and eleven feet, found a well-defined opening on the side of the Pit two and a half feet wide, filled with beach stones, gravel and sand, the sand being on top. Through this opening the sea water flowed into the Pit with great force and pressure, undoubtedly the long sought water tunnel leading from the shore to the Money Pit." So many shafts had been dug in the immediate area, and so many tunnels had been driven in the same general area that we do not know if the pit mentioned was actually the site of the original shaft, or if the tunnel was actually the flooding tunnel, or whether it was one of the other tunnels into which the flooding tunnel had broken.


It does not matter, but it does indicate that the flooding tunnel very likely entered the original shaft at approximately that level, and therefore that the treasure tunnel would have left the shaft a short distance lower down. From the beginning the depositor intended to refill his deep shaft the way it was found in 1795 and l804. It was refilled with those platforms every ten feet in order to distribute the great weight of the fill so that it would not settle and plug off the exit of the flooding tunnel. He also intended to flood the depths, so he obviously had to have at least part of the flooding tunnel completed before he filled in the shaft. While the deep shaft and the treasure tunnel were being dug he set a crew to digging a second shaft about three hundred and fifty feet from the deep shaft, and along the line of the projected flooding tunnel. It was taken down to the depth below the surface at which the flooding tunnel would pass on its way from the shaft to the shore.

The second shaft would stand to the side of where the flooding tunnel would pass, so that it could be refilled without blocking off the flooding tunnel. A tunnel was begun from the second shaft toward the deep shaft or Money Pit, and when the Money Pit and the treasure tunnel had been excavated men could begin tunnelling toward the shore to meet those coming from the second shaft. When that phase of the work was completed the Money Pit was refilled as it was found in 1795 and 1804. It had been a labourious but simple operation, done without any chance of premature flooding which could ruin the entire undertaking, and without danger of trapping workers down in the depths. With the first phase completed the workers could begin safely driving the flooding tunnel out toward Smith’s Cove. As the tunnel approached the shore it came nearer to the surface, and at some point it was considered advisable to come up to tide level and then finish as an open cut.

Box Drains[edit]

I digress here to give a brief description of the large filter which supplied the water to the flooding tunnel. When the searchers first examined the beach they found that the beach stones and surface material had been stripped away from a large area between high and low tide. They found five branches or drains there converging to form one larger drain. The Halifax Colonist of January 2, 1864 reports, In investigating the drains, they found that they connected with one of larger dimensions, the stones forming which had been prepared with a hammer, and were mechanically laid in such a way that the drain could not collapse. There was a number of tiers of stones strengthening the higher part of the drain, on top of which was also found a coating of the same kind of grass as that already noticed.

Over it came a layer of blue sand such as before had not been seen on the Island, and over which was spread the gravel indigenous to the coast. Having laid bare the large drain for a short distance into the bank, they found it had been so well made and protected that no earth had sifted through the arch to obstruct the water passing through it. They then attempted to follow the inward direction of the drain, in search of a perpendicular shaft but on account of the surrounding soil being so soft, and so much saturated with water, it was given up as impracticable. In his Oak Island books, R.V. Harris tells us that the five branch drains were boxed in with flat rocks making the drains about eight inches wide. They were probably not more than ten inches high. It is of interest to note that five drains, each eight by ten inches would only supply a main drain twenty by twenty inches.

The flooding tunnel coming up from the Money Pit had to be large enough for men to work in, but once they broke out into that open cut they could finish off with that boxed in drain of relatively limited size. There was no need for the lower part of the large boxed in drain to be below low tide level, and there would be little problem of having to work in, or hold back the water while working. With the flooding tunnel brought out to the beach and finished off as the large boxed in drain, nothing remained to be done but to construct the large filter. With the rest of the work completed, all the men were available to take part in this final phase.

One can picture a long line of men standing at the high tide mark, almost shoulder to shoulder. As the tide ebbs they stay close behind it, passing as much material as possible back up above high tide level. Then as the tide comes in they work just ahead of it, still passing material back up the beach. Working in this manner, it would take surprisingly few tides to complete the filter as the searchers found it in 1849, and there would have been no necesssity for anybody to become very wet. It should be easy to realize how simple and straight forward the entire project at Oak Island really was. It was not a fantastic engineering enterprise, and surely we can be confident that the man who engineered those works would be quite capable of working out a system just as straight forward in order to recover his deposit.

The Treasure Vault[edit]

The depositor, being the kind of man who could carry out all the Oak Island works, was simply too clever to ever consider storing his deposit far down in the flooded depths from which he would have no chance of ever retrieving it. He must have tunnelled back up into the high ground above tide level to conceal it there. As I studied the available reports in the 1950s, it becomes obvious that the marks pinpointed by the surveyor Roper, the triangle and the drilled stones, must in some way have something to do with telling where, in the high ground, the treasure must still be lying safe and undisturbed. It all seems very simple and straightforward now, but at that moment I had no way of knowing what the marks meant, or whether other essential marks had been destroyed since 1795. Harris' book stated that the vertical line or pointer of the triangle passed through the Money Pit, but it had already stated that the precise location of the original shaft had been lost. I needed a copy of the Roper Survey, and when I asked for it, M.R. Chappell very kindly sent me a photocopy of it. I soon realized that a line running true north from the apex of the triangle passed through the southern portion of the 1937 Hedden shaft and through the drilled stone north of the Money Pit area. It would be logical to assume that the original shaft also lay along that line, but I had no way of knowing where, along the line, it had lain. In time I realized that although the vertical line or pointer of the triangle pointed to the Money Pit and the drilled stone, the triangle itself was cocked in such a way that the whole triangle pointed about six and a half degrees west of true north. It was impossible to calculate the angle precisely because the triangle was simply a rough outline of irregular stones, but it did seem very likely that the triangle pointed up into the high ground toward the location of the buried deposit.

Assuming that the triangle did produce a line running up into the high ground to the treasure site, there would have to be something to tell the precise bearing of that line, and also just how far along that line the treasure site lay. It seemed very possible that there were marks missing, but I could only continue to pore over the puzzle. Eventually I felt that the best way to define some point along the line from the triangle would be for the depositor to produce a second line, which would intersect the first line at the significant spot. Gradually a code was beginning to appear in which the depositor used no linear measurements, only compass bearings. Such a code would certainly eliminate the possibility of somebody making an error in measuring the length of the necessary lines.

If the developing code used only degrees or angles it seemed possible that the depositor would have driven his tunnel up into the high ground on a magnetic north bearing, and that one of the intersecting lines would follow that same bearing from the deep shaft to the intersection with the line from the triangle. It was an intriguing concept, but I did not know where along the true north/south line the original shaft had been located, and I did not know what magnetic north may have been at Oak Island when the deposit was made. Because settlers were moving into the Mahone Bay area by 1750, and because the native red oaks have a life span of about two hundred and fifty years, it seemed reasonable to assume that the deposit was made between the early 1600s and 1750. Enquiry from the Department of Energy Mines and Resources in Ottawa indicated that the magnetic declination of the compass for those years was probably between 12 degrees, 24 minutes and 15 degrees, with a reliability factor of up to plus or minus 5 degrees. In other words I could not tell within several degrees what magnetic north at Oak Island was for the time of deposit. Things were coming together, but it looked as though I had reached an impasse. I still had nothing that would give me any precision. It began to look as though the depositor used magnetic north in making his concealment, but he may or may not have used it when he returned for his treasure. I needed some value that would give me the bearing for the precise direction of the treasure tunnel, but I also needed something to tell me where, along the true north/south line the original shaft had been.

What I had learned so far had taken months, and I still lacked vital information that would make the code complete, but I had no way of knowing where to look for it or if it still existed on the Island. I had never given much thought to the second drilled stone which lay far easterly toward Smith’s Cove, and which Roper had pinpointed in 1937. I realized that that stone must be a significant part of the code and might provide the information I needed so vitally. Perhaps the line between that stone and the other one ran at a significant bearing that in some way set up a very precise datum line which brought everything into place. I knew the line did not run true east/west, but I also knew that it was not far off it. Could it be that it lay half way between true east/west and magnetic east/west at the time of deposit? The more I thought about the actions of the depositor the more painstaking and precise he appeared to have been, and if he did in fact make the line between the two drilled stones a datum line half way between true and magnetic, it would definitely make the code more simple, and because the two stones were so far apart it was extremely unlikely that they would ever be recognized as part of a code.

Breaking the Code[edit]

Finally I felt I could understand the principle of the code. The depositor drove his treasure tunnel toward the north on a magnetic north bearing, and although he did not leave any mark on the surface to indicate where his treasure was buried at the upper end of the tunnel he did know how far away from the Money Pit it lay. When the time came to set up his code he began by running a line easterly from the Money Pit at a right angle to the direction of the treasure tunnel. He ran that line more than four hundred feet, and there he set what we call the easterly drilled stone. From that drilled stone he ran a second line back westerly on a bearing half way between the first line and a true east/west line. At the point where the line came true north of the Money Pit he set the westerly drilled stone. Then he extended that line on westward to a point where a line running northward from it at a right angle would intersect the line from the Money Pit at the point beneath which the treasure lay.

To make his code less conspicuous he did not set a mark at the right angle, but instead he ran a line southward at a right angle to the extended line between the drilled stones. One could say that he extended the line from the intersection southward through the second right angle and on down to a point where it came true south of the Money Pit, and there he set the apex stone for the large stone triangle which he constructed, and which has puzzled so many people for so long. His entire code consisted of the mark in the layer of flagstones at the Money Pit, the triangle, and the two drilled stones. Nothing could make it more complete. Measured on the Roper survey, a line from the easterly drilled stone through the westerly drilled stone runs seven degrees south of true west. A line seven degrees south of the line between the two drilled stones would run fourteen degrees south of true west, and that would approximate very closely magnetic west for the time of deposit. It is noteworthy that that line, fourteen degrees south of true west, would cross the true north line in the southern part of the 1937 Hedden shaft. Because the line between the two drilled stones ran seven degrees south of true west, the triangle must point seven degrees west of true north, and those lines must meet at a right angle. It would appear that the depositor based his code on a magnetic north fourteen degrees west of true north, but it is also possible, though not probable, that he just chose fourteen degrees as an arbitrary figure or value.

The code would apply just as well in either case. The first searchers in 1795 reported coming upon the layer of flagstones just below the surface of the shaft. If the depositor had been able to return for his deposit he would not have had to concern himself with true north or magnetic north. He would have begun his retrieval operation by uncovering the layer of flagstones, and locating the drilled stones and the big triangle. We cannot prove that there was some kind of mark or pattern on those flagstones, but that is the only reason they would have been brought there and set in the top of the shaft. He would have run a line from the easterly drilled stone to the mark on the layer of flagstones. From that mark he would run a line northerly at a right angle to the first line. That would re-establish the line of the treasure tunnel. Then he would run a line between the two drilled stones, and he would extend it on westerly to a point where a line running southerly from it at a right angle to it would cross the apex of the triangle. All that remained to be done was to run the line northerly from the triangle, through the point where it formed the second right angle, and carry it on until it intersected the line coming up from the layer of flagstones at the shaft. That would put him directly above the spot where his treasure lay, high and dry and safe above any flooding waters. There is no evidence that the depositor ever returned to retrieve his deposit. If he had come back the remains of his recovery shaft would have been much more noticeable than was the depression under the oak tree in 1795. Some people have suggested that somebody who came back to retrieve the treasure just might have filled in the recovery shaft for some reason, but there is no conceivable reason why they would have done that. The thing uppermost in their minds after getting the treasure safely aboard their ship would have been to get away out of Mahone Bay before they could be intercepted and taken by some hostile ship. The depositors completed their work to their satisfaction before they left Oak Island. The deep shaft was filled in and the layer of flagstones was set just below the surface. The filter at Smith’s Cove was completed, and the beach material that had been cleaned off was spread back to cover and protect the filter; the code marks had been carefully plotted and placed. There was no emergency that made them quit the Island, but their work was finished and it was time for them to leave. To this day, the treasure remains.


Hiding the Treasure[edit]

The mastermind who planned the deposit had no alternative regarding the manner in which he buried his treasure. If he expected to retrieve it he had to leave it at or above sea level. It was obviously of sufficient mass that he could not possibly conceal it in such a way that there would be no evidence left of somebody having buried something there. Many burrowing animals dig down to remarkable depths and then tunnel up to a point near the surface to make their nests.

Such a plan was ideal for the depositor. He would dig a deep shaft, and then tunnel from its depths outward and upward into the high ground above sea level and some distance from the shaft. There was almost no limit to the amount he could cache up in that high ground, and such a depository made recovery relatively simple. If he could return, all he had to do was to locate the correct spot, dig down to a point not below sea level where his deposit was lying high and dry; safe from the flooding water, or from chance searchers. To guarantee, beyond any shadow of doubt, that chance searchers would not clean out his shaft and follow the treasure tunnel up to the deposit, he simply dug a tunnel out to Smith’s Cove, and let the Atlantic Ocean into the depths of his workings. As far as the depositor was concerned that flooding water sealed off the depths from everybody for all time. The depositor had to set up some kind of inconspicuous system that would tell him, if and when he could return, precisely where he would have to dig the shallow shaft that would take him down onto his safely stored treasure. To a man like the depositor, devising such a system would not pose any problem.

He set up a system or a code that could very well have been discovered at any time after 1795 if the searchers had not been so eager to get to the bottom of the shaft, and then in 1849 had not been so intrigued by the drillers' reports of all that metal in pieces that they had drilled through down in the depths. There is no report of anybody scouring the eastern end of the Island for some sign of a code, and it was not until the end of the nineteenth century when a drilled stone north of the Money Pit and a large stone triangle far south of the Money Pit were reported. Even then they were not recognized as possibly being part of a code. It was not until 1937 that the marks were pinpointed by a survey, and it was another twenty-two years more before they were recognized for what they were. Through the years there have been unconfirmed reports that hint at some possibility of a tunnel between the Money Pit and the cove on the south shore.

People have asked why the depositor would drive a five hundred foot tunnel out to Smith’s Cove when he could have settled for a three hundred foot tunnel to the south shore. It is quite possible that he made a judgement error in his original plan. It could be that he originally intended to run his tunnel out to the south shore, but that something happened to make him change his mind after he started work on it. Perhaps he came to realize that the south shore was too exposed to the storms that drove in past the Tancook Islands and pounded on the south shore of Oak Island. Perhaps a strange ship came sailing part way up into Mahone Bay, and he realized that there was too much danger of their being seen if they worked on the south shore, or perhaps he learned that he would have water problems if he tried to tunnel to the south shore. Of course none of this is at all important as regards the recovery of the treasure, but it is very unlikely that a tunnel from the south shore came anywhere near completion.

Who brought the Treasure[edit]

Another thing with no importance as regards the recovery of the treasure is the unending conjecture about where the ship that brought the treasure came from. It is too much to suggest that the Norsemen could have done the work at Oak Island. They had disappeared from the Atlantic coast before Columbus came to America. The native red oaks like the one that first drew attention to the treasure site have a life span of about two hundred and fifty years, according to Nova Scotian foresters, so the Norsemen were long gone when the tree at the Money Pit sprouted. It is equally irresponsible to suggest that the Incas, with all those rugged mountains close to home would carry their treasure through hundreds of miles of Spaniard infested seas to deposit their gold on an island in an area that they had never heard of. The ship that came to Oak Island carried a large amount of coconut fibre, which would indicate that it likely came from a place where coconut fibre was commonplace. The most likely source would have to be the Central American area. The large amounts of coconut fibre have often been explained by saying that the fibre was commonly used as ship’s dunnage or packing for stowing ship’s cargo. One might be tempted to ask, "For what kind of cargo?" Heavy material such as containers of gold or silver are very weighty and must be lashed or shored solidly in place so they cannot shift and wreak havoc to the hull of a rolling sailing vessel. But for packing something fragile the coconut fibre could make very acceptable dunnage. Ships leaving Central America and heading for Europe usually came out of the Straits of Florida and swung north to ride with the Gulf Stream up to a latitude north of Bermuda. There they caught the Westerly winds, and those winds and the weakening Gulf Stream made the easterly crossing much easier. At one point the nearest land would be Nova Scotia, and a crippled ship might well drift, or be blown, or work her way in to a landfall on Nova Scotia’s south shore. Such a ship must have come to Oak Island. Investigating some of the cargos of other sailing ships in those years makes it interesting to speculate about what a part of the cargo of the Oak Island ship may have been. For instance, in 1985 Captain Hatcher salvaged the wreckage of the Dutch East Indiaman, Geldermalson, from the reef in the South China Sea where she had been wrecked in 1752, (Reader’s Digest, November 1986). Her shipping papers were still extant in Holland, and showed that part her cargo consisted of 55 kg. of gold and 239,000 pieces of Chinese Porcelain packed in 348 tonnes of tea.

The National Geographic tells us that Chinese Porcelain was brought across the Pacific in the Manila Galleons and trans-shipped to Europe, and it has been reported packed in petuntse (the clay from which it was made), in tea and in peppercorns. They have no reports of it being found packed in coconut fibre, but agree that it could have been packed in the fibre if it had been convenient, before it was dispatched to Europe. Mrs. Mildred Restall, whose husband and older son were killed in an accident at Oak Island in 1965, used to have some broken pieces of china which had been recovered from the workings by her men. She never had them identified or classified, and no longer has them, but if any of them were Chinese Porcelain it could be an indication of what that coconut fibre found at Oak Island had been used for. Probably we will never learn how the group left Oak island, or whether any of them survived. There is at least one story which hints that somebody must have got away and lived long enough to leave a plan or report of what happened on the Island. It comes to us third hand, and is known as the Spanish Sailor story. It would appear to have been told around the middle 1800s, and it tells about a plan which shows an island somewhere on the Nova Scotia coast where a large treasure was buried. The most interesting thing about the story is its explaining that there is a deep filled in shaft on the island, and that there is a long tunnel running from the shaft out to the shore. It goes on to say that for some reason unknown to the story teller the treasure was not buried in the shaft, but some distance away and only twenty feet deep. It may have been told before the flooding tunnel out to Smith’s Cove had been discovered, and it was certainly told before anyone had suggested that the treasure was buried some distance from the shaft, and that it was buried above sea level. If there is any truth in the tale, the story teller must have been from a later generaton than the depositors. No attempt was made to capitalize on the story, and now it is an almost forgotten tale that could have been connected with The Oak Island Mystery.

We can only conjecture as to how the group left the island. They may have repaired their crippled ship to some extent, and sailed away in her, and have been lost at sea. They may have taken timber from her and from the forests in the area, and built a smaller vessel, and tried to get away in that fashion. If they were Spaniards they may even have tried to walk back south toward their own people, all the way from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico. Life was hard in those times, and that possibility is not as far fetched as it would seem to be. In 1568 John Hawkins and Francis Drake raided the Spaniards in the Gulf of Mexico, and they lost the battle. Drake, thinking that all was lost, left the battle and returned to England with his ship and crew. John Hawkins lost his big ship, the Jesus of Lubeck, but managed to take her survivors aboard his remaining smaller ship and get away from the Spaniards. He had too many men aboard to risk trying to cross the Atlantic when he was so overburdened, and he was forced to put one hundred and fourteen men ashore on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The Indians and Spaniards killed most of them, but twenty three escaped and fled north to get away from their enemies, and perhaps hoping to encounter an English ship farther north. About sixteen months later the three sole survivors of that group were picked up by a French ship on the coast of Nova Scotia, and they swore that they had walked all the way from the Gulf of Mexico. Their names were David Ingraham, Richard Browne, and Richard Twide. When they got back to England their stories were received with a good deal of scepticism, and a considerable investigation was conducted. Hawkins eventually agreed that they were three of the men he had marooned, and their feat is recorded in history as the Impossible Walk or the Long Walk. It is conceivable that the men from Oak Island attempted to make a similar walk.

Personal Expeditions[edit]


I went to Oak Island for the first time in 1959. At that time there was no causeway from the mainland to the Island, and everything and everybody who went to the Island had to go by boat. Bulldozers had not yet been used on the island to cause the devastation which they carried out later. The two drilled stones and a good part of the triangle were still in place as shown on the Roper Survey.

During that first visit the westerly drilled stone was not in evidence, and I spent a day searching unsuccessfully for the triangle. Willie Sawler, who ran a boat from Western Shore to Oak Island for tourists, told me the next morning that his daughter had seen the triangle during a picnic on the island, and she agreed to find it for us. Elizabeth, now Mrs. Martin Sovie of Chester, was a teenager at the time, and she came over to the island with us. It had been a foggy morning, but by the time we reached the Island the fog was burning off, with wisps of it still trailing through the treetops, and I think we all felt a kind of eeriness around us. Elizabeth led us along a faint footpath in the general direction of the triangle, and then down among the trees toward the shore. There on a bank which had been eroded until the storm waves could beat right up to it, she pointed out the remains of the triangle, nearly hidden by the low-hanging branches of spruce trees.

The stones which had formed the ends of the base had been knocked out of place by storms which had driven the waves right up to the triangle. The apex was hidden by the branches of a spruce tree sweeping right down to the ground. I felt that if the depositor was as careful and precise as what I had learned about him indicated he was, then surely he would have left some kind of mark on the apex stone. Neither Willie nor Elizabeth had ever heard mention of any such mark, but when I crawled in under the low-hanging branches, and with my knife scraped away countless years of moss or lichen, there was my mark. It was a plain little X or cross, about three inches from tip to tip of the arms, and the arms carved about three sixteenths of an inch deep and about a quarter of an inch wide, neatly done and unmistakably manmade. It was a strange, spooky moment for us, complete silence all around us, except for the wavelets lapping on the stony shore, bits of fog still drifting through the trees, and we three down there on our hands and knees looking at a mark apparently left there by a mysterious group hundreds of years before, and undetected until we discovered it.


In 1960 my wife, Murle, and I went back to Oak Island, and because I had damaged an eye and was unable to work, I had a local man, Johnny Zwicker, helping to do a bit of surface investigation. As we were walking back to the shore where the boat would pick us up, Johnny was walking along, kind of sliding his shovel along the grassy ground between steps. Suddenly his shovel snagged a piece of sod and turned it up off a large flat stone lying flush with the ground. Johnny was quick to notice an odd shaped knob on the bottom side of the sod, and we found that that it came out of a hole drilled in the upper surface of the stone. It proved to be the westerly drilled stone, and it had obviously gone unnoticed for a good number of years. In 1962 we returned to the Island, poorly prepared, poorly organized, and short of time and money.

Our surveyor found the triangle and the two drilled stones in the same positions as shown on the Roper Survey. Of course we could not use the site of the original shaft as a point with any degree of precision because according to the code it lay within the southern portion of the Hedden shaft. That shaft was still open, and men were working in the immediate area. The easterly drilled stone lay fully exposed at its site near Smith’s Cove. It could possibly have been moved slightly from its original position since 1795, but it still coincided with the Roper Survey. We dug a 30 foot shaft up in the high ground where the marks according to the code intersected, and although we had received some response from a metal detector we did not learn anything except that the ground was terrifically hard. There could be any of several reasons why our attempt failed. Perhaps our survey had not been careful enough, or perhaps the easterly drilled stone had been moved slightly by work done near Smith’s Cove during the years.In hindsight it is very easy to see that we should have gone prepared to explore across the line of the treasure tunnel up near where the intersection would be.

Exploring across the course of the treasure tunnel would have been much more judicious than attempting to hit the intersection dead on after all those years, but we did not realize that at the time. Perhaps the line between the drilled stones was not precisely seven degrees off True when it was laid down. Even a few minutes off True would make a surprising difference in the location of the intersection. If the line between the two drilled stones was not exactly seven degrees off True it could have altered the point of the intersection, but the principle of the code would still be the same. We should also have been more careful in estimating the height of our shaft above sea level. Early reports stated that the water came to within thirty two feet of the surface at the deep shaft; we assumed that our shaft was about six feet higher, and that sea level should be about thirty eight feet below the surface. A later survey proved that our shaft was actually about forty three feet above sea level. It is said that sea level on that part of the Atlantic coast has risen about a foot a century for the past thousand years so perhaps three hundred years ago sea level was about forty six feet below the surface at the point where the lines intersect.


I returned to Oak Island in the spring of 1965 to carry out a drilling program that would attempt to locate the treasure tunnel coming up into the high ground. If we could do that, then it would be a simple matter to follow the tunnel to its extreme end where the treasure lies. We were using a heavy track-mounted pneumatic drilling machine, and our first hole was about twenty feet from our 1962 shaft, and slightly to one side of where the treasure tunnel should be. It was spring, and there was a good deal of surface water to contend with. When the drill was down about twenty-seven feet the young driller told the boss that his drill was becoming mudded in, and that he would get stuck if he continued, because no cuttings were being blown back up out of the hole. He stopped the drill, but left the big compressor running, and we could hear the air roaring down through the drill steel. It was a peculiar situation because none of that air was coming back up as it would normally do.

We pondered it for a short time, and then I went over to our 1962 shaft, and lifted one of the planks from the shaft cover. The missing air was streaming up from the water-filled shaft in a turbulent boil nearly two feet in diameter. The drillers were amazed, because the ground in that area is so hard that when we dug the shaft we used dynamite to loosen the dreadfully hard clay. To them it seemed almost impossible that the air could be passing so freely through that formation. We watched the air boiling up for some time and then we shut off the compressor. The most peculiar thing about the incident was that the air continued to boil up through the water in the shaft for three quarters of an hour after we had shut down the compressor. We had pumped a lot of air down that hole, sufficient to boil up for so long with the compressor shut off.

It is hard to believe that it was distributed through the surrounding subsoil. It has often been said that where Oak Island is concerned one should always expect the unexpected. We drilled about forty holes, most of them across the estimated course of the tunnel, but because there was so much surface water seeping in, the holes became so muddy that we could only get down about thirty feet in most cases without danger of getting stuck. Often we had air blowing back from one hole to another, even to our shaft, as far as a hundred feet. In one hole, when we were down twenty-seven feet the drill became plugged.

The driller began pulling the tools up out of the hole to clear the plugged bit, and accidentally dropped twenty feet of steel back into the hole. The upper end of the fallen steel would be about seven feet below the surface, and it would normally be fairly easy to screw another drill rod into it and recover it, but in this case, the driller, after trying diligently, could not even feel the top of the lost steel. A workman set about digging down to the steel so they could see it and connect with it, but when he got down to nine feet there was still no sign of the steel, and the drill hole had disappeared in the digging process. It was natural to wonder if we had been drilling right onto the tunnel we were seeking, and if the dropped steel had settled on farther down into what is probably a backfilled section of the tunnel. My commitment was to carry out the drilling program; it had been agreed that if we came upon anything significant in our drilling program further financing would be made available to continue the search in whatever way we considered appropriate.

By the time the drilling had been completed and a report made, the promised financing was no longer available. The pneumatic drill that we were using was actually not sufficiently sensitive for our purpose. To fully explain that, we have to consider some of the depositor’s actions at Oak Island. When he had completed his treasure tunnel and had stored his treasure safely, he was ready to begin driving the flooding tunnel, working out to meet the tunnellers coming from the Cave-in-Pit. He probably found it easier to pack the clay from the flooding tunnel back up into the treasure tunnel rather than hoist it all the way to the surface, and he may have felt that he should firmly backfill the upper reaches of the treasure tunnel anyway. Anybody probing for the treasure tunnel should not expect to find an open tunnel, and he should not expect to find that the tunnel was a large one. It would only be sufficiently large for the men to work in. Some reports have stated that where the flooding tunnel was encountered at the Money Pit area it was only two and a half feet wide and four feet high. Every cubic yard of clay handled in driving the tunnels entailed a considerable amount of labour, and it is very likely that the treasure tunnel was no bigger than the flooding tunnel. Later that summer the Restall tragedy occurred where four men died in a shallow shaft near Smith’s Cove. Robert Dunfield from California obtained a lease to the whole Island, and I lost all working access to the island.

Historical Timeline[edit]


Many years before Oak Island became the focus of a treasure hunt, a group landed on the island with a cargo or treasure which they had to leave there. That cargo or treasure was considered so valuable that it justified doing a tremendous amount of work to give it the required security. The plan for concealment and recovery was simple and effective. Evidence indicates that the depositors never managed to return, and none of the many treasure hunters has discovered the secret of the concealment in spite of all their attempts, and although the necessary information has been available to them for many years. For those who are not familiar with the story, Oak Island is a small island about three quarters of a mile long from east to west, lying up toward the head of Mahone Bay, about fifty miles west of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is about two hundred yards from the mainland. In 1965 a causeway was built from the island to the mainland.


In the summer of 1795 a young settler, Daniel McGinnis ^ (or McInnis) wandering around the eastern end of the Island came upon a large oak tree. Some time long before, one big branch had been lopped off several feet from the trunk, and there was evidence that something had been suspended from that branch. Directly beneath the cutoff branch there was a depression in the ground indicating that in the past the ground had been disturbed and through the years had settled somewhat. McGinnis must have heard many stories of the pirates who had, and still did, operate along that coast, and he persuaded two friends, Anthony Vaughan and John Smith, to come to the island with him and examine the ground in the depression to learn if pirates had buried something there long ago.

Initial Dig[edit]

When the young settlers dug down a couple of feet they came upon a layer of flagstones which were not indigenous to the island, but probably came from Gold River, a couple of miles away. No doubt when the flagstones were placed they were approximately level with the surface of the ground, and a light covering of earth was placed over them. Through the many years that had elapsed between the time they were laid down and 1795 the disturbed ground had settled so the stones were well below the surface when the diggers found them. Somebody must have had a good reason for going to the trouble of laying those flagstones, and the only plausible reason would be to leave a mark or pattern on them to convey some kind of information to someone who would return to the island. Of course the enthusiastic diggers envisioned treasure just below the stones, and simply cast them aside and continued their search. The settlers continued to dig, and found nothing except clay until they were down about ten feet, when they encountered a platform of heavy logs, the ends of which were set firmly into the sides of the excavation. It had become evident to the diggers that they were working in an old filled-in shaft. Early reports stated that the logs were well rotted on the outside, and it was agreed that they must have been there for many years. Below the platform was a space caused by the settling of the fill, but there was no treasure, just more disturbed clay. The boys persisted for another ten feet, and then they struck another log platform with the same conditions below it. It was becoming much more laborious getting the excavated material up to the surface, and the superstitious local people were not inclined to have anything to do with this weird adventure on the uninhabited island. It was also becoming urgent that the diggers leave their treasure hunting and attend to the various tasks of getting in crops and gardens and preparing for the coming winter. After digging down a few more feet they called a halt, hoping it would be only a temporary postponement, and that they could resume their search the following spring. The young men were convinced that they were involved in a search which promised great rewards, but being early settlers in a harsh land they were never able to spend more time on the hunt except by working for others who came to seek the treasure. However John Smith did buy the lot on which the treasure site lay, and a few years later built his house and raised his family there.

Mel Chappell, and the Onslow group[edit]

The shaft stood abandoned for eight or more years, but reports suggest that the next attempt to excavate it was made in 1804. Mel Chappell, who owned the island for a good number of years told me that during the early years searchers at the site had to agree to refill any shafts they dug. This was to ensure that livestock or children would not accidentally fall in, and no doubt this explains why the searchers in 1804, sometimes known as the Onslow group, found the shaft pretty well filled in when they began their search.

The Onslow group cleaned out the shaft down to ninety-three feet, encountering a log platform approximately every ten feet. The fill in the shaft was easily dug, but the walls were so hard that very old pick marks were said to be visible in the hard clay. Quite far down in the shaft the diggers came upon a large stone which had a considerable number of marks of varying shapes on it. The stone no doubt gave the original diggers of the shaft considerable labour freeing it from the very hard clay in which it was embedded, and by the time they got it free it must have acquired many scratches, gouges, etc., from bars picks and shovels. The stone was so heavy that it was easier to move it onto one of the partial platforms that supported the ladders than to hoist it all the way to the surface. The searchers, coming upon it, hoisted it up to the surface and left it there out of their way. It was of no interest to them, but that large stone was at least partially responsible for putting the whole treasure hunt off the track.

The treasure hunters found the shaft dry nearly all the way down, but by the time they reached ninety-three feet a good deal of water was seeping in from below. Returning to work one morning the diggers found water standing in the shaft to within thirty-two feet of the top. All attempts to overcome the water failed, even the digging of another shaft a few feet away from the one that was flooded. The Onslow group finally had to abandon their search without even learning the purpose of the deep shaft they had cleaned out, and which soon came to be known as the Money Pit. The big stone which they had hoisted out of the Pit still lay there on the surface. It was probably about this time that John Smith built his house, because it is recorded that he used the marked stone in the back of his fireplace. It must have been something of a conversation piece because it is said that different people examined it there, wondering if the marks could be some kind of code. Apparently, nobody raised the question of why anybody would need a code on a stone far down in the Money Pit. The man who left the stone there certainly knew whether or not he had buried something, and if he had he would not have needed anybody to tell him it was there. This whole undertaking was a very serious enterprise for him, and he would not be at all interested in setting up puzzles for any searchers who might get down there. He knew they would be drowned or driven out without discovering the secret the flooding water guarded. When the Onslow group had to abandon their search, we can assume that the flooded shafts were filled in, because John Smith and his family were then living a few rods away from them. Apparently, no serious effort was made to renew the treasure hunt from 1805 until 1849, but in spite of all the growth and change that took place in those intervening years it was still quite possible to tell where the original shaft had been.

Truro Company[edit]

In 1849 the Truro Company ^ came to Oak Island determined to find out what the Oak Island Mystery was all about, and to recover whatever might be buried in the shaft. They cleaned out the shaft down to eighty-six feet, and at that depth there was only a small amount of water coming in from below. The men went away to church Sunday morning, and when they returned to the island in the early afternoon they found sixty feet of water in the shaft. After failing to make any headway in bailing the water out of the shaft they decided to explore the depths by using primitive drills known as Pod Augers|pod augers. We must remember that at that time they still had no idea of what they might expect to find in the depths, or what the purpose of the deep shaft might be. They set up the drills at tide level in the shaft, and then reached down through all that water, through several feet of mud, and through a timber platform. After passing through a small space, the drill passed through more timber, and then through what the wishful-thinking drillers believed must be metal in pieces, no doubt coins; twenty-two inches of them. The pod augers did not bring anything of interest to the surface, but it was readily accepted that they had drilled into treasure, probably casks or chests of coins. We can consider that assumption as the point at which the Oak Island Treasure Hunt went off the track. Beforehand they suspected that there might be treasure buried under the island, but after the report from the drillers there seemed to be no reason to doubt it any longer. The next problem seemed to be how to shut off the water that flooded the treasure, and the value of the treasure no doubt increased with each discussion of the strange mystery. It came as a surprise when somebody discovered that the water in the shaft was salty, and that it rose and fell with the tide. A search along the shore revealed that in Smith’s Cove about five hundred feet away water streamed out of the beach sand as the tide ebbed. They investigated and found that the beach contained a very large manmade filter system taking in a considerable area of beach between high and low tide levels. It included five drains or branches which converged to create a tunnel running into the Island in the direction of the flooded shaft. Obviously the shaft was deliberately flooded by a five hundred foot tunnel, and the searchers had a much better understanding of the tremendous amount of work that some group had done on the island in the distant past. This new information should have given the searchers pause to consider very carefully to just what kind of plan those long ago depositors could have been working. Someone should have realized that the original excavators would have known and accepted the fact that when they flooded the depths of the shaft there was no chance any searcher would ever be able to dewater the shaft and get back down into the depths. There were no pumps or power sources such as we take for granted today, and regardless of what means might have been devised to shut off the water, there were simply too many things that could go wrong and ruin their plans. The depositors definitely would not consider burying something down in those flooded depths if they intended to recover it, but the tremendous amount of work expended indicated that they did intend to recover something, but not necessarily from the depths of the shaft. There had to be something that the searchers were overlooking, but they did not reconsider the situation. After all, the drillers were confident that they had drilled through a large quantity of metal in pieces, and they had no way of knowing that later searchers would not find any metal in pieces, but would encounter coarse gravel at that level. In view of the driller’s reports it seemed that the only reasonable and logical assumption had to be that some somebody had buried something very valuable deep down in the island long ago. Since the drillers were satisfied that they really had drilled through metal in pieces the searchers naturally assumed that the depositor had devised some way of shutting off the water. It is interesting to note that some people, including some good engineers, have accepted the theory that the depositor must have used a system of gates to shut it off, and that he must have had some means at the surface for closing those gates. Even though it was not known at the time that the tunnel was unlined it should have been obvious that even one small stone getting in the way would have prevented the gates from closing properly to seal off the water from the shore. It would also follow that if there was a means on the surface for closing the gates anybody coming on the site could have tampered with that means in some way that would render it ineffective for the depositor when he returned. Those who carried out the original works at Oak Island were people of their time, several decades before the advent of the Industrial Revolution. They knew what was feasible and practical for their time, but they had no way of knowing whether any great technological advances would be made in future generations, or what would be feasible and practical at those future dates. Nevertheless, some of the people who believe that Francis Bacon wrote the works attributed to William Shakespeare have suggested that the originals are buried on Oak Island, to be recovered at some later date when technological inventions would make the recovery feasible and practical. That is a good example of the impracticality of some of the theories advanced for the recovery of the Oak Island Treasure. Considering how little was known about the situation at Oak Island one cannot criticize the 1849 drillers for their mistaken assumption that they drilled through metal in pieces, and for their continuing the search in the flooded depths. The report by the drillers that they had penetrated twenty-two inches of metal in pieces is precisely the kind of thing that treasure hunters like to hear, so the searchers accepted it without question, and they continued to expend all their efforts on overcoming the flooding water. They built a cofferdam at Smith’s Cove to block off the water from the area where the big filter had been found, but storm winds combined with high tides wrecked their dam. They dug shafts close to the flooded Money Pit to try to drain off the water from it. They only ended with more flooded shafts. As one company gave up the struggle to recover the treasure, another company took over and the battle went on. In the early 1860s there was some kind of a collapse in the depths of the shaft, and the myth was born that treasure runs away from its seekers. From that time on there was a tendency for the search to go deeper and deeper, but until 1867 the searchers continued to work at about the same level.

90ft Stone in Halifax[edit]

In 1865 or 1866 the large stone which had been recovered in 1804, and which had been built into the back of John Smith’s fireplace in his house close to the Money Pit, was removed and taken to Halifax where it was displayed prominently in the window of a bookbinders shop. This happened at the same time a search company was trying to sell shares in another Oak Island expedition. R.V. Harris, wrote on page 20 of his first edition, "It is said that James Liechti, ^ a Professor of Languages (1866- 1906) at Dalhousie College, expressed his opinion that the inscription meant 'Ten feet below two million pounds lie buried', but most people were skeptical respecting this version because of the concurrent efforts being made to sell stock". This report of the code inscribed on the stone, coupled with the report from 1849 that the drillers had drilled through quantities of coins, was sufficient to set the pattern for future searches. Treasure hunters would no longer have any doubt that the treasure lay deep in the flooded depths. Numerous theories were advanced in attempts to decide how the depositor might have intended to shut off the water in order to recover his deposit, and whether he had some system of gates as some theorized, or whether he could have had some other ingenious plan that nobody had happened to think of. It did not occur to anybody that perhaps he had no intention of ever trying to shut off the water or to get back down into the flooded depths, and that the moment he let the flooding water into the depths the possibility of recovering anything from the depths was so remote as to be unthinkable. Those depths made a seal against him as well as against any unauthorized searchers. The search ground to a halt in 1867, and the latest company of searchers withdrew from the Island. There does not appear to have been any organized work carried out at the Money Pit until about 1897, although numerous shafts were dug and a considerable amount of tunneling was done at points between the Money Pit and Smith’s Cove.

Cave-in Pit[edit]

Perhaps one of the more interesting incidents during that period occurred when Mrs. Sellers was ploughing with oxen in 1878 about three hundred and fifty feet from the Money pit toward Smiths Cove. Suddenly the ground caved in under the outfit, and one ox tumbled several feet down into the caved in area. Later exploration in that area revealed that the ox had fallen into a filled-in shaft which connected with the flooding tunnel. That old shaft became known as the Cave-in-Pit.

Oak Island Treasure Company[edit]

During all the exploration that had taken place at the immediate Money Pit site numerous shafts had been sunk, some of them overlapping. Because shafts had been dug and then filled in, and more shafts had been dug and then filled in, by 1895 the precise site of the original shaft was no longer known. The Oak Island Treasure Company went to work, and in 1897 and after false starts and other problems finally felt that they knew the precise spot where the original shaft had been. They sank some drill holes down into the bottom of the shaft, and after withdrawing the drill from one hole, which went down to one hundred and fifty-five feet, a small piece of parchment, roughly the size of a dime, was found in the drill cuttings. The men involved in the drilling were reputable people, but there seems to be something unusual about the way the parchment was handled. First of all we read about the cuttings from the drill being washed out to separate the chips, etc., from the other material. At that time they found the the tiny balled up piece of something different from everything else. They wanted to have the cuttings and the little ball of strange material examined, but they did not take it to an expert in Halifax, as one might have expected. Instead they took it to Amherst, where it was examined by a Doctor Porter in the presence of a number of men there. It was Doctor Porter who skillfully separated the little ball from the other trash and flattened it out, and proved it to be a piece of parchment. Perhaps they had a good reason for taking it all the way to Amherst, but it seems rather unusual that a doctor should be examining this collection of cuttings in a courthouse in front of a group of witnesses. It would appear that somebody must have known that the good doctor was going to discover something significant. William Chappell was involved in the drilling when the piece of parchment was discovered. He must have believed implicitly in the authenticity of the parchment because in 1931 he and some of his family were involved in sinking a shaft down to one hundred and fifty-five feet in an attempt to recover what they believed was a container of priceless documents. They did not find anything of significance or interest. In 1962 William Chappell’s son, M.R. Chappell, told me, "I don't know whether or not there is any gold or silver on Oak Island, and don't care, but I am convinced that my Daddy drilled through a container of priceless documents in 1897, and that is all that interests me about Oak Island." The Oak Island Treasure Company had to accept failure in 1900, and there is no record of further activity at Oak Island until l909. The expedition at that time is of interest for only two reasons. First of all Captain Bowdoin who was one of the principals, examined the large stone which had been recovered from the depths, and which was still being used in the bookbinders shop. For what it is worth he reported that he could find no signs or marks or any kind of code incised on the stone. The second point of interest is that this was the expedition in which the young Franklin D. Roosevelt was a member. The expedition carried on for a couple of years, and then bowed out. Some minor expeditions carried out searches between 1912, and 1931 without any success. ==William Chappell] It was in 1931 that Wm. Chappell and other members of his family came again to Oak Island, determined to find the container of precious documents that they believed had been drilled through in 1898. Once again a lapse of several years had changed the topography of the site to some extent. There was some difference of opinion between Wm. Chappell and Fred Blair, who was deeply involved in all that went on at Oak Island through the years from 1893 to 1951, as to the precise location of the 1897 drill site from which the parchment was recovered. It would have been difficult at that late date to tell exactly where the 1897 drill site had been, and it would have been much more difficult to tell where the original shaft had actually been. They sank a shaft twelve by fourteen feet to the southwest of what they believed was the site of the 1897 shaft, and they went down to one hundred and sixty three feet. From the bottom of the shaft they drilled in several directions, but no trace of any more parchment was found, and the project was abandoned.

Gilbert Hedden[edit]

Gilbert Hedden of New Jersey was the next man to take up the challenge at Oak Island, and his men began work in 1936. Then in 1937 he began excavating a new shaft, twelve by twenty four feet, just east of, and close to the Chappell shaft of 1931. About ten feet below the surface they came upon the remains of a very old shaft which had been filled in long before. It lay in the southern part of Heddens big shaft. The big shaft was carried down to a hundred and twenty-four feet, and then some drilling was done from that depth, but nothing of interest was found, and that was the end of one more expedition.

Harold Wilkins[edit]

While work on the new shaft was being carried on, Fred Blair drew Mr. Hedden’s attention to a book which had recently been published by Harold Wilkins, an English writer of treasure stories. The book was entitled Captain Kidd and his Skeleton Island. Oak Island has often been considered as the location of Captain Kidd’s buried pirate treasure, and at least one official geological survey of the island calls the Money Pit Captain Kidd’s Treasure Pit. Blair and Hedden apparently agreed that there were certain similarities between Oak Island and the island described in Wilkins' book, although the only similarity I can find is that they are both pieces of land surrounded by the sea. Mr. Hedden was sufficiently intrigued that he went to England to confer with Wilkins, who had apparently never heard of Oak Island. However, after repeated conversations about Oak Island, Wilkins became so caught up in the mystery that he began to suspect he may have been involved at Oak Island in some previous life.

Roper Survey[edit]

Eventually Mr. Hedden gave up trying to get anything worthwhile out of the Wilkins story, but while he was still interested, he engaged Chas. P. Roper, Provincial Land Surveyor of Halifax, to do a careful survey of the east end of the Island, where all the treasure hunting efforts had taken place. Mr. Roper’s commitment was to include anything that could possibly have been left by someone who had buried something on the Island. The survey was organized by Mr. Hedden to find out if any significant marks might coincide with marks on a chart in Wilkins book. Charles Roper told me many years later that the survey was simply another day’s work to him, and that he was not interested in anything it might reveal, or in the meaning of any marks on Oak Island. From Mr. Harris' two editions of The Oak Island Mystery it is obvious that by the time the Oak Island Treasure Company was incorporated in 1893 there was a good deal of confusion as to precisely where the original shaft had been. When William Chappell recovered the fragment of parchment he may or may not have been drilling at the site of the original shaft. Then when he returned to the Island in 1931 to continue the search for the remainder of the parchment he and Fred Blair were of different opinions as to where he should sink his 1931 shaft. The Roper Survey would indicate that the original shaft lay close to the northeast corner of the 1932 Chappell shaft. But according to R.V. Harris, in May 1947 Fred Blair declared his firm belief that the Money Pit lay south of the 1931 Chappell shaft. By 1965 opinion seemed to have veered to place the original shaft slightly north of the Chappell shaft, and when Robert Dunfield ^ dug his big hole in 1965 he dug it well north of the Chappell shaft.

Robert Dunfield[edit]

In 1965 Robert Dunfield from California obtained a lease to the whole Island. He constructed the causeway from Crandall’s Point on the mainland over to the west end of Oak Island; about six hundred and fifty feet. He had already barged bulldozers onto the island, but the causeway made it a simple matter for him to bring large dirt moving machines onto the Island. Now the marks are gone, and much of the surface at the east end of the island looks very different from what it used to be. Oak Island is unique in Canada, and as a buried treasure site it is unique when compared to anything else anywhere in the world. It is unfortunate that the authorities in Nova Scotia have not taken Oak Island seriously enough to make any effort to preserve those unique characteristics. Apparently, any treasure hunter with a treasure trove license has a free hand to do whatever he wishes, and in some ways the hunt has become a kind of "search and destroy" mission. In 1973 a hole was drilled down to one hundred and ten feet some six hundred and sixty feet northerly from the Money Pit. The drill was said to have brought up a small piece of wire from that depth, and also to have struck what seemed to be a metal plate. A shaft was sunk to examine the significance of the drill findings, but at a hundred feet down surface water was becoming a problem. With all the modern pumps and power available the shaft was abandoned within ten feet of those drill findings. One has to ask what suddenly made significant evidence become so insignificant. Some unrevealed evidence led to the sinking of Bore-hole 10X, about a hundred and fifty feet east of the Money Pit. It went down to about two hundred and forty feet, far down into bedrock. Many tales have been told about the significance of 10X, but after a great deal of time and money was spent it seems that this unrevealed evidence was misinterpreted. These efforts certainly bring into question the value or significance of any artifact found in the depths of Oak Island. If enough people could have the opportunity of learning what the evidence really indicates at Oak Island, it should change the whole direction of the search for the solution to the Mystery of The Oak Island Treasure. That is the purpose behind the publication of this booklet. In spite of all the devastation that has occurred at Oak Island, the general elevations are still apparent. The treasure is still in its original location, the high ground is where it was before, and there are still landmarks existing that could give a very close approximation of where the treasure lies. It will be unfortunate if the hunt continues on in future as it has in the past, until the Mystery of The Oak Island Treasure is totally discredited, and the evidence and meaning of the drilled stones and the triangle are lost for all time. There is nothing to indicate that the Oak Island Treasure has been retrieved. It must still be there in the high ground, and its retrieval would be a wonderful event for Nova Scotia and Canada, both historically and archaeologically.

Additional Notes

It bears to mention that has an incredible amount of letters between Lavern Johnson and D'Arcy O'Connor and others archived on their site.