Oak Island Tragedies
Editor Note: Dan Blankenship, Fred Nolan, and Zena Halperndied of natural causes. They are not considered part of the tragedies of Oak Island. Their obituaries are included on their personal pages'.'DrakeTesterhas also been associated with Oak Island, and while his untimely death is truly a tragedy it is not relevant to any folklore. Any comments made by disrespecting him or his family will be immediately removed.
- Unknown Worker 1861- In the fall of 1861, a cast Iron Pump and Steam Engine were purchased from Halifax, and setup to be driven by steam power at The Money Pit.
- The Boiler exploded and caused the 1st death on Oak Island of a man who was scalded a man to death, with others Injured. The name of this man is unknown due to poor record-keeping. The accident occurs sometime in the fall after September 30th 1861, for which the work was stopped for the winter.
Fall into pit
- Maynard Kaiser 26 Mar 1897- According to Oak Island Compendium the Lunenburg Process reports "Maynard Kaizer, a native of Gold River now living at Indian Point, was drawing water from one of the money pits on Oak Island when the buckets became entangled and he went down to clear them, the rope slipping off. The pulley gave a sudden jerk, breaking his hold and precipitating him a distance of 80 feet, killing him instantly. He leaves a widow and five children to mourn the loss of a kind and affectionate husband and father. Maynard Kaiser, a native of Gold River now living at Indian Point, was drawing water from one of the money pits on Oak Island when the buckets became entangled and he went down to clear them, the rope slipping off. The pulley gave a sudden jerk, breaking his hold and precipitating him a distance of 80 feet, killing him instantly. He leaves a widow and five children to mourn the loss of a kind and affectionate husband and father."
- Robert Restall Sr 17 Aug 1965
- Robert Restall Jr 17 Aug 1965
- Cyril Hiltz 17 Aug 1965
- Carl Graeser 17 Aug 1965
The death of Robert Restall, Bobby Restall, Cyril Hiltz and Carl Graser is one of the greatest tragedies of the Oak Island Hunt. There are countless articles that tell the story linked below- but none of them truly do justice to telling the truth of Heroism that occurred on that day. While the loss of four people is horrific, there could have very easily been many more as the thought of personal sacrifice was never considered in the goal to save even one man.
By all accounts, Robert senior was effectively finished for the day and was checking the pump that had been placed in Restall Shaft #1 which had been dug two years earlier. M.R. Chappell's account states that Restall had just discovered that this shaft and the new shaft he was working on were believed to be connected in some manner and he had dumped two barrels of colored gasoline into the shaft in an attempt to prove his theory. He was seen looking into Pit 1 and being overcome by something causing him to tumble into the shaft. His son Bobby (Robert Jr), Cyril Hiltz, Carl Graeser and Andrew Demont all ran to his aid. Bobby was first down in the shaft and was able to tend to his father for a short while, but in just a few minutes all the men in the shaft were overcome by the gasses.
A tourist (Audrey White) was en route to the island by boat of pure Oak Island curiosity when he learned of the tragedy and encouraged the boat driver to allow him to proceed as he was a trained firefighter with skills in rescue. When he arrived on the scene he wrapped wet rags around his mouth and proceeded into the shaft. He was able to recover Andrew Demont from the pit and resuscitate him, but all others had already drowned.
All present recall various visions of the gases ranging from green and yellow to brown, and all mention the strong odor of rotten eggs. The official coroner report states the deaths were due to drowning, but most believe it was due to either some form of swamp gas (methane, Hydrogen Sulfide) or carbon monoxide from the nearby engines. Although Chappell believed that Restall had dumped gasoline into the pit since none of the other reports talk of the smell of gasoline I don't believe this was the cause. If the gasoline theory is true it is possible that the gasoline caused a chemical reaction that created some other form of noxious gas, but it's clearly too far in the past to determine that now.