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The complexity of each theory justifies an entire page devoted to supporting documents and justifications. On this page, you'll find just a basic summary- Follow the link to the detailed description and supporting documents


Captain James Anderson[edit]

[1]A sea captain born about 1748 resided in Fells Point, Baltimore, Baltimore County, Maryland. There is not any compelling evidence that Captain Anderson had any pirate treasure to hide on Oak Island, but he has a connection to the island like no other. He is believed to actually have lived on Oak Island!, selling the lot to Samuel Ball in 1788. The land records show that James Anderson owned lot #26, also Captain James Anderson the loyalist is confirmed to have been granted land in Chester, so it stands to reason that it could have been the same James Anderson to own land on Oak Island. The only record of his death was found on a document from the Masonic Lodge No 9, which states "died in 1796" in West Indies. This was a year after the money pit was discovered, so it is also reasonable to believe that he could have brought any treasure he had to the island prior to 1788 and hid it somewhere.

Captain Francis Drake[edit]

Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540 – 28 January 1596) was an English sea captainprivateerslave traderpiratenaval officer and explorer of the Elizabethan era. Drake carried out the second circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition, from 1577 to 1580, and was the first to complete the voyage as captain while leading the expedition throughout the entire circumnavigation. With his incursion into the Pacific Ocean, he claimed what is now California for the English and inaugurated an era of conflict with the Spanish on the western coast of the Americas, an area that had previously been largely unexplored by western shipping.

Captain Peter Easton[edit]

Peter Easton (c. 1570 – 1620 or after) was a pirate in the early 17th century who operated along the Newfoundland coastline between Harbour Grace and Ferryland from 1611 to 1614. Perhaps one of the most successful of all pirates, he controlled such seapower that no sovereign or state could afford to ignore him, and he was never overtaken or captured by any fleet commissioned to hunt him down. However, he is not as well known as some of the pirates from the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Captain William Kidd[edit]

William Kidd, also known as Captain William Kidd or simply Captain Kidd (c. 1655 – 23 May 1701), was a Scottish sailor who was tried and executed for piracy after returning from a voyage to the Indian Ocean. Some modern historians, for example, Sir Cornelius Neale Dalton (see Books), deem his piratical reputation unjust.

Knights Templar[edit]

The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (LatinPauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici), also known as the Order of Solomon's Temple, the Knights Templar or simply the Templars, were a Catholicmilitary order founded in 1119 and recognized in 1139 by the papal bull Omne datum optimum. The order was active until 1312 when it was perpetually suppressed by Pope Clement V by the bull Vox in excelso.

Sir Francis Bacon Desalination Plant[edit]

[2]Theory presented on Reddit: 

[3]After the middle ages passed, the first record of experimentation in filtering came from Sir Francis Bacon in 1627. Hearing rumors that seawater could be purified and cleansed for drinking purposes, he began experimenting in the desalination of seawater. Sadly, his sand filtration technique did not prove work for desalination, but later scientists would follow his lead and continue to experiment with this technique, followed by implementing the technology in early treatment plants.

Using a sand filter method, Bacon believed that if he dug a hole near the shore through which seawater would pass, sand particles (presumable heavier than salt particles) would obstruct the passage of salt in the upward passage of the water; the other side of the hole would then provide pure, salt-free water.

This theory may or may not coincide with the Baconian theories about hiding Shakespeare works as well. It is possible that he tried the desalination plant first, and when it didn't work he decided to use the pit as a treasure chamber? 

Sir Francis Bacon & Shakespeare Manuscripts[edit]

While not an authority on Shakespeare it is a well-accepted theory that at least two of Shakespeare's original manuscripts were lost over the years. 

  • Cardenio- Reportedly performed by the King's Men in 1613 but not formally attributed to any writer and presumed to have been Shakespeare and John Flatcher in 1653.
  • Love’s Labour Won - Reference to this was found in a list collated by Francis Meres in 1598. It is possible that it is an alternative title for Much Ado AboutNothing, or a sequel to Love's labors lost. 

Additionally, there is controversy that suggests that Shakespeare works were not written by Shakespeare himself, but rather by Sir Francis Bacon and attributed to Shakespeare, so there could be many other manuscripts written by Bacon that were never recorded.

Treasure of Unknown Origin[edit]

The following list of theories generally relates to details about where the treasure is hidden and less about who hid it. 

Dan Hennigar[edit]

The details of this account and additional commentary by Doug Crowell can be found on the BlockHouseBlog, below is only a short summary


There are a few accounts of three chests being recovered at some point and believed to have been divided by Daniel McGinnis, John Smith, Anthony Vaughan, and possibly Samuel Ball. My research has yet to provide any substantial evidence of this with the exception of the gold cross (pictured left) that was shown to the Lagina team during one of the recent episodes. The cross was in the possession of Joan, Jean, and Joyce (Descendents of Daniel McGinnis), and came with a story of being handed down to the men of the family. The gold has been dated with ages ranging from 300-600 years old.

The following circumstantial evidence is however been told by various people:

  • Chest or chest(s) in the attic and numerous (25) white bags with gold coins
  • Fred Nolan may have located empty chests (and hardware) from Chests in the swamp
  • Gary Drayton located hardware similar to that used in chests while metal detecting in the area of the Ball household
  • Unexplained wealth among the four (McGinnis, Smith, Vaughan, and Ball)

The theory written by Daniel Hennegar is as follows:

“'Ms. McGinnis'''' informed through the family legend that three boxes of treasure came out of the ground back in 1795 or thereabouts and that each family member, McGinnis (spelled several ways), Smith and Vaughan each took a box. The three discoverers reportedly were sworn to secrecy and eventually, the story got buried very deeply if you will excuse the pun.  The tale continues that the McGinnis’ were “swindled out of their rights” and eventually that part of the family, remnants of treasure in hand, ended up in America to pursue a life free of Oak Island and prying eyes.”

Crowell reports having spoken to a former Kings County resident, George McInnes, who is a direct descendant of the Daniel McGinnis of Oak Island.  He was fascinated to learn that George's father and grandfather firmly believed that there was treasure there and that George's grandfather (born in 1881 and passed away in 1956) had even dug on the island in pursuit of treasure. These dates line up with the same dates as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s.  Peculiar though was that there is also mention of an old treasure map that had been passed down in his family through the years.  The "map" was reported to have been lost in a house fire, though- so it likely is long gone.  George says that they tried to recreate the map but never succeeded because “everything changed” and the landmarks were gone.  This information may be supported by early accounts of the Money Pit discovery such as,"A Search for Pirate Goldwritten in 1899 by James Clarence Hyde, which specifically mentions that Daniel McGinnis had been in possession of a treasure map.

In my mind, the above information has too many holes in it. There has been no solid evidence of the kind of wealth that would be expected by chests full of gold, the gold cross (even if the gold is very old) can be merely a family heirloom, and all chests are not "treasure chests". Suitcases, moving boxes and the like didn't exist in the 1800s. So, if you wanted to move anything (clothes and gold alike) you used a chest. it is my opinion that these are just stories passed down through the family, probably believed to be true, but certainly not substantiated pirate treasure recovery.

Laverne Johnson[edit]

Laverne Johnson takes a fairly simplistic approach that the finding the treasure relies on only a few key markers left on the island (Stone Triangle, North Drilled Stone, Easterly drilled stone, Westerly drilled stone, flagstones at the money pit). The theory is that these landmarks make a procedure (per se) to find the treasure location.

  1. JohnsonTunnels1.jpg
    From the stone triangle, extend a line due north intersecting the Westerly drilled stone (BLUE LINE). Along this line, one should also find the "Money pit" flagstones a few feet below the surface under the large oak. 
  2. From the flagstone, extend another line to the Easterly drilled stone (GREEN LINE).
  3. Extend a line from the Easterly drilled stone through the westerly drilled stone extending beyond the Westerly drilled stone (RED LINE).
  4. From the point where the flagstones creates a 90-degree angle with the line to the Easterly stone extend a line toward the north (not directly north) (TEAL LINE)
  5. From the point where the line extended beyond the westerly stone creates a 90-degree angle back to the stone triangle draw a new line toward the north (not directly north) (ORANGE LINE)
  6. The ORANGE and TEAL lines to the north eventually intersect at a point northwest of the money pit. This is where the treasure is located. 

[4]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 a 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.

Engineering / Manufacturing[edit]

Dry Dock Theory[edit]


[5](Retrieved from Oak Island Compendium, Used with Permission)

There have been questions posed in the past as to whether or not there was a Windmill on Oak Island. I had never heard of one, nor had I found historical mention of one, but I have now. It appears as if the idea of a windmill was proposed by George Bates, a gentleman perhaps best known for having surveyed parts of Oak Island. He created a series of Oak Island maps, laid out as blueprints, back in the 1970s. In this map, he presents his theory that the works discovered on Oak Island, in Mahone Bay Nova Scotia, are more in line with known dry-docks in the West Indies, in use in early days. So there is no historic proof of a windmill on the island. It exists as a theory, but an interesting theory none the less.

The following narratives are numbered to match the red numbers we have added to the map so that readers can easily match the text below to the text in the labels on the map by George Bates.

1: Section - Oak Pump Casing. Detail No. 1. Iron Band. 2: Southern Shore 3: Shaft discovered in 1965 4: Tunnel No. 2 5: The "Money Pit" 6: Thick Oak Timber 7: Method of Operation: Windmill (or windlass) pumps lower chamber dry. Vessel enters drydock, and seaward locks are closed. Water gate to Tunnel No. 1 is then opened. Water in dock flows down the tunnel to the lower chamber, leaving the drydock void of water. Windmill continues pumping water into the upper chamber, from which in similar drydocks in the West Indies, it flows by gravity through Tunnel No. 2 to the sea. Pumping continues so long as there is water in the lower chamber.

Both of the chambers on Oak Island appear to be about 40 Feet high, of unknown length and width as yet. The drydock, if this theory is valid, was probably located on the eastern coast of the island in Smuggler's Cove (also known as Pirate's Cove and Smith's Cove), as Tunnel No. 1 is known to have a definite downward slope from the sea, westerly to the main shaft and lower chamber.

The principle aim, and especially so with pirates, is to get the water out of the drydock so that work on the vessel might proceed immediately.

8: Windmill - removed, demolished, or destroyed prior to 1795 9: Main Shaft - discovered 1795 10: Platform every 10 feet. Supports pump casing. 11: Upper Chamber - discovered in 1937 but known before then 12: Tunnel No. 1 13: Shaft Discovered in 1878 14: In view of the known fact that pirates in great numbers made their headquarters in nearby La Have for a period of about 20 years and possibly for much longer than that, the extent and nature of the works so far found at Oak Island appear to be more compatible with the drydock or shipyard theory than that of hidden pirate or even other treasure. This may be the first shipyard in North America. 15: Eastern Shore 16: Water Gate 17: Smuggler's, Smith, or Pirate's Cove. 18: Oak Locks 19: Dry dock 20: Dirt and rock fill 21: Oak Lining 22: Known water tunnel 23: Lower Chamber - discovered in 1965 24: Oak Pump Casing. Strenghtened with bands of iron - See Detail No. 1 25: Known water tunnel 26: Drydock - Seawall type, extended into the sea - Detail No. 2 27: Drydock - type recessed in the shore. Detail No. 3 28: Is this the Secret of Oak Island?

Is the famous "Money Pit" part of a pumping station for a former and quite possibly pirates drydock?

The mouth of the La Have river was the headquarters of pirates who resorted there in great numbers at the invitation of the French Governor Brouillon, for about twenty years, beginning in the early 1690's.

Shown above is the method of operation of a drydock as used in the early days. Many of the known facts and findings on Oak Island tend to support the theory. At the same time, however, it should be pointed out that tide water level in the Money Pit was found to be 32 feet below ground level, while the top of the upper chamber is about 98 feet below ground level. Two tunnels are known to have been constructed from the sea to the Money Pit. The first actually discovered in 1897, but known to exist fifty years before that, is about 320 feet long. It enters the pit at the 110 foot level and is 3 feet high by 2 feet 6 inches wide. the second tunnel, larger in size, but only about 275 feet long to the south shore of the island, enters the pit at the 150 foot level. A third tunnel is suspected at the 135 feet level. At least one large chamber, of cement-like construction, is known to exist at the bottom of the Pit. The remains of a "skidway", built long before the coffer dam of 1865 in the Cove, was found in 1937-38. What is the secret of Oak Island? George Bates 1970.

Mr. Bates theory is an interesting one, and his connection to the island via the survey work he did there will likely mean that we will run into his name again. I particularly liked that he suggests a reason for the iron that was found below ground with his Oak Pump Casing reinforced with iron bands, along with the chambers, Oak platforms, flood tunnels, and slipway. What doesn't seem to fit, is the fingers drains. Would they have been deeper if they were used to help drain a drydock?