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Offline seldomTopic starter
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« on: August 06, 2011, 09:54:49 pm »
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The rock pen treasure has been written about in several books and dozens of magazine articles.  J. Frank Dobie was a big believer in this treasure, having passed along the tale in several of his books. He also implied that during his research, he saw the deathbed letter written by Dunham that vaguely alluded to the location of the loot. Believe it or not I don't have an opinion on this one I know hard to believe that old Seldom ain't got an opinion.

Here is the story.

On his deathbed in Austin in 1873, Daniel Dunham revealed an incredible tale of buried treasure in the South Texas brush country. He and a band of outlaws had looted a silver mine and a church in Mexico and were returning to Texas across the Rio Grande when Indians and/or Mexican pursuers set upon them.

The outlaws hastily made low-walled rock pens, buried the loot in one enclosure and repeatedly ran their mules over the site to cover the signs of digging. In the ensuing battle, only one of the bandits, Dunham, escaped alive. He claimed that buried inside the treasure pen were 31 mule loads of silver bullion and other valuables. His rough directions—six or seven miles below the Laredo Crossing south of the Nueces River—are so vague, relative to the vast ranch land of that part of Texas, that the pens have never been pinpointed. Most treasure seekers believe that they are in La Salle, Live Oak or McMullen counties.



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Offline BitburgAggie_7377
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« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2011, 10:36:21 pm »
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Quote:Posted by seldom
The rock pen treasure has been written about in several books and dozens of magazine articles.  J. Frank Dobie was a big believer in this treasure, having passed along the tale in several of his books. He also implied that during his research, he saw the deathbed letter written by Dunham that vaguely alluded to the location of the loot. Believe it or not I don't have an opinion on this one I know hard to believe that old Seldom ain't got an opinion.

Here is the story.

On his deathbed in Austin in 1873, Daniel Dunham revealed an incredible tale of buried treasure in the South Texas brush country. He and a band of outlaws had looted a silver mine and a church in Mexico and were returning to Texas across the Rio Grande when Indians and/or Mexican pursuers set upon them.

The outlaws hastily made low-walled rock pens, buried the loot in one enclosure and repeatedly ran their mules over the site to cover the signs of digging. In the ensuing battle, only one of the bandits, Dunham, escaped alive. He claimed that buried inside the treasure pen were 31 mule loads of silver bullion and other valuables. His rough directions—six or seven miles below the Laredo Crossing south of the Nueces River—are so vague, relative to the vast ranch land of that part of Texas, that the pens have never been pinpointed. Most treasure seekers believe that they are in La Salle, Live Oak or McMullen counties.




Seldom, the way that reads, the pens could be in Mexico.....six or seven miles south of the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo crossing area.  Which might also explain why it hasn't been found.    Back before flood control and today's more carefully marked borders, in a hurry and trying to get across the border into Texas, they could very well have been ambushed before they reached the Rio instead of as they were crossing.

But, yeah, this one bears some investigation.....even if it turns out to only be 3 pack mules instead of 31

BA

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« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2011, 10:56:32 pm »
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I have done zero research on this one but am getting interested in it more and more. Think I will look at what Dobie said about it and go from there. Let you know tomorrow.

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« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2011, 11:20:22 pm »
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Second choice, if the evidence points that it can't be south of the Rio Grande would be within 6 to 7 miles of where the Camino Real (Old San Antonio Road) from Laredo crossed the Nueces River----keeping in mind that the river has "moved" a few times.   But that would still narrow it down considerably.   Laredo Crossing almost has to mean a specific historic spot where the old road from San Antonio to Laredo crossed the Nueces OR it has to mean the place where the Camino Real crossed the Rio Grande at Laredo.   There aren't a lot of other options between central Texas and Laredo.


   Of course, there are a couple of glaring problems with this tale that we keep pointing out with the others....the biggest being TIME.   If you've got either Mexicans (Federales or Bandits) or hostile Indians hot on your trail, how much time are you going to have to create rock walled pens (plural), unsaddle 31 mules, bury the packs, and run the mules over them?   Seems to me if you have that much time, it would be better spent increasing the distance between you and your pursuers.
   Still it's always possible that one group actually did something like that and that is the basis for the rest of the tales.  If it happened in anywhere close to the way it was suppose to have, Durham would have had to have been with a pretty sizeable band.   That's one point to check---how big was the outlaw band that "raided" Mexico?    If we're talking 31 pack mules, I figure we probably have 5 or 6 people just to attend to the mules + another 4 to 6 minimum to provide rear-guard, point, and out-rider protection.    So figure 12 people minimum in the gang.   Enough of a lead on the pursuers to take advantage of natural features of the terrain, but not enough to be sure of making an escape and the store becomes plausible.    Less than 10 or 12 and my skepticism goes up......(I know cattle drives were generally made with 10-12 hands driving 3000 head of cattle, but we're not talking cattle here).   Much more than  10-15 at the time of the fight and I'll start wondering why only 1 survived.

BA

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« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 11:46:58 pm by BitburgAggie_7377 »
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« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2011, 10:07:00 am »
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Well I am thinking more like 25 to 31 bandits. You can't drive loaded mules like cattle, mules have to be lead plus mules are slow not built for speed but for work.
Time is a big problem here not the burying of the loot but with the building of the rock pens makes little sense with all the natural fortification in the area. 31 mules loads is not that big of volume when its broken down. A well feed mule can carry 150 to 200 pounds of dead weight for hours  so we are looking at around 6000 pounds of gold or silver. If it was all silver your looking at about 10 cubic foot, all gold less then 5 CF, so it would not require that big of a hole.   

The waybill was in the possession of Matt Kivlin who lived in Live Oak county. According to legend Kivlin had the letter and another paper which he destroyed before his death in the 1890's. Dobie tells us that Kivlin showed the letter to only his wife and son and the second paper only to his wife. Only after his death did the waybill become common knowledge and folks started looking for it. But Dobie also said that several hunter searched for it before 1890, so maybe there was more then one survivor?Huh??

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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2011, 12:02:21 pm »
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Quote:Posted by seldom
You can't drive loaded mules like cattle, mules have to be lead plus mules are slow not built for speed but for work.


Yeah, I figured one string of mules per skinner with a maximum of 5 or 6 mules per string when I did my calculating --compromising between manageability and using as few people as possible for that task.   Ideally, you probably would have had 3 or 4 mules per string.  Of course, we also have to figure in remounts for the group....is each bandit leading their own string of remounts or do they have those under the watch of two, three, or four designated members?    But whatever number you come up with to handle the livestock, you'll need to add at least 6 to 8 to provide a protective screen around them.

By the way don't discount the mules too much when it comes to speed.....after all, they weren't trying to outpace thoroughbred race horses and they can keep going for longer than most horses.   A mule can have some good speed to it and mule races were pretty common for a lot of years.  Festus wasn't the only person by a long shot to regularly ride a mule in the old west.   But keeping a string of animals under control would definitely slow the bandits down (with or without full packs on the animals).

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« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 12:20:45 pm by BitburgAggie_7377 »
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« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2011, 12:41:55 pm »
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I agree in that country a good sure-foot mule is better then a horse any day. I am not trying to give mules a bad rap, I prefer mules over horses in bad country.

The reason I said 25 to 31 men is it makes sense that each man would be in charge of a mule and his remounts if they had remounts.   

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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2011, 04:15:59 pm »
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So basically, we're looking 12 members minimum to about 30 or 35 maximum, at least when they started out.    And we're probably looking for a place roughly 5 to 10 miles south of where the road from Laredo to San Antonio crosses either the Rio Grande or the Nueces.   We're also looking for an area where it wouldn't take much effort to form a couple of quick low walls between boulders to create a couple of pens/defensive breast works.   So, in addition to any documentary evidence we can gather either in English or Spanish, we've the possibility of using Google Earth to try to narrow down the search area.

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« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2011, 06:10:32 pm »
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I have not tried Google Earth but will later tonight.

Laredo Crossing south of the Nueces River

I don't think that's the crossing that Dunham meant in his letter. Dodie and several others historians  of the area talk about a crossing on the old Shiner ranch in Mullen county. The Shiner ranch was small for Texas only 40 thousand acres or so.

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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2011, 08:31:36 pm »
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Good grief, I read that subject line wrong! Shocker!

It reminds me of the fellow who started a company called Pen Island, which sold all sorts of pens. Mont Blanc, Cross and a bazillion fountain pens. Some things you just can't find in most stationary stores. How funny was his web page.

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http://www.penisland.com

Seriously. He changed his company name after 1000 complaints a day rolled in.

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« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 08:35:00 pm by GoldDigger1950 »
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