My area here has been getting a little stale of late, and while going through some books, I reread some things that I thought might make for some good conversation.
It appears that for all the publicity that the Dutchman's Lost Mine has gotten over the years, there is another treasure in the Superstitions that is just as well known (to locals) but has gotten VERY little publicity. It is the legend of how a group of Jesuits, knowing that their time was drawing to a close in the New World, took most of the valuable Church Adornments from the Northernmost Churches and Missions, and hid them somewhere in the Superstition Mountains.
While some people may not have heared of any such treasures, many have.
Here is the legend: "For all their vows of poverty, the Jesuits were a wealthy order. Not too long before their expulsion (which they easily forsaw coming), they gathered up all the wealth and evidence of that wealth of the eighteen missions and churches from Sonora to Casa Grande. These included reliquaries, chalices, censors, candelabras, many of solid gold and silver. The mule train supposedly consisted of about 240 in number. The mules went into the Supers loaded and came out empty. Is there any validation for this story? None that has been shared publicly. Is it possible? ABSOLUTELY! From the journals of the Jesuit fathers themselves, we know what kind of wealth the Jesuits had. We also know that when Fray Junipero Sera (Franciscan) was tasked with founding the California Mission System, he was given permission to take anything he needed in the way of Church Vestments from what had been left behind by the Jesuits after their expulsion. What he found was nothing like what we know they had. We know what he found because we have his journals with exact notes of what was there. Nobody has ever been able to account for the difference between the two.
Ed Piper spent MANY years in the Superstitions. Most books and stories label him as a Dutch Hunter. That is not entirely correct. Piper spent his years looking for that Jesuit Cache. He had his camp set up by Weaver's Needle which is where whatever information he had suggested the treasure was.
A man named Harry LaFrance was said to have been hiking in the Superstitions, and when he took refuge in a cave from a sudden storm, he found a very large pile of gold bars. He said the bars were all stamped with what appeared to be a crown.
As a counter to Ed Piper, we have Celeste Jones, who was kind of a cult leader from California who claimed to have had visions of the Jesuit Treasure in which she was given fourteen symbols. One of which was an Alabaster Cross she supposedly found on Weaver's Needle. I say supposedly because I can't find any record of anybody else seeing it except her, and as luck would have it she blew it up while looking for the entrance to the cave she knew was there. Her camp was at Weaver's Needle as well, and we all know how competing treasure hunters like someone else that close by them looking for the same treasure. HAHAHA It eventually led to a gunfight between Ed Piper himself and a young man from Jone's Camp named Robert St Marie. St Marie took a dirt nap and Ed Piper was acquitted for self defense.
In Curt Gentry's Book "The Killer Mountains", he relates the story of how Glenn MaGill, while researching the Dutchman's Lost Mine, came to meet a newspaperman named Robert Crandall (pages 27-31). When MaGill said to Crandall that he understood Crandall had spent a good deal of time looking for the LDM, Crandall replied "Not five minutes. I've spent about ten years in those mountains all right, but I was looking for the Jesuit Priests' Treasure."
Here is what got Crandall hooked on the jesuit Priests' Treasure: "One time while visiting Ed Piper, he and Piper had happened upon a man near death in one of the canyons. He had been hiking he said, when he stumbled into a hole and broke his leg. On recovering consciousness, he had seen the figure of a priest standing before him. At first, he thought it was an hallucination, but on looking closer discovered it was a statue made entirely of gold (such a statue, life size, not only made of gold, but filled with gold dust was also part of the legend). The hole, the man discovered, was in reality a large cave. With considerable effort, he had finally had finally extricated himself. But when Piper and Crandall questioned him about the cave's location, he lapsed into unconsciousness. He died the same night at the hospital in Florence without ever recovering consciousness." Tell me that wouldn't make you an avowed treasure hunter after experiencing something like that?
The first couple of times I read the story, I assumed the man's leg had punched into a hole, and he saw the statue through the hole from above. After a closer reading, it appears the man had actually fallen through the roof of a cave and was laying in front of the statue. If the statue was life-size (about 6ft), and the guy was able to climb back out says to me that the cave roof must not have been very high up. Maybe eight or ten feet.
So, what have you got to add to the legend?