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Meet my grandfather, Frank Mitchell.  He was born in the Ozarks in the years prior to WWI. He suffered from dyslexia which no-one had ever heard of, and by the 4th grade his formal education was over. 

His parents couldn't understand his learning disabilities in school but decided it's best he stay home and work the family farm and lumber mill and help put his eleven brothers and sisters thru school.0421200734.thumb.jpg.ad89d01c4c63c4478b82f6e86c939cde.jpgFast forward to WWII, Grandpa Frank is driving truck delivering goods for the war effort. His wife had been diagnosed with tuberculosis years earlier and is in a Little Rock Sanatorium. He's raising two daughters on his own. When the war concludes, he takes his daughters out of school, drives them to visit their mother in the hospital.

The hospital staff allows my grandmother out onto the grounds for a brief walk with her family but grandpa had other plans. He picks his wife up and with kids in tow dashes to their car. They drive away leaving AR in the rearview mirror and don't stop until they arrive in the Valley of the Sun

He buys a lot west of Phoenix along the Salt River, builds a home out of river rock his kids carry from the banks. Soon his best Friend from AR joins him and buys a lot nextdoor, builds his home.

Grandpa is offered a trucking route in west AZ, Parker, Quartzite and soon the family is living in the gold rich hills of Polomas. Yuma County, AZ. The home he buys there was built in the 1860s by Mexican placer miners and is on over a hundred patented mining acres.

 No indoor plumbing, no electricity, no neighbors, but not lacking in gold.FB_IMG_1587481682488.jpg.b29bf6595a6a2633899da96064bbf237.jpg

Over the next several decades, Grandpa drives truck and has his children and grandchildren working his enterprises. They raised mules for prospecting trips. Goats were raised for meat and milk...the sheep, well they didn't work out, too many lion.

Oh and gold was extracted from the placer deposits. A lot of gold.

Doctors from the Valley had formed a mining Corporation and leased a milling site from Frank. They had a 60' trommel built and delivered to the mill site. But after just a year the docs were realizing how much work and money was involved and they abandoned the wash plant. Now grandpa had a free trommel.

Grandpa didn't trust banks, not after living thru the Great Depression. The gold was beginning to accumulate. He put it in mason jars and coffee cans and got creative hiding it.

Then came his divorce. His wife could no longer take their pioneering minimalist life style. She made it known she was moving to Phoenix to live with my aunt. She wanted half of the marriages wealth too. But she'd have to find it first.

Fueled by equal parts greed, paranoia, anger and occasionally mezcal, Frank went on a gold caching binge. There was no way Frank was going to roll over for his ex bride and her subhuman rat like lawyers, NO! He hid his wealth, his retirement his love.

He hid gold so well that in his later life and declining health, when he thought it was all clear. When he thought it was time to buy things for his ex-wife out of guilt and love, he would spend countless days searching for where he had hid much of it.

Remember the home he built along the Salt River in Tolleson? It had been sold off decades earlier but his best friend of over a half century, still lived in the home he built next door to Frank.

Frank was in his 70s, his health rapidly declining from exposure to the sun, tequila and the 4 pack a day cigarette habit. He wanted to drive home one last time to AR. Ever present beside him in the old datsun pickup truck was a leather briefcase with a dozen. Mason jars full of gold.

He knew carrying gold was a risky venture. And the question of how much gold to take to AR weighed on his mind. On his way east, heading out on on I-10 he stopped at his buddies home. His friends wife wasn't fond of Frank.

A plan to cache some gold at his buddies house was carried out that night after the friends wife went to bed. A couple jars of gold were hid and Frank had no doubt he could trust his buddy.

Frank drove on to AR a couple jars lighter of gold but felt reassured caching gold was a smooth move, like having insurance.

Frank's health was bad. Family in AR convinced him to see a doctor. After an exam and xrays, The news was grim, lung cancer. In the days ahead a lung was removed the other left in diminished capacity.. It would be almost a year before Frank would feel strong enough to drive home to Arizona and tie up the loose ends of his excessive life.

But before leaving AR he received word from my aunts, his long time companion and confidant in Tolleson was dead, killed suddenly in a traffic accident.

This left him with quite the cunundrum. How to recover the jars of gold from the home of his late friend? 

One aunt tells me Frank's friends wife was bitter, even jealous of the two men's friendship. She was outwardly hostile towards Frank like a simmering pot ready to boil over. Frank stayed clear of her and never recovered the gold hidden below the homes wooden living room floor board.

My other aunt is much younger and has a slightly different recollection of where the gold was hidden. She says Frank confided to her it was buried in the homes side yard close to a stand of oleanders that separated that home from where Frank and my aunt had lived next door. She went on to tell me the home had a concrete floor, the gold is in the yard.

How much gold in a Mason jar? I wish I knew first hand.

EX. A quart jar holds 2 lbs of water. Gold weighs 19.3 times the weight of H2O, at $1,700 dollars a troy ounce...31 grams, you do the math.

But it wasn't the only time Grandpa lost gold.21626.jpeg.02486305957a5836193cb60d3860c5e6.jpegGrandpa's headstone

The mining operation wasn't a small one. Over the years, hills were literally flattened by him recovering gold.

790663012_Capture_2020-04-22-21-47-04.thumb.png.0bbcc5015492418824c05945563ac408.png

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Thanks for sharing the story. It’s always cool to hear it straight form the source.

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13 minutes ago, Desertpilot said:

Thanks for sharing the story. It’s always cool to hear it straight form the source.

When time allows, there will be a part two

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Darn it Tim, you've been holding out on us! :)  Great history and story telling!

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Nice story. Looking forward to part 2.

Was Frank born in Arkansas or Missouri?

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1 hour ago, Morlock said:

Nice story. Looking forward to part 2.

Was Frank born in Arkansas or Missouri?

Prattsville Arkansas

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WOW is all I can say! Waiting for part 2. And the pic of the gold spiral wheel  proves that some present day manufacturers are fibbing about being the original inventor. I have saw one about that same size actually running material from a hard rock mine almost automatically. I'll post that story someday maybe..

Max

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1 hour ago, Gilaoro said:

WOW is all I can say! Waiting for part 2. And the pic of the gold spiral wheel  proves that some present day manufacturers are fibbing about being the original inventor. I have saw one about that same size actually running material from a hard rock mine almost automatically. I'll post that story someday maybe..

Max

Yeah date of that article was 8/76

Was hoping posting the story here maybe some old timers.on the forum knew him?

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2 minutes ago, Edge said:

Yeah date of that article was 8/76

Was hoping posting the story here maybe some old timers.on the forum knew him?

Is the date of the gold wheel 1976 or did he invent it? Didn't know him, my loss, everyone's loss!

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1 hour ago, Gilaoro said:

Is the date of the gold wheel 1976 or did he invent it? Didn't know him, my loss, everyone's loss!

Date of the magazine article is 76

I have no reason to believe he invented or had any patent for the gold wheel.

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1 hour ago, Edge said:

Date of the magazine article is 76

I have no reason to believe he invented or had any patent for the gold wheel.

Sorry but I thought it was earlier. I will post the story some time about the one I saw at a single man mine site. He ran the skip and loaded it too, all from the bottom of the mine , I had been helpful to him and he invited me up, showed me the entire operation and gave me 5 gal bucket directly from the vein. Alas the wilderness area took this unique mine too.

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That is an awesome story and much appreciated. Men of that caliber are so few and far between it is a true pleasure just to know that it was posted on this site and I had the opportunity to read the adventure. 

Thank you I look forward to part 2. 

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I've been over in that area.  QMDC had a claim around there a few years back.  The washes out of those mountains carried some gold and were all claimed up for a while but some of them have been dropped now.

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I really enjoyed that. Looking for ward to the remainder.

Jim

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