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My Grandfather's Tail Of A Privateer & Hijacked Gold Shipment


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 This is a story that originated with my great great grandfather & was told to me many years ago by my grandfather. It has never been verified   A raw gold shipment from a mine in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California bound for processing was hijacked on a lonely mountain road & taken to a port on the west coast. The haul was purported to be somewhere between $50,000 - $75,000 at the time of the theft. A ship sat waiting to be loaded and a man by the name of William Shears was the captain. They sailed north along the coast all the way to Washington state where they unloaded the booty & buried most of it. My grandfather told me he believed it is still there. 

   According to my grandfather the shipment was placer gold & was heading for a small smelting operation not too far from the mine. Someone had advance knowledge of the date of shipment and planned the robbery. He said there were five armed men on horseback who did the strong arm robbery while taking the two freight men hostage. By the time the mine owners were notified of the heist it was too late to find it. The thieves had planned everything out. They took it by water to a remote location far from the place of the robbery.

   How did my grandfather know this? It seems my great great grandfather was one of the mine owners. My grandfather called the ship captain a privateer. According to his story the  thieves ran into problems moving the raw ore once back on land in Washington state & buried a good part of it. He said there was information given to the family back in the early 1900's that the gold was never found due to changes in terrain due to severe storms. However, my grandfather told me he thought he had a good idea of where the gold was hidden but was too old to look for it & my father had no time or interest in conducting a treasure hunt. 

   My grandfather believed a man named William Shears was responsible for the planning of the heist. He said he was a sea captain from England with a bad reputation. As he told the story, Captain Shears took the ore into the harbor at Bellingham, Washington where it was off loaded into a freight wagon to be transported into Canada which he said was about 30 miles north. He said something happened on the way to Canada but refused to tell me what for some reason. At this time in his life he was very sick & frail and I didn't want to push him for more than he wanted to give. He said the gold was hidden in freight containers that were disguised as other items. He said there was an old road up there where the freight wagon stopped and the gold was burried not too far off the road. Why they didn't make it into Canada & who was waiting for it there is a mystery.

   With some help in research I found out there was indeed a Captain William Shears recorded in the 1851 census records. His address was Elliot Court Enumeration District Marlborough King in Devonshire county. His place of birth was Devonshire England and he was 46 years old in 1851. He was listed as married to wife Sarah age 43 & had a son James age 7 & daughter Mary age 2. Occupation was listed as Master Mariner. I have no idea if there really is a buried cache of gold somewhere between Bellingham & Canada but the story is intriguing. 

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7 minutes ago, GhostMiner said:

 This is a story that originated with my great great grandfather & was told to me many years ago by my grandfather. It has never been verified   A raw gold shipment from a mine in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California bound for processing was hijacked on a lonely mountain road & taken to a port on the west coast. The haul was purported to be somewhere between $50,000 - $75,000 at the time of the theft. A ship sat waiting to be loaded and a man by the name of William Shears was the captain. They sailed north along the coast all the way to Washington state where they unloaded the booty & buried most of it. My grandfather told me he believed it is still there. 

   According to my grandfather the shipment was placer gold & was heading for a small smelting operation not too far from the mine. Someone had advance knowledge of the date of shipment and planned the robbery. He said there were five armed men on horseback who did the strong arm robbery while taking the two freight men hostage. By the time the mine owners were notified of the heist it was too late to find it. The thieves had planned everything out. They took it by water to a remote location far from the place of the robbery.

   How did my grandfather know this? It seems my great great grandfather was one of the mine owners. My grandfather called the ship captain a privateer. According to his story the  thieves ran into problems moving the raw ore once back on land in Washington state & buried a good part of it. He said there was information given to the family back in the early 1900's that the gold was never found due to changes in terrain due to severe storms. However, my grandfather told me he thought he had a good idea of where the gold was hidden but was too old to look for it & my father had no time or interest in conducting a treasure hunt. 

   My grandfather believed a man named William Shears was responsible for the planning of the heist. He said he was a sea captain from England with a bad reputation. As he told the story, Captain Shears took the ore into the harbor at Bellingham, Washington where it was off loaded into a freight wagon to be transported into Canada which he said was about 30 miles north. He said something happened on the way to Canada but refused to tell me what for some reason. At this time in his life he was very sick & frail and I didn't want to push him for more than he wanted to give. He said the gold was hidden in freight containers that were disguised as other items. He said there was an old road up there where the freight wagon stopped and the gold was burried not too far off the road. Why they didn't make it into Canada & who was waiting for it there is a mystery.

   With some help in research I found out there was indeed a Captain William Shears recorded in the 1851 census records. His address was Elliot Court Enumeration District Marlborough King in Devonshire county. His place of birth was Devonshire England and he was 46 years old in 1851. He was listed as married to wife Sarah age 43 & had a son James age 7 & daughter Mary age 2. Occupation was listed as Master Mariner. I have no idea if there really is a buried cache of gold somewhere between Bellingham & Canada but the story is intriguing. 

   Remember, dead men tell no tails.

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