What a thrill to come across a treasure map filled with 200-year-old facts, gold coins and rich history. There is nothing better to find this while researching your family tree. The feeling must be equivalent to a winning lottery ticket, or finally knocking down that brick wall that you’ve struggled with for so long. Nevertheless, the facts reveal an extraordinary story and it all began in the winter of 1781.
February of 1781 finds the British Commander, Cornwallis, near present day Salisbury, NC. He was heavily supplied with 2,000 troops and making his way north. The British troops were exhausted due to the recent battles of Cowpens and King’s Mountain. The weather was consumed with rain and cold, but Cornwallis was traveling approx. 28 to 30 miles a day which was good considering the conditions. Several skirmishes were occurring due to river crossings such as the case on Beattie’s Ford while crossing the Catawba River. (read more) All of these factors were beginning to slow down the British troops and Cornwallis was trying to catch Greene and achieve victory in the Carolinas. The commander was also instructing his troops to leave supplies that were not needed, hoping to lighten the load and move the troops even more quickly through the area.
Cornwallis approached Abbott’s Creek, just south of Salem and camped within a horseshoe bend of the terrain. During the night, he instructed a few men to perform inventory of his supplies on hand. Once the inventory was completed, Cornwallis had the men to leave supplies in the area while taking note and mapping the area for return at a later date. Several items were discarded, among these, a barrel filled with gold and silver coins left in the creek itself. When dawn approached, the troops began the march to Salem and eventually found themselves at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse and General Greene. The battle left the British in a poor state and Cornwallis began traveling south and turning north again to reach Virginia. The contents of his inventory in Abbott’s Creek were left undiscovered and undetected. Or, so some historians tell us.
Through the next 200 years, the “barrel with gold” story would be told among neighbors, friends, political gatherings, family reunions, etc. And, over the years, several different versions of the story would be recited, handed down from one generation to the next. The first time, I personally heard the story was in 1994 and this story had the local militia attacking British troops along the bank of Abbott’s Creek. The men of the militia were able to gain the upper hand on the troops and rescued the supplies and the gold. Another source, “The History of The Lutheran Church of Abbott’s Creek”, carried the story further stating that British soldiers were killed and buried at the site which lies behind the Abbott’s Creek Church Cemetery, (older portion). I also began communications with fellow researchers who have experienced unexplained sounds, chills and other activity while researching the cemetery and the surrounding area. All of these factors entice the growth of both facts and myths of what really happened 200 years ago.
Then, I ran across a newspaper located in Spartanburg, South Carolina which contained an article about treasure in Abbott’s Creek.(link to article) It dates April 10, 1987 stating that a barrel filled with gold coins was located and retrieved near Abbott’s Creek and was estimated to be worth $1 million dollars. So, has the treasure really been found, or does the story go on? Let me hear from you, add your comments and opinions below.