In this article we will be looking at the mystery of the Thomas Beale treasure and the cryptogram that is supposed to reveal it’s location…
Thomas J. Beale
The year was 1920, a man named Thomas J. Beale walked into a Inn in Bedford County and handed the owner ( Robert Morriss ) a small rugged box.
When the owner looked back up to offer Mr. Beale a drink he was already halfway out of the door – he never returned.
Robert Morriss was not what you’d call a curious man so he set the battered old box aside and managed to forget about it for over twenty years.
Coming across it again sometime in the 1840’s, Morriss was curious and opened the box. He was a little disappointed to find three sheets of paper inside the box that made little sense. They contained rows and rows of numbers that made no real sense.
He contacted a friend who had some experience with codes and handed them over to see what the outcome would be. This friend spent the next two decades of his life trying to decipher the numbered message.
Beale Treasure Code
He eventually caught a break with the second sheet of paper – the numbers finally made some sort of logical sense. They revealed that there were large quantities of priceless treasures buried in the area of Bedford County…
“I have deposited in the county of Bedford, about four miles from Buford’s, in an excavation or vault, six feet below the surface of the ground, the following articles, belonging jointly to the parties whose names are given in [paper] number three, herewith:
“The first deposit consisted of ten hundred and fourteen pounds of gold, and thirty-eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver, deposited Nov. eighteen nineteen. The second was made Dec. eighteen twenty-one, and consisted of nineteen hundred and seven pounds of gold, and twelve hundred and eighty-eight of silver; also jewels, obtained in St. Louis in exchange for silver to save transportation, and valued at thirteen thousand dollars.
“The above is securely packed in iron pots, with iron covers. The vault is roughly lined with stone, and the vessels rest on solid stone, and are covered with others. Paper number one describes the exact locality of the vault, so that no difficulty will be had in finding it.”
Unfortunately this sheet of paper failed to reveal where these wonderful treasures were buried.
In 1880 the strange cryptogram papers and the story of the Thomas Beale treasure were published. There was an instant interest and rush of treasure hunters upon the area. Nobody had any sort of luck locating the secret riches.
The Beale Treasure Papers
In modern times, many different computers along with expert cipher codes have been used to try and crack the code on the final two sheets of paper.
Many cipher professionals believe the code to be nothing more than a senseless hoax put together by this Beale character and the owner of the inn.
They questioned why the sheets of paper were so different to one another – why was a different coding used on each page?
Then there’s the fact that the second sheet, which was successfully decoded, contained words and grammar that were not suited to the 1820’s. They appeared to be from a time much earlier than that!
The Beale Treasure Mystery
The final piece of the mystery surrounds the man himself – who was Thomas J. Beale?
The surviving 1810 United States census records only showed two men of that name at the time and they were not located anywhere near Bedford County. The later census in 1820 also failed to give any information on this strange character.
People are still trying to decipher the complex coding surrounding the Thomas Beale treasure but even modern day computers cannot crack it.
Was this nothing more than an elaborate hoax? Please leave your opinions in the comment section below…