Treasure hunters Kevin Dykstra and Frederick J. Monroe think they might have found a clue that will lead them to a lost Confederate ship filled with treasure in the depths of Lake Michigan.
In 1972, "my grandfather told me a story that he heard from a lighthouse keeper, who originally heard it during a deathbed confession, that there's $2 million of gold bullion inside a boxcar that fell off a ferry into Lake Michigan,” Monroe said.
George Alexander Abbott gave his deathbed confession about the treasure in 1921 and the story had been passed down through the generations. Abbott was the vice president of Hackley National Bank and the pair believes the gold belonged to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate states, who fled Richmond in 1865. Though he was captured, his gold was still missing.
The same year Monroe’s grandfather told him the story of Abbott’s deathbed confession, a friend told him about the possibility of other good being on board. "He told me about a boat that has a cabin in it, which has a safe in it, and inside the safe, there was jewelry, gold and silver," Monroe said. The pair recently dove into the wreck for the first time, where they made a discovery that they think will lead them to the gold-filled boat.
Though the treasure hunting duo actually found the legendary shipwreck Le Griffon in 2011, they didn’t go public with the discovery until 2014 — after they consulted with maritime experts. The pair admitted they were looking for ship filled with gold when they discovered the wreck of Le Griffon.
"We were searching for the boxcar when we decided to make one final pass and head out towards deeper water," said Dykstra. That’s when they discovered what looked like boat sitting upright on the lake’s floor.
"I was actually hovering over the bow of the ship, and when I looked down, I could see the windlass very clear," said Dykstra. "Just back from the winch, I came across the mast, which was sticking straight up.” During the team’s first dive into the wreck, they discovered that the boat was remarkably unchanged by time and Dykstra noticed a safe inside the cabin.
"To find a boat with a cabin intact, with a safe, while we're looking for the boxcar, the odds just seem too far that it must be related," said Dykstra.
Monroe was excited by the discovery. "It just makes everything come together,” he said.
The pair is now petitioning the state of Michigan to let them remove the safe. "If that safe is opened, and there's gold, silver and jewels inside, to us, it really puts the boxcars a lot closer," Dykstra said.
The state archeologist has not offered a comment on if Michigan will keep the safe at the bottom of the lake or allow the duo to recover it.
Image via USA Today