J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

The Hunt for Confederate Gold

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Myths surround what happened to the Confederate gold. After President Jefferson Davis fled Richmond at the end of the Civil War, the gold from the Confederate capital’s treasury disappeared. Some say it was buried somewhere in Georgia, where Davis was captured. Others say it was distributed throughout various southern states and is still being guarded by descendants today. And a third theory is that Michigan cavalry, who captured Davis, took the gold and hid it in a boxcar sunk at the bottom of Lake Erie. All of these hypotheses are interesting, to say the least.

Now the History Channel has been attracted to the century-old mystery. Here is an article about the History Channel’s coverage regarding the missing Confederate gold.

History Channel exploring Confederate Gold in Michigan

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A theory involving Confederate Gold and Muskegon’s most well-known philanthropist might be featured on The History Channel.

A television crew visited the Hackley Administration Building on Oct. 27, under the guise of interest in its bell tower’s architecture.

“We had The History Channel here,” said John Snyder, Muskegon Public Schools facilities and transportation supervisor, at a committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 14. “It had to do with Charles Hackley and the Masons and Confederate Gold.”

The visit wasn’t what he was expecting, but was “interesting,” he said. Snyder was told the show would air during April.

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“I thought it was about the historical architecture and the clock tower,” Snyder said in a follow-up email. “They tied it into Confederate gold, the Masonic Temple masons (and) how Hackley was getting richer while other lumbermen were losing money. A lot tied in with a previous MLive article about Hackley Park looking like a Confederate flag/bible.”

The theory is that Charles Hackley paid tribute to the Confederacy with park’s layout.

Prometheus Studios of Los Angeles emailed MLive on Dec. 6 to ask permission to use content from a series of stories on the theory that were published in March.

Programs produced by Prometheus Studios include “Blood and Glory: The Civil War in Color” and “America’s Book of Secrets,” according to its website. It’s clients include The History Channel and H2.

Associate Producer Rick George did not immediately return a call for comment.

Dykstra – one of two researchers behind the Muskegon-Confederate Gold theory – couldn’t say much.

“That grew some very long legs – very long legs,” he said of MLive’s coverage of his theory. “It got the interest in moving things along. … There’s an exciting project going on.”

Dykstra and research partner Brad Richards theorize that Hackley was part of a plot to hide and transport the Confederate Treasury – $10 million-worth of gold and silver – from Irwinville, Ga., to Muskegon, Mich., after the Union Army’s Michigan 4th Cavalry captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1865.

They further theorize that Hackley used his share of the take to donate numerous buildings and endowments to the Muskegon community, including Hackley Park, Hackley Administration Building, Hackley Public Library, Hackley Art Gallery and Hackley Hospital.

“It’s farfetched,” said Annoesjka Soler, executive director of the Lakeshore Museum Center in Muskegon in a previous interview after hearing Dykstra and Richards present their theory.

“We don’t feel there are a lot of facts in there cited from primary literature,” she said. “They’re going to have fun with it … I’m sure it will bring up a lot of interest. It’s very speculative, a lot of conjecture tying a lot of loose pieces together.”

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Many historians have called the theory into question, especially because they say it was disproven that Davis had the treasury with him when he was captured.

(Courtesy Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Dec. 29, 2017 ed.)

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