Chapter Three – Thrill Seekers Unite
By David L. Anthony
The late 1700s saw the evolution of the United States from a colony to an independent country. Native Americans played a critical role in that process. Many historically documented events speak of George Washington meeting key Indian leaders like Red Jacket, Cornplanter the Seneca warrior chief, and his brother Handsome Lake, each having great respect for the other. The six nations of the Seneca were instrumental in developing the Ohio area, and many treaty negotiations were held in Sandusky and Dayton, Ohio, to layout agreements between the two powerhouses. The Shawnee Indians were part of that great nation and thrived on the border areas of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. We are all aware of the unfortunate outcome of the negotiations between the white settlers and our native Americans. Greed for the riches of the Indians oftentimes seemed to be a driving force behind some of these so-called honest debates.
We find Douglas Stacy on a journey to locate Indian artifacts for the Bronze Lantern Oddities and Cutlery Emporium in the area where a treasure from this time in history is known to exist. A lost treasure, one that could make a man extraordinarily wealthy but solve a centuries-old mystery surrounding the legend of the “Shawnee Silver Mines of Ohio.” Uniquely, Mr. Stacy’s trip had nothing to do with this lost treasure, but he would find something far more valuable in his quest.
His day ended with a meal at a local tavern and a sip of Kentucky bourbon to help him reflect on current events. He had met with several locals and purchased some Wampum belts for his business. During the Revolutionary times in early America, the Wampum belt was the gold standard as a currency or honorarium. Wampum is constructed of shell beads and used by the eastern woodland tribes of native Americans. It includes white shell beads hand-fashioned from the North Atlantic channeled whelk shell and white and purple beads made from the quahog or Western North Atlantic hard-shelled clam. Strings of wampum were used for storytelling, ceremonial gifts, and recording important treaties and historical events. In addition, trading amongst the leaders of the US and Indians often began with Wampum belts to show strength and sincerity in the forthcoming discussions. So, Douglas had a few excellent examples to display at his place of business in Ironton, Ohio.
Sitting alone at his dinner table, he notices an unusual patron approaching the bar area. Dressed in an engineer’s type coat with a fedora hat, tall leather boots, and pants billowing at the thighs. The voice that requested a gin and tonic was not that of any man he had ever heard. The eloquent figure wheeled around to survey the other guest. Much to Douglas’s surprise, he discovered the stranger was not a man at all but a lovely woman with flowing red hair and matching green eyes. Needless to say, he was intrigued by this statuesque figure. In all his travels, he had never seen someone so captivating.
Now Mr. Stacy never fancied himself as a man about town and rarely found time for idle chit-chatting with female counterparts. His business kept him on the road quite a bit, and Ironton was the only semi-permanent location he frequented. However, as a handsome man, always well dressed, he too stood out from the crowd. He felt an urge to meet this woman and devised a quick scheme to gain her attention. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a stag-handled pocketknife. It was well used for good reason, as it was his everyday carrier. He sauntered to the bar and asked for another bourbon, carefully tossing his money and accompanying pocketknife towards the bartender but allowing the knife to land near the woman intentionally. She immediately took notice and turned towards Douglas, and looked him up and down carefully. Grabbing it up and opening the blade, she read the tang stamp immediately.
“Hmmm, Napanoch, it seems you have good taste in knives.”
She mentioned that his well-used knife did not match its owner very well. She was indicating that he didn’t seem the well-worn type!
He reached out a hand and asked her what her name was? Reluctantly she said it was Anna Geiger. He introduced himself and asked if she would consider joining him for dinner. This was the Victorian times, and ladies weren’t often even allowed in this type of establishment, but this wasn’t just any lady. That was obvious to anyone who had made her acquaintance. Needless to say, Mr. Douglas Stacy was smitten with the beautiful Anna Geiger.
The conversation quickly turned to what she was doing in this area. The story mesmerized the infatuated Mr. Stacy. It seems that when the Shawnee Indians took a prisoner from nearby white settlements in Ohio and Kentucky, they were forced to walk about a half-day to the village of Chillicothe. This supposedly was the site of a Shawnee silver mine. The blindfolded prisoners were marched to the site and made to carry heavy sacks of silver back to the village. Those who have looked for the hidden treasure mine found it elusive, as more than one village went by the name Chillicothe in this area. The tribe often moved their village, further complicating the situation. It seems the name Chillicothe was on the Scioto River, the Little Miami River, the Great Miami River, and others. They reported that the silver came from a location not far from a stream. Well, that narrows it down to hundreds of potential sites!
Chillicothe on the Little Miami was considered the best source of silver, as it was the largest of the villages. This is the area where Anna had chosen to focus her efforts on finding the treasure mine. She had found old maps that supposedly showed the location. It dated back to the days of Daniel Boone, as Chief Blackfish held him, prisoner, in the village for a time, and Daniel Boone took note of the silver mine. Another famous Indian named Tecumseh was born in the village of Scioto and lived on the Little Miami, where present-day Oldtown is now located. Anna loved the history that stemmed from this area.
It seems those that made the trek to the mine were unsure if they walked upstream or down, and of course, the streams had numerous branches. All of this was well planned by the Indians to ensure no one would reveal the actual location of the riches; obviously, it worked quite well. The multiple branches were the case for all of the possible villages—the confusion held true for the Maumee and St. Mary’s River locations.
Anna Showed Douglas paperwork that revealed in her opinion that the Little Miami region was a possible choice, but was it? The village was destroyed in 1780 by George Rogers Clark during an Indian skirmish. The choice location may have been a village on the St. Mary’s River, as Anna saw it. The village developed on the “Great Black Swamp” that stretched from Western Lake Erie to the Indiana state line. It held some year-round dry areas, and the Shawnee located there after the destruction of the lower villages. British forts in Michigan reported trading with the Indians for the silver treasure. They wore silver amulets, armbands, and chest plates crafted from the mineral. The Seneca leader, Red Jacket, was painted in the early 1800s wearing a large silver medallion. Some say it was a gift from the Americans; others say it was from the silver mines in Ohio.
Douglas could hear the excitement in her voice as she detailed the area she had been searching and felt confident that she would soon locate the source. Douglas asked if he could assist in the search, but Anna quickly shut him down. She trusted few and only had just met our adventurer. Truth be told, he understood her reluctance and decided to offer to help move the silver on the open market if she was lucky enough to locate the source. Now, this interested Anna, and the hesitation between the two eased. Stacy provided her with his address and invited her to visit the Bronze Lantern in the near future. She agreed that it sounded like her kind of place and indicated that she might stop in sometime. At the close of dinner, he carefully took her hand and pretended to read her palm. Your future holds many adventures, and love is closer than you think. In a rare moment of schoolgirl antics, she giggled a little and brushed the hair from her eyes. That was all Stacy needed to give him hopes of seeing her again. They parted that evening, and each wondered if indeed they would ever meet up.
It was several months in passing, and Stacy began to fear he might never see the red-haired thrill seeker. She didn’t provide a contact, as she never stayed in one place too long. As a researcher for a major university, she was tasked with finding historical items and claiming them for the advancement of higher education. In some manner, the two shared a similar love of vintage items and antiquities. He dreamed about what a team they could have become.
High Eagle went upstairs and knocked on the office door. Ms. Delario called for him to come in. She and the boss were reviewing some invoices.
“Mr. Stacy, you have a visitor.”
He asked for High Eagle to have them return later as he was knee-deep in bookwork.
“Sir, I could be wrong, but I think you’re gonna what see this person.”
Reluctantly he trudged downstairs, expecting a local politician seeking his support or something of that nature. To his surprise, there stood Anna wearing a leather aviators cap, goggles, a leather vest, gloves, and that beautiful red hair. She looked over the prominent display of knives and asked to see a doctor’s knife with tortoiseshell handles. In her line of work, she quite often needed the spatula attachment and commented this one would suit her well.
She slapped some money on the desk and said, “I’ll take it!”
He laughed and said that it could only be bought if the new owner would have dinner with him. She quickly agreed and of the two went to the finest dining establishment in the town. They headed to the Hotel Marting at the corner of Park Avenue and 2nd street. His good friend Carl H. McClung was the manager, and he knew he could get a great table to impress his lovely guest. This place was known as ‘Ohio Valley’s Best.’ As they entered, the duo had to pass by the prying eyes of the barbershop and billiard parlor patrons. But, of course, everyone knew Mr. Stacy, and word about his new companion spread quickly. After all, she certainly cast herself as an oddity, sporting the aviator’s cap and goggles. However, to Mr. Stacy, it seemed perfectly normal, and he was proud to have such a lovely and unique companion for the evening.
During one of their many hours-long discussions, it became clear that things would be more than just business partners. Although Anna said, she failed to find the Indian silver cache in the river areas. Uniquely she was sporting a newly handcrafted silver necklace with Indian markings. Stacy arranged to travel to New Orleans for the annual Mardi Gras celebration. She had never been to this area and was excited to see something new. She was looking for a new journey to occupy her time. It was based on his supposed desire to locate some voodoo-related items to add to the store’s selection of unusual wares. The duo traveled by paddlewheel down the Mississippi and landed at the Big Easy just prior to Valentine’s Day. Traditional Victorian valentine events meant a lavish card with romantic but not questionable prose. A lady was to be treated in a particular way, and the protocol was in order. Anna wasn’t a traditional Victorian woman by any means, and Douglas opted for something completely different. He booked a surprise Valentine’s visit with Ms. Rita Larue.
Ms. Larue was a Haitian immigrant that practiced the mysterious art of Voodoo. Her specialty was love potions and casting spells on couples to ensure a lasting relationship. Mr. Stacy may have failed to tell his partner of Ms. Larue’s specialty, but at his point, he was more than willing to try anything to win her over. Then, of course, they had to endure all of the mystic language and rituals required to get to this romantic state, but if anyone was up to it, it was Anna and Douglas. Both were made to drink an intoxicating liquid. Smoky leaves were rubbed up and down each of their arms to chase away all unwanted spirits. Ms. Larue spoke in Haitian, and neither understood what she was saying, but they didn’t need to. They looked in each other’s eyes enough to seal the two adventurers’ future. A red liquid was used to draw a cross on each of their faces, and a trance-like state overcame both of them. Each awoke hours later feeling completely exhausted but overwhelmed in the bond that was now between them. Was it voodoo or simply the faith of each that love had found them? Ms. Larue knew the answer and requested her final fee before they left to find a preacher to marry them. The southern charm had worked its magic.
Fat Tuesday greeted the newly married couple as they walked down Bourbon Street in the vast crowd that had gathered. For this pair, it couldn’t have been any better. They both expressed disappointment in returning to Ironton, but all good things must come to an end. Soon after their return from New Orleans, Anna received a telegraph. Yale University needed her to investigate the possibility of the “Lost Dutchman Mine.” Believed to be in the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction, east of Phoenix, Arizona. This was just the kind of thing Anna loved. As she finished reading the telegraph to Douglas, she looked up to see him smiling. He knew she had to go. The wanderlust of this woman could not be held at bay. Two days later, she boarded a train for Phoenix. Just before boarding, she whispered in Douglas’s ear, “upon my return; I will be a little bigger around.” He knew immediately what it meant and hugged and kissed this beautiful woman who was now carrying his child.
While she was gone, only a handful of telegraphs came it. She was deep in the mountains, and it was nearly impossible to get a message out. Then, months later, a knock at the door in the middle of the night startled the employees. The officer asked for Mr. Stacy, who just happened to be in town by chance. Unfortunately, it seems the research team in Phoenix became separated from Anna, and a flash flood made a search for her impossible. Once the water retreated, they found her gear at the bottom of a draw, but no sign of her. Days passed, and the search was finally called off.
Douglas immediately left for the site and spent weeks on foot searching for his beloved Anna. He called out her name and built large fires in hopes she may spot them. In desperation, he offered a considerable reward for any information on her whereabouts. It was all in vain, though. It appears that the love of his life had been swept away in the flood and most likely buried deep in the mud. His wife, his child, and his sanity were now gone. What was he to do? How would he ever get over the loss of such a special person in his life?
He reluctantly returned to Ironton and attempted to put his life back together again. In her honor, he dedicated an area of the Bronze Lantern. It was decorated with rare and unusual items only found in the Superstition Mountains. The centerpiece was a tortoiseshell-handled doctors’ knife that was found near the flood site. His heart was broken, and it would be a long time in healing. Nevertheless, he immersed himself in his work, the only thing he knew to ease his mind from the tragic loss. A telegram arrived almost a year later; it simply said “ANNA” and nothing else. He wiped the tears from his eyes and wondered why anyone would play such a cruel trick on him. The telegraph went in the trash, and Douglas went on with his life.