Friday, May 24, 2024

Charles A. Mills (author)

 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Charles A. Mills is an author and historian with a passion for uncovering hidden stories from the past. He has written several books related to the history of Northern Virginia and its intriguing legends and lore. Some of his works are:
“Virginia Legends & Lore”: In this book, Mills delves into the fascinating tales that have been passed down through generations in Virginia. These legends include stories about the “wild Spanish ponies” of Chincoteague, General Braddock’s lost gold, the Mount Vernon Monster, and even the Richmond Vampire. The book also covers historical figures like Revolutionary War heroes and Annandale’s Bunny Man. Mills weaves together secret societies, hidden knowledge, and cosmic mysteries, providing readers with an engaging journey through Virginia’s rich folklore.1
“Hidden History of Northern Virginia”: Another work by Charles A. Mills, this book uncovers lesser-known aspects of the region’s history. From forgotten events to intriguing characters, Mills sheds light on the hidden stories that have shaped Northern Virginia over time.
“Historic Cemeteries of Northern Virginia”: Mills explores the final resting places of Northern Virginia in this book. He delves into the history, architecture, and stories behind various cemeteries, revealing the lives of those buried there. The book provides a unique perspective on the region’s past.2
“Treasure Legends of the Civil War”: Mills has also written about treasure legends associated with the American Civil War. These tales involve hidden caches of gold, silver, and other valuables, often intertwined with historical events and mysteries.
“Virginia Time Travel”: Beyond his books, Mills is the producer and cohost of the cable television show “Virginia Time Travel.” The show reaches approximately 2 million viewers in Northern Virginia, making history accessible and engaging for a wide audience.3
Charles A. Mills’s dedication to uncovering hidden gems from the past has made him a valuable contributor to the understanding of Virginia’s history and folklore. His works invite readers to explore the mysteries and legends that continue to captivate our imaginations.4

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Legend of Apache Tears

 Apache Tears

Apache tears are rounded pebbles of obsidian found in Arizona.  The name "Apache tear" comes from a legend of the Apache tribe.

In 1872, a band of raiding Apache horsemen were ambushed by a United States Cavalry force from Picket Post Mountain.  This small band of Pinal Apaches lived high atop a mountain then known as Big Picacho.  The outnumbered Apaches were caught off guard in a dawn attack. Seventy five Apache warriors were killed in the initial attack, while the remaining Apache warriors rode off the side of the mountain, now known as “Apache Leap,” rather than surrender.

Relatives of those who died gathered a short distance from the base of the cliff and mourned their loved ones. Legend says their sadness was so great that their tears were imbedded into black obsidian stones. When held to the light, they are said to reveal the translucent tear of the Apache. Found in great abundance near Superior, just a short distance from historic Apache Leap, the Apache Tears are said to bring good luck to anyone who has them in their possession.

The sadness of the families was so great, that the Great Spirit turned their tears into black stones so that the warriors would never be forgotten.  Legend says that whoever owns an Apache tear will never cry again, for the Apache women have shed their tears in place of yours.

Friday, May 17, 2024

The Lost Dutchman’s Mine: Fact or Fiction?


Sorting out fact from fiction is the great challenge for anyone interested in searching for the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.

There was a Jacob Waltz, “the Dutchman.”  Waltz was born in Germany around 1810, and immigrated to America in 1839.  Waltz arrived in New York City, but quickly made his way to goldfields in North Carolina and Georgia.

Waltz did not strike it rich in either North Carolina or Georgia, but he learned a valuable lesson, that he had to be a citizen of the United States in order to stake a claim.  Waltz filed a letter of intent to become a citizen on November 12, 1848.

Gold was discovered in the newly annexed territory of California in 1849. The California fields eclipsed the gold fields of the East, and Waltz, like every other prospector, headed west.

Waltz worked as a miner in California for eleven years. On July 19, 1861, in the Los Angeles County Courthouse, Jacob Waltz became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Waltz left California in 1863, with a group of prospectors bound for the Bradshaw Mountains of the Arizona Territory. Waltz’s name appears on a mining claim filed in Prescott, Arizona Territory, on September 21, 1863.

Waltz moved to the Salt River Valley (an area near Phoenix and the Superstition Mountains) in 1868. 

It was now that Waltz began his trips into the mountains surrounding the Salt River Valley.  Did Waltz discover a rich gold mine or cache on one of these prospecting trips? Witnesses who knew Waltz, say Waltz prospected every winter between 1868 -1886. Waltz died in Phoenix, Arizona Territory, on October 25, 1891, in the home of Julia Thomas. Waltz gave Julia Thomas clues to the location of a mine on his deathbed.  Waltz is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery, in downtown Phoenix.

Jacob Waltz, the “Dutchman,” was dead. But the clues he left as to the location of his mine remained alive in the dreams of Julia Thomas. Julia had looked after Waltz before he died, and was the first of a long line of hunters for the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.  Julia sold all of her worldly possessions to finance a fruitless search for the mine.

Many historians believe that Julia Thomas gave an interview to Pierpont C. Bicknell, a freelance newspaper writer and prospector, shortly after her return from the Superstition Mountains in September of 1892.

It is with the coming of Pierpont C. Bicknell that things become murky.  Prior to Bicknell’s arrival, there was little public mention of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.

On November 17th, 1894, an article by Pierpont C. Bicknell describing a lost gold mine offering unlimited riches was published in the (Phoenix) Saturday Review. Bicknell wrote during the age of “yellow journalism” when newspapers reveled in stories based on sensationalism and crude exaggeration.  Bicknell did not disappoint.

Bicknell whetted the appetite of the would-be treasure hunters and made the search seem relatively simple.  He wrote, “The district designated is not extensive. It lies within an imaginary circle whose diameter is not more than five miles and whose center is marked by the Weaver's Needle, a prominent and fantastic volcanic pinnacle that rises to a height of 2500 feet.

The legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine might have withered into insignificance had it not been for the mysterious death of Adolph Ruth, an amateur treasure hunter, in the summer of 1931.

The same year, a group of folklore-loving boosters founded the “Dons of Arizona” to promote the colorful folklore of the state, including the Legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.  In 1945, Barry Storm published Thunder God’s Gold, which was made into a major motion picture Lust for Gold in 1948, starring Glenn Ford as Jacob Waltz.  In 1949, the Peralta Stones were unearthed, giving a further boost to the legend.  In 1964, Life magazine did a spread on the

Peralta Stones, giving yet further credence to the legend.

Whether true or not, the Lost Dutchman's Mine is the most famous treasure legend in American history. The Lost Dutchman's story has been written about at least six times more often than the story of Captain Kidd's famous lost treasure.  According to one estimate, eight thousand people annually make some effort, however half-hearted, to locate the Lost Dutchman's Mine.

Arizona Legends and Lore

Thursday, May 16, 2024

The Lost Dutchman's Mine and the Peralta Stones

 For over fifty years after the death of Jacob Waltz, treasure hunters followed the ambiguous clues that the Dutchman left behind as to the whereabouts of his mine. Something significant changed in 1949 when the so-called Peralta Stones were discovered in the desert.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Dutchman's Curse: Mysterious Deaths in Arizona's Superstition Mountains


Over six hundred people have lost their lives in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, some under very mysterious circumstances.  In 1892, Charles Dobie became the last known death caused by an Apache in the Superstitions.  I stress the words “last known” because of the legend of the “Black Legion,” a secret group of militant Native Americans, which supposedly did and does protect the sacred burial grounds in the mountains.

Legends of the Superstition Mountains