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From the Book 'Short Stories of lost Treasure in the Adirondacks' by
Hoang Ho copyright 1996
Central New York has a history of inaccessability and transportation
problems. The Mohawk River, because of its many twists and turns
proved to be difficult to navigate except with small canoes. Before
the Erie Canal was built trade routes proved to be more profitable
north at the St. Lawrence River. The Mohawk Valley lost its immediate
appeal to the wealthy financiers and enterprising traders of the
The hustle and bustle of the European and Middle Eastern royalty's
business of the day included trades for properties in the New World.
The pirate age began and coincidentally, Spain decided to send an
exploratory expedition north from their inland post of operations in
present-day Tennessee. A man named Sanchez was to lead the
expedition, but some said the famous explorer Pizzarro was to get
full credit for the job. Of course full credit meant a kind of a
first in the mapmaking business, and also all the treasure that was
The Spanish fleet has made the most of their early explorations in
Central and South America. Hundreds of tons of gold and silver had
leveled the economy of Europe. The bloody conquest gave its support
to, and was blessed by, the Pope. Many people in Spain profited by
the structure of the economy. Otherwise luckless youths were educated
to master trades associated with the many voyages and overland travel
of the explorers. The expedition leader Sanchez was one such youth.
He was neither well-born nor well educated. His courage and fighting
ability was the reason for his appointment. The comparison here would
be that of a convicted death row inmate being asked to lead a suicide
mission. Little was known about the area north of Tennessee, but
Sanchez was determined to find out.
The excesses of gold and the greed that ensued has transformed the
trade into a lazy sort of compliance with fate as the years rolled
on. Gold was a nonchalant thing. There was so much of it that army of
accountants kept track to their best ability. But back in Spain the
favors of the royal court were bandied about with such fervor and
confident abandonment that the same gold was promised to different
people two and three times over. To keep up there was creative
bookeeping and secrecy enough to confuse a genious.
Eventually, through many negotiations, a chest of gold was secured
for Sanchez' mission and then another chest for his responsability to
transport to Portugal was assigned to him. Finally a third chest with
an unknown purpose of transit was added. Sanchez had roughly 60 men
to start his journey. A Native American councillor or guide was to
accompany the group to as far as where Reading, Pennsylvania is now.
Any further ventures north would be the responability of Sanchez
alone. As far as Sanchez knew there was to be no rendezvous with
another Spanish force, only a round trip as the crow fies sort of
journey. It is unclear whether the Sanchez expedition engaged in any
fighting. Perhaps an important navigator got sick and died, but at
any rate the expedition soon got lost. The records of the trip are
scant, but a crude map showed the presence of a river running north
and south before emptying into the sea. The distorted proportions of
the map when viewed today would seem to show the areas of New York
and the Hudson River. The expedition included small chariot-like
carts to haul the chests of gold and other supplies down the old
indian trails. There were about ten of these carts and about as many
Cherokee and other slaves to tend them and the animals that pulled
them. It was possible that there was Native American blood in Sanchez
as well, perhaps Seminole or Mexican as a result of some earlier
tradte between Native American and explorer.
At any rate, Sanchez seemed to understand his slaves and they gave
him no trouble. The same couldn't be said for his Spanish
compatriots. There was almost constant bickering between them and it
got so bad that the expedition divided into two or sometimes three
groups as the journey wore on. Sanchez had already accused his cook
of trying to poison him, and it may well have been an aborted attempt
on his life. The intrigue and complicated moves of the Spanish royal
court had made any casual jump in class difficult and at the same
time relatively simple to achieve. Among the Sanchez expedition there
were more than a few who aspired to his authority and post of
Due to miscalculation and confusion, the expedition had already
crossed the Hudson River back and forth three times. They would cross
the river with hastily built rafts and then travel for a few days and
recross it further north or south, depending on the erratic direction
of the group. There was no interference from Native Americans on this
particular journey although they may have been observed at various
stages of the trip. Some of the slaves escaped however, and Sanchez
was forced to punish some of the others for the transgressions of the
escapees. The whole expedition had been gone only 40 days when
Sanchez elected to turn south towards Tennessee again. His expedition
had become so ragged and disorganized that he could only account for
about half of his party. Some were stuck on the other side of the
river without rafts or the tools to build them. Others had decided to
continue the journey on their own in hopes of receiving individual
credit from the Queen of Spain. When Sanchez counted his stores he
realized that his original outfit of one chest of gold was all he
could account for.
As he headed south with the remainder of his band he followed the
Hudson River and fished the waters for his meals. One evening as the
cook fires died out there was a great commotion. Sixteen stragglers
who had been inadvertently left on the other side of the river began
to jump into the river to swim or push tree branches ahead of them to
stay afloat. These terrified survivors of their ordeal related to
Sanchez a pitiful tale of being lost in the woods and losing their
slaves. They also left behind one of the chests of gold and the third
chest was left unaccounted for as well.
Perhaps the chests of gold and reale coins simply rotted away with
the years, and are still sitting where they were left, near the banks
of the Hudson River.
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