Arguments Against the Validity of the Beale Treasure Story and Their Counterarguments
I read somewhere on the Internet that there has been considerable debate over whether
the remaining two cipher texts are real or hoaxes. This sounds correct, but is it? I would concede that there is disagreement
as to whether the remaining two cipher texts are real or bogus, and for that matter, whether the treasure story itself is
real or not. And, it is clear from information found on the Internet that many negative arguments have been put forth against
the validity of the treasure story. And, these negative arguments have been repeated again and again, largely without
supporting evidence, ostensibly for the purpose of "doing good" by preventing others from wasting valuable
time in search of a treasure that doesn't exist.
But, this repeating of the arguments against the treasure story, without any rebuttal, is akin to a
trial in which one hears the case for the prosecution, but omits hearing the case for the defense. Thus, one must admit that the
often repeated arguments against the treasure story have not been properly vetted.
There has been too little discussion and consideration of this points, except for the present website
and two books (Viemeister's The Beale Treasure and this author's two volume set the Beale Treasure
In my opinion, unless and until the negative arguments raised against the validity
of the treasure story have been properly vetted, and found to withstand criticisms and counterarguments, they cannot be accepted
I do concede that some arguments against the treasure story sound good at first glance, and counterarguments
are not so easily seen or constructed until one thinks about them for a while. But the ease with which an argument is put
forth is not the measure of whether it is correct or incorrect. It seems to me that many Beale investigators
have accepted the often repeated negative arguments against the treasure story without considering the counterarguments,
and hence have jumped the gun in accepting that the Beale treasure story is a
hoax, when in fact the story may be true. Moreover, I find it interesting and somewhat ironical that arguments against the treasure story can sometimes be "turned" to form more substantial
Let me give a couple of anecdotal examples which have nothing to do with the Beale treasure
story, but will serve to illustrate, in part, what I'm talking about. The examples demonstrate that it is easy to misread
the data and form one conclusion, while a different conclusion may be reached only after a more thoughtful examination
of the data has been performed. Here are the examples.
Some of you may remember the long running TV show Perry Mason.
Perry Mason was the attorney for the defense and Hamilton Berger was the prosecuting attorney. A woman was stabbed to death
in her apartment. Her boyfriend was arrested and charged with the murder. At a Hearing, Berger introduced the following evidence:
The murder weapon, a knife, was found next to the body, although without fingerprints. However, the defendant could be
placed in the apartment on the night of the murder on the basis of two used wine glasses found on a coffee table near the
body with the defendant's fingerprints on one of the glasses. Other evidence was introduced showing that the defendant had
a motive for the murder. This was the substance of the state's case against the defendant. The fingerprints were the crucial
piece of evidence that would convict the defendant, as it placed him at the scene of the crime. But Mason responded with the
following counterargument: If the defendant had committed the murder, he wore no gloves, as his fingerprints were found on
the wine glass. But, as there were no fingerprints found on the murder weapon, it meant that the defendant had to wipe his
fingerprints off the murder weapon before leaving. But then, why didn't the defendant (a reasonable and intelligent man) also
wipe his fingerprints from the wine glass? As there was no good answer to this question, the fingerprints found on the wine
glass actually formed a more convincing argument that the defendant had not committed the crime.
Two gardeners were employed
by the owner of a rich estate. The owner's bothersome cat followed the gardeners wherever they went. On the day in question,
the cat was found stabbed to death next to a well located on the property. The bloody weapon was found in the tool box carried
by the first gardener. There was no one who could have killed the cat except for one of the two gardeners. But, as the murder
weapon was found in the first gardener's tool box, he was immediately blamed for the crime. An arbiter was called upon to
settle the case. The arbiter, an astute man, concluded that the second gardener had committed the crime. This was his
logic: If the first gardener had killed the cat, he is more apt to have done so by simply tossing the cat into the well without
stabbing it. At the very least, if the cat had been stabbed, the first gardener would have disposed of the weapon, most likely
by tossing it into the well. But being a man of reasonable intelligence, he would never put the bloody weapon in his own tool
box. The second gardener killed the cat and placed the weapon in the first gardener's tool box hoping to incriminate him.
Thus, while it might seem that the bloody murder weapon would have convicted the first gardener, it actually vindicated
With respect to whether the Beale treasure story is a hoax
or not a hoax, many of the examples below show the same at first blush "not true," at second blush "could be
true" pattern. You will find that the difference between "not true" and "could be true" is largely
a matter of more fully considering all available data.
In the discussion
term BTS I refers to Beale Treasure Story: The Hoax Theory Deflated.
The term BTS II refers to Beale Treasure Story: New Insights.
1) A stylometric analysis performed on the text in Ward's
pamphlet provided evidence showing that the pamphlet was written in "one hand," thus indicating that the Beale Papers
were a hoax most likely perpetrated by James B. Ward.
(updated July 22, 2012): A pamphlet written by multiple authors and then rewritten or revised by one of the authors could appear to be written in "one hand." Thus, proof that Ward's pamphlet was written
in "one hand" does not constitute proof that the pamphlet was written by just one author. See BTS I, pp. 234–35,
BTS II, pp. 57–8.
In BTS I, Chap. 9, evidence is presented to show that Ward's pamphlet had three authors, regardless whether
the treasure story is true or false. This result taken together with the styloetric analysis, which showed that the pamphlet
was written in "one hand," means that the pamphlet had to undergo a major revision by the author of the pamphlet.
I will briefly describe ten inconsistencies found in the pamphlet, which taken together, provide strong evidence (a proof
of sorts) that the pamphlet was written by more than one author. For purposes of later reference, I shall number
the inconsistencies "one" through "ten."
ONE: Suppose the pamphlet
was written by a single author. If so, then the author elected not to number the three ciphers. But by doing
so, he created a "numbering debacle" for himself. Why so, you ask. Well, the author then said he numbered Beale's ciphers
according to their length, only to discover after deciphering the longest of the ciphers (No. 2) that Beale had assigned numbers
to the ciphers based on a different scheme for numbering. The two remaining ciphers were obviously numbered No. 1 and
No. 3. But which was which? In the pamphlet, the author assigned numbers to these remaining two ciphers. But there
was no explanation for how the author knew which was No. 1 and which was No. 3. It is understandable how this might happen
if there were more than one author. But, if the treasure story was a hoax and there was just one author, it is difficult to
believe that the author would create such a fiasco for himself. If there was one author or hoaxer, he would have simply numbered each of the ciphers and then said that
it was Beale who had numbered them. See also item #3 in the list.
TWO: We know from an examination
of cipher No. 2 and the decipherment of No. 2 that Beale's Declaration of Independence was different from the pamphlet's Declaration
of Independence. If there had been only one author (implying the treasure story is a hoax), it seems likely that the
author (or hoaxer) would have selected and used only one copy of the Declaration. In other words, the copy of the Declaration
printed in the pamphlet would have been the same copy used to encipher Paper No. 2. Thus, two different Declarations suggests that there was more than one author. But there is more. If there was one author (or
hoaxer) and two different Declarations had been selected, then the following would seem to be true: There is a possibility
that the author would simply number the words in the second Declaration and make the reasonable assumption that this numbered
copy could be used to correctly decipher cipher No. 2. However, as the pamphlet prints a purposely misnumbered copy
of the second Declaration, we know that if there was one author then the author discovered that cipher No. 2 could not be
deciphered with a correctly numbered copy of the second Declaration. So, what can be inferred from this? Well, at the point
at which the author discovered that cipher No. 2 could not be deciphered with a correctly numbered copy of the second Declaration,
we should ask ourselves this question: What would be the simplest step that the author could take to remedy the
problem? Would the author solve the problem by purposely misnumbering
the words in the second Declaration, so that a correct decipherment of cipher No. 2 could be obtained? I think not. I think
it more likely, perhaps much more likely, that he would have solved the problem by simply discarding the
second Declaration and printing (in the pamphlet) a copy of the correctly numbered first Declaration. In other words,
he would make use of the same copy of the numbered Declaration that had been used to encipher Paper No. 2. Of course,
if the author was determined to print the second Declaration in the pamphlet, the problem could also be resolved by making
corrections to the affected numbers in cipher No. 2 so they would decipher correctly and then print a correctly
numbered copy of the second Declaration in the pamphlet. But that would involve more work, although it does represent
a possible remedy. To me, the pamphlet's misnumbered Declaration serves
as evidence that the pamphlet's author was not the author of the ciphers, and that the pamphlet's author was
unable to ask the author of the ciphers for a copy of his Declaration or for help in correcting the affected numbers
in cipher No. 2. The pamphlet's author was forced to remedy the situation on his own, without any help.
THREE: Does it seem odd to anyone that word 1005 (representing letter "X") was not numbered in the
pamphlet's Declaration? If there were just one author, that author should have had no difficulty in numbering every word in the
pamphlet's Declaration, which had been used to create his enciphering key, and in turn used to encipher
Paper No. 2. It makes no sense for the word representing letter "X" to have been left unnumbered in the pamphlet's
Declaration, provided that there was just one author. Cipher number 1005 is used four times in cipher No. 2, and it could
hardly be overlooked when the words in the pamphlet's Declaration were numbered. If there had been just one author, that author
would have had no difficulty in numbering each word in the pamphlet's Declaration. However, failure to number word 1005
could easily be explained if the ciphers and the pamphlet's text had been created by different authors. In that case, the
pamphlet's author who had not created the ciphers was unable to figure out what word in the Declaration should be numbered
1005, as there is no word beginning with the letter "X," and he was unable to consult the author of the ciphers
in order to remedy the problem. That is exactly the situation if the treasure story is true, viz. the pamphlet's anonymous
author had no way to consult Beale. Although a similar situation could have occurred if the treasure story were fabricated
and there were two authors and the author of the ciphers happened to be deceased at the time the pamphlet was written
by a second author.
FOUR: Does it seem odd to anyone that the pamphlet's decipherment of B2 has no less than six instances of words and
phrases that are different from the actual words and phrases in a correct decipherment of B2? The correct
decipherment contains the following words and phrases: three, ten hundred, thirty eight hundred, nov eighteen nineteen,
dec eighteen twenty one, thirteen thousand dollars, and one. The pamphlet's decipherment contains the following corresponding,
but different, words and phrases: 3, one thousand, three thousand eight hundred, november 1819, december 1821, $13,000, and
1. It also contains the extra words "for silver" not present in the actual decipherment of B2. These differences
can be explained as different preferences in wording if there were more than one author, but less so if there were only
one author. One author is more likely to have remained consistent in his choices of words and phrases.
FIVE: In reference to Beale's second visit to Lynchburg, a question has been raised about the point in time when
Beale gave Mr. Morriss the locked box containing his ciphers and letters of importance. Beale says that "It
was at this time I handed you the box," which is somewhat ambiguous. Although, from the context in Beale's letter, the
words "at this time" would seem to indicate that he handed the box to Morriss upon arriving at Morriss'
boarding house. On the other hand, Morriss says that he was given the
box in the spring of 1822. These two apparently conflicting statements actually provide a strong indication that there was
more than one author of the pamphlet. If there were just one author, we would expect the descriptions to
be in better agreement. But, the fact that there is some disagreement, or apparent disagreement, indicatres that the
statements were authored by different persons. Yet, these two different statements have an easy explanation. Upon
arriving at Morriss' boarding house, Beale could have recognized that
Mr. Morriss was in a much better position to protect the box during his sojourn
there, and so asked Mr. Morriss to hold the box for him. He may have requested the
box from time to time in order to consult or place papers in it. But, before departing in the spring of 1822, he likely
requested the box a final time to ensure that everything was in order, and then handed the box to Mr. Morriss asking
him to guard it with care and vigilance during his absence.
SIX: There are differences
in the descriptions of the contents of the locked box. Mr. Morriss says that the box contained some old receipts. Concerning
the papers in the box, the author of the pamphlet says there were "two or three of an unimportant character."
This reference to the receipts was different from that of Mr. Morriss. In another description of the contents, the pamphlet's
author omits any reference to the old receipts. If there were only one author, we might expect better agreement in these different
descriptions. The fact that there is some disagreement indicates that the statements were authored by different persons.
SEVEN: There are differences
in the descriptions of who the custodian of Beale's key was. Beale says he left the key in the hands of "a friend
in this place [St. Louis]." The pamphlet's author speculates by saying that the key may possibly remain in the
hands of some "relative or friend of Beale's, or some other person engaged in the enterprise with him." This discrepancy
is serious. It seems inconceivable that one author would provide such different descriptions. Beale was very precise
in his description. The pamphlet's author was "wishy washy."
EIGHT: In the pamphlet's text attributed to Mr.
Morriss, there is a statement saying that "It was in the month of January, 1820, while keeping the Washington Hotel,
that I first saw and became acquainted with Beale. In company with two others, he came to my house seeking entertainment for
himself and friends." The words "seeking entertainment" seem awkward and out of place. During that period,
there were houses of public entertainment and houses of private entertainment, which were sometimes simply referred to
as "houses of entertainment." A keeper of a house of public entertainment was licensed to provide good,
wholesome and clean lodgings and diet for travelers, and stableage, fodder and provender for their horse. Plus, the keeper
could sell liquor to guests. The keeper of a private house of entertainment was licensed to do the same, except he was
not permitted to sell liquor. During the period from mid-1819 through 1822, Mr. Morriss operated a boarding house or
house of private entertainment at his residence in Lynchburg (his own house). He did not lease the Washington Hotel
until the fall of 1823. These facts can be substantiated by Lynchburg newspaper advertisements and by Lynchburg
court records. When Mr. Morriss says that Beale came seeking entertainment, there is no doubt in my mind that this statement
must have originally been phrased to say Beale came seeking a house of entertainment for himself and friends. The
pamphlet's author, who must have been unfamiliar with the term "house of entertainment" unwittingly changed the
wording from "house of entertainment" to "entertainment." It seems inconceivable that Mr. Morriss
would have stated that Beale came seeking entertainment, and doubtful that anyone familiar with Mr. Morriss' career as an
innkeeper would have made such a mistake. But, the mistake in wording is more readily explained if two different
authors had been involved. The reasoning is this: If there was one author, it is doubtful that he would craft a
sentence saying that Beale came seeking entertainment. But if the sentence had been originally written by a first author
to say that Beale came seeking a house of entertainment, then it is conceivable, and believable, that a second author
(not familiar with the term "house of entertainment," half-thinking that the first author's statement must have
at least been partially correct, and thinking that the first author must have meant "entertainment" instead
of "house of entertainment," even though "entertainment" by itself did not necessarily make perfect
sense) could have unwittingly edited and changed the sentence to say seeking entertainment. Hence, it seems more
likely that two authors were involved, not just one.
NINE: In addition to making a mistake about "entertainment"
versus "house of entertainment," it appears that the pamphlet's author is the one responsible for the obvious mistake
of inserting the words "while keeping the Washington Hotel" in the correctly worded sentence "It was in the
month of January, 1820, that I first saw and became acquainted with Beale." The pamphlet's author must have been unaware
that Morriss first took in boarders at his own residence or house for a number of years before removing to the Washington
Hotel. Inserting the words "while keeping the Washington Hotel" would have been a simple editorial change to the
text. Now, as it turns out, a hotel could be called a hotel or a house, which may seem confusing. But in our case, it is important.
The several references to Mr. Morriss' "house" found in Beale's letters were correct no matter whether Mr. Morriss
was operating out of the Washington Hotel or out of his own residence. Thus, when the pamphlet's author made the (presumed)
editorial change to indicate that Morriss was operating the Washington Hotel in 1820, there was no need to change Beale's
references to Morriss "house" by replacing the word "house" with the word "hotel." In
fact, the pamphlet's author no doubt thought that Beale's references to "house" were meant as references to the
Washington Hotel." However, the references by Beale to "house"
and the reference to "Washington Hotel" by the pamphlet's author (speaking for Mr. Morriss), argue only marginally
that there were more than one author. If there were only one author, there is a chance that Beale's letters would have
been written with some reference to the "Washington Hotel." But instead, Beale used the word "house,"
This creates the curious situation in which Beale's letters are historically correct; they agree with actual known facts.
Whereas, the pamphlet author's statements are historically incorrect. But, that can be explained regardless whether the treasure
story is true or untrue, as years later the pamphlet's author could easily have been confused about the time when Mr.
Morriss leased the Washington Hotel.
TEN: Beale's letters and the pamphlet itself contain two forms of writing style: narrative and expository. Examples
of expository writing are giving directions or giving instructions. This style of writing often includes
second-person pronouns such a "you." The expository style of writing in Beale's letters contain 16 instances of
the use of words "you will." The text in the pamphlet attributed to the pamphlet's author contains nine sentences of
expository style writing, ample text in which to find similar uses of the phrase "you will." But, this
text contains no use of the words "you will." This difference is easily explained if two authors with
different writing styles were involved. But, the 16 instances of "you will" in Beale's letters and zero instances
of "you will" in the expository text attributed to the pamphlet's author seem unlikely if there were only one
Taken together, the ten cited inconsistencies
provide strong evidence that more than one author was involved in writing the text in Ward's pamphlet.
And, as said above, the fact that a stylometric analysis performed
on the text in Ward's pamphlet provided evidence showing that the pamphlet was written in "one hand," supports the
only remaining possible conclusion, namely that the text in the pamphlet must have underwent a major revision (regardless
whether the treasure story is real or fiction). Moreover, if treasure story is fiction, then it means the pamphlet was not
fabricated by James B. Ward working alone, as so many have mistakenly concluded and claimed.
In fact, it can be shown that there were three authors who contributed text to the pamphlet, again regardless whether
the treasure story is real or fiction. I will give some insight as to how this conclusion was reached. The pamphlet's text is first divided into three groups: (a) Beale's letters and ciphers, (b) the text attributed
to Mr. Morriss, and (c) the text attributed to the pamphlet's anonymous author. Suppose that the authors of these three different
texts are designated as "A," "B," and "C." Inconsistencies No. FOUR, No. SEVEN and
No. TEN argue that A≠C; No. FIVE and No. NINE argue that A≠B; and No. SIX argues that B≠C. Thus, the only way for all
conditions to be satisfied is for A≠B≠C, or for authors "A," "B," and "C," to be all
different. The details can be found in BTS I Chap. 9.
2) Beale's letter of January 4th, 1822, uses the words "stampeding", "improvised"
and "appliances." These words were not in common usage in 1822. According to Nickell ("Discovered
the Secret of Beale's Treasure"), the earliest known printed source for "improvised" was 1837. The
earliest printed source for "stampede" appears to be Kendall's Santa Fé Expedition, 1844 (vol.
1, p. 96). This is offered as evidence that Beale's letter must have been written later than 1822 when the
words in question were in common usage, and hence that the treasure story must therefore be a hoax.
Response (updated May 30 and Sept. 30, 2012): The occurrence of
three words in the letter of January 4th, 1822, that were not in common usage in 1822, does not constitute proof that
the letter itself was written later than 1822. The words "stampeding," "improvised," and "appliances"
could have been added later by the anonymous author of the pamphlet during an editing step or as part of the revision
of the pamphlet (argued in #1 above). This action could have been taken in order to make the text read and
flow better, in effect making it more suitable for publication and more marketable. From the
perspective of an editor, B1 and B3 were the only texts in the pamphlet that could not and must not be changed. But, Beale's
letters could be reworded and rewritten without altering the storyline or changing the facts connected
with the story. Faced with a choice of preserving every word in Beale's letters (without change) or allowing editing
changes to be made in order to make the text cleaner and crisper, an editor is apt to do what he does best—edit!
The word "stampeded" is
also found in Josiah Gregg's Commerce of the Prairies, 1844 (v. 2, p. 169). Oddly, the word "stampede"
is found in several non-English books, including the following: Jens Moller's Theologisk Bibliothek,
1820 (v. 1, p. 276), Dansk Ordbog, 1820 (v. 3, p. 233), Danmarks Kronike, 1819 (vol.
2, p. 285), and Ny Minerva, 1806 (v. 86, p. 209). However, I am uncertain whether these instances
of "stampede" have the same meaning as the English equivalent, and so no claim is made.
word "stampedo" is mentioned in Charles Murray's Travels in North America, 1839 (v.1, p.350), which
Murray described as "the fierce and uncontrollable gallop of thousands of panic-stricken horses." "Stampedo," or
"rush of horses," is also found in The Military and Naval Magazine of the United States, 1835 (v.
4, p. 298) and in Washington Irving's A Tour on the Prairies, Paris, 1835 (p. 162), as well as several other
works of this general time period. The early use of the word "stampedo" was eventually replaced by the
word "stampede." If Beale had used the word stampedo, and I'm not saying he did, but if he did, then there
is no doubt in my mind that the anonymous author would have changed this word to stampede. But even more likely changes
could also have been made.
Nickell was wrong about the earliest use of the word "improvised." The word "improvised"
is found on page 119 of the August issue of The Athenaeum, a Magazine of Literary and Miscellaneous Information,
July to December, 1808, Vol. IV. London, together with the following footnote: "This new-coined verb is introduced to
avoid circumlocution, for this time only: therefore I hope your readers will excuse it. I conjugate it after the regular verb
Beale investigator Kenneth W. Dobyns did his own independent
research of the anachronisms (words that appear to be used in the wrong period of time) occurring in Beale's letter of January
4, 1822 (see also Beale Codes—Were They a Hoax?). He focused on the words "stampeding", "improvised"
and "applicances." Although the first use of the word "improvised"
appears to be 1808, Mr. Dobyns pointed out that the use of the word "improvised" in The Athenaeum
refers to the art of making verses all' improviso, and that the new-coined English word "improvise" is
a substitute for the Italian word, having the same meaning. Hence, Dobyns concluded "it thus appears that the use
of the word IMPROVISE in any sense other than in connection with extemporaneous speech or musical performance was unknown
prior to about 1854." This appears to be the most trustworthy date so far advanced. Dobyns' also concluded that the words "stampeding," "improvised," and "appliances" were
not in common usage at the time Beale wrote his letter of January 4th, 1822, and thus Beale's letter was not written
as early as claimed. I agree with the evidence, but I disagree with Dobyn's conclusion. The evidence proves
only that the three words were not written as early as 1822; it doesn't prove that the letter itself could not have been
written as early as 1822. The three words could have been added later, provided that a reasonable explanation
for doing also exists.
The point is this: In writing his letters, Beale could have used descriptive phrases that the
anonymous author later shortened during an editing step, or in some few cases using a more descriptive word either not
available or not in common usage when Beale wrote his letters. Such changes could have been made without changing the sum
and substance of the letters. Hence, the words "stampeding", "improvised" and "appliances" found
in Beale's letter are not proof that Beale did not author the letter; the words could have been added to Beale's
letter by the pamphlet's anonymous author during an editing step or as part of a revision of the text performed by the pamphlet's author prior to the pamphlet's publication in 1885, as argued and demonstrated
in item #1 in this list. See also BTS I, p. 235.
With respect to the immense herd
of buffalo that members of the Beale party encountered, Beale may have described the event
by saying "securing many and frightening the remainder, causing them to rush off." The
anonymous author might have recognized that the words "frightening the remainder, causing them to rush off"
could be replaced by a more descriptive and contemporary phrase "stampeding the rest."
With respect to the tools and appliances that had been improvised by Beale's men, Beale's description
may have read something like this: "Every one was diligently at work with such tools and implements as they had
constructed themselves....' The pamphlet's anonymous author could have replaced the words "constructed themselves"
with the word "improvised" and the word "implements" with the word "appliances."
I think people have been too hasty in concluding that Beale's 1822
letter was not written as early as claimed on the basis of three words that could have been added much later during
an editing step or as part of a revision of the text by the anonymous author of the pamphlet, or perhaps even by
a professional editor working for the Virginian Book and Job Print charged with the task of finalizing the
pamphlet for publication.
3) How did Beale, who allegedly wrote the message found in cipher number two, know that it
would be deciphered first? Because, if it wasn't, then his reference to the other ciphers would not make sense. And, secondly,
if he was confident it would be deciphered first, why didn't he refer to the other ciphers as number two and number three,
which would have been the normal and logical thing to do.
Response: The "key" left with a friend in
St. Louis could have contained an instruction requesting Mr. Morriss to first decipher the cipher beginning with number
"115," i.e., to decipher No. 2 first.
Moreover, there are different strategies for numbering the ciphers.
Numbering based on the order in which the ciphers were intended to be deciphered is just one possibility. It was not the strategy
followed by Beale.
It appears that Beale numbered the ciphers on the basis of their importance and on the basis of the order in which
they were conceived. Thus, the paper with the directions to the burial site was of the greatest importance, and so it was
called No. 1. By default, and because at this early stage there were only two papers, the paper describing the contents of
the burial site was called No. 2. Later, when Beale decided to encipher the list of names in his party together with the names
of the heirs and their addresses, that paper was by default called No. 3. See BTS I, pp. 237–40.
4) When James Gillogly deciphered B1 with the "key" to B2,
he observed several instances of monotonic increasing sequences of letters. The longest letter string contained 21 letters
and looked like this: ABCDEFGHIIJKLMMNOOPPP (with two clerical errors corrected). Gillogly concluded that the most probable
explanation for these letter strings was that B1 and B3 were bogus ciphers created by randomly selecting words in the key
text for B2 and occasionally, for fun and to relieve boredom, selecting words that would form monotonic increasing strings
Response: If cipher B1 is bogus, there would be no reason for the letter strings to be imperfect.
A letter string wouldn't need to look like this: ABCDEFGHIIJKLMMNOOPPP (with two clerical errors corrected), when
it could as easily be created to look like this: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTU. But, if B1 is genuine, it would mean that the strings
were created using a method of double encipherment, and it would likewise mean that the cipher numbers corresponding to the
letter strings could be deciphered with two different keys to produce two different meaningful decodings. As a practical matter,
because double encipherment introduces an extra degree of difficulty into the enciphering process, it is reasonable to expect
that imperfect letter strings could be created using the key to B2, but most likely impossible to create perfect
letter strings with as many as 21 letters.
The imperfect letter strings that occur in the plain text when B1 is deciphered with the key
to B2 would seem to more strongly indicate that B1 is a genuine cipher than a bogus cipher. A purpose for the longest
string of 21 letters is given under section "B1 is Likely a Genuine Cipher" on page Length of Cipher B3 Offers Evidence that Beale Treasure Story is True. accessible on this website. See also BTS I, pp. 125, 241–42,
364, and 383, and BTS II, pp. 52, 63, 263.
Ward's pamphlet mentions that Robert Morriss was the proprietor of the Washington Hotel as early as 1820. But a notice published
in the Lynchburg Virginian, December 2, 1823, offers evidence that Mr. Morriss did not lease the Washington Hotel until 1823.
Response: This inconsistency is just one of several inconsistencies found
in Ward's pamphlet. These inconsistencies are sometimes cited as examples showing that the pamphlet must be a hoax. Actually,
the inconsistencies are valuable resources that allow the authorship of the pamphlet to be established. For the specific answer
to this concern, see inconsistency No. NINE in item #1 in this list. See also BTS I, pp. 252–56.
6) Col. George Fabyan, owner of the famed Riverbank Laboratories, examined
the Beale ciphers. In 1924, he wrote: "It seems improbable to us that a cipher of this character could be deciphered
by a novice without the key, regardless of whether he put 20 years or 40 years on it. The stumbling of a novice upon a method
of this character lies rather beyond the range of possibility ...."
Response: Fabyan's statement lends some credence to
the notion that the anonymous author of the pamphlet may have actually been in possession of Beale's key. At first glance,
this twist would seem to be completely incompatible with the pamphlet's storyline. But, actually, it isn't. This possible
twist to the storyline is the subject of Chapter 3 "Speculations about the Missing Key" in BTS II. See
also BTS I, p. 9, and BTS II, pp. 47, 76, 84. Yet, over the course of 20
years, a novice wouldn't necessarily remain a novice. The pamphlet's author very likely studied different treatises on cryptography,
and educated himself in this subject matter.
It is also worth noting that consecutively numbering the letters
in a key text or numbering the words in a key text and using the initial letters of each word to form the key do seem
to represent two of the simplest methods of developing a key from a text. While there are endless ways to develop
a key from a text, the methods tend to grow in complexity and become more difficult to describe.
7) Paper No. 3 is purported to contain the names of 30 members in Beale's
party plus the names and addresses of the relatives and others to whom they devise their respective shares. In other words,
there are 618/30 or roughly 20 or 21 letters available to describe two names and one address, which seems much too small
of a number.
Response: If one makes the reasonable assumption that some of the men in the party were related,
say, brothers or cousins with the same last name, and that some of the heirs resided in the same location, with the same post
office address, and if Paper No. 3 were constructed to take advantage of this apparent redundancy, then it is possible to
construct a paper satisfying all conditions in as few as 618 letters. Five concrete examples serving as proof of this
statement are given in BTS I Chap. 7 and BTS I Appendices 13 and 14. This same conclusion was reached by other
Beale researchers, as well.
8) According to the anonymous
author, after receiving the papers from Morriss, he "arranged the papers in the order of their length, and numbered them
...." However, the ciphers given in Ward's pamphlet are not numbered in the order of their length. How did the anonymous
author know which of the two unsolved ciphers was numbered one and which was numbered three?
Response: Obviously, without Beale's key, the anonymous author would have no way to know which of
the two unsolved ciphers was to be numbered one and which was to be numbered three. He would have to make an educated guess.
Hence, it seems logical that the pamphlet's author would assign number three to the longest cipher and number one to the shortest
cipher. After all, if one were concerned that 618 cipher numbers was insufficient to contain a list of names of
members in Beale's party plus the names of the heirs and their addresses, then 520 cipher numbers would seem to arouse even
greater concern. One can fault the author for not explaining what he did, but not for making an illogical assignment of numbers
to the ciphers. See BTS I, pp. 237–40.
The references to Papers No. 1 and No. 3 in decoded Paper No. 2 are looked upon with suspicion. The pamphlet's author, it
is argued, added these references, attempting to give some legitimacy to the other ciphers. There seems to be little benefit
or need for Beale to provide this information to Morriss, and certainly Beale would weigh the perceived benefit against the
added burden of enciphering the information.
Response: In all likelihood, the ciphers were unnumbered for reasons
of security, as the numbers might suggest their relative importance and possibly provide some hint as to which of the ciphers
should be attacked first. The instructions accompanying the "key" left with a friend in St. Louis would tell Mr.
Morriss how the ciphers should be numbered. For example, the cipher beginning with number 71 should be numbered "1,"
the cipher beginning with number 115 should be numbered "2," and the cipher beginning with number 317 should be
numbered "3." The instructions would also tell Mr. Morriss to decipher No. 2 first.
For security reasons, the instructions accompanying
the key would give no hint as to the nature of the information contained in each cipher. Only after cipher No. 2 had been
deciphered would Mr. Morriss know that No. 2 described the contents of the vault. And only then would he learn the nature
of the information contained in No. 1 and No. 3. At that point, Mr. Morriss could use his own judgment as to which cipher
was to be deciphered next. See also BTS I, p. 240.
It is strange that the original Beale letters and papers containing the ciphers have disappeared and (apparently) have never
been seen by anyone except for Mr. Morriss and the anonymous author.
Response: It is possible that the original papers
may still rest in private hands, and the existence of these papers may be known only within a small family circle.
It may be the case that
the anonymous author intended to release the original papers by donating them to a library or archive, but died
before his good intentions could be realized. I am reminded that no one should die without first making a will, yet it happens
On the other hand, because of Beale's wordy style of writing, the pamphlet's author may have
found it necessary, for reasons of cost, to omit portions of the text from Beale's letters so that the pamphlet would
have 24 or fewer pages. And to avoid possible embarrassment, which would naturally follow once the original
papers were released and compared against the papers published in the pamphlet, he may have decided against releasing
the original papers. See BTS I, pp. 235–36.
11) Beale's claim that he and his men arrived in Santa Fé in December, 1817, where they spent
the winter, is inconsistent with documented accounts of American's who entered the Spanish territory without a valid passport
issued by the Spanish authorities and were arrested and put in prison.
This argument is well taken. However, there is evidence that in the spring of 1817, just at the time the Beale party arrived
in St. Louis, relatives of American captives held prisoners at Santa Fé were in possession of a copy of a letter
written from Don Luis de Onis, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, to Viceroy Apodaca in Mexico City, also addressed
to Governor Allande at Santa Fé, which the relatives wanted hand carried overland and delivered to the Governor. The
letter asked for the release of the American prisoners held captive at Santa Fé. If this letter had been accepted by
the Beale party, it could have been their "ticket" and safe passage into Santa Fé. The chain of correspondence
and evidence surrounding and explaining this matter is carefully outlined in Chapter 8 of BTS I.
12) How is it possible for 30 hardworking miners to keep a secret about incredible
wealth for over four years?
Response: This argument should be restated to say: "I am certain that the secret about
incredible wealth could not have been kept a secret for four years. Therefore, if the story is true, the secret must have
leaked out. But because I can find no evidence of such a leak, it is only reasonable to conclude that the story must be untrue."
Actually, there is evidence that knowledge of Beale's mine did leak out. The leak is thought to have occurred
as a result of Beale's exchange of approximately three tons of silver ore for jewels valued at $13,000 dollars, which
was concluded at St. Louis sometime in the fall of 1821. The person or persons at St. Louis who were involved in this transaction
must have surmised that Beale's company had discovered and mined the silver ore somewhere
in the western country. In his book Seventy Years on the Frontier, Alexander Majors describes an 1827 silver
expedition to locate a silver mine allegedly discovered near the Rocky Mountains in 1823 by James Cockrell. The 1827 expedition
did find a once worked silver mine as Cockrell promised. The point here is that Cockrell's discovered silver mine could
have been Beale's mine, and Cockrell could have learned of its location by trailing Beale and his men
(keeping at a safe distance) upon their return to the mine in the summer of 1822. The complete story is
given in BTS I, pp. 221–25.
13) A weak point in the Beale treasure story is Beale's statement that one man in the party "recommended
Santa Fé" as the safest place to deposit their accumulated gold and silver.
I agree, this is a weak point in the treasure story. However, it should not be overlooked that 29 others in Beale's party
disagreed with this recommendation, and advocated its shipment to the States. Moreover, the IQ of the person making this statement
is unknown, nor do we know how much thought went into the recommendation, how serious the man was who made the recommendation,
or how much the recommendation may have been influenced by the prior winter's sojourn in Santa Fé. See BTS I,
14) The Beale treasure story seems to have too many
coincidences to be a true story. For instance, James B. Ward's grandfather, James B. Risque, fought a duel with Thomas Beale
of Botetourt County, Va. Later, James B. Ward was selected to publish the pamphlet describing a treasure story whose central
character was named Thomas J. Beale and who was in no way connected to the Thomas Beale of Botetourt County. That alone
seems like too much of a coincidence.
Response: The matter can be turned around to say: "If the
treasure story is true, it means there is likely to be explanations for most of these apparent coincidences."
In fact, the matter can be turned even more to say "These apparent coincidences might actually provide useful
clues allowing us to connect together apparently unrelated events associated with the treasure story."
A possible explanation is this:
During TJB's first visit to Lynchburg,
it is supposed that he visited the bookstore owned and operated by Giles Ward (father of James B. Ward) and
William Digges, most likely to purchase writing supplies. Upon introducing himself as TJB, Ward would have immediately
connected him to the Thomas Beale of Fincastle, Botetourt County, who fought a duel with James B. Risque,
several years previous. Risque, a Lynchburg attorney, was at this time tutoring Ward (his future son-in-law) to
become an attorney. A couple of years later, records show that Giles Ward married Risque's daughter. At their first
meeting, Giles Ward would have naturally asked TJB whether he had any connection to the Thomas Beale who had fought
the duel. TJB would have assured Ward that he was not that Thomas Beale. In fact, it seems likely that when
TJB introduced himself to others in Lynchburg, the same questions would have been asked. In any case, the story about
the duel was probably the thing that led to a conversation between Beale and Ward. Ward likely expressed an interest in
hearing about Beale's adventures on the western plains and in or near the Rockies and Ward probably related certain
exciting stories about James Kennerly of St. Louis. Kennerly was the brother of Risque's wife. He was the forwarding
agent for the Factory system at St. Louis, and consequently had visited many Indian tribes as part of his job. As
a result of this, and other likely conversations, it is surmised that Beale and Ward become friends. It was Ward
who most likely told Beale about William Blair's article on "Cipher" in Rees's Cyclopaedia, first
offered for sale at their bookstore six months earlier. Blair's treatise would have provided Beale with the
necessary information to construct his ciphers, and it could have been the inspiration for Beale's evolving plan for
protecting their treasure in the event of some catastrophe to the entire party. Sometime in late 1821, Giles Ward, now a practicing
attorney, sold his interest in the bookstore to his partner William Digges, and in early 1822 he set up a law office
in James Kennerly's house on Main Street in St. Louis. He remained in St. Louis less than a year. Thus, it is possible
that Ward was the friend in St. Louis mentioned by Beale, who Beale left the key to his ciphers with, although this possibility
is not central to the argument presented here. In any case, we do know that Beale had made some friends in Lynchburg,
for he ends his letter of May 9th, 1822, to Morriss by asking Morriss to give "a good word to enquiring
friends." Giles Ward could easily have been one of the mentioned friends, and perhaps even Beale's closest friend
in Lynchburg, except for Morriss himself. In 1845, after Mr. Morriss opened the locked box, it seems probable that he asked his friends and neighbors if they remembered
the Thomas Beale who had stayed two winters (1820 and 1822) at his boarding house. Giles Ward may have responded with positive
and substantive information about Beale. Morriss must have realized that Beale's treasure constituted a vast fortune. And
so, Morriss must have been eager to learn anything about Beale, Thus, it is easy to see how the respective connections
to TJB could have been the basis for a growing and lasting friendship between the Morriss and Ward families. In
1862, when Mr. Morriss sought a new custodian for the Beale Papers, he may have asked Giles Ward's son, James B. Ward,
to become the new custodian. Giles Ward had passed away in 1852. The offer was declined. But it may have been James B.
Ward who recommended his cousin Ferdinand C. Hutter to Morriss, as the person to become the new custodian. If so, then it makes sense (in 1885) for cousin Ferdinand to reciprocate and ask cousin
James to be his agent to publish the pamphlet. This possible scenario is explained and discussed in much greater
detail in BTS II, Chap. 3.
is another strange coincidence (or is it) occurring between Thomas J. Beale of Fauquier County and TJB of the Beale treasure
story. This is a matter that I have not yet thoroughly investigated, and so I can provide only a limited amount of information. I will first repeat several statements made in item #31 in this list, namely: On the basis
of my own research, I found 22 different Thomas Beales who lived in Virginia, at least for some period of time, who might
have been connected to the treasure story. These Thomas Beales were each investigated, with the result that some few could
not be ruled out on the basis of the information collected on them. This information is documented in an appendix in BTS II.
Of these, the most interesting was a Thomas J. Beale born in Fauquier County, Virginia, circa 1790—1800. He happens
to be the only Thomas Beale with a middle initial "J." He also fits the storyline, as genealogical records show
that he "went to Missouri." While there is no proof that this is our TJB, there is also no evidence that rules him
In the Proceedings of the Third Beale
Cipher Symposium 1981, there is found a paper entitled "An Alternative Location for the Beale Treasure Trove"
written by Beale researcher Carl W. Nelson, Jr. Nelson mentions the Franklin Gold Mine, which he says began operation in 1829
[sic 1839] and is located near present-day Goldvein, Virginia, in the southeastern corner of Fauquier County. Alfred G. Lock's Gold: Its Occurrence and Extraction, 1882, page 187, says "Gold
was discovered in Virginia in 1831, and was confined for a considerable period to surface mining, corresponding to the placer
mining of California, and the gulch mining of Colorado." A different source
says that the Franklin Mine began operation in 1837. Nelson says that the Franklin Mine was owned and operated by a partnership
of Beale and Green. Actually, deed records show that William C. Beale became the sole owner of the Franklin Gold Mine in 1839
(see Fauquier Co. Deed Book 43, pp 247-248). Nelson says that management of the mine was from the office of William
C. Beale in Falmouth, Stafford County, Virginia. In 1846, William C. sold his interest in the mine (Fauquier Co.
Deed Book 45, pp. 435-436).
Thomas J. Beale of Fauquier Co. had a younger brother William Beale. He also had a first
cousin William C. Beale and a first cousin once removed named William C. Beale. Each of these Williams was born in Fauquier
County. It is Thomas' first cousin William C. who was a part owner
and later sole owner of the Franklin Gold Mine. It would be a remarkable coincidence if Thomas J. Beale of Fauquier County,
who was indirectly connected to the Franklin Gold Mine, and TJB, the elected leader of the Beale company, which allegedly
had discovered and mined gold in or near the high Rockies, were not the same person. But, if they were one in the same person,
the apparent coincidence might be explainable. Suppose for sake of argument that the two Thomas Beales were the same person.
In that case, William C. may have heard about his cousins western
adventure and gold mine discovered in or near the high Rockies. This may have given William C. the idea for investing in the
gold mine. It is remarkable how often our actions are influenced by the actions of others and the successes of others.
There are a number of other possible and more direct connections that might have affected and influenced William C.'s decision
to invest in a gold mine, but these would take further investigation to verify.
15) In Beale's letter to Morriss of January 4th, 1822, Beale said "The
company being formed, we forthwith commenced our preparations, and, early in April, 1817, left old Virginia for St. Louis
Mo., where we expected to purchase the necessary outfits ...." Missouri became a state on August 10, 1821. Prior to that
time, it was a territory. By rights, Beale should have used the words "St. Louis, Mo. Terr." in his letter
rather than "St. Louis, Mo."
Response: I agree that if Beale had written his letter to Morriss prior to
August 10, 1821, he should have used the words "St. Louis, Mo. Terr." However, as the letter was written January
4th, 1822, after Missouri had become a state, it is not necessarily incorrect to have used the words "St. Louis Mo."
The issue is similar to a situation involving Virginia and West Virginia. Prior to March 26, 1863, West Virginia was part
of Virginia. So, prior to March 26, 1863, all the counties in present-day West Virginia were in Virginia. However, when one
refers to these counties, it is common to indicate that they are counties in West Virginia, regardless whether the date of
reference was before or after March 26, 1863. See also BTS I, p. 200.
16) The failure of Mr. Morriss to inquire into the background of Beale, who spent two winters at
Morriss' boarding house, is alone unconvincing.
Response: Morriss says that Beale "registered simply from Virginia."
Morriss says further "Curiously enough, he never adverted to his family or to his antecedents, nor did I question him
concerning them, as I would have done had I dreamed of the interest that in the future would attach to his name."
Mr. Morriss' explanation
constitutes a weak point in the story. During Beale's day, when two Virginians met, it was common for each to inquire about
the others family. However, it would seem from Mr.
Morriss' statement that Beale purposely avoided entering into any conversation about his family, and hence gave Mr. Morriss
no opening or opportunity to pursue
this line of questioning. Beale may have been more of a private person than one might suspect. See BTS I, p. 12.
17) It seems unlikely that the men in Beale's party
would all trust each other, particularly the 19 men that remained behind while the 11 others traveled to Virginia to bury
the treasure. Each man had to accept the risk that one of these 11 men might disclose the location of the burial site to a
relative or friend. Knowing this, none of the 30 men exercised their option to leave the company with their portion of the
Response: Yes, it is reasonable
to assume that there was less than complete trust among the members in Beale's company. More likely it was limited trust.
A member could leave the company, but if that option was exercised, that person would relinquish his right to receive a share
of the metal mined after the point in time of leaving the company. Thus, one would have to balance the perceived risk of losing
his present and known share of metal accumulated thus far against a calculated loss of metal mined from that
Moreover, it would make sense to leave the company only if one were certain that a safe passage
home could be achieved and a safe means to transport one's share of the gold and silver could also be achieved. Those conditions
might not be so easily attained. As a practical matter, one might be held hostage to the enterprise, even though one was free
to leave at any time.
In any case, it is entirely possible that one of the members did cheat the others. Upon
returning to Bedford County a third time, Beale may have discovered that the burial site had been looted. There is no
evidence to prove or disprove such a conjecture.
appears incredulous that all 30 men in Beale's company would agree to elect an innkeeper, whom they did not personally
know for any length of time, to entrust their fortunes to in the event of their deaths.
Response: Wouldn't it be better
for the company to entrust their wealth to Mr. Morriss and accept some risk that he might fail to carry out their instructions,
than to not act at all and risk losing everything in the event of some catastrophe? There was no way for Mr. Morriss to decipher
the unintelligible papers in the locked box without the "key," which would arrive only after ten years
had elapsed. Thus, if no such catastrophe did occur, there was plenty of time for Beale and his men to recover and divide
the treasure, long before 1832 when Mr. Morriss was empowered to recover and distribute the treasure to the designated
19) It appears odd that the names of the members in
Beale's company could not be given to Mr. Morriss. Beale says that this was done to prevent someone from "personating"
one of the group.
Response: Actually, the reason that Beale gave may have been self-serving. It may be that Beale wanted
to avoid any suggestion that he did not trust his friend Morriss. The real reason may have been for purposes of privacy, which
again is another indication that Beale was more of a private person than one might suspect at first glance. Beale realized
that there was no need for anyone to know the names of the members in his party and the names and addresses of the designated
heirs except for the one and only situation in which the entire party perished. Beale's plan addressed
that singular case. However, if the Beale party did survive, each man would be wealthy, and Beale sought to protect their
privacy. Beale didn't want the names of the members to "leak out"
by accident in the event that the locked box was opened prematurely. Enciphering Paper No. 3 would provide this necessary
protection. If Beale or any member survived, then it would be necessary
only to retrieve the "key." This would prevent Mr. Morriss from deciphering the papers even if the locked box was
not retrieved, with assurance that the names of the members in Beale's company would remain secret.
Items 20 through 29 were added January 18, 2012. See
also "Page 7: Main Proofs that The Beale Papers is fiction" at www.angelfire.com/pro/bealeciphers/
20) A claim is made that Beale's mining operation did not begin
until "an agreement was entered into (by Beale and his men) to work (the mine) in common as joint partners (Beale Papers,
p. 15)." That agreement was entered into about May 1, 1818, which can be inferred on the basis of two facts and one assumption,
"Early in March some of the party, to vary the monotony of their lives, determined upon a short excursion, for the purpose
of hunting and examining the country around us (Beale Papers, p. 14)."b) It was "a month or more before we had any tidings of the party (Beale Papers, p. 14)."c) It would likely take Beale two weeks to assemble the necessary mining tools and then travel
to the mine. (Note: Anticipating that the gold would eventually need to be transported, Beale may have purchased additional
horses or mules to support the mining operation.)
After arriving at the mine and entering into the mentioned agreement,
Beale says (Beale Papers, p. 15):
"Under this arrangement
the work progressed favorably for eighteen months or more, and a great deal of gold had accumulated in my hands, as well as
silver, which had likewise been found."
Hence, 18 months
from the date of the agreement would mean that Beale and his men couldn't possibly have begun their task of transporting
the gold and silver to Virginia before November, 1819. This would make it impossible for Beale to have deposited the gold
and silver in Virginia by November, 1819, as claimed. The timeline just doesn't work out.
This argument is offered as
evidence that the treasure story is untrue.
Response: Beale's letters of January 4th and May 9th,
1822, and Beales' Cipher No. 2 describe the key dates associated with the treasure story, namely:
a) Beale and party left old Virginia "early in April, 1817."b) Beale and party "left St. Louis the 19th of May (1817)."c) The Beale party arrived in Santa Fé "about the first of December (1817)."d) "Early in March (1818)" some of the party left on a short excursion. It was a
month or more before any tidings were received.e) "Matters
went on until the summer of 1819" when the matter of transferring the gold and silver to Virginia was discussed.f) The first deposit was made "November, 1819."g) The second deposit was made "December, 1821."h)
Beale's letter of May 9th, 1822, indirectly indicates that the Beale party reached St. Louis on May 8th, 1822.
These key dates constitute points in time. They were either created by a fabricator or
recalled from memory by Beale. In either case, the key dates establish a timeline, which is fundamental and integral
to the treasure story. Both a fabricator and Beale would endeavor to write their narrative so that it remains consistent
with the timeline.
I tell people that I spent four years in undergraduate school. But actually I didn't. College started with the fall semester, in September, and finished with the spring semester, in May. Thus, I
spent nine months each year over a period of four years, which works out to be 36 months or three years. So should
I tell people that I spent three years in college, or four years? It all depends on how you do the counting doesn't
Recall that Beale said the following:
"Under this arrangement the work progressed favorably for eighteen months or more...."
Beale used the word "progressed," which also means "continued." The
question then becomes: "Did the work progress or continue from the time of the agreement, as alleged, or did the
work progress or continue from the time the work was first started?" At the very least, it seems that one could
take this either way, and therefore it seems possible that the "eighteen months" was a reference to the work
already begun by the men who first discovered the mine. This work could have begun as early as the middle of March, and if
Beale counted month by month starting with March, 1818, it would mean that Beale and his men could have been ready to transfer
their gold and silver to Virginia by the end of August, 1819. That would have allowed almost three months to transfer the
metal and bury it in Bedford Co., Va., by November, 1819, as claimed by Beale.
It all depends on how you do the counting.
21) It has been suggested that the treasure story lacks credibility
because Beale selected Morriss as the custodian of the Beale Papers based solely on his "reputation of the sternest integrity,
unblemished honor, and business capacity (Beale Papers, p. 13)," which can be called into question based on Morriss'
According to the treasure story, Mr. Morriss was honor-bound
to open the locked box at an appointed time, viz. ten years after receiving it from Beale. Beale's last letter (May 9, 1822)
explained to Mr. Morriss that the locked box contained "papers vitally affecting the fortunes of myself and many others
engaged in business with me (Beale Papers, p. 11)." Beale also said that the box contained encoded papers that could
be read only with the aid of a key, which would be delivered to him ten years after the receipt of the locked box.
But Mr. Morriss disregarded Beale's instructions, and instead, without the slightest regard
for possible time-sensitive and crucial information that may exist within the box, waited thirteen additional years before
opening it. This action shows a lack of integrity on Mr. Morriss' part, hardly the action of an "old Virginia gentleman...sans
peur et sans reproache (Beale Papers, p. 6)." And, as Mr. Morriss' reputed integrity is shown untrue, it follows
that the entire story is fiction and that this twenty-three year span in the story is a ploy by the author of the pamphlet
to bridge the large gap of time between 1822 and 1885.
Mr. Morriss' description of opening the locked box is this (Beale Papers, p. 9):
"The box was left in my hands in the Spring of 1822, and by authority of his letter (May 9, 1822), I should
have examined its contents in 1832, ten years thereafter, having heard nothing from Beale in the meantime, but it was not
until 1845, some twenty-three years after is came into my possession, that I decided upon opening it."
The author provides a feeble explanation for Mr. Morriss' delayed opening
of the locked box by indirectly saying that Morriss didn't want to open the box until something definite reached
him" (Beale Papers, p. 12):
"The two years passed away during which he (Beale) said he would be absent, then three, four, and so on to ten;
still not a line or message to tell whether he were living or dead. Mr. Morriss felt much uneasiness about him, but had had
no means of satisfying his doubts; ten years had passed; 1832 was at hand, and he was now at liberty to open the box, but
he resolved to wait on, vainly hoping that something definite would reach him."
"During this period rumors of Indian outrages and massacres were current, but no mention
of Beale's name ever occurred. What became of him and his companions is left entirely to conjecture. Whether he was slain
by Indians, or killed by the savage animals of the Rocky Mountains, or whether exposure, and perhaps privation, did its work
can never be told. One thing at least is certain, that of the young and gallant band, whose buoyant spirits led them to seek
such a life, and to forsake the comforts of home, with all its enjoyments, for the dangers and privations they must necessarily
encounter, not a survivor remains."
The nagging question
is this: If the treasure story is fiction, how much harm or potential harm could have come if the fabricator simply said Mr.
Morriss opened the box in 1832, per Beale's instructions? Frankly, I don't see what harm could have come from this at all. But I
do see a downside in saying that Mr. Morriss waited until 1845 to open the box. Because then, the fabricator has put
himself in a position of needing to say something about why Morriss waited so long to open the box.
So, which is more believable?
1: The story is true; Mr. Morriss fails to carry out Beale's instructions to open the box in 1832, inadvertantly and unknowingly
creating a situation for the author who now needs to provide a justification for Morriss' action, which is
addressed by creating some "weasle words" to gloss over things by saying that in 1832 Mr. Morriss was
"now at liberty to open the box."
Case 2: The story is fiction;
the fabricator writes the narrative to say that Mr. Morriss failed to open the box in 1832, thus purposely and knowingly
creating a situation for himself and his fellow fabricators of needing to provide a justification for Morriss'
action, which is addressed by creating some "weasle words" to gloss over things (as described
To me, it seems more believable that the treasure story
is true and that Mr. Morriss failed to carry out Beale's instructions (to err is human), thus inadvertently creating a
difficult situation for the pamphlet's author to explain. It seems less believable that the treasure story is fiction
and that the fabricator elected to say that Mr. Morriss failed to carry out Beale's instructions, thus purposely creating a
difficult situation for himself and his fellow fabricators to explain. If the fabricator intended for Mr. Morriss' integrity
to be the central issue or lynchpin of the storyline, he could hardly overlook the difficultly he would create by
saying that Morriss waited an additional 13 years before opening the box.
is more believable: That you would inadvertantly shoot the other guy in the foot, or that you would deliberately
shoot yourself in the foot?
22) A glaring error has been reported to exist with regard to
the point in time when the locked box was delivered to Mr. Morriss.
Morriss says that Beale gave him the box in the spring (Beale Papers, p. 9):
"In the spring, at about the same time, he again left, but before doing so, handed me this box, as he said,
contained papers of value and importance; and which he desired to leave in my charge until called for hereafter."
Beale says he first handed the box to Morriss upon his arrival at Morriss' boarding house
(Beale Papers, p. 13):
"I was ready to return last Fall
 with an increased supply of metal, which came through safely and was deposited with the other. It was at this time
I handed you the box, not disclosing the nature of its contents, but asking you to keep it safely till called for."
How can it be that Beale describes handing the box to Morriss in a letter dated January 4,
1822, at a time before the box was actually handed to Morriss in the spring of 1822?
Response: There is no glaring error. Beale describes handing the box to Morriss on two
different occasions. In his letter of January 4th, 1822, Beale describes handing the box to Morriss after his arrival in the fall of 1821. But the second deposit wasn't made until December, 1821, and according
to Mr. Morriss he did not see Beale again until "January, 1822." So in theory, Beale could have handed the box to
Morriss in January, shortly before his letter of January 4th was written. Morriss
was asked to keep it safe. When the box was first handed to Morriss it may or may not have contained anything of
importance; it may have been empty. However, as Beale's letters and codes were created, they would have been
added to the box. Beale probably asked for the box and returned it to Mr. Morriss on more than one occasion. But,
in the spring, at the time Beale left, he handed the box to Mr. Morriss a final time. In this case, the box was in Mr.
Morriss' charge until either Beale or one of his party returned to reclaim it or ten years elapsed and the box was to
Another rather simple explanation is that Beale's
choice of words "It was at this time..." was meant as a reference to his second visit to Lynchburg,
not some specific point in time. Suppose that the words "It was at this time" are replaced by the words
"During my second visit," in which case the sentence reads "During my second visit I handed you the
box, etc. etc." This would eliminate the apparent inconsistency.
23) There is not a shred of evidence, not even an eyewitness
report, that the original papers, e.g., the letters from TJB to Morriss and the three pages with ciphers, ever existed.
There are two ways to look at this. On the one hand, it is possible that people may have more readily accepted the
treasure story as being true if the anonymous author had taken steps to have the papers vetted by a trustworthy person living
in the Lynchburg area. For example, Ward could have arranged for the papers to be examined for authenticity by
a Lynchburg attorney, and the findings could have been made part of the announcement offering Ward's pamphlet
for sale, which was published in the Lynchburg Press. On the other hand, even if the papers had been examined, some
people would still find fault. Even if the papers were verified to exist, there would be no
way to document that they had been written by a real person named Thomas J. Beale, or that Thomas J. Beale and a
party of 29 other men ever visited the western plains and discovered gold and silver. Thus, the argument wouldn't disappear;
it would just be replaced by a different argument.
24) In his paper, "How did TJB Encode B2?"
Dr. Carl Hammer, despite being a believer, makes several disparaging remarks about Beale's job of enciphering. He says:
TJB used a seemingly
lazy and inefficient process.
TJB was certainly not beyond making clerical
TJB went about his task rather sloppily to say the least.
TJB was not a professional cryptographer.
botched his job rather badly.
Despite the fact that Hammer uses the term TJB, his comments are actually directed at the person who created
the three codes (Beale or fabricator). When reading Hammer's comments, replace the term "TJB" with the
term "The Coder."
Hammer's comments don't help in
deciding who the coder was (Beale or a fabricator). Thus, there is no basis for concluding that the treasure
story is fact or fiction based on Hammer's comments.
The B2/DOI solution only works when The Beale Papers version of the DOI is used, with its known flaws. It is incredible
that the original coder would have used a DOI with the same identical errors.
Response: What the original
coder did or did not do has nothing to do with what the decoder did or did not do. Past events are not influenced
by present events; it works the other way around. The coder (Beale or fabricator) made certain clerical errors in
preparing his key. However, the decoder, who I assume was the pamphlet's anonymous author, was able to decode enough
of B2 so that the clerical errors in the key could be identified. The author then discovered (except for a few clerical
errors made by the coder during the enciphering process itself) that a clean and correct decoding of B2 could be had
by purposely misnumbering a copy of the Declaration of Independence.
What appears to be incredible isn't
incredible at all once things are viewed in the right light. For an explanation of how
cipher No. 2 could have been decoded without having a copy of the Declaration of Independence used by Beale to create his
enciphering key, see the response to argument #33 in this list, and also web page How Cipher No. 2 Was Decoded.
26) Records prove that Thomas Beale died in New
Orleans in September, 1820.
Response: So what! The Thomas Beale who died in New Orleans in
September, 1820, was obviously not the Thomas J. Beale of the treasure story, despite the fact that some Beale researchers
have suggested otherwise.
27) Literally thousands of the world's best cryptanalysts, working over several decades, have been
unable to solve the ciphers.
Response: I'll bet that the number is less than a dozen. A
bunch of amateurs have worked on the problem, but very few real experts. More than a century has passed, and
except for the last 20 years, work on decoding the ciphers has been restricted to "paper and pencil" techniques.
And, over the last 20 years, despite the fact that high-speed personal computers at affordable prices could be used for
cryptanalytic purposes, serious work on decoding the ciphers has all but stopped due to the mounting unanswered
objections to the treasure story. To me, it is not surprising that the ciphers have not yet been solved.
28) A large number of excavation expeditions in Virginia have not found the treasure.
Response: True, but so what? The area described by a circle with a radius
of four miles and center at Buford's tavern, is one large area with rugged terrain. Searching efforts
have not been coordinated, so it is likely that some areas have been searched multiple times at the expense of not
searching other areas.
29) How can 30 adventurers all
disappear without a trace? No bones found, no Indian stories about a battle, no letters to relatives, no relatives looking
for their inheritance.
In the first place, there is no evidence that the entire Beale Party did perish, although this is a possibility that
must be considered. In all my reading of western adventures that
occurred on the western plains and in the Rocky Mountains, I have never come across reports of discovered human bones.
Yet, there are documented instances of people who have been killed by Indians. So the absence of reports of discovered
bones is not indicative of the absence of people killed by Indians. The Beale Party could have been attacked and its
members killed without a report of discovered bones being made.
If the Beale Party had been killed by Indians, there would be
no record of this kept by the Indians themselves. No written records were kept by the Indians.
All things being equal, if the Beale Party perished I would expect some relatives to have advertised
in a local St. Louis newspaper for information about there missing loved ones. But Beale was just the type of person
to plan for such a contingency. He could have, and very likely did engage an agent in St. Louis to act on his behalf, who
would send word to the relatives in the event that their Party did not return within a stated period of time
(say two years). If the Beale Party was overdue, the relatives would be so informed and reassured that further word would
be communicated in case anything was heard of the men. Inquiries could be directed to the agent at St. Louis. Thus,
with an agent acting on their behalf, there would be no need to place advertisements seeking information.
the entire party had perished, there would be no one who could be contacted to ask questions about the treasure,
assuming the relatives knew about the treasure in the first place? When Ward's pamphlet was published in 1885,
one or more of the then living relatives could have seen an advertisement announcing the publication of the pamphlet,
and hence Ward could have been contacted. Yet, there no evidence of this. After all, 63 years had passed by the time Ward's pamphlet was published and most or all of the relatives would have
been deceased by this time. Besides, word of the treasure story was announced only briefly outside Lynchburg,
in the cities of Richmond and Fredericksburg. Relatives still living would not necessarily have heard or read about
One argument against the premise that "the entire Beale Party perished" is that Beale's key was never
received by Mr. Morriss. Thus, at least two unfortunate events had to occur in order for the premise to hold up. There are two other detractors that argue against this premise, as well as other possible scenarios that
might explain What Happened to the Beale Party and Their Treasure.
Items 30 through 33 were added January
27, 2012. See also "The Mysterious Treasure of Thomas Beale" at http://h2g2.com (search under "beale").
would Beale have created three ciphers with three separate keys, instead of just one?
Response: For security reasons.
The three ciphers #1,
#2, and #3 are all numerical ciphers that bear a resemblance to one another. Yet, it is possible for the three ciphers
to be different. And, it is possible the all three ciphers to be based on the same type of cipher but using different
keys. There is a security principle involved here. Three different keys would provide the greatest security, it would result
in the least amount of cipher text encrypted under any one key. One key would provide the least security, as it would
result in the greatest amount of cipher text encrypted under one key.
is conjectured that Beale chose to encipher #1 and #3 using the same key, rather than two keys. The reason: Enciphering #1
and #3 under the same key would assure that Mr. Morriss could not recover the key to #1, decipher #1, and recover
the treasure without also having the key to decipher #3, thus allowing the treasure to be distributed to the rightful
heirs. Beale could have seen this as a wise and necessary safety measure.
There are scant references to any "Thomas Beale" at the time of the treasure story. The only such person who fits
the bill died in New Orleans in 1820, before the locked box was handed over to Mr. Morriss.
Response: This just isn't true. Thomas Beale of Botetourt County, Virginia, who later moved
to New Orleans, is just one of 22 different Thomas Beales who lived in Virginia, at least for a time, who might have
been connected to the treasure story. These Thomas Beales were each investigated, with the result that some few could not ruled
out on the basis of the information collected on them. This information is documented in an appendix in BTS II. Of these,
the most interesting is a Thomas J. Beale born in Fauquier County, Virginia, circa 1790—1800. He happens to be the only
Thomas Beale with a middle initial "J." He also fits the storyline. And, genealogical records show that he "went
to Missouri." While there is no proof that this is our TJB, there is also no evidence that rules him out as being
32) Robert Morriss did exist but his involvement cannot be verified, since
he died long before the pamphlet was written.
Yes, so far, Mr. Morriss' connection to Beale has not been established. But circumstantial evidence has been uncovered
to show a possible connection. It is documented in a research paper written by Mr. Jerry Watt entitled "Where Beale
Took Lodgings in Lynchburg," published in the Proceedings of the Second Beale Cipher Symposium, Sperry-Univac, Washington,
D.C., September 8, 1979. According to Ward's pamphlet, Morriss said the box containing Beale's ciphers also contained "some
old receipts." There is indirect evidence from early 1822 (Lynchburg newspaper announcements about Morriss' business—described
in Watt's paper) indirectly indicating Beale's loaning money too Morriss to keep Morriss' boarding house operating through
difficult times, certainly in Beale's interest if he was relying on Morriss to keep his box with treasure information secure.
Also, there is additional evidence connecting the Beale party to Lynchburg. An advertisement
in the Lynchburg Press (Dec. 1819), by an unidentified subscriber, offers for sale 8 or 10 ox carts, 8 or 10
terms of oxen, and 10 or 12 work horses. The timing, the items offered for sale, and their numbers, align quite
well with the assumed arrival of Beale and party of 10 men in Lynchburg after making their first deposit of gold and
silver in Bedford County, in November 1819. The ox cart, oxen, and work horses could be been used by the Beale party
to transport their gold and silver from Missouri to Virginia, and now offered for sale. See also BTS I.
33) Perhaps the most damning clue is in the account given for the decipherment of Paper #2. The
version of the Declaration quoted in the pamphlet appears to be unique, in that it contains several errors, yet is supposed
to have been discovered independently by the pamphlet's author. Is it likely, or even conceivable, that Thomas Beale
would have used the same inaccurate and seemingly unique version of the Declaration as the pamphlet's author?
Response: Yes, it is possible, although unlikely, and completely unnecessary.
This stated concern and other similar concerns are based on a misunderstanding of how cipher No. 2 was decoded by the
pamphlet's author. For a full explanation of the matter, see How Cipher No. 2 was Decoded. See also item #25 in this list.
Items 34 through 41 were added January
34) Some people claim that
the second message, containing the information about what the treasure consisted of, which has been deciphered, is more than
coincidence. They say the decipherment was a deliberate ploy by a hoaxer to encourage interest in deciphering
the other two texts.
Response: Of course, this could have
been a clever ploy by a hoaxer.
But, there is nothing unusual about the
fact that No. 2 was decoded first, if one assumes the treasure story is true. Let us examine very carefully the author's
account of decoding cipher No. 2.
The author says:
"To systematize a plan for my work, I arranged the papers in the order of their length,
and numbered them, designing to commence with the first, and devote my whole attention to that until I had either unraveled
its meaning or was convinced of its impossibility—afterwards to take up the others and proceed as before."
I assume from the author's description that the ciphers were arranged according to their length,
longest first, next longest second, and shortest third. Thus, the longest was number "1." Of course, this numbering was
not Beale's numbering, and the ciphers were later renumbered based on Beale's numbering. In any case, when
the author says that he intended to devote his "whole attention" to the matter, I interpret this to mean that his approach
would be to attack the longest cipher using cryptanalysis techniques. But, as the author discovered, Beale's ciphers
were not simple substitution ciphers. B2, at least, was a complex homophonic cipher. The author says:
"All of this I did in the course of time, but failed so completely that my hopes
of solving the mystery were well nigh abandoned."
other words, his cryptanalysis effort failed and he was ready to give up. But the author says:
"My thoughts, however, were constantly upon it, and the figures contained in each paper,
in their regular order, where fixed in my memory. My impression was that each figure represented a letter, but as the numbers
so greatly exceeded the letters of the alphabet, that many different numbers represented the same letter. With this idea,
a test was made of every book I could procure, by numbering its letters and comparing the numbers with those of the manuscript;
all to no purpose, however, until the Declaration of Independence afforded the clue to one of the papers, and revived all
The author's description sounds as though after
giving up on cryptanalysis, he continued to think about the problem. He realized that in each cipher, the number
of different numbers exceeded the number of letters in the alphabet, and therefore that many numbers stood for the
same letter. This suggested to the author that Beale had used a book cipher and that the key to all three ciphers could be
a single passage of text taken from a book. With this in mind, the author undertook a brute force attack on the ciphers by
searching for the passage of text that Beale had used to develop his key. The author also realized that if a string of low-valued
numbers was selected to be used as a test case, then only a few hundred letters or words in each passage of text would need
to be numbered, which could save much time in searching the various candidate texts. As it happens, there is a string of 21
numbers at the beginning of Beale cipher No. 2 (omitting large numbers 807 and 647) that could be used for this
purpose, which may explain why cipher No. 2 happened to be the cipher successfully solved. The author discovered that
the Declaration of Independence was the key to cipher No. 2; but unfortunately he learned that it was not the key to
No. 1 or No. 3. He continued to search for the key or keys to No. 1 and No. 3, on the assumption that No. 1 and No. 2
were also complex homophonic ciphers, but too no avail.
35) By the 1820s, reliable banks were in operation as far west as St. Louis, Missouri, where the
story has Beale stopping to obtain jewels in trade for silver. Why would this party continue to Virginia using pack mules,
and then bury everything in an underground vault where anybody could find and make off with it, rather than avail themselves
of a bank. These were not ill-gotten gains, but rather metal obtained legitimately.
Response: In order for this argument to be accepted, one must accept without any corroboration
or supporting data that "by the 1820s, reliable banks were in operation as far west as St. Louis, Missouri." Proof of
this statement would have to be included for the argument to be well-founded and believable. There are several reasons
why the Beale party could have decided to bury their treasure in Virginia rather than "avail themselves of a bank"
in St. Louis. Burying the treasure may have been an option acceptable to all members, whereas some members may have objected
to a bank, especially a bank in St. Louis that they were unfamiliar with. Burying the treasure did have the advantage that
everything was under the Beale party's control. With a bank, there were questions that could be answered only
after arriving in St. Louis. For example, could the bank accept such large quantities of metal (gold and silver)? Beale's silver
was not pure silver, but rather silver ore, and probably not appropriate to be stored in a bank vault. If the Beale party
expected to exchange the gold and silver for banknotes, the bank would first require the gold and the silver ore to be
assayed, in order to determine its value. All of this would take time. What if the bank required the Beale party
to work through a third party who would actually purchase the metal, with payment coming from the bank in the form of
banknotes. All of this could be fairly complicated. Moreover, working with many different parties in St. Louis would
mean that knowledge of their gold and silver mine would no longer be a secret. The cat would be out of the
bag, so to speak. The choice of burying the treasure would mean that everything was under their control; working with or
through a bank would mean that everything was not under their control.
if the Beale party had thought to "avail themselves of a bank," they would very likely have reversed their decision upon
arriving in St. Louis. In fact, it is fairly obvious that the author of this argument didn't do his homework, as he completely overlooked the "Panic of 1819."
The following is taken from Wikipedia, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_of_1819
The Panic of 1819 was
the first major financial crisis in the United States, and had occurred during the political calm of the Era of Good Feelings.
The new nation previously had faced a depression following the war of independence in the late 1780s and led directly to the
establishment of the dollar and, perhaps indirectly, to the calls for a Constitutional Convention. It had also experienced
another severe economic downturn in the later 1790s following the Panic of 1797. In the earlier crises however, the primary
cause of economic turmoil originated in foreign trade and the broader Atlantic economy. These crises and others had resulted
from international conflicts such as the Embargo Act and War of 1812 and had caused widespread domestic foreclosures, bank
failures, unemployment, and a slump in agriculture and manufacturing. However, things would change for the US economy after
the Second Bank of the United States was founded in 1816, in response to the spread of banknotes across United States from
private banks, due to inflation brought on by the debt following the war. In contrast, the causes of the Panic of 1819 largely
originated within the U.S. economy. The panic marked the end of the economic expansion that had followed the War of 1812 and
ushered in new financial policies that would shape economic development.
a result of the Panic of 1819, businesses went bankrupt when they could not meet their debts, and hundreds of thousands of
wage workers lost their jobs. For example, unemployment reached 75 percent in Philadelphia, and 1,800 workers were imprisoned
for debt. In Baltimore, the unemployed set up a city of tents on the outskirts of the city.
If all messages were meant to be decoded at the same time, why on earth use different cipher keys? Surely Beale would have
wanted the members of his party to be known when the location of the vault was known.
Response: Well, maybe all messages were not meant to be decoded at the same time. Moreover, using
two or three different cipher keys would provide greater security than one key. See the response to argument
37) The original pamphlet has the supposed words of the anonymous author, as well as the
anonymous author "speaking" for Mr. Morriss, and Beale. Yet, all three persons tend to write in a very long-winded,
verbose, pedantic manner. Some experts have reviewed the text and come to the conclusion that the same person may well have
written the texts of all three men. This, of course, would guarantee that the pamphlet is a hoax.
Response: This is the same as argument #1. See the responses to arguments #1 and
Yes, if the texts of all three men were written by the same person, then this would imply
that the pamphlet is a hoax. However, just because the texts all have the same characteristics and just because the texts
were all written in "one hand" doesn't mean that all three texts were the product of one author.
38) There seems no reliable or logical reason to continue decoding the Beale
ciphers. The story is too bizarre, the evidence too lacking and the motive for fakery too great for the story to be true.
Labeling the Beale treasure story "bizarre" is just one person's opinion, no better or worse than any other person's
opinion. However, the claim that evidence is too lacking is simply not true. There is plenty of evidence if one looks
in the right places. See BTS I and BTS II and the present website (www.BealeTreasureStory.com).
Yes, a motive for fakery did exist, but that should be balanced against the risk of exposure
and possible consequences, e.g., family disgrace and ridicule and possible law suit. The motive for fakery
doesn't seem quite so powerful when considered in that light.
Cryptographers say that cipher No. 1 and No. 3 show statistical characteristics of not being produced from English text messages.
is poppy-cock. I challenge anyone to provide me with a shred of evidence showing that ciphers No. 1 and No. 3 were not
produced from English text messages.
40) Near the end of Beale's letter to Mr. Morriss of January 4, 1822 (Beale Papers, p. 16, para.
2), Beale comments on the locked box left with Mr. Morriss saying "I intend writing you, however, from St. Louis,
and impress upon you its importance still more forcibly." There was no need for Beale to make such a comment, as
Mr. Morriss wouldn't read Beale's letter of Jan. 4th until ten years later, long after having received Beale's letter
of May 9, 1822, from St. Louis.
Response: Yes, the comment is superfluous,
regardless whether it was written by Beale or a fabricator. Hence, the comment is of no value in deciding whether
the treasure story is true or not true.
41) Clarence Williams, a researcher at the Library
of Congress, writing to William F. Friedman, April 26, 1934, says concerning the publication of Ward's pamphlet: "The
reasons given for publication sound very improbable." Williams asks, "Why did he not pass on the papers to another
as Morriss did?"
Response: I agree. Why did the author not pass on the papers to another
custodian? By publishing, it appears that the author gave up all rights to share in the treasure. The
author's agreement with Mr. Morriss expired after twenty years, which means that by 1883 he was free to negotiate a new agreement,
with new terms, and with a new custodian whom he could select. Thus, he and his family would still
stand a chance to benefit from the treasure.
In BTS II, I explore the possibility that the
author might have decided to not publish the real cipher No. 1 in the pamphlet, but instead split the real No. 3 into
two ciphers and publish these as #1 and #3. There are several conditions that would have to be satisfied in order
for such a scenario to make sense, and these are discussed in BTS II. However, there are arguments against this idea, and
so while the idea may have some appeal, that alone does not mean the author necessarily pursued such a course. See also the response to argument #6.
Therefore, in my opinion, Williams'
argument constitutes a weak point in the treasure story. Although, I don't consider it a knockout blow. It might be the case that the
anonymous author was so frustrated that he didn't care anymore. Maybe he came to believe that the ciphers were so difficult
that no one would be able to decode them, and so publishing didn't matter. By publishing, he would at least make
a little money—better than nothing.
Item 42 was added May 27, 2012.
42) According to the story, Beale says that the
key to his ciphers was to be delivered to Mr. Morriss in June, 1832, ten years after the locked box had been given to
Mr. Morriss. Why on earth wait ten years to divide the treasure and give the respective portions to the rightful heirs?
(updated August 7, 2012): I suppose that 10 years could be considered a long time, and this could constitute a weak point
in the story. But, recall that in his letter of May 9, 1822, to Mr. Morriss, Beale said "How long I may be absent I cannot
now determine, certainly not less than two years, perhaps longer." Beale may have had an idea of how much longer
the mining operation would be continued, but he wasn't certain. The mine would most likely "play out"
at some point, but Beale didn't know when that might happen. In addition, he didn't know how much longer the men in his party
would want to continue the mining operation. He couldn't poll his men, as most of the party had remained at the mine.
And that question may not have been settled before Beale departed the mine in the fall of 1821. Thus, in the unlikely event
that some but not all of the men in Beale's party were killed, and the survivors failed to reclaim the key
or ciphers, thereby stopping the "wheels" that had been set in motion for Mr. Morriss to distribute the
treasure to the heirs, a ten year waiting period would give ample time for Beale's mining operation to be concluded
and for the treasure to be safely recovered and divided by the survivors before Mr. Morriss (following instructions)
would attempt to recover the treasure.
But that raises another possible consideration. One imagines that all thirty men would eventually
assemble at Buford's tavern, locate and open the vault, remove the treasure consisting of an estimated 10,000
pounds of metal deposited in 1819 and 1821, and again in 1823 or 1824, and then with each man riding off
with a load of 350 pounds of metal (give or take). Is that the way it was intended to happen? Or, did Beale develop a
better and more carefully thought-out plan for disposing of the Beale company's wealth, which could have taken much
longer to play out? Instead of removing the gold, silver, and jewels in one fell swoop, the various items could be removed in
a more orderly and measured manner. Here is one possible course of action that the Beale company could have taken: The jewels
were likely removed and disposed of first, in order for the Beale company to raise working capital. To do so, it
may have been necessary to journey to New York City, where the best possible market existed. The Beale company would
most likely find it wisest to contract with a single party to refine their silver ore, rather than
each man handling it himself. The ore would undoubtedly be assayed first. The refining operation
would be handled by a company with the necessary skill and equipment. Finding the right party, negotiating
a satisfactory business arrangement, and performing the work would take time. Once a deal was struck, the silver
ore could be removed and transported to the refinery. Of course, the men in the Beale company would have to agree
to such an arrangement, and papers would have to be drawn up and signed, but not necessarily filed. Thus, there
may be no record of an agreement of this sort to be found in the Virginia county records. Once the silver had
been refined, it could be sold or traded. Each man could take a share of the profits, or it is possible that the
men agreed to have the Beale company dispose of the metal. The gold could be left in the vault until after
the jewels and silver ore had been disposed of. The gold would need to be refined as well. The members the
Beale company would most likely have agreed for the gold to be refined en masse on behalf of the company.
Each man's share would come through the Beale company.
There can be no doubt that Beale was
a methodical man. It would not have been in his character to permit the company's accumulated wealth to be divided
at the vault in Bedford County, with each man subsequently riding off with a load of several hundred pounds of metal,
at least without having first recommended a better course of action.
Item 43 was added November 30, 2012.
43) According to the treasure story, Beale put his papers in a locked iron box, which he gave to
Mr. Morriss in the spring of 1822 before leaving for St. Louis. Is this realistic; could Beale have acquired such a box?
Response: It would seem from the following snippet from The North American
Review, v. 208, p. 69, 1821, that such boxes were indeed in use and available. The snippet reads as follows:
"My dear Sir: I do not exaggerate my sentiments toward you when I tell you that the letter
you were so good as to send me when in Sweden is locked in an iron box with my father's last will and testament. I often read
it over, the splendid prophecy of the overthrow of Bonaparte by the spirit of liberty—at this moment when our poor Europe
no longer hears anything which resembles this."
References to iron
boxes are also found in Charles Lever's Roland Cashel, 1850, p. 508, viz. "This done, he opened a small
cupboard in the wall behind his bed, and took forth the iron box, which, since its discovery, he had always kept the pardon,
as well as the forged conveyance of Tubberbeg," also in M. De Voltaire's The Age of Louis XIV, 1779, p. 104,
viz. "Leopold had no sooner signed the deed ... [saying] that the sole instrument that should subsist between them,
should be locked up in an iron box, of which the Emperor was to keep one key, and the King of France the other," and
also in Archaeologia: or, Miscellaneous Tracts, Relating to Antiquity, 1806, p. 301, viz. "he recommended, therefore,
that an iron box should be provided, which would give more security, and the silver box be sold."
Item 44 was added May 18, 2013.
44) Richard H. Greaves, Beale treasure researcher, in his paper entitled "One
Letter, One Enclosure, Subject: The Beale Treasure" © 1986, gives several reasons for concluding: "There
is no treasure, there never was any treasure. The pamphlet is a fictional narrative."
First Reason: Mr. Greaves discovered a May 28, 1846, notice printed in a Lynchburg
newspaper by Robert Morriss saying that "...[he] extends his warmest thanks to those who sympathized and sided with
him during his late dangerous illness." Apparently, Mr. Morriss nearly died in 1846 at the age of 69. Yet, this
was not enough to cause Mr. Morriss to find a new custodian for the Beale Papers. It was not until 1862, shortly before his
death, that he finally gave the contents of the iron box to a friend for further study. Thus, if the treasure story is to
be believed, one must accept that Mr. Morriss took a considerable risk in holding the Beale Papers for such a long period.
Beale had been particular in his instructions to Mr. Morriss, saying "should death or sickness happen to you...please
select from among your friends some one worthy, and to him hand this letter, and to him delegate your authority." Greaves
says that Mr. Morriss was not careful to follow Beale's instructions. Thus, if the treasure story is to be believed, one must
accept that Mr. Morriss' actions were not wholly consistent with the description of Mr. Morriss found in the Beale Papers,
namely that his reputation was that of "a man of the sternest integrity, unblemished honor, and business capacity."
Greaves believes that by violating Beale's instructions, the treasure story is not believable.
Response: According to Beale's instructions, if he (Beale) or no one with his authority
demanded the locked iron box prior to 1832, Mr. Morriss would receive a key that would allow the unintelligible
papers in the iron box to be read and comprehended. He was to open the box at that time (viz. 1832). Thus, Beale's instruction
to select a new keeper of the locked iron box was intended as an instruction to cover the period 1822 to 1832. Beale's
instructions were never intended to cover the period beyond 1832, unless of course Mr. Morriss received Beale's key and
thus was under a charge to recover the treasure and distribute it to the rightful heirs, in which case he was to receive a
one thirty-first share of the treasure. Thus, after 1832 had come and gone without receiving the key, Mr. Morriss was under
no obligation to select a new keeper for the locked iron box. For that matter, he was under no obligation to do anything. Thus,
Mr. Morriss should not be held accountable for actions that occurred after 1832.
I agree that Mr. Morriss can be faulted for not opening the locked box in 1832 after 10 years had elapsed, as
Beale had directed. Yet, I think there is a danger that we may put Mr. Morriss on too high a pedestal. According
to Beale's May 9, 1822, letter to Morriss, the locked box left in Mr. Morriss' charge contained papers that
would be unintelligible without the aid of a key that had been left in the hands of a friend in St. Louis, which Mr.
Morriss was to receive after 10 years had elapsed. These unintelligible papers would permit Mr. Morriss to understand
all that he was required to do. Hence, Mr. Morriss might have inferred from this that unless the key was received he
could not understand what he was required to do, and thus be unable to carry out Beale's wishes. And though Beale
had directed Mr. Morriss to open the box, Mr. Morriss may have instead concluded that breaking the lock and exposing the contents
of the box to some person who might gain access to it, without first having received the
promised key and thus being able to carry out Beale's wishes forthwith, would be a bad idea. The fact that
Mr. Morriss did not follow Beale's instructions to the letter, and moreover that he did not live up to Beale's fullest
expectations, in no way invalidates the treasure story. Instead, it once again confirms that things
don't always go as planned, and people are not perfect.
Second Reason: Mr. Greaves says that the treasure story does not stand
the "test of inquiry." He concludes that if the story were true, then after opening the locked box and reading
Beale's letters in 1845, Mr. Morriss would have investigated the matter, at least to some degree. Paschal Buford who
operated Buford's Tavern, and his wife were still alive at this time, and may have provided information about
Thomas Beale and his men who stayed at the tavern in 1819 and 1821. But, Mr. Morriss' gives no indication that such inquiries
were made. Greaves says that James B. Ward does not stand the "test of inquiry," yet he does not give examples
for what is meant by this.
1845, Mr. Morriss was an inn keeper with business responsibilities; he was busy, he had duties, and he was no
longer a young man. He should not be faulted for having neither the time nor the inclination to search for Beale's
treasure, or to attempt to solve Beale's ciphers. I think we may conclude that searching for missing treasure
or solving ciphers was not his forte. Mr. Morriss had followed Beale's instructions (except for the one instruction mentioned
above), which did not include an instruction to handle a contingency that the locked iron box was not reclaimed and the
key was not received. Mr. Morriss' obligation to Mr. Beale did not extend beyond 1832 under an assumption that the
box was not reclaimed and the key was not received. His decision to not become involved in trying to locate the
treasure is consistent with the decisions of hundreds of Lynchburg residents who chose not to purchase
a copy of Ward's 1885 pamphlet and involve themselves in a search for the treasure.
Moreover, persons who may have asked questions of Ward, persons Ward may have asked questions of,
and what these questions may or may not have been is purely conjecture, and it is impossible to predict whether such exchanges
of information would have had any bearing on whether the treasure story is true or false.
Third Reason: In 1897, Roanoke residents, George and Clayton Hart learned about the story of
the Beale treasure. An account of their endeavors is documented in the "Hart Papers" (Roanoke Public Library, 1952).
Clayton Hart learned about James B. Ward's association with the pamphlet and journeyed to Campbell County to question Ward.
"Ward confirmed all that is in the pamphlet and also said that all but a few copies had been destroyed by fire which
broke out in the printing plant before a plan of distribution and sale at 50¢ a copy had been made and carried out."
However, Mr. Greaves performed a search of Lynchburg newspapers (on microfilm), and found no mention of a fire destroying
a print shop anytime near the time when the pamphlet was offered for sale (1885). I agree that Mr. Greaves findings are correct.
Response: The Hart Papers were written by George Hart, brother of Clayton
Hart, not by Clayton Hart himself. Thus, Ward's comment about a fire in the printing office is second hand information, written
more than 50 years after the fact. In any case, George Hart's comments in the Hart Papers are not part of Ward's pamphlet,
and hence they are not part of the treasure story itself, and should not be a determining factor as to whether the
treasure story is true or false, although the mistake can probably be accounted for. It is a fact that a fire did
destroy the printing plant in 1883, two years prior to the printing of Ward's 1885 pamphlet. Clayton Hart probably learned
about the 1883 fire and afterwards he or brother George incorrectly connected it to the publication of the pamphlet.
Professional genealogists will tell you that "oral
history" is often untrustworthy. It is so easy for people to get dates, places, and events mixed up, and incorrect information
is often passed from one person to the next. For example, my wife's mother was said to be a twin, with her twin
sister dying at birth. Years later, this claim was proved to be completely erroneous, after the actual birth record
On the assumption that all but a few copies of the pamphlet had been destroyed by fire, Mr. Greaves says this: "If there
was any truth to this tale of hidden treasure, the pamphlet would have been reprinted and sold by the tens of thousands across
the entire country, and Bedford County would soon begin to sink from the weight of all the people digging."
Response: The facts are these: The pamphlet was printed in 1885 and
there was no fire that destroyed all but a few copies. The pamphlet was initially sold for 50 cents per copy, and
afterwards reduced to 25 cents per copy. In fact, enough copies had been printed so that in 1886, just a year later, the
price was reduced to 10 cents per copy, indicating that an overabundance of copies had been printed and were available
for sale. If there had been a shortage of copies, the sale price would likely have remained constant at 50 cents.