Some people believe the Beale treasure story is true; others believe it
is an elaborate hoax. I have heard most of the arguments, pro and con. I do know this: Arguments against the treasure
story can be refuted on the basis of counterarguments. Moreover, new evidence exists showing that the treasure story is true
and that some prior conclusions are arguably stronger.
In this paper, I
will discuss new information about Beale Cipher No. 3. Cipher No. 3 contains the information (names and addresses) that
Mr. Morriss would need to locate the relatives and others who should receive a share of the treasure. Beale created two additional
ciphers, as well. Cipher No. 1 has instructions for locating the treasure's burial site and Cipher No. 2 has a description
of the contents of the burial site. Altogether, Beale created three ciphers, which researchers have named B1, B2,
and B3. The number of characters in each of the three ciphers is 520, 762, and 618, respectively. B2 has been decoded; B1
and B3 have not.
Beale Cipher B3
When I think about what others
have said about B3, I conclude that there is a misunderstanding as to what information Beale actually encapsulated in
B3. I will try to clear this up. In Beale's letter to Morriss of Jan. 4, 1822--see The Beale Papers in
Ward's Pamphlet, 1885--Beale says one of the unintelligible papers--presumably B3--contains
list of the names of our party, with their places of residence, &c."
There were 30 members in Beale's party (TJB and 29
other men). Thus, according to the letter of Jan. 4, B3 contained 30 member names and 30 residences [addresses], although
I am uncertain as to what was meant by "&c." However, the next day (Jan. 5) Beale realized that he had made
a mistake. Mr. Morriss wouldn't need the addresses of the 30 members in his party, but rather the addresses of the 30 heirs.
So the next day (Jan. 5), Beale corrected the problem by writing a short letter in which he carefully explained what information
was contained in B3. In Beale's letter to Morriss of Jan. 5, 1822 (see Ward's Pamphlet, 1885), Beale says:
"You will find in one of the
papers, written in cipher [B3], the names of all my associates, who are each entitled to an equal part of our treasure, and opposite to the names of each one will be found the names and residences of the
relatives and others, to whom they devise their respective portions."
Thus, B3 contains 30 names of members,
30 names of heirs, and 30 addresses of heirs. A name consisted of a first name and a last name. The last name is also called
Much has been published about this popular Virginia
treasure story. Curious people can't help wondering whether the statements made in Ward's 1885 pamphlet are accurate and true,
or just an elaborate hoax. Most people believe the story is fiction. I am one who believes the treasure story is genuine.
I base this conclusion on the evidence and analysis presented on this website (bealetreasurestory.com), in my two books Beale
Treasure Story: The Hoax Theory Deflated, 2011, Beale Treasure Story: New Insights, 2011, and papers held at
the Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia.
this paper, I will show how 30 member names (first and surname)
and 30 heirs' names (first and surname) and 30 heirs' addresses could be used by Beale to create a B3 with only 618 characters.
And, I will show how the information in B3 could have been be easily recovered and used by Mr. Morriss.
Four Intelligent Beale Investigators
I will start by examining what four intelligent Beale investigators
had to say about B3. The four men are M. E. O'haver, Herbert O. Yardley, Louis Kruh, and Joseph (Joe) Nickell.
In December, 1924, M. E. O'haver began writing a monthly column in Flynn's Weekly called
"Solving Cipher Secrets," which ran for a couple of years. The articles were continued in Detective Fiction
Weekly, and ran uninterrupted until August 1954. In December, 1926, John Ingles, vice-president and treasurer of the
American Fidelity and Casualty Co., Richmond, Virginia, wrote to O'haver with information about the Beale treasure story.
But it wasn't until August, 1933, that O'haver responded with information about his progress. Among other things he said:
"Another thing about this case that impresses me as rather peculiar is with reference
to 'Cipher No. 3.' This cipher purports to give the names of 'parties and their residences.' It consists of 618 numbers, each
of which presumably represents a letter. According to Beale's letter of January 4 addressed to Morriss, this cipher must contain
the names and addresses of the thirty members of the party, together with the names and addresses of the relatives and others
to whom they devise their respective shares. In other words, we have here sixty names and sixty (sic thirty) addresses represented by only 618 numbers, which would make only about 5 or 6 letters for each name
which seems to me a rather small number. It might be that the names and addresses are abbreviated in the document. It can
hardly be that a different cipher is employed,--that is, a different kind of cipher,--since Beale speaks of only a single
key to all three documents. Besides, the three ciphers all have the appearance of being in the same kind of cipher."
Actually, it is
Beale's letter of January 5 that mentions the names of the thirty members of the party, together with the names and addresses
of the designated heirs. Thus, there are 60 names and 30 addresses represented by only 618 numbers, which would make about
seven letters for each name (not five or six).
It is noteworthy that
O'haver (acting as investigator) performed a simple calculation to determine whether the length of B3 seemed reasonable. He
started with the number 618 and worked backward to find the number of letters for each name. He was concerned that the number
618 seemed too small.
One might instead start by selecting an average length
for each name, and then work forward to determine the length of B3. In either case, it seems unlikely that the hoaxer would
accept 618 as the length for cipher B3 when this would give only seven letters for each name (member, heir, post office).
A copy of Ward's pamphlet was published in the December 1954 issue of "The Cryptogram,"
the official publication of the American Cryptogram Association. The copy of the pamphlet had been provided by Herbert O.
Yardley, author of the American Black Chamber (1931), from a copy provided to Yardley by Joseph McGehee
of Roanoke, Virginia. In the foreword to the article in "The Cryptogram," several comments attributed to Yardley
"Bozo [Yardley] submits these documents for
what they are worth. He has worked on them off and on for a number of years ... Number three cipher, he believes, is not long
enough to contain all the names of the so-called heirs."
Beale researcher Louis Kruh, in his paper "The Beale Cipher as a Bamboozlement - Part II," says the following
about Beale Cipher No. 3:
"A minor issue involves
cipher number 3 which is supposed to contain the names and addresses of the 30 members of the Beale party plus the names and
addresses of their relatives. For those roughly 60 names and addresses, cipher number 3 has only 618 numbers which appear
insufficient to provide the information described."
Joe Nickell, in his paper "Discovered The Secret of Beale's Treasure," provides the following comments about Beale
Cipher No. 3:
"Unsolved cipher number three raises further
suspicion. Beale claimed it contained the 'names of all my associates, and opposite to the name of each one will be found
the names and residences of relatives and others, to whom they devise their respective portions.' However, the cipher contains
only 618 characters—relatively few when it is considered that an average of only 20.6 characters was available for each
of the thirty men and that the names of two persons plus an address for one were to be given."
Nickell continues by providing additional arguments, both pro and con, and concludes by saying:
"... it may be doubted that cipher number three
contains the information Beale said it did."
If you study very
carefully what each man said, you will realize that the first three men incorrectly described the information stored in B3.
Only Nickell's description is correct. Yet, the four investigators do agree that B3 is problematic, although they express things in different ways:
O'haver says "618 numbers ...
seems to me a rather small number."
Yardley says "Cipher
Number three cipher, he believes, is not long enough to contain all the names of the so-called heirs."
Kruh says "cipher
number 3 has only 618 numbers which appears insufficient to provide the information described."
Nickell says "...
it may be doubted that cipher number three contains the information Beale said it did."
Nickell correctly described the information that Beale said was in B3. "Joe Nickell is
an American skeptic and investigator of the paranormal. Nickell is senior research fellow for the Committee for Skeptical
Inquiry and writes regularly for their journal, the Skeptical Inquiry. He is also an associate dean of the Center for Inquiry
Institute. He is the author or editor of over 30 books." (See Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.) Nickell has a Ph.D in
English from the University of Kentucky
It looks to me that in Beale's
letter to Mr. Morriss of January 5, 1822, Beale described a list containing 30 lines (one line for each of the 30 members
in Beale's party) and three line items per line (consisting of a member name, an heir name, and an heir address). From this
point onward, I will assume that Beale made use of such a list.
It is presumed that
the construction of cipher B3 was influenced by several factors, depending on whether the cipher was created by Beale or by
Beale would want B3 to be as short as possible, in order to minimize Mr. Morriss's work
to decode it.
A hoaxer would want B3 to be long
enough to be believable, in fact long enough to be easily believable by readers of the pamphlet. The hoaxer would choose to
err on the side of caution. Beale was free to make B3 as short as he could. He never intended B3 to be viewed by anyone except Mr. Morriss. From Beale's perspective, B3's length
was a non-issue.
After Beale's company had been formed, Beale collected the names of the members,
names their heirs, and post office addresses of the heirs. This information was needed in case of an accident that might occur
at any time while in the dangerous undertaking they were in.
The hoaxer had no need to construct a simulated Paper No. 3, or encipher it to produce a B3. He need only make a list
of random numbers "pulled from thin air".
If the forged B3 had a length equal to say 1275, then the hoaxer must create a list of 1275 random numbers, and call this
My intention, at this point, is to show the reader how a simple list could have been used by Beale
to create B3.
Beale's List contains 30 lines, one line for each member in Beale's party, and three
columns, where col. 1 contains a member name (first name and surname), col.
2 contains an heir name (first name and surname), and col. 3 contains an heir residency
(PO address). Using information that Beale collected from each member, he created a List, line
by line. Note that member first names in col. 1 are abbreviated, whereas heir first names in col. 2, thought to be more important,
are not abbreviated.
The steps that Beale would most likely follow to create B3 can be specified:
Beale first created a List, which I will call Paper
No. 3. He then made certain changes to Paper No. 3 to remove much of the redundancy. I
call the resulting List Retracted Paper No. 3. Let's look at the steps taken to make these
Step 1: Note first that the lines in Paper No. 3 need to be repositioned to allow
them to be grouped together according to their post office addresses. In our example, we have eight different PO addresses
that must be processed: warrenton (5), fauquierch (3), otterbridge (2), arnoldsoldplace (4), elkmarsh (4), rockyhillmills
(3), hillsborough (7), and richmond (2). I found it convenient to arrange the lines so that the 5 lines for warrenton were
grouped together and moved to lines 1 through 5, all in col. 3 of the List, followed by the 3 lines
for fauquierch, grouped together and moved to lines 6 through 8 of the List, followed by the 2 lines
for otterbridge, and so on. Notice that the line with the first occurrence of warrenton (top down in the List)
is moved to line 1 with no change made to it, whereas the lines with the remaining 4 occurrences of warrenton are moved to
lines 2 through 5 and the post office address in col. 3 is replaced by the letters "do". The
line with the first occurrence of fauqurierch (c.h. stands for court house) is moved to line 6 of the List,
with no change made to it, whereas the lines with the remaining 2 occurrences of fauqurierch are moved to lines 7 and
8 and the post office address in col. 3 is replaced by the letters "do".
The remaining six PO addresses are handled in the same way. When finished with the PO addresses, a period "." is placed at the end of each line.
Step 2: Now, for each of the 30 lines, examine the information in columns 1 and 2. These two columns contain names. If the columns hold surnames
that are the same, then the surname in col. 2 is erased so that it is blank or empty, and go to the next line, else do nothing and go to the next line. Finally,
remove all blanks so that each line contains lower case alphabetic characters and ends with a period. I call the resulting
List Retracted Paper No. 3. This
paper is encrypted one letter or period at a time.
Mr. Morriss' tasks can be listed and described:
Step 3: Decrypt
B3. The resulting plain text is retracted paper no. 3. The 30 periods in retracted paper no. 3 are used
to identify the 30 lines of text in paper no. 3. The first period identifies the end of line 1 and the
beginning of line 2; the second period identifies the end of line 2 and the beginning of line 3; and so forth.
Step 4: Retracted paper no. 3 is
now used to recover certain redundant PO information in paper no. 3. Start
with line 2 in paper no 3. Examine the information in line 2 and col. 3. If that information
is letters "do" then replace "do" in line 2 col. 3 with the PO information
in line 1 col. 3. But if line 2 col. 3 does not have letters "do", then do nothing and continue
with line 3. Examine the information in line 3 and col. 3. If that information is letters
"do" then replace "do" in line 3 col. 3 with the PO information
in line 2 col. 3. But if line 3 col. 3 does not have letters "do", then do nothing and continue
with line 4. Repeat the procedure line by line until line 30 has been processed.
Step 5: Retracted
paper no. 3 is now used to recover certain redundant surname information in paper no. 3. Start with line
1. Examine heir surname in line 1 and col. 2. If the heir surname is blank, empty or missing, then make a copy of the member
surname in line 1 and col. 1 and put it in the space for heir surname in line 1 and col. 2. Continue until all 30 lines have
been processed. Spaces could also be added in paper no. 3 to improve readability.
Beale creates a List called Paper No. 3 (see Figure
1). It is a List with 30 member names, 30 heir names, and 30 heir PO addresses. Beale creates a Retracted
Paper No. 3 (see Figure 2) by removing a large portion of the redundancy in Paper
No. 3. Beale encrypts Retracted Paper No. 3 to create cipher B3,
which is stored in Beale's locked box.
Mr. Morriss receives the secret key that Beale left with a friend in St. Louis. Mr. Morriss opens Beale's locked box and recovers
cipher B3. The secret key contains brief instructions for recovering Paper No. 3 from B3.
Mr. Morriss decrypts B3 to recover his copy of Retracted Paper No. 3. (see Figure
2). Following Beale's instructions, Mr. Morriss uses his copy of Retracted Paper No. 3 to
recover Paper No. 3 (see Figure 1). Mr. Morriss uses the information
in Paper No. 3 to locate the identified heirs.
Figure 3 shows you what Retracted Paper No. 3 would look like if the lines
in the List were concatenated to form a single long line.
Let us have a
look at some similarities and some differences between a genuine Beale who operated in a real Beale Treasure Story and a hoaxer
who pretends to have operated in a real Beale Treasure Story.
put forth here is that the length of B3 can be used as an indicator to predict whether the Beale Treasure
Story is genuine or not genuine (a hoax).
Beale actually creates
a Paper No. 3 (length=984) and a Retracted Paper No. 3 (length=618), which is encrypted
to produce B3 (length= 618). Note that Beale does not specify length as an input parameter to the Retracted
Paper No. 3 creation process or as part of the B3 creation process. Instead, the length=618 is determined
from information in the List called Retracted Paper No. 3 or by counting the number of cipher numbers in B3.
As a practical matter, a hoaxer has no means to duplicate Beale's
B3 "creation-process".The hoaxer is forced to create B3 by randomly generating a specified number
of random numbers drawn from thin air. In this case, it is the hoaxer himself who specifies the number of random numbers to
be generated. Thus, he would have no trouble in creating a list of numbers of any desired length. But a genuine solution would
require 30 names of members, 30 names of heirs and 30 PO addresses of heirs. Suppose the hoaxer said (to himself) I will create
phony names and addresses for members and heirs. And, I will create all the necessary papers to fool anyone who may see my
phony copy of B3 of length 618 characters. But wait just a minute. How can I create acceptable
names of members that do not really exist. If someone were able to decode B3 and recover Retracted
Paper No. 3 and Paper No. 3, I am in trouble; they would soon learn that the names and addresses
were fake or possibly true names that had no connection to a gold or silver mine near Pike's Peak in Colorado. As a practical
matter, a phony Beale cannot duplicate the actions of a genuine Beale. The hoaxer cannot duplicate the Beale Treasure Story.
The Beale Treasure Story is too closely linked to actual history. History is history; it cannot be changed.
seems to me that the missing piece to the puzzle has been found. I have showed you how Beale could have hid or masked the
predictable redundancy in Paper No. 3 using a couple of "reversible mapping techniques" that enabled Beale to deliver
to Mr. Morriss a B3 with 618 characters rather than 984 characters. One of the mapping techniques makes use
of the abbreviation "do" for the word "ditto". I also used abbreviated first names for members of Beale's party, which saved some space as well. See Figure
1 and Figure 2 below:
tom beale richard beale warrenton.
tim percy teresa percy warrenton.
leo jones john jones warrenton.
sam johnson hannah welsh warrenton.
tom mitchell jacob mitchell warrenton.
al barrel allen barrel fauquierch.
geo webster mary cunard fauquierch.
wm watt henry watt fauquierch.
andy henderson anna henderson otterbridge.
joe stewart lydia stewart otterbridge.
pat bradlee jack bradlee arnoldsoldplace.
john gates david gates arnoldsoldplace.
robt adams sarah adams arnoldsoldplace.
wm webster james webster arnoldsoldplace.
nath childs nancy childs elkmarsh.
jake peterson john peterson elkmarsh.
jeff offutt mary offutt elkmarsh.
paul carter polly carter elkmarsh.
fred northrup ellen northrup rockyhillmills.
dan edwards luke edwards rockyhillmills.
nicho nelson amos nelson rockyhillmills.
mark swift willis swift hillsborough.
theo marks judith white hillsborough.
mike riley josephine riley hillsborough.
ken hobart arthur hobart hillsborough.
zach clap nora clap hillsborough.
luke hawes glenn hawes hillsborough.
ron williams andrew williams hillsborough.
doug kimball sally kimball richmond.
alex brooks ruth brooks richmond.
Figure 1.Paper No. 3 with Length=984.
tom beale richard warrenton.
tim percy teresa do.leo jones john do.
sam johnson hannah welsh do.
tom mitchell jacob do.
al barrel allen fauquierch.
geo webster mary cunard do.
wm watt henry do.
andy henderson anna otterbridge.
joe stewart lydia do.
pat bradlee jack arnoldsoldplace.
john gates david do.
robt adams sarah do.
wm webster james do.
nath childs nancy elkmarsh.
jake peterson john do.
jeff offutt mary do.
paul carter polly do.
fred northrup ellen rockyhillmills.
dan edwards luke do.
nicho nelson amos do.
mark swift willis hillsborough.
theo marks judith white do.
mike riley josephine do.
ken hobart arthur do.
zach clap nora do.
luke hawes glenn do.
ron williams andrew do.
doug kimball sally richmond.
alex brooks ruth do.
Figure 2.Retracted Paper No. 3 with length = 618.
Figure 3.Retracted Paper No. 3 with length = 618 characters, lines concatenated, spaces removed.
Note: The reader should take note that the definition for Beale's List shown here is an example.
There are other definitions that could be used to accomplish the same purpose.
(PO) names come from a book that gives the names of 468 Virginia post offices, published in 1819.
In the discussion that follows, I will assume that the Beale treasure story was created in its entirety either by
Beale or by a hoaxer(s). I assume that the creator of the treasure story was an intelligent person, with all the necessary
skills to create such a story. I assume that the hoaxer, acting like an investigator, such as O'haver, Yardley, Kruh,
or Nickell, would not create a B3 with as few as 618 characters. The hoaxer, like the investigator, would conclude that B3
with as few as 618 characters would be too short. He would say that the length of B3 should be greater. The hoaxer would
opt to generate additional random numbers and add them to the end of B3. Enough additional random numbers should be added
to stop any credible investigator from saying B3 is too short.
Beale would say nothing about the
length of B3. When he created B3, he accepted whatever length happened to be created, of course within reason, which means
that he accepted whatever value for length of B3 that happened to be created as a consequence of the creation process. If
the value happened to be 618, so be it, it is what it is.
The evidence makes it easy for
me to conclude that a bright hoaxer would reject a length of 618 for B3. The hoaxer would simply start with a value much
larger than 618, say in the vicinity of 1200 but not equal to 1200, which is roughly 40 characters for each of the 30 members
in the party. But wait a minute. Better not select a length of 1200 pretty much for the same reason that you should not select
1111 or 1234 for the length of B3. The number 1200 looks more like it was created by a hoaxer than it does Beale. If the length
of B3 were 1234 it means that the length was picked (picked by the hoaxer), not the result of the creation procedure itself.
If the treasure story were genuine there would be no reason for Beale to set the length of B3 to any particular value. The
value 1234 indicates that the value 1234 was set by a hoaxer not Beale. If the length of B3 is a multiple of 30, it is likely
that this value (multiple of 30) was set by a hoaxer. There are only 11 numbers from 900 to 1200 that are a multiple of 30
and therefore 1200 - 11 = 1189 numbers that are not multiples of 30. Thus, if you randomly select a number from the 300 numbers
running from 900 to 1200, you have only a 3.7 percent chance of selecting a number that is a multiple of 30. Thus only a 3.7
percent chance that Beale will accidentally select one of these 11 numbers. Thus, it was likely set by a hoaxer. The hoaxer
may have been looking at multiples of 30 to get a feel for how many characters each of the 30 members in the party would have
for numbers falling in the range from 900 to 1200, and then used one of these number (without thinking about it too much)
as the length for his phony B3.
Have we learned anything
that might help us decode ciphers B1 or B3? The answer is yes. Keep in mind that even the smallest and most remote clue might
be worth while when lumped together with other clues.
If the real B3 makes use of periods, like
the example (Fig. 1 and Fig. 3), then some of the cipher numbers representing periods may be guessed, especially those near
the front and those near the end of B3.
The abbreviation 'do' for ditto, may occur several times
in B3 and much fewer times in B1. Now under the assumption that B1 and B3 have been enciphered with the same key and same
method of cipher, then for any pair of cipher numbers that occur in both B1 and B3, determine the pairs DD DO OD OO (how many
times they each occur) for B1 and separately for B3. The pair DO ought to occur more in B3 than in B1. This technique should
be run on the computer, as there could be too many pairs to compute this by hand. Also, the method does not require that we
know where in B3 and B1 the 'DO' occurs. If we find some 'DO' then we can also get the location of that DO.
Let me illustrate. Suppose we start with numbers 18 and 96; and then arbitrarily set 18=D and 96=O. This allows us
to determine the number of times the pairs (18,96) or (18,18) or (96,18) or (18,96) occur in B1 and B3. We use the counts
of the pairs to help tell us whether the initial setting of 18=D and 96=O was good or not so good. You should try all four
of the possible initial settings for 18 and 96.
The word 'THE' may occur several times in
B1, but it should not occur in B3. Although, I don't see a way to exploit this.
Miscellaneous B3 with Some Repeats
If the treasure story is a hoax, the hoaxer may trip himself. He must take care to prevent
this from happening. I will explain. There is no reason that I can think of why the length of B3 should be a multiple
of 30 (30 is the number of lines in Beale's List). But 30 x 31 = 930. There is no reason why a real Beale would need to calculate
the value 930 using 30 and 31, or any one of the eleven values 30x30 31x30 32x30 33x30 34x30 35x30 36x30 37x30 38x30 39x30
40x30 in the space of 300 values that run from 900 to 1200. Beale would have only a 3.7 percent chance of accidently
creating one of these 11 values for length of B3 (assuming that the creation step creates a value in the set of numbers that
run from 900 to 1200). A hoaxer who is looking at the number of characters allocated to each member in the Beale party versus
the number of characters in the entire B3, may look at one or even all of these 11 values, and may indeed use one of them
for the length of B3 (thinking that he has done good). But doing so could signal that the treasure story is a hoax. If an
investigator learns that the length of B3 is a multiple of 30 it means that the hoaxer has most likely set the value of the
length of B3, which is something that Beale would not need to do. Thus, an investigator who knows or learns of this attack,
and investigates the length of B3, can unmask the hoaxer.
discussion that follows, I will state and restate certain assumptions about the treasure story. The assumptions can be reviewed.
I assume that the treasure story, including the papers and ciphers were created by Beale, and if not by Beale, then
by a knowledgeable hoaxer. I will not consider possible cases where the creator was not Beale and not a hoaxer. An example
that covers this last case might be the situation where B3 consists of say two sheets of paper and Mr. Ward removes sheet
number two before sending the papers to the printer. In any case, if I can show that it is unlikely that B3 was created by
a hoaxer, then it follows that it is likely that B3 was created by Beale. Likewise, if I can show that it is unlikely
that B3 was created by Beale, then it follows that it is likely that B3 was created by a hoaxer.
I assume that the creator of the treasure story, including papers and ciphers (Beale or
hoaxer) is a highly intelligent person, skilled researcher, and capable of handling complex issues. I assume that the hoaxer
is smart enough to quickly recognize that a figure anywhere near 618 characters for B3 was unacceptable. The hoaxer
would never create a B3 with a length anywhere near 618 characters.
the hoaxer have different objectives with respect to B3. Beale would like it as short as possible to make Mr. Morriss' job
as painless as possible. A hoaxer wouldn't care if the number of characters is on the high side. The hoaxer needs only to
assure that the number of characters is enough so there is no question as to whether there is enough or not enough. If the
four experts [O'haver, Yardley, Kruh, and Nickell] think 618 is too small, then so will the hoaxer. They are all investigators
But, the important point is this: It has been shown how B3
could be created with a length=618, which is long enough to contain the information Beale said it did.
Conclusion: If the treasure story is a hoax, it is
extremely unlikely that a hoaxer would create a bogus cipher B3 with only 618 numbers. This conclusion is consistent
with statements attributed to four reputable researchers, O'haver, Yardley, Kruh, and Nickell. They believed that
618 was not long enough to contain the information that Beale said it did. Taken together, their arguments provide the best
empirical evidence available to show that a hoaxer would be unlikely to create a B3 with a length anywhere near
618 characters. Thus, there is only one remaining conclusion that can be reached: B3 contains 618 numbers because B3 is genuine
and the Beale Papers are genuine and because Beale found a way to shorten paper No. 3 by removing the redundant information
found in the List of names and addresses that he used to create paper No. 3, and because I have provided a convincing example
in which a B3 of length 618 could be constructed.
On No. 3, and because I have provided a convincing example in which a
B3 of length 618 could be constructed.
One very good argument supporting a conclusion that the Beale Treasure Story is fact
not fiction is based on the short length of cipher No. 3 (B3), which has only 618 cipher numbers. It's "too short"
people say. Credible Beale investigators have weighed
in on this issue too. Their conclusions are unanimous--B3
is too short to contain the names of 30 members in Beale's party and the names and residences of 30 heirs, as claimed by Beale.
I think it safe to say that if the story is fiction, the hoaxer or hoaxers
would never pick a length for B3 anywhere near the number 618. The hoaxer would, in all probability, think like most other
people as well as the credible investigators that 618 is too short and thus never pick a number near 618. But if 618 could
not have been picked by a hoaxer, then B3 could not have been created by a hoaxer, and the treasure story could not be fiction,
it must be genuine. In fact, at least two investigators, myself and a Mr. Holst, have shown how a list of 30 lines (one line
per member in Beale's party) with space for 618 characters of information could be constructed with anticipated redundant
But, if the treasure
story is/was a hoax, there would be no need for the hoaxer to prepare paper No. 3, or to encipher it to produce B3. A hoaxer
could omit these steps, as they would serve little or no purpose. Instead, he could directly create bogus cipher B3, e.g.,
by selecting numbers more or less at "random." The only decision of importance would be to select a length
for B3. For practical purposes, there are two ways in which the hoaxer could determine a length for B3, and they are essentially
The first method consists of selecting a trial
length for B3, dividing that number by 30, and then asking whether the resulting value seems large enough to hold two names
and one address. Depending on the answer, a different length for B3 would be selected, divided by 30, and examined
to see if it appears reasonable. The procedure would be repeated until an acceptable value had been obtained.
The second method is similar, except that one works forward instead of backward. In this case, one starts by selecting
a length that would accommodate a first and last name (doubling the value as there are two names) and selecting
a length that would accommodate a post office address. A person's first name can be abbreviated. The obtained
values are then added together and multiplied by 30. The resulting value is the length of B3. A hoaxer might do just what
I did in order to estimate the lengths for names and post office addresses. First I made a list of names of my ten closest
friends (abbreviated first names and full last names). I added up the number of letters in these ten names (101) and divided
by ten to obtain an average length of ten letters. In Beale's day, a post office address was the name of a city, town, or
court house. If a town or city by the same name happened to occur in more than one county, the post office address would
include the name of the county. In order to simulate the length of a post office address, I selected the names of 20 towns
in Virginia, added up the number of letters in these 20 names, and divided by 20 to obtain an average length of 11 letters. On
the basis of these fairly simple calculations, I determined that on average two names and one post office address could be
expressed in 31 letters. If 31 is multiplied by 30, one obtains a length of 930 for B3. This is a rough estimate, but probably
a pretty good one. It does not take into account that B3 could be shortened due to redundancies most likely occurring
in the names and addresses, if the treasure story were true. But, even if the hoaxer recognized this, it is unlikely that
he would have pursued this line of thinking, for reasons already discussed.
hoaxer had selected a length for B3 of about 930, readers of Ward's pamphlet could fairly easily confirm that its length
was reasonable. But B3's actual length of 618 is arguably too short. If 618 is divided by 30, one obtains
618/30 = 20.6, which means there are only 20 or 21 letters available to write two names and one address. A number of Beale
investigators have voiced concerns that B3, with only 618 numbers, is too short to contain the claimed list of 60 names
and 30 addresses. But, I have already shown that the hoaxer must not select a length for B3 that is a multiple
of 30, as otherwise a length for B3 which is a multiple of 30 will be a strong indication that B3 is fake and not created
There are two good arguments why we may conclude that the treasure story is fact not fiction: One is based
on the length of Beale cipher No. 3 (B3), which has 618 cipher numbers. It is not too short to be genuine; it's right on target!
The other is based on Ward's conviction that the treasure story was fact not fiction. Ward was an insider, a member of the inner circle. He knew what was going on.
However, if the treasure story is a hoax, the hoaxer(s) had better be quite careful not
to select a value for the length of B3 that is a multiple of 30. That would be something unlikely to happen by pure luck.
It would be a giveaway that the treasure story is a hoax.
In Beale's letter to Morriss of Jan. 4, 1822, he mentions "a list of the names of our party, with their places
of residence." Mr. Morriss would know immediately what Beale meant by use of the words "a list". In that period,
a list was composed of "a number of connected items or names written or printed
consecutively, typically one below the other." Lists were much used in the composition of advertisements and notices
printed in newspapers.
Here is an example of
a list of ship arrivals and departures from the Port of New Orleans in 1811 [See The Louisiana Gazette ,
New Orleans, La., June 14, 1811]. Note that the abbreviation "do" for ditto is used throughout the notice to avoid
repeating the longer words: Pensacola, Ft. Stoddert, and Mobile.
of New Orleans
Schr. Florida, Orosco, Pensacola
Republican, Robasso, do
Mary, Brullon, Ft. Stoddert
Hope, Lindsey, do
Florida, Hendenberg, Mobile
Mary, Mayor, do
Victoria, Salles, do
The next day, January 5, 1822, Beale wrote a second letter to Mr. Morriss, in which he more fully described;
the "List." It seems that Beale wanted to give Mr. Morriss more of an idea of how the residences and names of heirs
would fit with the "List" of names of the party. Also, Beale made an error in the January 4, 1822 letter. Beale
had said that one of the papers contained "a list of the names of our party, with their places of residence."
Actually, the letter also contained the names of the heirs and the places of residence of the heirs, not necessarily
the same as the places of residence of the members of the party. In the letter of January 5th he corrected the mistake by
saying that "You will find in one of the papers, written in cipher, the names of all my associates, who are each entitled
to an equal part of our treasure, and opposite to the names of each one will be found the names and residences of the relatives
and others, to whom they devise their respective portions."
Beale's explanation of Paper No. 3 sounds like the list
consisted of three columns of data: (1) names of members, (2) names of heirs, and (3) residences of heirs. A simple method
of representing a residence is by using the name of the post office where the person receives mail. With the person's name
and their post office name, the person can be located. However, as
Beale did not specifically use the words "post office". it is possible that some of the residences were expressed
in more general terms, e.g., as in "the meadows of Goose Creek, Bedford Co., Va." Yet, in Beale's day, I believe
that every person in Virginia had a post office where they could receive mail, which seems contradictory.
Besides the obvious explanation that the treasure story is true,
there are a number of alternate conjectures that have been advanced to explain the origin and purpose of the Beale Papers. These alternate conjectures are listed and arguments are given to show that all but one of these can be
easily ruled out as being unlikely, namely the treasure story is a hoax perpetrated by the anonymous author of Ward's
pamphlet. Four different arguments are presented to show it is unlikely that a hoaxer would choose to
create genuine ciphers that potentially could be decoded rather than bogus ciphers that could not be
decoded. Thus, by a process of elimination, it is shown that the only likely way that genuine ciphers B1 and B3 could
have been created is for the treasure story to be true.
Chapter 6 of Beale Treasure Story: New Insights describes a computer
test performed on ciphers B1 and B3, which showed that the two ciphers have similar or like frequency distributions. Additional
tests were performed using real and bogus ciphers, which led to a conclusion that B1 and B3 were created using
the same creative process.
According to Viemeister, a German researcher theorized that the gold and silver buried in Beale's vault was looted
from the Mexican government treasury after the American victory in the Mexican War of 1847–48. A more persistent claim
is that Beale's treasure is actually the legendary missing Confederate Treasury of the 1860s. It is known that early on April
3, 1865, Jefferson Davis and members of his cabinet of the Confederate States of America boarded a special train in Richmond,
bound for Danville, Virginia, bringing with them the assets of their treasury. The missing treasury has never been located.
According to the "cover story" theory, The Beale Papers is a "fabrication, published to
hide the truth of where the treasure came from and to 'launder' the loot."
However, there is good reason to
doubt the "cover story" theory. If the pamphlet had been published to provide a "cover story," then one
would expect the Beale treasure to have been located and removed within a reasonable period after the pamphlet's
publication by the perpetrators of the "cover story." But, well over a hundred years has now passed, without any
confirmed report that the treasure has been recovered, and so, it seems doubtful that the pamphlet was published
with an intent to provide a "cover story."
A popular conjecture within the category of "mostly true"
is that Thomas J. Beale was in reality the privateer Jean Laffite and Beale's vault contained the treasure of gold, silver,
and jewels accumulated by the brothers, Jean and Pierre Laffite. However, there is justification for doubting this
conjecture. Jean Laffite would not have known in 1822 that, three decades later, tons of gold would be mined near Pike's Peak,
250–300 miles north of Santa Fé. Unless Laffite made a lucky guess, there are only two ways that this fact
could have been known: (1) the treasure story is true, or (2) the treasure story is untrue, but concocted at least in
part after gold had been discovered near Pike's Peak. The "Laffite" conjecture is presumably based on a desire by
Jean Laffite to have his treasure distributed to the heirs of the men in his band, or to his men posing as the heirs. But
it seems unlikely that Laffite's men were Virginians, as stated in the treasure story. If the key to the ciphers had arrived
in 1832, and B3 had been deciphered, Mr. Morriss would have realized that the storyline in the Beale Papers could not possibly
be true. Few if any of the heirs given in B3 would be Virginians. Thus, the decoded B3 would not agree with the storyline
in the Beale Papers. Given this anomaly, Mr. Morriss might have sought legal advice before proceeding, especially
if the names Jean or Pierre Laffite appeared somewhere in the list of names.
Despite the fact that Beale or Morriss
could have been hoaxers, neither possibility seems likely. The payoff realized from such a hoax could never begin to offset
the tremendous effort required to create the Beale Papers. According to Viemeister (pp. 145–46), author
of more than a dozen books, "creating a fictional The Beale Papers would be a challenging task."
Viemeister says that "a fiction writer would need two or three years to work out this intricate story and the ciphers." Moreover,
each man had little reason or incentive to perpetrate a hoax. After all, how much pleasure could Beale derive from leaving
the papers in a locked box given to Mr. Morriss, with instructions that it not be opened for ten years? If the key did not
arrive, the papers could easily end up in an ash can. If Mr. Morriss created the Beale Papers, how much pleasure
could he derive from turning the papers over to an unsuspecting person, apparently a relative or friend, just months
before his own death, never to rejoice in the pain and suffering inflicted on the anonymous author and his family? In each
case, there was no assurance or even any prospect that the papers would ever receive notoriety, or that either Beale
or Morriss might be revered as a clever hoaxer.
Regardless of whom the hoaxer might have been, one thing is certain.
If the Beale Papers were fiction, it would require a significant effort and a significant period of
time to write the story, just to get everything consistent, including the plot. Someone once asked author Ayn Rand what
were the three most difficult things about writing and she replied: "plotting, plotting and plotting." According
to Rand, "a plot is a purposeful progression of logically connected events leading to the resolution
of a climax." According to Beale researcher Jerry Watt, the mere complexity of the Beale treasure story and the fact
that it makes sense, historically, is a powerful argument that the entire story is real—something not very obvious to
the average person.
First off, if ciphers B1 and B3 were created as part of a hoax, there would have been no need to create genuine
ciphers B1 and B3. Bogus ciphers B1 and B3 could be easily constructed, e.g., by "pulling numbers from thin
air." This would be simpler than creating phony messages No. 1 and No. 3 and enciphering them to produce
genuine ciphers B1 and B3. Why go to all the work of preparing genuine ciphers when bogus ciphers would do the job? Creating
bogus ciphers B1 and B3 would have required far less work.
If it were the hoaxer's intention to make money from the sale
of Ward's pamphlet, then sales could, and probably would be negatively impacted if knowledge of a hoax leaked out. The hoaxer
would be concerned about protecting his return on investment. If the hoaxer had considered the
possibility of creating genuine ciphers B1 and B3, he would also have realized that this would require genuine
looking (albeit phony) papers No. 1 and No.3 to be prepared. But there doesn't seem to be any constructive purpose for
doing this. In fact, creating genuine ciphers would have a downside. If B1 contained a set of directions to a fictitious
burial site, anyone decoding B1 would discover that the burial site was phony. Admittedly, an ambitious hoaxer could
create his own burial site lined with stone, but without any gold, silver, or jewels. This might fool an unsuspecting
treasure hunter who happened to decipher B1. In fact, upon discovering the empty vault, one might conclude that
Beale and his men had indeed returned and removed the treasure long ago. But, what about B3? At best, it could contain a list
of real people and real addresses. But upon checking a few of the names, it would be learned that the list had been concocted. There
would be no way to perpetuate the masquerade. Eventually, it would be discovered that the names of supposed members of
Beale's party had no connection to each other and had never participated in a western hunting expedition. If it was the hoaxer's
intention to prevent someone—who decoded Beale's ciphers—from learning that the treasure story was a hoax,
then creating messages No. 1 and No. 3 and enciphering them to produce B1 and B3 would undermine this objective. It
would be safest to create bogus ciphers that could never be decoded, and thereby protect your return on investment.
certain that family honor and reputation would be damaged if the treasure story was a hoax and knowledge
of the hoax leaked out. According to a statement made by George Hart in the Hart Papers (p. 8), "Inquiry
among some aged neighbors of Ward showed the high respect they had for him, and brought forth the statement that Ward would
never practice deception." It is clear that Ward had a reputation to protect. But what about the anonymous author?
Although not a certain fact, the anonymous author is suspected to have been Lynchburg resident, Ferdinand C. Hutter. The unblemished reputations of Hutter, his family, and his relatives could be easily scarred if Hutter
was implicated in a hoax. F. C. Hutter had been a major in the Confederate Army. His father had been a U.S. Army officer
prior to the Civil War. His wife Mary Lyons was the daughter of Judge James Lyons (1801–82), who attended William
and Mary and established a thriving law practice in Richmond, where he served ten years as district attorney and
was active in Whig (until 1852) and Democratic politics; he chaired the 1872 convention that nominated Charles O'Conor for
president. A prominent civic leader and an early advocate of secession, Lyons was "a pillar of the administration"
in his one term in the House, 1862–63. He and his wife were close friends of the [Jefferson] Davises': Varian remembered
enjoying their "large and graceful hospitality" at Laburnum, their home in the suburbs, and later said he was "our
dear and intimate friend." Lyons addressed Andrew Johnson on [Jefferson] Davis' behalf, volunteered his legal services,
was a bondsman in 1867, and kept in touch with [Jefferson] Davis the rest of his life. One of Lyons' sons-in-law was [General]
William B. Taliaferro (1822-1898), who married Lyons' daughter Sally, U.S. Army officer, lawyer, legislator and Confederate
general in the Civil War. Henry A. Wise was his brother-in-law. James Lyons Taliaferro (1855–1928), son of
General William B. Taliaferro and Sally Lyons, was also a Virginia lawyer and Judge. Even if the treasure story were
true, allowing F. C. Hutter to be cited as the author of Ward's pamphlet could possibly be embarrassing for
the relatives of Hutter's wife. And, this may explain in part why F. C. Hutter (assuming he was the anonymous author)
chose to remove his name as author of the pamphlet. (The information about James Lyons was taken from The Papers
of Jefferson Davis: June 1865–December 1870, by Jefferson Davis, Lynda Lasswell Crist, Suzanne Scott Gibbs, and
Brady L. Hutchison, footnote 22, page 26.)
Imagine the impact that the following (make believe) article might have if printed
in the Lynchburg and Richmond newspapers:
It has been reported that Ferdinand C. Hutter together with James B. Ward, both residents of Lynchburg, have been
implicated in a scandalous hoax perpetrated on their neighbors and friends, in the city and surrounding area. F.
C. Hutter, former major in the Confederate army, is the son of the late George C. Hutter, U.S. Army officer, and is the husband
of Mary Lyons, daughter of the late Judge James Lyons of Richmond, lawyer, former Richmond district attorney, and legislator.
She is also the daughter-in-law of William B. Taliaferro, U.S. Army officer, lawyer, legislator and Confederate general in
the American Civil War. Ward is the son of the late Giles Ward and grandson of the late James B. Risque, both former attorneys
practicing in Lynchburg for many years.
[This is followed by a short description of the treasure story.]
[This is followed by a description of how the hoax was uncovered.]
[This is followed by a list of other relatives together with ranks
and titles, accompanied with a statement saying "So far relatives of the perpetrators have refrained from commenting on
By all accounts,
it would be foolish to perpetrate a hoax in the first place. It would be doubly foolish to perpetrate a hoax and not take
steps to avoid the inadvertent exposure of the hoax by a person who happened to decode one of the ciphers. Family honor and
reputation would seem to be a powerful motivating factor to be considered by the hoaxer. Why
create genuine ciphers B1 and B3, and risk the possible exposure of a hoax, and subsequent loss of family honor
and reputation, if the ciphers happened to be decoded?
Threat of a lawsuit would be another
powerful motivating factor to be considered by the hoaxer. The anonymous author of Ward's pamphlet spent nearly twenty years
trying to solve Beale's ciphers. And, according to Ward's pamphlet (p. 3), "regardless of the entreaties of his family
and the persistent advice of his friend ... he stubbornly continued his investigations, until absolute want stared him in
the face and forced him to yield to their persuasions." This describes a man totally consumed with the task of decoding
Beale's ciphers. Suppose that after Ward's pamphlet had been published, a few readers became equally absorbed in the matter,
toiling many hours in hopes of recovering the treasure despite the fact that the pamphlet warned against doing so. How might
these persons react upon learning that the treasure story was a hoax? They might be downright angry. Could the anonymous author
and Ward successfully blame the matter on Beale or Morriss? Perhaps, but that might also be chancy. Under the threat of exposure,
someone might talk. In such an event, the anonymous author and Ward may be exposed to a possible lawsuit. Thus, if the treasure
story was a hoax, it would be imperative for the anonymous author and Ward to keep their participation in the matter
secret. Why create genuine ciphers B1 and B3, and risk the possible exposure of a hoax and a possible lawsuit, if
the ciphers happened to be decoded?
Even if the treasure story did not begin as an intentional hoax, but instead began
as a fictional story, later turned into a nonfiction narrative and sold in pamphlet form to make money, the perpetrators of
the hoax (anonymous author, James B. Ward, and possibly others) would still be concerned about their family's honor and
reputation and the risk of a possible lawsuit. However, in this case, ciphers B1 and B3 (included as part of the fictional
story) would have been created by the author of the fictional story. And, it may be that the perpetrators of the hoax
would have no way to know whether ciphers B1 and B3 were genuine or bogus. In that case, the safest course would be for
the perpetrators to discard the inherited ciphers and replace them with newly created bogus ciphers. Thus, even
if ciphers B1 and B3 started out as part of a fictional story, it seems likely that they would have been used by the hoaxers
only if they were known to be bogus ciphers; otherwise they would have been discarded and replaced by bogus ciphers.
The remarkable thing is that the arguments showing that B1 and B3
are genuine are not based on an analysis of the cipher numbers themselves. The arguments are based on simple
observations about the construction of the ciphers. I may have found something that other researchers have
overlooked. It is this: A hoaxer acting on behalf
of a fictional character confronted with a make-believe situation will not always act in the same way that a real-life character
will act when confronted with a similar real-life situation. If this axiom is applied to the Beale treasure story, it
is possible to use projected differences in the storyline to make important inferences about the treasure story itself.
treasure story is true, then while preparing paper No. 3 Beale recognized that some of the men were brothers or cousins
with the same last name and that many of the heirs resided in the same location with the same post office address. First names
of members and heirs could be abbreviated. Beale would have recognized that by appropriately arranging the information in
paper No. 3, many names and addresses, which would otherwise be repeated, could be replaced by the abbreviation "do"
for "ditto." Beale would have discovered that paper No. 3 could be written in as few as 618 letters, a fact
that is also confirmed in Ch. 7 of Beale Treasure Story: The Hoax Theory Deflated.
If the hoaxer
had selected a length for B3 of about 930, readers of Ward's pamphlet could fairly easily confirm that its length was
reasonable. But B3's actual length of 618 is arguably too short. If 618 is divided by 30, one obtains
618/30 = 20.6, which means there are only 20 or 21 letters available to write two names and one address. A number of Beale
investigators have voiced concerns that B3, with only 618 numbers, is too short to contain the claimed list of 60 names
and 30 addresses.
If the treasure story was a hoax, it is extremely unlikely that a hoaxer would create a bogus cipher B3 with only 618 numbers.
This conclusion is consistent with statements attributed to four reputable researchers, O'haver, Yardley, Kruh,
and Nickell. They believed that 618 was not long enough to contain the information that Beale said it did. Taken
together, their arguments provide the best empirical evidence available to show that a hoaxer would be unlikely
to create B3 with only 618 numbers. Thus, there is only one remaining conclusion that can be reached: B3 contains 618
numbers because B3 is genuine and because Beale found a way to shorten paper No. 3 by removing the redundant information found
in the lists of names and addresses that he used to create paper No. 3. Therefore, B3 is likely to be a real cipher.
B1 is Likely a Genuine Cipher
Several monotonic increasing letter strings occur in the recovered plain text when B1 is deciphered with the
key to B2. In a monotonic increasing letter string, each letter is either one greater than the previous letter or equal to
the previous letter. The observed deciphered strings and their corresponding locations in B1 are these:
|Location || String |
|37 || AAAAB|
|84 || AABBCCCCDDE|
|111 || ACBCDDE|
|188 || ABCDEFGHIIJKLMMNOOPPP |
James Gillogly was the first to draw attention to the letter
strings . But, as he could find no explanation for these strings under an assumption that the treasure story was true,
his inclination was that at least the first cipher, B1, was a hoax. In Gillogly's own words: "I visualize the encryptor
selecting numbers more or less at random, but occasionally growing bored and picking entries from the numbered Declaration
of Independence in front of him, in several cases choosing numbers with an alphabetic sequence."
a bogus cipher would be boring. I am sure of that. But it is unclear why the encryptor's boredom would be relieved by
interrupting the random number selection process in order to create monotonic increasing letter strings in B1, using the key
to B2. In effect, this would constitute an enciphering operation, in which letters in the plain text, or letter string, are
replaced by homophones in the key. Don't forget that an enciphering operation may require counting forward or backward
from the nearest numbered letter or word in the key text. It would seem that the encryptor would be more apt to relieve his
boredom by looking for ways to speed the process up, rather than resort to a more tedious operation of encryption.
Beale researcher, Ronald
Gervais, conjectured that the monotonic increasing letter strings in B1 were inserted by a hoaxer, as if to say "Don't
take this too seriously folks; it's just for fun." I'm not exactly sure how the letters strings could be interpreted
to mean "Don't take this too seriously folks." Except for Gillogly's conjecture that the letter strings were
the result of a hoaxer who became bored, I know of no other explanation for the presence of the strings in a bogus cipher
B1 under an assumption that the treasure story is a hoax.
But, if it is conceded that a hoaxer did insert such letter strings in B1, then why insert
imperfect monotonic increasing letter strings of the form ABCDEFGHIIJKLMMNOOPPP
(with two clerical errors corrected ) when one could as easily insert perfectly formed letter strings of the form
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTU. The letters "A" through "U" were available in Beale's key to B2. There seems
to be no reason for ending the string with letters 'PPP" when one could move right on to letter "Q." Why
insert imperfect letter strings when one could as easily insert perfectly formed letter strings?
To me, the letter strings have the appearance
of being created using a process of double encipherment, which of course means that cipher B1 is real and that the strings were created by Beale. It means that the
cipher numbers corresponding to the letter strings can be deciphered with the key to B1 and the key to B2 to produce
two different meaningful decodings. But as a practical matter, because double encipherment introduces an extra degree
of difficulty into the enciphering process, this extra degree of difficulty could explain why Beale was able to create
only imperfect letter strings.
As for the first four letter strings, AAAAB, AAABBCDEFF, AABBCCCCDDE, and ACBCDDE, they have the appearance
of practice trials in which Beale experimented in order to learn (by doing) how the process of double encipherment could be
accomplished. It is supposed that the fifth string ABCDEFGHIIJKLMMNOOPPP (with two clerical errors corrected) was a string
of sufficient length to satisfy Beale's intended purpose.
Recall that in Beale's letter of May 9th, 1822, Beale gave Morriss several instructions concerning
the locked iron box left in his charge. Among other things, Beale said that:
"Should none of us return you will please preserve carefully the box for the period of ten years from the date
of this letter, and if I, or no one with authority from me, during that time demands its restoration, you will open it, which
can be done by removing the lock."
It is clear from this instruction that
Beale intended for someone other than himself to possibly demand the box from Mr. Morriss. This person would most likely
be a member of Beale's company, but could and probably would be a person that Mr. Morriss had never met. The letter string
ABCDEFGHIIJKLMMNOOPPP would serve as proof of this person's authority to retrieve the locked box. The recovery process would
work as follows: Mr. Morriss would be instructed to number the words in a
copy of the Declaration of Independence (DOI) and use the first letter of each word to decipher the 21 cipher numbers
beginning with the 188th cipher number in the cipher beginning with cipher number 71 (i.e., B1). Mr. Morriss would be
told in advance that a recognizable letter string beginning with the letter "A" and ending with the letter
"P" would be produced. Only a person with Beale's authority would know this information. Once the letter string was proven to be correct, Mr. Morriss
would know that the person demanding the box had authority from Beale to reclaim the box and the person demanding
the box would know that the cipher being examined was the genuine Cipher No. 1.
Of course, the most important paper in the box
was B1, as it alone contained the directions to the burial site of the treasure, which explains why Beale chose to insert
the required letter string in B1. It also explains why it was unnecessary for Beale to create additional letter
strings after once creating a letter string of sufficient length to serve his purpose. However, if the ciphers are
bogus, it doesn't explain why the hoaxer's boredom abruptly ended with more than half of the numbers in cipher B1 still to be
Without knowing what Beale's key to B1 looked like, it is difficult to judge the degree of difficulty that he may
have had in accomplishing the necessary double encipherment steps. There are a couple of "tricks" that Beale might
have employed to facilitate the double encipherment process.
One method would be to make use of
nulls in the key to B1. Nulls represent "nothing" and can be thought of as spaces or blanks. An easy way to make
use of nulls would be for the key to B1 to be based on a book cipher in which the individual letters in the keytext are consecutively
numbered, including the spaces between words. In that case, the spaces would represent nulls. And, as there would be many
nulls (approximately one for every four or five letters in the keytext) to choose from, there would be no difficulty in forcing
the double encipherment process to succeed. Thus, if the usual double encipherment step happened to fail, a recovery could
be easily made by inserting one or more nulls into the plaintext (Paper No. 1) at the appropriate point.
The other method works only if
the key for cipher B1 is defined by Beale himself. You might think of the key as a table with as many rows as there are letters
in the alphabet. The key is populated by assigning cipher numbers or homophones to each letter in the key, by writing the
homophones in the proper rows in the key. Thus, the assignment of homophones is a random or haphazard process. If a keytext
is involved, the keytext itself determines the assignment of homophones to the letters in the key. In that case, the assignment
is deterministic not random. For sake of discussion, suppose that Beale is the one who assigns homophones in the key. In such
a case, double encipher works as follows: The process starts with an empty enciphering key. At first, letters in the letter
string are produced as a consequence of assigning or adding needed homophones to the empty enciphering key. This extra
degree of freedom can be enough to permit double encipherment to succeed. But, as more and more homophones are assigned
to letters in the key, it becomes possible in some cases to perform double encipherment in the usual sense, without assigning
new homophones to letters in the key. In effect, the process of double encipherment consists of adding homophones to
the enciphering key (whenever necessary) or making use of homophones already assigned to the enciphering key (whenever feasible).
Once double encipherment has been completed, additional homophones are assigned to letters in the key, to complete the key,
and the remaining plain text is enciphered in the usual sense.
Conclusion: If B1 is bogus, then the letter strings are problematic. They have an
unexplained purpose, they have an unexplained form, and they were created by a hoaxer for the fun of it, to relieve
boredom. If B1 is genuine, the letter strings were created by Beale for a specific and planned purpose; the form
of the strings is consistent with a double encipherment operation in which there is enough freedom to permit
imperfect monotonic increasing letter strings to be created, but insufficient freedom to permit a perfectly formed letter
string or a short English text message of 21 characters to be created. Given the two competing explanations for
the existence of the monotonic increasing letter strings, it seems more likely (to me) that B1 is genuine and that
the letter strings were created by Beale for a planned purpose. It seems less likely that B1 is bogus and that the letter
strings were created by a hoaxer for the fun of it to relieve boredom.
Footnotes and References
 James J. Gillogly. 'The Beale cipher: A dissenting
opinion." Cryptologia, volume 4, number 2, 116–119, April 1980.
 The actual letter string at location 188 is ABCDEFGHIIJKLMMNOHPPO.
Cipher number 301 at location 205, which deciphers as letter "H" was probably meant to be cipher number 302, which
deciphers as letter "O." Cipher number 680 at location 208, which deciphers as letter "O" was probably
meant to be cipher number 681, which deciphers as letter "P." Thus, words "of" and "pretended"
at positions 302 and 681 in Beale's numbered copy of the Declaration were undoubtedly misread as numbers 301 and
680. In effect, these were clerical errors made by Beale.
Sept. 5, 2011
Aug. 22, 2021