This two-book set, by Stephen M. Matyas, Jr., Ph.D., has raised the intellectual
bar high above all others — including myself — who have previously written about Thomas J. Beale and his
band of 29 Virginia gentlemen who were said to have buried over $100 million dollars of treasure in Bedford County, Virginia,
in 1819 and 1821.
As of this writing (January, 2012) I have been actively researching the subject of the Beale treasure mystery for
over 22 years. In 1964 my family moved to the western portion of Bedford County, Virginia, where a good portion of the mystery
and story took place. I was just nine years old when my parents purchased 25 acres of land and a very old historical home
that had been built in 1889. Mr. Parfitt, the elderly owner of the home and land, at that time of our purchase, had lived
there since 1911. He, like myself, was a young boy when his parents had purchased the property. As I was carrying a box into
my new residence Mr. Parfitt informed me that an old stage coach trail had once passed through the middle of the land. In
fact, he pointed out the road to me as I stood still on the old front porch. I was very excited at the moment, but as the
days and years passed I did not give the stage coach trail much thought. I was too busy being a rambunctious boy and teenager
to slow down to observe the apparent historical significance of the once busy throughway.
That lack of focus on my part would eventually
change. In the mid to late 1980s, I watched a National Geographic Special on the subject of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha,
a Spanish galleon that sank during a hurricane on September 6, 1622.
Mel Fisher, the famed treasure hunter, spent 16 years of his life trying to recover the treasures on board this sunken vessel.
During the endeavor, Fisher lost two loved ones who drowned. The Atocha was eventually located on July 20, 1985.
When the sunken treasures were eventually recovered they were valued at $450 million dollars. I was awe struck when Fisher
came to my neck of the woods in 1989 looking for the Beale treasure. I immediately purchased my first book on the Beale treasure
subject, Gold In The Blue Ridge, by P. B. and Walter Innis. Mel Fisher became frustrated and gave up his hunt for
the Beale treasure in 1990 and promised locals that he would someday return, but to my knowledge he never did.
I later read Peter Viemeister's
excellent book, The Beale Treasure — History of a Mystery. For the next five years, I did research and interviewed
locals and as many of the "old timers" in the surrounding areas as I could locate. In 1995, I published a book and
audio book set entitled, In Search of A Golden Vault, The Beale Treasure Mystery. That set sold out many years ago
and brought me critical acclaim. I was featured in an award winning documentary, The Treasure of Thomas Beale, a
hit BBC/UK TV show; The Travel Channel; a hit show on SBS TV Seoul, South Korea; and on a National Geographic Special shown
in the UK. I thought that I really knew a few things about the subject of the Beale treasure mystery, but I was wrong. I can
now relate to the sitcom character Sgt. Shultz on the 60's hit show, Hogan's Heroes who would often say, "I