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The Beale Cryptograms Treasure

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The Beale Cryptograms Treasure

Truth or Hoax?

Many people have spend much time and money trying to find the Thomas Beale treasure. Ranging from loss of family and financial stability to crimes such as trespassing and grave robbery, no one has been successful in finding the treasure. Is it a hoax from a time gone by that has now become legend or is the treasure vault still there waiting for someone to find it?

The treasure was said to have been obtained by an American man named Thomas Jefferson Beale in 1818, to the north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, most likely in what would now be Colorado. Beale supposedly led about 29 adventurers on the discovery, but no solid proof of either Beale, or any of his men's existence has yet been found in any public or private record.

It is claimed that Beale placed the ciphertexts in an iron box, and left it with a reliable person in 1822, a Lynchburg innkeeper, Robert Morriss. The treasure was supposedly buried near Montvale in Bedford County, Virginia. Beale asked Morriss not to open the box, unless he, or one of his men failed to return from their journey within 10 years. Beale promised to have a friend in St. Louis mail Morriss the key(s) to the cryptograms, but they were never received. In 1843 Morriss opened the box and unsuccessfully attempted to solve the ciphers on his own but, decades later, passed the box and contents (three letters and three ciphertexts), and the story, to one of his friends.

Using a particular edition of the United States Declaration of Independence as the key for a modified book cipher, the friend successfully deciphered the second ciphertext, which gave descriptions of the buried treasure. The friend ultimately made the letters and ciphertexts public, apparently via James B Ward, in an 1885 pamphlet entitled The Beale Papers. Ward is thus apparently not 'the friend'. Ward himself is obscure, and is untraceable in local records with the exception that someone of that name was the owner of the home in which a Sarah Morriss, identified as the consort of Robert Morriss, died at 77 (Lynchburg Virginian newspaper, May 21, 1865), so perhaps he was "the friend" after all. There was no explanation of the accident which led to the solution of the second ciphertext, which perhaps suggests that there was additional information now lost (from Morriss?).

Below are links to research Thomas Beale and the Cryptograms further;

Wikipedia - Beale Ciphers
The Unmuseum - The Beale Cryptograms
"Beale Treasure, NEW History of a Mystery"
My Out Box - Were they a hoax?
Everything2 - Beale Ciphers

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