The Antlers American

Snow Community News • By Shirley Taylor


An article written by a long time Snow resident had been brought to my attention. The informatio­n inside the article is very interestin­g and the cherry on the top is Jesse Berryhill put much of the statistics into the article. The name he chose was: Quest for the Eagles of Gold. A dear friend gave the piece to share with everyone. This is a Tale Woven with threads of fact and legend about those who sought buried treasure stolen nearly 100 years ago. He starts off his intriguing story with; we all know it’s there, the old Military Road, curving around the Snow Community like a giant scythe called One Creek, running east and north along the mountainsi­de, across the mouth of Wolf Pen canyon then north along the base of Wild Horse prairie, disappeari­ng in the maze upper Big Cedar creek. It runs down from old Fort Smith to Fort Towson in the Choctaw Nation, barely discernibl­e in places lost in others, yet for miles quite plain in one who knows where to look. It’s a route rich in stories, some history solidly based on fact, some mere fantasies. But of the factual tales, none is stronger or more authentica­ted than that of the lost $30,000 in gold eagles and half eagles ($10 and $20 gold pieces) taken at unpoint from an army paymaster just 10 miles south of Fort Smith in 1887. There were give men involved in the crime, two to do the actual holdup, three others waiting along the route to supply the fleeing outlaws with fresh relays of horses and join them in the flight. It was a crime well planned and organized and might have been completely successful, for they killed the two military policemen guarding the

beMat hiEm paymaster and about the head with guns as badly he never fully recovered his wits. They might have had a day’s

befoTre start was discovered. They might have reached the Red River near Fort Towson and vanished forever in the vastness of Texas. Yes, they might have been successful but for a passing Light Horseman of the Mounted Police of the Choctaw Nation who discovered the crime within an hour and rode at top speed to Fort Smith and alerted the cavalry. Even if the outlaws had known of the early discovery of their crime, they would have felt little reason for concern for they were mounted on horses so strong and fast that even the weight of the 100 lb. of old in the way paymaster’s brief cases wouldn’t slow them down. With three relays of fresh animals waiting in hidden corrals just off the military road they would have felt little fear that the cavalry could possibly catch them. But they failed to consider the young Choctaw Light Horseman called Aechubby. His name was told to me almost 50 years ago by his relative, “Aunt Polly” Aechubby. They young Choctaw was ambitious, out to make a name for himself. And he was a matchless horseman. He volunteere­d for the duty of riding dispatch, following trails known only to the Choctaws and a few outlaws, trails much straighter and shorter than the winding military road. He, too, found fresh horses, reining up at isolated cabins in the narrow valleys along the way with a hurried yell. “Hallettoo! Bonelli, sonka subac abuna, boneli, boneli.” “Hello! Quick, I need a horse that is fast and strong, quick, hurry!” A fast change of saddle and bridle and he was gone again, flying along the narrow trails like a disembodie­d spirit the thudding of the steelshod hooves of his racing animal like the drumbeats of history across the pages of the past. So Aechubby, the Light Horseman, beat the outlaws to Fort Towson by hours and a detachment was mounted and sent from there to head north to meet the fleeing outlaws near the site of old Rattan or South Rattan that was located about a mile south of the present Rattan. There, ear the banks of Rock Creek, a furious gun battle was fought. When the battle was over, there were three dead outlaws and two dead cavalrymen. The remaining outlaws, both wounded but still clinging to their loot, fled back to the north to reach On Creek valley once more to hide their ill-gotten gold and make a map of the general location. They later met the cavalry detachment from Fort Smith just five miles to the northeast of the present Snow post office. Thy died there, one killed instantly, the other dying within an hour of the final battle. The officer in charge of the detachment found the map. He spent two years in a futile search for the treasure and finally reenlisted as a private. But the golden eagles were found in 1915 by a coon hunter lost on the ridges and bewildered by a sudden blizzard, a “blue norther” that drove before it a screen of sleet and freezing rain. Lost on the face of the high ridge and huddled behind one of the granite outcroppin­gs so common to the area, the hunter managed to gather enough trash and twigs from a deep crevice in the rocky cliff to build a fire, and by its light, he saw the rotting paymaster’s brief case and some of the gold coins. But with the increasing cold and the freezing rain that was turning his clothing into an armor of ice, it would have been death for the coon hunter to stay there. So filling his pockets with the coins and hiding the rest, he struggled up and over the ridge to get out of the merciless wind an d finally, more dead than alive, reached shelter in the valley of One Creek. After weeks in bed, he recovered from the night’s exposure, but he was never able to find the golden hoard again, By that time, however, there were a number of copies of the old map made (and sold) by the ex-cavalry officer, maps finally showing the route of the Military Road that was designated as the general locations of the hidden gold. When Berryhill was a boy, long before he knew anything of Big Cedar or Snow. He saw a copy of the map and a few coins that were supposed to be some of those found by the lost coon hunter. Many were those who sought the lost treasure. So many that on a quiet summer’s night, while the moon rode high in a half clouded sky, one might almost expect to hear the ghostly, sardonic laughter of those long dead men scoffing at the fools in search of gold. Berryhill moved into the Snow Community in 1933 and lived there two full ears before he realized e had moved into the locale of a story he had heard since childhood. He walked over much of the area, some of it pockmarked with holes dug by treasure seekers. Then, just after the end of WW II, a couple by the name of Riley came into the community. They bought 1,000 acre ranch that included most of the area rumored to be the location of the hidden gold. Mr. Riley had one of the old maps. Mr. Berryhill and him became friends and on holidays and weekends, they walked as many miles as the combined length and width of the state of Oklahoma searching each granite cliff and outcroppin­g until it seemed they must have examine every ich at least twice. Not one gold coin did they find. at least Jesse didn’t. Mr. Riley, though, seemed to prosper unusually well in the lean years of the Korean war and President Truman’s freeze on cattle prices. Riley managed to buy a big expensive station wagon and travel down to Texas a number of times. Then Mrs. riley became ill and they moved back to Texas, where goth of them d died within a few years. But that’s not the end of the tale. One day in a casual conversati­on with a lawyer friend of Jesse’s in Antlers, the topic came up. “Jesse,” my friend said, “you know how tight old Mr. Riley used to be with a dollar. Why would a man like that, tight as he was, pay me forty dollars to look up the law on treasure troves?” And particular­ly the law relating government through criminal action?” Why indeed? It’s question that has haunted me all these years spoke e Jesse, but I no longer search for the treasure, those eagles of gold that brought so much blood and death to those who had possessed them, has brought nothing but misery. But, you have to ask yourself why do people move to Snow???

A temporary halt is being put on the recycled cans. The location in Antlers has shut down their facilities where we took the cans. Until we can find a location close, we are stopping collecting cans. Sorry for the inconvenie­nt. I will let everyone know when we can resume recycling.

Please keep your loved ones in your prayers always. Time is just a fleeting thing. Thanks to everyone that has been helping keep the land around the community building nice and clean. Also, the Finley Community normally has a lunch on each Friday at noon. Days Finley are not open or only doing take outs will be posted on their Facebook page. Anyone wanting to add to the article please turn them in before Friday at 5 p.m. Additions can be emailed to me at: freylake12­ or call me at 580-208-0870, Have a blessed week.

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