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The Lost Treasure of the Cross of the Rock

The Lost Treasure of the Cross of the Rock

LEGEND talks about how it is valued at over $350,000 or possibly more given the recent spike in the price of gold and mentions how the Native Americans knew of the “Cross of the Rock” tale handed down by their elders. Also known as the Lost Treasure of Bory, it is believed to be one of the few known stashes of hidden riches yet to be discovered in America in the center of a forest paradise known as God’s Country, Potter County, USA.

Could this treasure still exist?

Intrigued by the legend, I embarked on a journey of discovery, searching for the source of the tale; I decided that if it existed, it would be mine.

When this treasure was hidden, America was still a vast wilderness in the 1600s. Few but the hardiest explorers and fur trappers had ventured further inland than the coastal colonies. However, when Louis Frontenac arrived in 1672, Canada was no longer the fledgling colony it had been when Richelieu founded the Company of the Hundred Associates. Through the efforts of Louis XIV and Colbert, it took the form of an organized province and Frontenac as the new governor sought to establish regulated parishes and trade opportunities from Montreal to New Orleans in “New France”. Through armed conflict, Frontenac drove out the English colonists and subdued the Indians, claiming a vast territory for France that was later marked by lead plates buried in the ground, as identified by Celoron de Bainville and mapped by Father Pierre Bonnecamp, a “Jesuit mathematician” . The fur trade in particular flourished, creating the wealth Frontenac sought, and the expansion of “New France” progressed rapidly.

My research has shown that in the mid-1680s, almost a century before white settlers began permanently occupying present-day Potter County, a small group of French Canadians from the fur trading enterprise belonging to Louis Frontenac and Robert Cavalier left New Orleans by boat, for the return trip to Montreal. I quickly found errors in the legend written by others. I was deceived in the details of the journey; most knowingly by someone who wishes to keep the secret of this treasure to himself.

The original tale goes [The planned route was up the Mississippi to the junction of the Ohio and then up the Beautiful River, as the Indians call it, to the Allegheny and then northward to the mouth of the Conewango near present day Warren. From that point, a short run would bring the expedition to Chautauqua Lake near the present day Jamestown, New York. From this point, the party could practically roll down hill by the way of Prendergrast Creek and then home free by the way of Lake Erie into Lake Ontario and Northward to Montreal. Nearly the entire trip would be made by water, without the danger of long overland, backbreaking portages.]

I soon learned that travel down the Mississippi was a one-way ticket in the late 1600s. It is foolish to think that one could pull rafts or canoes upstream over 3,000 miles back to Montreal expeditiously through a hostile and restless wilderness! Return trips were always made by sailing vessels from New Orleans Harbor to Baltimore Harbor and then by canoe up the Susquehanna River to the West Branch and Sinnemahoning Rivers and on to Jamestown, New York, up the Great Lakes to Montreal . Rivers were the highways from 1600-1700, the only trails being those of the Indians; roads had not yet been established in any of the interior colonies.

[And so the coureur de bois left New Orleans on rafts loaded with provisions and a number of small kegs, each of which were loaded with gold coins covered with a thin film of gunpowder, and anchored securely to the crude log transports by means of ropes and iron nails. The gold was to be delivered to His Most Gracious Majesty’s Royal Governor in Montreal, (Gov. Frontenac) and the party was instructed to guard the valuable cargo with their lives. Under no circumstances was it to fall into the hands of the English, the Americans nor the hated Senecas, who were always at war with the French. ]

The group made the uneventful journey around the tip of Florida and up the east coast of America to the Chesapeake Bay and began the second leg and more difficult part of their journey. The Susquehanna River is a relatively shallow body of water that meanders slowly through Pennsylvania, dotted with whitewater and rapids that are known to wreak havoc on trips north depending on the season. The dangers of climbing rapids, portaging small waterfalls, and avoiding hostile Indians through the Wyoming region of Pennsylvania were well documented. As the rivers narrowed, avoiding the Indians became more and more impossible. Heavily outnumbered and chased across the desert, the French became increasingly wary, realizing that they had fallen prey to much more than a game of cat and mouse along the West Branch River.

After the position was fixed and mapped by the Jesuits, the exasperated French buried their treasure for safe keeping near the confluence of two rivers, deciding it was safer to hide it temporarily and return for it with a larger expeditionary force than to risk their lives and treasure to Seneca’s war party. The exact location of the treasure was marked by the Jesuits by carving a large cross into the rock beneath which it lay.

The Jesuits, led by √Čtienne da Carhail, well-educated as a mathematician, religious scholar, and cartographer, and Father Ernest Laborde, determined to stay behind to lure and convert the savages to Christianity, while the travelers continued under cover of darkness up the Sinnemahoning River and toward New York elude their enemies and flee to Montreal.

Louis Frontenac was recalled to France shortly after his fur trading party arrived in Montreal; failed to come up with his money, and Cavelier died in 1687 at one of the trading posts he had helped to establish.

Frontenac returned to Quebec in the fall of 1689, just after the Iroquois had massacred the people of Lachine and just before they fell upon those of La Chesnay. The general mood was one of horror and despair. The suppression of the hostile red men and the securing of his outposts by English squatters led Frontenac to a military campaign which lasted several years. After his victory, he immediately sent soldiers into the wilds of Pennsylvania to retrieve his gold. As his health declined, Louis Frontenac was unable to accompany his men, and on November 28, 1698, Frontenac died at Chateau St. Louis. His condition is now doomed to remain in the ground.

Frontenac’s enemies liked to say that he used his position to make illegal profits from the fur trade. No doubt he traded to some extent, but it would be rude to accuse him of venality or speculation on the evidence that exists. It is highly probable that the king appointed him with the expectation that he would increase his income from sources beyond his salary. As a member of the royal court, it was expected that holding such an unprofitable appointment in the new world would go without saying that any wealth that could be amassed should be preserved. Public opinion has varied from era to era as to the latitude which may be allowed a public official in such matters. Under a democratic regime the standard is very different from that which existed for the most part under the autocracies of past eras. Frontenac was a distinguished man who accepted an important post with a small salary. We can conclude that the king was willing to allow him some of the privileges. If so, his profits from the fur trade become a matter of degree. As long as it adhered to the bounds of reason and decency, the government did not object. Frontenac was certainly not a governor who plundered the colony to start his own nest. If he took profits, they were not considered excessive by anyone except Duchesneau, who was Frontenac’s rival at the royal court, who had been overlooked for the position of governor. The king had recalled Frontenac, not because he was venal, but because he was quarrelsome, and brought him back after realizing that he was the right man for the job.

Native Americans knew about the rock, and speculations about its significance created their own legend to explain its existence.

Near Keating until the construction of the railway in 1901 was to be seen “The Cross of the Rock,” a great natural wonder, a perfect cross of heroic proportions carved out of a rock by the river. Fortunately, an excellent photograph of the remarkable natural curiosity exists, as it has since disappeared.

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