Desert Messenger

May 2, 2012

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May 2, 2012 Desert Messenger celebrates the Arizona Centennial with Voices from The Past in Quartzsite, AZ Excerpts from "In the Shadow of Saguaros" by Rosalee Oldham Wheeler LOST TREASURES from the past Part II Curious stories abound about lost treasure from the early days of Arizona, and many of them are even true. One story is about William B. Rood who in 1849 had gone to California with the ill-fated "Jayhawkers" Party from Illinois and was one of the survivors of that unimaginable crossing of Death Valley. He did make it to Sutter's Mill and apparently found gold. Then about the same time as the California Gold Rush began its decline, Rood heard about a new gold strike along the Colorado River at La Paz. The Paulino Weaver gold discovery gave fresh hope to disappointed Forty-Niners. Rood was said to have added La Paz gold to his California nuggets. He invested in cattle and became wealthy supply- ing beef to local army posts. Several years later he supposedly drowned in the Colorado River when his small boat struck a snag and cap- sized. Alex Poindexter (his foreman) and Poindexter's wife searched the rancho for the gold that they were sure Rood kept hidden. But according to Rood's two daughters (whom he had sent to be educated at a convent in Los Angeles) the Poindexter's said they never found any gold. The daughters came in search of the wealth they too were sure their father kept hidden at the rancho, but they didn't fi nd any- thing either. Abandoned, the rancho fell into ruin. Travelers up and down the river often sought out its walls as a refuge and know- ing of the legend of the missing fortune would try their luck at fi nding where Rood might have hidden his treasure. Then in 1897, Alfredo Piña, a Mexican woodcutter, dug out an old baking pow- der can from the crumbling walls of the rancho and found about $1,000 in gold coins. Piña reported there were some papers in the can but, since he couldn't read, he discarded them. Is it possible that those papers contained directions to the rest of Rood's treasure? we could barely make out the rem- nants of the adobe walls of the once grand Rancho de Los Yumas. But it was fun to sit beneath the tamarack trees and dream of fi nding at least one of the gold pieces that may still be in the dust of the rancho. Over the years many treasure hunters have searched the ruins with no apparent luck. Even treasure hunters with metal detector have combed the area. The joke may be that someone has already found Rood's treasure and decided to make it their secret. Or could it be that Wil- liam Rood's secret is that there never was any treasure to be found? Quartzsite's Bill Keiser (1873-1963) passed on another lost treasure story that sent many locals, including a number of teenagers, digging for gold in the 1950s. Bill's account of this story went like this, "Doña Luisa, Mrs. Jose Martinez, who came here during the gold rush, lived in a house built on high ground about half way between Fort Tyson (Tyson's Well) and the Picture Rock Settlement." Keiser went on to repeat what Mrs. Martinez told him, "One summer eve- The last time we were past the ruins Now Open in Quartzsite! WiGo Communication Computer Sales & Accessories Computer Repair Center Cell Phone Service Provider & Accessories Wireless, Keyboards, USB Cords, Data Storage, Routers, Switches, More! 395 N. Central Blvd. Open Mon-Fri. 10-5 928-927-5958 ning in 1870 the Jewish storekeeper and his wife of the Los Posos Store at the Picture Rock, came in their fi ne wagon to return some borrowed sad irons." (Sad irons were heated upon a stove and with a detachable handle set onto fabric to fl atten out the wrinkles.) Mrs. Martinez continued, "There was a dense black cloud over the upper end of the valley so we invited them to stay overnight. The road was in the wash, and it looked like the wash, which drains the whole valley, might run high. Sure enough, during the night we heard water roaring down Tyson's Wash. "What a scene of desolation greeted the storekeeper and his wife when they returned home! The wash that had been about two hundred feet wide was now cut up into deep gul- lies full of water almost a thousand feet across. The evening before their adobe store had been situated on the east side of the wash and now it was completely gone. They could only guess where it had stood the day before. "He had a good business selling to miners who did not want to go all the Page 13 way to La Paz. He claimed he had about $50,000 (remember, this was 1870) in a big iron box. His wife had some fi ligree jewelry made by Mexican artists, along with a lot of placer gold and gold coin." Mrs. Martinez told Keiser that the storekeeper's family moved to Phoe- nix. Every winter for at least 15 years they returned to the site of their store but never found the safe. In 1955 Bill told us, "It is still there in the wash, and I have not despaired of fi nding it myself. Such a heavy article would settle into the sand, and probably not too far from the store." Full Service Cardiovascular Office in Quartzsite! LOST TREASURES PAGE 17 SEE CARDIOVASCULAR DIVISION OF IMS Diagnose and Treat • chest pain • shortness of breath • leg pain • varicose veins • leg swelling • palpitations LOCATED in Palm Plaza 255 N. Central Blvd. #5 Quartzsite Cardiac Services Provided • stress testing • echocardiograms • vascular ultrasound • PAD screening • coronary angioplasty/stenting • peripheral angioplasty/stenting All testing done on-site No need to travel 928-927-6105

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