Ohio’s Lost, Buried, and Hidden Treasure Legends

From tales of pirates, wars, and gangsters, to regular townspeople, there are many reasons why treasures were hidden in Ohio. This is the biggest list online for the subject. If you have any info or updates on the legends and locations, or know of a story that we missed, please use the Contact Form in the navigation menu to send us an email. The possibility of finding gold, silver, minted coins, and cold hard cash is very real almost anywhere in the state. Ghost towns can also be great places for metal detecting in general. On top of the valuables already mentioned, rare company store tokens can fetch hefty sale prices. 

Historical research resources, which include links to books and maps from the 1840s – 1920s, are posted at the bottom of their respective county pages and can be located through our County Pages Index. The books and maps contain useful information pertaining to the people and land attached to many of the treasure legends. Old maps also pinpointed businesses and public buildings that may have long since disappeared. The key pictured below was generally used for most maps published prior to 1900. In the mid to late 1800s, Ohio atlas makers also used symbols to pinpoint businesses and tiny drawings of churches and schools. 

1800s map key

As always, make sure to have legal permission to search and dig on private property and get acquainted with the rules for state owned land and local parks. For gaining consent to access private property, we recommend using acrevalue.com or the interactive maps available on most of the corresponding county auditor’s websites to acquire a parcel id number. Copy and paste or type the parcel id number into the county auditor’s property search to get owner details and contact them by mail or phone.

Ashtabula County – Ashtabula, OH : A train reportedly carrying $2 million worth of gold bullion plunged 70 feet into the Ashtabula River when a railroad trestle collapsed during a blizzard on December 29, 1876. It killed 92 passengers and was the worst railroad accident in the U.S. in the 1800s. The trestle was around 1,000 feet from the old railroad station on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway. There’s a historical marker about the disaster at the intersection of 32nd St and Lake Ave. 

Carroll County – Minerva, OH : A legend of lost French gold has been a subject of interest for over 250 years now. In the mid-1750s during the French and Indian War, a group of 10 French soldiers was moving a ton or so of gold from Fort Duquense in Pennsylvania to Fort Detroit in Michigan. It was basically their entire military’s payroll which they were trying to keep out of the hands of advancing British soldiers. The treasure was quickly buried just before a skirmish broke out with 8 of the 10 French soldiers getting killed. Although clues and landmarks were left to relocate the cache, neither the 2 surviving French soldiers nor the French Army returned to get it due to losing geographical control of the area. A nephew of one of the surviving treasure movers found documentation of the story and set out find the cache in 1829. Most of the clues and landmarks were found by locals over the next few decades. The search area has been narrowed down to the southwest side of the intersection of Augusta Rd and Ridge Rd about 4 miles east of Minerva in West Township. The treasure was estimated to be worth around $13 million in 2018.

Carroll County (2) – Minerva, OH : $25,000 in gold coins were buried during the Revolutionary War on the north shore of the Sandusky River.

Clermont County – Monterey, OH : Washington Good was found dead at the age of 65 behind his residence. He reportedly hid large sums of money around his property that were never found.

Columbiana County – East Liverpool, OH : Stolen loot from the early 1900s has been found along the west bank of the Ohio River 2 miles east of town and there might still more around the area.

Columbiana County (2) – Gavers, OH : During the Civil War, Morgan’s Raiders probably buried their spoils before surrendering somewhere between Gavers and West Point, OH. The cache, a treasure of unimaginable quality and quantity, likely exists but has never been found.

Erie County – Isle St. George (North Bass Island) : A cache buried during the French and Indian War is reportedly somewhere on the island.

Erie County (2) and Lorain Co. – Vermilion, OH : Gold and silver coins from an 1800s shipwreck in Lake Erie have been found along the banks and beaches. The majority of the treasure may still be out there, yet to be discovered.

Fairfield County – Lancaster, OH : John Baldwin (1761 – 1840) was rumored to be a pardoned member of infamous pirate Jean Lafitte’s crew who helped the U.S. defend New Orleans from British attacks during the War of 1812. John built a substantial barn with thick sandstone walls on the west side of SR 188 around 1818. He subsequently constructed a large brick inn and tavern across the road in the northeast corner of the present intersection of SR 188 (Pleasantville Rd) and Marietta Rd. In 1825, John opened the first horse racetrack in the county just southwest of the inn. He only accepted coins for business transactions, preferred gold, and occasionally hid and buried caches around his homestead. The initial finding of a cache was one dug up by a hunter after they witnessed John burying it. The inn gained a bad reputation after a livestock driver was reportedly killed in what was known as the north-west room. Stories began circulating with locals concerning several travelers going missing who were supposedly last known to have rented the same room. John was suspected of murdering them for easy money and burying the bodies around the property. The circumstances surrounding John’s death in 1840 have several varying versions. He was buried with relatives in Elmwood Cemetery in Lancaster. John wasn’t married and didn’t have children. His nephew, John Baldwin (1813 – 1863), was the next known proprietor of the inn and tavern. He died after getting beat up by a couple of drunk neighbors who attacked him while he was bedridden with a sickness and was also buried in Elmwood Cemetery. After that, the Baldwin family continued to own the old homestead, but they didn’t live there and rented it out. One of the renters was the Nisley family. The father spent a lot of time and energy looking for hidden treasure, mostly at the inn and down in its cellar. Rumors of the inn being haunted spread like wildfire around Lancaster while the Nisley’s lived there. The building became quite well-known as the “old haunted house”. Although the ghost stories involve a lot of interesting and extensively documented details, we won’t dive into that so as not to overshadow the treasure legend. Another person who may have found a hidden gold cache was a circus hand who stayed with the Nisley’s for a few years before heading out west. He later returned with a lot of money, supposedly from dealing in livestock, but locals suspected otherwise. After the Nisley’s moved out, a tenant reportedly found gold in a hollow stone of the barn wall and another found some hidden under the eaves of the attic. On top of looking around the inn and barn, the property which contained approximately 176 acres in the late 1800s had many holes and pits left behind by treasure hunters. Helen G. Kemper (1880 – 1971) was the last family member related to the Baldwin’s who inherited the homestead. The inn was finally demolished in 1951 after being in disrepair for several decades. Much more info can be found on this legend online, including articles from Lancaster’s Eagle-Gazette newspaper from the 1930s – 1960s.

Gallia County – Cheshire, OH : Gold and silver coins from a late 1800s shipwreck have been found on the west bank of the Ohio River near town.

Gallia County (2) – Crown City, OH : $24,000 in gold and silver coins and jewelry was buried by riverboat pirates in 1876 on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River 1 mile northeast of town.

Greene County – Xenia, OH : A cache of plunder was buried by Shawnee natives about 3 miles north of town along a bend in the Little Miami River.

Greene County (2) – Oldtown, OH – As General George Rogers Clark was approaching the area in 1780 along with the Kentucky Militia, approximately 1 ton of silver was dumped by the Native American Shawnee tribe between US 68 and the Little Miami River near Oldtown.

Hamilton County – Cincinnati, OH : Riverboat and Gulf Of Mexico pirate Nicholas D. LePetomaine (Fat Nicholas / Nasty Nick) buried a large treasure that’s believed to be in Eden Park in Cincinnati. Metal detecting permits are available through mail from Cincinnati Parks – 1501 Eden Park Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45202.

Hamilton County (2) – Cincinnati, OH : A prohibition era bootlegger George Remus made around $70 million a year in the illegal alcohol trade for a while and had to hide most of it somewhere. The vault might be in or near Cincinnati, or close to the former home of Buck Brady, one of his associates in Newport, KY.

Hancock County – Findlay, OH : Edward Bright bought property in the 1820s along US 224 approximately 2 – 3 miles east of town. He was known to have large sums of gold and none of it was found after he died.

Henry County – Shunk, OH : A legend of lost native american gold is still alive and well. It was buried on the inside bend of Turkeyfoot Creek
near SR 109 about 5 miles east of Napoleaon, OH. A ghost on horseback supposedly guards the location.

Jackson County – Jackson, OH : The notorious gangster John Dillinger may have hid approximately 825k on a farm owned by a man named “Bailey” about 11 miles north of town.

Lake County – Fairport Harbor, OH : About 100k worth of gold bars was stolen from a Canadian bank in 1862. It’s believed to be buried on the west bank of the river about 2 miles from the lake. The last know clues to its exact spot were about 3 feet deep and 30 paces northwest of a large oak tree that probably fell down a long time ago.

Lake County (2) – Painesville, OH : An article in “The Fairmount News” in Fairmount, Indiana dated Thursday September 28, 1899 states that H. B. Merrill of Painesville, OH was repairing his farmhouse roof when he found an old leather pocketbook hidden under the rafters. There was a paper note inside which said a chest containing $4,500 in silver was buried in the orchard on the farm. The mentioned Merrill farm was reportedly 7 miles south of Painesville, likely putting the location either in Concord Township, Lake County or Chardon Township, Geauga County. We confirmed that the Merrill family owned farms in both of those townships during the time period in question. These numbers are approximate, but in the year 1900, $4,500 of silver would have been somewhere around 9,000 ounces at 50 cents per ounce. In 2019 at $16 per ounce, the treasure would be worth about $144,000.

Logan County – About 2 miles north of Zanesfield, a treasure of unknown quantity was buried in or near Fort Wapatomica.

Mercer County – An army payroll was buried along the riverbank north of Fort Recovery and never found.

Morgan County – Joy, OH : On the Lisman Farm (maybe new owners by now) approximately $125,000 in paper currency was buried from a bank robbery in 1924.

Preble County – Eaton, OH : Although there isn’t much info online about it, there’s a hidden treasure story near Eaton. The Bridge family hid a pot of gold worth an unknown amount on or near their property. There’s also reportedly a massacre that goes along with the legend, but we haven’t found more info on it yet.

Putnam County – Leipsic, OH : Another story of Dillinger’s hidden loot sprang up on the Pierpont Farm near town. Harry “Pete” Pierpont was executed for his gangster era crimes and may have taken Dillinger’s treasure secrets to his grave. The farm and 7-acre wooded lot where the money is believed to be buried is or was owned by Mr. Walter Shroeder. He’s had lots of people show up asking about the treasure and doesn’t mind it, but has never looked for it himself.

Ross County – Baum’s Orchard Hill (Tillman Peters Hollow / Kendrick’s Hollow) : The savings of a wealthy man that settled in the area early, and has since passed away, is still believed to be buried on the property he formerly owned.

Ottawa County – Locust Point : Approximately $250,000 in current value gold was buried by British Soldiers at Locust Point 15 miles east of Toledo.

Stark County – Canton, OH : A wealthy War of 1812 veteran and businessman, Andrew Meyer, acquired 3,000 acres of land in the northwest portion of Canton Township and extending into the southwest portion of Plain Township. It’s unclear exactly when the rumors started, but many locals believed he buried one or a few caches of treasure on his property, and possibly sunk a kettle full of gold in a copper boat in Meyers Lake. The land has mostly been overtaken by suburban sprawl since then, but the general search area is from Broad Ave NW and heading west over to Whipple Ave NW, and from SR 172 (Tuscarawas St W) and north up to SR 687.

Summit County – Cuyahoga Falls, OH : Daniel Brown (born c. 1820 – 1851) was from a notorious family on paper currency counterfeiters. He was taught the illegal trade by his father James and uncle Daniel who he was named after. Somewhere around the age of 18, Daniel had already been caught with $20,000 in counterfeit money near Cleveland in 1838. He proceeded to elude authorities for the next decade or so while continuing his life-long career. Daniel went to California in 1850 and reportedly sold $80,000 – $100,000 worth of fake notes to gold miners in exchange for gold dust, nuggets, and coins. Daniel returned to his farm in Northampton Township with detectives hot on his trail and bad health from contracting scurvy during the lengthy boat from California to New York on his voyage back home. He died on January 21, 1851 and was buried on his farm. Daniel’s body was exhumed by the detectives to certify his demise and his total assets were recorded at under $20,000. They suspected that tens of thousands of dollars worth of the gold dust, nuggets, and coins were buried or hidden on the farm, but the unaccounted for cache was never found. The location of Daniel’s former farm is believed to be along the Cuyahoga River surrounding the intersection of Akron Peninsula Rd and Ira Rd. The 1856 county map lists J. R. Brown as the owner at the time.       

Van Wert County – Van Wert, OH : In the 1920s, a man with the last name Swartz or Schultz sold his farm and moved to a house behind the Van Wert livery. He buried $11,000 on the property and was killed in an accident shortly after that. His sister searched for the money but never found it.

*There are many old reports of silver mines along the Little Miami River running through 10 counties including Clark, Montgomery, Madison, Greene, Warren, Butler, Clinton, Clermont, Brown, and Highland.*

*Silver mines from the late 1700s are also known to have existed east of the Little Miami River along Massies Creek in Greene Co.*

book cover abandoned ohio

Featuring 144 color photos, along with historical research about the locations, Abandoned Ohio was released by Fonthill Media and Arcadia Publishing on October 1st, 2018. It’s packed with history, ideas for road trips, and also makes an awesome birthday or holiday gift!

Ordering Links

Arcadia Publishing – https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781634990615
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Glenn-Morris/e/B07G8N3HP2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abandoned-ohio-glenn-morris/1129366623
Walmart – https://www.walmart.com/ip/Abandoned-Ohio-Ghost-Town-Cemeteries-Schools-and-More/315294168