The “Patrick” Letter

The provenance of the letter below is unknown, since we do not know who “Patrick” was or what his relationship to the alleged earlier works might have been. This document appeared in the Nova Scotian newspaper on 30 September, 1861, presumably in response to earlier articles discussing the history of the Money Pit.

Generally the article provides no new information over that presented in the earlier Oak Island Diggings or Original Sketch articles, but it does provide interesting details that observant readers should be aware of.

1) the “memorandum” is the first known mention of the results of earlier auger work. The writer obviously means to suggest they bored through two oak treasure chests filled with coins; the specific mention of “coin, if you will” is a leading statement designed to direct the reader toward that conclusion. However, he fails to mention a note from another writer who claimed the works around the old pit collapsed on at least one occasion in the past; thus the bottom reaches of this earlier excavation would be filled with debris, including oak and spruce beams, chain, gravel, and other materials that could easily have been encountered when the auger was passed through them. Given the claim that cross tunnels were excavated under the Pit by earlier expeditions, the best explanation for the oak and voids encountered by the auger is that the operators accidentally drilled through the hoardings and other material left over from these earlier works; the “small pieces of metal” was actually gravel and debris filling this tunnel.

This observation builds on the concept that later treasure excavation attempts wrongly claim to have found evidence of the “original” construction, when in reality they have simply encountered the trash and debris left behind by earlier treasure hunters. The latest Oak Island hunts have built their reputation on the garbage of their predecessors.

2) he claims that “the treasure and platforms came down with a crash” when the water broke through last. If this is the case, what happened to the layers of wood and metal he claims they encountered while boring? Are we to believe that they only recovered a few pieces of wood and no chests of gold, or that the violence of the collapse would not have ruptured one of the chests, sending “coins” all over the excavation?

3) he claims that only the “old pit” was encountering water at 98 feet, while they dug 4 others (one on each compass point around the original pit) in the same area, effectively surrounding it and encountered no water. Are we to believe they dug 4 large shafts and failed to encounter the alleged “flood tunnel?”

4) He also claims they dug directly underneath the old pit and encountered no water. If true, then this disproves the assertion that the treasure was concealed in a much deeper location as claimed by modern treasure hunters, since these earlier diggers would have encountered further disturbed soils when they dug underneath the original pit. No such claim is made; instead these men are said to have believed the treasure lay above the 110 foot level and saw no evidence that would lead them to dig deeper under the original pit.

R.E. Joltes, 1 February 2006

Mr. Editor

As he wise editor of the Witness, and the wiser correspondent of the Liverpool Transcript, have been meddling with business not their own, on Oak Island, please permit one who is acquainted with the facts of the case to state a few of them.

The ground on the part of the island where search is made for the treasure is formed of compact clay, mixed with round lumps of stone to the depth of 110 feet, perfectly dry, excepting in one pit where the water comes in at 98 feet from the surface. Over 50 years ago, a company from Onslow took the earth from this pit, and found it was dug at some former period, and carefully filled in with earth, in which they found wood, charcoal, putty, &c. At 93 feet from the surface they probed with a crowbar, and struck a platform of wood 5 feet beneath them; after which the water came in, and neither they nor any company that followed them, ever again sent a shaft so far down.

About ten years ago a company, of which the writer was one, bored into this place with mining augers, and at 98 feet passed through wood. The following is a memorandum of one of several holes bored through this platform at 98 feet.

1st. Six inches, spruce wood.
2nd. A space of 12 inches, through which the auger fell
3rd. Four inches, oak wood
4th. Twenty inches of a material, which by its action upon, and the sound conveyed along the auger, resembled boring through small pieces of metal — coin, if you will — through which the auger passed by its own weight, in one turn.
5th. Eight inches, oak wood.
6th. Twenty inches, similar to the twenty above.
7th. Four inches, oak wook[d]; and then through spruce wood, into the clay below.

It is asked “what did you get up out of the twenty inches which you twice went through?” Answer — nothing. The valve sledger that would bring up coin was broken in the first platform, and that used would bring up no coin, even if bored through. Samples of the earth, and specimens of the wood, it brought up without fail, but of the material within these twenty inches, it brought up nothing.

The part of the pit occupied by this wood, &c, is deluged with water. Four shafts have been dug north, south, east, and west of the old pit, from six to ten feet deeper than we wish to go in it; none of them distant from it more than twenty, and some of them not more than ten feet, and yet no water. This season we have gone directly underneath both platforms and water, within two or three feet of them, and yet dry.

Now, we are “deluded” enough to believe that the water comes from the sea through a tunnel cut by the art of man, because we saw the end of it at the shore, and by sinking shafts struck it twice between the money pit and the shore. At the shore there were drains laid most skilfully, and underneath, the sand covered with a kind of grass, which one of the best Botanists of the province informed us grew nowhere in the British North American Provinces. This same grass was bored up from about the platforms in the old pit; it was also found in these drains– shewing [showing] the two works to be connected.

This season two pits were prepared for bailing the water, by sinking them a few feet below the depth we wished to go in the old pit, and tunneling in at the proper height for the water, when with five gins we found we could conquer the water, and intended to go down in the old pit 98 feet; but having undermined the water and wood, before a way could be made for the water to come down to our tunnel leading to the west pit, the treasure and platforms came down with a crash, driving wood and clay before them through 17 feet of a tunnel 4 feet by 8 feet in size, and raised this earth and wood 6 feet in what we call the west pit. While the water was hindered by this earth from coming through, we took out part of the earth and wood. The wood was stained black with age; it was cut, hewn, champered, sawn, and bored, according to the purpose for which it was needed. We also took out part of the bottom of a keg, but in digging down we again made way for the water, and as this pit by its position was the deepest all the bailing of water came upon one pit, and not being able to apply enough power at this point, we could clear out no more of what fell.

The association is now preparing a steam engine and pumps. Over one hundred shares of £5 each are issued, and the money is coming in again. Hear it, O Witness, and thou, Liverpool scribe.

I remain, the digger.


Truro, Sept. 16th, 1861

Note: Original document is in the public domain. Commentary on this page is © 2006 Richard E. Joltes. All rights reserved. Short excerpts may be used as long as proper credit is given and advance permission is obtained.

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