There are a multitude of stories about lost Confederate gold throughout the country. People hear a rumor of treasure and soon they break out metal detectors and shovels. Television programs follow modern day treasure hunters looking for gold. Even though most people never find anything, that dream remains. We have a legend as well. Friars Point has its own lost treasure.
This My Delta story begins in the the summer of 1889. Jersey Williams, a Friars Point fisherman, and his friends notice some gold coins in the sand along the Mississippi River. Not wanting everyone to know what they found the men left and returned night after night to look for more coins. Altogether the men would find $12,000 worth of twenty dollar gold pieces. Or so the story was told.
Friars Point was a thriving river port in the 1880s and steamers were constantly coming and going. One night a paddle wheeler bound for New Orleans out of St. Louis docked. Two passengers, a mother and daughter, decided to take a stroll along the river bank. As they walked near the site of the old Valley Railroad Line warehouses they made a discovery. Gold coins!!! Soon other passengers got off the boat to aid the duo in looking for more coins. Later when the steamer left Friars Point, the passengers had about $13,000 in gold with them. Soon newspapers around the country were reporting that gold coins had been found along the Mississippi River. Or so the story was told.
Where did these gold coins come from was the question on everybody’s lips. Soon a story emerged. It was during the Civil War, either 1863 or 1864, when a steamer named Freestone was nearing Friars Point. The captain had about $30,000 in gold coins to buy cotton with. Suddenly a Union gunboat appeared and the captain became worried they would take his money when the ship was searched. He decided to drop the coins overboard, mark the site and he would return later. After the gunboat left though the captain and his crew couldn’t remember where they had dropped the money. The river was wide and deep. The gold was lost. Or so the story was told.
An older woman from Friars Point had another explanation of the Friars Point gold. Her story was one of lost love and desperation. It involved a young couple. The man was a Missouri soldier during the war. He was a dashing fellow from a good family. One day on leave he met a beautiful young maiden in North Missouri. They fell in love quickly as many people did during those tragic times. She was so beautiful and he was so handsome. Their love was unstoppable, but the war beckoned her young soldier back. The young man parted and told her that he would return soon after he resigned his position. Then they would marry and be together forever. After returning to his regiment though his resignation was denied. The couple wrote letters back and forth constantly, but soon these letters stopped from her young soldier. Had he been killed or wounded? She had to know for she soon realized that motherhood had overtaken her. The young lady was proud and couldn’t face disgrace. She took a large sum of money and decided to look for her missing soldier love. Up and down the river she went. From New Orleans to Memphis. From Vicksburg to Mobile. Nowhere was her love. The desperate and heartbroken young woman eventually landed at Friars Point. One evening she decided to take a stroll along the river front. The beautiful damsel was seen shortly after dark on the banks of the river. It was December and the night was cold. There was no moon, but the stars shone out brightly. The winds were cold and made her shiver. The ripples on the surface of the river shattered the reflection of the stars into fragments. At her feet the great majestic river rolled on in sullen silence to the sea and wooed her to a response that for her had no abiding place on earth. Desperation and self destruction was her intent.
A gentleman passing heard the splash, then all was still again. He looked a moment but saw nothing. The night was cold and he hurried along. The body was found some thirteen miles below a few days after and buried in a nameless grave. The gold coins that everyone knew she had on her person weren’t found. Surely this was the lost gold of Friars Point found along the shore. Or so the story was told.
Was there really ever any gold at Friars Point? Did some men truly find a stash of coins? Had passengers left Friars Point with their pockets full of gold? Is there still a lonely bride and her lost treasure seeking a missing love along the river bank? These stories all end the same. There’s more gold coins to be found at Friars Point. Or so the story was told.
“The Clarion Ledger” Jackson, MS. Thursday, May 30, 1889 – Page 1
“The Clarion Ledger” Jackson, MS Thursday May 30, 1889 – Page 2
“Times Post” Houston, MS. Wednesday February 24, 1993 – Page 12
“The Greenwood Commonwealth” Greenwood, MS February 28, 1993 – Page 9