The Story of the Lost Frederic Treasure

You are going to find the following story as unbelievable as I would have, had it not happened to me.  In addition, for the skeptics out there, I am posting pictures of the actual treasure map that I recently found.  No, I have not found the Frederic treasure yet, but given time, I think I will.  Well, let’s back up a minute so I can tell you the whole story.

About two weeks ago, I finally got the car that we left in the garage (a 1998 Saturn Coupe) running and out of the garage.  The battery had died after having been left to sit in an unheated garage through one of the coldest winters in history up here.  Since this is our run-about car, I wanted to put the 2009 Honda Civic in the garage.  It is newer and more dependable.  Karen generally uses it when we are up here in Frederic.  By the way, Frederic is a town of about 1200 people in the Northwest area of Wisconsin, located in Polk County.

Karen’s great grandparents were early pioneers and residents in this area.  They founded a mercantile store and a realty agency back in the early part of the twentieth century.  There is a Blomgren road up here.  There are many Blomgrens interred in the local cemetery and even some Blomgren memorabilia in the Frederic History Center.  We have a 1923 Frederic phone book with names of Blomgren Imagefamily members who lived here as well as an old 1909 ceramic plate from the mercantile store.  Perhaps the most unique thing we actually own is an old wooden desk that was built in 1900 for William Starr (The original founder of Frederic, which was named after his son) and at some time was acquired by Karen’s grandfather.  (The picture included is an actual photo of this desk.)  Well, Karen’s father inherited the desk from his father and Karen eventually inherited the desk from her father. The desk came from Frederic and is now back in Frederic where it started out its life. This old desk is determined to become a part of Frederic history.

To continue the story:  After getting the Saturn out of the garage, I wanted to put the Civic in and put a remote in the car for the garage door.  I had placed the remote in the house before we left to go to Arizona last October.  However, I could not find the remote.  (That’s because I had strategically placed it) After six months, I had forgotten where I had strategically placed it.  Thus, began a search of the house which eventually led me to searching the old desk.  As you can see from the picture, this old desk has more drawers than you can count.

ImageA few years ago, we actually found an old 1910 deed to the Blomgren cemetery plot in one of the drawers.  After contacting the Maple Grove Cemetery Association, we found that we were proud owners of a 1 and ½ cemetery plot that was still legal and valid after more than 100 years.  Karen is going to take the full plot and I will take the ½ plot.   I figure an urn with my ashes would fit nicely there.  However, I must return to the story.  Sorry for my digressions.  It is just that I want you to fully understand the import of what I am about to tell you.  This could forever change the history of this town and perhaps put Frederic on the map where it deserves to be.  It is such a unique and interesting town.  But that is a story for another day.  You want to know about the Frederic treasure I suppose.

Finally, I found the garage door opener.  What I found while looking for the opener is actually the beginning of this story.  I found a secret drawer hidden behind one of the old pull-out drawers.  I was rather amazed because we had been through this desk many times.  In the old drawer, I found a 1915 edition of a book titled:  “New Standard American Business Guide”, copyright 1904 by Gordon G. Sapp.  Since I love books, my first thought was to look through it to see what it was about.  I quickly found the “Alphabetical Table of Contents” and was amazed at the wide range of subjects it included.

ImageStarting from Affidavits, it included such topics as:  banking, bills of exchange, farms and farming, mortgages, naturalization, and last, working on Sundays and legal holidays.  Dare I say, I was amazed at the breadth and depth of the subject matter included in this book?  If you could read this entire book, it would be like getting a BA degree in Business; albeit, a BA in 1915, which might make you somewhat obsolete.  I put the book alongside of my other books (in my books to read pile), to either read or review it later in the week.

The following week as I was looking through the book, I found an old piece of parchment with old fashioned typed letters (probably an early 1900 typewriter) and the title “The Story of the Lost Frederic Treasure.”   At first, I thought it might be a joke however reading the manuscript; I began to wonder if it could have any veracity.  I am a born skeptic and so I looked up some of the history of Frederic to see whether or not there was any validity to the entire story.

ImageLo and behold, the more I read about Frederic, the more I became convinced that this was a truly legitimate story.  The history, dates, names and places all matched up.  (See below for the entire text that was on the old parchment.)  I Googled about seventy five different sources and the history was accurate.   I gradually came to believe the story.  About 150 years ago, William Starr had buried some type of treasure near Frederic in an old box.  Whether, it was gold, silver or someone’s peculiar idea of a treasure could not be known until the treasure box was found.  Putting the book away, I went back to my other work.

Two more weeks went by before I picked up the old book again. I had totally forgotten the treasure and its story of mayhem and carnage.   Everyone knows there is a treasure in the Superstition Mountains in Phoenix but you won’t find me looking for the supposed “Lost Dutchman Mine.”  I have better things to do then go up and down these mountains looking for buried gold.  Now, if I had a map, it might be a different story.  With this last thought in my mind, you will never believe what happened next.

As I continued scanning the old book, out fell another old piece of parchment with some archaic writing by pen and hand.  It said, “Not ten leagues from the lake with the raccoons, the treasure box is buried.”  Now Frederic has a lake called Coon Lake and ten or less leagues would place the treasure somewhere near Clam Falls, Wisconsin.   I believe that the tale was passed from father to son and then rewritten years later.  The “treasure map” was drawn from memory by either Frederic Starr or Karen’s father back when he was living in Frederic.  There is no doubt that the “treasure map” is more recent than the manuscript since it includes some old but still more recent place names.  Alas, the map is not as detailed as I would have liked.  This brings me to the reasons why I have included the Frederic treasure map for anyone to copy and use.  I provide my reasons lest anyone think me either stupid or overly benevolent.  I am not even going to sell the map.  It is yours to use for free

Image

My two reasons for including the map:  Number one:  Following the old map, I have had no luck.  I have spent hours out digging and hunting so far, but it has been fruitless.  Since my days on this earth are more and more numbered, I would love to see the old treasure found even if it is not by me.  Second reason:  To assure you that there is truth to this story.  All you have to do is come up to Frederic some Saturday with a pick and shovel and you may be the next millionaire.   (Please let me know if and when you do find the treasure box.)  Perhaps more research might help pin down precisely where the treasure is located.  There are many old records in the Frederic History Museum, the Frederic Library and the Frederic Newspaper Office.   Someone with more patience than I have had could likely find some clues to help locate the treasure.

I wish anyone with the patience and curiosity to seek the old Frederic treasure, the best of luck.  One warning to any potential treasure hunters, watch out for bears, wolves, ticks and deer flies.  They are all murder up here in the summer.   Following is a copy of the first manuscript that I found.

The Story of the Lost Frederic Treasure

Legend has it that a fortune in silver and gold was buried in a strong box not far from Frederic to hide it from the Indians during the great Sioux Uprising of 1867. 

According to historians, William J. Starr, one of the founders of Frederic, had developed a home site here as early as 1865.  Being a prospector at heart, he had moved to the area in search of precious minerals.  He soon met a local Native woman whom he hired as a guide to the area.  Eventually, they were betrothed and as luck would have it, she was the only daughter of the local Lakota Chief Bear Eyes.  Chief Bear Eyes did not get along with the numerous Ojibwa tribes in the area and was something of an outcast.  However, his clan had lived in the area for many generations and he was determined to stay where his ancestors had hunted and fished.  

When the Lakota tribes to the south rebelled against the white settlers, Chief Bear Eyes decided to remain at peace with the white settlers this side of the St. Croix River.  This decision did not set well with the local Ojibwa tribes as they had taken sides with the Whites and wanted to use the uprising as means of punishing the Lakota and sending them across the river to Minnesota.

One night in the late summer, Chief Bear Eyes learned of an impending attack by the combined Ojibwa tribes.  He sent his daughter, Princess Nomokagen, who still lived with him together with a strong box to stay with William J. Starr until the battle was over.  Starr and Princess Nomokagen decided it would be best to hide the strongbox.  Local townsfolk claim they saw them put a large box that was about 3 feet by 3 feet on the back of a mule and head out in the woods somewhere to the east of where Frederic was eventually built.  Apparently, after burying the box, William and the Princess made a small treasure map to guide them back to the strongbox.  The map was secreted at the home of Starr. 

Chief Bear Eyes and his clan were all killed in the battle and the strong box was forgotten in all the commotion that followed both the battle and uprising created.  Princess Nomokagen committed suicide by drowning in the Yellow River when she found out what had become of her tribe.  William Starr not finding the treasure in gems and minerals that he had been looking for realized that the large pine trees would be worth their weight in gold.  He started up some of the first logging camps in the area and soon became a millionaire lumber baron.  He was president of the Davis and Starr Lumber Company and the Wisconsin Refrigerator Company, secretary of the Eau Claire Book and Stationery Company, owner and operator of an orchard and stock farm in Wisconsin and four farms and a large country estate where the family resided near Easton, Maryland. 

Starr also had large interests in the Steven and Jarvis Lumber Company of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and the Florence-Louisiana Company of Vermillion Parish, Louisiana, and owned extensive timber lands in Wisconsin and California as well as the Parkdale Apartment Building in Chicago. He was a man of considerable standing in Frederic, the leading benefactor of the West Sweden Lutheran Church, president of the first Frederic Public Library Board, and a member of numerous area clubs.  He also seems to have had a wide acquaintance in both the political and financial arena.  The town of Frederic, Wisconsin near to his first lumber camp was named after his youngest son.  William J. Starr died in 1921. 

The story as told by his son was that on his death bed, Starr suddenly remembered the treasure box that he had buried fifty-five years earlier.  With his last dying breath, he tried to tell his son and heirs where the treasure map was hidden.  However, it was too late and all they could hear him say was: “map, gold, treasure, buried nearby Frederic in woods.”  Numerous attempts to find the treasure and map have all proven futile.  Most of the people familiar with the story are now deceased.  Some believe it was all a hoax and that no treasure ever existed.  However, years later, (in 1971) one of Starr’s grandchildren found a Lakota cooking pot made of solid gold in the old attic of Starr’s house in Maryland. The single pot weighted six pounds and was conservatively valued at $78,000 dollars.  This find gave some credibility to the old tale of Frederic’s lost treasure. 

Time for Questions:

Only one question is relevant today.  Where is the Frederic Treasure Box hidden?

Life is just beginning. 

A bold person can find this treasure.  Think of what it could mean.

 

 

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. willie from Iowa
    Jun 01, 2014 @ 15:27:37

    John I loved the storie it brought back memories of my childhood the wife think,s I,m crazy if were going to spend our vacation in the wood,s with a shovel. I do think I will talk to my daughter and see if we can get on schedule for a peep with infared when it flys over next ioi by the way I live 25 miles south of Osceola let me know when next your in area once again realy love,d the story

    Reply

    • johnpersico
      Jun 01, 2014 @ 15:39:41

      Thanks Willie, I would love to visit you. We will probably be going through Osceola on our way to AZ when fall ends. Thanks for the comments. I appreciate them very much. Childhood memories are the best. I am glad my story helped evoke them. John

      Reply

  2. eyvindtheeasterling
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 01:36:00

    It looks to me like you might need scuba equipment as that spot may be under the Clam Falls Flowage.

    Reply

  3. Russell B Hanson
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 04:24:11

    Reply

  4. Linda Lee Benson-Pederson
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 20:43:09

    Hello John, What a story. I was born and raised in Frederic,WI, and lived only 1/2 block North of the Blomgren house on Hwy 35. Had to ride my bike right past the house if I wanted to go downtown. I hope that someone will take the time to look for the treaure…..I am a victim of Lymes disease, so would not think of going out, but would love to hear if someone finds the box. Good luck to any brave person….by the way we have a “daily bear” at our home now.

    Reply

  5. ShannonLeaKO
    Sep 30, 2015 @ 15:12:48

    Great story! Other than your research, I haven’t had any luck on finding anything more online. I’m about 3 hours East of Frederic, and very interested in attempting hunt for this. We have been doing a lot of metal detecting recently which has lead me to do a great deal of historical research on Oneida County, etc. I stumbled upon this great read and now I’m hooked! Any more information you may have on this that isn’t posted would be of great value to me! Thank you!

    Reply

  6. justin
    Dec 18, 2016 @ 20:24:35

    I stumbled across your story and in the last few weeks did some digging. I looked at census and historical maps of the area which completed your hypothesis of the story being on the side of some what truth, but then I noticed something. It was the dates that didn’t add up at the time of the Sioux uprising Starr was only 2 years old and the time the letter states 1865 he was 4. Not to mention he grew up in the Eau Claire area so that leads me to think that it is nothing more than a great story. But and here is the “but” i wonder he if was was merely reciting a story he heard.

    sincerely Justin M Anderson

    Reply

    • johnpersico
      Dec 19, 2016 @ 16:02:29

      Thanks for the comments. So many things can get lost in the memories of all of us. I cannot testify to anything 100 percent since most of my information was second hand. My wife tells me she remembers her grandparents setting places for Indians who would occasionally wonder in to their farm house and expect dinner. I am not sure if these were stories or just memories. I don’t think my wife was ever there at any of these occasions. My dates may be off, not sure.

      Reply

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