Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
The first of our Uncle Jack notebooks reaches back to 1902, with the Olive Hill Dispatch, “the pioneer newspaper of Olive Hill, the most promising town in Eastern Kentucky.” By 1905 it would be overtaken by the Olive Hill Times, which would be replaced by the Progressive and then the Herald.
But history in Carter County goes back further than the early 20th century, and some of the more interesting stories of those earlier ages include tales of lost silver mines and buried treasures. Local author Neal Salyers has chronicled many of these in his history books, including chapters on the alleged Oligonunk silver mine in the Carter City area, the famed Sprinkle Dollars, and other counterfeiters and treasure seekers in his last book, “Caves, Counterfeiters,Trains & Moonshiners” from London Books.
Salyers has also discussed legends of hidden silver mines somewhere inside the Carter Caves complex, LeKain’s lost silver cache, and other local legends.
The case of the famous Sprinkle dollars, he said, may help support some of these legends of a lost silver cache or mine. Unlike counterfeiters, who tried to make coins that looked like legal tender, usually out of something other than pure precious metals, Sprinkle’s dollars were made of pure silver. More pure, according to some accounts, than the silver used in federal currency at the time. Furthermore he didn’t try to make them look like legal currency, but stamped them with his own design. He wasn’t so much a counterfeiter as a man pressing his silver cache – wherever it may have come from – into a form that he could exchange for goods. It’s one reason why the case drew so much attention and has been written about so widely.
This week, though, we’re not looking at any of the silver that supposedly hails from, or passed through, Carter County.
This week we’re taking a look at an honest to goodness buried treasure legend, the story of the Anglin brothers’ buried gold.
According to the story three bachelor brothers – John, Bill, and Adrian – shared a home up a hollow beyond Anglin Curve. The entire family agreed that the three were odd turned in their own ways. At hog butchering time they killed up to 20 hogs, instead of the usual three to four, and sit down to half a hog each at a meal once the butchering was finished.
Their hand hewn log home was peculiar too. It had one window, with no glass or other covering, that stayed open to the cool air in the summer and battened tight with shutters in the winter. The home’s fire place was so large that, according to “Carter County History, 1836-1976,” the heath required “great sawlogs to burn in it.”
Bill’s bed in the home was set up high. So high, in fact, that it’s said he had three custom made chairs, each smaller than the next, that he stacked next to the bed in order to climb in. Then it continued to grow. As winter progressed, it was said, so did the number of blankets and quilts on Bill’s bed – up to 17 or more piled over him as he slept.
The brothers were said to live mostly off their land, but sold livestock in addition to their crops, and were thought by most to have some money.
Bill, the eldest, was also said to take any money he made during the week to the store at Oldtown, where he asked for it to be converted into gold. He is said to have done this regularly on Sunday mornings. But once the Civil War started the thrifty brother, fearful that plundering soldiers could come through and find his hidden cache of gold in the home, buried it somewhere on the property.
But he then died without telling anyone, even his brothers, where on the property it was hidden.
At least, that’s the story. The house was supposedly searched high and low for the money it was assumed Bill had, and neither of his brothers claimed to have known where he did it. No other family ever admitted to being entrusted with the secret either.
A rumor says that one person in the Oldtown area, after digging on the Anglin farm for several years, “became suddenly very rich” according to the Carter County History book. Though he never admitted to finding any gold, he bought a new car, ceased making his regular trips to the farm, and “never returned.”
Maybe he did find it. Or maybe it’s still out there, waiting for a descendant of the Anglin family to come across it. Maybe someday one who enjoys hunting and roaming those hills and hollers as much as Bill Anglin did will be rewarded when they come across the old man’s hiding place.
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