Missing gold is always exciting! The mystery of the kidnapped Belle McKeever was never solved and neither was the mystery of the lost gold mine that bears her name. Read more about this weird and convoluted tale of lost and found and lost again.
The McKeever family settled down to a life of ranching in 1869 in the area which is now Gila Bend, AZ. One day Abner and his daughter, Belle, were placer mining quite a distance from the ranch, further west it would seem from the story. As the duo mined their claim, Apaches rode in and scooped up Belle and rode off with the hysterical child, not harming Abner.
Abner immediately rode to Fort Yuma to get help from the soldiers stationed there. Soldiers were dispatched and chased the Apaches. However, the Indians split up, and as a result, the soldiers were forced to split up as well. It was impossible to see which group of Indians had the girl. One detachment consisted of Sergent Crossthwaite and two privates, Eugene Flannigan and Joe Wormley. They followed the Indians northwesterly but soon lost the Indians and found themselves quite lost as well, in a hostile environment.
Food and water gave out first and then two of the horses. The three men wandered on foot in search of water. Forget about looking for the girl. They eventually came upon a spring believed to be in the Granite Mountains, part of the Harquahala Mountain, near Salome now part of La Paz County. The men were able to catch and kill small game for food. Crossthwaite was astonished to find gold nuggets while washing off in the spring. The men knew to look for a quartz vein above the spring, and found two veins. They dug into the veins with pocket knives, digging out about 50 lbs. worth of gold. The men loaded the gold on the surviving horse and set off in the direction of the Gila River, but remember, they were lost, a bad place to be in the desert around Yuma.
The return trip went badly. Once again they ran out of water. The horse collapsed and died one day before getting to the Gila River. Soon Crossthwaite was down and then Flannigan. Wormley staggered on, reaching the river where he found aid. By the time the rescue party figured out what happened and went back, Crossthwaite was dead and Flannigan near death. They found the dead horse with the 50 lbs. of gold. The gold later assayed at $50 to the ton.
Flannigan recovered but refused to return to the area. Wormley organized several searches to look for the spring and lost gold, but was never successful in finding it.
Belle McKeever was never found and the mine that bears her name wasn’t either.
Madam X sends her regards. She is still hiking the southeast trails of USA, following the trail of Mostly Harmless, that hapless hiker, that was found deceased in his tent in Florida. Read about ML here.
Thank you for reading!
Jaja for Madam X
If you like this story, read more at this great website – Legends of America
and this book:
Dig Here! By Thomas Penfield