Thursday, December 24, 2009

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon

In his youth Bob Alcumbrack struck up conversations with the oldest town seniors trying to get them to slip their tongue to his questions concerning the disappearance of the Cannonsburg cannon. Many of the oldest townspeople had either passed away or moved to other towns to escape the horrible reminders of the tragic accident that killed Tompsett. Trouble is Bob trusted what was said to his memory, but as old age crept into his mind he began to twist the information he had gleaned. Sometimes he jotted down notable information on slips of paper and stuck it somewhere. He never kept a running logbook on evidence. He just dreamed nightly about the vision.

As years progressed he found one single newspaper and referred often to the single entry in the Cannon Township history book 1837-1983, which gave only three lines about the small military cannon given by LeGrand Cannon to township officials in 1848. These two items is what sharpened his view of the cannon, but he was miserably incorrect, because never in his wildest imagination dug deeper in black print. He placed full value on the descriptions given about the accident listed in several newspapers in 1885 and the history book. Bob failed to see, read or investigate the missing and invisible print in the newspaper articles. The face value in the history book gave him the impression it was an American military field cannon.

This was the extent of Bob's investigations - the smallest military cannon in the US Army in 1848 was a 6-pound cannon. As a dowser all he had to do was visualize that big cannon in his mind. That's visualize it in his mind's eye, walk the planks over the coffer box at dig site number one, concentrate and use the electrical current from his brain to the dowsing rods in his hands to locate the sunken cannon. Next he put men and machinery to work once he found the digging spot, but things didn't happen as he planned. Lots of speedbumps surfaced that would alter his course. The recovery would be harder to envision.

The Cannon history book said that LeGrand Cannon in appreciation was honored was honored to have village and township bear his last name and so he awarded Cannon Township first township officials with the small military cannon bearing his name and date (1848).

Some local business owners during 1986-2009 speculate that the hard copy evidence didn't bear enough information to warrant such a search for the cannon and regarded what was said as fallacy and a legend started by passing generations of Cannonburgers. Several local business owners today doubt the cannon ever existed, but are willing to use the notoriety of the cannon as the basis for their yearly scavenger treasure hunt. Find the special cannon coin and receive a $1000 shopping prize.

The majority of folks believe the story about how Cannon township got its name is true. Robert Alcumbrack was convinced the cannon remained in the township despite it being reported missing for 101 years. He had dreamed about locating, recovering, restoring and preserving it for 50+ years and he was going to resurrect it on July 4, 1986.

He set in motion the recovery operation the week before and began digging up his wildest dream with trusted friends. Have you ever acted upon your dreams? Got an itch to change your life? Do it sooner than later! Waiting until the perfect time won't help you overcome problems any easier. Bob started late in life, but at least he started someplace.

Cannon hunting is the same as treasure hunting, but he soon found out that no matter how many ducks you get in a row something disastorous will happen to throw a monkey wrench in the gears of progress. Planning didn't go as smooth as planned. Still he started somewhere and was hoping to find the cannon somewhere.

Hundreds of spectators watched Bob's cannon recovery operation commence and hoped to be onsite when history repeated itself. Reporters and journalists from CNN & FOX all major cable news channels swarmed Cannonsburg along with press media and the papparazzi dogged Bob's every move day or night. From that early excavation folks learned the cannon hadn't been recovered and the crowds dissapated to a trickle of curious folks as each day slipped away...but many don't know what Bob and his crew of 8 cannon members discovered two years later. Silence is the key to rewards when treasure, err, cannon hunting. What people did not know was that the Cannonsburg cannon recovery operation was being rivaled by the search for the Twin Sister cannons of Texas. The news channels were covering both operations hoping one would connect - none did.

This cannon story will stretch your mind like taffy, that's if you keep positive thoughts. That's what dowsing treasure hunters must keep fresh in their minds. They can't listen to the noisy negatives or folks that don't agree. Topics of discussion will only get as "dry as dust" if you are disinterested in expanding your mind. I had to stretch my mind to expand the knowledge where Bob didn't go.

Mine started several days after watching Bob walk the plank and watching his dowsing rods cross indicating the cannon was below in the murky depths of coffer box filled with ice cold Lake Superior type water. For several days before I was introduced to Bob there were times I thought the man is tetched in head. I like Mayberry deputy Barney Fife in the Andy Griffith Show when talking about Ernest T. Bass expounded as Bass was running away "I think he's a NUT, a NUT!" That was my impression of Bob and his dowsing rods. But then again I didn't have a positive mind and filled my mind with negative thoughts.

Three days later I became Bob's and the crews top research investigator. Their jobs were more physically based and mine more cerebral and mental. I had the ultimate jigsaw puzzle to put together so the group could get a more accurate picture of the mythical cannon's true size. I was the time traveler, the secret historical detective working in the shadows of past to future history.

The tragic story about Walter Tompsett was nestled in the Rockford Register newspaper between two good reports on Fourth of July celebrations at Rockford and Cedar Springs, both of which were 10-15 miles northwest of Cannonsburg. The Tompsett brothers lived at Edgerton and Porter Hollow a few miles north of Rockford or south of Cedar. Both were served by the Grand Rapids & Indiana Rail Road.

Rockford and Edgerton were lumber towns while Cannonsburg was known for its vast fruit and wheat production in the 1880's, which is why the Native American indians living in the area called the high hills the "Gateway to Heaven." Bear Creek supplied the village with more than adequate water to operate the grist mill and shingle mill.

It wasn't until several weeks after the tragic accident that the Grand Rapids newspaper reported that Walter Tompsett was struck by the cannon's ramrod. Bob had found the original post in italics in the previous post, but he didn't look further. The simple omission of where Tompsett was struck was enough to flaw Bob's judgement and visualize an incorrect size cannon. Bob knew it was a pre-Civil War cannon, but he didn't know date given, nor did he have any solid evidence of the cannon's heritage. A vague picture of a cannon isn't what a dowser uses. It must be factual.

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