Nothing much happened today except I found out that Voltaire (1694-1778) wasn't fond of historian's. He refers to historians like me as "gossips that tease the dead." I'm quite sure I'm not as bad as that, but I do my best to entertain the living with stories from the past about treasure hunting. Voltaire, one of France's greatest author's is said to have had the memory and temper of an abused elephant. He was always feuding for decades with literary critic Elie Fre'ron. He got so mad he had a painting made that showed devils lashing Fre'ron and he hung the painting in his dining room. It must have put him in a more cheerful mood. It's good that we never met, but if your just beginning to read this blog you'd better know that my English language is the same as Mark Twain's. That's sometimes poor but at least I, like Twain, excell in good storytelling. Writing style is the same. The italics here are my daily thoughts to help my readers escape the barage of bad economy news we get each day. Below is the story.
When talking about treasure hunters it's always important to keep the tongue silent when strangers crowd the scene. Slip of any tongues in the public realm is the fastest way to endanger the lives of those searching for treasure. Most treasure hunters are loners. Silence pays better dividends -- not always, but sometimes the rewards are greater without the intervention of outsiders. Media and photojournalists are attention and concentration busters.
Mel Fisher, too, had secrets he wouldn't share with the public. What no treasure hunting group needs is for strangers to infect the minds of good treasure hunting crews. No group can afford to harm or endanger the prize and surely it is an uphill battle to preserve treasure or preserve and restore lost historical artifacts. After striking paydirt or treasure it becomes an art to keep what you've found from government regulators and courts. Treasure hunters must defend their rights to receive adequate payment for finding lost treasures and not succumb unwillingly to the piratical nature of governments and other entities that want to strip you of the treasure found. they weren't looking for. You must fight to keep what you find. Finding treasure in the sea leads to lots of paperwork, attorneys, etc. no matter where the shipwreck treasure is found.
Bob Alcumbrack's expedition was meant to return the lost Cannonsburg cannon for community pride. This blog is going to challenge the unexplained historical mysteries surrounding the cannon's disappearance. You might think I've got rocks in my head, too, but the things you'll read aren't paleface fairy tales of the extremes encountered when searching for treasures or cannons. Bob's perfectly planned expedition to rescue the cannon for prosperity lead to an array of unforeseen problems. Most were overcome and some left us scratching our heads with no difinitive conclusion.
In 1986 we learned that CNN cable TV newshounds were filming operations in Texas and Michigan. We had hoped the media attention we were receiving would tire of our activity and leave us alone, but when they hung around Bob's big dig site like flies on summer roadkill it rattled Bob's concentration. We kept our mouths shut just like the good ole' boys were doing in 1885 and in Texas.
Fisher kept his tongue in check, too, but his reputation for treasure salvaging for greed or profits wasn't true to his character on dry land. Treasure hunting changes your persona on the high seas. Some would say he had the bad, the ugly and good characteristics depending on different locations and what he was researching or investigating. When Bob began his expedition he wasn't the best, but within a few days he was destined to be one of the better treasure hunters of his time. "Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon" was about finding as much documentation as possible to discover the cannon's hiding place before he actually started digging, but that's not how it started. Preservation of the cannon mean't not just finding the piece, but documenting what kind of cannon and what type of carriage it sat upon before dredging it up from its burial location. Bob always felt the cannon was reburied erroneously, because the cannon belonged to the people living in the Cannonsburg area and it shouldn't have disappeared upon the death of Walter Tompsett by his wife and cannon firing friends.
Walter Tompsett wasn't even born when the cannon was given to Cannon Township's founding fathers in 1847. For 37 years (1848-1885) the awesome firepower of the Cannonsburg cannon roared until the day of the cannon accident. That's during the townships celebratory picnic on July 4, 1885. The cannon prematurely discharged during reloading, the ramrod bursting from the chamber striking Walter Tompsett's knee. Joint bones and soft tissue were splattered across the grass, the blood gushing from what was left of his leg. It wasn't a good scene as Rena Tompsett raced down the hill as Walter lay wreathing on the ground in terrible pain, the knee gone, but the leg below the knee hung on by only the skin. He would bleed to death over the next 12 or so before physicians and surgeons would arrive to amputate his severely damaged leg.
For 12 excruciating hours Walter Tompsett's screams could be heard by the remaining six men who were firing the cannon. One of Tompsett's friends took to drinking hard cider. Bob thought he was too drunk to go bury the cannon a second time. How could it be that Tompsett was shot? Why was he standing in front of the cannon? Tompsett didn't nest the powder charge, but my reasoning wondered if his drunken friend was in shock or burned by the flash. Could it have been his friend that rammed down the powder charge, but halted and turned away when the explosion occurred? Could it be Tompsett was preparing to remove the ramrod nested by Fred Thomas and load shot and that's why he was in front of the muzzle chamber when it exploded? Why wasn't the cannon swabbed of glowing embers? Was it negligence or was the worm rod and swab cleaner absent? Bob didn't have any answers to these perplexing problems. His mind view of events was incomplete so how could he form a concensus on what size cannon he had to emblazon in his mind when dowsing for the cannon? Many questions without answers.
Upon death his friends hitched up the 'ancient' cannon and hauled it through town, up Joyce Street, then over the hill and the five men returned in forty-five to an hour later and it was lost for 101 years, the site unknown except for the five and Rena Tompsett and James Thomas. Where they buried the cannon is what infected Bob's dreams night after night for more than 50 years? Where did they hide the cannon so fast? Did the men rebury the cannon or dismember and destroy it? Did they hide, then recycle the cannon at the local blacksmith shop outside of Cannonsburg? The amount of questions Bob couldn't answer, but this historian put the puzzle together within two years. Bob's dreams were turning into nightmares about the cannon's demise. He was being haunted by all these unknowns and it was getting harder to shake off the bad vibes he was getting from spectators. He tried inserting himself in the dream hoping by doing so he could envision what might have happened to the cannon. I would be his ace atop his hole to fill in the blanks.
Bob began digging on a whim of how his mind saw sequences in his dreams. One thing you must always remember when being a treasure hunter is you must be a positive thinker. You can't dwell on naysayer fodder. You must think outside the box of rationality. Never give in to thoughts of impossibility. Everything in life can't be the best, but the trick is to start somewhere and see where it leads you. Dwell on the negatives of life too much and it'll rob you of success. Negative thoughts challenge the minds ability to reason out problems. Brain cells die sooner than expected. What if you don't succeed thinking robs you of the ability to think objectively. If you use dowser rods to locate treasures the mantra in your head must be precise -- no hangups or faulty pictures of what you are looking to accomplish.
As Bill Gates, the founder and CEO of MicroSoft once said, "Life isn't fair, so get used to it!" Just don't fall on your sword about it. Keep positive thoughts in your mind and you might just strike the mother lode of treasures. It's late and I need some sleep to recharge a few million brain cells for tomorrow night's session. As Red Green says on PBS broadcasts "Keep your stick on the ice and I'm pullin' for ya," because we're all in this together." Goodnight!