Thursday, July 15, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 100

"Awesome!" That awesome blast fooled Bob, but cannonfire is awesome for any size.

That's what Bob Alcumbrack, the Cannonsburg cannon hunter eventually thought when he'd found the burial spot of the cannon July 4-7th, 1986. He felt certain his search would end after dreaming for 57 years. John Murray's tearful eyes couldn't lie. But they did. They hid a mysterious secret, too. That's what this whole blog is about.

Surely his nuclear metal range finders wouldn't fail, but they did and his experimental use of ground penetrating radar wouldn't fail, but that did. Ice cold water and real gold in black sand did foul plans for a great 4th of July, but it was the "awesome" word eyewitnesses said that caused Bob to lose track of reality. Not everything in life goes according to plan. Still he never imagined it would take two years more of research and dowsing practice before he was ready for his final conquest.

For the next two years he continued to dream about finding the Cannonsburg cannon, but finding the historical treasure didn't mean "finders keeper" and he had to ponder the question "what if the rightful owner" meaning the township or government claimed it. The owner might challenge his right to preserve, restore and display the killer cannon of Cannonsburg that when prematurely fired killed 27-year old Walter Tompsett. Was it a disrespectful the act to dig it up? Bob felt it was his duty to right a wrong. As an honorable cannon it didn't deserve to go missing. Bob all along felt the five men who buried it in a secret location were wrong to bury such an honorable cannon. It was the fault of humans loading it that caused the tragedy. Still Bob was a possibility thinker and he never gave up his wildest dream.

What's your dream? It would have been easy for him to quit dreaming. If something could go wrong, it did, but he didn't dwell on things he couldn't change and chose to think positive thoughts. Dr. Robert Scheuller of the Crystal Cathedral, in California, you must be a possibility thinker in life. Dwelling on the negatives of life hinders your resolve to overcome problems. and problems mushroom.

God gave us all brains, but it's too bad we fail to use it correctly. Our brains inability to focus or concentrate effectively is the only constant between success and failure and Bob Alcumbrack was out to win using his mind's eye, brain and body. Without concentration and focus nothing can be achieved. All three turned him into a powerful electromagnetic field of energy, the electrical current's supercharging raced down from his focused brain thru nerves in muscles connected to the dowsing rods and on July 9th and 12, 1988, he did indeed find the Cannonsburg cannon on the dark cycle days of the month's lunar cycle.

Bob had triangulated on the secret cannon and nobody was going to know the exact burial site. Many believe Bob never realized his dream, but he did. He had found the burial spot of Cannon Township's honorable namesake, but past killer cannon, but it was a bittersweet find. In 1986 Bob hoped to find a 14 foot long six-pound military cannon, a cannon that weighed more than 3800 pound dry, but thrice that if wet. When the cannonballs were found in James Thomas' old house did that cannon shrink to 54-72 inches long weighing a mere 300-400 pounds far less than originally believed. Bob's cannon was slightly larger than Bob's memorial cannon placed by Don Kurylowitz, the owner of the Cannonsburg Deli & Market and Honey Creek Inn. That's the corner of Honey Creek Ave and Cannonsburg Road dead center in Cannonsburg, Michigan. Both streets were Sioux Indian War Trails to Saginaw.

Bob, Allen Janose, Harold McCarthy and I watched Bob dowse the small ordnance at the last secret burial spot. He dowsed the dimensions. Bob scratched his head numerous times, more times from different angles and "X" marked the spot from many different locations. Just because you dowse a cannon or treasure doesn't give you exclusive rights to dig it up. on government, private or public land. Channels of joint cooperation were needed and the amounts of government paperwork, documentation and environmental impact statements caused Bob to shudder. The 1885 cannon burial men had found the ultimate secret burial spot, but we bet they never would have imagined that Bob Alcumbrack with modern technology would find their missing cannon.

Since Bob Alcumbrack's death in May 2004 I've asked many Cannonsburg residents "How many holes did Bob dig searching for the Cannonsburg Cannon? Most reply one big dig and many were surprised to learn he dug hundreds. Bob kept four burial spots secret. He kept the last "awesome" secret and respected where it rested. In the end he saved the secret spot for eternity with respect for Walter Tompsett and those who witnessed the horror. He kept it secret from the public out of respect for Walter Tompsett. He found his dream, but was deeply saddened by its discovery. His 'thunder' was diminished. He visited the site many times up until his death, but in the end felt it was his best decision.

Before I tell where he found the Cannonsburg cannon you need to know where other people think the cannon was buried. George Herrington, sipping coffee at the Cannonsburg Grist Mill, Deli and Market says its buried beneath a roadway, somewhere in an upright position with muzzle pointing skyward inside a hollow tree. It could be buried with a young tree planted inside bore since as the tree grows it'd split or encase the cannon inside the rootball of an ancient oak tree. The Cannonsburg area has lots of old trees over 150 years old.

Don Kurylowitz once said he and other believe the old cannon was resurrected during one of two World Wars for recycling projects, but I found no evidence to support this claim. Trouble is secrecy ruled Cannonsburg and all witnesses were sworn to silence and only five burial men knew where and how they got rid of the killer cannon. Rena Tompsett and Dr. Patterson had a hand in where it went. All took the secret to their graves. The burial men were sworn to secrecy and surely none of them would have dug it up or retrieved it without the expressed permission of each other, just like the men who buried the Twin Sisters in Texas, who couldn't find it when they returned to the site.

Internet companion cannon browsers indicate the Cannonsburg cannon was thrown into Sunfish or Pickerel Lake, but the men already feared somebody would find them soon. Could it have been chucked into a deep privy or Hartwell's old cistern well south of Cannonsburg or was it thrown into a bottomless kettle pond or hauled to the Saul's Lake bog. Bob searched the kettle ponds in the area, but found nothing but 19th century junk. I mentioned the old honey hole (outside crapper). We explored these sites too, which yielded discarded metal objects, toiletry bottles all enclosed in nightshade material. Privy digging is a requirement for budding archaeologists working on a Master's Degree. You could say its a 'nighshade' requirement for 21st century graduations.

Still other places of investigations were the old concrete dam foundations in Cannonsburg, the gate pillars at Townsend Park or beneath the concrete floor of the Warren Townsend Park Pavillion built in 1923. Surely John Murray wouldn't have dug up the cannon and moved it here.

Anonymous others suggested the cannon might be inside a hollow "v" shaped tree, but nobody has ever struck it using a chainsaw, backhoe or demolition crane. Bob and cannon hunting crew never took suggestions for granted, but the 1885 cannon burial men knew exactly where to bury and keep the cannon safe. We searched and searched somemore because we didn't want Bob's wildest dream to stop abruptly after all our hard work. We had no shortages of theories on what happened to the Cannonsburg cannon. When you got a dream you must keep on dreamin' until the dream becomes a reality. You never quit dreamin'.

Our biggest secret was keeping the public guessing. What we realized after acting out the tragedy was that the five men couldn't pull the Cannonsburg cannon on a squeaky rickety carriage out of town, depart, go up Joyce Street past Estella Ward's parent house, go over the woodland trail, bury and arrive back past the same house within one hour. They couldn't have gone more than one mile, but the trail they took was over one mile long. Time constraints say they hid or dropped off the cannon at an undisclosed location, then returned and possibly buried it on the property of a founding father who accepted it from Le Grand Cannon. These men tried to sneak out of town without anyone seeing them. They couldn't chance someone seeing them hauling the cannon out of town on public streets. This was a secret mystery where only certain individuals knew where it went. Nobody could see them bury it.

Estella Ward was the only person who in the twilight of sunrise was the last person to see the ancient cannon with ornate carriage disappear. Bob always concentrated on Stella's memory recalling they were gone only forty-five minutes or so. That meant they had to have buried it close to town and Mr. Murray's constant tears when passing over the footbridge stream crossing was Bob's reasoning it was buried at the big dig site just west of the footbridge. Wrong! This was the first burial site by township officials. What Bob had forgotten was that children lose all track of time and time is a fleeting thing to a youngster. Only God knows truthfully how long the men were truly gone. This is not meant to insinuate that Stella is wrong or fudged the time when she saw the men again. Face facts of reality when dealing with children. When did you last hear "Are we there yet" or "what time is it." Time to a youngster is nonexistent.

Mr. Murray's eyes filled with tears each time. In a moment of shared time approaching the bridge he remembered that had they not dug up the buried cannon Walter Tompsett would probably have died of old age. Being impetious to fire that ancient cannon like their fathers they helped kill Tompsett who walked in front of the cannon just as Murray removed or repositioned his leaden thumb over the vent hole. It was accidental. Fred Thomas was the rammer and had just nested the gunpowder, the ramrod still inside the bore chamber. The glistening embers seized the powder bag and "BOOM!" The cannon let out an "AWESOME" blast, the ramrod burst out hitting Tompsett in the knee obliterating it. Only a little piece of skin held upper and lower leg. He screamed in terror which brought the 4th of July 1885 celebration and picnic to a halt and all were sworn to the ultimate secret leading to the final disappearance of the cannon.

Next time the "WHERE" and "WHY" you haven't seen it will be exposed and the mystery will be explained why you never heard the conclusion. This story will conclude shortly.

1 comment:

  1. There is a legend in my family that we stole a cannon in Cannonsburg. We use to have discussions of where we hid it over Thanksgiving. I wonder if it is the same one. The general theory was that it was buried in a farmer's ditch right next to a road. It was thrown off the road and buried in the muck.