Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Legend of Chief Wabasis' Lost Treasure - 114

Chief John Wabasis treasure is still waiting for a smart treasure hunter to find it. The Greenville groups discovery in the 1880's lacked any physical proof it was found so keep on looking for it. Never dismiss any legends until you find what you seek. Heresay evidence is poppycock.

Actually the "Murder of Little White Swan" happened in May 1863 towards the end of the Civil War. This swan had no feathers, but was tall and muscular comprised of flesh and bones of the half-breed Potawatomie Indian named Chief John Wabesis (Wab-ah-see). That's his real Indian name and not the American version of spelling. He was born in 1807 and murdered in 1863 by fellow Indians who tricked Wabesis into going to a corn festival at Plainfield and then killed him just off the Plainfield-Sheridan Indian Trail as he was returning home. He acutally left his banishment property and returned safely for 27 years. Wabesis was 54 years old and lived in Oakfield Township with his wife and five siblings.

Wabesis lived on the western shore of Wabasis Lake. A band of Mukatasha blackskins lived in a tiny village northeast of Wabesis farm near Greenville. They stayed in the area to make sure that Wabesis never stepped off his property. Since 1834 the Blackskin tribe (Odowa) accused Wabesis of selling their lands north of the Grand River for approximately $50,000 in gold and silver coinage and never dispersing the treaty monie. Wabesis never sold anything. Hopefully in this mystery you'll get a clearer picture whether the legend is real or legend.

The search area for Wabesis' treasure has for the last 125 years or so been centered in the vicinity of Wabasis Lake Park and Campground, a northeast Kent County recreational area. The legend of Chief John Wabesis has him confined to the western shore. To go beyond his 40-acre garden plot meant certain death and he flirted with death frequently by picking up his treaty monies each year in Grand Rapids, but this containment area is incorrect. Wabesis was given the deeded property by the Federal government in 1838 for half-breed compensation. He was an educated man and helped quash an Indian uprising in the Grand River basin in the late 182o's to mid 1830's.

Wabesis was confined to his own parcel by the Indians, but he couldn't travel farther than one mile from Wabasis Lake as a whole. Now that's a large containment area with plenty of caves and it wasn't just the county park's caves that were sealed to prevent curious spelunkers from exploring them looking for the Chief's treasure. Many other caves exist within the target area. The chief had plenty of haunts were he could have stashed the treasure, but the bulk of the treasure is buried outside the containment area. He always had little money when he left and returned with less so where is all the treat monies?

Over the passing years the fortune Wabesis reportedly horded in specie from government annual payments is what treasure hunters have sought for 145 plus years by torchlight, lantern lights or sunlight. Nightime searches happened in Grand Rapids in the 1870's, too, and men who dug ditches for sewers found Indian treasures and returned to digging at night to find treasures. As a result, the work done by day was undone by amateur treasure hunters at night and it made Wright L. Coffinberry angry. These were trinkets to be saved and he was responsible for creation of the Kent Institute later called the Grand Rapids Museum and of late changed to the Van Andel Museum. Mr. Coffinberry was the lead archaeologist of Indian treasures in the 1870's. By trade he was a jeweler and he had never seen any recovered items from Wabesis treasure. No true kettles and pots of treaty monies have ever been recovered. Heresay evidence by the Greenville group who said that they found the treasure never proved it to newspaper writers or the general public. Many speculate they say they found it to keep others from looking.

Each year someone dreams about striking it rich at Wabasis Lake, but Chief Wabasis' spirit protects its burial spot on dark nights. Nighttime walkers in the park say cold spots give them shivers. Others have reported creepy feelings as if Wabesis' ghost his huffing his cold breath upon them from behind as they walk in the darkness smooching. Maybe its time to snap some infrared photos of the park's dark night terrain hoping to catch Wabesis ghostly spirit hovering above a hidden pot of gold and silver along the wild shoreline or anywhere within one mile of the lake. Remember Wabesis died a horrible death so it is reasonable to think he might not approve of treasure hunters searching for his lost treasure. Do you believe in ghosts?

With the use of Kodak infrared film of the 21st century the chances of capturing night ghosts is greater than 69%. Here's your chance to shine and become the newest treasure or ghost hunter seeking local fame that's if you aren't squeamish about finding ghosts. Wabesis spirit haunts the living and its enough to make anyone's bones rattle. Wabesis died a violent death hence his ghostly spirit might be watching as people search for his kettles and pokes of buried treasures.

The same individuals who say they found the treasure never said how much they found just as their is no exact sum of how much Wabesis received from the government, inheritances and personal business dealings. Wabesis was a well educated man of wealth and stood tall among early pioneers as a man met with firm handshakes. He was jovial and friendly to all he met.

Wabesis was a half-breed Indian, but what many other Indians did not understand was that they were paid more than chiefs, because of their educated abilities to negotiate treaties amongst the Ottawa and Chippewa nations without bloodshed. President Andrew Jackson according to the Article Sixth distributed treaty monies to the Indians upon their signatures on the Treaty of 1836 (March 28). They deeded all Indian lands north of the Grand River. Half-breeds who helped prevent Indian uprisings were often treated better than chiefs, but the Mukatasha tribe was maddened by the loss of their hunting grounds and were told they had to purchase their own land back to stay on their property near Greenville. This angered them further.

The Blackskins were half-breeds, too, but uneducated. This the result of a Negro slave child from Virginia who was captured during an Indian war and traded to Indians who later intermarried with Grand River Indians. Mukatasha's tribe always claimed that Wabesis refused to pay them government money for 24 years. Isn't it strange that during those many years nobody ever saw Wabesis visit his large cache of reputed hidden treasure. Even though Wabesis lived with death threats he showed no fear from his Indian brothers. When he did leave and return he carried less than when his trip started. Why then would Indians think the pot of treasure was hidden on the farm? Why threaten him with "death" if he left his garden plot?

Wabesis had eluded the Mukatasha's for nearly 25 years. He made the pilgrimage to Grand Rapids for more than 20 years to get his yearly annuity payment and return to his Wabasis Lake home. It took him 2 days to walk to Grand Rapids in good weather, but his return trips took 2-4 days, because he stopped to visit amongst his white friends and associates in Plainfield in the vicinity of Plainfield village (where Blythefield Country Club is today).

That's all for today. Please keep reading. I've been getting some good feedback.

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