1897 Treasure Found or Hoax?

On page 3 of the April 14, 1897 edition of the Wayne County Democrat newspaper a Wayne County citizen only identified as “P.D.Q.” reported that Oscar Rhodes, living about 3 ½ miles northwest of Shreve, Ohio found some unusual items buried under a tree and a large rock:

While Grubbing Up an Old Tree,
Containing Queer Old Coins and a Chased Gold Ring–Oscar Rhodes the Lucky Finder–Further Search to Be Prosecuted

CAMP’S PLANT, April 12.–The people of this vicinity are very much excited over a box of ancient coins found by Oscar Rhodes while he was grubbing out a tree near what is called the Big Woods. When about 2 ½ feet below the surface, he struck something he supposed to be a piece of tile. Wondering how it came to be under the tree, he proceeded to dig it out, and, upon examination, it proved to be a square box, 5X5 inches square, and 8 inches long, and had a lid adjusted by sliding in a groove, and bore the name of “Waton Comedo, 813.”

The box was made of vitrified clay, and has an inscription and a rising sun on, and is glazed over as smooth as glass. It is water-tight and contains 17 coins and a ring. The coins are square, some 8-cornered and some of the largest 16-cornered. They all have the rising sun on one side, and a serpent on the other side. The coins resemble aluminum, and will float on water if balanced, being about the same weight. The ring is a ¼-inch band, and 1 ¼ inch in diameter. It is chased, and resembles gold. The coins and ring by a little cleaning, were brought to good shape, despite their old age.

A huge rock lies against the one side of the tree, and, on digging further down and under the side of the rock, a part of an old tomahawk was found, nearly rusted out. It appears to be of a peculiar metal. The stone will be dynamited this week. The stone is about 12 feet in breadth, of an oblong shape. It is thought, on its removal, other things of interest may be found. Mr. Rhodes is a very ambitious young man, and will spend time and means in the search. Many have come to see the relics. Mr. Rhodes has been offered a large sum by the Chicago Unique Collecting Company but declined to accept it. The relics may be seen at his home, 3 ½ miles northwest of Shreve.

There were no further reports about Oscar Rhodes’ treasure, or what happened to the items he found in the spring of 1897. Was it a legitimate find or a hoax? We’ll probably never know.

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