From the March 13, 1936 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Already the Vineyard, quite without the agency of its human inhabitants, is getting itself ready for summer. Along the beaches the waters ripple with a new clarity and already, such is the new light and moderation of early March, the look inviting. The blackened plains and the brown hills have acquired a radiance we had forgotten was in them, all because of the light, especially in early morning and in the twilight.

The hint of spring that can be felt and sensed in the air is the is the inspiration for talk of buried treasure among the older Vineyard folk. There are few left today who talk of such buried treasure, but a couple of decades since, the informal gatherings in various parts of the Island would seldom disperse without some such discussion in the time of a spring thaw.

No one knows how much treasure has been recovered on the Vineyard. The history of certain such discoveries is well known, but there have always been numerous other tales of discoveries and near discoveries, and, strangely enough, they have nearly always occurred in early spring. Coins, relics, and more grisly tokens of a hazardous and piratical past have come to light through the washing of banks, the crumbling of earth, and the gullying of valleys by the action of frost leaving the ground, the heavy rains, and spring thaws.

The tale has become tradition of the riders who plodded through the mud and rain on the North Road, less than four score years ago this spring, and of their passing a high bank where the earth showed yellow and raw. One of the riders, glancing upward, under the dripping brim of his hat, saw the side of an iron kettle showing in the bank. Selfishness and greed prompted him to say nothing to his companion, but as soon as they had separated he dashed back to the spot. Alas, the kettle had vanished. Only a hollow showed in the bank where the kettle had lain, and in the soft dirt at the bottom was one lone silver coin, black with age.

It was a lone hiker who patrolled the Sound beach following a heavy spring rain and thaw, and climbing high on a sand cliff to avoid rocks, he saw the end of a small but massively made chest projecting from the sand which had caved and slid from around it. The heavy oaken planks of the chest were black and old, but sound, and the broad iron bands that crossed it were not weakened by rust and by time. A heavy iron handle still swung easily in its bearings, but he could neither lift the chest nor dig it from its bed. Hastily kicking a little loose sand over the chest, the lone hiker hastened to obtain a shovel, and with equal haste, he returned. Alas, again, during his absence another slide had occurred on the cliff face, and, dig as he would, he could not again locate the chest.

Not all such episodes have been so disappointing, however, and neither have they all been of the same nature. A fortunate wanderer passed the site of an ancient house, long since vanished from the scene, observed in the raw, washed earth a glitter which proved to be two gold coins, drilled, and connected with a few links of chain to serve, no doubt, as an ornament. Their value in metal alone was considerable, being of the size and of no less weight than twenty dollar gold pieces, and possibly worth much more as collector’s pieces.

An ancient cellar hole, half filled with earth, weeds, and rubbish, yielded two opal glass medallions, following a spring thaw. Both were perfect lacking only the pewter bolts by which they were attached to furniture or to woodwork.

Pieces of antique china, glass, and bottles of ancient manufacture, copper and silver coins, and many other articles have been discovered under such circumstances, all relics of white occupancy, and in many cases bearing conclusive evidence of an age far greater than that of the settlement in which they were discovered.

But the spring thaws have also brought to light many relics of the Wampanoags who occupied the lands first. At the foot of sand banks in old, little-used roads that cross abandoned fields on the shores of the great ponds, and in many other places, the washing of the earth by spring rains and the stirring of the soil occasioned by the frost, has frequently uncovered many ancient relics.

Arrow heads are most frequently found, many of them beautiful workmanship and design. But there have also been discovered tomahawks, stone pipe-bowls, and many curious articles for which no name can be found. All parts of the Island are fruitful ground for the search of such relics.

Arrow heads are most frequently found, many of them of beautiful workmanship and design. But there have also been discovered tomahawks, stone pipe-bowls, and many curious articles for which no name can be found. But it is all treasure of one sort or another, and it lies somewhere, awaiting him who shall seek it.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox