7 Places Blackbeard’s Gold Could’ve Been Stashed

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istock

Little is known about the early life of privateer-turned-pirate Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, whose massive, knotted beard struck fear in the hearts of seamen throughout the Caribbean and Eastern U.S. for a brief spell in the early 18th century. However, his legend has only grown stronger with time, keeping the hunt for his supposed hidden treasure alive. 

Most historians suspect that Teach (like most pirates) didn’t get around to making desert-island deposits of gold and jewels during his reign, but there are still several places where, given what we’ve learned about him in the past three centuries, the treasure could have ended up. 

1. OFF THE COAST OF NORTH CAROLINA, ON THE QUEEN ANNES REVENGE

After the French slave ship La Concorde was stolen by Blackbeard and renamed the Queen Anne’s Revenge in 1717, it served a short but profitable stint as absolute hell-on-a-hull until the pirate ran it aground in North Carolina’s Beaufort Inlet later that same year. Since its discovery in 1996, the QAR has delivered hundreds of thousands of artifacts to probing researchers, including many of the ship’s 40 cannon, assorted weaponry and tools, and even a small amount of gold dust—but no treasure heaps as yet. Divers aren’t done exploring the wreck, though, and only the ship herself knows what they’ll find. 

2. IN A BLAST PATTERN OFF THE COAST OF OCRACOKE ISLAND 

If the treasure was on board the Adventure—the ship that North Carolina governor Charles Eden handed off to Teach (along with a pardon) after he’d ditched the QAR—when Lieutenant Robert Maynard’s posse of four ships finally took the pirate down, then it came very close to meeting a violent end of its own. According to an account kept by Captain Charles Johnson (probably a pseudonym for either Daniel Defoe, of Robinson Crusoe fame, or Nathaniel Mist), before the ship was overrun, Blackbeard stationed his faithful servant down below with orders to set the powder room alight should defeat seem inevitable. 

However, the attack had already damaged the ship’s defenses enough that Teach’s intended blaze of final glory never came to pass. It’s also possible that the plan was foiled thanks to two prisoners who persuaded Blackbeard’s servant not to strike the match. 

3. PLUM POINT 

When Blackbeard was trying to make it as a normal, non-pirate person after his pardon, he set up shop near Governor Eden’s homestead in Bath, North Carolina. His bayside home on Plum (or “Teach’s”) Point has since drawn treasure-hunters and their shovels to the town. Today, only the building’s supposed foundation remains. 

4. TEACHS KETTLE 

According to residents and researchers, a field near Plum Point used to house an oven-like brick structure that Blackbeard may have used to render wood tar for sealing the hulls of his ships. Though the farmer who owned the field supposedly became fed up with all the visitors and demolished the “kettle,” the location has been the site of much hopeful digging throughout the years. 

5. ARCHBELL POINT

It’s long been speculated that Governor Eden (who pardoned Teach after deliberately grounding the QAE, gave the pirate one of his confiscated ships back, and even helped Teach get established in Bath) was on the take when it came to Teach’s profitable piracy. Legend has is that Blackbeard was able to slip easily in and out of Eden’s estate (presumably to deliver the governor’s cut of the loot) by using a special rock path or, in some versions, an underground passage between Bath Creek and Eden’s Archbell Point home.

6. BASICALLY, ANYWHERE IN THE CARIBBEAN 

In his rather short time as the scourge of the local seas in 1717 and 1718, Blackbeard kept very busy out to sea, reportedly ransacking or capturing something like 30 ships in total. He likely worked his way through much of the Caribbean, attacking ships near Antigua, Martinique, the Grenadines, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent, among others. When the QAR and Adventure did put into port, it was likely to gather new supplies and have a few rowdy times before heading back out to sea.

7. IN HELL

A General History of the Pyrates, a 1724 book written by Captain Charles Johnson (the same one mentioned earlier), provides much of the material for the legends of Blackbeard and other famous scallywags, including one of Teach’s most famous utterances. 

The night before Maynard and his soldiers descended upon the Adventure, Blackbeard’s crew asked their captain if his wife would know where the loot was hidden should he fall in battle. Teach replied “that no-body but himself and the Devil, knew where it was, and the longest liver should take all.” 

The next day, November 22, 1718, Blackbeard and many of his 14-man crew breathed their last. However, several surviving crewmembers later recounted "a Story which may appear a little incredible,” Johnson writes. “[Once] upon a Cruize, [the pirates] found out that they had a Man on Board more than their Crew; such a one was seen several Days amongst them, sometimes below, and sometimes upon Deck, yet no Man in the Ship could give an Account who he was, or from whence he came; but that he disappeared a little before they were cast away in their great Ship, but, it seems, they verily believed it was the Devil." 

Just maybe, then, Blackbeard’s gold is still being safely kept down below—somewhere a lot deeper than even the very bottom shelf of Davy Jones’ Locker. 

10 Facts About the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

qingwa/iStock via Getty Images
qingwa/iStock via Getty Images

On Veterans Day, 1921, President Warren G. Harding presided over an interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery for an unknown soldier who died during World War I. Since then, three more soldiers have been added to the Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) memorial—and one has been disinterred. Below, a few things you might not know about the historic site and the rituals that surround it.

1. THERE WERE FOUR UNKNOWN SOLDIER CANDIDATES FOR THE WWI CRYPT. 


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

To ensure a truly random selection, four unknown soldiers were exhumed from four different WWI American cemeteries in France. U.S. Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger, who was wounded in combat and received the Distinguished Service Medal, was chosen to select a soldier for burial at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington. After the four identical caskets were lined up for his inspection, Younger chose the third casket from the left by placing a spray of white roses on it. The chosen soldier was transported to the U.S. on the USS Olympia, while the other three were reburied at Meuse Argonne American Cemetery in France.

2. SIMILARLY, TWO UNKNOWN SOLDIERS WERE SELECTED AS POTENTIAL REPRESENTATIVES OF WWII.

One had served in the European Theater and the other served in the Pacific Theater. The Navy’s only active-duty Medal of Honor recipient, Hospitalman 1st Class William R. Charette, chose one of the identical caskets to go on to Arlington. The other was given a burial at sea.

3. THERE WERE FOUR POTENTIAL KOREAN WAR REPRESENTATIVES.


WikimediaCommons // Public Domain

The soldiers were disinterred from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. This time, Army Master Sgt. Ned Lyle was the one to choose the casket. Along with the unknown soldier from WWII, the unknown Korean War soldier lay in the Capitol Rotunda from May 28 to May 30, 1958.

4. THE VIETNAM WAR UNKNOWN WAS SELECTED ON MAY 17, 1984.

Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Allan Jay Kellogg, Jr., selected the Vietnam War representative during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor.

5. BUT THE VIETNAM VETERAN WASN'T UNKNOWN FOR LONG.


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to advances in mitochondrial DNA testing, scientists were eventually able to identify the remains of the Vietnam War soldier. On May 14, 1998, the remains were exhumed and tested, revealing the “unknown” soldier to be Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie (pictured). Blassie was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. After his identification, Blassie’s family had him moved to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. Instead of adding another unknown soldier to the Vietnam War crypt, the crypt cover has been replaced with one bearing the inscription, “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen, 1958-1975.”

6. THE MARBLE SCULPTORS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MANY OTHER U.S. MONUMENTS. 

The Tomb was designed by architect Lorimer Rich and sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, but the actual carving was done by the Piccirilli Brothers. Even if you don’t know them, you know their work: The brothers carved the 19-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial, the lions outside of the New York Public Library, the Maine Monument in Central Park, the DuPont Circle Fountain in D.C., and much more.

7. THE TOMB HAS BEEN GUARDED 24/7 SINCE 1937. 

Tomb Guards come from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard." Serving the U.S. since 1784, the Old Guard is the oldest active infantry unit in the military. They keep watch over the memorial every minute of every day, including when the cemetery is closed and in inclement weather.

8. BECOMING A TOMB GUARD IS INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT.

Members of the Old Guard must apply for the position. If chosen, the applicant goes through an intense training period, in which they must pass tests on weapons, ceremonial steps, cadence, military bearing, uniform preparation, and orders. Although military members are known for their neat uniforms, it’s said that the Tomb Guards have the highest standards of them all. A knowledge test quizzes applicants on their memorization—including punctuation—of 35 pages on the history of the Tomb. Once they’re selected, Guards “walk the mat” in front of the Tomb for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the time of year and time of day. They work in 24-hour shifts, however, and when they aren’t walking the mat, they’re in the living quarters beneath it. This gives the sentinels time to complete training and prepare their uniforms, which can take up to eight hours.

9. THE HONOR IS ALSO INCREDIBLY RARE.

The Tomb Guard badge is the least awarded badge in the Army, and the second least awarded badge in the overall military. (The first is the astronaut badge.) Tomb Guards are held to the highest standards of behavior, and can have their badge taken away for any action on or off duty that could bring disrespect to the Tomb. And that’s for the entire lifetime of the Tomb Guard, even well after his or her guarding duty is over. For the record, it seems that Tomb Guards are rarely female—only three women have held the post.

10. THE STEPS THE GUARDS PERFORM HAVE SPECIFIC MEANING.

Everything the guards do is a series of 21, which alludes to the 21-gun salute. According to TombGuard.org:

The Sentinel does not execute an about face, rather they stop on the 21st step, then turn and face the Tomb for 21 seconds. They then turn to face back down the mat, change the weapon to the outside shoulder, mentally count off 21 seconds, then step off for another 21 step walk down the mat. They face the Tomb at each end of the 21 step walk for 21 seconds. The Sentinel then repeats this over and over until the Guard Change ceremony begins.

8 Historical Things That Prove Privacy Issues Aren't a Modern Problem

iStock/Veleri
iStock/Veleri

DEAR A.J.,
Help! I feel I have no privacy anymore. Facebook, Google, and Target know more about my life than my own husband does. Where has all the privacy gone?
Kathleen

Dear Kathleen,

Thanks for writing. I’ve recorded your name, address, marital status, and income level for my email list. You’ll be hearing from me soon!

In the meantime, maybe this will make you feel better: Privacy may be endangered in the digital age, but at least we’re still better off than many of our ancestors. In the past, everyone was all up in your business.

1. Peeping Tithingmen

Consider the Puritans: They were stunningly good at privacy invasion. In colonial America, Puritan villages had professional snoopers called “tithingmen.” Part of a tithingman’s job was to peek into their neighbors’ windows and spy on their every move to ensure they weren’t doing anything naughty, such as (gasp!) going for a stroll on the Sabbath—a crime that could be punishable by a day in the stocks.

2. Snail Mail Breaches

If you’re worried about hackers (or husbands) monitoring your emails, you should know that pen-and-ink mail was even more vulnerable back in the day. In early America, before an official postal service existed, letters were frequently left at taverns and coffeehouses to be picked up by the recipient—often after they’d been perused by other inquisitive customers. Things didn’t get much better when the government got involved. Postal workers were notorious for peeping at mail. Even letters from the Founding Fathers weren’t immune. Thomas Jefferson complained about the “curiosity of the post-offices” who enjoyed opening and reading his correspondence.

3. Public Voting—Out Loud

Speaking of the government: Voting was not always a private affair conducted behind the safety of a curtain. In early America, everyone knew your vote. They heard it loud and clear. You voted by stepping up to an election officer and announcing your vote in front of spectators. The practice was called viva voce—by voice. This, naturally, led to intimidation and harassment. As Paula Wasley writes in Humanities magazine, voting was “spectacularly public ... accompanied by boisterous crowds, partisan hecklers, torchlight parades, free-flowing whiskey, and brawling.” Casting your vote was less like participating in a dignified civic ritual and more like attending a Gathering of the Juggalos.

4. Nosy Questions on the (Publicly Posted) Census

You won’t find much respect for privacy in the old days of the U.S. census. The questions in the 1800s were astoundingly nosy. Uncle Sam asked about your mental health, whether you were “crippled, maimed, or deformed,” and questions about the financial status of homes and farms. The results of the early census were also posted in public, ostensibly so you could check them for accuracy, but in reality so that all your neighbors could titter.

5. Newspapers Printed Ailments

And if you didn’t know your neighbor’s frailties from the census, busybody local newspapers were there to fill you in. With no pesky HIPAA laws to get in the way, hospital admissions were popular fodder for newspapers for decades. For instance, an issue of the 1885 Philadelphia Inquirer told us that 53-year-old Hugh Dady had to go to the hospital after he received a head cut from a falling barrel.

6. Newspapers Printed Addresses

And if that’s not enough, the paper gives us what certainly appears to be the ailing folks’ addresses, such as “Francis Reynolds, aged twenty-seven, of No. 2335 Owen Street, with sprained wrist, from heavy lifting.” It was like TMZ, but if every celebrity was very boring.

7. Pooping in Public

But I’ve saved the worst for last. Because in the days of yore, even your most intimate acts—including going to the bathroom—occurred with very little privacy. In ancient Rome, you did your business in a public latrine with dozens of seats side by side. Archaeologists have found board games in between the toilets, indicating that voiding was a social occasion, much like a trip to the pub. Even the Father of our Country might not have pooped alone: Mount Vernon has a cozy three-seat outhouse. Over on the other side of the pond, Henry VIII had a formal assistant called “The Groom of the Stool,” a bathroom attendant whose job supposedly consisted of, in part, wiping the glorious monarchical butt.

8. Sex on Trial

What’s more, marital problems were shockingly out in the open. Consider the bizarreness that were the impotence trials of pre-Revolutionary France. A woman could ask to end a marriage on the grounds that her husband failed to consummate a marriage … but she had to prove it in front of witnesses. The most notorious such trial was in 1659, when a Marquis had to attempt sex with his wife in front of a 15-person jury, including doctors. The trial was so public, Frenchmen placed bets on the outcome. I’d tell you what happened, but I don’t want to invade the nobleman’s privacy yet again. (OK, fine. He failed. Happy?)

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