|Captain William Kidd stood on the Gallows & a thin rain began to fall. He was dressed in the full splendor of a decorated colonial captain of the seas from the spotless coat to the new pair
of boots. A list of crimes for which Kidd stood accused was being read for the gathered crowd but Kidd wasn’t listening. He had spent the past few weeks becoming familiar with all of the crimes he had been charged. Right now he was busily scanning the crowd & looking for a familiar face. Had his friends shown up at the last? The noose was placed around his neck & a dark sack over his head. As the darkness covered his eyes, his life, as it tends to do in these situations, flashed before them…
|… Captain Kidd awoke from his reverie in time to hear the official proclamation that he was to hang by his neck until he was dead. The rain had begun to soak through the thin sack & he could almost see through it. There was a disturbance in the crowd & some shouting but he didn’t have time to wonder what might have caused the fuss because at just that moment the floor dropped out from beneath him… & he fell… & the noose pulled tight… & the rope snapped! The crowd gasped as Captain Kidd disappeared through the trap door & landed with a grunt on the ground beneath the platform. In those days this stay of execution wasn’t seen as a sign of divine provenance but rather an indication of a poorly made knot. After a few moments of confusion Captain William Kidd was bustled back up onto the stage where the noose was refitted & secured into place. Though most of the crowd & the officials on the stage were nearly soaked to the bone, Kidd was gauged dry enough that the noose would not slip free. Without delay the trap was sprung & a few agonizing seconds later the saga of Captain William Kidd ended at the end of a taught rope. As the crowd began to disperse, William Leeds, loyal to the end, fought against the crowds until he was near the front. An old muddy pair of boots dangled at eye-level only a few yards away. He smiled.|
So what of Kidd’s buried treasure? Well, there are more rumors than fact. Every state up & down the coast has a tale of Captain Kidd’s buried booty, but only two states have ever found any of it. The first cache of gold was unearthed on Gardiners Island just off the coast of Long Island New York. The owner of the land had cooperated with the British authorities in retrieving some 10,000 Pounds. Gold coins have also been discovered in New Jersey within the Raritan Bay. The first strike was at Money Island & the second at Duck Pond, now known as Treasure Lake. Let’s look at the legends & skim the fact from the fiction.
It’s a fact that William Leeds had money. In his will he left 438 acres of land to the county & the Christ Church. This land is where Thompson Park & Brookdale Community College is
today. On the foundation of an old jail (the very jail that once held his friend Moses Butterworth) Leeds built the Christ Church of Middletown.
It’s a fact that Money Island is no more. It’s been excavated to the point where it’s nothing more than a sandbar. If there was treasure on the island it’s long been spent or sent to Davy Jones’ Locker.
It’s a fact that the Army Corps of Engineers surveyed & excavated large sections of Cliffwood Beach a few decades ago. They built up the seawall as if to protect the unfound treasure from the elements. The positioning of their benchmarks is very suspicious.
It’s fiction that Captain Kidd used two gigantic trees as range markers to navigate to the hiding place of the gold. These trees, known as “Kidd’s Rangers” were supposedly at the mouth of the Raritan Creek & atop of Rose Hill in Matawan. There were indeed very large trees in those locations but it’s highly unlikely anyone could use them as markers from the bay. Of course someone did try eventually… & by no small coincidence there’s a small park at the site where the trees would lead a sailor. In fact, the exact center point has been calculated – & an ACoE benchmark labeled PL190 exists there to this day.
It’s a fact that Treasure Lake is just North of this mysterious park – & the actual site of the buried treasure! After Captain Kidd was arrested William Leeds dug up the treasure
& moved it. This is why some coins were found on Money Island. He spread rumors of “Kidd’s Rangers” to throw people off the trail but actually buried it … where X marks the spot! To help guide Kidd back to his treasure Leeds left a clue in the church he built – he carved a cross above the pulpit. The cross represented a prominent feature of the landscape of that time. It has since been replaced with a man-made structure. The treasure hunters of yesteryear got everything right except one crucial detail… they dug in the wrong direction!
In days gone by treasure hunters found “the cross” & started digging into the sand right on the beach but the base of the cross isn’t telling you where to dig… it’s pointing the right direction to dig! The addition of the benchmarks makes it easier on current treasure seekers. To find the current resting place of Kidd’s treasure you’ll need to locate benchmark PL160 – or the spot it would have been if treasure hunters trying to cover their tracks hadn’t removed it. You’ll need to search the seawall & find the midpoint between PL150 & PL170. From that point, follow the line of the cross 30 feet. You’ll know you are going in the right direction if you pass a smaller vertical cross. Back in Kidd’s day, your “tunnel” would have ended in buried treasure. Today you do not need to dig, as a 30-foot tunnel would come right out the other side of the hill. That spot is where you will find the treasure!
Some may call me a fool for sharing this information, but I trust that you will treat the treasure as the historical artifact that it is & take only a small sampling of the treasure for their own. Do not feel the need to trade swag at this cache. While exploring the seawall be mindful that it’s called Cliffwood beach for a reason. Be careful. Be safe. Have fun.
This cache is certified Central Jersey.