Monthly Archives: June 2008

Captain Kidd’s Treasure Found! GeocachingNew House

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 William Kidd
William Kidd was born in 1645 in Greenock Scotland. His family sailed to the New World while
Kidd was still young. They settled in New York City, which at the time was merely struggling to support itself as a seaport. Kidd spent his life on the Ocean & won acclaim fighting the French during King William’s War. He was granted the Rank of Captain & held in high regard by his community & peers. In 1695 Kidd was called to Great Britain. At the recommendation of the Earl of Bellomont, who was the Governor of New York at the time, Captain Kidd was granted an official Letter of Marque from King William III.

“William the Third, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, … To our trusty and well beloved Captain William Kid, Commander of the Ship the Adventure Galley… GREETING; Whereas we are informed, that Captain Thomas Tew, John Ireland, Captain Thomas Wake, and Captain William Maze… do, against the Law of Nations, commit many and great Pyracies, Robberies and Depredations on the Seas…. Now KNOW YE, that we being desirous to prevent the aforesaid Mischiefs, and, as much as in us lyes, to bring the said Pyrates, Free Booters and Sea Rovers to Justice, have thought fit, and do hereby give and grant to the said William Kid, to whom our Commissioners for exercising the Office of Lord High Admiral of England, have granted a Commission as a private Man of War, bearing Date the 11th Day of December 1695, … full Power and Authority to apprehend, seize, and take into your Custody… all such Pyrates… which you shall meet with upon the Seas,… with all their Ships and Vessels; and all such Merchandizes, Money, Goods and Wares as shall be found on board…”

King William also granted Captain Kidd a license as a Privateer to attack any French ship he should chance to encounter. The expedition was funded by Lord Bellomont, several politically connected Nobles & King William himself. Kidd was given command of the Adventure, a 237-ton galley featuring 34 cannon & oars for out maneuvering enemy ships. He loaded his ship with the best sailors he could find & set sail. Before the Adventure could even hit open waters a Navy vessel approached. Showing some early colonial disdain for imperial Great Britain, Captain Kidd refused to salute (or possibly mooned) the Navy vessel. The end result was the Navy forcibly impressed (or drafted) the majority of Kidd’s crew. Undaunted, he sailed for his home harbor of New York where he hoped to be able to find enough sailors to round out his crew. Unfortunately, New Yorkers had enough problems of their own without worrying about “Pyrates” hiding in the West Indies. Those he could convince to join him on the voyage were mostly made up of men who needed to flee the colonies for legal reasons & they demanded the lions share of the profits. With this inauspicious start, the Adventure set sail for Madagascar seeking pirates… with a crew made up of men who had most likely been pirates just days before signing on with Captain Kidd.

When the King of the most powerful nation in the world decides that he’s going to start hunting pirates the word spreads quickly – even over the seas. By the time Kidd was finally en route from the Americas all of the pirates mentioned in the official charter had made themselves scarce. Kidd & his crew bided their time & were able to take over a small French ship but it did little to serve their purpose… or line the greedy crew’s pockets. The Captain used the same methods he had employed with success back in the Colonies – to mingle with the other Privateers of the area. Many of the other Captains were small time pirates in their own way but Kidd was after a larger prize. Unfortunately, his crew saw this as wasted time & became restless. The Adventure encountered many richly laden Indian vessels but, despite the opposition of the crew, Kidd made no moves against them. Men started to desert &, sensing an eventual mutiny, Kidd set sail for the Red Sea with talk of intercepting a rich fleet of which he had caught rumor. “We have been unsuccessful hitherto; but courage, my boys, we’ll make our fortunes out of this fleet!”It was not meant to be & the Adventure never met the fabled fleet.
Kidd never wore a beard On October 30 1697 a rich Dutch ship sailed into view &, tired of waiting, the crew urged Captain Kidd to attack. The Captain refused, knowing that attacking the Dutchman would be both piratical & sure to anger King William who was of Dutch descent. William Moore, a gunner under Kidd’s command spoke out loudly against his captain & burnished a sharpened chisel. The two exchanged words & it became clear that a full-blown mutiny was sure to occur if Kidd was unable to quiet Moore. Without speaking a word Captain Kidd strongly suggested that Moore return to his work by heaving a wooden bucket at him. It was an unlucky throw as the bucket struck Moore in the head & he died the next day. A bucket is a far cry from a deadly weapon & it’s obvious that a mortal blow wasn’t intended, but the act didn’t do much to improve moral on the Adventure. The next time they docked to resupply much of the crew deserted.

In late January or early February of 1698 their luck finally turned & they were able to easily capture an Armenian ship the Quedah Merchant. Kidd & crew boarded the ship & learned that though the captain of the ship was English, he had purchased passes from the French East India Company making the Quedah Merchant a fair target of the war. The ship was one of the greatest prizes ever claimed by a Privateer. She was a 400-ton beauty laden with gold, silver & all manors of extremely valuable linens. The value might have exceeded 100 million in modern dollars. Kidd kept the French passes & the ship which he renamed Adventure Prize.

Back in England, disgruntled former crew members of the Adventure told the crown that Kidd had refused to attack pirates & had even turned pirate himself. A fantastic political scandal ensued when political opponents of the Kidd’s backers got wind that King William himself was funding a pirate! Great stories of piracy & barbarism on the high seas were invented to fan the political firestorm.

When Kidd learned he was a wanted man most of his crew deserted him so he left the Adventure behind & sailed for home in the Adventure Prize. Only 10% of the original crew remained loyal to their Captain including Monmouth County residents Moses Butterworth & William Leeds. Upon arriving in the Caribbean, Kidd learned that several British men-of-war were patrolling the East coast looking for the Quedah Merchant. Realizing his prize was marked he scuttled the Merchant & set out for New York confident he could convince Lord Bellomont of his innocence. Kidd made several stops in New Jersey & Long Island before the authorities knew he was in the area. During this time he secretly buried much of his treasure – some 40,000 pounds – to be used as leverage. Kidd, leaving several of his men in West Jersey with strict instructions on what to do in the event he was arrested, then sought out Lord Bellomont who was residing in Boston at the time. Unfortunately, Bellomont decided that bringing Kidd before the throne in chains was the best way to save his own neck & had Kidd & his men arrested.

The trial was a travesty of justice & the nobles who had financed Kidd’s voyages made sure to burn Kidd’s logbook & lose the French passes from the Quedah Merchant. In the end Kidd & most of his crew was found guilty of piracy & the murder of his gunner William Moore. Moses Butterworth & William Leeds had remained in West Jersey where they were tried & found not guilty.

… 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.

Sunset of Cliffwood Beach 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.
Sunrise from Cliffwood Beach
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!

Keyport in backgroundIn 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.
Gold Hot Rodders Cliffwood Beach Ninja Pirate Always Open Go the other way! Yarr. It be purdy. All about the Kidds Park & Walk Pirates! Central Jersey Silver