Mystery of The Oakland Island Treasure Buried For Centuries
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The first major group of settlers arrived in the Chester area from Massachusetts in 1761, and Oak Island was officially surveyed and divided into 32 four-acre lots in the following year. A large part of the island was owned at the time by the Monro, Lynch, Seacombe and Young families who had been granted the land in 1759. In the early days of British settlement, the Island was known locally as "Smith's Island," after an early settler of the area named Edward Smith. Cartographer Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres renamed the Island "Gloucester Isle" in 1778. Shortly thereafter, the locally used name "Oak Island" was officially adopted for the Island. Early residents included Edward Smith in the 1760s and Anthony Vaughn Sr. in the early 1770s. In 1784, the government made additional land grants, this time to former soldiers, which included parts of Oak Island. It was not until July 6, 1818, that the original lot owners' names were mapped for the Nova Scotia Crown Lands office.
Oak Island has been intermittently owned by treasure hunters ever since early settler stories started appearing in the late 1700s. The hunt for treasure got so extensive that in 1965 a causeway was built from the western end of the island to Crandall's Point on the mainland, two hundred metres away in order to bring heavy machinery onto the island. Oak Island has had several different recent owners which include a treasure hunter named Dan Blankenship, who initially partnered with "Oak Island Tours Inc." run by David Tobias. Oak Island Tours eventually dissolved, and in February 2019, it was announced that a new partnership had been formed with a company called the "Michigan Group". This group consists of brothers Rick and Marty Lagina, Craig Tester, and Alan Kostrzewa who had been purchasing lots from Tobias. It is unclear who is involved to what degree as Blankenship only revealed Kostrzewa's name to the press saying he was "on board". Blankenship owned the island with the Michigan Group, until his death on March 17, 2019, at the age of 95. Oak Island is populated on a seasonal basis with two permanent homes and two cottages being occupied part-time. While the island remains private property, public access is granted by those who schedule tours ahead of time.
Oak Island has been a subject for treasure hunters ever since the late 1700s, with rumours that Captain Kidd's treasure was buried there. While there is little evidence to support what went on during the early excavations, stories began to be published and documented as early as 1856. Since that time there have been many theories that extend beyond that of Captain Kidd which include among others religious artifacts, manuscripts, and Marie Antoinette's jewels. The "treasure" has also been prone to criticism by those who have dismissed search areas as natural phenomena.
Areas of interest on the island with regard to treasure hunters include a location known as the "Money Pit", which is allegedly the original searchers’ spot. Located on the east side of Oak Island, the Money Pit is—or was—a shaft more than 100 feet deep. According to island lore, it first drew the attention of a local teenager in 1795, who noticed an indentation in the ground and, with some friends, started to dig—only to find a man-made shaft featuring wooden platforms every 10 feet down to the 90-foot level of depth.
There is also a formation of boulders called "Nolan's Cross", named after a former treasure hunter with a theory on it, and a triangle-shaped swamp. Lastly, there has been searcher activity on a beach at a place called "Smith's Cove". Various objects including non-native coconut fibre have been found there. More recent archaeological discoveries in the Smith's Cove area have included an allegedly pre-15th-century lead cross and various wooden earthworks.
More than fifty books have been published recounting the island's history and exploring competing theories. Several works of fiction have also been based upon the Money Pit, including The Money Pit Mystery, Riptide, The Hand of Robin Squires, and Betrayed: The Legend of Oak Island. In January 2014, the History Channel began airing a reality TV show called The Curse of Oak Island about a group of modern treasure hunters. These hunters include brothers Rick and Marty Lagina of the "Michigan Group". The series has documented finds such as centuries-old coins, an antique brooch, and a lead cross that was allegedly made between 1200 and 1600 A.D.
The first major indigenous people in Nova Scotia were the Mi'kmaq, who formed an Indian nation in present-day Canada several thousand years ago. The area that encompasses Oak Island was once known as the "Segepenegatig" region. While it is unknown when Oak Island was first discovered, the tribe had a presence in the overall area which included the entire island of Newfoundland.