THE TREASURE HUNT
The Snead brothers, Walter and Ed, had been diving on the Swanne River for gold…and found themselves in disharmony…everyone just quit!
Walter had made friends with the ferry tender at what is now known as High Bridge. He had seen a map that was given to the ferry tender that showed a location of a treasure trove. This was a story told to Walter and in turn to all the Snead family and investors as follows:
Around 1730 a Spanish galleon left Havana, Cuba, and moored just outside of Mosquito Inlet on its way to St. Augustine to pick up a convoy for a return trip to Spain. Two English vessels began the chase.
The Spanish galleon ran around at the big basin, which is the head waters of the Halifax river, Tomoka and Bulow creek, the water being at high tide. The Spanish ship took its gold and put it in three (3) longboats and tried to escape up what is now known as Smith creek.
On Bulow, at Smith creek they were accosted and massacred. One of the Spaniards that was injured was discovered and treated by an Indian who helped him to St. Augustine whereby he returned to Spain with a sketch he rendered from memory.
The secret was passed on for 9 generations---when a relative around 18 years old saved approximately $4,000.00, and returned to the same location and proceeded to search for someone to share his knowledge and story. The ferry tender at the High Bridge area became his confidante and retained the map.
Together they bought a dipper dredge, but couldn’t raise the gold after locating three (3) kegs. They soon ran out of money and the Spaniard discouragingly left to return to Spain as the story goes.
The ferry tender did make the statement that the boy did ask him to share if anything of value came of it in the future.
I, myself, never did see the original map. Walter told the story to his parents and associates that his parents knew might be interested. Five people purchased the land---the four Sneads, Walter, Walter, Jr., Lillie Snead, Ed Snead and J.B. High (who the High Bridge was named after). Two men: Williams and Cooper became backers (picture enclosed). J.B. High got permission for salvage rites under the new formed group from the State and a dredging permit from the government—to make a pseudo fishing camp.
They planned to make a 30 foot tower right with a water jet to locate the kegs which were lying on top of a very thin rock which was approx. 30 feet deep. They bought a small dredge—jetted and located two (2) kegs in the water and one (1) on land. The one on land was exactly opposite Smith Creek—which they didn’t realize the river had moved to the West approx. 90 feet…also logs, etc. were deposited on top of the keg. When the jet located the keg, a drill was set down inside the jet.
They brought up appx. One (1) teaspoon of gold on the drill bit. Immediately they tried to dredge down as the ferry tender and Spaniard had, but quicksand had a slope of 30 to 1....and would have caved in 900 feet in each direction.
The engineers and the backers decided to sink an 8 foot diameter caisson built in 2 foot sections to go over the keg and slow down the speed of the quicksand. A special large air compressor was purchased to dredge with in lieu of the centrifugal pumps.
The caisson on the way down caught on logs and a diver had to stay in the water to guide it sixty per cent of the time. Vibration and sand bags were on top of the caisson to try to force it down (picture enclosed). After approximately working 24 hours a day for ten (10) months, with light plants and crew, we arrived at the original growing rock ledge….during this period, the caisson had tilted and missed the keg appx. Four (4) feet.
The engineers then decided the way to recover this was to dewater the caisson, pump waterglass into the quicksand and freeze it….burn a hole in the caisson and try to retrieve the keg through the hole. Due to quicksand still leaking around the caisson, the West side of the river was open to the new basis—so we had to block the river from the basin around the caisson, dewater the caisson and the basin.
When we were appx. 3 – 4 feet from th3 bottom of the rock, the whole bottom blew out of the caisson, leaving the dredge sunk in the basin (pictures enclosed.) DISGUSTED!
Walter, Sn. Decided to raise the barge, pump out and remove quicksand from the caisson, then pour 18” – 24” of concrete into the bottom where the bottom had blown out. This was done with a special 18” chute and approx. six weeks of curing. We dewatered the caisson the second time three feet from the bottom. The force blew out the bottom again, this time the concrete bottom.
EVERYONE was ready to quit. Walter, Sn. Again proposed—a wood triangle caisson that could be made to go down next to the existing caisson—with skid boards bolted to the side.
This caisson was a triangle appx 12 ft x 12 ft x 12 ft at the base and went up to close in, due to the angle of the original caisson, to apprx. 8 ft x 8 ft x 6 ft. at the top. This had steel cutting edges on the bottom made in one piece on the ground with corner posts extension extended for future addition. It was a very large A frame built over the basin upon which this caisson was swung into place and sunk into the rock base in apprx. 28 days.
Working inside the wood caisson to lower the caisson, I arrived about one (1) foot from the bottom, located the keg, stuck my finger into the original drill hole (drilled the year before). There was still 2 – 3 feet of sand inside the caisson over the keg.
I came up, notified all backers---we were to raise the keg the next day! (the keg was the size of a nail keg.)
During the night, a clamp on the cable holding the 6 inch water jet which weight apprx. 2-3 tons broke loose and knocked a hole where the keg was thru the rock---which was already damaged from the first caisson when the hole had blow out. EVERYONE GAVE UP!
I went ahead and pursed it for another 2-3 weeks….digging though rock and went down approximately 20 feet under the rock and braced it as if in a coal mine. I made a final check with the waterjet when all of a sudden the sand came flying in over me…water cut off…could’nt break away and get sand in suspension…gear in the water jet had broken….
Walter, Jr. flew the sea plane to Daytona to Williams Machine Shop to repair the gear. Meanwhile I was suspended 4-5 hours!
The gear was repaired and the water jet freed me. I told the Lord never to dig for gold again…my thoughts being the gold was to live! Soon as I arrived to the surface, I pulled the equipment on shore and went off to college.
In 1955, I moved the diving room to a new location, and made it a fishing camp.
THE END, OR IS IT?
Location of dig at High Bridge
A bit more of the story as supplied by Sisco Deen Flagler County Historical Society:
THE FLAGLER TRIBUNE
Thursday, September 22, 1927
Tom Teston, Jr., 8-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. T. J. Teston, who live at High Bridge on the F. E. C. Canal south of Flagler Beach, met his death in the canal Friday afteroon when he fell into the water from the bridge and was pulled to the bottom by heavy lead sinkers on a cast net, the accident occurring about 2:30 o’clock.
The line, attached to the net, was fastened around the lad's waist and when the net was cast it jerked the boy into the water. Rescuers immediately went for assistance but despite valiant effort the body could not be found until about ten minutes when oyster hooks were used. First aid was used but to no avail. Interment was made Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock in Hope Cemetery located between here and Flagler Beach.
Tom's dad was Thomas Jefferson Teston who was the bridge tender at High Bridge..... the 1930 census shows him as a carpenter in Ormond