Connecticut River Museum Presents

Although they are often told in everyday situations, myths and legends frequently focus on people and events considered out of the ordinary. Hero stories, for example, serve as guides for exemplary behavior and cultural values, even as they provide entertainment with their fantastic accounts. Personal and family stories about unusual trips and people also provide opportunities to express a sense of ideals.

Stories of extraordinary people along the Connecticut River Valley have been told for centuries. Many of the stories that have survived in full come from the period of the American Revolution, when legends about extraordinary people inspired the creation of a new nation. Stories of kidnappings, hidden treasure, eccentric wanderers, superhuman stamina, and extraordinary grace in the face of adversity appear in both humorous
and heroic expression.

Robert Roger’s Treasure

Tales of lost or buried treasure appear throughout the River Valley. In Massachusetts and Connecticut they are
usually tied to piracy, but in New Hampshire and Vermont they are often attached to Rogers’ Rangers.

Few figures are as controversial as Robert Rogers, whose company formed in 1755 to assist the British Army during the French and Indian War. On October 4, 1759 Rogers and nearly two hundred men raided the Abenaki village (and Jesuit mission) of Odanak on the St. Francis River in Canada. Rogers claims to have destroyed the village, killing two hundred able men. In reality, his group slaughtered around thirty people, mostly women and children. Pursued by the French and Abenaki, the Rangers then fled for the Fort at Number Four on the Connecticut River (now Charlestown, NH).

Rogers eventually split his company into smaller groups. According to accounts, Rogers himself then took a raft
down the swift waters of the Connecticut River, arriving at the fort in late October.

In the 1800s, when treasure tales became a popular motif for storytelling, rumors arose that Rogers’ Rangers
carried off valuable items, discarding them along their flight. Gold and silver coins, church plates, chandeliers,
candlesticks, a ruby ring, a silver shirt, and a silver statute of the Madonna are mentioned among the loot.

Writing in 1935, Robert Pike recorded an unusual variant which appeared in the Journal of American Folklore:

Two of these legends tell of a “golden calf,” which is evidently the, thus transfigured, silver image brought down onto the Connecticut by Rogers’ Rangers. One of these tales relates that the treasure (thirteen bean-kettles full, and including the golden calf) was buried at the mouth of Cow Brook at North Littleton, on the Falls. Many men have dug for it there. I myself have seen the numerous holes and trenches, one of which is forty feet long and six feet deep.The other legend locates the golden calf in the Danforth sugar-place in Pittsburg, eighty miles north of Cow Brook… In 1866 a city “sport” was in Pittsburg fishing. He heard the local legend of a buried golden calf and hired a seer named Nide Munn to go into a trance and locate it for him. The next night the stranger and the guide with whom he was staying, one Dave Merrill, dug it up and the stranger departed before dawn and was never seen again. This quote appears thanks to the American Folklore Society.

Even today, people still tell stories and hunt for the lost treasure of St. Francis, unaware that it is part of a much
wider circulation of treasure tales throughout the northeast.

Side Note ►