What happened to the lost Confederate gold? There is an old trunk on display in Washington, GA. There are many legends.
Legend has it that this trunk once held the missing Confederate gold. In 1902, the trunk was found in the basement of the bank in Washington, the building where Jefferson Davis held the last meeting of the Confederate Cabinet. In 1928, it was donated to the library where it was put on public display. In 1948, a renowned locksmith from Atlanta came to open the trunk. He found one coin-a Federal nickel. Where was all the gold?
In 1865, a few days after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union forces, President Jefferson Davis fled with what remained of the Confederate Treasury. Estimates range from $100,000 to $600,000 in coins, bricks, and gold bars. Some sources say that the money was on route back to Virginia; others say that it was to be shipped to France by way of Savannah.
At any rate, the gold was loaded onto five wagons on the morning of May 24, 1865. They made it as far as the Chennault Plantation where they were attacked by armed raiders. The gold disappeared.
Union troops later came to the Chennault Plantation and tortured the family. The troops then took the family to Washington, D.C. to be interrogated again, but they were unable to give any new information.
There are many legends as to the whereabouts of the missing gold. One says that the gold was hastily buried on the grounds of the Chennault Plantation, and through the years people still believe that you can find gold coins along the dirt roads after heavy rain storms.
Another idea is that the gold is hidden in Crawfordville, Georgia, at the home of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens. Mr. Stephens’ favorite pet dog is believed to have died at the same time the gold disappeared, and people have wondered if it could be hidden under the dog’s monument.
Another theory involves the historic home of Robert Toombs in Washington, Georgia. The basement had a dirt floor, and if anyone walked on it, it seemed to give. A yardman was brought in to scrape the dirt off with a hoe. He found a wooden bottom-and possibly a secret room-but no gold!
It is believed by some that part of the Confederate money ended up in Waynesville, a small town in Brantley County. According to research by the Brantley County Historical Society, the money was left by Mrs. Goertner Mumford Parkhurst, the daughter of Sylvester Mumford. The money, which had been wisely invested, created a large fortune for the betterment of young women and men in and around Brantley County. The historical account is based upon the writings of two residents: Robert Latimer Hurst, who wrote about the legend of the Confederate gold in This Magic Wilderness, and Martha Mizell Puckett, who wrote Snow White Sands. Mrs. Puckett thinks the Mumford Scholarship program was backed by the Confederate gold.
According to Mrs. Puckett, Sylvester Mumford was present at the Confederacy’s last cabinet meeting held in Washington, Georgia. Jefferson Davis divided the gold, giving a share to each man present. He instructed them to “use the money as he felt it should be used.”
Mumford supposedly used his share to rebuild his fortune, and he funded a great number of charities. His daughter gave nearly $600,000 to the children of Brantley County through scholarships and endowments.
To this point in time, no one has been able to verify the truth of these legends. But the stories are fascinating-and who knows-maybe someday we will be able to solve the mystery of the missing Confederate gold.