Thomas Jefferson Beale was six feet tall with black hair and dark eyes. He wore his hair a little long and had a dark complexion.

He had unusual strength and was a handsome man. Men envied him and women were drawn to him.

He carried himself with style and grace. He was known as honest, forthright and a man true to his word.

These are the things said about Mr. Beale and it is he who is the centerpiece to this mystery.

The Story Begins

The story begins in 1817. Beale and a party of 30 adventurers set out for Santa Fe. The men apparently knew each other for some time and hunted game together. The purpose of the trip to Santa Fe was to hunt game.

They intended to be gone for two years and elected Beale as their leader (referred to as Captain). They set out on May 19. They arrived in Santa Fe December 1, 1817.

Some of the men were getting bored waiting for spring to come and went out on their own in March. They were to be out exploring for a few days.

Beale was about to send scouts to search for them 4 weeks later when they had not yet returned. As the scouts were ready to depart, two of the group came back with a story that excited the others.

The said that they had been following a buffalo herd about 250 to 300 miles north of Santa Fe.  They camped one night in a little ravine and while gathering wood one of the men came back with a lump of rock in his hand.

After examining the rock, they were all convinced it was gold.

There was much more visible where the man had found the rock. Two men were sent to get Beale and the rest of the group while the others were gathering up as much gold as they could find.

When Beale arrived, he organized the effort, hired some local Indians and they worked the mine for 18 months.

They knew that there was little law in the west and that their find put them in danger. So they decided to take their hoard east, hide it and return for more.

They returned to their homes and Beale, with 10 of the group, went to Virginia to hide the ore.

treasure-chest

Enter Robert Morriss

Now at the same time, there was one Robert Morriss. Mr. Morriss had a tobacco business that failed and had entered the hospitality field.

He ran a hotel and was known far and wide as an honest, trustworthy and well-disciplined man.

Beale and the company had discussed where they could leave the details of their treasure so that any member of the party could retrieve their share at some future date.

They decided to check out Mr. Morriss.

Beale stayed at his hotel from January 1820 to March of that year. During that time Morriss and Beale grew to know each other rather well.

In March of 1820, Beale and the others journeyed back to their mine.

Beale again hired local Indians to help gather the valuables in the earth. In the autumn of 1821, Beale made another large deposit into the groups hiding place.

Beale checked into Morriss’ hotel again. He stayed through the winter. Before he left in March of 1822 he gave Morriss a locked iron box.

He instructed Morriss to keep the box safe until he returned. Morriss locked the box in his safe.

On May 9, 1822, Morriss received a letter from Beale. The letter was sent from St. Louis and said that Beale was on his way west to hunt buffalo and search for grizzlies.

Beale expected to be gone for two years. He emphasized to Morriss the importance of the iron box’s contents.

He stated that if he was not contacted within 10 years to open the box. The papers will not make sense without the key to decode them.

Someone would bring the code to him in 1832, if required.

Mysterious Disappearance of Beale & Company

Morriss never heard from anyone about the iron box again. Beale never reappeared, nor his associates, nor the man with the code key.

It is believed that the group travel together into a hostile environment and perished.

Morriss waited not the 10 years but 23 years before opening the box. He wanted to be sure that no one was coming for the contents.

In the box were two letters and three pages of numbers. The letters were dated in January of 1822.

They related the story of the hunt, the mines, the treasure and the hiding of the treasure.

The letters also stated that the numbers were codes.

One listed the contents of the treasure. One gave the information needed to find the treasure and the third listed the 30 owner’s beneficiaries.

The treasure was to be split 31 ways with Morriss given an equal share for his handling of the distribution.

All the members of the hunting party had agreed to this.

The Quest to Break the Code

Since the man with the codes had never arrived, Morriss was never able to carry out his charge.

He tried for years, in vain, to decipher the numbers.

In 1862, Morriss summoned James B. Ward of Virginia to his house.

Morriss knew he had little time left and told the story to Ward. He gave Ward the papers and told him that if he could carry out the original instructions, Morriss would split his share with Ward.

The following year Robert Morriss died.

gold coins treasure chest

Ward worked constantly on the codes. Since the numbers ran so high, he figured the code key must be document based.

Eventually, he broke the key to the treasure contents.

He found this code was based on the Declaration of Independence. He took each number, counted the words that far into the document, and used the first letter of the corresponding word.

He arrived at the following:

I have deposited in the County of Bedford about four miles from Bufords in an excavation or vault six feet below the surface of the ground the following articles belonging jointly to the parties whose names are given in number three herewith.

The first deposit consisted of ten hundred and fourteen pounds of gold and thirty eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver deposited November 1819. The second was made December 1821 and consisted of nineteen hundred and seven pounds of gold and twelve hundred and eighty eight pounds of silver also jewels obtained in St. Louis in exchange for silver to save transportation and valued at thirteen thousand dollars.

The above is securely packed in iron pots with iron covers. The vault is roughly lined with stones and the vessels rest on solid stone and are covered with others. Paper number one describes the exact locality of the vault so that no difficulty will be had in finding it. 

Neither Ward nor anyone else has decoded the others numbers.

In 1885, Ward was broke and had a small pamphlet prepared hoping the general public would be able to break the codes and share some of the find with him.

Most were destroyed in a fire.

The Beale Ciphers

These are the numbers for the first cipher. The one that identifies then treasure location. If you happen to have a spare super computer laying around perhaps you could try your hand at cracking the code.

71, 194, 38, 1701, 89, 76, 11, 83, 1629, 48, 94, 63, 132, 16, 111, 95, 84, 341, 975, 14, 40, 64, 27, 81, 139, 213, 63, 90, 1120, 8, 15, 3, 126, 2018, 40, 74, 758, 485, 604, 230, 436, 664, 582, 150, 251, 284, 308, 231, 124, 211, 486, 225, 401, 370, 11, 101, 305, 139, 189, 17, 33, 88, 208, 193, 145, 1, 94, 73, 416, 918, 263, 28, 500, 538, 356, 117, 136, 219, 27, 176, 130, 10, 460, 25, 485, 18, 436, 65, 84, 200, 283, 118, 320, 138, 36, 416, 280, 15, 71, 224, 961, 44, 16, 401, 39, 88, 61, 304, 12, 21, 24, 283, 134, 92, 63, 246, 486, 682, 7, 219, 184, 360, 780, 18, 64, 463, 474, 131, 160, 79, 73, 440, 95, 18, 64, 581, 34, 69, 128, 367, 460, 17, 81, 12, 103, 820, 62, 116, 97, 103, 862, 70, 60, 1317, 471, 540, 208, 121, 890, 346, 36, 150, 59, 568, 614, 13, 120, 63, 219, 812, 2160, 1780, 99, 35, 18, 21, 136, 872, 15, 28, 170, 88, 4, 30, 44, 112, 18, 147, 436, 195, 320, 37, 122, 113, 6, 140, 8, 120, 305, 42, 58, 461, 44, 106, 301, 13, 408, 680, 93, 86, 116, 530, 82, 568, 9, 102, 38, 416, 89, 71, 216, 728, 965, 818, 2, 38, 121, 195, 14, 326, 148, 234, 18, 55, 131, 234, 361, 824, 5, 81, 623, 48, 961, 19, 26, 33, 10, 1101, 365, 92, 88, 181, 275, 346, 201, 206, 86, 36, 219, 324, 829, 840, 64, 326, 19, 48, 122, 85, 216, 284, 919, 861, 326, 985, 233, 64, 68, 232, 431, 960, 50, 29, 81, 216, 321, 603, 14, 612, 81, 360, 36, 51, 62, 194, 78, 60, 200, 314, 676, 112, 4, 28, 18, 61, 136, 247, 819, 921, 1060, 464, 895, 10, 6, 66, 119, 38, 41, 49, 602, 423, 962, 302, 294, 875, 78, 14, 23, 111, 109, 62, 31, 501, 823, 216, 280, 34, 24, 150, 1000, 162, 286, 19, 21, 17, 340, 19, 242, 31, 86, 234, 140, 607, 115, 33, 191, 67, 104, 86, 52, 88, 16, 80, 121, 67, 95, 122, 216, 548, 96, 11, 201, 77, 364, 218, 65, 667, 890, 236, 154, 211, 10, 98, 34, 119, 56, 216, 119, 71, 218, 1164, 1496, 1817, 51, 39, 210, 36, 3, 19, 540, 232, 22, 141, 617, 84, 290, 80, 46, 207, 411, 150, 29, 38, 46, 172, 85, 194, 39, 261, 543, 897, 624, 18, 212, 416, 127, 931, 19, 4, 63, 96, 12, 101, 418, 16, 140, 230, 460, 538, 19, 27, 88, 612, 1431, 90, 716, 275, 74, 83, 11, 426, 89, 72, 84, 1300, 1706, 814, 221, 132, 40, 102, 34, 868, 975, 1101, 84, 16, 79, 23, 16, 81, 122, 324, 403, 912, 227, 936, 447, 55, 86, 34, 43, 212, 107, 96, 314, 264, 1065, 323, 428, 601, 203, 124, 95, 216, 814, 2906, 654, 820, 2, 301, 112, 176, 213, 71, 87, 96, 202, 35, 10, 2, 41, 17, 84, 221, 736, 820, 214, 11, 60, 760

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About the Author

Rick Coleman
Rick Coleman
Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona Rick Coleman is a Lifeofadventure.com featured contributor who has written for a wide range of international travel publications. He loves the outdoors and has covered thousands of miles in the pursuit of his next adventure.
Rick Coleman
Rick Coleman
Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona Rick Coleman is a Lifeofadventure.com featured contributor who has written for a wide range of international travel publications. He loves the outdoors and has covered thousands of miles in the pursuit of his next adventure.
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