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There is something about buried treasure that sparks everyone’s imagination.  Perhaps that’s why my last column on Dutch Schultz resulted in so many inquiries.  Everyone responding wanted more information about his buried treasure. 

Schultz had established a hideaway in Phoenicia, New York in the mid 1920’s.  It was conveniently located in the Catskill Mountains on the route to Canada and proved a delightful get-away during the steaming hot summer months in the Bronx.  These were, of course, the pre-air conditioning days.  While enjoying the cool mountain air, he also scouted the area for some potential still sites and quickly set up shop.  Over the years he came to love his mountain retreat so it was no surprise that when it came to stashing his ill-gotten gains, this would be the ideal hiding spot.  He knew it well. 

It, therefore took no stretch of the imagination to figure out that when he got concerned about the potential for going to prison and losing everything he had, as had happened to other hoods unfortunate enough to be jailed, that he took the precaution of stashing away some cash.  How much is anyone’s guess.  Estimates start at about five million dollars and work their way up.  That was in 1935 so in today’s dollars we’re talking about a huge sum of money.  Some claim it was all cash while other versions include gold, diamonds and jewelry. 

The story about the stashed hoard began only after Schultz’ death.  When he was gunned down at the Palace Chop House in Newark, New Jersey on October 23, 1935 he was severely wounded but held on for almost a full day.  During this period he began talking and mumbling about a variety of things and, of course, the police were there to jot down his every word.  Among his alleged statements were “Wonder who owns these woods? He’ll never know what’s hidden in ‘em” and “Don’t be a dope Lulu, we better get those Liberty bonds out of the box and cash ‘em.”  Lulu refers to one of his closest friends and ally in crime, Lulu Rosenkranz.    Before long the rumors started spreading and folks began drawing conclusions from his further mumblings about Satan thinking that it could refer to a rocky outcropping near Phoenicia called the Devil’s Tombstone. 

Another version has his buried treasure located behind a motel or rooming house on Stony Clove Creek or in a steel box on the banks of Esopus Creek.  Yet others claim that it was buried beneath a poplar tree or just feet from a big sycamore while yet another says that it was buried near three pine trees.  All claim that Schultz carved an X into the tree.  The only problem thereafter was that one ardent treasure hunter went around carving an X into numerous trees to throw off his competition.  The stories abound and some say it is definitely in a line between Mount Tobias and Panther Mountain.  One man spent ages digging along the railroad tracks until the authorities finally stopped him because he was ruining their ballast.  Phoenicia, to this very day, is still besieged by treasure hunters and much has been written and even filmed about the hoard that has yet to be found.  The search goes on as do the searchers. 

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