There are people out there who have dedicated their entire lives to finding hidden treasures. If it is rumored to be hidden in a specific place, then you can be assured that they will be people that will go out of their way to look for it. One example of this treasure hunting fever is the rumored treasure located in Nova Scotia’s Oak Island.
About Oak Island
Oak Island is 140-acre island located in the Lunenburg County on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. The tree-covered island is part of a collection of 360 islands in Mohane Bay. While largely desolate, the nearest living establishment is in the rural community of Western Shore, with the nearest village being Chester.
The island has been a subject for treasure hunters ever since the 1700s, with rumors that Captain Kidd’s treasure was buried in the area. While there is very little evidence of this, stories began to be published and documented as early as the 1850s. Since then, a litany of conspiracies and theories that extend beyond that of Captain Kidd started to spread, including the rumors of possible religious artifacts, manuscripts, and even the alleged personal jewels of Marie Antoinette.
New, Groundbreaking Discovery
The history of the island is riddled with several private owners, including notable names like the Lagina’s and the Blankenship’s. Most private owners purchased the island to live out the rest of their lives looking for the speculated treasure and truly immersing themselves in the local folklore. Areas of interest on the island included the infamous “Money Pit”. This is allegedly the original searcher’s spot, and it is a highly trafficked area with private owners continuously trying to excavate the land to try to locate this buried treasure. For more than 200 years, the mystery of Oak Island has plagued the minds of enthusiastic treasure hunters — and current owners Rick and Marty Lagina might’ve had a breakthrough.
The Curse of Oak Island
Local folklore claim that seven people had died because of Oak Island. Currently, six lives have been lost in the pursuit of the alleged treasure. Maynard Kaiser represents one of the six lives lost, with Kaiser’s relationship with the island being the most interesting, hinting a likely curse.
Kaiser was born sometime in 1847. In 1897, Kaiser was standing in a tub waiting to be lowered into the Money Pit, when he lost his balance and fell, receiving fatal injuries. Two days later, local newspaper Lunenburg Progress explained Kaiser’s death, revealing that when Kaiser was drawing water from the Money Pit, one of the buckets became entangled, causing Kaiser to fall. Upon impact, he died instantly. Oddly enough, this incident was after he discovering a piece of sheepskin with an obscure message on it. His death had long-reaching effects, with local workers who were working on excavating projects to strike and stop work altogether. Due to his death, there was speculation and that there are a series of tunnels in and around Oak Island that leads to the Money Pit.
Lagina Big Payoff
After investing in Oak Island, the Lagina brothers were able to secure a TV show focused on the unique treasures that were hidden within Oak Island. It wouldn’t be long before the brothers made a huge discovery.
They were able to excavate a Spanish copper coin that was believed to be made sometime in the 17th century. Several years later, in season three of their show, they were able to find several artifacts, including a Roman sword that suggested that Romans visited the island several thousand years ago. Upon the artifacts, the brothers also found several Portuguese carvings and items linked to the Aztecs.
Finding a Treasure Map
Things started to heat up when the brothers were able to excavate a treasure map. They found a handmade copy of a French map dating back to the 1640s. The map suggests that the proposed treasure can be traced back to somewhere in Africa.
Another impressive find was a piece of material that is believed to be part of a book, specifically bookbinding. The Lagina brothers believe that it was more than likely that there were manuscripts in Oak Island.
Parchment Made Out Of Animal Skin
Another item of interest is a piece of parchment that connected to a text exchange between Frederick Blair and William Chappell. It is believed that the parchment traces back to the 17th century, and possibly very important because written forms of communication were only common among aristocrats and kings.
Craig Wants to Freeze the Money Pit
The Lagina brothers thought that freezing the Money Pit can make excavation of the site much easier. Water was getting in the way of possible excavation, so by freezing it, the water can be removed much more readily and efficiently.
In 2006, the brothers bought Oak Island Tours to substantially increase their treasure hunting efforts. Part of the company was owned by the Blankenship family, who were also passionate treasure hunters. It only made sense for the Lagina brothers and the Blankenship’s to partner up to pursue their shared goals.
Discovery after Discovery
Marty Lagina was a bit cautious, making sure that he and his family didn’t go ahead themselves. He believed that something extraordinary happened on the island much earlier in its history than previously thought. While most recorded history date the exploration of the island to the 1700s, it’s possible that their findings point to earlier exploration attempts.
It All Started with the Three Boys
Daniel McGinnis found a circular cavity on Oak Island. With his friends John Smith and Anthony Vaughn, the friends dug 30 feet into the ground, eventually reaching a hard, solid surface. This possibly led to increased exploration of the island, as well and organized investigations in the 18th century.
A Strange Tablet
A few years have passed since any major discovery, with the Onslow Company picking up after Daniel and his friends lost interest. Despite the company causing a flood due to drilling, they were able to find a mysterious tablet. It would take about a century before the tablet’s text was deciphered. One professor believed that it read: “40 feet below, 2 million pounds lie buried” — since then, several researchers would drill into the area to look for the suggested treasure.
Chapelle was one of the more prominent researchers of Oak Island. He was one of the first people to find gold on the island. He and his family tried to look for treasure. However, they struggled, never being able to properly locate the Money Pit.
Chapelle finally had a major discovery — he found an anchor flute that was found on the side of the tunnel. There was also a unique instrument that resembled an Acadian ax. An oil lamp was also found. Chapelle spent more than $40,000 during his excavating excursions. Unfortunately, his company was forced to suspend their excavation efforts in 1932.
Here comes Gilbert Hedden
Hedden resumed excavation efforts after Chapelle quit. He was a new Money Pit enthusiast. He was convinced that there was pirated treasure in Oak Island. A few years later, Hedden purchased part of the island and hired a drilling company so he could commence his excavation.
After several failed attempts, Hedden was in a position where the lack of substantial findings didn’t justify his commitment. In 1938, he halted his project. However, he felt that he needed some sort of recognition after doing all of that work. He contacted King George VI for some recognition.
Recent Developments: The Shaft
The Lagina brothers believe that a recently discovered shaft was constructed in 1805 by individuals who originally discovered the Money Pit. They were just scratching the surface. The discovery of the shaft paved the way for a series of findings. The brothers have discovered a whopping 600 pieces of unique artifacts since they first started exploring the Money Pit and Oak Island.
They were even able to find human bone remnants that belong to someone of Middle Eastern descent. Another bone in the same hole was of European descent. The brothers expressed excitement about the discovery and thought that they discovered a potential connection to the Knights of Templar.
Do The Lagina Brothers Have Answers?
The Lagina brothers have dedicated their entire lives to demystify Oak Island and its mysteries. While many of those years have amounted to little success, their most recent treasure hunting efforts have been the most fruitful — so much so that they attracted A&E, the major television network. Their newfound notoriety required them to be more introspective.
At just 10 years of age, they determined their career paths — treasure hunters. Rick first found success as a young boy in Kingsford, where he found a large granite boulder. He recruited his friends and his brother to see what was beneath the rock. They didn’t find anything — but this sparked Rick’s and then Marty’s curiosity in treasure hunting.
Metal detecting expert Gary Drayton partnered up with the Lagina brothers. Towards the end of the Lagina brother’s televised series, The Curse of Oak Island, Gary and the Lagina brothers focused on Smith’s Cove. There, they found a medieval lead cross that Gary believes has a square hole on the top, which can trace back to the years 1200 and 1600. The cross was also discovered with a mysterious stone that had the letters “H” and “O”. These were thought to represent “Eta” and “Theta”. It reminded them of a Templar prison. If the connection between Oak Island and the Knights Templar was valid, then they were one step closer to decipher many of Oak Island’s artifacts, as well as eventually demystify its persistent folklore. Was It a Goddess?
Even though the mainstream thought was that there was a potential connection between Oak Island and the Knights of Templar, historian Zena Halpern thought that the cross might not be a Christian cross at all — instead, it could be a depiction of the Phoenician goddess, Tanit. The ancient Templars revered Tanit, who was a goddess of love. Pair this up with the Middle Eastern bone, and Zena believes that the history of Oak Island intersects Abrahamic religion, Middle Eastern and Christian histories.
Another theory about these crosses might be more materialistic. The team thought that lead, which the cross consisted of, could’ve been smuggled into Oak Island.
The Precious Rhodolite Stone
The Lagina’s also discovered a rhodolite stone that was between 400 and 500 years old. Essentially, this was the first remnants of actual treasure that the Lagina brothers found. While some speculated that the stone had masonic origins, there were the alternative possibilities of the stone tracing back to the legend of Marie Antoinette.
War Could’ve Brought Treasures To Oak Island
One of the biggest reasons why researchers believe why so much treasure can be on Oak Island is because many wars have been fought in and around the area. The French and Indian War and the Seven Years War Involved Oak Island and Surrounding Area in Nova Scotia.
There’s A Money Pit Somewhere
Oak Island has seen almost 200 years of active treasure hunting. So many theories such as the Holy Grail and manuscripts from Shakespeare and the supposed treasure from Captain Kidd, seem to capture the imagination of many. Despite all of these theories, one thing is agreed upon: there is a Money Pit that may have money in it somewhere in the area.
One theory that was peddled by the Lagina brothers and their team was the idea of Sir Francis Drake arriving at the island at some point. They believed that he had the ability and skills to build something similar to the Money Pit. Drake’s unique knowledge about coastal mining could explain where Oak Island’s flood tunnels came from.
Their love for treasure hunting has allowed the Lagina brothers to make a killing ever since turning their dream into a popular TV show on A&E. Rick owns part of the Oak Island and is doing well working in tandem with the History Channel. His hard work has paid off, with his network hovering at around $2 million. His brother, Marty, opened up a business and has a net worth of $50 million.