Treasure Finds and Stories
Orange Grove Yields Strongbox with Thousands of Dollars
TAMPA - For decades adventurers have plied the shores of Florida's peninsula in search of sunken riches, mostly in vain. But James S. had only to sink a shovel in an orange grove. A few feet beneath the rich black soil he clanged against an old metal box containing four bills in denominations from $100 to $1,000 dating back to 1839. Two of them were issued by United States banks prior to the Civil War. The oldest, from the Clinton Bank of Philadelphia, was issued to a Samuel Benedict for $100 on December 2, 1839. The others were Confederate currency.
"I'd just set out to plant a couple orange trees," said the auto leasing company worker. He had recently bought a small parcel of land in nearby rural Pasco County. "I knew it had to be something solid," he said. "So I just kept digging" and uncovered the steel container. "IT MUST have been three-sixteenth steel, but when I handled it, it just flaked away it was so rusty," he said. He tried piecing it back together without success. But age didn't spoil the currency. The large bills, wrapped in butcher paper, were only slightly discolored, he stated. The city dweller, turned farmer and prospector, said he intends to hold onto his finds until he determines its value.