Searching for Missing Treasure
When the producers of a popular TV series about a lost Civil War treasure came calling last summer, Rob Proctor wasn’t too surprised.
After all, his great-great-grandfather, Gen. Benjamin Pritchard, led the Union cavalry regiment that captured Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, just months after the Civil War ended in 1865.
“The general was regarded as a Civil War hero in his hometown of Allegan, Mich.,” says Rob, who works for State Farm® in Atlanta. He now lives less than 200 miles from where Davis was captured in Irwinville, Ga. “Legend has it that my great-great-grandfather hid some Confederate gold in or around his house in Allegan. Or at least that’s always been part of our family lore.”
This legend is part of what drew the TV show’s producers to Michigan. This is the second season of the show, which follows a hunt for $2 million in lost Confederate gold believed to be worth as much as $140 million today. The alleged treasure was rumored to be ferreted away by Confederate President Jefferson Davis on the run from Union soldiers.
On the series, treasure hunters track down clues based on research and interviews with relatives.
“After Jefferson Davis was arrested, it was rumored my great-great-grandfather was under orders from Col. Robert Minty to help steal Davis’s six wagons filled with Confederate gold,” Rob says. “He was to help hide the wagons until the gold could be laundered in Muskegon, Mich., philanthropist Charles Hackley’s gold mines in Utah some 30 years later. They also were reported to have dumped a box of gold bars into Lake Michigan.”
Rob was featured on the episode of titled, “The Pritchard Connection.”
“The episode was based on conspiracy, corruption and greed. They have theories about the lost treasure but no proof it ever existed. It’s reality TV so I think they may sacrifice a little historical accuracy to make it more entertaining,” he says. “I have doubts the Confederacy had $2 million in gold at the end of the war because they basically were broke. Confederate soldiers were said to have not been paid in quite a while.”
Before the Civil War, Gen. Pritchard was a school teacher and an attorney. Upon his return to Michigan, he was the state land commissioner and opened the First National Bank of Allegan.
The producers came to the Pritchard House in Allegan with machines to examine the three acres surrounding the house and the basement for hidden treasures and tunnels. Rob was at the dig even though he sold the family home in 2007.
“They found two coins and a 3-foot space under the bricks in the basement but no gold,” Rob says. “I’m not sure how much gold could be hidden in a 3-foot space. I guess the legend continues.”