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folding it gingerly, the latter said: "This is a chart indicating where a million dollars in Spanish gold and a million in Spanish currency are concealed under the floor of a room in a certain house in Santiago; and which was hidden there by my husband that it might not be seized by predatory revolutionists. The people there said that he was a thief; they killed his partner, and they would have also killed him, but by the aid of friends and the liberal use of money we escaped to Buenos Ayres. There I became very sick, and my dear husband sent me to California with $50,000, and confided to me this secret of the hiding place of the money, as he realized that he could never return there and unearth it. It was our intention that he should rejoin me here, after which I should go to Santiago and recover the fortune. But, after a time I ceased to hear from him, and now I shall never be able to fulfil his and my desire to get the money. Therefore, I want you to do so, and, if you get the funds, use a large part of them to build and maintain an Old Ladies' Home in Oakland, as a testimony of my earnest appreciation of the great kindness I have received from so many of the good people here."


Mrs. Smith promised to faithfully execute the terms of Mrs. Kerr's bequest, and then the latter explained the cryptogram, which designated a building on Santa Maria street, opposite the old Catholic cathedral, as the mausoleum of the fortune. This building, the Senor de la Rue, an old friend of the Kerr's, had written them fifteen years previously, called the Hotel Alba. În that building the firm of Williams & Kerr had had its office, and of the suite one was Kerr's private office. This room was one of the largest in the house, was on the ground floor, and could readily be identified because in one corner there was a large block of stone forming a part of the adobe floor. This stone would be found to have chiselled on its nether side a rough similitude of a cross, and at the extremity of one of the arms would be found a small projection of wax, inside of which would be found a valuable ruby ring that before that had been for one hundred and fifty years as an heirloom in Mr. Kerr's antecedents. Directly under the cross and

Aladdin's ring, buried beneath some seven feet of debris, in an excavation made from the solid rock, would be discovered two large iron chests, and one wooden one, which contained the money and many very valuable documents. "Those papers must be burned to the very last shred," shouted the now frenzied woman, and the dazed and fascinated nurse also promised strict compliance with this injunction.

Thus the secret came into the cognizance of Mrs. Smith, and under the proviso that she must be its sole custodian, until such time as it seemed feasible that the measures should be taken to exhume the treasure from its sarcophagus. Shortly after the peculiar and important interview, Mrs. Kerr realized the validity of the quatrain of Omar Khayyam:

""Tis but a tent where takes his one day's rest

A Sultan to the realm of death addresst; The Sultan rises, and the dark Ferrash Strikes and prepares it for another guest."

[merged small][graphic][merged small]

opportunity would present itself for liquidating the expense necessary for the making of the journey and investigation. No such juncture arrived until 1908, when she disclosed the secret to her stepson, A. J. Inger, that he might impart its general tenor to Mr. John H. Young, who was connected with the Southern Pacific Railway. Mr. Young was impressed with the story and the probabilities of the enterprise, and asked Mrs. Smith if he could bring Adolph Ottinger-a man of means, energy and enterprise, and formerly a well-known ticket-broker of San Francisco-to her that he might hear the story and judge whether he would. finance the enterprise. She finally consented and related to Mr. Ottinger the details of the matter, after which he agreed to provide the means for the journey and any other finances requisite for the disclosure of the treasure, but made it a staunch condition before doing so that he should examine the chart, as well as any other papers that might be in the envelope. given by Mrs. Kerr to Mrs. Smith. To this condition Mrs. Smith demurred, but consented to such examination after the expedition had reached Santiago. This and other conditions were agreed upon verbally. Other negotiations were entered upon with the following contractual result:

THIS UNDERSTANDING AND AGREEMENT is entered into by the four following parties: Mrs. A. M. Smith, No. 1; A. J. Inger, No. 2; J. H. Young, No. 3, and A. Ottinger, No. 4. These four parties agree to go together to a certain. city in Cuba for the purpose of procuring a sum of money, gold bars or other valuables, hidden or buried under a certain building in said city. The exact amount of, or the value of, this treasure is not known by any of the parties. The drawings, plans or other information as to the exact location of said valuables are now in possession of Mrs. Smith, who agrees that upon the arrival of the four parties at this city in Cuba, she will at once acquaint the other three parties mentioned above with all the details as to the location of the building and the exact location of the treasure in the building.

Upon arriving at this city, it is agreed that the four parties shall all work to

gether in good faith, each knowing all the facts and details. All shall enter the building together, and all shall be present when any investigation is made. It is further agreed that all papers as to renting, buying or leasing this building shall be made out in favor of J. H. Young, who agrees that he will not enter the said premises, or attempt to start any investigation whatsoever unless all of the four parties are present.

J. H. Young further agrees that after a thorough investigation has been made, not to exceed twenty days after possession has been taken of said building, that he will turn over the title to said property to Mr. Ottinger, who advanced the money to buy same. Upon getting possession of the entire amount of money, gold or other valuables, it is understood that the entire amount shall be brought to the United States before any division is made, unless agreed upon otherwise by a majority of the four.

Mr. Ottinger, for his trouble and for advancing certain sums of money as described below, shall receive for his share the sum of $250,000-this amount to be the very first sum taken from the whole amount at the time of the division. If it should develop that the entire amount and value of the treasury is less than $250,000 it is clearly understood that Mr. Ottinger shall have the full amount of the entire treasure, and neither of the other three parties are to have any claim whatsoever, unless the value is more than $250,000.

Mr. A. Ottinger agrees that he will pay the following expenses, provided the agreement is fulfilled by the parties mentioned, not to exceed $478, which includes all railroad fare, steamship transportation and living expenses; for example, thirtyday trip, $2 per day a person; three persons, $180; two round-trip tickets, San Francisco to New Orleans, $135; sleepers, San Francisco to New Orleans and return, $23; two round-trip steamship tickets New Orleans to Cuba, $90; money advanced Mrs. Smith, $50.

The above estimate does not include the amount that will be required to get possession of the building, as this amount is unknown at the present time, but A. Ottinger does agree to advance a reasonable amount and use every effort with the

other three parties in getting possession of the building.

It is further agreed by the parties mentioned in this agreement that Mr. Ottinger will be reimbursed for all outlay of expenses in connection with this proposition in event of success of this particular matter, but in no case will A. Ottinger be held liable in event that the property herein mentioned cannot be secured, or any other conditions which may arise in connection with the circumstances mentioned herein, and A. Ottinger will be held responsible only for the expenses mentioned in this contract, and not beyond, unless he voluntarily renders such services or assistance as he may deem it advisable to do.


There Mrs. Smith exhibited to Mr. Ottinger the chart, showing the place where the treasure was hidden.

So, consider the exultation and impatience of the hunters, their quarry so close to their eager hands and unreasonable wealth only waiting to be dug up, that would insure them amplitude of comfort and luxury for the remainder of their lives. How they realized the triumphant jubilation of Monte Cristo on his escape from the Chateau d'If and his anticipated acquisition of dominaton over all adversity and trivial obstacles when he held in his grasp the key to pronounced success. But it was particularly needful to proceed circumspectly. Mrs. Smith and Messrs. Young and Inger put up at the Palace

A. M.M.Smith


A. J. Inger


The party left San Francisco on Saturday, June 20, 1908, at 4 p. m., on the Sunset Limited for New Orleans, and thence to Havana, Mr. Ottinger carrying with him a pertinent letter of introduction to Mr. Heinrich Runken, of the banking firm of Upham & Co., of Havana, from the prominent financier, Mr. William H. Crocker, of the Crocker-Woolworth National Bank. Mr. Nate Franklin, an intimate friend of Mr. Ottinger, accompanied them for the pleasure and excitement of the trip. On arrival at Havana, Mr. Ottinger procured from Mr. Runken a letter to Mr. Rudolph Shuman, the Consul-General at Santiago, whither the party arrived on Monday, June 29th.

Hotel, while Messrs. Ottinger and Franklin sought the hospitality of the Venice Hotel. Each of the men was then allotted a specific part of the work to be done: Mr. Ottinger ascertaining all the data about the firm of Williams & Kerr, and its tragic dissolution fifteen

years previously; that the firm had had offices, comprising one or two rooms on the ground floor in the office building rechristened the Hotel Alba, and that the Senor de la Rue, who had written to Mrs. Kerr in Oakland had died about a year before.

During this research, Mr. Young had visited the Alba and had casually inquired of Boniface Margo Silhoma whether he could obtain some rooms in his hotel for the purpose of storing goods. Senor Silhoma replied "manana," in the procrastinating Spanish way, and as a very unsatisfactory definition of the time when any such arrangement might be made. Mr. Young, however, gained permission to look around and see whether some of the rooms were suitable for his ostensible purpose. He found that a large corridor of the hotel opened into the street, and on one side thereof, also abutting on the street, was a saloon, immediately to the rear of which was a room, numbered 6, filled with old plunder. In

the rear of room 6 was another numbered 7, and the door being open, Young entered it and looked around. His heart almost ceased its function, and his breath came hard and fast as he saw in one corner a large block of stone set in the earthen floor. Assuming an imperturbability he was far from feeling, he entered the saloon, partook of a draught of villainous aguadiente, had a little conversation with the Ganymede, whereby he acquired a little valid data and walked out. He immediately saw his three associates and informed them that he had found the room designated as the repository in the diagram and identified the stone beneath which was the presumptive cache.

make a plausible showing, put several to-
bacco boxes and whisky barrels in
room; the thrifty Ottinger asserting that
they could be advantageously utilized in
packing away the concealed gold on its
liberation. Thus far all had gone well
and the time arrived for the initiatory
digging toward their enrichment.

The prospective diggers obtained picks and spades, but forbore their use, as they found that there were a good many residents in the Hotel Alba, and they were nervously apprehensive of any interruption or detection. But, at last, on Friday, July 3d, at the hour of midnight, they entered room 7 with a supply of candles and a diamond drill that promoter Ottinger had purchased for $35. They pried up the ominous block of stone, and found on the under side a roughly chiseled cross, and on one of its arms a protuberance of what was apparently wax. Removing the cerement, Mr. Ottinger disclosed a magni

Not a great amount of sleep was indulged in by the entities of the quartette that night. The ensuing morning Ottinger instructed Young to lease the saloon and the two contiguous rooms 6 and 7, if the landlord "didn't want the earth" as his compensation. Young accordingly waited on Senor Silhoma and submitted his proposition, alleging that he desired to transform the leased premises into a firstclass American saloon. Senor Silhoma said he would rent them for $37.50 a month, if the owner of the hotel would acquiesce in the arrangement. The proprietor, Senor Silverstina, however, positively declined to allow the sub-letting, and further disappointed Young by stating that the landlord would forfeit his lease if he entered into any such contract. The chagrined Young then waited on Ottinger and asserted that they would have to buy the hotel for $25,000, but this proposition Ottinger refused to accede to until he had seen what lay under the important block of moved the treasure. stone. Ultimately, Inger and Young hired rooms in the hotel for themselves, and also obtained room seven as a storeroom for their goods, paying therefor $30 for thirty days' occupancy, and, to

Diagram showing the treasure hunters at work. The figure in the lower channel is that of the man who re

ficent ruby ring. By this time the candles carried by Young and Inger were wobbling about in their tremulous hands, and grease indiscriminately scattered about theirs and Ottinger's clothing; the latter



conceding that he was in such a tensely nervous condition that he could not have held a candle at all. He started to work with the diamond drill, and soon found that it was not encountering rock, but was penetrating earth or debris, thus once more corroborating the allegations of the chart. He shortly thereafter pulled up the drill and found some splinters wood adhering to its point, whereupon he joyously, but quietly, remarked: "Boys, we've got the fortune now; it's a cinch!" Their delving had then to be discontinued as daylight was approaching, so they discreetly stole away to resume operations on the night of Independence Day, a time that they fervently hoped would set on their lack of financial independ


July 4th was fearfully hot, and the searchers were ravenous for the resumption of their hunt, so to try and make the time less apparent in its tardy passing, they visited San Juan Hill and re-peopled it with the contending troops and the impetuous Colonel Roosevelt, although their thoughts continuously reverted from the hill to the hole in the corner of room 7. At last the superheated day and evening drooled away, and at midnight, Young, Inger and Ottinger were, by turns, steadily shoveling out the dirt from the hole, frequently picking up coins scattered through the fragmentary mass. They ultimately reached two iron chests and a wooden chest, or box, all empty and with their lids pried open, and their golden aspirations were lurched to the bitterest disappointment.

In the early gray of the morning, they discerned a ray of light enter the hole, and descried that it came from a tunnel leading to the outside, and that instantly solved the mystery of the empty chests and broken box, and of the waterhaul they had made in lieu of the magnificent plunder they had reasonably anticipated. The coins they had found proved to be gold, and worth $1,243, so that those, with the ruby ring, would more than compensate for the expenses of the trip-so buoyant before the chests were attained, so disappointing afterward.

The ruby ring was given to Mrs. Smith and the $243 divided between the three men, Ottinger receiving in addition the

$1,000 as remuneration for the money spent.

The day after the evanescence of the two millions, Mr. Ottinger visited the lot contiguous to the hotel, and found a fence surrounding it, but with a hole in it, through which he entered. He then saw a small bungalow about eight feet from the side of the hotel, and adjacent to the wall of room 7. This bungalow he entered, and there saw the mouth of the tunnel leading from its floor to the former cache of the treasure; the tunnel having been hewn through the solid rock, obviously by the explorer who had distanced the quartette in the attainment of the wealth. So to satisfy his curiosity in the matter, Ottinger asked Consul Shuman to introduce him to one of the oldest residents of Santiago, and he thus made the acquaintance of Senor Laredo. Ottinger asked him who had built a high fence around the vacant lot adjacent to the hotel (into which the sole window of room 7 opened) and was informed that a Spanish priest had come from Buenos Ayres about 1899 or 1900, had bought the lot, fenced it in, and built the little bungalow near the corner on which room No. 7 abutted. Laredo also told him that the padre had bought the former home of the Kerr's (where their only son had died of smallpox but a few days before their flight) situated near the gas-works, which fine gas works Senor Laredo also said had been built by Kerr for the city. He likewise stated that the padre had been very reticent, and had lived a secluded existence; that he ultimately sold the properties for much less than he had paid for them, and disappeared from the Santiago purview, as did very shortly afterward the chagrined quartette.


The reasonable presumption is, about the time Mrs. Kerr ceased hearing from her husband he was mortally sick, and called in the padre to receive the last consolatory offices of the Roman Catholic Church; that in his last confession, he imparted the secret of the cache to his confessor, who utilized it either for his personal or clerical aggrandizement, and, very naturally and expediently, forebore communicating with any kinsfolk of Kerr. If this surmise be correct, and this narrative is read by the Farther or any

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