From the Cleburne Times-Review
Southwestern Johnson County, otherwise known as the Goatneck area, contains several well-known landmarks, some recognized by Indians before whites arrived. Many tales have been associated with these landmarks, which include the Five Oaks, Klondike Mountain and Bee Mountain.
While looking through some files of old letters and newspaper clippings at the Cleburne Public Library I ran across two stories of buried treasure in this area that I will share with you.
One letter, typewritten and undated, reads: "Mrs. Thomas, Mrs. Battle's mother, bought the ranch in 1917 from Mrs. Otho Huston.
"The following is the story of the buried treasure as Mrs. Battle has heard from the natives.
The Mexicans and Indians both lived together in this vicinity many, many years ago. In the east field there are many Muscle shells [they ate the mussel, as the animal was called, which lived between the shells] and pieces of arrow heads and flint. The Indians were living here and the Mexicans brought in what was termed five jack loads of gold, which was buried on Klondike Mountain.
"Since Mrs. Battle has been living on Klondike Ranch a man from Fort Worth sought a permit to dig for treasure, which was granted. His story was that he lived in Stephenville and had a very old Mexican working for him. On his death bed the Mexican sent for him and told him the story of the buried treasure at Klondike; gave him an old chart showing the location from Bee Mountain across the river to Klondike Mountain. The old Mexican's story was that when the Spaniards finished burying the treasure they buried the Indians alive that helped with the work. They did this to cover their trail so there would not be any one to tell the secret hiding place of the buried gold. This story had been handed down to him.
"The man digging for the treasure was put under bond and given a three-month contract. He found an Indian grave with Indian bones but no treasure. Mrs. Battle keeps part of the bones in a basket in the living room of the Klondike house. The prospector was so bothered by the native people of this section, or Goatneck, as it is called, that Mrs. Battle had to provide a guard for him. There were many telephone calls from Fort Worth and Cleburne every day while the man was there working.
"The Goatneck vicinity is a law unto itself. No one dares to really interfere with whatever the natives are doing, be it legal or not.
"In walking over the mountain after reaching the top, it sounds hollow. Mrs. Battle said that there was a cave that extended back into the mountain they did not know how far, as it had not been explored so very far. It could not be explored in the summer on account of the rattle snakes."
I thought this was a very interesting story, and then I found a newspaper clipping, undated, of an interview with a Mrs. Stella Teasdale of 310 N. Walnut. Here is a portion of that interview.
"Probably nobody in Cleburne is more interested in the old Chisholm Trail than Mrs. Teasdale. She was born in 1885 in a house where the Old Sexton mansion once stood in the rugged, picturesque Klondike country. Her father, Henry Grafa, was a ranch man.
"'The cattle went right by the ranch house,' said Mrs. Teasdale. 'They were stopped by cedar fences.'
"Mrs. Teasdale's mother, Phoebe Witham, came to Cleburne shortly after it was founded and purchased property from Col. Chambers, one of the city's founders.
"Mrs. Teasdale spoke of rumors of buried treasure near the old Chisholm Trail in the Klondike Country.
'My mother's father came to her in a dream and told her, "Why haven't you dug up the treasure?"' said Mrs. Teasdale.
"Then her mother would send Mrs. Teasdale's older brother, Olin, to search for the treasure. Olin Grafa is still living on a ranch near Cresson.
"Mrs. Teasdale said the 'treasure' was probably stolen loot from an early-day holdup, buried in the Klondike Country by bandits with lawmen hot on their trail.
"Mrs. Teasdale recalled the search for the buried treasure with vividness.
"'We'd creep around there at night,' she said. 'The man who owned the property would come down there with a lantern and tell us, "I don't want any holes."
"'Actually, he just wanted to see where we were digging. I don't know how many people were out there digging for it. There's something buried down there.'
"'I was really frightened,' Mrs. Teasdale said of her experience digging for the buried treasure. 'It was one of the most eerie things I have ever done in my life. It was the most exciting thing in the world.'
"For many years some folks have maintained belief that treasure is still buried in the Klondike Country.
"'Does anybody ever dig for the treasure any more?' Mrs. Teasdale was asked.
"'Oh yes,' Mrs. Teasdale laughed. 'I'm still digging.'"
Could this treasure Mrs. Teasdale's grandfather told her mother about in a dream have been the Spanish gold rather than the bandit loot that Mrs. Teasdale thought it was?
There are many other interesting stories of people and places of Johnson County on file in the genealogy section of the Cleburne Public Library. A good New Year's resolution might be to learn more about where you live and about your ancestors. The public library is a good place to start. Women from the Johnson County genealogy group are there every Tuesday morning to help with your research.