By Judy Wade
Oro! Spanish gold! Many have sought it, but few have found it. U. S. Sherman Joines is one of the rare exceptions.
The story begins in 1759 when Colonel Parilla, a Spanish army officer, led his troops to what is now known as Spanish Fort, Texas, to a village of Taovayah Indians on the Red River. He was sent to punish the Indians for the devastation of the San Saba, Texas, mission, taking treasure with him.
He found not the typical Indian village but a fort occupied with 2,000 to 6,000 Indians armed with muskets.
The Spanish were soundly defeated and the survivors retreated to a cave across the river in what is now Oklahoma, taking their brass cannon and treasure with them. When they tried to leave the cave, they were murdered by the Indians. In the 1880s, five men were chasing two panthers they had tracked from Mud Creek. Pursued by the men’s dogs, one of the panthers ran into a rocky crevasse. The hunters began removing stones to allow the dogs to get to the panther and discovered the entrance to a large cave. Sherman Joines was one of the men.
To their surprise, the men discovered a brass cannon, pack saddles, swords, blunderbusses, coats of mail, some Spanish books and treasure—about $25,000 worth of Spanish gold and silver coins, three silver ingots and two gold crucifixes. No mention was made of what happened to the panther.
Years later, Joines returned and bought the land where the cave sat. In 1896, they completed a house on the site—all paid for with his portion of the treasure. The house, made of sandstone hauled for some distance from Mud Creek by wagons, took five years to build.
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