Climbing Life’s Mountains: Arizona Pioneer Stories and Faith-Promoting Experiences, collected by Edith Smith Bushman 1941-1972; compiled and published by The A. E. Bushman Family Organization, 1993, pp 1-3
The Gold Story
By Andrew Locy Rogers Sr.
What would you do if you found a fortune?
I was the sheep “Herder” for the Mormon colony located at Sunset (Winslow), Arizona on the Little Colorado River. It was Pioneer Day in Utah, July 24, 1882, and I was trailing the herd about 80 miles southwest of Winslow and 18 miles south of Flagstaff. This area had been known as the Mormon Dairy but is now called Mormon Lake. It was on the south slope of the mountain in beautiful woods of pine and oak.
As my sheep nibbled along my eye caught sight of something round and yellow. “Funny looking oak leaves” was my first thought. On nearer approach I discovered a pile of $20 gold pieces, something over $6,000. At once I started to put them into my pockets but they would not hold them. I took off my coat and tied a buckstring around the end of the sleeve and put the money in it. I had to keep changing it from one shoulder to the other as I hurried after my sheep which were now out of sight.
That night a sort of fear came over me as darkness settled over my camp. I remembered Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” and had visions of daggers, robbers and desperadoes. As a matter of safety for my treasure, I dug a hole in the ground and put the money in it. I smoothed the surface and then made my bed over it.
Next morning bright and early I went to the cheese factory and told Brother Burk. He was the one in charge of the cattle and horses. I had heard that the Casner brothers, Mose and Rile, had lost some gold and I wanted the owners to get it back. I asked Brother Burk to go and tell the Casner brothers, who lived on a ranch some ten or fifteen miles west over the mountain on Oak Creek, to come and get their money. Burk was the only one I told until it was save in the hands of the ranchers. I did not even tell my wife or President Lot Smith. Perhaps it is just as well that I did not for had the story got noised around there might have been a different story to tell.
When the Casners saw their gold their eyes bulged out and one of them said, “Rogers, the had of God is in this. You are the right man to have found this gold for if anybody else had found it we never would have seen it.” Perhaps he was right for in conversation with the ranchers and others, they told me they had hunted for days and weeks for the same lost gold (it’s being lost was known far and wide) and had made up their minds fully that if they found it no soul living would get it away from them.
The story of the lost gold is like a dime novel. Six years previous another Casner brother, who was in the sheep business, sold his wool and lambs. His herder knew of the money in camp and one day played sick so the boss went out with the sheep. He had an Indian boy in camp and the herder sent him to the spring for water. The little fellow happened to look back over his shoulder and saw the herder getting away with the money. The boy went and told the boss who immediately mounted his horse and made chase. The herder had tied the sack with the money in behind him on the saddle but in his hurry to get away had not tied it securely.
In the race through the wood the sack shifted to one side and broke the string. Putting his hand back and finding the money gone he stopped. The owner had not caught up with him so he built a little monument. He thought he could get off with his neck safe and come back for the money later. He saw the boss coming and tried to make his get away but he was soon overtaken and strung up to the limb of a tree. By some miracle he made the boss believe he had lost the money. Then the search began.
There was one monument not more than ten steps from the treasure and another farther away but the gold was never found. The subsequent fate of the herder was that he was killed with other outlaws in an attempted hold up.
The Casners gave me ten pieces of gold, $200. They gave Brother Burk 3 pieces, $60. For my part, I paid my tithing, $20. I gave to my father $100 and $40 to my wife’s mother. We were advised by President Erastus Snow to own good firearms so I bought a Winchester rifle out of the remaining $40 and the balance when to buy baby clothes.
Many comments have been made; some in my favor and some against me for what I did. Among those I prize most are the following two:
A successful and prominent business man led his small son up to me and said, “My son, meet the man who found a pot of gold and gave it back to the owners.” The other from one of the most lovable and best of men on earth. He praised me for my honesty and integrity in the matter. His name was President John Henry Smith.
Andrew Locy Rogers, Sr.
Footnote by Edith S. Bushman –April 23, 1941
The man who had the above experience is Andrew Locy Rogers Sr., son of Sister Aurelia S. Rogers, founder of the Primary Association. His large family was mostly born and raised in Snowflake, Arizona. Uncle Locy or “Honest Locy,” as he is loving known in Northern Arizona, is now a regular patron at the Salt Lake Temple and attends four sessions a day. He is in his eighties and is one of those sturdy, honest Arizona Pioneers who responded to the call of President Brigham Young to make a home in Arizona.
Note: Andrew Locy Rogers Jr. married Rebecca Smith, daughter of Jesse Nathaniel Smith. Two of her sisters married Bushman boys, Preston Ammaron and Homer Frederick.
Here is another accounting of this story which I’ve typed from the book by Roberta Flake Clayton called “Pioneer Men of Arizona,” pp. 415-417:
This history is found in “Pioneer Men of Arizona,” by Roberta Flake Clayton, pp. 415-417. Andrew Locy Rogers was born 19 Dec. 1854. He was the son of Thomas and Aurella Spencer Rogers. His mother started the Primary program of the Latter-day Saints Church to help keep the children busy and off the streets. Grandpa, as we all called him, grew up as any happy, normal boy–very much alive and anxious to get started on all the right experiences that were to fill his life.
In 1876 he was called with 200 others, to settle Arizona. He sold his property in Farmington, Utah and with 2 yoke of oxen and a year’s supply of provisions, he was on his way. It was winter. They walked most of the way pushing their wagons through mud holes and up snowy grades with always the fear of Indian raids or outlaws.
When they reached the Colorado River dams were made and crops planted. Here they lived the United Order as Enoch’s people of Bible Days did, and the Lord blessed them.
Grandpa made a trip back to Utah and married Clara Gleason, a lovely, refined girl who had a hard time accepting the hard life of a pioneer woman. They had a family of ten children, only Clara and Thora are still living. Rogers Brothers (Marion, Chase, Bige, and Roy) were known all over Arizona for their building of roads.
While living the United Order, Grandpa was put in charge of the sheep. Here is his “Gold Story” copied from his life’s history: “Here and now I may tell the story of the lost gold that I suppose has done more to hand down my name than most anything I ever did.
It was in this same forest near where the lost sheep were found, to be exact. The camp was at a spring, just south of what is now known as Mormon Mountain, just west of Mormon Lake some 15 miles south of Flagstaff. It was in the fall of the year. My wife and babies, we had two then, were at the dairy some two miles away. It was in the year of 1882. In the afternoon, I was trailing my sheep, the oak leaves had frosted and turned yellow. They were in the nature of crows’ feet pecked. I saw something just ahead of me that was round and yellow. Thought I, that is funny looking oak leaves. The next step brought me up to a pile of $20 gold pieces that had been lost and lain there for six years. The rains, snow and frost had stained them. Frost had fastened the color of the oak leaves upon them. I stopped to pick up the treasure and commenced to put it in my pockets but they would not hold it, so I took off my coat, tied the sleeves with a string and dropped the money in. There was something over $6000, then I hurried on after my sheep which by the time were out of sight, and with all this fortune in gold in my possession, it weighted like a chunk of lead as I threw it over my shoulder, for I had more concern about my sheep than I did about the money, but as night came on, with the sheep snug in camp, I began to worry. Suppose some desperado or other lawless person saw me pick up that money and would only wait till night to come and take it away from me, so I dug a hole in the ground, dropped the money in and made my bunk over it. I didn’t sleep much that night but when I did doze off, I could see desperate men with drawn daggers demanding that money or my life.
I’ll merely say that the next morning, I was relieved and sent immediately to Heube Burk, a friend who was running the cattle and horses of the Order Company, and was at the dairy, to ride over to Oak Creek, over the mountain west and tell the Kasner Brothers, named Moses and Rile, to come and get their money. They came and when they saw the gold their eyes bulged out and in their excitement they threw up their hands and said, ‘Rogers, there must be a God in this, for if anybody but you had found it, we never would have seen it,’ and they perhaps were right for ranchers told me afterwards that they had hunted for that gold for days and had made up their minds that the Kasners never would have seen a cent of it. The Kasners quickly picked up ten pieces, $200, and threw to me, and two pieces, or $40 to Burk, and rode off home happy, and I was happy to be relieved of the responsibility of holding somebody else’s money.
The story went out afterwards that they had offered half to any one that would find it, but that was no affair of mine. The money was theirs not mine, and I acted the same as one should that found a neighbor’s jack knife and restored it to him. The story of the lost gold reads like a time novel:
About the year 1876, a sheep man named Kasner, had sold lambs and wool to the amount of over $6000, all in $20 gold pieces. He had the money in camp. It was housed in a buckskin sack than a seamless sack, then a gunny sack to make it appear like it was some old junk. The herder knew that the money was in camp. He made out like he was ill; and got the Kasner boys to go out with the sheep while he got away with the money. They had a little Indian boy in camp who the herder sent to the spring for water while he was making ready to leave with the money, but the little fellow looked back over his shoulder and saw the herder getting away. Instead of coming back to camp with the water, he ran out to the herd and told the boss. The money was gone. The boss left the boy with the sheep, jumped on his horse and a desperate race was on. The herder in his haste to get away, tied the money behind him with saddle strings, but one of the strings came loose and that left the money hanging by one string which soon broke and let the money drop to the ground. Just awhile before, the herder put his hand back and found the money was there, then he felt again and it was gone. He stopped and built a little monument and then rode packe on his trail and put up another so when he at some other time could come back, he could pick it up, but during this interval, he lost time and the boss overhauled him. He threw a rope around his neck and strung him up to the limb of a tree, and was about to choke him to death but was finally convinced that the money was lost and let him go.
He, the herder, was later killed trying to hold up a train in southern Arizona, but the money, though hunted for high and low, never was found until I picked it up six years later. After the snow, winds, fire and storm had swept every vestige of covering from it except one little piece of gunny sack that had tumbled under a rock, and sure enough the monuments were there. One was not more than two rods from where I found the money. I paid my tithing out of my $200, I gave my father $80 and my mother-in-law $40. I bought a Winchester rifle with teh $24 and the rest I spent for different essentials.
The two Kasner brothers, Mose and Rile, were the next in kin to the owner, who died. They, it was later told, got into trouble and killed a negro and it cost them all of their money to get clear, making the saying come true that “gold is the root of all evil.”
He made his home in Snowflake and was known by neighbors and friends as “Uncle Locy.” He loved people. All he owned belonged to anyone who needed it. He filled 3 missions for his Church, and had a strong testimony of its truthfulness. He hitch-hiked all over the U. S. because it gave him and opportunity to tell those kind enough to pick him up about the true church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He worked in most of the organizations of the Church during his lifetime.
His slogan for good health was hard work with good exercise both night and morning and not too much food. When an old man, he was still able to work in the fields and pitch hay right along with the boys.
He was a great man–unassuming, wise and generous. He was loved by all who knew him. He was a friend to everyone. He loved good literature and memorized many famous poems.