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.
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.