The Last Confederate Gold
By George Burris, Staff Reporter
From Give ‘Em Pumpkin to Talk About
By Joyce and Jim Lavene
I’ve lived in Misty River, Virginia all my life. I’ve heard stories since I was a small child about missing Confederate gold that might or might not have saved the South’s cause.
It was this reporter’s information that a wagon of gold collected from Confederate sympathizers inspired many treasure hunters to take up picks and shovels.
The event takes place in 1861 as Jefferson Davis decides to move the capitol of the Southern States from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia. This was in part to keep Virginia from leaving the cause and in part to keep the roughly estimated $30 million in gold from falling into Federal hands as Sherman marched through the South.
The money was taken secretly by wagonload during the dark night. Outriders protected the already heavily guarded wagons but several were reported lost during the trek.
One of these wagons was guarded by three men from Misty River. The three – led by the legendary Big Mike Denning – were close to home when they were ambushed by rogue Union forces. They barely fought them back and took shelter at a friendly farm for the night.
During that long night, the three men discussed hiding the gold until they were reunited with other members of their unit that were supposed to follow. They hit upon a plan to do just that, and with the help of the farmer, they hid the gold and lay claim to a large tract of land they swore to share.
These were trying times of hunger and fear. No one was sure what would happen or how the war would end. The three men stayed close together, watching over the treasure that could help their cause.
They didn’t realize the passage of time until a rumor was heard that Robert E. Lee was surrendering to the Union Army. Already there was word that President Jeff Davis had fled the capitol in Richmond. No one knew what was true. There were no newspapers to report, no TV or radio to tell people who sheltered in their homes that it was safe to come out.
The war ended. The gold was never found. Treasure hunters have searched far and wide for it, mostly deciding that it is to be found on the Denning farm. But if pick and shovel could reveal it, that moment has not happened.
I ask how many more will die before this elusive gold is found and recovered – if ever? Big Mike Denning and his comrades did a good job hiding their deed.
I have interviewed the present owners of the farm, Elizabeth and Thomas Denning. They tell me countless treasure hunters visit their farm each year. Each one is a nuisance and they ask that they stop trying to find the gold.
“If it was here, “ Tommy Denning said. “Someone would’ve found it by now. In the meantime, this land is private property and anyone who doesn’t respect that might find himself with a load of buckshot coming his way!”
Give 'Em Pumpkin to Talk About by Joyce and Jim Lavene
The First Pumpkin Patch Mystery
Sarah Tucker has returned to Misty Falls, Virginia in order to sell her
grandparents property; property that was once a thriving pumpkin farm
and a place of joy. Now the property is an overgrown, dilapidated shell
of its once vibrant self. Misty River Pumpkin Patch was abandoned by the
family when Sarah's grandparents vanished without a trace. Returning to
a place of wonderful memories, a place she hasn't been since she was
12, brings more questions than answers and Sarah decides to look into
the old investigation and try to discover what really happened to her
While Give 'Em Pumpkin to Talk About is the first in the series, readers may recognize some of the characters. How is that possible? This book is a spin off from the Peggy Lee Garden Mystery series. Like any good spin off, Give 'Em Pumpkin to Talk About is a solid book in its own right and is no way dependent on the series from which it evolved. In fact, you won't miss anything if you haven't read the Peggy Lee books. If you have, you'll see some familiar faces.
I enjoyed this "perhaps you can go home again" novel. They say you can't go home again, and perhaps you can't; at least not back to the way things were. That doesn't mean that you can't go back and make things different and even better! Old thoughts and dreams resurface as does the possibility to take a chance and do something new, all the while trying to solve more than one mystery. In addition to the great character dilemmas we are also faced with many a mystery. The original, the disappearance of Sarah's grandparents, the current murders, and the lost confederate gold! The Lavenes handle them all, masterfully weaving them together into a taut mystery!
Farm Fresh Recipes Included.
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