(Above, the Reynolds House on North Main Street, as it appeared in November 2011. Photo by Fred Lynch.)
Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle's 2002 historical novel "The Gold of Cape Girardeau" centers around a court battle over gold found buried in the basement of a Lorimier Street house. Swingle uses the drama of a court battle over the treasure to retell the story of the Civil War in the sleepy river town of Cape Girardeau.
But did you know there really was a treasure of gold and silver coins unearthed here in 1912? It was buried by the patriarch of the prominent Reynolds family at his North Main Street home during the tumultuous days of the War Between the States, and then discovered 50 years later by his daughters.
The Daily Republican (now the Southeast Missourian) newspaper broke the story on Aug. 15, 1912. It seems a young man named Don Grimm had decided to buy a pool room from Chris Freeman. I can't imagine the look on Freeman's face when Grimm handed him $500 in gold coins in exchange for the title to the Main Street business.
A story in the next day's edition filled out the historical details of the buried treasure:
The following day, Sturdivant Bank put its two-cents-worth in, declaring in an advertisement that the Reynolds family lost $6,717.26 in interest alone by depositing the gold in the ground instead of its secure vault: