Jacob Waltz the “Dutchman”

Photograph take of Jacob Waltz after his arrival in New York.
Photograph take of Jacob Waltz after his arrival in New York.

Jacob Waltz, often referred to as “Dutchman,” was a German immigrant whose life became legendary due to his association with the fabled Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. “Dutchman” was a common American term for a German. “Dutch” was the the English cognate to the German demonym “Deutsch”.

Born on September 20, 1810, in the Kingdom of Württemberg, part of present-day Germany, Waltz grew up during a time of economic and social upheaval in Europe, prompting him to seek a better life in the United States.

Early Life and Immigration

In the 1830s, Jacob Waltz emigrated to the United States, settling initially in New York before moving to the Midwest. He worked various jobs, including farming and carpentry, skills that would serve him well in his later adventures. By the 1840s, Waltz had joined the wave of settlers heading westward, spurred by the promise of land and opportunity.

Journey West and Mining Ventures

Waltz’s life took a significant turn during the California Gold Rush of 1849. Like many others, he headed to California in search of fortune. Although records of his successes during this period are sparse, it’s clear that Waltz gained valuable experience in prospecting and mining.

In the 1860s, Waltz moved to the Arizona Territory, a region rich in mineral resources. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1861 and established himself as a respected prospector and miner. Waltz was known to have worked claims in the Bradshaw Mountains and other areas, gradually building a modest reputation and some wealth.

The Legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

The most enduring and enigmatic chapter of Waltz’s life began in the late 19th century with his alleged discovery of a rich gold mine in the Superstition Mountains, east of Phoenix, Arizona. According to legend, Waltz found a vein of gold so abundant that it defied belief. However, he kept the location of the mine a closely guarded secret until his death.

Waltz’s reticence and the scant details he provided about the mine contributed to the mystery. He was reputedly evasive about the mine’s location, sharing cryptic clues and maps with only a few trusted friends. This secrecy fueled speculation and stories about the mine’s existence, especially after Waltz’s death.

Later Years and Death

Arizona Republican - Feb 20, 1891 newspaper article decribing flood with left Jacob Waltz homeless.
Arizona Republican – Feb 20, 1891 newspaper article decribing flood with left Jacob Waltz homeless.

In his later years, Waltz lived a relatively quiet life in Phoenix, Arizona. He never married and had no known children. Waltz’s health began to decline in the 1890s. On February 19th, 1891, the Salt River flooded to its highest known levels at the time, and forced Waltz, along with many other families, to flee his homestead. In 1891, he moved in with Julia Thomas, a local woman who had befriended him and cared for him during his illness.

Jacob Waltz died on October 25, 1891. On his deathbed, he purportedly revealed the location of the mine to Julia Thomas, but subsequent searches by Thomas and countless others have failed to definitively uncover the fabled treasure. At the time of his death, Waltz was in possession of 48 pounds to rich gold ore, said to be in a box under his bed. Questions about the source of this gold lead many to speculate of the existence of a rich lost gold mine.


Jacob Waltz’s legacy is intertwined with the enduring legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. The tale has inspired countless expeditions, books, movies, and a mystique that continues to draw adventurers to the Superstition Mountains. While the exact truth of Waltz’s discovery remains elusive, his story symbolizes the enduring allure of hidden treasure and the American frontier spirit.

Waltz’s life and the legend of his mine highlight the era of American expansion and the human fascination with untold wealth. Despite the passage of time, the mystery of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine ensures that Jacob Waltz’s name remains etched in the annals of American folklore.

Locations Associated with Jacob Waltz

Burial: Jacob Waltz, the legendary “Lost Dutchman” associated with the famous Lost Dutchman’s Mine in Arizona, is buried in Phoenix. He died on October 25, 1891, and his final resting place is in the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park, specifically in the City/Loosley Cemetery section, located in Phoenix, Arizona. This cemetery is part of a larger collection of seven historic cemeteries that date back to the early days of the city’s establishment.

Homestead: Jacob Waltz settles on a 160 acre homestead described as the North East quarter of Section 16, Township 1 North, Range 3 East. The Waltz property is bordered on the north by Buckeye Road. 16th Street served as the Eastern boundary. The western edge is marked by present day 12th Street and on the South by the Salt River bottomland.

Further Reading

The Curse of the Dutchman's Gold by Helen Corbin

The Curse of the Dutchman’s Gold by Helen Corbin

The Curse of the Dutchman's Gold by Helen Corbin Helen Corbin's The Curse of the Dutchman's Gold is the first book I have read on…


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