The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

Cover of a "Map of the Lost Dutchman" Area by J. Allan Stirrat Copy 1948 and Reprinted in 1959
Cover of a “Map of the Lost Dutchman” Area by J. Allan Stirrat Copy 1948 and Reprinted in 1959

. The tale, rooted in mystery and intrigue, has captivated treasure hunters and historians for over a century. The legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is set against the backdrop of the American expansion westward during the 19th century. Following the California Gold Rush of 1849, prospectors flocked to the West in search of fortune, transforming the region’s demographics and economy. The Arizona Territory, with its rugged landscape and mineral wealth, became a focal point for these adventurers.

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.

The central figure in the legend is Jacob Waltz, a German immigrant often referred to as “The Dutchman,” a term that mistakenly identified his German origin. Waltz was born on September 20, 1810, in Württemberg, Germany, and emigrated to the United States in the 1830s. After participating in the California Gold Rush, he moved to the Arizona Territory in the 1860s, where he gained a reputation as a skilled prospector.

Jacob Waltz lived out his later years in Phoenix, Arizona. The Dutchman lived in an adobe houses located in the northeast corner of section 16, Township 1 North, Range 3 East. The site is located today near the southwest corner of 16th Street and Buckeye.

On February 19th, 1891, his adobe home is abandoned when the Salt Creek flooded over running its’s banks. The flooding is severe and local papers at the time, do not mention Watlz, yet did headline “SEVERAL PEOPLE PROBABLY LOST”.

Waltz died on October 25, 1891 at the home of a black woman Julia Thomas after months of illness. Thomas had be housing the old man since . When the Dutchman passed, a candle box under his bed contained 48 pounds of the rich gold ore. The source of the gold is believed to be a “lost” gold mine of Jacob Waltz, the Dutchman, the Lost Dutchman Goldmine.

Unfortunately, the facts of the gold mine end with the death of Jacob Waltz, and the legends spring to life with rumor and tall tales.

The Last Days of Jacob Waltz.

On his deathbed in the early morning of October 25, 1891, Waltz is said to have revealed the location of the mine to Julia Thomas, a local woman who had cared for him during his final illness. Unfortunately, the old prospector was suffering from pneumonia, so, at best communication would be labored and difficult.

When the old man passed, Holmes and Thomas were in possession of a incredible secret and 48 pounds of rich gold ore. According to historians Tom Kollenborn, the Dick Homes took possession of the gold ore and took it to Goldman’s Store in Phoenix were it was assayed. The assay report stated the ore to be worth $110,000 a ton in 1890’s dollars.

Whatever was said a few things came from the events to the Dutchman’s death. Dick Holmes, Julia Thomas and Reiney Petrasch were the only people around when the old miner passed. Weather or not the true story of his last mine is the subject of debate from multiple factions from these two parties.

Julia’s Search

After Waltz’s death, Julia Thomas was convinced of the mine’s existence and its potential to transform her life. She, along with her adopted son Rhinehart Petrasch and his brother Hermann set out for the Superstition Mountains on August 11, 1892. They hoped to find the mine based on the directions supposedly provided by Waltz. However, the harsh and rugged terrain of the mountains, coupled with the elusive nature of Waltz’s descriptions, made the search extremely challenging. August in Arizona was probably not a good choice.

Despite her determination, Julia Thomas never found the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. Her repeated failures and the high cost of the expeditions depleted her resources. Eventually, she was forced to abandon the search and return to her life in Phoenix Later in life, she would tell her story and sell maps to the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine. It remains confusing why someone would purchase a map to a gold mine from someone who didn’t find it, is also a mystery.

Following her search, Julia sold her story to Pierpont C. Bicknell who first published the tail in The San Francisco Chronicle on January 13th, 1895.

First Description of the Mine

Publishged in The Saturday Review, November 17th 1894

“In a gulch in the Superstition Mountains, the location of which is described by certain landmarks, there is a two room house in the mouth of a cave on the side of the slope near the gulch. Just across the gulch, about 200 yards, opposite the house in the cave, is a tunnel, well covered up and concealed in the bushes. Here is the mine, the richest in the world on the side of the mountains, is a shaft or incline that is not see steep but one can climb down. This, too, is covered carefully. The shaft goes right down in the midst of a rich gold ledge, where it can be picked off in big flakes of almost pure gold”

The Disappearance of Adolph Ruth

Lost Dutchman Mine searcher Adolph Ruth
Lost Dutchman Mine searcher Adolph Ruth

The lost Dutchman Mine makes natioanl attention following the search for and death of Adolph Ruth.

Adolph Ruth was born in the mid-19th century and worked as a government employee in Washington, D.C. His passion for adventure and treasure hunting led him to explore various parts of the American Southwest in search of lost mines and legendary treasures. Ruth was particularly captivated by the tale of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, a legendary gold mine purportedly hidden in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona.

Ruth lost his life by following a map he acquired and then initiated his search in the middle of June, 1931. His remains are found near Weavers Needle, by an investigation reported on by the Arizona Republic. His skull is found with a large hole which may have been caused by a firearm or scavenging animals. Regardless, the news paper published the story and the Lost Dutchman Gold mine is a national story.

Legacy

Following the death of Jacob Waltz, the location of the Lost Dutchman’s mine was lost forever. The dying miner may have shared the location of his mine with three people, Julia Thomas, Dick Holmes and Herman Petrasch. However, even this claim is unclear. All three of these people searched for the lost mine, and all three passed into history penniless, or with no apparent success.

The Legend of the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine is grown by the stories of these three people and those who listened to them. The tale over time becomes sensationalized, expanded, convoluted, romanticized and even led to the death of some. The original tale has been expanded to include murders, apaches, mexican bandits and the Peralta

The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

Obviously, anyone would be interested in a map to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. Sadly, you need to keep looking… In the meantime, here is a map of locations associated with the lore of the lost mine.

People Associated with the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine

Lost Dutchman Mine searcher Adolph Ruth

Adolph Ruth

Early Life and Background Adolph Ruth was born in the mid-19th century and worked as a government employee in Washington, D.C. His passion for adventure…
Herman Petrasch ( April 6 1864 - 23 Nov 23, 1953 ), Photo by Desert Magazine January 1954 Issue

Herman Petrasch

Herman Petrasch ( April 6 1864 - 23 Nov 23, 1953 ), Photo by Desert Magazine January 1954 Issue Herman Petrasch of Phoenix, Arizona, is…
Photograph take of Jacob Waltz after his arrival in New York.

Jacob Waltz the “Dutchman”

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…
Cover of a "Map of the Lost Dutchman" Area by J. Allan Stirrat Copy 1948 and Reprinted in 1959

Julia Thomas

Julia Thomas, a figure of historical significance in Phoenix, Arizona, was born in the mid-19th century. Her role in the passing of Jacob Waltz serves…

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…

References

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.

Legacy

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…

References

Saguaro ( Carnegiea gigantea )

The Saguaro ( Carnegiea gigantea ) is perhaps one of the most iconic member of the cacti family in the south west desert, and located primarily in Arizona. The giant desert guardian stands watch over the hot dry desert and exudes a quiet nobility which matches its environment perfectly. The slow growing giants can reach heights exceeding 35 feet in height. These pinnacles of stature are due in no doubt to their long life span of up to 200 years. The largest known Individual was measured at 78 feet tall before it was toppled in 1986 from high winds.

A monster Saguaro ( Carnegiea gigantea) - Photo by Sister Cecilia Joseph Wight
A monster Saguaro ( Carnegiea gigantea) – Photo by Sister Cecilia Joseph Wight

Like many other stem succulents, the Saguaro survives the dry climates by optimizing its water retention. Large tap roots anchor the plant to the ground and can harvest water from over 100 feet beneath the surface. The water is pulled into the cactus body and causes the the body to swell which enables the plant to survive long period of drought without water.

A single trunk of the saguaro is known as a spear, and the cacti can stay this way up to 75 years before the first arm is branched from the trunk. The cactus will bloom in the spring months of April, May and June. The white flowers of this plant will form only at the top of each branch and form a crown of beauty. The flowers open in the cooler nights after the sun was dropped below the horizon. Nectar is produced is encourage pollination from a variety of animals. The flower will close again by midafternoon. The flower is the state flower for the State of Arizona.

Saguaro Cacti break the evening skyline near Tucson Arizona - Photo by Sister Cecilia Joseph Wight
Saguaro Cacti break the evening skyline near Tucson Arizona – Photo by Sister Cecilia Joseph Wight

This cactus is protected by the State of Arizona, and sadly needs to be. The US Government created Saguaro National Park in 1994 to protect some of the population and its habitat.

Natural Distribution

 Natural distribution map for Carnegiea gigantea - Elbert L. Little, Jr., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and others
Natural distribution map for Carnegiea gigantea – Elbert L. Little, Jr., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and others

Resources