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

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