In late 1888, a Wells Fargo stage
Was relieved of its freight-
A strongbox, taken from its hold,
held thousands of dollars in coins of gold.
The brigands had a master plan,
To bury that box,
sit, and wait-
Then dig it up at a later date.
They found a spot on rock-hard ground-
Where it would lie, safe and sound,
So they sank it in a three foot hole-
to hide that box with coins of gold.
But what they didn’t realize,
that in the distance, sat a pair of eyes-
That had watched the whole event unfold-
and watched, as they buried that chest with gold.
Late that night, under a pale, lantern, light-
a shovel's blade split those rocks-
and the hole was relieved-
of that strongbox.
William Nelson Riddle, owned that property-
And he lived with a basic philosophy-
“Since it was found, on my ground-
I guess it belongs to me.”
“Nelson” died in ’28, at age of 85-
He never said what happened to,
Or if, that chest survived-
And the "Legend of Riddle’s Gold"came alive.
As time passed, the story grew-
each year, a bit more grand-
That Nelson took that strongbox-
And hid it elsewhere on his land
Greed is one of the “seven sins”-
"Everybody loses, and nobody wins"-
But the “want” for gold is a mighty strong thirst-
So his kin set out for a “family search.”
At morning’s dawn, the kinfolk came-
To search for gold, fortune, and fame-
They came with shovels, spades, and hoes-
And some “TNT”, so the story goes.
With disregard for propriety,
they descended upon the property-
Without a map, without a plan-
They spread out to search his land.
Now, the rabbits and the coyotes,
and the gophers(one or two)-
Gathered on a little knoll,
To have a better view.
They knew what was going to happen-
It was just a matter of time-
When the dew had disappeared,
And the morning sun had reached it’s prime
They dug a hole here, and dug over there-
The morning sun was getting hot-
and everywhere they looked –
Was for naught.
Now, it isn't very clear
as who said what, to who-
But it must have been insult'n-
to start that ballyhoo.
There was push'n and shove'n
and calling names galore!
Yell'n and cuss'n
using words you ain't heard before!
And that was just the men-folk-
the women got in it too-
screaming heard, from north to south-
Those words should never come from a ladies mouth.
Fists being swung, shovels slung!
dust was kicked up in a ball-
nothing could be more entertaining-
than watching a family free-for-all!
Then suddenly, it came to a stop !
as quick as it began-
They gathered up all their gear-
and departed Nelson's land.
This is where the story ends-
all I know is what I'm told,
From my daddy, for he'd been sitting,
atop that little knoll.
(This is how I would like to have it end)
Somewhere in the "high above"-
at a table, two people sat-
One, wearing suit and tie-
and Nelson, with his beard and hat.
"Nelson, a lot of folks have you to thank,
for bringing that strongbox to the bank-
you saved a lot of folks their homes and farms."
Nelson, from his chair, arose-
standing *****, and proud-
Stroked his beard, then tweaked his nose,
smiled, and faded into the clouds.
(thanks folks for your patience)
Copyright September 16-2013 Richard Riddle
True story- sort of. Originally written in three parts.The holdup actually did occur, and witnessed by William Nelson Riddle. Years later, believing he had hidden the strongbox elsewhere, relatives converged on the property to conduct a "massive" search. A story on this saga appeared in the San Diego Union newspaper on May 7, 1939. William Nelson Riddle is my great-grandfather and resided in Crowley, Johnson County, Tx.