The Beale Ciphers also known as the Beale Papers, are a category of three cipher-texts which reveal the location of one of the grandest buried treasures in U.S. history where thousands of pounds of gold, silver and other jewels were discovered.
It is estimated to be worth over US$63 million as of September 2011.Consisting of three cipher-texts, the first, yet to be solved, gives a description of the location, while the second, which is solved, provides the content of the treasure and the third, unsolved, provides the lists of names of the treasure’s owners together with their next of kin. It was obtained originally by a mysterious person named Thomas Jefferson Beale while prospecting in Colorado in 1818.
Out of the three cipher-texts, only the second one has been solved and interestingly, the U.S. Declaration of Independences seems to be the key, a curious fact that Beale tends to share the name with the author of the Declaration of Independence. The discovery also leads to the revelation of the county where the treasure was buried – Bedford County, Virginia, though the exact location is encrypted in one of the other unsolved ciphers.
In 1885, a pamphlet had been published with a strange compelling story, a sort of connection between Edgar Allan Poe and the Wild West which indicates record of a letter that was written by Thomas Jefferson Beale to Mr Morriss in 1822 and claimed to contain three encoded text currently known as `B1, B2 and B3’, describing the location as well as the beneficiaries of the treasure haul that was hidden in Bedford County, Virginia between 1819 and 1821.
Moreover the pamphlet had a decoding of B2 by using a miscounted Declaration of Independence as a codebook though not for B1 and B3. As per the pamphlet, it was said that Beale was chosen leader of a group of around 30 adventurers from Virginia who came across the rich mine of gold and silver while they hunted for buffalo.
They spent around eighteen months mining thousands of pounds of precious metals and charged Beale with transporting it back home to Virginia to bury it in a secured location. Beale had made multiple trips to stock it and later encrypted three messages with a mention of the location of the treasure, description of it together with the names of the owners and their relatives.
He had placed the cipher-texts together with some other papers in an iron box which was given to a reliable person, Robert Morriss, the Lynchburg innkeeper. The treasure, perhaps, was supposed to be buried near Montvale in Bedford Count and Beale had asked Morriss not to open the box until Beale or one of his men would fail to return from their journey within a period of 10 years.
A few months later, Beale send a letter from St. Louis promising him that a friend would be mailing the key to the cryptogram though it never seemed to arrive. Then in 1945, Morrriss took the initiative of opening the box and found two plain text letters from Beale with several pages of cipher-text which were separated into Papers `1, 2 and 3’. Morris was unable to solve the ciphers and decades later had left the box with its contents to an unnamed friend.