Forgotten Trails: Treasure lies in Shipp Pond

Published 7:34 am Wednesday, February 21, 2007

By Staff
We received a letter here at The Brewton Standard last week that I thought some of you might find interesting. It is from Robert E. McCall Jr. of Littlerock, Calif. If you know him or anything about this letter, let me know and I will pass it along.
&#8220Years ago my dad told me about his drinking coffee in Mason's Drug Store, about 1912,” the letter continued, &#8220with Edgar Downing and a Yankee visitor when someone came in with a large black bass he wanted to weigh on the drug store scales. When Edgar said something about what a large trout that was, the Yankee said that it was a bass, not a trout. During the ensuing argument, a five-dollar bet was made. After another heated discussion about how they could prove the bet, Edgar suggested that they take the fish outside and the Yankee would ask the first person who came along what kind of fish it was and they would go with whatever was said. The first person that came along was a lifelong Brewton resident, Pac O'Bannon. When asked, Pac said, &#8220Why that's a trout, everybody knows that.” That was when the Yankee knew he had been taken. He was a good sport and paid the five-dollar bet. Edgar always enjoyed winning a sure bet.”
Mr. McCall went on to relate several stories and brought up the name of his grandfather, Thomas M. McCall, and told some more fishing stories. He told a story about how he was almost drowned in Murder Creek.
The letter goes on to ask about an article that appeared in a newspaper about Shipp Pond. The end of the story is missing from the article and Mr. McCall would love to know how it ended, and so would I. The name of the article was &#8220Strange Things Happen at Shipp Pond.”
Thinking it sounded a little bit intriguing, I set out to find the article to find the rest of the story and sure enough, there it was in The Brewton Standard dated July 13, 1950.
An editor's note preceded the story and it said, &#8220Shipp Pond is a natural lake located between Castleberry and Brooklyn. It is known locally as providing the best fishing grounds in this section.” The story was written by Edley Franklin.
It was supposed to have happened one night during the Civil War. Sheets of gray clouds sliding slowly beneath a quarter moon made slowly-moving ghostly shadows across the still waters of a large pond, surrounded by a sloping ridge of virgin pine.
Out of nowhere, a man driving a buggy appeared in an opening among the trees. Twisting and turning, he made his way between the pines down to the edge of the pond. Getting out of the buggy, he tied the horse. Then he took a wooden box or small chest from under the lap robe in front of the buggy. He placed it on &#8220billy” which was composed of four short logs dogged together and tied there at the water's edge.
Untying the billy, the man picked up a long pole lying on top of it, began shoving the raft out in the pond, keeping it headed straight toward a tall dead pine that was sky lighted on the other side.
Halfway across the pond, the man stopped. He stood there for several minutes, looking in all directions, first toward the dead pine, then the direction from which he came, then to the opposite sides of the pond. Then picking up the wooden box, he lowered it into the water beside the raft and dropped it.
The man was Hinchie Warren, great grandfather of President Warren G. Harding, and owner of the Warren plantation in Conecuh County. He is buried on the old plantation, now known as the Jay Villa Plantation and owned by Thomas McMillan of Brewton. The pond is known today as Shipp Pond.”
This article goes on and I will give you the rest of the story next week.

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