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Treasure Hunting in Florida – Part 4: The Treasure of Moncrief Springs

by Matt
Categories: Treasure
Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: August 12, 2010

In keeping with the recent theme of long-lost treasure, and perhaps to bring this topic to a close, here’s one final article that details something lost within modern-day Jacksonville’s borders.  The following is a history (or at least an embellished recollection) of Eugene Moncrief, a French pawnbroker who escaped the French Revolution with his client’s goods and fled to the Jacksonville area (before it was Jacksonville).  At the time, our town didn’t exist – it was little more than a Spanish territory with plantation owners and Indians inhabiting the wild flatlands of Florida.

Moncrief was an opportunistic person – he opened his pawn shop in a prime location in LaVendee, France.  At a time when the French nobility and bourgeoisie traded in their jewels in response to the public’s increasingly belligerent response to Marie Antoinette’s greed and appetite for jewels and riches, he was there to collect them.  Either way, Moncrief escaped at just the right time – as the French Revolution was well underway we stepped foot into what would later become Jacksonville.  Not long after getting a feel for the place, he hiked out of town toward the northwest of what is now downtown.  Once far into the woods, he hiked over a hill and found a secluded spring.   This is where he set up his camp – and hid the jewels.

Some time later, Moncrief made the mistake of falling for an Indian maiden.  Adding to his recent string of bad decisions, he reveals one of the 5 chests of jewels he had hidden, and let her choose several items for herself.  Apparently, Moncrief was either unaware or unconcerned about this woman’s jealous warrior boyfriend.  Soon enough, Moncrief was killed, and along with him knowledge of the whereabouts of his remaining loot.

If this sounds rather fanciful or fable-like, that’s because it probably is.  This story was first publicized in 1874, in a story penned by Washington Irving.  A few days later, a group decided they would seek this location and attempt to recover the jewels.  They followed the directions that were given them, and they did indeed find Moncrief’s spring.  However, they didn’t find any jewels.  Years passed, and Moncrief Spring was developed into a sort of resort on the outskirts of a growing city.  Later, Eartha White bought the area for a nursing home.  The spring was destroyed when the Moncrief Bridge was constructed, crossing Moncrief Creek.  In the time since then, this land has been developed, completely changing the place that Eugene Moncrief once made camp, and perhaps hiding his treasure forever.

This tale has been told and re-told, so certain details about this story are subject to criticism.  Some stories say there were 5 chest of jewels, others say 8.  The name of the Indian maiden’s love interest is also in dispute.  The story lives on, however, in the details that can be confirmed.  Eugene Moncrief was, indeed, a historic settler of the Jacksonville area.  His spring, as it was described, was found.  Perhaps there is some truth to the hidden jewels as well?

For more information, see the following sources:

Metro Jacksonville
Cowart.info

1 Comment
  1. Shawn DeShazo says:

    Matt,

    This site is great & very informative. I want to dig out the metal detector, grab my kids & check out some of the spots you have mentioned.
    Another good spot I did not see mentioned is Guana State Park, I’m really good friends with the Manager of Guana & they have some great trails, etc.

    Anyway great site & great reading.

    Shawn

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