The Beale ciphers are one of the greatest unsolved puzzles of all time. A fellow by the name of Thomas J. Beale supposedly buried two wagons full of silver, gold and jewels in Bedford County, near Roanoke in 1819 and 1821. There are local rumors about the treasure being buried near Bedford Lake.

He wrote three encoded letters telling what was buried, where it was buried, and who it belonged to. Beale locked the letters in an iron box and gave it to Robert Morriss, who owned the Washington Inn in Lynchburg, Virginia and whom he considered a honest man. Then he returned west. He was never heard from again.

Several years later, Morriss finally opened the box, examined the letters but couldn't break the cipher. He figured that Beale and his fellows had died and that he should try to find the gold himself. At this time over 23 years had passed since he last saw Thomas Beale. The mystery haunted him for the next 20 years.

In 1862 the 84-year old Morriss knew that he wouldn't live much longer, so he confided to a friend. Unfortunately, the identity of this friend has remained a mystery. All we know about him is that he was able to break the code used in the second letter, and that he wrote the document today known as The Beale Papers - 23 pages that have baffled every cryptoanalyst ever since.

The code used the text from the Declaration of Independence. A number in the letter indicated which word in the document was to be used. The first letter of that word replaced the number. For example, if the first three words of the document were "We hold these truths", the number 3 in the letter would represent the letter t.

One of the remaining letters supposedly contains directions on how to find the treasure. To date, no one has solved the code. It is believed that both of the remaining letters are encoded using either the same document in a different way, or another very public document.

For those interested, write to:
The Beale Cypher Association
P.O. Box 975
Beaver Falls, PA 15010

or

The Beale Cypher Association
P.O. Box 236
Warrington, PA 18976

Item #904 is the 1885 pamphlet version ($5.00). #152 is the Cryptologia article by Gillogly that argues the hoax side ($2.00). A year's membership is $25, and includes 4 newsletters.

TEXT for part 1

The Locality of the Vault.

71,194,38,1701,89,76,11,83,1629,48,94,63,132,16,111,95,84,341
975,14,40,64,27,81,139,213,63,90,1120,8,15,3,126,2018,40,74
758,485,604,230,436,664,582,150,251,284,308,231,124,211,486,225
401,370,11,101,305,139,189,17,33,88,208,193,145,1,94,73,416
918,263,28,500,538,356,117,136,219,27,176,130,10,460,25,485,18
436,65,84,200,283,118,320,138,36,416,280,15,71,224,961,44,16,401
39,88,61,304,12,21,24,283,134,92,63,246,486,682,7,219,184,360,780
18,64,463,474,131,160,79,73,440,95,18,64,581,34,69,128,367,460,17
81,12,103,820,62,110,97,103,862,70,60,1317,471,540,208,121,890
346,36,150,59,568,614,13,120,63,219,812,2160,1780,99,35,18,21,136
872,15,28,170,88,4,30,44,112,18,147,436,195,320,37,122,113,6,140
8,120,305,42,58,461,44,106,301,13,408,680,93,86,116,530,82,568,9
102,38,416,89,71,216,728,965,818,2,38,121,195,14,326,148,234,18
55,131,234,361,824,5,81,623,48,961,19,26,33,10,1101,365,92,88,181
275,346,201,206,86,36,219,324,829,840,64,326,19,48,122,85,216,284
919,861,326,985,233,64,68,232,431,960,50,29,81,216,321,603,14,612
81,360,36,51,62,194,78,60,200,314,676,112,4,28,18,61,136,247,819
921,1060,464,895,10,6,66,119,38,41,49,602,423,962,302,294,875,78
14,23,111,109,62,31,501,823,216,280,34,24,150,1000,162,286,19,21
17,340,19,242,31,86,234,140,607,115,33,191,67,104,86,52,88,16,80
121,67,95,122,216,548,96,11,201,77,364,218,65,667,890,236,154,211
10,98,34,119,56,216,119,71,218,1164,1496,1817,51,39,210,36,3,19
540,232,22,141,617,84,290,80,46,207,411,150,29,38,46,172,85,194
39,261,543,897,624,18,212,416,127,931,19,4,63,96,12,101,418,16,140
230,460,538,19,27,88,612,1431,90,716,275,74,83,11,426,89,72,84
1300,1706,814,221,132,40,102,34,868,975,1101,84,16,79,23,16,81,122
324,403,912,227,936,447,55,86,34,43,212,107,96,314,264,1065,323
428,601,203,124,95,216,814,2906,654,820,2,301,112,176,213,71,87,96
202,35,10,2,41,17,84,221,736,820,214,11,60,760

TEXT for part 2

(no title exists for this part)

115,73,24,807,37,52,49,17,31,62,647,22,7,15,140,47,29,107,79,84
56,239,10,26,811,5,196,308,85,52,160,136,59,211,36,9,46,316,554
122,106,95,53,58,2,42,7,35,122,53,31,82,77,250,196,56,96,118,71
140,287,28,353,37,1005,65,147,807,24,3,8,12,47,43,59,807,45,316
101,41,78,154,1005,122,138,191,16,77,49,102,57,72,34,73,85,35,371
59,196,81,92,191,106,273,60,394,620,270,220,106,388,287,63,3,6
191,122,43,234,400,106,290,314,47,48,81,96,26,115,92,158,191,110
77,85,197,46,10,113,140,353,48,120,106,2,607,61,420,811,29,125,14
20,37,105,28,248,16,159,7,35,19,301,125,110,486,287,98,117,511,62
51,220,37,113,140,807,138,540,8,44,287,388,117,18,79,344,34,20,59
511,548,107,603,220,7,66,154,41,20,50,6,575,122,154,248,110,61,52,33
30,5,38,8,14,84,57,540,217,115,71,29,84,63,43,131,29,138,47,73,239
540,52,53,79,118,51,44,63,196,12,239,112,3,49,79,353,105,56,371,557
211,505,125,360,133,143,101,15,284,540,252,14,205,140,344,26,811,138
115,48,73,34,205,316,607,63,220,7,52,150,44,52,16,40,37,158,807,37
121,12,95,10,15,35,12,131,62,115,102,807,49,53,135,138,30,31,62,67,41
85,63,10,106,807,138,8,113,20,32,33,37,353,287,140,47,85,50,37,49,47
64,6,7,71,33,4,43,47,63,1,27,600,208,230,15,191,246,85,94,511,2,270
20,39,7,33,44,22,40,7,10,3,811,106,44,486,230,353,211,200,31,10,38
140,297,61,603,320,302,666,287,2,44,33,32,511,548,10,6,250,557,246
53,37,52,83,47,320,38,33,807,7,44,30,31,250,10,15,35,106,160,113,31
102,406,230,540,320,29,66,33,101,807,138,301,316,353,320,220,37,52
28,540,320,33,8,48,107,50,811,7,2,113,73,16,125,11,110,67,102,807,33
59,81,158,38,43,581,138,19,85,400,38,43,77,14,27,8,47,138,63,140,44
35,22,177,106,250,314,217,2,10,7,1005,4,20,25,44,48,7,26,46,110,230
807,191,34,112,147,44,110,121,125,96,41,51,50,140,56,47,152,540
63,807,28,42,250,138,582,98,643,32,107,140,112,26,85,138,540,53,20
125,371,38,36,10,52,118,136,102,420,150,112,71,14,20,7,24,18,12,807
37,67,110,62,33,21,95,220,511,102,811,30,83,84,305,620,15,2,108,220
106,353,105,106,60,275,72,8,50,205,185,112,125,540,65,106,807,188,96,110
16,73,32,807,150,409,400,50,154,285,96,106,316,270,205,101,811,400,8
44,37,52,40,241,34,205,38,16,46,47,85,24,44,15,64,73,138,807,85,78,110
33,420,505,53,37,38,22,31,10,110,106,101,140,15,38,3,5,44,7,98,287
135,150,96,33,84,125,807,191,96,511,118,440,370,643,466,106,41,107
603,220,275,30,150,105,49,53,287,250,208,134,7,53,12,47,85,63,138,110
21,112,140,485,486,505,14,73,84,575,1005,150,200,16,42,5,4,25,42
8,16,811,125,160,32,205,603,807,81,96,405,41,600,136,14,20,28,26
353,302,246,8,131,160,140,84,440,42,16,811,40,67,101,102,194,138
205,51,63,241,540,122,8,10,63,140,47,48,140,288

CLEAR for part 2, made human readable.

    I have deposited in the county of Bedford about four miles from Bufords in an excavation or vault six feet below the surface of the ground the following articles belonging jointly to the parties whose names are given in number three herewith. The first deposit consisted of ten hundred and fourteen pounds of gold and thirty eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver deposited Nov eighteen nineteen. The second was made Dec eighteen twenty one and consisted of nineteen hundred and seven pounds of gold and twelve hundred and eighty eight of silver, also jewels obtained in St. Louis in exchange to save transportation and valued at thirteen [t]housand dollars. The above is securely packed i[n] [i]:ron pots with iron cov[e]rs. Th[e] vault is roughly lined with stone and the vessels rest on solid stone and are covered [w]ith others. Paper number one describes th[e] exact locality of the va[u]lt so that no difficulty will be had in finding it.
CLEAR for part 2, using only the first 480 words of the Declaration of Independence, then blanks filled in by inspection. ALL mistakes shown were caused by sloppy encryption.

    0----5----10---15---20---25---30---35---40---45---
000 ihavedepositedinthecountyofbedfordaboutfourmilesfr
050 ombufordsinanexcavationorvaultsixfeetbelowthesurfa
100 ceofthegroundthefollowingarticlesbelongingjointlyt
150 othepartieswhosenamesaregiveninnumberthreeherewith
200 thefirstdepositconsistcdoftenhundredandfourteenpou
250 ndsofgoldandthirtyeighthundredandtwelvepoundsofsil
300 verdepositednoveighteennineteenthesecondwasmadedec
350 eighteentwentyoneandconsistedofnineteenhundredands
400 evenpoundsofgoldandtwelvehundredandeightyeightofsi
450 lveralsojewelsobtainedinstlouisinexchangetosavetra
500 nsportationandvaluedatthirteenrhousanddollarstheab
550 oveissecurelypackeditronpotswithironcovtrsthtvault
600 isroughlylinedwithstoneandthevesselsrestonsolidsto
650 neandarecovereduithotherspapernumberonedescribesth
700 cexactlocalityofthevarltsothatnodifficultywillbeha
750 dinfindingit

TEXT for part 3

Names and Residences.

317,8,92,73,112,89,67,318,28,96,107,41,631,78,146,397,118,98
114,246,348,116,74,88,12,65,32,14,81,19,76,121,216,85,33,66,15
108,68,77,43,24,122,96,117,36,211,301,15,44,11,46,89,18,136,68
317,28,90,82,304,71,43,221,198,176,310,319,81,99,264,380,56,37
319,2,44,53,28,44,75,98,102,37,85,107,117,64,88,136,48,154,99,175
89,315,326,78,96,214,218,311,43,89,51,90,75,128,96,33,28,103,84
65,26,41,246,84,270,98,116,32,59,74,66,69,240,15,8,121,20,77,80
31,11,106,81,191,224,328,18,75,52,82,117,201,39,23,217,27,21,84
35,54,109,128,49,77,88,1,81,217,64,55,83,116,251,269,311,96,54,32
120,18,132,102,219,211,84,150,219,275,312,64,10,106,87,75,47,21
29,37,81,44,18,126,115,132,160,181,203,76,81,299,314,337,351,96,11
28,97,318,238,106,24,93,3,19,17,26,60,73,88,14,126,138,234,286
297,321,365,264,19,22,84,56,107,98,123,111,214,136,7,33,45,40,13
28,46,42,107,196,227,344,198,203,247,116,19,8,212,230,31,6,328
65,48,52,59,41,122,33,117,11,18,25,71,36,45,83,76,89,92,31,65,70
83,96,27,33,44,50,61,24,112,136,149,176,180,194,143,171,205,296
87,12,44,51,89,98,34,41,208,173,66,9,35,16,95,8,113,175,90,56
203,19,177,183,206,157,200,218,260,291,305,618,951,320,18,124,78
65,19,32,124,48,53,57,84,96,207,244,66,82,119,71,11,86,77,213,54
82,316,245,303,86,97,106,212,18,37,15,81,89,16,7,81,39,96,14,43
216,118,29,55,109,136,172,213,64,8,227,304,611,221,364,819,375
128,296,1,18,53,76,10,15,23,19,71,84,120,134,66,73,89,96,230,48
77,26,101,127,936,218,439,178,171,61,226,313,215,102,18,167,262
114,218,66,59,48,27,19,13,82,48,162,119,34,127,139,34,128,129,74
63,120,11,54,61,73,92,180,66,75,101,124,265,89,96,126,274,896,917
434,461,235,890,312,413,328,381,96,105,217,66,118,22,77,64,42,12
7,55,24,83,67,97,109,121,135,181,203,219,228,256,21,34,77,319,374
382,675,684,717,864,203,4,18,92,16,63,82,22,46,55,69,74,112,134
186,175,119,213,416,312,343,264,119,186,218,343,417,845,951,124
209,49,617,856,924,936,72,19,28,11,35,42,40,66,85,94,112,65,82
115,119,233,244,186,172,112,85,6,56,38,44,85,72,32,47,63,96,124
217,314,319,221,644,817,821,934,922,416,975,10,22,18,46,137,181
101,39,86,103,116,138,164,212,218,296,815,380,412,460,495,675,820
952

Evidence in favor of a hoax:

  • Too many players.
  • Inflated quantities of treasure.
  • Many discrepancies exist in all documents.
  • The Declaration of Independence is too hokey a key.
  • Part 3 (list of 30 names) considered too little text.
  • W.F. Friedman couldn't crack it.
  • Why even encrypt parts 1 and 3?
  • Why use multi-part text, and why different keys for each part?
  • Difficult to keep treasure in ground if 30 men know where it was buried.
  • Who'd leave it with other than your own family?
  • The Inn Keeper waited an extra 10 years before opening box with ciphers in it? Who would do this, curiousity runs too deep in humans?
  • Why did anybody waste time deciphering paper 2, which had no title? 1 and 3 had titles! Shouldn't these have been deciphered first?
  • Why not just one single letter?
  • Statistical analysis show texts 1 & 3 similar in very obscure ways, that text 2 differs. Did somebody else encipher it? And why? Check length of keytexts, and forward/backward next word displacement selections.
  • Who could cross the entire country with that much gold and only 10 men and survive back then?
  • Practically everybody who visited New Mexico before 1821 left by way of the Pearly Gates, as the Spanish got almost every tourist. :-)
References:

The Beale Treasure: A History of a Mystery, by Peter Viemeister, Bedford, VA: Hamilton's, 1987. ISBN: 0-9608598-3-7. 230 pages.
The Codebreakers, by David Kahn, pg 771, CCN 63-16109; ISBN: 0684831309. 1967.
Gold in the Blue Ridge, The True Story of the Beale Treasure, by P.B. Innis & Walter Dean Innis, Devon Publ. Co., Wash, D.C. 1973. ISBN: 0941402118
Signature Simulation and Certain Cryptographic Codes, Hammer, Communications of the ACM, 14 (1), January 1971, pp. 3-14.
How did TJB Encode B2?, Hammer, Cryptologia, 3 (1), Jan. 1979, pp. 9-15.
Second Order Homophonic Ciphers, Hammer, Cryptologia, 12 (1) Jan. 1988, pp 11-20.
The Code Book, by Simon Singh, 1999. ISBN: 385495315

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.