The story takes place in Yuma County, Arizona. In 1849 William B. Rood arrived in California as a member of the Jayhawkers from Illinois and was one of the few survivors from the ill-fated and terrible Death Valley crossing. When Pauline Weaver found gold near the Colorado River just north of Yuma in 1862, William followed the gold strikes. He eventually ended up in LaPaz . After prospecting the area, he located about half way between Yuma and LaPaz where he ranched and prospected the east bank of the Colorado River. He didn’t do as well with the prospecting as he did with the ranching. He frequently supplied the army with beef and soon became a substantial and respectable citizen. He named his ranch Rancho de los Yumas.
In April, 1870 Rood drowned in the Colorado River during a crossing to the other side with his foreman Alex Poindexter. The two were crossing the river to pay their Indian woodcutters when the boat hit a snag and capsized. However, Rood’s body was never found. There were rumors of foul play involving his foreman, Alex, who searched the ranch for the fabled riches, which Rood secreted away.
It was believed that Rood had amassed a large fortune over his many successful years as a cattle rancher. He was also was said to have had many lucrative business adventures. But, when the accountants settled the estate, they could only find a few hundred dollars, which were used to pay off local merchants. Back in those days when banks were scarce, the cattlemen sometimes cached their wealth in or around their ranches.
Poindexter searched the ranch after Rood’s death. He never found the riches. Shortly after, Rood’s two daughters (who were living in Los Angeles) came to the ranch not to run it, but to search for the treasure. They too were convinced that there was a sizable treasure some where on the premises. They were unsuccessful too.
After the two daughters gave up the search, the ranch fell into ruins. It became a favorite stopping place for travelers going from LaPaz to Yuma. They could stop and search for the treasure while they were there. In 1897, a Mexican woodcutter named Alfredo Pina, dug into one of the remaining adobe walls of the ranch and found an old baking powder can which was full of gold coins. It was valued at $1000. Along with the can, he found several papers. Since he did not read, he threw them away. It is now believed that these papers were actually directions to the location of the major cache of Rood’s wealth! Now they are lost.
Over the years, the ranch has almost disappeared. Some of the remaining adobe walls can be located, but time will eventually take them.
My notes on this story are that there is strong evidence that there was a large cache somewhere on the ranch. The majority of it is still to be found, unless—it has been found already and not been reported.