In Fairfax, Virginia is an area that is known as “Seven
Corners.” While the area now is quite heavily populated, it was once used as a
guard post to Washington, D.C. Back when the different states were at war with
each other, this place was known as Fort Buffalo. In 1845 a couple, Jacob Moses
Thorne and his wife Mary moved to the area from New York onto a farm called “The
Oaks.” The farm was situated on the north side of Seven Corners with Fort
Buffalo sitting across the street to the south.
It was common for people with large homes to take
in boarders during this time and Jacob and Mary were no different. At the end of
the 1800s, a young man came to their door in search for a place to stay. The
Thorne’s agreed that the man was welcome and they only asked that he pay a
month’s rent in advance. The man’s name was Ned and after paying the rent, he
began to stay with them. Ned was quite pleasant and easy to get along with
although he wasn’t much for conversation. He would sometimes regale them with
his different stories from his travels out West but he never mentioned what he
was doing in their area. He was a busy young man and every day he would gather
up a shovel, something to eat for lunch, and a canteen. He would set out on a
foot for another day of prospecting and then return home for the late supper
that the Thorne’s would enjoy after their day on the farm.
For two and a half months this continued until one
day Ned told them over supper that he would be leaving their home the following
day. He made mention of his trips out every day and while he thanked them for
not asking too much about his own personal doings, he told them that he did feel
an obligation to share with them what he had been doing since he was leaving the
next day anyway. Then Ned opened up about what he was doing and embarked a tale
to explain his daily trips.
At the beginning of the Civil War, Ned was fourteen
years old and was stationed with the Union Army in the position of Bugle Boy.
His post led him to serve at Fort Buffalo. It was late one night and the Army
had an early morning march the following day. As the soldiers were busy making
their preparations, the Lieutenant took Ned aside. The Lieutenant, who also
managed the Army’s payroll, told Ned that the battle the Army was about to enter
was sure to be gruesome and bloody. There would be many casualties. The
Lieutenant confided to Ned that he was concerned about losing the Army’s
payroll, which was all in gold coin, should the opposing Army win the battle and
find the gold within their camp. He ordered that Ned help him carry out the
wooden box that contained the payroll and bury it underneath a large nearby
tree. They made markings in the area so they would be able to find it again and
left the gold buried there.
The Lieutenant’s fears proved true and he, along
with many other Union Army soldiers, were killed in battle the next day.
Surviving soldiers fled the area quickly and Ned soon wound up in west
Tennessee. Ned never forgot about the payroll he had buried with the Lieutenant
underneath the large tree and promised himself to return to find it once the war
had ended. However, Ned soon ended up travelling farther west and before he
could return in search of the payroll, thirty years had passed. Over the years
and especially because Seven Corners became such a major traffic area outside of
Washington, things had drastically changed and many of the trees had been cut
down and the markings he had made with the Lieutenant with them. Ned told the
Thorne’s that he was giving up pursuit of the lost payroll and that he was happy
to return to Tennessee.
Ned left the Thorne’s and he was never heard from
again. The Thorne’s also never heard of any gold coins being found in the area
of Seven Corners.