The Legend of "Old Ben" Sublett's Gold, truth or fiction? Sublett came in the early 1880's in an old wagon with his pretty daughter, Jennie, his son, Ross, and faithful dog, Pete. He built a dug-out shelter on a 160-acre claim near the section house.
Old Ben had tried his hand prospecting for gold in the Rocky Mountains and searching for the "Lost Dutchman Mine" in Arizona. He went from there to the Texas Guadalupes.
Sublett was the first "town character." He left town frequently on prospecting trips, supposedly to the Guadalupes. The railroad workers and good women of the town saw that his family didn't go hungry. He didn't provide for them much better when he was here. He frequented the saloons and did odd jobs; "witching" for water, collecting bones and day work on the railroad to make a grub stake to go back to the mountains.
Then, one day he came into the saloon and tossed a bag of gold nuggets on the bar and bought drinks for the house. He also promised his family the moon.
He made several more trips of 3 or 4 days duration and brought back nuggets each time. Nobody knew where he went; he wasn't gone long enough to get to the Guadalupes on muleback. Townspeople tried to bribe him with both whiskey and cash to disclose the location of his treasure, but he wouldn't tell. He didn't even tell his own son.
He died in January, 1892, leaving less than $50 in gold nuggets under his pillow in a buckskin sack. He was buried in Odessa Cemetery.
"Old Ben's" son searched for the cache for years. "Authentic" maps appeared off and on and individuals and groups made frequent treasure hunts.
Photo of Ben's Grave marker. Born: 9/25/1838; Died 1/5/1892.
THEIR BODIES ARE BURIED IN THE DUST, BUT THEIR NAMES SHALL LIVE TO RENEW
Inscribed on the Head Stone.
The Marr family graciously donated one of their grave sites for Subletts burial according to records at the Odessa Cemetary. A wonderful demonstration of the charitable pioneers of early Odessa. Those were the days you shared what you had with your neighbor.
When the visiting preachers came to town, they ate with various families, partaking of the customary "ministerial fried chicken." The young folks had to wait for the "second table." One hot Sunday after a long wait, the preacher emerged picking his teeth and told the kids, "The chicken's all gone, but the gravy's mighty fine."
"The Odessa Grip" contained the personal effects of early cowboys taking cattle to market in Fort Worth. It contained a sixshooter, pint of whiskey, deck of cards and a clean shirt. If it got too full, the shirt was left out.
Courtesy: Exchange Club
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