Poplar Grove Farm
Sam Jones

Sam and the Buried Treasure at Devil’s Backbone

Sam Jones believed a treasure was buried on Poplar Grove Farm in the 1860s. Its location is still a mystery.

Sam and the Buried Treasure at Devil’s Backbone Table of Contents

Sam Jones was a slave who lived at Poplar Grove Farm during the Civil War. We have just one picture of him:

Sam Jones
Sam Jones, photocopy of the original

During the Civil War, Sam’s master, James French, was afraid that the Yankees camped in Stafford County would steal the family possessions. One day, James took a shovel, gave Sam a box to carry, and the two walked northward across the fields to a rocky ridge on Poplar Grove Farm we call the Devil’s Backbone. When they got close to the Devil’s Backbone, James told Sam to wait for him, and James took the shovel and box and walked away. A little while later, James returned with the shovel, but he no longer held the box.

A short while later, James French died of a heart attack on August 2, 1865. The family story is he was very upset that the South had lost the war. He was financially ruined, and the strain killed him.

Uncle Sam Jones stayed in touch with the family and told them that he believed the box held the family treasures, but because he didn’t follow James when he took the box toward Devil’s Backbone, Sam didn’t know where the box was hidden. Many people have tried over the years to find the family treasure using shovels and metal detectors, but no one has ever found it.

The Devil’s Backbone is located about 560 meters NNE of the Poplar Grove Farm House

See also

Sally Fitzhugh shared the story of Sam and the Buried Treasure in the Free Lance-Star:

Many families were affected by the Civil War and the presence of Union soldiers, and Poplar Grove was no exception. James French feared for the family’s wealth (gold, jewelry, valuables and money). He devised a plan to hide those items in a treasure box. Not taking his wife or any of his children, but rather a young slave named Sam, he walked northward toward a “stony ridge covered with trees,” says Fitzhugh. Before French arrived at the site, he told Sam to wait at the granary. French soon disappeared into the woods, “returning after a while without the treasure box, carrying only the shovel.”

He never told of any of his family exactly where he buried the treasure, and to this day its whereabouts remain a mystery despite numerous attempts to unearth it.

During the Civil War Sallie was near late middle age, and had two sons fighting for the Confederacy. The rest of her children were at home–two daughters, and two sons, both too young to fight.


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