The Search for Jacob Waltz 

Thought to be Jacob Waltz in New York in 1846
(Sheriff Magazine, 1967)
(Superstition Mountain Historical Society)

Jacob Waltz and the Lost Dutchman Mine of Arizona has been an outspoken tale in the annals of lost gold. Thousands have searched for his fabled lost mine and hundreds of articles and books have been published telling of his rich mine hidden somewhere in the Superstition wilderness. Few American treasure hunters and historians have not heard of the legend Waltz’s gold and one cannot visit Arizona without seeing the name ‘Dutchman’ embedded into names of motels, newspapers, parks, stores and street signs, seeming to suggest that we know everything about Ol’ Jake but where he got his gold.

Yet the personal life of Jacob Waltz has been as much of a mystery to historians over the past one hundred years as the location of his secret mine. Few have cared about who Waltz was and instead focussed their sights on finding his gold! Very few documents exist that bare his signature after arriving in America from Germany in the middle of the 19th century.

While Waltz’s general travels since leaving New York around 1847 can be ascertained from the documents he signed (i.e. petition for naturalization in Natchez, Mississippi, census records and other) there seems to be no account of his life before he left his homeland of Germany. Only a birth record in 1808 for a ‘Jacob Waltz’ has thus far been located.

The story of Jacob Waltz has been primarily about his mine, or about those who searched for his mine, or about those who knew someone who searched for his mine. Various writers over last century have vainly attempted to profile Waltz - mostly for the sake of storytelling - as being anywhere between a murderer and thief and drunkard to a gentle, quiet type who gave of himself freely to help others in need.

So, why should anyone care about who Jacob Waltz was, where he lived and what he did before coming to America? Fair question. There are several reasons for locating Waltz and learning of his earlier deeds and residences in life. 

To know what personal history and circumstances had conditioned Jacob Waltz prior to arriving in America would greatly benefit the treasure hunter and historian. It would offer insight into understanding why he never filed a claim on his mine, why he never married or was known to be with a woman in a romantic relationship and would also offer insight into which of the versions of the legend, or parts thereof, are more true. It would perhaps even shed light on why Waltz dedicated his life to the hardship of mining and prospecting while in America before finally dabbling at farming in his latter years.

There is also, in my opinion, an ethical responsibly to set the record straight about the kind of man Jacob Waltz was.  If he was a murderer, let it be verified. If he wasn’t, let that also be known.

What is known about Jacob Waltz?
According to research compiled in Helen Corbin’s book Curse of the Dutchman's Gold (Arrowhead Press 1991) Jacob Waltz was born in Oberschwandorf, Wurttemberg, Germany in 1808. He may have been born to a family who were weavers by trade. There is only one Jacob Waltz registered as being born in Oberschwandorf in 1808.

From information gleaned during an interview with Wurttemberg’s mayor and historian, Mr. Meroth, Corbin also writes that Waltz, along with 15 of his family members, immigrated to America in 1846. He was 38 years old. Corbin says also that Waltz went to work in a cousin's tannery before beginning his wanderings across America as a miner and prospector.

My own research, however, suggests that Jacob Waltz may have actually arrived in America (New York) in 1839 – not 1846. Genealogy researchers (R. Knowley and L. Braund) have located following information:

Jacob Waltz found in:
Passenger and Immigration Lists: New York, 1820-1850 
Age:  28
Born: 1810
Gender:  M
Occupation:  Farmer
Port of Departure:  Le Havre 
Country of Origin:  Wurttemberg
Country of Destination:  United States of America
Ship Name:  Ship Ville De Lyon
Port of Arrival:  New York
Date of Arrival:  Jul 13, 1839
Microfilm Serial Number:  M237 
Microfilm Roll Number:  39
List Number:  488   

The above Jacob Waltz may likely be the Waltz of Arizona lore. This record shows Waltz was a farmer (probably a tenant farmer, as was common in Germany during the first half of the 19th century), The ship. Ville De Lyon (see notes about ship at end) left from the Port of Le Havre, France and arrived in New York on July 13, 1839. 

Researchers have looked for records of Jacob Waltz have routinely searched the archives in the Baden-Wurttemburg area, assuming, perhaps, that if Waltz had been born there he would have lived there into adulthood. I believe most of these researchers have failed to take into account the history of that region, which intimately effected the lives and lifestyle of the Germanic people – a region consumed in strife, wars, poverty, illnesses and ever-changing borders between Germany and France. (See: 'Conditions In Germany That May Have Forged Jacob Waltz' )

During my research I happened across a web site belonging to a genealogist, Ms. Braund, who had traced her ancestry back to a George M. Waltz.  I found it interesting that George Martin Waltz left his homeland for America from the same port (Le Havre) that Jacob Waltz is shown to have emigrated from. Reading through the documentation on Braund’s web site I noted that George M Waltz and Jacob Waltz were approximately the same age. George M. Waltz, however, was born in and lived in Strasbourg, France. 

Through email exchanges I learned her cousins had been brought up to believe that Jacob Waltz of Arizona lore was actually George’s son, who was also named Jacob Waltz. Braund had the unfortunate task of dispelling that belief with evidence that showed George’s son would have been far too young to be the 'Lost Dutchman' Waltz. When I contacted her and explained whom I was searching for and why there was once again some flickering of possibility that her family was indeed remotely connected to Arizona's Jacob Waltz.

My theory: George M. Waltz had a father who had a brother who had a son named Jacob. Jacob and George were cousins. George was born in Strasbourg, France. Jacob was born in Wurttemberg, Germany not far away on the German side of the Rhine River. George and Jacob were approximately 5 years apart in age (George born 1805, Jacob Born 1810). Both left for America from Le Havre, France (George between 1831 and 1836, Jacob in 1839).

After arriving in New York George and his family moved to Pennsylvania and purchased a small farm. While we are still searching for documentation to verify it I believe that George M. Waltz is the ‘cousin’ whom Jacob Waltz actually came to live with and perhaps work for after his own arrival to America a few years after George. Incidentally, George named his American-born son 'Jacob Waltz'. 

My bet is that the search for Jacob “The Dutchman” Waltz during the first 28 years of his life should be focussed in the Strasbourg/Riedseltz/Alsace area of France, not necessarily in Germany. Jacob may have lost his father and mother due to one or more circumstances in his youth and was taken in by George's father (Jacob's uncle) or came to live and work in the area for the same reason. Residents of that region of France often spoke both German and French.

Strasbourg is situated on the French side of the Rhine River almost west of Baden - Wurttemberg. The boundaries between France and Germany changed several times during rebellions and particularly during the Napoleon campaigns. It was a war-torn region with little or no stable government and whose people were used to being uprooted and pushed from one location to another. Many died in the various wars or from disease and starvation. A form of stability only came to the region in 1815.

It is in Strasbourg/Riedseltz/Alsace area that I believe Arizona's Jacob Waltz to have lived most of his early (pre American) life.

If there is anyone living in the Strasbourg, France area who would like to do some local research for this Jacob Waltz it would be greatly appreciated. All credits for your research and work will be given. You can contact me here


Beginning in 2004 I was enthused to engage in communications with Dr. Burkhart Oertel (Neubiberg, Germany) and Goetz K. Oertel, PH. D (Potomac, Maryland) who had become interested in Jacob Waltz of the Lost Dutchman Mine lore. Burkhardt Oertel and his brother, Goetz Oertel are sons of the late Egon Oertel a renown genealogist from Oehringen, Germany. Their natural affection for history and their ability to access archives and documents in Germany otherwise difficult to obtain for American researchers made them ideally suited to track down the real life of Jacob Waltz prior to his arrival in America.

The work of Burkhart and Goetz Oertel has been published by Goetz under the title, "Origin of Legendary “Dutchman” Gold Miner Jakob WALTZ Discovered" (December 29, 2004). Their research concluded many fascinating and hereto unknown details about Jacob Waltz, his life, family and social status.

I was privy and grateful to be able to include the Oertel's complete work in the second edition of my book, Quest for Peralta Gold (PDF eBook format). I was also amazed to learn that Jacob Waltz had come from a prominent family in Germany and that his choice of career as a miner / prospector in America was not due to poverty and a desire to one day be rich. In fact, staying Germany would have provided him a decent and comfortable life as his brothers and sister maintained.

The Oertel research suggests that Waltz came to America not to become rich and live some illusive American Dream but rather because he had an adventurous spirit. Nonetheless, while his ambitions were not to be rich and renown it would seem that fate would ultimate guide his destiny to that very end - even if it was after his death!

The work of the Oertel brothers is the single most accurate and important historical research to date concerning the origins of Arizona’s famous Jacob “The Dutchman” Waltz.

While the Oertel's article has been granted permissions and subsequent publishing in the eBook version of Quest for Peralta Gold the information has not been yet been granted permission for publishing on the Internet and it will likely be some time before it is.

The work of Burkhart Oertel and Goetz K. Oertel is the one of most valuable contributions to the Dutchman legend to come in many years and it is poignant, from an historian's view, to thank them both for their insight and hard work.



The U.S. ship VILLE DE LYON was built at New York by Webb & Allen, and launched in 1837. She spent her entire career, from 1837 until she was wrecked near La Hogue, France, on 2 February 1845, in the Old (later Union) Line of sailing packets between New York and Le Havre; during this period, she made 22 westward passages from Le Havre to New York, her average passage being 37 days, her shortest passage 21 days, and her longest 58 days. Her master for her entire career was Charles Stoddard, from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, who later went on to command the steamships CRESCENT CITY and LAFAYETTE.The VILLE DE LYON was something of a hoodoo ship, since she suffered four accidents in a career of less than 8 years.

(See: 'Conditions In Germany That May Have Forged Jacob Waltz' )

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