Search for Jacob Waltz
Thought to be Jacob Waltz
in New York in 1846
(Sheriff Magazine, 1967)
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
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
Port of Departure:
Country of Origin:
Country of Destination:
United States of America
Ship Ville De Lyon
Port of Arrival:
Date of Arrival:
Jul 13, 1839
Microfilm Serial Number:
Microfilm Roll Number:
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
(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
JACOB WALTZ HISTORY FOUND AT LAST?
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.
PASSENGER SHIP VILLE
DE LYON (1837)
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' )