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Published January 5, 2012  

Beale Treasure Story
A Review of BEALE TREASURE STORY by E. J. Easterling

  

This two-book set, by Stephen M. Matyas, Jr., Ph.D., has raised the intellectual bar high above all others — including myself — who have previously written about Thomas J. Beale and his band of 29 Virginia gentlemen who were said to have buried over $100 million dollars of treasure in Bedford County, Virginia, in 1819 and 1821. 
 
As of this writing (January, 2012) I have been actively researching the subject of the Beale treasure mystery for over 22 years. In 1964 my family moved to the western portion of Bedford County, Virginia, where a good portion of the mystery and story took place. I was just nine years old when my parents purchased 25 acres of land and a very old historical home that had been built in 1889. Mr. Parfitt, the elderly owner of the home and land, at that time of our purchase, had lived there since 1911. He, like myself, was a young boy when his parents had purchased the property. As I was carrying a box into my new residence Mr. Parfitt informed me that an old stage coach trail had once passed through the middle of the land. In fact, he pointed out the road to me as I stood still on the old front porch. I was very excited at the moment, but as the days and years passed I did not give the stage coach trail much thought. I was too busy being a rambunctious boy and teenager to slow down to observe the apparent historical significance of the once busy throughway. 
 
That lack of focus on my part would eventually change. In the mid to late 1980s, I watched a National Geographic Special on the subject of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, a Spanish galleon that sank during a hurricane on September 6, 1622. Mel Fisher, the famed treasure hunter, spent 16 years of his life trying to recover the treasures on board this sunken vessel. During the endeavor, Fisher lost two loved ones who drowned. The Atocha was eventually located on July 20, 1985. When the sunken treasures were eventually recovered they were valued at $450 million dollars. I was awe struck when Fisher came to my neck of the woods in 1989 looking for the Beale treasure. I immediately purchased my first book on the Beale treasure subject, Gold In The Blue Ridge, by P. B. and Walter Innis. Mel Fisher became frustrated and gave up his hunt for the Beale treasure in 1990 and promised locals that he would someday return, but to my knowledge he never did.
 
I later read Peter Viemeister's excellent book, The Beale Treasure — History of a Mystery. For the next five years, I did research and interviewed locals and as many of the "old timers" in the surrounding areas as I could locate. In 1995, I published a book and audio book set entitled, In Search of A Golden Vault, The Beale Treasure Mystery. That set sold out many years ago and brought me critical acclaim. I was featured in an award winning documentary, The Treasure of Thomas Beale, a hit BBC/UK TV show; The Travel Channel; a hit show on SBS TV Seoul, South Korea; and on a National Geographic Special shown in the UK. I thought that I really knew a few things about the subject of the Beale treasure mystery, but I was wrong. I can now relate to the sitcom character Sgt. Shultz on the 60's hit show, Hogan's Heroes who would often say, "I know nothing."        

Other reviewers have already stated what can be found in the Beale Treasure Story. I will simply let you know what happened during my reading sessions. Keep in mind, as I stated earlier, I have been researching and writing about the Beale treasure mystery for over 22 years. I have had access to local information and to the writings and research of many others. I am not easily impressed with the thoughts and ideas of others on the subject.
 
In July of 2011, I started reading the two-book set, the Beale Treasure Story by Stephen M. Matyas, Jr., Ph.D. Dr. Matyas's work is comprised of a two-book 8×11 inch set: The Hoax Theory Deflated (413 pages) and New Insights (336 pages). I soon realized that I knew very little about the subject. Dr. Matyas has for years been someone that I have highly respected. I watched him once on a Discovery Channel special featuring the Beale treasure mystery.
 
I was extremely impressed with his laid-back style and intellect. I eventually got to speak with him on several occasions over the phone, and I was even more impressed with his humility as I was with his intellectual abilities. This fine gentleman had written his doctoral thesis on the Beale codes and was immediately hired by Big Blue (IBM) soon after company heads had read his work. I had often wished that Dr. Matyas would write down what he knows about the subject of the Beale treasure. My wish came true. I am now delighted, honored, and extremely humbled as I write this review. Everything — and I do mean everything — that I thought I knew about the subject of the Beale treasure I have had to rethink.
 
I could go on and on about what I learned, but I will refrain from doing so because I do not want to spoil the read for you. Dr. Matyas, through his superb research, came across newspaper microfilm that may well prove that Beale was indeed in Bedford County and Lynchburg during the same time frame that the events were said to have taken place. I was so excited when I read this information that I had to lay down New Insights and take a long and thoughtful break.
 
There were times that I could not retain all the information at hand. During such times, I would lay the work down and rest my mind and slow down my thought processes. I went through countless highlighters as I highlighted a total of 4,449 lines of information. I also made 198 written notations within the pages of both books. By the time I finished reading, I had made 13 full-sized pages of notes on what I had read.
 
Dr. Stephen M. Matyas Jr. is, without doubt, a Beale treasure scholar. The Beale Treasure Story is the most in-depth and scholarly work ever written about an often misunderstood and maligned subject. Matyas has left few stones unturned with his fine work. The Beale Treasure Story is a must read for those who want to learn much more about the Beale treasure mystery. It is also a must read for those who have scoffed at the subject, considering it to be an unintelligent subject and a foolish and wasteful endeavor. 
 
I had the distinct impression as I was reading the Beale Treasure Story that Matyas would have made a fine brain surgeon or perhaps a modern day Sherlock Holmes. In truth, Dr. Matyas is a combination of both surgeon and sleuth.
 
It is only appropriate that I reveal to you the last and most important note that I made upon completing the Beale Treasure Story. There was, but one word that came to mind, Bravo!
 
The complete two-book set is available for $39.95 (at this website). 
      
E. J. Easterling