(Editor’s note: This is a reprint of the column “This and That” written by the late Bee King of Mendenhall which appeared in the Simpson County News on Feb. 13, 1947.)
Turner Wilson located in Simpson County near the river town of Osceola and about two miles east of the present town of Rockport in 1830. He became the largest slave holder in the county, and owned and operated a large farm on the east side of Pearl River.
He was probably the wealthiest man in the county prior to the War Between the States, and for many years thereafter. He was probably supposed to have a great deal more money than he actually had, but in any event he had a large amount of money in gold. Many people thought he had large quantities of money buried around his house. This rumor was largely circulated after a jar containing $5,000.00 in gold was found and carried away by a negro living on the place. The loss was discovered soon after the negro left and he was followed and the money recovered.
A year of two after that, about 1895, Wilson moved to Westville, and left the house in which he had resided for many years, entirely vacant.
This house rested on a brick foundation and had three brick chimneys and was a very substantial building. Soon after Wilson moved to Westville, unknown parties, supplied with mineral rods, shovels and other equipment, began digging for gold, or buried money, around the big house. Large holes were dug in the stables, chicken houses and other houses with dirt floors. It was not very long before one of the chimneys was undermined by those digging and fell, then the third chimney was undermined and fell.
Not satisfied with digging about the chimney they began digging under the brick pillars until at last the entire house fell to the ground.
It is not certain that any holes were dug under the house, but the building was destroyed beyond all repair by their constant digging.
They dug great holes around the trees in the yard and around the gate post of the yard as well as the lot. Their digging continued over a period of several years, but so far as is known nothing was ever found.
Wilson was kept advised of this constant digging for money but it never seemed to worry him. Of course, he knew whether he had left any money there of not and probably had not but it was rumored that he had buried a lot of money at Westville.
There were no banks in the county during the years in which he lived in the county, and there is no doubt but that he buried a great deal of money from time to time, as he was unusually successful man. While for more than sixty years of his life he was supposed to be a very wealthy man, no attempt was ever made to rob him, even during the War period when he was reported to have $10,000 in gold.