The Lost Jesuit Treasures


The question comes up every so often about the Jesuits burying their hordes of gold before the King Carlos and the Spanish government expelled them in 1767. The great expulsion had nothing to do with the great work the Jesuits were doing in the New World but due to politics in Spain.

The truth is there’s no truth to any of those lost treasure stories. There are many valid reasons as to why. First and foremost the missions were not rich by any stretch in fact during the Jesuit period they were very poor. Second the Jesuits had no idea the Spanish soldiers were coming to arrest them and march them off in chains in 1767 so they would have had no time to bury their treasure if they and one.

I learned all this back in the 1970s and more from the late Jesuit scholar, Dr. Charles Polzer.

Like most lost treasure stories there is more myth than reality in their existence. Despite this treasure hunters using backhoes have done a lot of damage to old ruins, mostly in northern Sonora. During the 1980s I visited venerable mission, Cocospera, built in 1695 and viewed first hand, the damage done to an old mission by treasure hunters.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian, board president of the Arizona Historical Society and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at