Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wellington Man Strikes Gold – October 1949 Part 2

So how did the media report the tale of R. A. Cordray’s discovered of $30,000 in gold certificates hidden in a brick wall in his Wellington home?

Thanks to the online resources of newspapers.com, it’s evident that the story appeared all over the country. Here’s how it was reported in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on October 19, 1949. (The same U.P. story was also found in the Detroit Free Press and the Pittsburg Press.)

Finds $30,000 in Gold Notes In Basement
Wellington, O., Oct. 19 (U.P.) Richard A. Cordray, 60-year-old sanitary engineer for Wellington Village, has found more than $30,000 in gold notes in the basement of his home, he said yesterday. 
Cordray said he stumbled onto the money which was hidden in a cast iron box encased in a brick wall. He did not say how he first discovered the hiding place of the money, but he said he "picked up an eight-pound sledge and hit the wall an awful whack. My hand hurt for five days.” 
When the dust cleared the box was in full view. Cordray said it held between $30,000 and $35,000 and that since rumors of the find started half a dozen persons have laid claim to it. 
I hope they find the owner," he said, "but if it's mine I'll take what the government leaves me and do good with it. Coffins don't have safety deposit boxes.” 
Cordray has owned the three-story mansion-like house where he found the money since 1934. It was built in the 1890's by G. H. (Deacon) Palmer, a lumber company executive and owner of the Wellington Bending Works.

Palmer died in the house after a few years and it was bought by Charles Ross, described by the villagers as an ''eccentric and a plunger." Ross reportedly is dead now and his wife is believed still living in the Cleveland area.

A series of renters occupied the place until 1933 and it was vacant until Cordray bought it.

Charles Ford Sr., chairman of the board of the Wellington First National bank, said, “It is impossible that Palmer hid the money. I knew both of the former owners and knew all of Palmer's financial dealings. Charlie Ross was erratic and eccentric and if anyone hid the money there, he did.”

Internal revenue officers in Cleveland said the government probably would claim about half the money in income taxes.

By the way, a “plunger” is defined as "a person who gambles or spends money recklessly.”

Closer to home, here is the story as it appeared in the Lorain Journal (below). The treasure-hunter hijinks that took place after the discovery are fairly amusing.

Wellington Man Strikes Gold
Begins to Feel Sorry He Found $30,000

By Staff Correspondent
WELLINGTON – Richard Cordray’s troubles may have just begun, if he has to follow his intention to hire an attorney to determine his legal rights to about $30,000 in gold certificates he found in his basement wall.

Cordray stumbled upon the cache in the basement of his 50-year-old home at 250 Prospect-st, while tearing out a partition to make room for a gas furnace. While hitting the brick wall with a sledge hammer he brought to light an iron box containing the gold notes.

Cordray, who is sanitary engineer of the village, swore an assistant Rollin West, a welder to secrecy when the find occurred about a week ago. But the secret leaked out and soon the whole town was buzzing with rumors.

Several Lay Claim to Hoard
Already several persons including a neighbor and a client of the Wellington First National bank, have laid claim to the hoard. Cordray claims he will not think of spending it until he is sure he is owner of the amount. Even then about half of it would be needed to pay the federal tax.

The house, a 16-room brick mansion, was built in 1894 by G. H. Palmer. Cordray purchased the home in 1934 from Charles Ross, who was described as “an eccentric and a plunger.” Both Palmer and Ross are now dead, altho Ross is supposed to have a son who operated a poultry farm for several years, near Elyria.

Village fathers have been unable to find a trace of the younger Ross. Palmer has two sons, one of St. Petersburg, Fla., and the other in Long Beach, Calif.

Several persons have attempted to gain entrance to Cordray’s basement by posing as furnace inspectors and estate agents, to continue the search for more of the cached notes.

Well, I checked the Journal for a follow-up story but apparently it took a while to play out in the courts as there were no articles in the following weeks. However, Ernie Henes revealed the outcome in his story about the gold certificates in Looking Back on Lorain County.

Writing about the treasure house, Henes wrote, “Its owners and renters who occupied it laid claim to the loot but their claims proved unfounded and Cordray was able to redeem the certificates and keep the money."

The house today
(Courtesy Lorain County Auditor)

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