Just across Red River from Spanish Fort, Texas, a large, solid slab of sandstone at the edge of an almost perpetually dry, sandy creek bed, is pocked with strange carvings resembling runic symbols. Downstream, a bleached horse skeleton lies half buried in the sand.

Cryptic symbols carved in rock located across Red River from Spanish Fort, Texas

Given the area’s colorful history of outlaw hideouts, Spanish exploration and legends of lost gold, it is not too far fetched to wonder whether these markings could be the work of some ancient someone, perhaps trying to tell us something.

Or, then again, there is the more mundane explanation that the mystery rock’s etchings are simply the work of pranksters or a bored doodler with nothing better to do (or doodle) than to chisel obscure symbols into an isolated rock (out-of-the-way doesn’t begin to describe the location).

Over the past four or five centuries, this rock, if it had ears, would have heard the rumble of wagon wheels, the blast of cannons, the click-boom of flintlock rifles, the whisper of buckskin leggings against oak leaves and the thundering hooves of buffalo. Nearby, a towering log fort, about 100 yards in diameter, belonging to the Taovayas (Wichita) Indians, once stood to defend two villages, one on each side of the river, populated by as many as 6,000 Wichitas and Comanches.

In 1759, Colonel Diego Ortiz Parilla cobbled together a group of about 500 soldiers and made the 250-mile journey northeast to Red River to retaliate for a Comanche raid and massacre at a Spanish mission on the San Saba River. The Spaniards camped near present-day Spanish Fort before launching a futile attack on the Taovayas’ twin villages—San Bernardo north of the river and San Teodoro on the south.

To Colonel Parilla’s surprise, his army was outnumbered, out-soldiered and outmaneuvered by hundreds, perhaps thousands, of flintlock-wielding braves, many mounted on horseback, who overwhelmed the Spaniards, forcing retreat and abandonment of two brass cannons that had proven laughably ineffective. It was a mismatch of Texas-sized proportions. In the centuries that have passed since the battle, locals have occasionally discovered cannon balls along the banks of the river.

The details of this battle and the discovery and excavation of the fort and the Taovayas’ twin villages are well documented in Steve Wilson’s book Oklahoma Treasures and Treasure Tales.

Tales of outlaw hideouts and hidden Spanish treasures have been told and retold throughout the area, from Mud Creek to Ketchum’s Bluff and beyond. Legends of lost treasure (there are many) include fourteen jack loads of Spanish gold buried near Mud Creek, in Oklahoma, fifteen jack loads hidden near Stanfield, Texas, and seven mule loads of gold buried near Terral, Texas.

Still another treasure story, reported in contemporary newspaper articles, recounts that in 1884 five hunters on the trail of a panther discovered a cave about two miles upstream from Spanish Fort that contained an estimated $25,000 in Spanish coins and gold bars, in addition to a brass howitzer, flintlocks and other artifacts.

So, it is within this rich historical tapestry that the mystery rock is woven, sitting in silence, adorned with its mysterious message that nobody understands.

What do the symbols mean? Do they point to a nearby Spanish treasure? Or are they much older, perhaps Viking in origin, as is reputed to be the case with the much disputed and debated Heavener Runestone? Are they a magical runic incantation inscribed by occult fanatics or just nonsense carved in a rock?

Check back soon for new and better photos.

Meanwhile, if you have any ideas about the origin or meaning of the San Bernardo mystery rock’s strange symbols, send an email here.

Meanwhile, if you have any ideas about the origin or meaning of the San Bernardo mystery rock’s strange symbols, send an email here.

Heavener Runestone discovered near Heavener, Oklahoma

For more info: Check out Steve Wilson’s Oklahoma Treasures and Treasure Tales. Also, for a true story of treasure symbols leading to the discovery of Confederate gold, read Shadow of the Sentinel, by Warren Getler and Bob Brewer.


Historical information for this article was derived from the following: Wilson, Steve. Oklahoma Treasures and Treasure Tales. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 1976.

Photos and other details provided by the author’s personal experience.

Scientists are quickly closing in on a real invisibility cloak using metamaterials.

3-D fishnet metamaterialSchematic of the first 3-D “fishnet” metamaterial that can achieve a negative index of refraction in visible and near-infrared wavelengths.[1]

According to a recent Foxnews.com article (and there are many more recent examples),

Scientists in the UK have developed a breakthrough flexible film that means Harry Potter’s “cloak of invisibility” is more scientific reality than magical wizardry….

Ask yourself this question: If we are so close to developing invisibility cloaks suitable for practical, real-world applications, what kind of cloaking capabilities would an advanced civilization from another world—one with the technology to traverse time and space—surely possess?

Alien abracadabra?

My one and only UFO sighting happened nearly 30 years ago. It was a mild fall Oklahoma night in 1981. I was outside in the yard of my boyhood home when I noticed what looked like a white shaft of light, angled at about 45 degrees, casually hovering up and down in the sky against the eastern horizon. Methodically, it would rise and then, slowly, steadily, it would drop, and then rise again, repeating this pattern, while I strained to figure out what it was. After immediately recognizing that this was like nothing I had ever seen before, I soon convinced myself that what I was seeing was, in fact, real. “I can’t believe this,” I said to myself, over and over, as I watched it—or, as I later theorized—as it watched me.

After performing the strange up-and-down hovering motion for a few minutes, the object (and I would soon confirm to my satisfaction that it was an object, not just a light) instantly and noiselessly darted overhead, braked in midflight, and then shot back near to its starting point—where it continued its weird dance briefly before starting a wild sequence of movements all over the night sky, from one horizon to another, stopping, starting, hovering, darting—always maintaining its 45-degree tilt.

After about 10 minutes of watching (or being watched; I wasn’t sure which), I grabbed a pair of binoculars that I knew to be in a vehicle parked in the gravel driveway. Luckily, it was unlocked.

After a few frustrating moments of trying to train the binoculars on the object before it moved, it finally settled into one spot in the sky, almost directly overhead. What I saw, as I adjusted the lenses to bring the object into focus, was astounding.

As it hovered still and silent overhead, I could clearly see a cylinder shaped object, the color of brushed aluminum. It glowed from the inside out, illuminating the sky evenly all around it. There were no windows, no running lights or gear, no wings. It was smooth and polished, one piece, solid. This was a real object, not a phantom light in the sky.

As I held the binoculars as steady as my nerves would allow, the object was suddenly gone, as if it had slipped into an envelope—or, perhaps, into another dimension. It seemed to just vanish.

But then, as I continued to focus the binoculars on the same spot, within several seconds, the object reappeared as suddenly as it had disappeared. Moments later, it started to fly around again, playing its game in the sky, as I stood watching, awed at what I was seeing.

Finally, the object sped away toward the south, gone in seconds, without a sound, leaving me breathless, tense, excited and…disturbed. It was hours before I could sleep.

This sighting, it occurs to me now, could very well have been an example of a UFO (in addition to showing incredible speed and maneuverability) being able to cloak itself, and become completely invisible, at will.

The invisible alien

So the question must be asked: How many UFOs, wherever you think they are from, are out there that we don’t see because they have elected to make themselves invisible? And, eerier still, could aliens—if that’s what they are—be walking, floating or flying among us without our knowledge?

If aliens have developed the ability to cloak themselves against radar and the human eye—technologies our own scientists are rapidly developing on a limited level—then that means we can see them only when they want us to. And that, if you think about it, is a little disconcerting.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metamaterial. Taken from the National Science Foundation online publication, Current, September 2008. Author: Jason Valentine, UC Berkeley. Image is in the Public Domain.
Edgar Cayce in 1910. Image published in the New York Times.

Edgar Cayce in 1910

You’ve probably heard about Edgar Cayce. You may be familiar with his readings on Atlantis, reincarnation or meditation.

But the so-called Sleeping Prophet did much more than predict and teach about mystical stuff during his mysterious readings. He also prescribed.

In fact, Cayce did more readings on health than on any other subject, leaving behind more than 40 years’ worth of material on holistic approaches to wellness and healing.

People during Cayce’s time faced the same problems as you and I. Like people today, folks were concerned with their appearance. And one of their biggest concerns was their weight.

So what was Cayce’s most common answer for the fight against fat?

It’s such a deceptively simple thing, you may be tempted to ignore it. But, as many have discovered, Edgar Cayce can’t be so easily dismissed.

First, let’s take a quick look at the man behind the readings. Then I’ll tell you his amazingly simple technique for losing weight.

The sleeping prophet


Do you like to take naps? Edgar Cayce did, too, apparently. But his was no ordinary nap.  It was more like a trance.

Cayce would lie on his back, close his eyes, fold his hands on his abdomen and drift into a sleeplike state of self-hypnosis or trance. While he was sleeping, Cayce would answer questions, either posed to him in person or via written communication.

These readings would continue for more than forty years. During that time, Cayce would give more than 14,000 readings on thousands of subjects.

Cayce is best known for his insights into things metaphysical: secrets of the soul, prophecy, ancient civilizations and other topics. However, according to the official Edgar Cayce website, the psychic devoted most of his time giving advice about the physical body—and how to keep it healthy.

Many believe Cayce’s soul actually left its body to access the Akashic Records, where the collective subconscious wisdom of the ages is recorded.

Cayce had only a grade school education. He was a modest man who refused to capitalize on his gift. Yet the material from his readings his readings has been the subject of hundreds of books and biographies.

The 1942 Thomas Sugrue classic There is a River is a must read for anyone wanting to know more about Edgar Cayce’s life and life’s work.

More information about Edgar Cayce can be found here.

The Edgar Cayce Foundation online is great resource for information.

But let’s get to why we’re here.

The simple solution


A study of Edgar Cayce’s amazing insights could take a lifetime. But you want to know what the Sleeping Prophet had to say about losing weight.

Well, Cayce gave individualized readings, custom tailored to suit each unique case. But his most recommended technique for losing weight can be summarized into two short words.

So what was Edgar Cayce’s secret formula for weight loss?

Grape juice.

Yes, it’s that simple.

Cayce recommended general dietary guidelines (click here for more information), such as avoiding starches and sugars. But common to most readings for weight loss was drinking a solution of two parts Concord grape juice and one part water 30 minutes before meals and at bedtime.

How does it work?

The grape juice solution helps prevent the conversion of sugars to body fat, slowly readjusting the body’s thermostat over time and thereby aiding in weight loss.

It’s a simple, easy technique. Why not try it?

Cayce gave his own last reading just before he died at age 67 in 1945.

Cayce’s own doctors reportedly did not follow his advice. Will you?

A Fox News article is reporting that the governor of the Russian republic of Kalmykia (also former president of the World Chess Federation) claims to have been the victim of alien abduction. The governor, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, told a Russian TV host that the aliens invited themselves into his apartment, transported him aboard their space craft and communicated with him telepathically.  The governor said that there were two other witnesses to the event.

According to the report, also reported by ABC News, the Russian government is taking the story seriously and making plans to question the governor, fearing that the aliens might have been able to glean secret information during the encounter.

The following quote attributed to Ilyumzhinov appears in the Fox News article:

“I believe I talked to them and saw them. I perhaps wouldn’t believe it if it wasn’t for 3 witnesses — my driver, my minister and my assistant,” who were apparently in the apartment at the time, he reportedly said.

Read the Fox News article here, or click here to read the ABC News report.

Cisco, Texas, Highway 183

Looking south on Highway 183, near where Marshal Thomas said the outlaws stopped to rest and divide the stolen bank loot.

As news of a “$500 reward for the capture of the robbers, dead or alive, prefer them dead,” came over the telegraph wire on February 18, Sheriff Schmick and a posse, armed with “Winchesters and plenty of ammunition,” set out after the bandits, tracking them through the snow. That same night, the Times article states that,

Marshal Thomas and part of his posse came in to-night and reported that they had trailed the robbers until 2 o’clock to-day. When Thomas left the trail they were in the sand ruffs [sic], 15 miles south of Cisco, and traveling eastward. They found the spot where the robbers built a fire, ate a lunch, divided the money, and fed their horses. The robbers have not had a change of horses or any sleep. They know the woods perfectly.

According to Marshal Thomas, the robbers didn’t split up the money until February 18, when they were about 15 miles south of Cisco. This contemporary account reported by eyewitnesses provides a credible version of the facts as to where the robbers may have divided up their “change.” According to legend, it was at some point after each man got his share that the money was cached.

The end of the Bill Whitley Gang

The Times article ends with the cliffhanger, “Sheriff Schmick is still after them.” As determined as he apparently was, Sheriff Schmick eventually lost the trail, but the gang’s marauding days reached an end on September 25, 1888, when Bill Whitley was killed and another outlaw was captured in a gunfight with U.S. Marshals at Floresville, Texas.

Brack Cornett (also known as Captain Dick) escaped but was later shot out of the saddle outside Frio, Arizona Territory, by Alfred Y. Allee, a tough Texas lawman.

Facts, rumors and research

 Did members of the Bill Whitley gang hide a stolen treasure somewhere near Cisco, Texas?

Combine the reported facts with the legend of buried bank loot that has been passed around campfires and dinner tables for more 120 years, and you have the makings of a fascinating lost treasure story that may be worth pursuing—if you are willing to do the research. An enterprising treasure hunter might visit the town, talk with the locals, peruse the museum, newspaper archives and library and come up with more clues.

If the legend of the Bill Whitley Gang’s lost treasure is true, a cache (or caches) of silver, gold and bank notes may still lie hidden about 15 miles south, and a little east, of Cisco, Texas—somewhere, as Marshal Thomas said, “in the sand ruffs,” perhaps near a long abandoned railroad track and marked by a crude cross and arrow carved in a boulder.


Wikipedia article about Brack Cornett
“They Wanted Some Change,” The New York Times, February 16, 1888
Eckhart, Jerry, “The Legend Never Dies–The Cisco Bank Robbery,” Lost Treasure, January 1986
Montgomery, Murray, “Train robbery in Flatonia, Texas” (excerpted from “The Train Robbery,” The Gonzales Inquirer, June 25, 1887
Southwestern Historical Quarterly Online, excerpted from Mason News, February 25, 1888

Tracking the robbers through the snow, the posse “overtook them about four miles south of Putnam, in the direction of Cotton Wood,” but the pursuers’ revolvers and shotguns were no match for the Winchester rifles wielded by the robbers, and they were unable to corral the thieves. Fortunately, even though the posse couldn’t match the desperadoes’ firepower, the snow-covered ground made tracking easy, ensuring a clear record of the gang’s escape route and resting areas, an important fact.

Rumors of buried treasure

Rumors that the outlaws buried their stolen loot nearby persist among Cisco locals, according to a Lost Treasure magazine article, as a tale told in “cafes and on the ‘spit and whittle’ bench….”

The author of the above mentioned article suggested that the gang had split up the loot and hid it near what is now Lake Cisco:

About six miles northwest of present day Lake Cisco, the posse lost sight of the robbers. For some 30 minutes they had no idea where the bandits or the loot were. When the gang of four began to move again, it was due east. By this time, the posse had split up to search for the trail. Once found, they were again in hot pursuit, only much closer due to the time lost by the bandits. That time was spent hiding the money from the Bank of Cisco.

This account is intriguing, but there are factual problems, including the number of robbers (at least one accomplice was driving the getaway wagon, according to the newspaper account, which would have put the number at five outlaws) and the omission of the fact that the snowy ground made for easy tracking. It was the outlaws’ Winchesters that made the pursuers keep their distance—not a lost trail. This version was most likely derived from conversations with locals; no sources are listed. Time can distort facts, especially when stories are passed down orally, but rumors are sometimes based on a core of truth.

Clues to a hidden cache

Even more tantalizing is an account from the same article purportedly spilled by a captured gang member pleading for leniency, who revealed how the robbers had hidden their bounty—and where. Although, again, there are inconsistencies (including where and when the gang was captured), and no source is cited, the story is captivating:

His story was that once they rode into the thick brush northwest of Cisco and were out of sight of the posse, they pulled up to let their horses rest. It was then the four decided to ditch the money until they could shake off pursuit. Once free of the chase they would return, split up the cash and go their separate ways.

On the brow of the hill was a large rock outcrop. In that outcrop ran a diagonal split about a foot wide. The dropped the coin-filled saddlebags into the split and covered them with dead leaves and brush. The leader of the gang then scratched a cross on a boulder nearby. Adjacent to the split, he scratched an arrow pointing upward.

Because all four of the gang were present there was no need to devise a map or any type of code…. All they needed was a reference point they could spot from horseback. That reference point was a lone hill about two miles north of the railroad tracks.

Still another version of events, excerpted from the Cisco Chamber of Commerce website, tells it like this:

Jim Thomas, City Marshal, hastily organized a posse, and within an hour every able bodied man in the community was hot in pursuit of the bandits. They rode all night and in the early morning hours came upon the dying camp fire the bandits had used in warming themselves and dividing loot. The camp was located 12 miles west of Cisco, near where Putnam now stands. From that point the posse struck a cold trail and nothing was ever seen of the bandits or the $10,000 they took from the bank.

While it appears factual that the gang initially fled in a “northwesterly direction,” toward present-day Lake Cisco, as the Lost Treasure article states, and that the posse did catch up with the robbers south of Putnam, the Times article seems to eliminate both of the above scenarios for where and when the gang might have stashed their stolen loot (as Part 3 of this series will explore).


Wikipedia article about Brack Cornett
“They Wanted Some Change,” The New York Times, February 16, 1888
Eckhart, Jerry, “The Legend Never Dies–The Cisco Bank Robbery,” Lost Treasure, January 1986
Montgomery, Murray, “Train robbery in Flatonia, Texas” (excerpted from “The Train Robbery,” The Gonzales Inquirer, June 25, 1887
Southwestern Historical Quarterly Online, excerpted from Mason News, February 25, 1888

They only wanted some change.

The streets of Cisco, Texas, must have been a slushy mix of snow and mud on February 15, 1888, when a member of the Bill Whitley outlaw gang (sometimes called the Brack Cornett gang) walked into the Bank of Cisco just before closing and approached the cashier, C.C. Leveaux, innocently asking for some change. According to an article published the following day in the New York Times, before the cashier had a chance to respond, three other men walked into the bank, and “one of them thrust the muzzle of a pistol in Leveaux’s face and told him that was the kind of change he wanted.”

When the Bill Whitley gang robbed the bank at Cisco, the band of roughly 12 men already had a string of robberies behind them. Robbery for the greedy gang had become as natural as pulling on their dusty leather boots. In June of 1887, the gang had robbed a train near Flatonia, escaping with $1,200 in cash and $1,000 in watches and jewelry, most of which they took from the passengers. One newspaper account reported this heist as being much larger—about $14,000 in money, in addition to the valuables. The same newspaper reported that the gang robbed a train about a month later near the same location (closer to Flatonia), this time making away with $35,000.

Back to the Cisco holdup, while three of the robbers held the cashier, the treasurer and another man at bay, a third looted the safe and money drawer of $9,000 (some accounts have it lower or much higher) in gold and silver coins and bank notes, plus a gold watch and other valuables. The bandits then forced the three hostages out the back door, over a tall fence and into an alley, while the robbers climbed the opposite fence and hopped into a getaway wagon, which, it must be assumed, took them to where their horses were tied a short distance away.

According to the February 16, 1888, New York Times article:

The robbers, when about 200 yards from the bank, drew their pistols, fired several shots, held up their bags of money, and shook them at the people. In five minutes Marshal J. T. Thomas and several citizens were on the trail. The robbers went in a northwesterly direction.

View Cisco Bank Robbery Part 1 in a larger map

This would put their initial route of escape toward the area of present-day Lake Cisco, which is located on Sandy Creek about 5 miles north of Cisco, where one author has speculated that the money was divvied up and hidden; however, we will see in the next installment of this series that this account doesn’t quite match the reported facts, which are admittedly scant, according to the contemporary newspaper account of the robbery.

Wikipedia article about Brack Cornett
“They Wanted Some Change,” The New York Times, February 16, 1888
Eckhart, Jerry, “The Legend Never Dies–The Cisco Bank Robbery,” Lost Treasure, January 1986
Montgomery, Murray, “Train robbery in Flatonia, Texas” (excerpted from “The Train Robbery,” The Gonzales Inquirer, June 25, 1887
Southwestern Historical Quarterly Online, excerpted from Mason News, February 25, 1888

West of Ardmore, Oklahoma, on the north side of Highway 70, an abandoned old ranch house stood for many years before finally succumbing to nature and collapsing, the ruins eventually disappearing behind a curtain of scrub oaks, briars and brush. But, according to a story told by old timers who once knew the family that lived there before and during the Great Depression, this modest wooden clapboard structure had a strange and fascinating history.

One night, as the family sat down to supper, a dusty cowboy, dressed in chaps and boots, appeared outside the kitchen screen door, looking in at them, expressionless. Surprised by their unannounced guest, the family called out to him, asking what he wanted. Was he hungry? In those days, a hungry stranger was seldom turned away. There was no response from the quiet cowboy, just a blank stare as looked at them through the screen door. Then, slowly, he faded away as the family looked on, disappearing into nothing.

The next night the cowboy returned, and events repeated themselves. Without a word, the ghost again dematerialized in front of the frightened family. Every night, at suppertime, the silent apparition stood outside and looked at the family inside, saying nothing, ignoring their questions—and then vanishing.

Eventually learning not to fear their mysterious guest, the family became used to his regular visits, going about their suppertime ritual as usual, never unraveling the mystery of their otherworldly friend and why he kept returning, night after night.

One possible clue as to the motivation of this ghostly ranch hand might have been revealed one day when I stopped by the old home place to do some metal detecting and bottle digging. Knowing the paranormal history of the place, I planned, just out of curiosity, to do a little ghost hunting while I was at it.

First though, I stopped to ask permission from the landowner, who lived up the hill from the shadowy hollow where the ranch house had once stood. He was friendly and obviously glad to have someone to talk to, so I asked him if he had heard the “stories” about the place, and he responded that, yes, he had heard the stories—but nobody to his knowledge had ever found the money, if it ever was buried there in the first place.

This information took me by surprise—I had no idea there was a buried treasure story associated with the place. Wanting to know more, I asked the old man if he knew any details about the buried treasure tale, but he didn’t know anything else—it was just a persisting legend whose origins were long forgotten.

I spent considerable time metal detecting the old place, with a lot of interesting finds. But I never saw the ghost, and no buried treasure came to light under the coil of my detector.

Was the cowboy ghost trying to tell the family about his treasure? Money he had buried, perhaps, and never had a chance to recover when he was alive? Had he come back to claim it or try to show them where it was located with his icy, unblinking stare that seemed to look right through them? Maybe he was staring right at the spot where the treasure was buried? Silly, maybe, but it is food for the imagination, and some research into the history of the old McCullough house might reveal the origins of the treasure story.

Exploring this mystery might not lead to buried treasure, but it makes for a captivating story around the campfire. And if you’re into treasure hunting and ghost hunting, pack a picnic, a metal detector and a lawn chair. Walk down the hill to the old home site and do some detecting (you’ll be able to see a few remains of the old house). Then, get comfortable in your chair, wait for dusk to descend—and see what happens….

For more info: This is a story passed down verbally, but some digging might reveal more.
Sources: Conversations with an acquaintance of the family who lived in the ranch house and the author’s personal experience.
© 2011 Phantom Footsteps Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha