|The Kentucky Standard Dec 15 1900 Vol 1 Number 1|
Conscience Causes Return of Stolen Money.
EPISODE OF THE CIVIL WAR.
Gold Taken From a Nelson County
Farmer Returned to Him After
|A remarkable story of stolen treasure, a quickened conscience and singular restitution is current here, and in substance is about as follows: Among the first pioneers of Nelson county was the Shoptaugh family, worthy and industrious German people, who took up a large tract of land in what is now known as the Samuels' Depot neighborhood. Upon a portion of this land they erected a substantial and roomy brick residence, which was some years ago destroyed by fire. This building was said to be the oldest structure of the kind in this portion of Kentucky.|
|" Uncle Johnnie Shoptaugh," a direct descendant of the original pioneer family, dwelt in this house until his death, which occurred a few years ago. He was an eccentric man in many respects, and at the beginning of the civil war was a well-to-do farmer. He [text blurred and missing] amount of [text missing] round sum of money.|
|In those days there were no banks nearer Bardstown than Louisville, and in such troublesome times it would have been exceedingly risky to travel thirty or forty miles with a large sum of money, so the people were compelled to keep their ready cash about their houses or else bury it in some obscure and unfrequented spot upon their premises. "Uncle Johnnie" was among the number who resorted to the latter plan to preserve his money. He had about $1,500.00 in gold, and, being a Union sympathizer, he conjectured he would fall a ready prey to some of the roving gangs of guerrillas who infested the county.|
|Rumor one day reached him that Quantrell and his band of outlaws were in the neighborhood. That night, accompanied by his eldest daughter, "Uncle Johnnie" went to a remote portion of his farm and buried his precious savings.|
|A few day thereafter the guerrilla band left for other fields, and Mr. Shoptaugh went to resurrect his buried treasure. But, alas! some one had been before him. His money was gone. Investigation followed, but no trace of the missing gold could be found, and in time it was forgotten by all save the loser.|
| Ten or twelve years after the close of the war, and a short time previous to his death, Mr.
Shoptaugh received a message from Father Chambize, a Catholic priest, then stationed at
Nazareth, Kentucky's famous female college, stating that he desired to see him on urgent
business. During the visit that followed the priest asked Mr. Shoptaugh if he had not lost a large
sum of money in a mysterious manner. To the latter's reply in the affirmative, Father Chambize
"Ask no questions and I will return you your money," and forthwith placed a bag containing the lost coin upon the table. Of course, "Uncle Johnnie" made no queries, but took his gold and returned home a very happy man.
|It afterward developed that a young man who was employed on a farm adjoining had by accident discovered the hiding place and appropriated it, and shortly after left the county. However, he had the advantage of a good religious training and could not stand the strain upon his conscience, and he wrote to Father Chambize from a distant state confessing his sin. The latter ordered him to return the money to its rightful owner, which was done, as we have described above.|
|During his possession of the stolen wealth, a period of about sixteen years, the young man had not spent a cent of it, although in the meantime he had traveled over a great portion of the country. He died a few years ago in California.|
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|© July 1999|