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Graves, Gold, & an Ax to the Face – A Texas Cemetery Legend

Texas Parks & Wildlife Photo
Texas Parks & Wildlife Photo

It’s the time of year for ghost stories, but it’s often the case that tales involving the living are far more terrifying and raise more fascinating questions.

Frank Benson’s is one such story.

In the mid-1800’s, Benson farmed land which now makes up part of Lake Bob Sandlin State Park in Pittsburg, Texas.

At the time, a frontier outpost designated Fort Sherman stood nearby. One day, three armed men ambushed Benson and demanded that he take them to the fort’s cemetery, where they believed they’d find a cache of hidden gold.

How Benson was supposed to know where the gold might be isn’t clear, but he led the robbers to the site, where they spent all day searching in vain.

As the sun made its way to the western horizon, the bandits took Benson back to his farmhouse, convinced that he was holding out on them.

When they arrived at the homestead, Benson managed to lure the men to the loft, where he brandished an ax and killed one of his captors.

The other two grabbed their partner in crime and hightailed it out of there. A posse followed the blood trail for miles, but never did find the trio.

Benson became convinced the survivors would return seeking vengeance, so he sold his property in 1858 and moved.

The story, recently shared by Texas Parks and Wildlife as part of their State Parks Legends series, leaves a lot to the imagination, which makes it all the more fascinating.

Who were the three men? What reason did they have to believe that there was gold in the cemetery, or that Benson held the key to finding it? What was the conversation like as they dug hole after hole without finding so much as a shiny rock? And what did Benson say that convinced them to follow him into a dark loft in his own house?

What became of the surviving bandits, and did Benson spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder?

We’ll likely never know, but if any aspiring writers or directors want to get to work on filming a tense Western drama about that day, we’ll happily buy a ticket when the time comes.

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