Written by: Jeff Rent
Case Filed: 10/30/03 - Hickory, Mississippi
Executive Producer: Rick Garner
"I guess the story I remember most is the story about the treasure that was supposed to have been dumped in (Lake Juson)," Hickory resident Johnnny Burkes recalls.
Local historian Melvin Tingle says, "One of the rumors is that (Pierre Juson) stored the gold there, you know, for safety and nobody's ever found it."
The dark legend surrounding Pierre Juson and his namesake lake in Hickory, Mississippi, is well known to many people in Newton County. Tingle says, "People were sort of superstitious of it, because of the legend that had been handed down as the travelers going up the Jackson Road. People killed, heads chopped off, pitched in the lake. (Juson) collected the gold."
So, the Unexplained investigative team wanted to separate fact from fiction and look in Lake Juson for that hidden blood money. "If you miss it by two inches or you miss it by two miles...you still missed it," says Ronbert Wade of Adventure Divers. "You have to be very deliberate in your search pattern and you have to be very thorough."
This idea isn't unique to the Unexplained team. Burkes recalls, "They tried to send divers down to see if they could find the gold, but it was so deep when they did get to the bottom that they would bog up over their heads in mud and leaves at the bottom...that they couldn't do anything. Two different times they tried to pump this out and they had problems. I have heard they couldn't pump it out, because of underground streams coming out from the creek."
"We're gonna have a lift bag with us," says Wade. "If we do, indeed, find something...do not surface, because you may never find it again. Go ahead and tie off on it, put some air in that lift bag and let that lift bag come to the surface and we'll have a marker on it."
From the moment the divers hit the water, Lake Juson proves to be reluctant to give up any secrets. Adventure Diver Gary Young describes conditions as, "Very dark! Very dark. About a foot of visibility.Your mind can play funny tricks on you down there."
The dive continues as the search crew works in a grid pattern careful not to search areas in which they've already looked. The searchers say conditions at the bottom of Lake Juson made this mission extremely difficult. Wade says, "The bottom is, basically, I reached down as far as I could and never touched a solid bottom. there 's mud and silt and leaf debris about (four feet) deep in there."
"Well, we didn't find anything, but we've got plenty of memories."
Which means the sunken gold could still be at the bottom of this murky lake, buried in that silt and debris. And as long as the legend exists, people will still be drawn to the story of Pierre Juson and this small body of water. Tingle chuckles, "I'm still looking for the gold."
Our thanks to Robert Wade and Gary Young for their assistance in this investigation. If you're interested in scuba training or other exciting underwater training visit the Adventure Divers & Watersports website.