In 1940, Jack and Charlotte Adams moved to Oak Island. Jack had just secured a job with treasure hunter Edwin Hamilton to keep a watch on the pumps and other gear he had ferried to the island in his attempt to solve the mystery. They brought their youngest children to live with them, in a small shack, divided by a grey army blanket to create two rooms. George age ten, and Peggy, four years old rowed in a small dory with their parents from the mainland to Oak Island, the start of an adventure.
One day, when Peggy was playing in Smith’s Cove, she saw something very odd. To this day, she can’t recall all of the details, but she knows she saw something that not only scared her, but amazed her as well. Characters from a Lee Falk’s 1934 cartoon series, Mandrake the Magician and some soldiers in red coats appeared to her in the cove, near the wharf and also near the Cave In Pit. Scared, little Peggy ran to her mother to tell her of the strange incident and described in detail what she saw. Jack and George always suspicious of strangers on the island went to investigate upon returning home from Deer hunting and found no tracks in the snow where Peggy had seen the apparitions. Many years later, Charlotte Adams went to the Citadel Museum in Halifax where she saw 18th century British military uniforms on display just as Peggy had described.
George spent his days traversing between their small Oak Island home and the mainland where he attended school, but his younger sister Peggy stayed on the island occupying herself with helping her mother and exploring a home she later called “beautiful and perfect.” One might think a four year old would become quickly bored on an island, but Peggy had a lot to do. In season she could pick various berries and there was always a gang of men about working on the land cutting logs who looked out for the little tot and gave her shiny red apples. She also spent some time at Mrs. Dauphinee’s house on the other end of the island learning her ABCs and helping her Mom with the inevitable chores like slicing apples to hang on the clothesline to dry. Later, those sliced apples found their way into hot delicious.
In her comfortable home in Lunenburg County, Peggy, now in her seventies, related the story to me and seemed as amazed to tell it as I was to hear it. She and her husband and I gathered in their warm inviting kitchen to talk of Oak Island, their recollections and how it used to be. According to her husband, Peggy was the only treasure to come off of Oak Island. But Peggy had a treasure of her own lined up to show me.
In a small, clear, plastic box, lined with green paper, Peggy showed me an ancient, rusted key she said her father told her he had found “in a pit.” Locks and keys have been around for over 4000 years and with my untrained eyes, it was not possible to determine how old Peggy’s key was, or what it opened sometime in the past. Could it have been a key to some treasure hunters personal collection of papers, perhaps a strong box to hold cash money needed to pay his men. If I allowed my imagination to wander, perhaps the key was for a lock on a four hundred year old treasure box that somehow made it’s way to the surface of Oak Island only to be grabbed by the curious Jack Adams.