Do you ever wonder about the history of a family when they move into the neighborhood? Questions like: where did they move from? I wonder what prompted them to move here? What do they do for a living? And of course, the ever-popular question, will they make good neighbors?
Of course, you can always do the neighborly thing and go introduce yourself and find out, but what if your neighbors just kept to themselves? Well then, it’s only natural to speculate based on what is outwardly seen. But what if things aren’t exactly what they seem?
I’m your guide, Christina Sommer and I invite you to take a seat in the assembly hall of memories. Welcome to The Bygone Society. A handsome couple, R.S. and Annie M. Payne, moved to Pleasant Hill in the fall of 1891. They bought land about one mile south of Pleasant Hill. On this land they had quite the efficient system created. Payne had employed some men to dig a well where he instructed them to dig until they either struck water or went to hell. Well, they dug 90 feet deep and 16 feet wide. They also had a windmill which they used to transport water from the well to the house, this was considered a modern convenience for the day.
If anyone happened to ride by their house and see Annie Payne on a horse they’d notice that, unlike the ladies of the day that would ride sidesaddle, she rode her horse just like her husband would, one leg on each side of the saddle. Very uncommon for that time’s standard. The Paynes, however, did not have to worry about what people thought of them since they both kept to themselves anyway.
The only person that probably knew them the most from town was a local boy they hired to work the stable and care for the horses. They even presented him with Mrs. Payne’s old gun. That gun, now owned by an area resident, appears more dainty than lethal.
Naturally, the people of Pleasant Hill were curious to know more about their new and unique neighbors and they knew that Mr. Payne bought all of his veterinary supplies from the same Pleasant Hill druggist. One day the druggist came right out and asked Payne what line of business he was in. ‘I’m a horse thief’ was his cold reply. It was a cold shoulder that he gave the druggist as well because from then on, he bought his veterinary supplies elsewhere.
Sometime around 1898, word came to the Cass County Sheriff that Payne was wanted in Kentucky which is when the people of Pleasant hill learned that Payne was a gold-brick salesman.
In those days banks would keep their reserves in their vaults, these reserves were in the form of gold bricks until they needed to melt them down for coinage or sell them. Western mining companies hired salesmen, like Payne, to sell their gold bricks directly to the banks.
But Payne was far from an ordinary gold brick salesman. His bricks were almost entirely lead, coated with gold. He was also a few steps ahead of his customers as well. You see, bankers often checked the bricks they bought by drilling through the centers of the bricks to make sure they were entirely gold. So, Goldbrick Payne always filled the centers of his bricks with pure gold like its outer coating. It’s no wonder why they kept to themselves. Now that it was known that Mr. Payne was a wanted man, the Cass County sheriff immediately took some deputies to the Payne place and when he answered the door he was as calm as can be. Payne agreed to go with the deputies promptly. He did have one request though. He asked if he could go upstairs to say goodbye to his wife. The sheriff agreed but kept a close eye on the door Payne closed at the top of the stairs.
Some time passed, a bit too long for just a goodbye, so the sheriff went up the stairs and knocked on the door. Mrs. Payne opened it and informed the sheriff that Mr. Payne had been gone for some time. He had climbed out of the bedroom window, over the porch roof, dropped to the ground, and got ahold of his horse, and rode off.
It seemed that Annie was left behind and without a clue of the situation. It is said that she sold the property as quickly as possible and returned to Kentucky. And if Annie truly didn’t make any acquaintances in Pleasant Hill then this story would end here. But, her former neighbor did receive a letter from Annie. In it, she writes that Goldbrick Payne was captured and jailed and had committed suicide in jail. Perhaps Annie had friends in Pleasant Hill after all. Friends that kept a record of Goldbrick Payne’s dismal ending after such a unique career.
And now that we are on the topic of gold, there’s forever with us the story of buried gold. But instead of a pirate's map with an X marking the spot of buried treasure, this gold is from post-Civil war outlaw days. It is said that it’s “somewhere in the vicinity of the Jack Mainprize land, north of town. Unfortunately, the legend is brief and mentions that the outlaws buried a large amount of gold during a hurried retreat in an area that is as vaguely described as the amount buried. Who knows? we may be sitting on a lost treasury.