The Thoen Stone (the stone is now housed in the Adams Memorial Museum in Deadwood, South Dakota) received its name when Louis Thoen and his brother Ivan reportedly discovered the artifact while hauling building stone from the base of Lookout Mountain near Spearfish in 1887. The stone was found near what was described as “the main Indian trail to Deadwood,” with native grasses grown over and covering the stone.
The stone was inscribed with the following account:
The front side read:
Came to these hills in 1833
seven of us
all died but me Ezra Kind
killed by Indians beyond the high hill
got our gold June 1834
The reverse side read:
Got all of the gold we could carry
our ponys all got by Indians
I have lost my gun and nothing to eat
and Indians hunting me.
Locals and scholars raised questions of the authenticity of the “Thoen Stone” immediately, but the Thoens maintained its authenticity throughout their lives. Frank Thomson’s book The Thoen Stone (written in 1966), supported the inscription’s story as written by the elusive and forgotten Ezra Kind, whose roots have been traced back to Saxony, Germany.
So, is the Thoen Stone the real deal? Did Ezra Kind scratch the hasty message on a piece of stone for the Thoen brothers to find 50 years later, or did the Thoens create and perpetuate the lie?
We may never know for certain, but the researchers keep digging.
“The Thoen Stone,” by Frank Thomson Adams Museum, Deadwood, South Dakota “History of Homestake Gold Mine,” author unknown “The Lance and the Shield,” Robert Utley