The fascination surrounding the reality-television show “The Curse of Oak Island” has continued over the years, as viewers loved the idea of looking for a legendary treasure that had been buried since the late 1700’s. People believing that as it was cursed which added more intrigue and attracted not only treasure hunters, but also those who loved tales. Some people believed that there’s an unbelievable amount of gold from a Spanish Galleon or historical artifacts that were left by the Knights Templar, both highly unlikely given the time span, while some thought that the loot of the 17th century Scottish pirate Captain Kidd was secretly stashed there. Whether the tales were true or fabricated, the TV show became a platform for people to learn more about history, as the stars of each season of the show struggled to unravel the mystery of Oak Island.
- 1 “The Curse of Oak Island” – The TV Show
- 2 Lessons from “The Curse of the Oak Island”
“The Curse of Oak Island” – The TV Show
How it all started
The Lagina Brothers, Marty and Rick, had come across an old article about Oak Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, from a 1965 edition of Reader’s Digest. Initially, it was the older brother Rick who, when 11 years old, became absorbed in the story about booby traps and wood timbers found in the Money Pit. He told the tale to his younger brother Marty, who came to share his fascination for the island. Later on, their father showed them front-page articles about the said Oak Island from the Wall Street Journal, and it fueled the fire that started to consume the Lagina brothers’ growing interest. It was just like the adventure they both read in their favorite “Hardy Boys” series. Over the years, the subject would always come up during family holiday celebrations, and their fascination endured through the years, and even in their 40’s, they dreamed of searching for the buried treasure.
Bought half of the island
When Marty was in Florida, he read from the back of a magazine that there were islands for sale, and that Oak Island was among them. He called Rick about it and they had a meeting with the agent, but unfortunately the island wasn’t for sale, being just a misunderstanding, but they weren’t discouraged and searched for its owners, David Tobias and Dan Blankenship. David had had enough of treasure hunting and sold his share, however, as per the agreement between Dan and David, Dan had the right to approve or reject any sale.
Fortunately, it wasn’t the first time that Dan met the Lagina brothers – there was a time when they went to the island to talk to Dan about becoming investors. They saw him clearing out bushes alone, and before they were even formally introduced, the brothers found themselves helping Dan with the task. Their good deed saw them invited to Dan’s house where they met his family.
Some discoveries come easier than others, but tonight's finds could make all the digging worth while. Don't miss a new episode of The Curse of Oak Island tonight at 9/8c on The HISTORY Channel! pic.twitter.com/qz16FT0Niu
— Curse of Oak Island (@CurseOfOak) April 13, 2021
However, before they could even broach the subject of investing in the treasure hunt, Dan left. It wasn’t a snub as Rick recalled; it was more of Dan having so much work to do, and so leavingt in a hurry.
The brothers weren’t the only ones interested in the other half of the island. A Swiss developer was bidding for it with a much higher price, but since Dan met the brothers earlier and saw that they were also devoted treasure hunters, he accepted their proposal. So Rick and Marty became the new owners of half of the island.
Got hold of the permits
They had a difficult time acquiring the permit to legally dig on the island, or what they called Treasure Rights from the Canadian government. They were only able to get it in 2012, when the Canadian government abolished the Treasure Trove Act, and replaced it with the Oak Island Act. Now they could dig on the island, but they needed to adhere to the splitting terms in which they got to keep 90% of the treasure, and the government would have the remaining 10%, except for the artifacts.
Offered a TV Deal – “The Curse of the Oak Island”
Through their interest in Oak Island, the TV production company, Prometheus Entertainment, approached them to do a reality TV show surrounding their treasure hunt. All the owners agreed, and the first episode premiered on 5 January 2014. The main cast of the show was the Lagina brothers along with Dan, and his son Dave Blankenship. They were supported by Craig Tester, Dan Henskee, Charles Barkhouse and Peter Fornetti. Over the years, they were joined by other family members and experts who were also passionate about hunting for the buried treasure. The TV show’s title, “The Curse of the Oak Island,” was decided by the creators not only due to the interest that it would attract, but also the legend that said seven people must first die for the treasure to reveal itself. Apparently, there were already six deaths, and during the first episode of the show, it was implied that someone from the cast might be next.
Lessons from “The Curse of the Oak Island”
For several decades, many theories surfaced on what was buried on Oak Island. Each season of the show, viewers get to learn about the historical significance of all the theories that were thrown into the discussion. It was only fitting to have the show “The Curse of Oak Island,” aired over cable TV’s History Channel. As Rick and Marty took each step closer to solving whatever mystery surrounding it, fans were treated to a more interesting way of learning some important historical events.
The Oak Island Legend and Franklin Delano Roosevelt
In the late 18th century, a man-made hole later nicknamed the “Money Pit,” was discovered by 16-year-old Daniel McGinnis and his two friends, while going around the 140-acre wooded Oak Island somewhere on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia in Canada. It piqued the imagination of the three teens, as they started to dig into the hole, and every 10 feet – three meters – they found oak logs floors, and continued to dig until they could no longer do it, and gave up the search.
When the discovery became public, it initiated a treasure hunt that attracted many people from several countries for more than 200 years. Another group, the Onslow Company, started digging in 1802, and found items such as charcoal, a stone slab with embedded symbols, and coconut fiber that encouraged them to dig some more until they reached 98 feet, where water started to fill the pit and flooded it to a depth of around 60 feet, close to 20 meters of water. They couldn’t understand where the water came from, so they gave up the excavation. This was the legendary tale that Rick and Marty Lagina learned about that led them to start their journey as treasure hunters in the TV show, “The Curse of Oak Island.”
Over the years, the money that’s been thrown into the excavation of the Money Pit amounts to millions of dollars, and even caught the interest of famous people. including former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. When he was a 27-year old law clerk, he joined his former schoolmates in the Old Gold Salvage and Wrecking Company expedition.
The group excavated the Money Pit on Oak Island, hoping to get their hands on the treasure – in the fourth season of the show, FDR’s fascination with the Oak Island treasure was discussed.
The former President grew up hearing stories about it, and believed that the lost treasure of Louie XVIII and Marie Antoinette was buried there by one of her trusted ladies-in-waiting who left for Canada. The lady would later claim that they it was buried at the Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, however, their search wasn’t successful, and FDR returned to the US and focused on his public service. It was reported that even during his second term as President, he was still very much interested in Oak Island, and received updates on the results of new expeditions.
Knights Templar Precious Artifacts
One of the names that was consistently associated with Oak Island was that of the Knights Templar. There had been many stories about them, which added more mystery towards the supposed buried treasure.
In the medieval era, a large association of devout Christians known as the Knights Templar, undertook several missions including providing security to Europeans who traveled to the Holy Land. At that time, it was difficult not to get killed or robbed when passing the Muslim-controlled areas, without the protection of the Knights Templar. They even carried out military operations, and seemed to be well-funded. Initially, they were chastised by some religious leaders, but then in 1129, prominent French abbot, Bernard of Clairvaux gave his full support to this secretive group.
Moreover, in 1139, Pope Innocent II released a Papal Bull that gave the Knights Templar special privileges so that they could fully act on their holy missions. They were under no other authority except that of the Pope, and were exempted from paying taxes, which made the group considerably wealthier. It was justified as each member swore an oath of obedience, chastity, and poverty.
No member could swear, drink, or gamble. As years passed by, their numbers grew and they established several chapters in Western Europe.
Some historians believed that lost treasure of the organization included Christian relics such as the Holy Grail and The Ark of the Covenant were buried in the Money Pit. In the third season of the TV show, the treasure hunting team visited the town of Overton which showed them “The Overtone Stone.” It was a huge carved boulder that was used to commemorate the relationship between the Mi’kmaq, a local tribe, and the Europeans. Some of the stone carvings had the cross symbol of the Templars whom local historians believed arrived from Portugal. These markings led to the theory of huge possibility that they hid their treasure on Oak Island.
When the group was disbanded, and most of the known members tortured and killed, there were many interested parties trying to get ahold of the Templars’ amassed wealth over the next few years. Oak Island was believed to have become a stopover during the early centuries for many explorers and travelers, and when human bones of European origin were found on the island, it gave more credibility to this popular theory.
The search is almost on. The Lost Gold Of World War II returns Tuesday, April 28th at 10/9c on HISTORY.
Later in the sixth TV season, the team found a lead Templar Cross along with Templar coins, and had it examined by experts. The lead material wasn’t from North America, but had European origins, particularly from Southern France. There’s a little town there that was directly connected to the Knights Templar, and the grandmaster of the current chapter of the organization there believed that some of the precious artifacts were buried in the island.
Captain Kidd and Booby Traps
In the fourth season of the “Curse of Oak Island,” the team went to the South Shore Genealogy Center in Lunenberg to look at some old maps of the island, to give them some clue. They found it interesting that in one part of the island it was listed as “Kidd’s Treasure,” which meant that even back then, cartographers already thought that the pirate’s treasure was buried in the island.
When the Money Pit was first discovered to have been flooded after digging 98 feet, or about 30 meters, it was believed that it was booby-trapped by a pirate.
One of the theories shown during the first season of the TV show, was that the notorious Captain Kidd buried his looted treasure in Oak Island. It was said that the early settlers on the island shared that there was a sailor on his death bed who claimed to be a crew member of Captain Kidd’s ship, who told them that there were two million pounds buried on the island. Apparently, the 17th-century Scottish pirate captain couldn’t carry his loot wherever he went, and so he hid it on the wooded island. When Captain Kidd was later captured, he told the authorities that he was willing to give up his loot in exchange for his life. He claimed that he buried it in a secluded island somewhere east of Boston, but the authorities didn’t want him back on the seas anymore, so they just hanged him.
The team became excited about the findings since back in 1802, when a stone slab carved with strange symbols was discovered by the Onslow Company after reaching 90 feet. It was recently decoded, and experts translated it to “Forty Feet Below. Two Million Are Buried.”
The Legend of Enoch
The sixth season discussed a fascinating theory that viewers undoubtedly found engrossing. “The Curse of Oak Island” team met an author named Alan Butler in Scotland, to fully understand the connection of Enoch from the Old Testament to the island. In the past centuries, most of the people investigating the Money Pit were known members of the Freemasons. If the Knights Templar theory was right, then they were just following Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. In the Bible, Noah was the one who built the Ark as instructed by God. The Freemasons owned an old series of documents called The Legend of Enoch, about how Enoch built a chamber to ensure a place where they could store all the treasures and information before the Great Flood destroyed everything.
Some people believed that the underground chamber could also be found in Oak Island, as what Enoch did in ancient time – the Knights Templar built the Money Pit to keep their priceless religious artifacts. It was another theory that the team would follow through in future seasons.
While Rick and Marty started this journey as treasure hunters, they came to a point that they were now committed to understanding what really took place 200 years ago. Even the producers of the show and their partners were rooting for them to discover a sort of closure. They all wanted to know who excavated the Money Pit and why. Most of the experts who have worked with them believed that the team’s getting closer to finding the truth. The Lagina brothers knew that it’s now their responsibility as to how people would regard Oak Island, and hoped that they could soon solve the mystery surrounding it.
The TV show is now on its eighth season, and just when they discovered that there was a huge sign of silver in the Money Pit, winter started on Oak Island.