money digger

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Jul 13 15:14:41 UTC 2011


The recently revised M section of the OED has the following for "money

money-digger n. U.S. a treasure hunter, esp. one who believes buried
treasure can be located by divination or other mystical means.

1820    B. Silliman Remarks Tour Hartford &
Even to this hour‥new pits are excavated by the insatiable money diggers.

1870    J. De Mille Boys of Grand Pré
148   We haven't any mineral rod, nor any magic ceremonies. We're merely a
plain, hard-working crowd; not of money-diggers, but of archæologists.

1998    New Republic<>
ed.) 23 Feb.,   Smith and many of his contemporaries became avid

Here are more:

     ON Monday Night the 20th Instant, made his Escape, or was taken off
from one of the Islands called the Two Brothers, near Hell Gate, a Negro Man
named JACOB, belonging to Henry Brasier, and formerly known in this City, by
the Name of the Fu-Fu Negro, or Money-Digger.  He is between 40 and 50 Years
of Age. . . .  He speaks both English and Dutch, and was born and brought up
in the Jersies. . . .  ***
     N-Y Gazette, February 27, 1769, p. 3, col. 3

     [a long account of an attempt to dig up Cap't. Kid's treasure, in a
cellar, Gold near Beekman:] a bible lying open, with something like a sword
across it, and some long bright iron rods with other apparatus of wizards
and moneydiggers. . .

Commercial Advertiser (N. Y.), April 23, 1822, p. 2, cols. 2‑3


      The Money Digger at Fault. [in Tuckyhoe; "a forlorn looking personage"
who has learned from a dream that gold was buried on a gentleman's property;
he uses a forked hazel twig, "well known and much believed in . . . among
the old negroes in Kentucky"; finds nothing]
     Evening Star (N. Y.), May 2, 1837, p. 2, col. 4.  (It does not seem
that this forlorn

personage was black, though.)


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ.
Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.

The American Dialect Society -

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