The Curse of Oak Island: Discovery of a massive wharf deepens the mystery

Oak Island team in research center
Rick Lagina, David Fornetti, and Gary Drayton in the Oak Island research center. Pic credit: History

This week on Season 8, Episode 23 of The Curse of Oak Island, the team uncovered an old massive wharf just off the property of 18th-century landowner Samuel Ball, leading to more theories that he was involved in burying secret treasure on the island.

The episode was named Old Wharf’s Tale, and the “tale” in question came from Stuart Wentzell, a Nova Scotian local who had worked on Oak Island for treasure hunter Dan Blankenship way back in the 1970s.

Wentzell was invited into the Oak Island research center to tell the guys about how he had, while diving off-shore in the 1970s, come across large sharp-edged stones under the water’s surface, which he believed had been used as cribbing in a wharf.

He claimed that the wharf had stretched out to sea approximately 100 feet from Samuel Ball’s property. This was all news to the Fellowship of the Dig, so they decided to draft in expert diver Tony Sampson to see if he could find this huge wharf.

The team has long been fascinated by the mysterious Samuel Ball. He was a former slave from South Carolina who fought against the Americans in the Revolutionary War and was granted his freedom by the British.

After the war, Ball settled on Oak Island, where he became a successful cabbage farmer. He amassed about 100 acres of land on the island and nearby. His wealth has never been satisfactorily explained, which has led some to suspect he may have been involved with the fabled treasure buried on the island.

The guys, led by archaeologist Laird Niven, have been exploring his former property for many years now. Last week, they found what looked like a secret trap door in the foundations of his house. The guys are hoping to find treasure underneath.

The team have also found a number of intriguing artifacts on the Ball property that suggest he may have had a connection to the British Navy or to members of that navy. Interesting, as he had been an Army man when he served.

Royal Navy button found at Samuel Ball’s home

On last night’s episode, Alex Lagina found another connection between Ball and the British maritime service when he found a button from a Royal Navy jacket on the cabbage farmer’s property. The button had gold gilding on it, which suggests it belonged to an officer.

A Royal Navy button found on Oak Island
A Royal Navy button found on Oak Island. Pic credit: History

Did Ball have some kind of a relationship with an officer in the British Navy? Perhaps, connected to buried treasure on the island?

Not one, but two wharves bordering Samuel Ball’s property

This puzzle led to diver Tony Sampson donning a wetsuit to check out Wentzell’s tale of a massive wharf just off Ball’s property. And sure enough, he found evidence of two wharves.

The first wharf was a simple small affair, what the guys called a fisherman’s wharf. However, the second was massive, approximately 75 to 100 feet. Why on earth would a cabbage farmer need a wharf of such a size?

An artist's representation Samuel Ball's wharf off Oak Island
An artist’s representation Samuel Ball’s wharf off Oak Island. Pic credit: History

This discovery, along with the theory that the swamp was once an open harbor, combined with the strange hidden stone roadway, all speaks to a massive operation done on the island at least 200 years ago. An operation that was done completely in secret.

As always, the team will keep investigating the mystery.

The Curse of Oak Island airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on History.

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Paul Cape
Paul Cape
2 years ago

Found a mint condition button just like this on pinterest

Nick Bakker
Nick Bakker
2 years ago

In 2018 my wife and I toured Oak Island – and to this day, in spite of the negative comments posted on social media from time to time, I can truly say that we are still keenly interested. I’ve read many books on Oak Island including the one that claims the impressions and flood tunnels were tar kiln related, as partially evidenced by recent discoveries. While that may be true, there is far more that went on here that has yet to be discovered. Samuel Ball, Templar treasure and the missing French treasure from the fort are all very compelling theories, and I’m hoping the team is successful in not only finding the treasure(s) – but also the answers to the entire mystery. I believe they are getting close!
Now that we’re nearing the end of April, the team is likely planning the return to Oak Island, and while we really enjoy the program, hopefully this will be the summer that everything comes together for Rick, Marty and the team and that they are able to put the Oak Island mystery to rest.

Don Daly
Don Daly
1 year ago

The button in question is a Royal Navy Button for a Master and Assistant Master. between 1807-1825, This would put the button well into the time Ball lived on the island. It does show that some from the RN visited the island and possibly Ball.