Even the circumstances surrounding the beginning of this story cannot be known with absolute certainty. There were no Facebook posts or Tweets to announce the event, no selfie photos or iPhone videos to capture the sequence of activities. These were far simpler times wherein even the written word was not always the norm in rural communities. Much was left to the oral tradition.
What we do have is the testimony of each generation of searchers who readily shared their knowledge with each subsequent generation. From 1795 onward, the story, while undoubtedly embellished, was never lost and eventually began to be documented.
Two of the earliest written accounts come to us in newspapers, the Liverpool Transcript of October 16, 1862 and the Colonist of Halifax in January 2, 1864, almost 70 years following the initial discovery.
Judge Mather B. DesBrisay’s History of Lunenburg County (1870) was the first to include the Oak Island story in a book and his introduction is as worthy as any, notwithstanding a preference towards the Captain Kidd theory prevalent at that time (and remains a viable candidate today). It is also worth noting that the daughter of one of the original discoverers, Ms. Mary Smith, lived with the DesBrisay family for many years and reasonably would have been a source of information. We also have the Oak Island Treasure Company’s public share offering of 1893 which chronicles the newer discoveries made up until that date.
Those familiar with the Oak Island story will recognize that certain details in these early accounts do not fully align with other written versions of the circumstances by which Daniel McInnis first came to be on the island in 1795. Likewise is the case regarding the question of whether the old tackle block actually existed, the diameter of the shaft (7, 12, or 13 feet) or at what specific intervals oak platforms, charcoal, and putty were encountered in the shaft.
These specifics will never be known because the oral history is no longer verifiable. Regardless, we humbly submit that it simply does not matter because what was subsequently discovered at lower levels within and surrounding the “Money Pit” on Oak Island render those details moot.