A Survey of Declaration of Independence Word Frequency in The Beale Papers and 100 “Classic” Short Stories

October 2017

By Robert Ward, Ellicott City, Maryland ​

This research is dedicated to Miss Cecilia (Lily) Powell, a beautiful young writer who left us way too soon.


          This survey measured the frequency of the 348 longest words (six letters or longer) from the Declaration of Independence (DOI) in the text of The Beale Papers, a cryptographic, treasure mystery published anonymously in 1885 in Lynchburg, Virginia, and 100 “classic” tales of fiction.  The results determined that The Beale Papers contained the highest number of words which were spelled exactly as the corresponding 348 DOI study words.  The study also found that The Beale Papers had the highest frequency of words which were grammatically “related” to the 348 DOI study words.  In both cases, (exact and related) The Beale Papers has a significantly large enrichment of DOI words.

The Last Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe: An Identification of “Poe Preferences” contained in The Beale Papers

January 2002

Between 1832 and his death in 1849, Edgar Poe authored seventy tales of fiction. These stories ranged in length from his three novel/journals, The Unparalleled Adventures of One Hans Pfall, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and The Journal of Julius Rodman to Poe’s last effort, the never completed, one and a half page, The Light-House. All of these fictional tales contain words, phrases and concepts favored by Poe throughout his career. This monograph sets forth many of these “Poe Preferences” and compares them to The Beale Papers, an anonymous tale of buried treasure published in 1885 in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Hiding In Plain Sight: Observations Concerning the Text of The Beale Papers

August 2011

The anonymous author of The Beale Papers, a cryptographic, treasure mystery published in 1885 in Lynchburg, Virginia, embedded into the text of the story hundreds of words from the Declaration of Independence. These DOI words were seamlessly written into the text with such skill and artistry that they have remained hidden for more than one hundred and twenty-five years. The placement of such a high volume of DOI words throughout the story suggests a purpose and design that may conceal a code or some other type of secret writing. The identification of these DOI words throughout the letters, statement, decryption and narrative included in the story, all purportedly written by different individuals, also presents persuasive evidence that The Beale Papers was authored by one man.

A Comparison of “Errors” in the Beale “2” Cipher and Poe’s 1840 “Broome County Cypher”

January 2012

From January to April 1840, Edgar Poe published a collection of cyphers as part of his popular series on cryptography, puzzles and conundrums in Alexander’s Weekly Messenger. Although Poe’s apparent skills as a cryptographer amazed the public, many of his cyphers contained errors in decipherment. The “translation” of one of these cyphers in particular, the “Broome County Cypher”, included many “errors” similar to those made in the decryption of the Beale “2” cipher contained in The Beale Papers, a cryptographic treasure mystery published anonymously in 1885 in Lynchburg, Virginia. This monograph examines the decryption of the Beale “2” cipher and Poe’s decryption of the Broome County cypher and explores the similarities in the deciphering “errors” of each cipher. 

Josiah Gregg’s Commerce of the Prairies: A Possible Source for The Beale Papers

April 2012

Josiah Gregg’s Commerce of the Prairies, first published in 1844, is one of the most authoritative sources of the early history of the Santa Fe Trail. The two volume journal documented Gregg’s experiences while travelling along the various routes from Missouri to Santa Fe in the 1830’s, as well as the nine years he resided in what was then the territory of Northern Mexico. The Beale Papers, a cryptographic treasure tale of thirty American adventurers who discovered gold and silver near Santa Fe in 1818, appears to draw liberally from Gregg’s journal. This monograph explores the relationship between Commerce of the Prairies and The Beale Papers. 

Character Development in The Beale Papers: Another Tale of the Ragged Mountains?

January 2014

The Ragged Mountains can be found approximately one hour northeast of Lynchburg on the road to Charlottesville. The mountains were made famous by Poe’s A Tale of the Ragged Mountains (“Ragged Mountains”), published in 1845, which explored various pseudo-scientific topics including what is now referred to as mental telepathy. As in The Beale Papers, a central component of the Ragged Mountains story concerns the relationship between the two protagonists, Augustus Bedloe, a well-to-do convalescent suffering, in 1827, from various neurologic and physical disorders, and a young British Officer, Mr. Oldeb, who served in India in 1780, forty-seven years earlier.

Word Repetition in The Beale Papers

January 2015

The Beale Papers contains a phenomenal amount of word repetition.  The anonymous author of this mysterious treasure story, published in 1885 in Lynchburg, Virginia, embedded hundreds of words from the Declaration of Independence, many of which repeat throughout the tale, into the text of this cryptographic enigma.  The Beale author also created dozens of word doublings that appear in most of the paragraphs throughout his short story.  There are also hints within the text, primarily through word pairings, that the Beale author may have been striving to create some type of symmetrical balance in the construction his short story. The pervasiveness of these word repetitions throughout the Beale tale presents strong evidence that The Beale Papers was written by one person.

“The Journal of Julius Rodman” by Edgar Allan Poe

Read Poe’s tale of North American exploration in which the Rodman party chronology to the Rocky Mountains, albeit seventeen years earlier, precisely matches that of the Beale journey to Santa Fe. 

Commerce of the Prairies

The complete Josiah Gregg's "Commerce of the Prairies", provided by the The Kansas Collection.

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