With Spanish galleons passing through the Marianas on their way between Acapulco, Mexico and Manila, it isn't a stretch of the imagination to think that there are treasures at the bottom of the sea when one of these vessels sank. Indeed, the wreck of the Concepcion, which sank in 1638 off Saipan, yielded quite a bit of treasure when it was collected in 1987.
But treasure buried in the ground? On remote Pagan island? With its active volcanoes?
Apparently yes. At least there were stories, told and re-told over and over again, in the 1800s. According to the legend, an English captain, around 1820 or 1822, carried some treasure from Chile or Peru when those countries won independence from Spain. He buried this treasure in Pagan. He later returned to Guam seeking permission from the Spanish Governor to look for his treasure in Pagan.
Several newspapers around the world carried a story in 1916 about 50,000 being wasted in an attempt to retrieve "pirate's treasure" at Pagan Island, "in the Ladrones" islands. Navigational books of the time also make mention of this myth of buried treasure. Georg Fritz, German Governor of the Northern Marianas, also wrote an even more detailed, or perhaps embellished, account of the legend.