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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Renovation yields buried treasure in backyard

Former homeowner who buried silver gives couple half of $47,000 finding

Associated Press

RUPERT, Idaho – A south-central Idaho couple working on a home renovation project dug up a plastic tube filled with 18 silver bars worth nearly $47,000, then tracked down the previous homeowner now living in Utah and split the treasure.

James and Brytten Sievers, of Rupert, said they found the container on Oct. 29 while digging a window well.

“When I got down about 4 feet my shovel hit something that went crunch,” said James Sievers.

He dug up the tube and inside found bars of Johnson-Matthey silver worth about $2,600 apiece.

“I was out there doing the chicken dance in my yard,” James said.

But then he started wondering who buried the silver.

The container had a 1982 date, as did newspapers wrapped around the silver. Some sleuthing found that Clint Nelson had built the home and was living in it in 1982, but had moved to Utah. James Sievers called him.

“I said, ‘I found something in the backyard when I was digging around and I think it’s yours,’ ” Sievers said.

The couple said that when Nelson realized they wanted to return the bars to him, Nelson said his faith in humanity had been restored. He also told them to keep the silver – they didn’t owe him anything.

“So I’m doing the chicken dance again,” James Sievers said. “But 30 minutes later I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to split it with him.”

So last weekend the Sievers packed all the silver – in case Nelson decided he wanted it all – and drove to Utah.

“What a decision to be faced with,” James Sievers said. “I could have just kept my mouth shut.”

But Nelson only accepted half.

“Clint was a businessman and he said someone had paid him in silver,” James Sievers said. “Apparently the bottom had fallen out of silver and he buried it because he was tired of looking at it. He said at one time there were five tubes buried back there and that one just got left behind.”

Instead of reburying the silver, the Sieverses said they opted for a safety-deposit box.