The Story of Percy Haltman (Altman)

Copyright 2000 Written by Paul Clacher

Percy John Altman died 30/05/1965 aged 79 years. Buried in the St Arnaud cemetery. Very near St Arnaud at the lower end of the old gravel pits near the Pebble Church, can be found the remains of old Percy Haltman's hut. Percy was a miner from Wonthaggi who was hurt in a mining accident there, so he decided to head inland and try his hand at mining for gold and not coal. It was during the depression years in the 1930's that Percy headed to a location near St Arnaud. Percy over many years established himself a small but quite comfortable little hut under a spreading gum tree. Percy had actually made the tree as part of his hut. One could say that the tree was the main support to his hut. Percy worked the various holes in the area and it is said Percy did quite well. In fact it is understood Percy made a reasonable living from gold in the area. It is said the he worked many holes dug by a Jim Rookley, (died 09/11/1935 aged 77 years, buried in the St Arnaud Cemetery) who was a well know gold digger in the area and that Jim Rookley did quite well for himself too.

 It is believed that Percy worked an indicator over in the State Forest somewhere. I have actually been told a possible location, but that's my secret. It is also said that Percy "got a lot of gold out of it, but he died up in hospital " before (as usual) he could tell anyone. It was rumoured that he had gold buried around his hut. In fact, it was said that the Public Trustees actually found about 5 oz of gold in or about his hut. Locals believed that the 5 oz was only a very small quantity that Percy had stashed. If Percy had more gold stashed around that hut, he had it well hidden, I can tell you. I spent days and days searching the area and found only rubbish. I must say though, I did find two secret tube like vaults buried vertically in his hut. But, they were well and truly empty. Worst luck. But, I was quite excited when I located them under a layer of dirt. I thought I was onto it that day.

Percy must have been a cunning old fellow. He always wore a waist coat with black flat round buttons on it. What people did not know, was that the buttons were actually made out of solid gold. You see Percy had made a mould in a house brick and that he would melt down gold which he had found and make a button out of it. He would then blacken the gold buttons with the flame of a candle. I don't know what weight the buttons were but they were about the size of a three pence and were about twice as thick. He probably had a couple of ounces of gold on that waist coat in buttons. A friend of mine, Ella Ebery organised for me one day to view one of Percy's buttons. At that time (1994) the local jeweller had a button attached to a story board, which he was then in possession of.  I must go back there one day, and have another look for Percy's alleged treasures.

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