History of St. Joseph Heights: Buried treasure!

Posted on: May 31, 2018 5:00 pm
Tags: Archives, Did you know,

Mr. Bob Kress is a treasure hunter. He attends the monthly meetings of Northern Kentucky Treasure Hunters. After retiring, Mr. Kress was able to spend more time with his hobby of metal detecting. In 2011 he requested permission to search the grounds of the provincial center for historic and interesting artifacts. Sr. M. Joan Terese Niklas, provincial archivist, was delighted with the project and hoped that the buried treasure of the St. Joseph medal (planted over 100 years ago) might be discovered. 

Many medals have been found, but not yet the medal that the Sisters buried many years ago. However, through the years items unearthed have contributed to the history of the former Heck farm. Prior to the searching of Mr. Kress, the 1927 Dedication Booklet of St. Joseph Heights mentioned that ground was broken on March 19, 1926. “Incidentally, the excavators soon realized that they were digging in former Native American territory, for they found arrows, tomahawks and other artifacts of Native American occupation.

Among the items found since 2011 was the Silver Wings of the Army Air Corps. During World War II free dinners were offered to servicemen at the annual Fourth of July  Festival held at the Heights. Also associated with the festival was a totally intact glass saltshaker. In addition, thimbles promoting “Brent Spence for Congress,” that were distributed to the patrons.

Some other buried treasures include a Lotthammer Stutzel Sterling Silver 1900 vintage sewing thimble; Civil War bullet; jacks played by boarders (1912-1922) who attended school at the Heights; a wide variety of coins; and many other artifacts. The search continues! 


Prior to 1912, when Theodore Heck sold his farm to the Sisters of Notre Dame, the Sisters buried a medal of St. Joseph on the Heck Farm and offered a prayer with a promise. If Mr. Heck would sell his farm, the Sisters would name the newly acquired acres “St. Joseph Heights.” Mr. Heck sold his farm and the Sisters kept their promise. That medal is a buried treasure on the property of the current Covington provincial center. In the 1930’s Mrs. Charles Trame presented a statue of St. Joseph as a gift to the Sisters of Notre Dame. The statue is located at the end of the main entrance drive. This photo may be viewed on page 39 of the paperback Covington’s Sisters of Notre Dame. To access a copy of this pictorial history authored by Michael Hargis, contact Sr. M. Joan Terese Niklas, SND, in the convent archives at 859-392-8120.

Lydia Dykes
Date: on November 12, 2018

Thank you for sharing this amazing story.

Tina Kappel Turner
Date: on June 14, 2018

Thank you Sister, what a fascinating story!

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