The Strange, Mysterious Case of Brother Twelve


Brother Twelve, in the hat, holds court beneath the Tree of Wisdom in Vancouver.
Brother Twelve, in the hat, holds court beneath the Tree of Wisdom in Vancouver.

“Come, follow me,” he said. “I will deliver you safely through impending Armageddon.” Brother Twelve preached these words in the late 1920s.

“Impending Armageddon? When?” Mr. Osborne asked. “When will the turmoil be upon us?”

“Soon, my friend. The stock market is going to crash any day now. Depressive times will cover the land. You will see. Mark my word. You will be safe here with me in my haven. Your body will be cleansed of infirmities through daily rituals. All that is required is that you leave your worldly goods behind and follow me here to the City of Refuge, escape the period of demolition. You will profit much from sitting with me beneath the Tree of Wisdom here,” Brother Twelve continued. “Any donations to the cause will be greatly appreciated.”

Searching for the gold Brother Twelve left behind.
Searching for the gold Brother Twelve left behind.

“I believe what you say is the truth,” a new and interested party voiced. Caroline Landsdown was almost ready to go with Brother Twelve. When the stock market did crash a few days later, she became a true believer. Joshua Osborne had already cashed in all of his worldly goods and given the proceeds to Brother Twelve as a donation for the City of Refuge. Miss Landsdown was not far behind and did the same thing, as did hundreds of otherwise intelligent people. They moved their lives to the City of Refuge, a colony perched on an area of Vancouver Island.

Since Brother Twelve did not believe in paper currency, or banks, he converted all of the donations that poured forth into gold. He put the gold in Mason jars and buried it in secret locations. He moved the burial spots for his hoard frequently, to avoid discovery.

Beneath the Tree of Wisdom, a giant moss-covered maple, Brother Twelve spun more delightful tales. “I come to you from an astral plane. There are eleven other Masters of Wisdom there. I am known as Brother Twelve and I have been appointed to bring my followers, my disciples, though the days of Armageddon to come.

The obedient disciples soon cleared off more land with blood, sweat and tears. The settlement expanded to parts of DeCourcy and Valdes islands. They planted crops. Brother Twelve appreciated their labors from the lap of luxury, himself. He watched them plant and raise crops that went a long way toward sustaining them all.

You may be wondering. Was there a “Mrs. Brother Twelve?” No, not legally but there was a mistress. His need for a female helpmate may have been what led to his downfall. As Brother Twelve went on to spin his tales, he added that he and his mistress were the reincarnations of the ancient Egyptian deities Isis and Osiris. For some reason Isis went insane and he had to take another mistress, Madame Zee.

Madame Zee was a sadist who brandished a whip against some of the followers, calling it spiritual discipline. The couple had also acquired a sailboat, the Lady Royal, and they used it as a place to perform black magic. Some of their rituals on the boat involved using black arts, hexes, and spells to kill those they felt were not getting with the program in a timely fashion.

It took a little while, but the followers did get wise. They revolted and sued Brother Twelve for the return of the money they had so eagerly donated before. Brother Twelve was a sham, they decided.

Brother Twelve and his mistress were able to destroy the settlement, scuttle the Lady Royal, and make off on a tugboat. No one knows where they ended up. Some say Brother Twelve popped up, himself, a year later in Switzerland. Was he able to cart off all of his gold filled jars when he left Vancouver? That is the big mystery. Treasure hunters don’t believe he had time to get it all and have looked for it for years. One such person stuck his hand into a hollowed out hiding place Brother Twelve had once used for the gold and pulled out a scrap of old tar paper. “For fools and traitors—nothing!” This is what the tar paper said.

Who was Brother Twelve, really? He was a former sea captain named Edward Arthur Wilson. That is who he really was.

Sara Marie Hogg’s latest book is Quite Curious, tales of the unknown and unexplained.




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