My turn: Old hermit’s treasure was hidden

Robbery was immediately suspected as the motive for the 1951 slaying of Old Josh Blocher.

The hermit who started the community of Progress, located between Muleshoe and Farwell, had long been rumored to have money hidden away somewhere.

He owned the land where he lived and for decades peddled the lots in hopes Progress could live up to its name as an economic focal point for the region.

He sold several of the lots, but never seemed to spend money, not even on food. Multiple reports had him scrounging through the leftovers of area lunch counters and grocery stores, from Clovis to Muleshoe.

When Thomas Livesay and Lester Stevens were charged with Blocher’s murder in October 1951, they told authorities they were after his supposed riches, the Amarillo Daily News reported.

But after beating Blocher and leaving him to die in a Bailey County cotton field, the killers netted just 13 cents found in Blocher’s wallet.

Livesay and Stevens told investigators they searched Blocher’s one-room shack, even digging in its dirt floor, but found no money.

The old man had $4 in his bank account when he died, the Amarillo paper reported.

But when law officers searched Blocher’s shack and disposed of the accumulated trash, they found three fruit jars buried in the dirt, each stuffed with cash.

It totaled $9,000, Sheriff Hugh Freeman told reporters. That’s about $75,000 in today’s economy.