Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MORIBECHA, Melchior Dias (mo-ree-bav'-tchah). Brazilian miner, born in Sao Paulo about 1689 ; died in Bahia in 1741. Very little is known of his life except that he was a half-breed and worked as a miner, also earning a living as a hunter or a vaquero. During a hunting expedition he discovered rich silver and diamond-mines in the district of Jacobina, and also a silver-mine in the Sierra de Borracia. The Portuguese authorities, having heard of these discoveries, made him propositions to sell his secret, but he obstinately refused to locate the mines, as he had little faith in the generosity of the government. The authorities resolved to compel him to tell his secret, and brought him to Bahia, where he was imprisoned in a dungeon nearly deprived of air, light, and food. He lived five years in this dungeon, and died of his privations, still refusing to reveal his secret. The mines that were seen by Moribecha have not been re-discovered, but their existence can scarcely be doubted. Moribecha composed in his prison some "Roteiros," in which he deplores his misfortune, and which are inserted in Acciole's " Memorias historicas e politicas da provincia da Bahia."
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