Is it any coincidence that president Thomas Jefferson invented a "Cipher Wheel" some years before all this came to light?
I'll concede that at the time the wheel was probably not so well known (being 'reinvented' some 100 years later)
Interestingly Pres Thomas Jefferson spoke out against strong Cryptography - "Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security, will not have, nor do they deserve one either"
I think our Mr Ward used the name Thomas Jefferson Beale as an ironic reference to the then ex-president.
Dont take any facts from this story for granted and/or exactly true. It's a story and most of the facts cannot be verified.
But you have pointed out a nice fact, that can possibly be verified. I think that it's a great idea to put this story back in it's time context. They didn't have computers back in the days so any cryptography would be a pain in the ass to do. A cryptographic tool like this wheel whould be an easy way to do the job.
The problem is that the wheel contains letter of the alphabets and not number. In the first cypher page, the greatest number is 2906, witch cannot come from that wheel alone...
Thank you for that fact,
Here is a link i have found if someone else is interested: