The Quest for Jean Lafitte

The 'Pirates of the Caribbean' craze has raised the intensity of the search for some of the real life pirates in America's past. Please remember there were some sincerely sinister swashbucklers infesting the Gulf of
 Mexico and the Caribbean Sea from 1620-1848 AD. This time frame comprises several ages, the Golden Age being from approx 1700 - 1776. The most famous American pirate lived after that - Jean Lafitte (1776 - 18??).

'Good Pirates don't drown' is an old sailor's term that might have more meaning now. Just last month, evidence has come to light of a secret graveyard and perhaps a self styled retirement home for evil blood thirsty pirates in Coden, Alabama. A graveyard behind two 1820's homes has been fingered as the last resting place of Jean Lafitte and some key members of his most devoted crew.

BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS With the first sighting of British masts over the waters of Lake Borgne in mid-December, American General Andrew Jackson hastily convened at his headquarters above Maspero's to review and finalize battle plans. Commodore Patterson and the others were surprised to see Lafitte, whom they considered to be a pirate stroll in among them, dressed in a leather cape with a rapier at his side. What amazed them was the way Andrew Jackson doted on the pirate, soliciting his advice on many subjects, including the layout of the swamp and strategic positions within it. Lafitte was afire, his powers of able command were evident to every American soldier that enjoyed that great victory over the Redcoats.

Jean Lafitte (1776 - 18??) was a famous American buccaneer in the early 19th century. Despised for his piracy in the Gulf of Mexico, and lauded for his heroism in the Battle of New Orleans, Lafitte felt betrayed by a young country that didn't understand the difference. Entrepreneur and astute diplomat, he took an island-full of bloodied seafarers, rovers and fishermen and turned them into an organization of buccaneers, smugglers and merchant marine wholesalers. From European ships plundered in the Caribbean, Lafitte's "crew of a thousand men" kept a constant cargo of necessary provisions on both sides of the Mississippi delta. In early 1821, the U.S. Navy ran Lafitte out of Galveston Texas, and he disappeared - some say he became a petty pirate and lived on Mugeres Island off the coast of Yucatan, but no solid evidence has ever been discovered to support this theory. Mary Hermiston, President of the Mobile Alabama Genealogical Society believes the remains of Lafitte's smuggling network and his connection with James Bowie can still be found in Coden, Alabama.

A local legend asserts that Lafitte told his wife his true identity, but not the location of his treasure. Mary Hermiston has secured permission to search two coastal properties '...there are huge oak trees and descendants of families who settled there say Lafitte buried chests of treasure at the base of them.' She will use high technology to solve this small mystery immediately. But she's also keen to look at the oldest maps of the area and interview property owners and see what they've uncovered over the years. 3D aerial imaging may present the coastline as it appeared in the early 1800's. Geographic imaging systems (GIS) can be harnessed to make digital maps of Coden and show the nearby settlements and shipyards, harbors and hideouts. Once Mary isolates the forgotten foundations using GIS of any contemporary buildings that match the setting of the Lafitte legends, she'll dig privies and nearby crevices to look for clues to Jean Lafitte's lost pirate treasure.

The lost treasure of the gentleman pirate Jean Lafitte? Which one? Here was one pirate who had so much loot he could not bury it all in one spot. It seems he really liked to spread it around. Many are the tales of the loot of Jean Lafitte and many are the places he buried it: (1) $20,000,000 on Caillou Island. (2) The Isle of Pines, where already two cannons have been found with jewels and gold hidden inside. (3) Honey Island. (4) The mouth of the Lavaca River, where the remains of Lafitte's ship, the "Pride," have been found in the river. (5) Kelso's Island. (6) Barataria Bay, where Lafitte had his headquarters for some time. (7) Pecan Island. (8) Grande-Terre, where Lafitte held auctions of his pirated ware. (9) Avoyelles Parish. (10) Last Island, where Lafitte fled during one of his many bouts with the United States Government. (11) Ruston, Louisiana. (12) Galveston Island (now the city of Galveston ). (13) A Louisiana island in Lake Bourne. (14) Cocos Island.

While discussing treasure, probably the most fabulous among the lost buried treasures is the lost silver mine of James Bowie. Most of us remember James Bowie as the man who died beside Davy Crockett at the Alamo, but the seeker of treasure remembers him as one of America's most inveterate treasure hunters.. Like Lafitte, Bowie loved treasure and was consumed with finding it. He was so enamored with the idea of finding a natural silver mine, when he heard that the Indians knew of a vast and secret silver vein, he befriended them, he became a blood brother to them, and he lived with them. All so that he could learn the secret of this natural resource.

Most experts agree James Bowie found his mine, only to take the secret of its whereabouts with him when he died at the Alamo. And his silver mine is still there waiting to be found. Not too many miles from the modern city of San Antonio are the remains of an old Spanish fort near the banks of the San Saba River. It was somewhere near this fort that Bowie found his mine.

But that's not what Mary Hermiston is seeking, According to the President of the Mobile Alabama Genealogical Society Lafitte and James Bowie had a mysterious connection in Coden Alabama, and next summer she's going to dig the mysterious properties and find relics to support her theories detailed in a paper entitled 'The Pirates of Coden Alabama.'

Posted by Under The Black Flag on 6:35 π.μ.. Filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

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