Saturday, November 7, 2015

The original pirate of the Caribbean.

The Mystery of History volume 4 brings us to more cool history.  Visit Bright Ideas Press to pick up your copy of the Mystery of History volume 4 here.   You will love it!
Jean Lafitte National Park
Learning about the War of 1812 has brought our attention to a debonair, cultured, French pirate named Jean Lafitte.  He was literally the King Pirate.  He was one of the last pirates to make a name for himself in the Caribbean before he died February 5, 1823.  This is how the story goes.

Jean Lafitte and his brother, Pierre, led an organized group of pirates on a small island in Louisiana (1810).  His cover business was a blacksmith shop located in the French Quarter of Louisiana.

Lafitte's blacksmith shop is the oldest bar in the US today.  This structure has been there since 1700.
They seized ships, stole the cargo from the ships, and smuggled the goods illegally into Barataria Bay which is a bay/island off the Gulf of Mexico located between Empire, Grand Isle, and Louisiana.
Map 1813 of Grand Isle and Grand Terre

You have to remember the time frame here.  This is during the time of the War of 1812.

The US had just imposed a trade embargo with regards to merchant ships in this area so while the new settlers of The Louisiana Territory were happy to have Lafitte smuggling in all sorts of exotic goodies, the federal government, however, was not.  Imagine that, the government not happy with something.

Lafitte was so successful smuggling in the goods that the Governor of Louisiana offered a $500 reward to anyone who captured him.  Lafitte was amused at this idea and made a counteroffer of $1000 for anyone who captured the governor.

The news of Lafitte spread throughout the colonies and back to Britain.  King George III wrote a letter to Lafitte promising him citizenship and land if he would join their side.  The king also made it clear that is he declined, his island and everything and everyone on it would be destroyed.  Lafitte ended up going to New Orleans to warn the Americans that the English were coming.  Turns out, Lafitte favored the Americans over the English.

In the end, that did him little good.  The Americans responded to the warning about the English coming by locking up Lafitte's men and raiding the tiny island.  Andrew Jackson realized New Orleans was not prepared for a British attack so Lafitte and his men were released on the condition that they assist the U.S. Navy against the Brits.  Lafitte and his band of pirates are the reason New Orleans did not fall to the British.

Lafitte and Pierre moved to Galveston, Texas (1817) where they started up a pirate colony (around 1,000 people).  It is interesting to note Lafitte was the first known European settler in Galveston.
Lafitte made money hand over fist selling contraband, smuggling, selling slaves, and open piracy.

He built a home which he named Maison Rouge (red house).

Located at 1417 Harborside, Galveston, Texas
In 1821, Lafitte was forced to leave Galveston as the result of one of his men attacking an American ship.  He did leave but not before he burned down the town behind him.

Allegedly, Lafitte had buried much of his treasures in parts of Galveston and New Orleans.  No one has claimed to have found any of those treasures.  

Now for my favorite part.  The hauntings.  I love a good ghost story.  It is said that the ghost of swashbuckler Jean Lafitte still roams around Galveston Island, especially in and around his house.  The most commonly reported sightings are of ghostly figures and lights; balls of light in random colors such as blue, white, red, and yellow have been seen.  Apparently the neighbors say that these ghostly figures and balls of light are such a common occurrence, they do not pay them any attention any more.

There are also multiple reports of screams, voices, and mumbling that are unexplained.  Perhaps the most frightening accounts (to me) are the hounds.
Reportedly, the Maison Rouge is also home to a pack of supernatural black dogs with flaming eyes.  Reports of growling, barking, and the smell of wet dogs have been reported.  Seeing these dogs is considered an omen of impending disaster...........Legend has it that Pirate King Jean Lafitte had several black dogs, he called devil dogs, which he used for hunting.  These dogs were trained to hunt animal and humans.

Did I mention that Lafitte's blacksmith shop is also haunted?  It is according to the locals.  Reports of manifestations, haunted women's restroom, furniture moving, piano playing with no one there, and so on.
Multiple people have said they have seen Jean Lafitte himself in the fire place and in dark corners.  People have also claimed to see an image of a woman in a mirror on the second floor.  It is also said a male and female also maneuver around the place.  Sounds like my kind of place!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for horsing around with me. You really never know what you will get when you read my blog so thanks for stopping by.