Jose Gaspar - A Real Pirate?

Old Bookaroo

Silver Member
Dec 4, 2008
Was there really a pirate named Jose Gaspar? I have never found any real evidence he lived.

Does anyone found evidence to the contrary? Was he a real pirate?

Just for an example, I did not find any reference to such a person in The Pirates of the New England Coast 1630-1730 by Dow and Edmonds (despite the title, this work covers a good deal more than just New England!). A time-tested, reliable reference. No mention.

There is a Gaspar story in Bradlee's classic Piracy in the West Indies and its Suppression but it doesn't seem to be well documented.

I am reading the fascinating Flight into Oblivion by A.J. Hanna (1938). Along with a great deal of useful information on the Confederate Treasure Train, it mentions:

"Hardly more than a half century before these Confederates reached it, Gasparilla Island had been the infamous headquarters of the notorious pirate, Jose Gaspar, a former officer in the Spanish Navy, who, on account of his numerous and valuable captures and his murderous and rapacious disposition of those he found on board his prizes, had become the terror of the seas surrounding Florida. Now the center of fishing, yachting, and other recreational life, this beautiful island had been the scenes of drunken revelry, murder, and rape."

Hanna's book, by the way, is full of maps (maps and treasure hunting go together like rum and pirates!) and wonderful black and white illustrations.


W.C. Jameson's latest contribution to treasure hunting fiction has a chapter on Gasparilla's treasure - all the more reason for me to believe it's another yarn.

Has anyone found anything different?

Good luck to all,

~The Old Bookaroo

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Hello Bookaroo

Interesting question.

My Guess over time the legend developed from distant memories contorted from other events. Some say Jose Gaspar was killed by USS Enterprise?

Clearly to find the origins of this alleged pirate one would have to look at the records of that ship.On March 6 1822 , the schooner USS Enterprise captured 13 vessels while suppressing pirates and smugglers and slavers in the Gulf of Mexico.

Perhaps distant memory of those events twisted around the mythical character we have today?


Jose Gaspar is not the only mythical pirate character that has blurred the line between fact and fiction. Benito Bonito of the Bloody sword. And even La Perouse ( not the Explorer ) but a French pirate based in Haiti has questionable authenticity.


Hola amigos;

I would only add here that Jose Gaspar was very probably NOT his real name; even in the legend, he changed his name to Gaspar which means "outlaw" and then to Gasparilla, so his real name was something different. This makes trying to trace him very difficult.


My original post was erroneous when I wrote that Francis Bradlee's excellent (and high recommended!) classic work did not mention our Jose.

I checked and, indeed, it does. This is one problem for someone of my age writing things from memory - sometimes memory serves, and sometimes it double-faults. In my own defense, I will point out that while this account may have a certain antique charm (the only reasonable explanation for Mr. Bradlee's otherwise meticulously documented work) it is far from reliable. When the write frequently uses a turn of phrase such as "the story goes" it's clear it's a sea yarn and not fact.

Piracy in the West Indies and Its Suppression
By Francis B. C. Bradlee


Through the kindness of Robert S. Bradley, Esq., of Boston, president of the Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway Company of Florida, a most interesting, and, it is believed, accurate account of the famous, or rather infamous, Gasparilla, is here reproduced. It was originally printed in pamphlet form, to be distributed among the patrons of the railway and the Boca Grande Hotel, but the story proved so thrilling that the little brochure went out of print rapidly and is now quite rare.

"This narrative was compiled by the writer from incidents told by John Gomez, better known as Panther Key John, a brother-in-law of Gasparilla and a member of his crew, who died at the age of one hundred and twenty years, at Panther Key, Florida, twelve miles below Marco, in the year 1900; also from records left by John Gomez, Jr., the cabin-boy on Gasparilla's ship, who was kidnapped by Gasparilla, and who witnessed the death of this pirate and all on board his vessel. He died and was buried at Palmetto, Florida, in 1875, at the age of seventy years.

Jose Gaspar.jpg [from the brochure]

"While it is almost impossible to obtain exact information concerning this outlaw, owing to the numerous and conflicting accounts, the writer has tried to put into readable form a few of these stories concerning Gasparilla, and has only used such accounts where two or more sources agreed. However, it is well to keep in mind that owing to the long lapse of time between the death of Gasparilla and the present year nearly all old landmarks have gone."

"The Story of Gasparilla."

"The romantic age of the Gulf is past, the days when pirate bands preyed upon the peaceful merchantman, stole his goods, and carried away his women passengers, have gone, but romance still holds sway in the minds of each of us, and in the pirate Gasparilla we find a story that is full of the spice of romantic adventure, that abounds with thrills, and causes the pulse to beat just a little faster at some daring exploit, the eyes to fill with water at some touching story, or the fists to clench in the good American way at the brutal butcheries that authentic documents show were committed. Gasparilla has gone, his pirate gold lies hidden somewhere on the isles of Charlotte harbor, but the bleached bones of his murdered victims, with the stories that have drifted down from past generations, give to the world a synopsis of the life and death of Gasparilla, the terror of the Southern Seas.

"His name was Jose Gaspar (Gasparilla meaning Gaspar, the outlaw). He stood high in the graces of the Spanish Court, so high indeed that he filched the crown jewels. Jose was also an officer of high standing in the naval affairs of the Spaniards. Some records give him the honor of being what we would call an admiral. His theft discovered, he deserted his wife and children, gathered together a nice lot of cut-throats, stole the prize vessel of the Spanish fleet, and escaped. This happened in the year 1782. A price was declared upon his head, and, it is stated, when Gasparilla heard this decree, he swore eternal vengeance upon all Spaniards in general, and commenced to destroy the commerce of Spain.

"The Gulf of Mexico at that time being a rendezvous for pirate fleets, Gaspar settled in Charlotte Harbor and built upon the shores of what is now called Turtle Bay twelve houses, where, under guard, his female captives were placed, all male prisoners being killed when captured. The buildings were constructed of palmetto logs, and arranged in a semi-circle close to the water's edge.

Charlotte Harbor.jpg [17871]

"About one hundred yards further inland the burying ground was discovered several years ago, containing not only the bones of his men, but the skeletons of his murdered women captives. Many a touching story has been unearthed when the ghostly remains were uncovered - stories of great strong men who died in the fight, of women who died to save their honor, and of nobility we even find a trace, but these are only traditions, and the story of 'The Little Spanish Princess,' as told by old Panther Key John Gomez, we will relate later on.

“Close to Turtle Bay lies the little Isle of Cayopelean. Upon this island stood a burial mound fifty feet high and four hundred feet in circumference at the base, built centuries earlier, it is thought, by the Mound Builders of a prehistoric race. Excavations in this mound have produced ornaments of gold and silver, together with hundreds of human skeletons. On its summit Gasparilla constructed an observation tower, where always a grim sentinel was stationed and looked across the warm, smiling waters of the Gulf for a victim.

"The present Isle of Gasparilla the pirate named for himself. Taking the best of everything when a capture was made, he chose the best of the islands in Charlotte Harbor for his own secret haunts. It is said that Jose was saluted the King of the Pirates, and his home on Gasparilla Island was regal in its fittings.

"Some writers have said that Gasparilla joined Pierre LaFitte, the famous French pirate, while others have stated on good authority that LaFitte joined Gasparilla's band, contributing a boat and thirty men.

"While taking the census of 1900 two gentlemen stopped at Panther Key and spent the night with John Gomez. The race of the old buccaneer was nearly run, but all through that night he told a story of piracy that could scarce be believed, yet it was a dying man that was clearing his soul before his Maker. He told of the looting of ships, the massacre of innocents, and last of all, when his life had nearly passed, he told the story of 'The Little Spanish Princess,' whose name he did not remember. He told where the body would be found, and a sketch was prepared under his direction, and in recent years in the exact location as described the skeleton of a beheaded woman was found. This is the story.

"In the early days of the year 1801 a princess of Spain sailed in great state for Mexico. While in that country she was royally entertained by its Ruler, and to show her appreciation to the Mexican people she prevailed upon the nobles to allow her to take eleven of Mexico's fairest daughters away with her to be educated in Spanish customs. A treasure of much gold, bound in chests of copper, it is said, was in cargo. When about forty miles from what is now Boca Grande, Gasparilla engaged them in combat, killed the crew, took the gold, and carried away as captives the princess and the eleven Mexican girls. The princess he kept for himself, the maids were divided among his men. The little Spanish princess spurned the one-time favorite of the King, and Gasparilla swore that if she did not return of her own free will the affections lavished upon her, she would be beheaded, and the story goes the threat of Gaspar was fulfilled. Far away from her native land, alone on a tropical isle, the little princess still lies in the lonely bed made for her by Gasparilla. The night birds sing in the dusk and lull her spirit to rest in the evening, and the moon throws kindly shadows o'er the spot where royalty sleeps.

"From members of Gaspar's crew many a strange story has drifted down concerning him, his traits, his ways, his passions. He was polished in his manners and a great lover of fashionable clothes; fearless in fight, and at all times cruel in his nature. Concerning women he was fanatical, and his houses were always filled with captives. It is stated beauty was essential with him. He kept for himself a certain number of picked beauties, but so fickle was his nature that when an additional capture was made and a new face appealed to him, one of his old loves must forfeit her life to make room for the new favorite. That this was true there is no doubt, as the graveyard of Gasparilla tells its own terrible story.

"In 1819 the United States, having obtained, under the Louisiana Purchase in 1803,* [*Florida belonged to Spain, therefore was not included in the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803. It was acquired by the United States by special treaty in 1819.] the states bordering on the Gulf, made war upon the robber bands. On Sanibel Island a conference was held by all the pirates, and with the exception of Gasparilla, Baker, Caesar, and old King John, all sailed away, to be heard of no more.

"Nearly two years later, the war on piracy becoming too severe, Jose and his crew agreed to divide their wealth, which was then estimated at thirty million dollars, to give up piracy, and live as honest men the rest of their lives. This was decided upon and plans made accordingly.

"In the spring of 1822, while getting together his treasure for division, which at that time was hidden in six separate hiding places, he cited what appeared to be a large English merchantman just off Boca Grande Pass. It is said his greedy eyes lit with pleasure at the thoughts of just one more victim ere his piratical days were over. Closely following the shore-line of the Gulf, he slipped into Charlotte Harbor through what is now known as Little Gasparilla Pass, crept around Gasparilla Island, and gathered together his crew. Great excitement reigned when the plans were unfolded. The band of eighty men was divided into two parts, he commanding thirty-five men, LaFitte thirty-five, while ten were left in charge of the camp. At about four in the afternoon Gasparilla and his men dashed through the Boca Grande Pass for the English prize; fast overtaking the fleeing ship, the black flag was hoisted, and his men stood ready with the grappling hooks, but suddenly the English flag floated down and the Stars and Stripes pulled in place; in a moment guns were uncovered on deck, and Gasparilla, realizing that he was in a trap, turned to flee. His boat, disabled by the shots from the war vessel and capture staring him in the face, he wrapped a piece of anchor chain around his waist and jumped into the sea. His age at his death was about sixty-five. His crew was hanged at the yardarms, with the exception of the cabin-boy and the ten men left in charge of the captives, they having escaped to the mainland. Panther Key John was in this gang. The cabin-boy was carried to New Orleans, where he remained in prison ten years.

"LaFitte, watching the battle from afar, turned and fled, but the next morning his boat was captured and sunk off the mouth of the Manatee River. Whether he was captured at this point is not known, as so many conflicting stories arose concerning him, still it is a positive fact that he was buried at New Orleans.

"For thirty years the craft of Gasparilla was visible from Gasparilla Island, lying five miles off Boca Grande Pass, but the sand has now completely covered the wreck.

"The treasure of Gasparilla still lies unmoved. The bones of the bold buccaneer, with his pirate ship, have vanished, but legends from the fisher-folk say that sometimes in the dead of night, off Gasparilla Island, when the waves are singing a lullaby to the weary and the wind is whispering soft messages through the palmettos, the phantom fleets of the pirate crew arise from their ocean resting places and pursue, as in days of old, the ghost ships of the merchantmen."

Good luck to all,

~The Old Bookaroo


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Ahoy, Crow!

Excellent points. The cruise of the USS Enterprise is probably well-documented. That could well be a fruitful avenue to pursue.

Some years ago I read an account of the pirate Blackbeard (could it have been in Nesmith's wonder Dig for Pirate Treasure?) that recent research had failed to find a vessel in the navy of Great Britain with the name HMS Scarborough. There is a story that Blackbeard fought such a man-o'-war muzzle-to-muzzle, and bested her. Later on I read there was a privateer (or other private warship) with that name.

I'm continuing a bit more research on Gasparilla and that will probably be that. If anyone here is interested, I'll share what come up with.

Good luck to all,

~The Old Bookaroo

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Some more information on the cruise of the USS Enterprise.

I managed to insert the drawing of the vessel into the wrong post - and I don't know how to move it.

This newspaper clipping could be source for the story of the attack on a disguised navy man-o'-war:View attachment 891526View attachment 891527 Providence Patriot Newspaper, Providence (R.I.) Saturday Morning April 20, 1822,

From the Web:

On 6 March 1822, the schooner Enterprise captured four pirate ships in Gulf of Mexico. During her time in the Gulf, Enterprise took 13 vessels while suppressing pirates, smugglers, and slaves.

On 8 March 1822, the schooner Enterprise, commanded by Lieutenant Lawrence Kearney, captured and burned 7 small pirate vessels, three launches and four barges, off Cape Antonio, Cuba.

Good luck to all,

~The Old Bookaroo

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I did not find a reference to Gaspar in Gardner Allen's Our Navy and the West Indian Pirates (Salem, Mass: 1929). Allen, however, in turn points to:

Our Navy and the West Indian Pirates: A Documentary History, Part 5
By Rear Admiral Caspar F. Goodrich, U. S. Navy
Naval Institute Proceedings Magazine, Volume 43, Issue 2, Whole Number 168 in the year 1917

The result of agitating the subject is seen in the following, taken from the report of the Committee on Naval Affairs, March 2, 1822:

The extent, however, to which the system of plunder upon the ocean is carried on in the West India seas, and Gulf of Mexico, is truly alarming and calls imperiously for the prompt and efficient interposition of the general government. Some fresh instance of the Atrocity with which the pirates infesting those seas carry on their depredations, accompanied too by the indiscriminate massacre of the defenceless and unoffending, is brought by almost every mail, so that the intercourse between the northern and southern sections of the Union, by sea, is almost cut off.

The committee are induced to believe that this system of piracy is now spreading itself to a vast extent, attracting to it the idle, vicious, and desperate of all nations, and, more particularly, those who have heretofore been engaged in the Slave trade, from which the vigilance of the American cruisers have driven them; and that, if they are not winked at by the authorities in the Island of Cuba, they are in no respect restrained by their interference.

That the sloop of war Hornet, of 18 guns; the brigs Enterprize and Spark, of 12 guns each; and the schooners Porpoise, Grampus, Shark and Alligator, of 12 guns each, are already cruising in the West India Seas and Gulf of Mexico, for the protection of trade, the suppression of piracy, and traffic in slaves; and that the two gunboats, Nos. 158 and 168, are also cruising along the coasts of Georgia and Florida for the same purposes.

Resolved, That it is expedient, forthwith, to fit out and put in service the corvettes Cyane and John Adams, and the sloops of war Peacock and Erie, for the protection of commerce, and the suppression of piracy in the West India seas, and the Gulf of Mexico, and also to employ the frigate Constellation, should the President of the United States deem the employment of a frigate necessary for the purposes aforesaid.

Nor was the government content with idle words, for we read that "the frigate Macedonian, Captain Biddle, is about to sail from Boston with four smaller vessels and 200 marines, with instructions, it is said, to sweep the land as well as the sea of the pirates of Cuba."

In the meantime, Lawrence Kearney was successfully busy at his wonted pastime:

U. S. Brig "Enterprize," Off Cape Antonia,
7th March, 1822.

Our first duty has occurred at Cape Antonio, the most dangerous place for Merchant Vessels to pass.

My vessel being disguised, this morning was passing the Cape about 7 A. M. when a twelve oared Barge was discovered in pursuit. But soon after she made a retreat towards Mangrove Point; and as I could not pursue her with success with the Brig, owing to the shoals, I ordered away my boats.

The following note, this moment received, will inform you of the result:

"To Lieut. Comdt. Kearney,


"I have the pleasure to inform you that we have succeeded in capturing four Boats and two Launches (sloop Rigged). We landed and took them in a creek, which I have not yet satisfactorily examined. I send you a Barge and a Cutter, and remain,

"Yours, &c.
(Signed) Jas. M. McIntosh, Lieut."

A guard of Marines is sent to assist the party to apprehend the Pirates on shore…

I am, very respectfully, &c.
L. Kearnev.

Com. Patterson,
New Orleans

A newspaper of a few weeks later gives us this account:

We have a report which appears to be true, that on the 8th ult. the U. S. brig Enterprise, lieut. Kearney, captured eight sail of piratical vessels, whose united crews amounted to about 160 men. This must be pretty nearly a finishing stroke to the desperadoes: we have not lately heard of so many piratical acts, but cases are just published which happened in December last, in the capture of the brig Exertion, and schooner Constitution, of Boston, that have caused no little feeling. The vessels that seized them were partly manned by the 21 wretches who were recently tried and condemned as pirates at New Orleans, and pardoned by the president of the United States—they boasted of it; and, in thirty days from the time of their liberation, were at their old trade, with a resolution to murder all their prisoners—but instead of this, they were so humane as to put their prisoners ashore on a low sand key, to perish for want of water or to be swept away by the sea."

About this time a large barge was taken by the gunboat Revenge, under Lieutenant G. W. Hamersly, at some point in the West Indies, not specified, probably near the Balize. She was evidently fitted for piratical purposes, a fact which was substantiated by her desertion by her crew."

On March 22, we have a record that the sloop Jay, Thompson, of New York, was boarded near Neuvitas and robbed of her whole cargo. Fortunately, however, the vessel and crew were saved."

About this time the Cuban authorities were aroused to the necessity of putting a stop to the depredations on foreign shipping from a base on Cuban soil, for we read that a descent was made by them upon the Cape Antonio gang, in which a number of the latter were killed and wounded. The captain and lieutenant of one gang, being seized, were tried, convicted, and shot. Another raid resulted in the killing of six pirates and the taking of 15 prisoners. It appears that some goods from a Boston schooner led to the inculpation of five persons who were sent to prison. They are stated to have been young men of good appearance and residents of Havana. This last remark is proof, if proof were needed, that piracy was encouraged by even respectable people in that island.

The instance spoken of is among the very few in which Spanish officials attempted to suppress piracy. There can be no doubt that too many of those gentlemen were directly or indirectly interested in its successful prosecution.

Good luck to all,

~The Old Bookaroo

I was always Told Jose Gaspar, was also known as Juan Gomez. Or they were always togahter. My grandfather had a book on all these when I was younger. We lived not far from Gasparella Island and Charlotte Harbour....where the legend supposedly ended

Ferret sailed from Hampton Roads 14 February 1823 with a squadron commanded by Commodore D. Porter, bound for the West Indies. Based at Key West, she was one of the many small craft which comprised Porter's "Mosquito Fleet," assigned to suppress piracy in the Caribbean. Along with convoying merchantmen, she raided a pirate barge and seven boats in a Cuban bay named Bacuna Yeauga on 18 June 1823. With her small boat holed at the water line by a buccaneer's musket ball, Ferret had to break off the attack, since a high wind and heavy sea prevented her from entering the channel. She put to sea to seek aid, and returned next day with a boat loaned by a British ship to find that the governor of the province had already dispersed the pirates.

Twice during her service Ferret sailed north to Washington Navy Yard for repairs, supplies, and new crew members. On 4 February 1825, while on patrol off Cuba, she capsized in a gale and heavy seas, about 8 miles off the port of Canasi. One officer and three men were sent in the small boat for assistance, while the others lashed themselves to the wreck. By morning the schooner was almost completely under water, and settling fast. While a raft was made by lashing the foremast and main boom together, several of the best swimmers headed for shore to get help. Just then Jackall arrived, and took off the survivors who had been clinging to the wreck nearly 21 hours. Five members of the crew were lost.
from Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, Ferret
The USS Ferret was part of a naval fleet that sailed to the Caribbean to subdue the occurrence of pirate raids on merchant ships that had increased to almost 3,000 by the early 1820s.[SUP][2][/SUP][SUP][4][/SUP][SUP][5][/SUP] The financial losses to the United States was great while murder and the practice of torture were common.[SUP][4][/SUP] Losses to American ships and merchants had increased to such proportions that the situation began making headlines in American newspapers. In little time merchants and shippers along with the American public were demanding that the U.S. Navy take definite action against piracy that was out of control in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. In November 1822 when the captain of the USS Alligator was killed in a a battle with the notorious Cuban pirate Domingo that was the last straw.[SUP][6][/SUP][SUP][7][/SUP] Response was quick and by 22 December President James Monroe authorized the creation of the West Indies squadron[SUP][note 1][/SUP] for purposes of seeking and routing out pirates and their numerous strongholds about the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. They were also directed to suppress the international slave trade which also operated out of this region and outlawed in the United States.[SUP][8][/SUP] Following Monroe's authorization the Secretary of the Navy, Smith Thompson, promoted David Porter to commodore, allocated $500,000 to him and appointed him to take commanded of and outfit the squadron for war against the pirates.[SUP][9][/SUP] British interests in the Caribbean also threatened, the West Indies squadron fought piracy in a concerted effort with the Royal Navy.[SUP][7][/SUP]
Ferret was now part of a the largest fleet of American naval ships ever to be assembled during peacetime.[SUP][9][/SUP] Under the leadership of Commodore Porter along with subordinate commanders James Biddle and Lewis Warrington, the U.S. Navy's West Indies Squadron crushed the pirates who were relentlessly ferreted out from the uncharted bays and lagoons throughout the Caribbean by U.S. sailors and the West Indies Squadron of which the USS Ferret played an important role. Within two years piracy was subdued and within ten years, piracy in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico was all but eradicated completely.[SUP][2][/U]
from Wiki, but matches the sources listed

If the legend can be traced to a real origin pirate, I hope that whomever finds it will post it here. Thank you in advance;
Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.

Hello All

Some good stuff being posted, please do keep it up. This stuff I like to see that is what makes all so interesting.

Old Crow here wants to make an apology as I unintentionally mis informed on the name of La Perouse in my earlier post. Must be the sun. The Correct name was .. Er ... forgotton again, dont you hate that... Proberly come to me 3am in the morning... Ah ha....La trobe. He was an alleged priviteer in a very brieff war between United States and France, I think 1799 for memory. La trobe started out as privateer and turned pirate and operated out of Hayti


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Thank you for that documented contribution!

This is an largely untold story of US Navy heroes. So many fell to Yellow Jack and other tropical diseases to make the seas safer. Personally, Bradlee's account is a bit over the top - I'm old enough to not find murder and rape "romantic."

I think I have the answer - or, perhaps, at least more of the answer.

More tomorrow.

Good luck to all,

~The Old Bookaroo

I was always Told Jose Gaspar, was also known as Juan Gomez. Or they were always togahter. My grandfather had a book on all these when I was younger. We lived not far from Gasparella Island and Charlotte Harbour....where the legend supposedly ended
Johnny (Juan) Gomez was the first to tell the Gaspar tale,which also included a story of a treasure wagon train across Florida,with some of the gold & silver buried at Crescent Lake,near Crescent City,Florida.Gomez told his tale to Pablo Sanchez,who had a map of the treasure sites and tried to sell in the 1930's.The only taker of the map offer was Rick Cole,a night clerk at a third rate Miami hotel.Cole enlisted the aid of Charles R Hale,an electrical engineer,who made a homemade early LRL,and with Sanchez,traveled to the west Florida Gulf location shown on the map.They did recover some gold and silver coins.For the story and a history of the USS Enterprise:
Florida's Pirate Jose Gaspar and his Treasure Story


Thank you for the link! The story is interesting - but short on sources and, I suspect, some facts. At this point I doubt anyone has found any of Gasparilla's treasure.

I purchased a copy of that eBook some years ago - I'd forgotten all about it. In my personal opinion it leans too much on Ken Krippene's work.

The site says this gentleman's uncle was Raymond Dow. One of the 1950's leading collectors of treasure hunting literature and, I believe, founder of the "Treasure Trove Club." If he has Mr. Dow's library he has some rare items, indeed!

He mentions Robert Nesmith's "Foul Anchor Archives." I've never found out what happened to that extraordinary collection.

Good luck to all,

~The Old Bookaroo

GOMEZ, John, alias Panther Key John.
Brother-in-law of the famous pirate Gasparilla.

Died, credited with the great age of 120 years, at Panther Key in Florida in 1900.

<from The Pirates Who's Who, Giving Particulars of the Lives & Deathsof the Pirates & Buccaneers by Philip Gosse, pp 138


Hello Bookaroo

I hear around the traps that the foul anchor archives are now in a private collection. Richard Ray perhaps would be the best person to contact.


There is a new book out "Pirates of Southwest Florida, Fact and Legend" by James F. and Sarah Jane Kaserman that debunks some of the stories of Gasparilla. First of all there was a Spanish Catholic missionary named Gasparillo that had a mission on the island that bears his name. (2) Most of the islands around Charlotte Harbor were named by the Cuban Spanish fishermen that lived there since the 1600's. (3) The Spanish kept meticulous records and there is no mention of Gasparilla in the archives. (4) The person who gets most of the credit for the Gasparilla myth is John Gomez who drowned around 1900 at the age of 122. (5) The first written version of Gasparilla appeared in an advertising brochure of the Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railroad Co. printed in 1900. The brochure relied heavily on the stories told by John Gomez.


That is something I have heard, as well.

I discussed this via PM with Mr. Ray a few years ago. I believe he was thinking about the Charles Driscoll pirate collection, formerly held by the public library in Wichita, Kansas. In what I personally believe to be a horribly botched manner, those books and pamphlets were sold at auction for a fraction of what they should have brought.

Good luck to all,

~The Old Bookaroo

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Thank you for that information! It is becoming clear the promotional brochures plays a large role in the modern legend.

That is presented, above, from Bradlee's book.

Good luck to all,

~The Old Bookaroo


It appears Philip Gosse got the story from Bradlee's book. We're back to the hotel brochure.

The Pirates' Who's Who, along with his History of Piracy, is generally quite reliable. He had an extraordinary collection of rare pirate works (see My Pirate Library and his bibliography of the various editions of Capt. Charles Johnson's General History of the Pyrates).

When he was a child, Gosse and his brother (who I believe became a famous attorney or judge or both) had a "babysitter" who told them many bloody tales of pirates and mutiny and shipwrecks and treasure. Robert Louis Stevenson.

Good luck to all,

~The Old Bookaroo

Old Bookaroo wrote
It appears Philip Gosse got the story from Bradlee's book. We're back to the hotel brochure.

I can't find any source notation to indicate where Gosse got his info on John Gomez, can you substantiate that it came from Bradlee's book? Thank you in advance,

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