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THE GOLDEN AGE OF PIRACY
RANDY "JESSE JAMES" SUMPTER
Jean Lafitte, the pirate, was known to put down more loot along the Gulf of Mexico than any other pirate. He was cunning and many times when others thought they knew the exact spots of his caches they would fall short. Along with his brother Pierre, they salted the coast of many states and lived on in legend and lore.
Virginia Point at Galveston was a very popular hangout for pirates. Legend tells us that Lafitte wrecked one of his ships here during a storm in the earlt 1800's and he ordered his men to place down some of his pirate treasure which was in very heavy iron boxes near the beach. Legend continues to tell us he never returned for his riches.
One of the many ships of Lafitte aptly named the Vengeance caught fire while docked at on the East end of Galveston Island in the early 1800's. Lafitte never ordered his men to recover anything from it and in 1875 some men recovered a cannon from the vessel and later sold it. Much more awaits an eager seeker.
Pelican Island off Galveston Bay is the site where Lafitte placed down a fabulous hoard of treasure valued between $500K to 27 million in gold bars, silver and jewels taken from the many Spanish raids he undertook. This is one of the largest caches Lafitte ever placed near Galveston.
Lafitte's Grove is located 11 miles West of Stewart Road on the old Ostermayer property on Galveston Island and Lafitte placed down several chests filled with gold and jewels in the grove and marked the spot with a brass survey rod. Lafitte's Grove is also the site for many more caches from individuals over the years and some has actually been recovered but Lafitte's big caches have not be reported as found.
Barber's Hill on Galveston Island is the site where Lafitte placed more loot down. Several chests of gold and jewels are part of this treasure.
One of the strangest legends about Lafitte takes place in 1816 when one of his captain's sailed into the mouth of the San Bernard River to escape a hurricane. The crew were ordered to bury several milion dollars worth of gold, silver and other treasure before the storm struck. The unnamed Captain along with a few aides killed all the crewmembers. The treasure still remains hidden and there is a secret clue to the exact location that Lafitte placed on a map and buried with another treasure.
Modern history leaves us to believe that Jean Lafitte died and was buried in New Orleans. Legend also places the body of Lafitte in Alton, Illinois. There are many rumors about this man and through some investigation by myself I've found a few things that might help others in the pursuit of true knowledge and cache locations.
Lafitte and his brother were businessmen and traded cotton in Mississippi. Lafitte was growing tired of certain dealer's who were charging too much for cotton and decided to buy a massive shipment and sell it to the mills and other factions at a reduced price. He also loaded the decks of a small ship and sailed up the Mississippi River and headed towards St. Louis. On this ship, there was another cargo of treasure which consisted of gold and silver bars, coins and jewels which he had previously dug up near Galveston.
As the ship made its way up the mighty Mississippi Lafitte soon realized they were carrying too much weight and running short of provisions. Jean and Pierre decided to stop and bury much of the treasure on a piece of land where two ridges met to form a valley. The crew started to dig the massive hole that would hold this cache and they placed down cotton in the large hole and then unloaded many tons of the treasure. Once it was finished, Lafitte ordered more cotton to be placed on his treasure and finally they covered all of it up with dirt and rock. He marked the area with a series of signs and symbols. They finally reached St. Louis where he sold the balance of the cotton at a reduced rate and headed back to Galveston.
As the years progressed, Lafitte lost his stronghold at Galveston and history tells us he died. Legend goes on and says that both Lafitte's ended back up in St. Louis and changed their names and Jean finally died in 1855 in Alton, Illinois. Pierre, migrated to Indiana where he built a fort and later died. A good friend of mine gave me a couple of cipher's that Jean made during this time which details activity of this burial and where the area is.
This past summer, I made a couple of trips out of Illinois and found 3 areas where the actual location could be. Two of the areas I've ruled out since nothing was found on the rocks to indicate the presence of Lafitte. The third area did give me some hope since an old artifact from the Lafitte era was uncovered near a bluff that overlooked the Mississippi and further investigation revealed other clues. If this area is the area where the ship once stopped and the two ridges do form a valley, a further search will be conducted during the early winter months that might prove productive for Spring. The landowner is very receptive to a hunt and his land covers many acres.
Lafitte was a pirate and many legends surround this man and his brother over the early part of the 1800's and continue all the way up to 1855. Time will prove the existence of this secret burial and I hope each of you find what you are looking for.
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