The Ghost of Jean Lafitte and the Phantom Pirates of Galveston

Editor’s Note:   J. Mark Soveign is back.  He is investigating and writing about his findings exclusively for the Unexplainable.net website under the Speculative View section.  Today we are kicking off a series of articles by J.M.S. about the most mysterious and most haunted places on earth.  We hope that you enjoy this series.

Jean Lafitte: Gentleman Pirate

Periodically, and with a certain degree of regularity, groups of men with big money behind them find their way to Galveston Texas and the surrounding areas carrying with them secret maps and specialized equipment for the sole purpose of finding buried treasure.  The treasure they are looking for is that which once belonged to the legendary real-life pirate Captain Jean LaFitte.  For almost 5 years, from 1817 to 1821, Captain Jean LaFitte and his band of pirates made their headquarters on Galveston Island, conducting raids all across the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean seizing treasure wherever they went.  Leaving in a hurry and at the insistence of the U.S. Navy, legend has it that most of the looted treasure he has taken over his career was left behind somewhere in Galveston.

The sheer number of legends surrounding the life and death of Jean Lafitte can be compared to those about King Arthur and Robin Hood.  Lafitte is rumored to have buried treasure at many locations, including Galveston and the long, lonely coasts of southern Louisiana, such as Contraband Bayou in Lake Charles.  Around 1820 LaFitte married Madeline Rigaud, the widow of a French settler, but she herself died in 1820.  It was rumored that she was buried beneath his House with a great quantity of gold, and well into the 20th Century the site of the house was excavated time and time again by treasure seekers over the years.

In May 1821, after an attack on an American ship by one of his agents, Lafitte was forced to abandon his operations in Galveston.  Before leaving, he hosted a huge party for his pirates with wine and whiskey and afterward burned his settlement.  It is believed that he had buried treasure on the Island which he had not the time to reclaim.  If so, all this gold is still buried.  None of it has ever been reported to be found.  Certainly, shifting sands and vanishing islands in Galveston and West Bays have hidden a great deal of it forever.  But somewhere, perhaps beneath a highway, or under a fire station, in somebody’s backyard, or perhaps only inches beneath the salt grass, untold riches wait patiently to be uncovered.

Workers on oil platforms that sit in the Gulf of Mexico claim to regularly see a billow of sails on the horizon just before sunset, always heading east into the gloom. Crews of offshore supply vessels claim that in the middle watch they have heard the flapping of sail riggings and the cry of phantom voices, calling out in the Creole patois once spoken in Barataria commands to a ghostly crew. Small boats, it is said, have been almost swamped by the passage of the ghostly fleet that is said to produce visible white foam where the bows break

the waves and make a tremendous wake in the dark waters.

The ghostly floatilla and an apparition believed to be that of Captain Jean Lafitte himself was spotted just before the disastrous Hurricane Katrina.  Many have come to believe that seeing Lafitte or his ships is a warning that something evil is about to befall his beloved Louisiana coast.  So far, nothing supernatural has been reported in connection with the recent BP oil rig explosion, but eleven men are dead because of it, and what could they have told us if they had not been killed in the accident?   To this day legends persist throughout south Louisiana and Texas.  In these legends it is believed that Lafitte is coming back for his treasure.  Perhaps one day he will.