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The Treasures of Little Gasparilla Island

The Treasures of Little Gasparilla Island

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Published by Xlibris
This is a story of a small island off the southwest coast of Florida, on the shores of Gasparilla Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, with its varied plant life among numerous types of land and sea birds. The other residents are local Florida crackers, snowbirds from the North, and holidaymakers looking for sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of modernday living. The lucky ones who set foot on this boat-only-access island will have a sense of tranquility and well-being that is the result of being totally free from modern-day encumbrances and surrounded by the sounds of nature. The main characters are Nikki, Lloyd, and George and how they found a contingent of new friends on a small spit of land called Little Gasparilla Island, fondly referred to as LGI Prologue


This island’s namesake is Juan Gomez Gasparilla—or, as he’s known today throughout the west coast of Florida, Jose Gaspar. Some think of Gaspar as folklore, while others say he is just a myth. A few locals have stories handed down by ancestors through the ages and say the proof is probably in the United States naval archives, since the pirates were hunted down by the USS Enterprise in the early 1800s. They all were either killed or put on trial in New Orleans and subsequently hung, all except for Jose Gaspar. He was alleged to be sixty-five years old and on his last campaign before dividing up the spoils among his cohorts. Rather than get caught, he wrapped himself in the anchor’s chain and rope then jumped into the dark blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico to end his life; that was his only way to escape the hangman’s noose.
It is believed that Gaspar and his band of thieves and murderers had their haven around Charlotte Harbor. The barrier islands, such as Gasparilla and Little Gasparilla, would have been excellent cover where they could evade and lie in wait behind tall sand dunes or mangroves, searching the Gulf waters for European vessels sailing within sight, carrying gold, silver, and jewels collected from the Americas to take back to their kings and queens or other financiers. Rumor has it that the pirates would slaughter everyone on board the captured ships except for the attractive ladies, who would become concubines of Jose Gaspar. He was a noted womanizer when he was assigned to the court of Charles III as a naval attaché at the age of twenty-seven. He jilted the daughter-in-law of the king for another woman of the court and was about to be arrested on trumped-up charges of treason when he commandeered a Spanish ship, called the Florida Blanca, and set sail with a hastily assembled volunteer crew for the Florida straits.
Little Gasparilla had two passes barely navigable for a sailing ship, but not for a man-of-war ship. The much larger pass into Gasparilla Sound was on the south end of Big Gasparilla through the Boca Grande Pass, with its two rivers emptying into the Gulf, flowing through Charlotte Harbor. This proved to be ideal for the crew to hide and pounce on unsuspecting heavily laden sailing ships heading north. Legend has the number of conquered vessels by Gaspar to be over four hundred. Back then, the amount of the bounty was reported to be in excess of thirty million Yankee dollars. Today’s count would be in the billions, which would take scores of stolen chests to accommodate the spoils. No treasure of his to this day has ever been found.
I have visited Little Gasparilla most winters for several months during the last seventeen years. On my many walks toward the state park on the north end of the island, I always look wishfully for doubloons washing ashore or a treasure chest sticking out of a tall sand dune while looking for sharks’ teeth.
Besides the tangible treasures that may be—in one’s wildest dreams, could be—found, there are other riches to discover while walking on the sand, be it purely spiritual or just a perfect seashell lying on the shore of Little Gasparilla Island, brought in by the gentle waves.
This is a story of a small island off the southwest coast of Florida, on the shores of Gasparilla Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, with its varied plant life among numerous types of land and sea birds. The other residents are local Florida crackers, snowbirds from the North, and holidaymakers looking for sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of modernday living. The lucky ones who set foot on this boat-only-access island will have a sense of tranquility and well-being that is the result of being totally free from modern-day encumbrances and surrounded by the sounds of nature. The main characters are Nikki, Lloyd, and George and how they found a contingent of new friends on a small spit of land called Little Gasparilla Island, fondly referred to as LGI Prologue


This island’s namesake is Juan Gomez Gasparilla—or, as he’s known today throughout the west coast of Florida, Jose Gaspar. Some think of Gaspar as folklore, while others say he is just a myth. A few locals have stories handed down by ancestors through the ages and say the proof is probably in the United States naval archives, since the pirates were hunted down by the USS Enterprise in the early 1800s. They all were either killed or put on trial in New Orleans and subsequently hung, all except for Jose Gaspar. He was alleged to be sixty-five years old and on his last campaign before dividing up the spoils among his cohorts. Rather than get caught, he wrapped himself in the anchor’s chain and rope then jumped into the dark blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico to end his life; that was his only way to escape the hangman’s noose.
It is believed that Gaspar and his band of thieves and murderers had their haven around Charlotte Harbor. The barrier islands, such as Gasparilla and Little Gasparilla, would have been excellent cover where they could evade and lie in wait behind tall sand dunes or mangroves, searching the Gulf waters for European vessels sailing within sight, carrying gold, silver, and jewels collected from the Americas to take back to their kings and queens or other financiers. Rumor has it that the pirates would slaughter everyone on board the captured ships except for the attractive ladies, who would become concubines of Jose Gaspar. He was a noted womanizer when he was assigned to the court of Charles III as a naval attaché at the age of twenty-seven. He jilted the daughter-in-law of the king for another woman of the court and was about to be arrested on trumped-up charges of treason when he commandeered a Spanish ship, called the Florida Blanca, and set sail with a hastily assembled volunteer crew for the Florida straits.
Little Gasparilla had two passes barely navigable for a sailing ship, but not for a man-of-war ship. The much larger pass into Gasparilla Sound was on the south end of Big Gasparilla through the Boca Grande Pass, with its two rivers emptying into the Gulf, flowing through Charlotte Harbor. This proved to be ideal for the crew to hide and pounce on unsuspecting heavily laden sailing ships heading north. Legend has the number of conquered vessels by Gaspar to be over four hundred. Back then, the amount of the bounty was reported to be in excess of thirty million Yankee dollars. Today’s count would be in the billions, which would take scores of stolen chests to accommodate the spoils. No treasure of his to this day has ever been found.
I have visited Little Gasparilla most winters for several months during the last seventeen years. On my many walks toward the state park on the north end of the island, I always look wishfully for doubloons washing ashore or a treasure chest sticking out of a tall sand dune while looking for sharks’ teeth.
Besides the tangible treasures that may be—in one’s wildest dreams, could be—found, there are other riches to discover while walking on the sand, be it purely spiritual or just a perfect seashell lying on the shore of Little Gasparilla Island, brought in by the gentle waves.

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Publish date: Mar 14, 2013
Added to Scribd: Mar 19, 2013
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reservedISBN:9781483608211
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10/01/2014

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9781483608211

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