What happened to Gasparilla’s Treasure?
The opening scene in Pirate, the first book in the Tides of Fortune series has my main character, Nick about to help the legendary pirate Gasparilla distribute the shares of his infamous treasure to his crew before “retiring”. One last prize lures him away, but it is a ruse by the US Navy and their pirate-hunting schooner USS Enterprise. They have set a trap that ends in the sinking of the Floridablanca and his death.
The treasure has never been found
Legendary is the perfect word for describing Jose’ Gaspar—there is no documented evidence that he ever lived. No writings or artifacts of his existence appear before early 1900s. Now the Gulf Coast based buccaneer has been made larger than life, celebrated through Ye Mytic Crewe. Based in Tampa, the Crewe sponsors a yearly tribute and invasion of the city in a Mardi gras style party.
The legend starts with his birth in 1756. After serving in the Spanish Navy, he became a councilor to King Charles III. That is when the trouble started. Popular in court, he had a reputation for playing the field. The story continues when a jilted lover levied false charges against him forcing him to commandeer a ship, vowing to exact revenge on his country. From his base along the yet unsettled west coast of Florida, he raided the Spanish purportedly amassing a huge treasure.
To promote the new railroad and Boca Grande Hotel, the Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railroad Company published the first account of Gasparilla in a 1900 advertising brochure. To add some glamour to the area they claimed many of the islands on the southwest coast are named by him. Gasparilla Island was his headquarters, Captiva Island was where he kept his women captive and Useppa Island was where he buried the body of a princess he had captured. Sanibel island was named by his first mate, Rodrigo Lopez after his lover he had left in Spain and
Taken from the legend, Pirate finds several men guarding the treasure on the beach. After watching the Floridablanca sink and Gasparilla dive from the bow with the anchor, they took off with the treasure. Follow Nick and the gang as they escape the Navy, heading deep into the unknown interior of Florida, and follow the Everglades to the Keys and what they think is their freedom.