Jean Lafitte’s Treasure

Hey, Readers! Earlier this month I wrote about the legend behind Don Franciso’s buried treasure. This week, I’ll share another story about rumored buried riches.

Jean Lafitte (born c. 1780, died c. 1823) was a French pirate and privateer who operated in the Gulf of Mexico during the 1800s. He operated a warehouse in New Orleans to assist in the distribution of goods by his brother Pierre. After the government passed the Embargo Act of 1807, the Lafittes moved their operation to an island in Barataria Bay, Louisiana. By 1810 the operation was quite successful and the brothers had a profitable smuggling trade. They also engaged in piracy.

In late 1815 and early 1816, the Lafitte brothers acted as spies for Spain. Jean was sent to Galveston, Texas. He essentially developed Galveston Island as another smuggling base.

Aboard the Bolivar Ferry near Galveston Island

In February 1823, while cruising near Omoa Honduras on his schooner General Santander when he engaged in battle with two Spanish merchant vessels. A battle ensued and Lafitte was wounded. He is believed to have died on the morning of February 5, 1823. However, his legacy and legends involving his buried treasure live on.

I read about one such legend in the book Texas Myths and Legends by Donna Ingham. The story goes like this.

On a cold February night in the 1880s, an elderly war veteran rode through the area of LaPorte, Texas. Twilight came, and he looked for a place where he could shelter for the night. He supposedly saw the silhouette of a house and a stable in the light of the rising moon.

He knocked at the door. No one answered and the place was locked, but he managed to crawl through a window. The room had a fireplace and a stack of wood, and soon the old traveler was warm and cozy. Using his saddle as a pillow, and the blanket for a pallet, he soon fell asleep.

Sometime during the night by a “presence” in the room. By the light of the fire, he saw a man who beckoned to him. He followed the ghostly figure into the next room, and then into a third one.

“It is here,” the apparition said. “It is here that more gold lies buried than is good for any man. You have but to dig, and it is yours.”

Before vanishing, the spirit went on to say that gold must be used only for good purposes and not one penny spent for evil or selfish reasons.

The old veteran returned to his makeshift bed and soon fell asleep, only to be awakened once more. He followed the specter into the room. This time he swore he could see great quantities of gold and jewels. “Do not force me to come again.” With those words, the ghost was gone.

Troubled by the words, “More gold than is good for any man,” the traveler left the house, saddled his horse, and rode away.

This is one such story about Lafitte’s supposed buried treasure. Tales of haunted houses related to Lafitte and other supposed locations abound. Some claim to have found a small amount of treasure, but when they return to the place, they are unable to locate it. Rumor has it Lafitte buried much of his treasure on Galveston Island

In numerous places along the gulf coast, people come in search of the treasure. To date, no one has discovered the loot, but that doesn’t stop others from trying.

Don Francisco’s Treasure

Hey, Readers. Happy first Monday of April.

Some of my earliest memories are of stories my mother told me about events that happened to her or members of my family. A couple of those true events served as inspiration for short stories. As you might guess, the tales that most intrigued me were those involving a mystery or a legend.

I recall one story that was passed down by my grandfather. As a young man before moving to Texas, he worked on several plantations in Alabama. One place was rumored to have money buried there. According to Papaw, many men tried to dig it up, but when they reached a certain depth, they became frightened and ran away without completing the task.

He also said that a wealthy man (who obviously didn’t need the treasure) hired two men, held them at gunpoint, and ordered them to dig. Like all the others, after digging for a while, the men became frightened and begged the man to relieve them of their task. He wouldn’t, and they eventually reached the buried money. Before he could pay them for the job, they ran away in sheer terror.

Another story Mom told was of a house where my family lived in Irving, Texas. Mom said there was a tree on the property, and she sometimes saw lights come down the trunk of the tree and disappear into the ground below. Mom said the ground at that spot was much softer than the surrounding areas. According to my grandfather, the light and the soil indicated money was buried somewhere beneath the tree.

Like many tales and legends, there are similar stories. In the book Portraits of The Pecos Frontier by Patrick Derren, a resident of Fort Stockton, Texas claimed there was money buried on her family property, but no one knew its exact whereabouts. The family often saw mysterious lights, but much like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, they could never pinpoint the exact location as the lights kept moving.

According to the website Texas Hill Country, many believe there is an estimated $340 million in buried treasure in this state alone. There are many stories and legends surrounding these treasures. Today, I’ll tell you about one of them.

Don Francisco’s Buried Treasure

Don Francisco Rodriquez was a Spanish nobleman who amassed a fortune during the 1700s. He lived in what is now San Antonio. He had two children, a daughter named Delores and a son also named Francisco who went by the name of Lefty and was in the Spanish army.

The San Antonio skyline with the Hemisphere tower on the left. San Antonio is the second-largest city in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States. (Royalty-free image by Sepavone, courtesy of Dreamstime.)

Delores fell in love with a Spanish Captain named Cordero. It was during the time when Spain and France were attempting to get control of Texas. Cordero came under suspicion by the Spanish authorities who planned to send him away. In order to remain close to Delores, Cordero changed sides and joined the French.

Fearing the French would win, Don Francisco hid his treasure in a cave near what is now known as San Pedro Springs and sealed it with a large stone. He never told anyone, including his daughter, where the exact spot was.

Lefty and Cordova, both on the front lines of their respective armies, found themselves in a sword battle. They fought until both were mortally wounded, and both men died.

Upon learning of his son’s death, Don Francisco suffered a stroke. He sent for his daughter, who was at church praying for the safety of her brother and sweetheart. She went home but was too late. Don Francisco died taking with him to the grave the location of the buried treasure. Overcome with grief, Delores died shortly thereafter.

The story of the buried fortune continued on. People searched for the location and some found a cavern they thought might be the hiding place. Those who entered found it inhabited by bats, snakes, and even wolves. After one man fired at a wolf, the explosion of the rifle caused a rockslide further burying what may have been inside.

That didn’t deter the fortune seekers and many continued to search. It’s said those who entered the cave came out empty-handed and deeply fearful. (Sounds reminiscent of the story my grandfather told.) Not one single person went back a second time.

Many refused to talk about their experience, while others claimed to have seen a mysterious blue light (another similarity). Still, others say they saw the ghost of Don Francisco.

Centuries later, the location of Don Francisco’s fortune remains unknown. His legend, however, lives on.

Later this month, I’ll have another buried treasure story from the Texas Gulf Coast.