The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee on March 10, 1940 · Page 54
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The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee · Page 54

Nashville, Tennessee
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 10, 1940
Page 54
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v y ne y X. I i''i;.Trr'..n--- - - - Heave Ho! and Doyn to the Spanis Explorer of-Eight, Bars of Golde Sparlding Je the Long - Buried Booty off the Jolly F Brotherhood Tales of the World's Buccaneers Never Told Befc .r Reconstruction... Portrait of the Wicked Old Pirate Flood, Found Among Old Drawings and Sketches. THE AMERICAN WEEKLY offers today the eighth of a remarkable series of article bringing out a number of little-known and hitherto unpublished facta about the old pirates and their hidden treasures. ' They are written by Harold T. Wilkins, Eng. liih explorer, who ia a world-famous authority on the subject, and who has spent a large part of hia life in investigating and searching for the bloodstained but glamorous loot of the Gentlemen of the Jolly Roger. Mr. Wilkins has hia plana made for an expedition next year to seek unknown treaaurea of the best-known of all American pirates, Captain Kidd., - -ii - Y mmK- s -.''yiy l An Early Drwtng BjgWfc f ' 7?j?00r I Blowing Up of -iS" f?2S! -'XJ iv 1 "La Moustique." l-i VJTx3? &fCr2J3 Ten fathoms down on the Dead Man's chest, - They're lying deep and wide. They went when old Flood piped the call, Some went wi' sighs and some wi' groans, But a cutlass swipe soon stopped their moans. He did pile the plate in the lowest hold, He'd a-stored his lockers full o' gold, And then at last to Death he rolled; Down in the Caribbean. (From th Ballad of Captain Flood, author unknown. Probably 18th Century.) By HAROLD T. WILKINS, Explorer and Treasure Seeker. CHAPTER VIII. C 1M0, by American Weekly. Inc. Great Britain Right Reaerred. IN AN old Spanish house about ten miles from Saint Jago de la Vega, in Jamaica, B. W. I., my friend and companion of many treasure hunts, H. P., and I had heard" there was a mysterious chest ' - - ' . ' , . . The house had been the residence of a hidalgo of the Old Colonial days. He seemed to have been corregidor in the service of the old Spanish captain-general. The house was built like a fort with walls three feet thick and loopholed for muskets. The miasma of decay permeated the desolate ruin. The grounds were overgrown with trees, and owls, bats, tarantulas and lizards retreated before us. None of the natives from neighboring plantations would approach; they said the old house was haunted. ' That may explain why we found an old bat-tered iron box in a downstairs room where it bad lain undisturbed for over two hundred years. It was caked with rust and even moss grew from it H. P. immediately got to work scraping the ac- cumulations of age from its top. I sat in the embrasure of one of the windows and watched. For moro than an hour he struggled with the hasp, barking his knuckles and swearing in a manner that would have called forth admiration from the pirates themselves. At last his tools bit into the corroded metal and with an effort he swung up the heavy lid. We peered in at a collection of papers and parchments. Carefully lifting them out for future study we stared at an object in the bottom of the cof f re-fort It was a small silver casket carved like a Renaissance Jewel box. We found in it a stiff; brown parchment mouldy and stinking but legible. Drawn in faded black and red ink was the map of an -island. The directions written on it were curiously phonetic, the lettering quaint The drawing was of a bay shaped like a crescent The entrance was by a narrow passage through a coral reef, giving to a wide beach. In the background a wall of cliffs framed the shore, and in the center of the crescent a brook entered the bay. On the bottom of the chart were the words: VEyespanyoler, in ye yeere 1710. J. C. Qr. Mr." Around the margin ran this fascinating legend: "Goe a score and fyye yardes nor'west above hyghe watter marke, from marked bolder on left syde of homed reefe of corall as youe gow in. Behind this reefe of corall and sand are places ware tirtles lay thur egges. Thense, 50 feet N. by 8 feet W. on second marked bolder. 20 feet NE. on coco palm. Fyve feet by f ower feet by fyve . . .Loke for a bale shaped lyke,halfe Moone, offe ye Moner passidge." The chart appeared to be genuine, and we made up our minds to have a go at finding the treasure. I dug up 17th and 18th Century charts of His-paniola (Haiti-San Domingo) and my friend, Mr. Frank Crundall, controller of the Jamaica Library, fave me much assistance. But nowhere could we nd the "half e Moone baie." . The only thing to do was to. take a trip to San Domingo, and explore all lilcely creeks and islands off the Mona Passage. One magnificent day at the beginning of the dry season we boarded a commercial airliner at Kingston and soared over the translucent .Caribbean, above the Tortugas, like gems beneath us, above the terrible Citadel of Henri Christophe, to Ciudad Trujillo. In 1930 the ancient town had been shattered by a tremendous earthquake, and we hoped that the upheaval might have brought some interesting relics to light We rambled all over the town with but little result In the cathedral wall we found a cannon ball fired by the dreaded El Draoo (Sir Francis Drake). A sacristan showed us a place, under the archbishop's chair, where, in 187Y, they found the hidden vault which contained the remains of the great Cristoval Colon. Old Spanish tombs with their sonorous inscriptions intrigued me. There was one which, to men gambling with fortune, had an ominous note: "1 have ended my course. Hope and Fortune remain and seek others to mock!" A more elaborate tombstone bore the legend: "This tomb belongs to Senor Don Francisco de Almansa. canon of this Holy, Principal Church, and Commissioner of the Holy Inquisition, and to hisheire.? About the richly carved marble was a sinister aura of decayed sweetness. We found nothing in the cathedral that would help us in our search, and took to dropping in .the dockside bodegas (taverns) and chatting with the Stevedores and fishermen. They lapped up our drinks with absent-minded promptness, but to all our, carefully worded questions mumbled: "Quien sabe?" ("Who knows?") An American suggested we explore Samana Bay on the north coast of San Domingo. I remembered a letter of old Rear-Admiral Benbow written in 16?9 while he was commanding the Doncaster, in which he wrote: "This day I sniled from hence, tho' with regret, for Jamaica, thinking to look into the Bay of Samana, also St Domingo: here are a great many pirates on the coast and so much cover, it's very hard to come at them, in the woods on the shore. ' We hired a boat to-explore-the bay.--It-is hemmed in by towering red cliffs and numerous small islands dot its clear, green water. Overlooking the bay are the crumbling ruins of an ancient Spanish fort, almost smothered under masses of brilliant green verdure dotted with frail, scarlet hibisctis blossoms. ' There are many caves in the cliffs tunnelling for hundreds of yards underground. In them lived pirates in the late 17th and early 18th Centuries. There they hid their booty, digging stealthily while they peered over their shoulders to see if a comrade sought to betray them. . It was a sweltering day and the sun bounced, back from the sparkling waves until we were das-tied. We rested, sucking cool green cocoa nuts which our Negro boatman brought from graceful, swaying palms. Millions of sea birds swung about the cliffs, their desolate mewings emphasizing the deathly ?uiet"of the place. We rowed across the bay as ar as Punta Vaca through narrow openings over coral reefs whose needle-sharp teeth threatened ' to rip the keel planks from our boat We were , some distance from land when behind us there was a roar like the explosion of a mine. "What the devil's that?" demanded H. P. Suddenly from a hole in the red cliff a white cloud-like smoke spouted and rose in the air like 1 A I Cali byi Firi a geyser. I thought it was a vol canic eruption. A "No, caballeros," grinned the boat- fj man. "Not ees volcan. Ees bomba "i marina, bomba marina (a sea bomb) caballeros. , ? fk rm . i i iij. 'f ine waier spout was causea oy uue , water rushing with terrific rorce into a submarine cave, striving through the labyrinthine holes in the cliff until it ' exploded from another orifice.' We hesitated to sxplore Samana any more and searched the coast "for three days, but in vain. So we hired accommodation in. a coastal sloop from Santa Barbara, around the Cabo Engano, a beautiful sail. We followed the coast through the Mona Passage, the great seaway for all Caribbean liners. Many a pirate came to grief in this channel when a warship sailed across his bows, and many merchantmen disappeared without trace, their crews plundered and murdered by the deadly buc caneers who frequented these shores. Incidentally it was at this spot that the name "buccaneer" was first heard. Clarke Russell in his "Life of William Dam-pier," published in 1889, says: "In or about the middle of the 17th Century, the island of San Domingo, or Hispaniola, as it was called, was haunted and overrun, by a singular community of savage, surly, fierce and filthy men. They were chiefly composed of French colonists, whose ranks had from time to time been enlarged by liberal contributions from the slums and alleys of more than one European city or town. '.These people went dressed in shirts and pantaloons of coarse linen, which they steeped in the blood of the animals they slaughtered. They wore round caps, boots of hogskin drawn over their naked feet and belts of rawhide, in which they stuck their sabres and knives. They also armed themselves with firelocks, which threw a couple of balls each weighing two ounces. "The places where they dried and salted their meat were called boucans, and from this term thev came to be styled bucaniers, or buccaneers, is wc spell it They were hunters by trade, and savages in their habits. They chised and slaughtered homed cattle and trafficked with the flesh, and their favorite food was raw marrow from the bones of the beasts they shot. They ate and slept on the ground, their table was a stone, their bolster the trunk of a tree and their roof the hot and sparkling heavens of the Antilles." fr-T,. WV-"

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