One of those ancient live oak trees shaded the road right next to our driveway. In the early sixties, a construction crew digging ditches for sewer lines found the skeletons of two Indians under this oak tree. This generated lots of local excitement. Archaeologists were called in to review the site, the remains were removed for study and the construction crew was finally given the go-ahead to continue their work. The ditch was dug, pipe was laid and things returned to normal – almost.
Someone remembered a story about a pirate – I don’t remember which one now – who had been offered amnesty by the Governor of Florida. This pirate expected treachery when he met with the governor so he decided to bury his treasure before he got to the city. According to the story, he and his two Indian servants buried the gold on the south side of a live oak tree on Anastasia Island – then he killed the two Indians and buried them with the treasure. He was right to take precautions. Instead of amnesty, he was arrested and later executed so his treasure was never claimed.
Well, you can imagine what a hornets nest this legend stirred up. People were out in front of our house all hours of the day and night trying to find the treasure. As soon as the police chased them off, more would show up. Our parents were highly irritated by all this commotion but we kids loved it. Pirates! How could you not love pirates! It would be weeks before things settled down again.
The reality check is that about 100 yards east of the now infamous live oak tree is the remains of an Indian village – probably where the quarry workers lived during the fort’s construction. On the west side of our property – at the edge of what was then Quarry Creek – those Indians would harvest and clean oysters and clams for their meals. It’s not surprising to any of us that Indians would be buried in the area.
Not surprising, but not near as interesting as pirate gold.
Originally published August 30, 2007.