Buried Treasure

Published: 08th September 2009
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Buried treasure….

Beaumont, Texas is certainly not what one would think of when talking about buried pirate treasure but a book by Frank J. Dobie ties it to some of the booty of the infamous pirate Jean Lafitte. As Jason Whitney the President of First Fidelity Reserve discovered when reading the book “Legends of Texas: Pirates' Gold and Other Tales,” a famous meeting took place between two treasure hunters just a few miles from his First Fidelity Reserve office. These two individuals were named Meredith and Clawson. Clawson lived in Beaumont, Texas and was believed to have had encountered some terrible apparition when he was searching for Lafitte’s gold. Meridith begged Clawson to accompany him on one more adventure but Clawson refused.

The thought of hidden treasures make the heart beat faster. Images of chests of gold and jewels buried somewhere, just waiting to be found. Like Jean Lafitte’s treasure…..was what drove Clawson initially to search for that ill gotten fortune.

Jean Lafitte was a famous pirate who in the early 1800’s sailed from Grand Terre Island, south of New Orleans, Louisiana. Grand Terre was part of an area called Barataria and included all the lakes, bayous, swamps and bays south of New Orleans. An area perfect for piracy and smuggling….

A handsome man by all accounts, Lafitte reportedly exhibited great personal charm and became a legend in his own time, even more so with his patriotic actions in the Battle of New Orleans. Because he supplied American with cannons, munitions and trained gunners, he was pardoned for his nefarious deeds.

Unable to reclaim goods seized before he joined the American effort, Lafitte soured toward the United States. He established a new base in Galveston, which grew to around 1000, including outlaws from America, drawn to the profitable business of capturing Spanish ships.

However, the United States was determined to rout Lafitte from Galveston. Sensing an ending to his Gulf of Mexico operations, Lafitte began hiding his loot.

In 1821, when the schooner USS Enterprise approached Galveston and demanded that the privateering camp be destroyed, Lafitte left the island without a fight on his flagship, the Pride, burning his fortress and settlements and reportedly taking immense amounts of treasure with him. Stories abound that he died soon after, but what’s known is Lafitte faded from recorded history. All that remains of his lavishly furnished mansion, Maison Rouge, is the foundation, located at 1417 Avenue A near the Galveston wharf.

After Lafitte's death, tales of his buried treasure abounded on the Louisiana and Texas coast. He was said to have made caches of loot in Galveston. Other stories told by a Lafitte slave had Lafitte’s hiding treasure along the Calcasieu and Mermenteau Rivers. Another very large cache is said to be at the Sabine River near a grove of gum tress, about 3 miles east of the Old Spanish Trail.

Coins from that era are found from time to time on Grand Terre, which is accessible only by boat. In 1915 a New Orleans worker uncovered a chest filled with more than 1,500 doubloons. In Gretna in 1960, across the river from New Orleans, many gold coins were uncovered in an area frequented by Lafitte and his men .In still another story, an unnamed island in Lake Borgne, east of New Orleans, is also said to hold buried treasure. People are still enamored by the thought of discovering a treasured coin and that is why Whitney feels his company First Fidelity Reserve deals with so many coin and bullion collectors

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