Haunted Florida: Pirate Ghost Stories

Updated on May 12, 2017
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Kitty has had paranormal experiences her entire life. These experiences have fueled her passion to write about all things supernatural.

One of the many haunted beaches in Florida...do pirates haunt this beach?
One of the many haunted beaches in Florida...do pirates haunt this beach? | Source
Jose Gaspar "Gasparilla"
Jose Gaspar "Gasparilla"

Pirate Ghosts—Dead Scourge of the Florida Seas

Usually when the word ghost comes to mind, we think of eerie, beautiful, wispy specters of Victorian women in white, or the passing image of a shadow in the night. We might think of haunted graveyards, full of spirits ready to pop out and wave at us from behind an unmarked, mossy grave...but have we ever thought of ghosts that aren't of the typical graveyard or Colonial house type? What about the idea of pirate ghosts?

Forget the overgrown graveyard and abandoned farmhouse and take a journey with me to haunted Florida...to a place where the seas engulf the peninsula on every side but north...to a place where ghosts live. And not just any ghosts, but pirate ghosts.

The Headless Pirate Ghost of Pierre LeBlanc

In the days when the pirates were the rulers of the Gulf and laid claim to land all up and down the coast of Florida, there was one particular pirate by the name of Jean LaFitte. Jean LaFitte, like all other scourge of the sea and terrors to society, owned massive amounts of pirate loot or what we might call "treasure". Jean LaFitte buried his treasure of jewels, gold, and other precious items on Treasure Island in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

In order to protect his booty, Jean LaFitte chose one of his minions (a man named Pierre LeBlanc) to watch over his treasure and ensure that no thieves would steal it. To help Pierre LeBlanc's watch over the treasure, LaFitte gave him a palomino horse to ride up and down the coast. One day a stranger came to Treasure Island and was supposedly hunting for snakes in order to sell the skins. Leblanc, being lonely, became drunk with the strange man and trusted him enough. He took his horse and walked away from the stranger, but in the morning the strange man found Leblanc laying on top of one of the chests with the treasure inside. In the end, a fight ensued and Leblanc had his head chopped off and the stranger made off with Lafitte's treasure.

It is said to this day that the headless body of the Pirate Ghost Pierre Leblanc can still be seen on certain nights, riding up and down the coast of Treasure Island. Maybe he's in search for his head or maybe he's still trying to protect the treasure that Lafitte left him in charge of so long ago...to his demise.

What Treasure Island looks like today. Is it haunted?
What Treasure Island looks like today. Is it haunted? | Source

Tampa's Infamous Jose Gaspar—The Ghost Pirate "Gasparilla"

If you live or have ever visited Tampa Bay, you might have heard of a festival called "Gasparilla". If you haven't heard, Gasparilla is a festival that is quite similar to New Orleans' Mardis Gras; however, there is no religious undertone or original meaning behind it. Gasparilla is a day that the Tampa Bay locals throw a parade and a HUGE party in honor of a supposed historic event involving a pirate named Jose Gaspar. Jose Gaspar, also known as "Gasparilla", was a Spanish pirate that scoured the Gulf Coast of Florida with his men...pillaging merchant ships and collecting as much treasure as their ship could hold. It is said that Gasparilla hid his loads of treasure on Gasparilla Island, an island in the Gulf of Mexico off the Western coast of Florida.

Unfortunately, the infamous legend of Jose Gaspar or Gasparilla has been completely denied by many historians and even some locals. They say it was all made up in the early 1900s in order to promote the purchasing of real estate in the Tampa Bay area; however, there are those who still believe that Jose Gaspar was a real pirate and indeed may even be haunting the waters up and down the Western Coast of Florida. Specifically in the Tampa Bay and on Gasparilla Island. Legend says that Jose Gaspar was almost done with his career of robbing merchant ships when he decided to rob one last merchant ship in the Gulf. But...this was to his ultimate demise. The merchant ship turned out to be a ship that was set up in order to capture or kill Jose Gaspar and his Gasparilla crew of pirates. Jose Gaspar, instead of being captured, decided to go down in a blaze of glory and threw himself into the ocean with some sort of object that was to weigh him down...leading to a watery grave. Gasparilla sacrificed himself to the sea instead of to man. Many Tampa Bay locals believe that Gasparilla's treasure is still buried on the island. His spirit can be felt all throughout the Tampa Bay area, especially on Gasparilla day.

Gasparilla's "Ship"
Gasparilla's "Ship" | Source

The Ghost Pirates of St. Augustine, Florida

One of the most well-known haunted spots in the state of Florida is Saint Augustine. Honestly, I've yet to go to St. Augustine but there is something inside of me that is dying to go there. Okay, maybe not "dying"...that might be a bad term to relate to when talking about Ghosts.

The town of Saint Augustine is full-to-the-brim with history. History of the Natives who lived on the land when the Spanish came. History of Ponce de Leon and his encounters with the Natives of the Floridian land. And history of...you guessed it...pirates! Specifically the lighthouse in Saint Augustine is said to be one of the most haunted places in the state. Many of the ghost tours in Saint Augustine will take you to the lighthouse to experience the creepy feeling of being watched. Or you could even capture an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) of some pirate ghost revelry yourself. Check out the video I've posted below. In this particular EVP taken by a lady tourist, you can actually hear singing...and the lyrics speak of grabbing a "molly". A "molly" back in the days when the Floridian coast was ruled by pirates was actually a prostitute. No one was in the lighthouse when this EVP was taken by the tourist. Many other stories of pirate ghosts in Saint Augustine abound. Maybe if you visit you'll get to see one of Florida's many pirate ghosts yourself.

Amazing EVP Taken of Pirate Ghosts in St. Augustine, FL

Have you ever ran into a ghost pirate on the beach at night?
Have you ever ran into a ghost pirate on the beach at night? | Source

Take a poll:

Which of these pirate ghosts would be the scariest to run into?

See results

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Nicole Canfield


    Submit a Comment

    • profile image

      Lee Cloak 3 years ago

      Great stories, great hub, very interesting stuff, thanks!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

      Thanks so much, getitscene!

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 5 years ago from The High Seas

      Good hub, entertaining stories.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      Seafarer Mama - Awesome! Thanks for reading & bookmarking. :)

      Paradise - Definitely were some bad a$$es! I like to think they were pirates though.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Very thrilling, in an eerie way. I think, if they weren't pirates on that tape, they were bad a$$es of some sort, yes?

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 6 years ago from New England

      Thanks for this very well-written and well-detailed hub about pirate ghosts. I've been to St.Agustine with my parents, back when I was about 9 or so. My fascination with the sea or pirates was not yet awakened, though. Would love to go there, now. Wouldn't mind being in Tampa for Gasparilla Day, either. :0)

      ...m bookmarking this one!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      AP - I really found that EVP to be fantastic! I want to go there and record some of my own EVPs. Thanks!

      CMHypno - It surely does! :)

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 6 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Great tales of pirate ghosts - seems like Florida has lots of ghostly goings on and paranormal experiences.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      What ya know. I was thinking right before starting to read that pirate ghosts and such aren't thought about as much as many others. These two are new here and I enjoyed your writes on them. St. Augustine is one cool castle and it's not hard to imagine things there or in the lighthouse going bump in the night. How 'bout that Grab That Molly on the EVP vid too. You've really gotta go there some time Kitty.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      lucybell - Thanks so much! Argh.

    • lucybell21 profile image

      Bonny OBrien 6 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

      Great hub! I've never really thought about pirate ghost before. Voted up!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      Sunnie - Next time you're in the area, remember there might be pirate ghosts around.

      Joyce - LOL. Thanks! You're too sweet.

      Nell - Yes, I thought that this particular EVP was amazingly clear and creepy. Thanks for reading. Gasparilla is a lot of fun!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, That EVP was spooky! I think I would have run out of that lighthouse quicker than you can say jack sparrow! lol! really fascinating, and I love the idea of the Gasparilla day, great stuff! voted up! cheers nell

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      You funny lady 'dying to go there'. Great story. Voted up and interesting, Joyce.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 6 years ago

      Hi Kitty,

      This was really good and fancinating. I was born in Jacksonvile Florida and have lived down that way but missed this story..I think it would be such a great place to visit and see all the mysteries. Thank you for sharing..