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Gasparilla's Ghosts & Legends

January 13, 2009
FL Guide

Gasparilla's Ghosts & Legends

It isn't hard to surmise that a place as old as Gasparilla Island has more than a few tales to tell - and not all of them are pleasant.

Many have died here, particularly before the bridge connected it to the mainland. Haunts and ghosts still wander the island, having met their untimely ends through many different means. Historical sites that look bright and beautiful during the day can become foreboding, twisted, lonely places when the sun goes down.

At First Street and Gilchist Avenue, the crumbling remains of an old stone wall guard the original grounds of the Dupont-Crowninshield estate, and three old trees stand sentinel - now chopped and blocky but still diligent, standing tall against a twilight sky.

The shady alcoves of Banyan Street that attract tourists during the day become shadowy, tortured shapes in the evening. The deep waters around the south end of the island run into crevasses and rocky caves that daylight never sees, where any multitude of creatures roam - and feed.

The pirate Gaspar was once believed to have chosen our island as a private lair, to hide his jewels and gold as well as some of his beloved captured female prisoners. Gaspar's blade has spilled blood on these beaches more than once, according to legend, and some say caches of his treasure are still around.

Josefa, a Spanish princess kidnapped and beheaded by Jose Gaspar, is rumored to wander the beach in search of her missing head - thousands of miles from her homeland and the family she was taken from. There is also the story of Molly, a vibrant 17-year-old who was courted by and fell in love with a handsome young man, but her parents would not permit her to marry him. She committed suicide in her closet, and is said to still occupy the home near Banyan and Park.

The ghosts and legends of Boca Grande lend a slightly darker side to the beauty we call "paradise." Choose to believe, or not...



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