The most notorious and successful pirate was Jose Gaspar, better known as Gasparilla. His methods were black and bloody, and he stands out among all the pirates who used Florida to bury their wealth. Leaving Spain at an early age, he sailed to the West Coast of Florida. He soon picked a good spot in Charlotte Harbor, and began to build his pirate kingdom. His headquarters were at Boca Grande, on what is today known as Gasparilla Island. In the following years, he accumulated a board estimated at $30,000,000. It is said that he and his brother buried all of his money on the islands in and around Charlotte Harbor. In all, he buried 13 casks and chests of treasure in the vicinity of his headquarters. His men, who numbered in the hundreds, also buried their smaller caches on these islands.
All had been going along fine for Gasparilla until the year 1822. The American Government then decided to get into the act and sent a Navy squadron to end his career. One day Gasparilla prepared to attack a merchantman, but to his surprise, it turned out to be a United States man-of-war. When he finally realized that it was a warship, it was too late. The notorious pirate then committed suicide by wrapping a heavy chain around him and jumping over the side. His ship soon followed him to the watery depths. The ship contained $1,000,000 in assorted treasure, and should be there today. Charlotte Harbor is an ideal spot to go treasure hunting. Just pick any island and start digging, because Gasparilla’s loot is buried on many of them, including Cayo Pelau.