Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Many Deaths of Jean Lafitte

Actual photo of the grave of Jean Lafitte (and friends)? 
See "The Legend That Disagrees with History" below.

Jean Lafitte died of injuries sustained during a sea battle sometime in 1821 or 1822. Or he succumbed to disease on the Yucatan coast near Isle de Mujeres (the Island of Women) in 1826. Or, in a year unnamed, his ship was sunk and he and his men died fighting on a sandbank. Or maybe, just maybe, he changed his name and moved to St. Louis, where he died of pneumonia in 1854. (We'll deal with the fascinating tale behind that story tomorrow, in Friday's Forgotten Books.)

In his 2005 work The Pirates Laffite, author William C. Davis claimed to have solved the mystery for good. He discovered a piece in a Cartegna (Colombia) newspaper stating Lafitte's ship was attacked at sea by unknown vessels and struck by grapeshot. Suffering a severe wound from a splinter, Lafitte died on February 5, 1823 and was buried at sea. Pardon me if I'm not convinced.

The wildest story yet claims that Lafitte was buried in the Louisiana bayou right next to Napoleon Bonaparte and John Paul Jones. An account of this theory appears below, from the 1943 book The Land of Lafitte the Pirate. This notion later served as the basis of an enjoyable mystery novel, The Lafitte Case by Ray Peters.

 (click to enlarge)

Tomorrow: The Memoirs of Jean Laffite
Saturday: The Legacy of Jean Lafitte
Still playing on BEAT to a PULP: "The Mercy of Jean Lafitte" by Yours Truly

6 comments:

Deka Black said...

What is more fascinating than the life of a pirate is his death. Reminds me of what is telled about the death of the real Blackbeard near Virginia.

David Cranmer said...

Lafitte, Napoleon Bonaparte and John Paul Jones all buried side by side? Whew! That would be one well visited grave site.

Ron Scheer said...

Anyone writing books about the Somalian pirates from their point of view?

Oscar said...

Evan, I really like that header! The Battle of the Alamo! As for LaFitte, may he rest in peace wherever he lies.

Evan Lewis said...

Did you know, Oscar, that this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Waynamo? I didn't, but Davy has been keeping count.

Oscar said...

How time flies!John Wayne as Davy, I remember seeing the movie a long time ago.