Monthly Archive: April 2012

Interview with Mondesfrancophone Part 8

April 26th, 2012 pavy@pavy.com Miscellaneous No comments

Part 8 of  an 8 part interview 

http://mondesfrancophones.com/espaces/periples-des-arts/entretien-avec-francis-x-pavy-8/

The Flower Gardens : Jean Lafitte Part II

April 20th, 2012 pavy@pavy.com Miscellaneous No comments

flowergarden

   This image is called The Flower Garden and it’s named for the Flower Garden National Marine Sanctuary that’s located not far from Galveston and the Louisiana Coast. Lafitte would probably have sailed over these Reefs on his way in and out of Galveston.

   After the Battle of New Orleans, Lafitte moved to Galveston Island and continued to operate as before. By 1817 Lafitte had taken command of the island. All people wanting to live there had to take a oath of loyalty to Jean Lafitte. He built a large structure called the Maison Rouge, where the landings were made. It was surrounded by a moat. He lived aboard his ship ” Pride” and conducted business there, issuing false letters of Marque to his captains. Hostile indians and a hurricane in 1818 complicated life on the island, and by 1821 he was forced from the island by the Americans after an American merchantmen was attacked by one of his captains. After leaving, he continued to attacks ships in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1822 he was granted a Letter of Marque by the Colombian government and given a new ship. Shortly after in 1823 he was reported to have been killed Feb 5 1823, or was he?

   Local legends state that Jean Lafitte was actually François Zénon Boutté who lived out his elder days in Breaux Bridge, La.. Zenon Boutee was a historical figure that had connections to the Barratarian lands once frequented by the Lafitte brothers.I have a good friend who is a Boutee and also has connections to the area around the town of Boutee by Barataria Bay and also Breaux Bridge. He has also mentioned to me that Jean Lafitte’s real name was Boutee.

   Lafitte was rumored to have buried a fortune in gold and silver somewhere in Louisiana. At some time every other Cajun has “discovered” the buried treasure of Jean Lafitte. People still dig regularly on the banks of Contraband bayou in Lake Charles to look for gold. At this present time on Cypremort Point, La., there is a an excavation looking for the treasure of Jean Lafitte. The owner of the property had a dream and a voice told him that there was the treasure of Jean Lafitte buried underneath his family home. The property had a very old water well ,only one of 2 old wells on Bayou Cypremort.Lafitte had been know to use the waterway to go up the Bayou Teche. The property owner has been digging there for at least 3 years now, and insists that 3 metallic “targets” of have been identified by some sort of magnometer, but not recovered because of their depth and the problems with the water table.This operation is called the “Big Dig” by locals. Most are skeptical about any recovery of treasure. It’s a testament to the power of persuasion of the owner that’s attracted the rumored over $750,000 of outside capital for this project. Checking today I heard that the dragline latched onto something in the hole about 20 feet down and almost pulled the dragline over. There have been other sightings related to the treasure. I’ve had several people tell me the’ve seen a shell mound in the swamp with an Iron cross on the top, saying this was the lost treasure of Jean Lafitte, but could not find the location again later. I had another friend tell me they’ve found old coins and strange bricks with odd markings on them on their property, in a bend of the Vermillion River (another supposed Haunt of Jeans Lafitte) but have not bothered to excavate around these markers. In the 1920′s Indian Bayou in Livingston Parish was drained to search for the Treasure of Jean Lafitte. At any rate the treasure has not been found yet and is almost certainly non existent.

   One thing is for sure the mythology of Lafitte doesn’t seem to diminish over the years. He is an omnipresent figure in South Louisiana, seemingly having been everywhere. So we’re in store for more wild treasure hunts as the years roll along.

The Flower Gardens : Jean Lafitte Part II

April 19th, 2012 pavy@pavy.com Blog, Miscellaneous, PR / News No comments

    This image is called The Flower Garden and  it’s named for the Flower Garden National Marine Sanctuary  that’s located not far from Galveston and the Louisiana Coast. Lafitte would probably have sailed over these Reefs on his way in and out of Galveston. 

   After  the Battle of New Orleans, Lafitte moved to Galveston Island  and continued to operate as before. By 1817 Lafitte had taken command of the island. All people wanting to live there  had to take a oath of loyalty to Jean Lafitte. He built a large structure called the Maison Rouge, where the landings were made. It was surrounded by a moat. He lived aboard  his ship ” Pride” and conducted business there, issuing false letters of Marque to his captains. Hostile indians and a hurricane in 1818 complicated life on the island, and by 1821 he was forced from the island by the Americans after an American merchantmen was attacked by one of his captains. After leaving, he continued  to attacks ships in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1822  he was granted a Letter of Marque by the Colombian government and given a new ship. Shortly after in 1823 he was reported to have been killed Feb 5 1823, or was he? 

    Local legends state that  Jean Lafitte was actually François Zénon Boutté who lived out his elder days in Breaux Bridge, La..  Zenon Boutee was a historical  figure that  had connections  to the Barratarian lands once frequented by the Lafitte brothers.I have a good friend who is a Boutee and also has connections  to the area around the town of Boutee by Barataria Bay and also Breaux Bridge. He has also mentioned to me that Jean Lafitte’s real name was Boutee. 

     Lafitte was rumored to have  buried a fortune in gold and silver  somewhere in Louisiana.  At some time every other Cajun has “discovered” the  buried treasure of Jean Lafitte. People still dig regularly on the banks of Contraband bayou in Lake Charles to look for gold. At this present time on Cypremort Point, La., there  is a an excavation looking for the treasure of Jean Lafitte. The owner  of the property had a dream and a voice told him that there was  the treasure of Jean Lafitte buried underneath his family home. The property had a very old water well ,only one of  2 old wells on Bayou Cypremort.Lafitte had been know to use the waterway to go up the Bayou Teche. The property owner has been digging there for at least 3 years now, and insists that 3 metallic “targets” of have been identified by some sort of magnometer,  but not recovered because of their depth and the problems with the water table.This operation is called the “Big Dig” by locals. Most are skeptical about any recovery of treasure. It’s a testament to the power of persuasion of the owner  that’s attracted the rumored over $750,000 of outside capital for this project. Checking today I heard that the dragline latched onto something in the hole about 20 feet down and almost pulled the dragline over. There  have been other sightings related to the treasure. I’ve  had several people tell me the’ve seen a shell mound in the swamp with an Iron cross on the  top, saying this was the lost treasure of Jean Lafitte, but could not find the location again later. I had another friend tell me they’ve found old coins  and strange bricks with odd markings on them  on their property, in a bend of the Vermillion River (another supposed Haunt of Jeans Lafitte) but have not bothered to excavate around these markers. In the 1920′s Indian Bayou in Livingston Parish was drained to search for the Treasure of Jean Lafitte. At any rate the treasure has not been found yet and is almost certainly non existent.

    One thing is for sure the mythology of Lafitte doesn’t seem to diminish over the years. He is an omnipresent figure in South  Louisiana, seemingly having been everywhere. So we’re in store for more wild treasure hunts as the years roll along. 

BARATARIA -Jean Lafitte part 1

April 17th, 2012 pavy@pavy.com Miscellaneous No comments

BARATARIA

   One other figure that made an impact on the Battle of New  Orleans  in 1815 was Jean Lafitte. He was  the last of the famous Caribbean pirates, his dates of operation were  roughly  from the 1800′s  to the 1820′s. A mythic figure , he looms large in Louisiana Folklore. Even in his day he was larger than life. Lord Byron’s “The Corsair”  was  based on the life of Jean Lafitte. It sold 10,000 copies on the first day of publication in 1814. A novel was written in 1826called The Memoirs of Lafitte, or The Baratarian Pirate; a Narrative Founded on Fact .

        Jean Lafitte operated a warehouse in New Orleans  dealing smuggled  goods  around 1805. After  the embargo act of 1807, demand for banned imported goods became so great he and his brother opened up a port in Barataria Bay, smuggling these goods to the public in New Orleans. By 1913 the Lafittes were operating a 3 ship fleet seizing loot mainly from Spanish ships. Their usual mode of operation was to sail into New Orleans with legal cargo. After selling this they would take on more legal cargo and make a manifest of these goods. Then  they would sail to the mouth of Bayou Lafourche and add to their  cargo and the manifest with contraband goods. Then go back to New Orleans after they “laundered’ the new goods and sell them there. Soon  the merchants were complaining  to Governor Claiborne about the Lafittes because they were undercutting their prices. The governor put a $500.00 bounty on Lafitte’s head and declared  the Lafittes pirates. Jean Lafitte countered the offer with a similar bounty on the Governor’s head. Before too long Pierre Lafitte was in jail. 

  The British saw a opportunity with the Barratarians. If they could get them on their side then they would have a better chance of capturing New Orleans. In mid August 1814 the British approached  Lafitte to try and get him to side with the British. There were great rewards for Lafitte but if he refused the British told him they would destroy his port at Barataria. He leveraged  this offer by telling the British he would make a decision in 2 weeks and at the same time letting the Americans know that he would fight on their side if they would let his brother loose and pardon Lafitte and his band of pirates. The Americans were not easy to convince and by September it was the Americans not the British that attacked the island. The pirates  burned their ships and warehouse rather than fight the Americans. The British left to go back to Pensacola in disgust.  Lafitte continued to have his allies in the legislature lobby on his behalf to side with the Americans, and before too long with the fear of  the impending invasion of New Orleans by the British  Lafitte was able to walk free on the streets of New Orleans  and the 80 pirates arrested were freed. Soon Jackson and LafittJackson  that he could help defend New Orleans and defeat the British. Once  Jackson gave Lafitte his assignment Lafitte got to work organizing his men and equipment. During the battle on Jan 1815 Lafitte and his men helped defend the line and repulsed the advancing British. After the Battle Jackson requested clemency for the Lafitte’s and their men ,finally receiving a pardon on Feb 6 1815.