Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pirate Jean Laffite and Snake Island

Recently, I heard on the local news that three shipwrecks have been uncovered about 150 miles from Galveston Island. One of the ships purported to be from the Texas Revolutionary era, possibly a privateer or pirate ship. Every young boy from my era probably dreamed of being a pirate. AAARRRR! But, did you know that a few remains of Maison Rouge, the house that the pirate Jean Laffite built, still exists on Snake Island (aka Galveston Island)? It was called Snake Island not because it was full of the plentiful water moccasins but full of rattlesnakes! Yikes! 

At that time, Snake Island was more like what Padre Island is now, a bunch of sand dunes, grass, and driftwood.  It looked nothing like the tropical landscape of today. Lafitte’s Maison Rouge (Red House) was both a house and a fort.  In fact, it was the only permanent structure at that time on Galveston Island.

 While researching Jean Laffite in Galveston and the French colony of Champ d’Asile near Liberty for one of my future books, we ventured to the site of Maison Rouge. Located on the outskirts of the historic district of Galveston, the site looked abandoned and lonely. The surrounding cyclone fence is tattered and cut in places where people have entered the site. Only the foundation of a house that was built over Maison Rouge remains. Some folks believe that parts of the staircase may be from Jean Lafitte’s original house.

Jean Lafitte, the pirate may have disappeared mysteriously after being kicked out of Texas by the United States navy, but the location of his house is still celebrated by those believe in the free spirit of the pirates of old. So if you want to visit this historic site in Galveston and give a toast of a rum drink to the pirate of Snake Island, drive to 1417 Harborside and let your mind wander to a time when pirates ruled the island. I wonder if Lafitte buried any gold treasure under the house before he left. Guess we will never know. See you about as we travel Texas Thru My Back Door!

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