Tags: Tampa | Ybor City | treasure map | Jose Gaspar

Hand in Tampa Attic Stirs Up Memories of Dread Pirate Gaspar

By    |   Thursday, 30 Apr 2015 04:29 PM

The eerie discovery of a mysterious wooden box bearing a disembodied mummified hand with a ring on the wedding ring finger, an old map of the Tampa area and several coins has stirred up memories of pirate Jose Gaspar, the terror of Florida's Caribbean coast in the late 1700s.

It's enough to shiver your timbers!

Jose Lopez's sister, Maria, was cleaning out the attic of a home owned by her great-grandparents, Eve and Ernesto Lopez, in Tampa's historic Ybor City area, when she stumbled upon the box, WFLA-TV reports.

Story continues below video.

Inside, bound to the box by copper wire, she found a dessicated hand wearing a ring with the word "Gaspar" on the wedding ring finger, several old, possibly silver coins, a tattered map and a formal wedding photo, likely of Eve and Ernesto on their wedding day, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

"Maria came across it and once she told me she found a hand in a box. I was totally blown away," Lopez told USA Today. "Maybe my great-grandparents were pirates."

Gaspar is said to have robbed over 400 ships in his days as a pirate, until he met his end in 1821 when tricked into attacking the U.S. Navy warship Enterprise. As Gaspar's ship, the Floridablanca, was sinking, legends say he wrapped his arm around the anchor chain, and went down with his ship, waving his cutlass with his other hand — both hands were still firmly attached.

He reportedly left treasure worth millions buried around Florida, and to this day, Tampa celebrates the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival.

Maria and Mike say their father, Ernesto Lopez, would regale them with stories of his father finding Gaspar's pirate treasure.

However, Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of the Tampa Bay History Center, said he believes the coins are not Spanish treasure, the map dates from the 1920s or 1930s, and the hand may not be human, but that of a monkey.

The coins are "a little thin to be Spanish coins or old coins in general. Generally older coins were thicker," he told WFLA-TV.

"It's fascinating, but I just don't know what to make of it, aside from the fact that it's probably not Jose Gaspar's hand (and) these probably aren't Spanish coins," Kite-Powell said.

Maria Lopez told USA Today, "Either my great-grandfather made the best, most elaborate pirate hoax ever and never shared it with anyone or he really did find some treasure on the Hillsborough River. There's really no way to know which is the case."

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The eerie discovery of a mysterious wooden box bearing a disembodied mummified hand with a ring on the wedding ring finger, an old map of the Tampa area and several coins has stirred up memories of pirate Jose Gaspar.
Tampa, Ybor City, treasure map, Jose Gaspar
423
2015-29-30
Thursday, 30 Apr 2015 04:29 PM
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