Pirates seem to be all the rage this summer and the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village offers an interesting learning experience about some notorious pirates who plundered and pillaged in the Southwest Florida Gulf waters.
Everything “pirate” is being displayed in the Rutland House's Museum Gift Shop this summer. Tales of Black Caesar and Gasparilla, two famous buccaneers with a Sanibel and Captiva connection, are featured in several books offered at the gift shop and pirate-themed merchandise, all made in America, is also on display.
“Our Southwest Florida pirate connection offers some exciting and interesting stories for adults and children alike," said Gift Shop manager Paula Newton. "The kids like the pirate treasure, coins, maps, coloring books and eye patches and their parents are entertained by pirate stories, some of which are based on fact, and others which are romantic interpretations of pirate legends.”
For instance, there are many stories about how Captiva got its name. One is that José Gaspar, known as Gasparilla, held captured females on a barrier island for ransom. That story is highly unlikely though. More plausible is the story of Juan Ortiz, a Spanish sailor, who was captured by a Calusa chief and taken to “Captiva” island where he was held for 18 years before he managed to escape and make his way back to Havana, Cuba.
There are also tales of buried treasure on Pine Island, Gasparilla Island and even on Sanibel Island. Artifacts and skeletons have been discovered in and around Pine Island Sound and San Carlos Bay and, according to legend, there might be a cache of gold and silver hiding beneath a mangrove or shell mound.
The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village presents the islands’ rich history to visitors. Seven historic buildings and a Heritage Garden offer a “step back in time” and a glimpse of life on Sanibel from the 1880s to 1940s. Each building contains period furniture, artifacts and displays about many of the island’s early pioneer families.
At only a $5 admission for adults, the Historical Village is definitely a “value” destination. Children under 18 and members are free. The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stop by the Rutland House at 950 Dunlop Road (next to BIG Arts) and view the pirate display in the Gift Shop. It’s guaranteed that local legends and pirate stories will spark your imagination and liven up your summer!
Sanibel Historical Museum & Village volunteer Dorothy Donaldson shows off some of the merchandise at the Rutland House's gift shop display.