I grow up hearing tales about the wrecks on North Deer Island, and made my first trip there when I was 14 or 15 years old. Over the years I have hunted many times on both North and South Deer and have found many a bottle along with ship spikes and other fittings, no gold coins or silver bars.
North Deer is now a seabird rookery and off limits to hunting or even being there but South Deer is still public and I can be there in 30 min by canoe from my house so its not hard to get to.
I have not been out there since Ike but am planing on spends some time this fall on South Deer after the rattlers and cotton mouths go to sleep for the winter.
Information below is from one of W.C. Jameson's books
The Shipwrecks on Deer Island
September is a difficult month for those who sail the Gulf of Mexico. Storms are common, and they often arise without warning.
It was one such September in 1820 that three privateers sailed north toward Galveston Island after a series of successful raids on Spanish treasure ships plying the waters between the Yucatan and Cuba. The heavy and growing storm overtook them as they raced northward, and stiff winds flailed the three craft unmercifully while the rough seas threatened to capsize them.
As the captains began to fear they might not survive to see land again, Galveston Island was sighted, and all three vessels sailed for that welcome sanctuary. The ships' pilots had hoped to make the shallow waters of the Sabine River, but it was too far away to take the chance. With the storm's fury growing every minute, it was Galveston Island or nothing.
The ships sailed through a narrow channel and around a point, seeking the lee side of the island. Within minutes, the pirates could make out the lights of Campeche, a rough-and-tumble pirate stronghold. The town was not faring well in the storm, and several of the wooden frame shacks had blown down. As the full force of the storm hit the settlement, roads turned into rivers of mud, and those homes and businesses that stood were eventually flattened. The only structures to survive the onslaught of the storm were the pier and a stone warehouse close to the shore.
The pirates dropped anchor in Campeche harbor and braved the rough waters in rowboats to reach shore. In their haste to abandon the ships, the pirates didn't take time to batten them down so they could ride out the storm at anchor. No crew members remained on board, and none of the rich cargo of gold and silver bars was unloaded. The pirates apparently decided to wait out the storm in the warehouse and return to their boats the next day.
Inside the warehouse, the pirates discovered that most of their shore bound compatriots had also sought shelter in the stout building, converting it into a makeshift tavern. The Campeche residents had already consumed an impressive amount of rum by the time the storm-harried sailors arrived, and they invited their fellows to join them.
As the night wore on, the pirates got drunk and were oblivious to what was transpiring in the harbor. All three vessels broke loose from their moorings, drifted into West Bay, and slammed up against North Deer Island, one of three large sandy knolls projecting above the level of the waters. All three craft broke open on impact and sank into the soft mud.
Two days later, when the pirates recovered from their debauches and discovered the vessels were missing, they searched for them. Believing the winds had remained constantly out of the south during the storm, the pirates looked to the north, not in the actual direction the vessels were blown. They sailed up and down the coast north of Campeche for weeks, and didn't find the ships. The search was eventually called off, and the three treasure-laden pirate vessels were soon forgotten.
The Deer Islands were not often frequented by people of the Galveston Island area. They offered nothing that attracted settlement and remained unpopulated and seldom visited. Over time, drifting sands covered most of the three ships that lay undisturbed on the submerged mud flats for so many years.
As time passed and Galveston grew and prospered, more and more people used the bay for fishing and other kinds of recreation. While the Deer Islands were nothing more than sandy bumps just above water level between Galveston Island and the mainland, the adjacent area became a favored fishing site for many. Sometime in the 1950s, a lone fisherman was trying his luck near the north shore of North Deer Island when he was caught by a sudden storm. Rather than try to outrun it back to the mainland, the fisherman decided to seek shelter on the island. Securing his boat and crouching under a low-growing tree near the shore, he watched as the winds and waves tormented the island. Several times when the wind was blowing from the island northward toward the bay, he caught momentary glimpses of a row of cannons several yards offshore as the shallow mud banks were temporarily exposed.
When the storm abated, the fisherman walked out to the edge of the mud flats and could barely discern the outlines of three ships lying just below the surface of the water. He tried to wade out to the sunken boats to inspect them, but had problems with sinking into the soft bottom. When he tried to steer his own boat into the area, he found the water far too shallow. He returned to the mainland to organize an expedition to return to the sunken vessels, but on a subsequent trip to North Deer Island, he couldn't find them. Cursing himself for not taking compass bearings on his location, the fisherman searched the area for several days but without success.
Several times since then, occupants of fishing boats and pilots of low-flying aircraft have reported seeing one to three submerged vessels just off the northern shore of North Deer Island. Several organized searches have been made, but the submerged vessels have eluded the treasure hunters.
In 1970, a man carrying a bar of silver entered a small jewelry shop in downtown Houston and offered to sell it to the proprietor. The owner of the shop specialized in custom-made handcrafted jewelry of gold, silver, and semi?precious stones. Most of what he sold he made himself, but he also carried some merchandise on consignment.
After analyzing the bar of silver and determining it was the purest he had ever seen, the jeweler asked his visitor where he had gotten it. The man, behaving somewhat secretively, claimed he found the bar, along with several others, many years earlier in the mud flats just north of North Deer Island. He said he at first believed the bars were lead but learned only recently that they were high-grade silver.
The jeweler purchased the bar and inquired if the man would care to sell him the rest. Without answering, he scurried out the door. He was never seen again.
The jeweler told the story to a friend who, using the vague directions that were provided, went to the approximate location of the find at North Deer Island. He found that much of the area described by the jeweler had been disrupted and displaced during construction of the Intracoastal "Waterway. The mud flats, so often mentioned by those who reported seeing the sunken snips, had been dredged to accommodate a deep ship channel. Huge mechanical shovels have scooped up mud and sand by the ton and deposited it in a series of spoils banks north of the waterway. Undoubtedly, broken and rotted portions of the three sunken ships, along with the treasure cargo, were removed and reburied a short distance away.Linkback:
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If you believe everything you read you are reading to much.
Treasure is a Harsh Mistress