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Brad and Sherry Steiger

Please Visit his Official Web Site ~ edwardshanahan.com

Conscious Channeler Edward Shanahan


America Choice of the Top Ten Most Haunted in America!

The Ghost of Jean Lafitte
and the
Phantom Pirates of Barataria

He has been called "The Corsair," "The Buccaneer," "The King of Barataria," "The Terror of the Gulf," "The Hero of New Orleans". At three separate times, U.S. presidents have condemned, exonerated and again condemned his actions. He is known for his piracy in the Gulf of Mexico, and lauded for his heroism in the Battle of New Orleans.

Woe to the seafarers who encounter the black fleet of the infamous Louisiana Pirate, Jean Lafitte!

Story by A. Pustanio, artwork by Ricardo Pustanio. Haunted New Orleans Tours © 2006.

Scorned in life by a thankless nation, driven to an anonymous death, it is said Lafitte will never rest until his honor is restored and he is reunited with the woman he loves!

Jean Lafitte has been called by many names – corsair, buccaneer, pirate – a hero to some, a scourge in the memory of others.

Lafitte is known equally for his heroism in the Battle of New Orleans and for his acts of piracy throughout the Gulf of Mexico. He is remembered in Louisiana as a “privateer” who braved the waters of the Gulf and other pirates of the Caribbean to supply Louisiana and a growing United States with food, cloth, material resources and even slaves in the desperate economic times of the late 18th century.

But the legend of Jean Lafitte does not endure in the collective memories of the Gulf South states solely because of his humanitarian acts or his notoriety as a pirate. Jean Lafitte, whose origins are uncertain and whose end unknown, still sails the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico with a fleet of corsair ships at his command – or so the legend goes.

Who was Jean Lafitte?

His name is known all over the Gulf of Mexico, throughout the labyrinthine waterways of Southwest Louisiana, and on the streets of New Orleans; his fame endures even to this day. Brilliant and capable, Lafitte took the most sea-ravaged group of cutthroats, smugglers and fishermen and organized them into an efficient crew of blockade-running buccaneers. With this crew Lafitte was able to plunder merchant and cargo vessels throughout the Caribbean, the Gulf and even into the Atlantic keeping a constant flow of black market goods moving into Southern Louisiana and the Port of New Orleans. Rich and poor alike sang the praises of the Buccaneer Jean Lafitte, finding that title a more fitting label than “pirate.”

Among the most infamous pirates were brothers Jean and Pierre Laffite and Renato Beluche. These men led groups of French and Spanish pirates who were given official status by the United States since they represented American interests by attacking enemy ships and capturing their goods. These pirates were known as privateers. The Laffite privateers, along with their white, free black, and runaway slave accomplices, ran goods into Louisiana, primarily through Barataria Bay below New Orleans. The Laffites also engaged in legitimate trade.

Jean Lafitte
Newell Convers Wyeth c. 1910

Gift of John Morrell and Co.
This dramatic pencil drawing indicates the romantic nature of pirate legend as seen by the artist and illustrator N. C. Wyeth, father of famous American artist Andrew Wyeth.



"Live Free or Die Hard"

It is said that Jean Lafitte was born of the French aristocracy on the island of Santo Domingue and had fallen into a life of piracy when he and his brother, Pierre, attempted to escape Spanish dominance in the Caribbean. Sometime before 1808, the brothers Lafitte turned up in New Orleans where they established themselves as blacksmiths, opening the infamous Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop that still stands at the corner of St. Phillip and Bourbon streets in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Soon, however, it became clear to many who shared the brothers’ “entrepreneurial” spirit that the shop was merely a cover for the smuggling and piracy operations that were already underway.

Around 1808 Lafitte made his home, and created what he called his “Kingdom of Barataria” in the wilderness, swampy lands west of the City of New Orleans. The miles of marshlands and bayous were perfect cover for the clandestine activities of this “Terror of the Gulf,” and Lafitte’s ability to supply merchandise – fine linens and cloth from Europe, spices from the Caribbean Islands, jewelry from the silversmiths of Portobello, furniture and building materials, and even slaves – avoided the high taxes imposed by the government of the Louisiana Territory; this was a boon to the people of New Orleans.

His base was the island of Grand Terre and its sister islands Grand Isle and Cheniere Caminada. Here Lafitte’s pirate crews laid up between raids; with cannons packed and loaded and guns aimed at the Gulf, no one could approach the Louisiana coast and hope to get past the King of Barataria and his brigands. On Grand Terre, in a place inaccessible from the coast, and only reached through a series of winding waterways, Lafitte built his lair. This was the place where the pirate Blackbeard had sheltered from the British Navy in 1718. Lafitte felt it only appropriate to claim the land for himself. With easy access to the Gulf shipping lanes, Lafitte’s location was perfect for the buccaneering adventurers.

Soon there was a burgeoning pirate’s port in full operation just half a day’s ride from the outskirts of the City of New Orleans, though it was blanketed by the thick, jungle-like foliage and swampy marshland. In fear of the very real danger of alligators and Lafitte’s men, and wary of the very probable danger of the infamous Loup Garou or Louisiana werewolf, no one dared challenge Lafitte’s right to the lands he claimed.

Jean Lafitte "The Corsair" by E.H. Suydam

Detail of an authentic Jean Lafitte signature.

The Pirate King set up his own rule of law, a mixture of civil law and pirate code, called the Barataria Oath; every man swore the oath and broke it at great personal cost. Thievery, ironically, was almost entirely unheard of, so stringent were the punishments set out by Jean Lafitte. Here, too, the pirate crews brought their women, to share the tropical Eden they had found under the rule of their King.

Jean Lafitte was said to be a tall and handsome man, with pale skin and deep blue eyes. His long hands and aristocratic stature combined with his reputation as a ferocious pirate made him irresistible to women. And Lafitte loved women. Seductive, amorous, sophisticated despite his occupation, Lafitte easily wooed and won a constant cadre of mistresses. Welcome in New Orleans society, both Jean and Pierre Lafitte were often seen attending the opera or waltzing with beautiful mistresses at the Quadroon Ballroom. The Lafitte brothers kept beautifully appointed apartments in New Orleans where they would entertain their female guests until late into the night.

Though there are many associated with Lafitte romantically, it is said he lost his heart to only one: Clarissa Duralde Claiborne, the second wife of Louisiana’s first Governor Charles Cole Claiborne.

Clarissa Duralde was the daughter of a Louisiana magistrate and a beautiful woman of Spanish and Native American blood. Her origins, among the Attakapas Indians, well-known as the Werewolf Tribe of Southwest Louisiana, meant that Clarissa possessed a wild and untamed nature that immediately attracted the rogue seaman, Jean Lafitte.

According to one account, Clarissa came to visit Lafitte in his beautiful kingdom by the sea accompanied by other members of New Orleans high society, because at the time it was in vogue to visit the renegade who was seen as the city’s link to the sumptuous finery of Europe and beyond. Soon, however, Lafitte would undertake the dangerous journey to rendezvous with his lover Clarissa at the homes of mutual friends who agreed to provide haven for the two lovers.

It is said that Governor Claiborne himself discovered the affair and never forgave Lafitte for taking liberties with his wife. Lafitte was outlawed as a pirate and a price was placed upon his head. The price was never claimed, of course, for there was no one brave enough to undertake the task and so many remained loyal to Lafitte.

When the War of 1812 loomed, the Governor saw an opportunity to have others perform his dirty work for him and the price was lifted from Lafitte’s head. The renegade pirate was made a privateer and given letters of marque, allowing him to plunder at will the British ships that were gathering in the Gulf waters. Seeing an opportunity to redeem himself, Lafitte took this commission and set about pirating for the government.

keeping the Gulf of Mexico clean! Pirates under the hand of Jeane Laffite attcked the british fleet.

As battles were joined more regularly with the British, Lafitte made his presence known on all the waters surrounding the City of New Orleans. One battle against a British frigate was fought on the northern shores of Lake Pontchartrain not far from the mouth of the Tchefuncte River near what is now Madisonville, LA Another battle in which Lafitte and fleet played a significant role was joined in what in Lake Borgne near what is now called Shell Beach. Throughout the battle the fleets of the one-time outlaw pirate kept the coasts and the seaward islands of Louisiana safe from attack.

In the end it was his guns and the men under his command that proved to be the deciding factor for victory in the Battle of New Orleans. Had Jean Lafitte and his pirate soldiers not been in place manning the cannons and guns he had so wisely placed south of New Orleans, the war might have ended very differently and the City would have been lost.

Jean Lafitte returned in triumph to New Orleans. General Andrew Jackson, who had commanded the US forces, wrote gushing commendations in his honor and the US government completely exonerated Lafitte of his earlier pirate deeds. For a time, Lafitte was everyone’s hero. He was even seen in the company of the Governor and Mrs. Claiborne dining or at one of the celebration balls. It is said that he even resumed his long love affair with Clarissa and this somewhat more openly than before.

But for all the accolades Lafitte missed his old life. All his old friends, those colorful veterans of his seafaring days – Renato Beluche and Dominique Youx, veterans of Napoleon’s navy; Louis Chighizola, who had lost half his nose in a duel; and the doughty Vincent Gambi. They had all returned to their lives on the island of Grand Terre and had resumed their colorful careers as brigands and smugglers. Sometimes, Lafitte would visit them and these visits began to make people think that perhaps the hero had relapsed and returned to his old ways as well.

Around this time, two things happened that would remain with Lafitte forever. He asked to have his ships restored to him: those vessels he had used in defense of Louisiana but had also used for ransacking the Gulf of Mexico prior to the war. This, the government responded, it could not do because the vessels and all his goods had been obtained through acts of piracy and were confiscate to the government. This was the first blow.

According to legend, Lafitte decided to return to his life of piracy, to his comrades and his kingdom of Barataria and he asked his beloved Clarissa to accompany him. It is said that his heart was broken when she refused.

Lafitte left New Orleans for good and returned to his Eden on the shores of the Gulf but he would not find peace there. Word came to him that his beloved Clarissa had repented, had changed her mind and wanted to be reunited with him, but that the dreaded yellow fever had intervened and had taken her from this world. When, at this same time, the governor declared Lafitte and his men to be outlaws yet again, they abandoned Barataria in search of another port of call. Lafitte was a broken man.

He and his fleet of eight ships found refuge briefly in Santo Domingo, but ended up on Campeche, now Galveston Island, where they took up, with even more fury, their old pirating ways. No ship was safe from attack now, and Lafitte abandoned his old rule of not attacking American ships – at least so it was said. He flew the black flag of the pirate, a man without a country, his only allegiance to the wide and wild sea.

Soon, however, the governor of the Texas territory tired of the pirates holed up just off his coast and requested that the US government do something about it. Then-President Madison declared an all out war on piracy in US waters. Lafitte and his men had to go.

In May of 1820 the USS Enterprise appeared off the coast of Campeche and ultimately compelled Lafitte to go. For the last off the coast of the US the pirate fleet of Jean Lafitte was seen at full sail, tacking eastward toward the distant Caribe islands. The men of the Enterprise watched as the black pirate flags were unfurled in defiance, just as the ships faded into the gloaming of approaching night.

Jean Lafitte sailed into history that night. His fate and the fate of his crew is an enduring mystery of the sea. Some claim he returned to Louisiana in secret to live out his life to a ripe old age and is buried on his beloved Grand Terre. Others believe he traveled up the east coast of the US and ended up in the seaport of Charleston, others say Baltimore. An enduring legend says that Lafitte continued his pirate ways throughout the Caribbean and his fame endures in the old pirate strongholds of Portobello, Trinidad and Tortuga. One legend says that he died at sea and his crew buried him on the beautiful Isla Mujeres, the Island of Women off the coast of Mexico.

Whatever his end, the legend of the Pirate of Louisiana endures to this day among the seafarers and fishermen who still ply their trade in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.


Many are the tales of close encounters with what some believe to be the phantom fleet of Jean Lafitte; some claim to have seen the pirate himself standing at the helm of the lead vessel.

Workers on the oil platforms that dot the Gulf of Mexico claim to regularly spot a billow of sails on the horizon just before sunset, always heading east into the gloom. Crews of offshore supply vessels claim that in the middle watch they have heard the flapping of sail riggings and the cry of phantom voices, calling out in the Creole patois once spoken in Barataria commands to a ghostly crew. Small boats, it is said, have been almost swamped by the passage of the ghostly fleet that is said to produce visible white foam where the bows break the waves and a tremendous wake in the dark waters.

The strangest story comes from the three man crew of a charter fishing boat who, anchored off Grand Isle in the dead of night, all claim to have seen the apparition of a tall, pale man, clad in black and wearing a wide-brim hat such as Lafitte was known to wear, standing on the aft deck of their sport fisherman. It is said the apparition looked at them forlornly then turned his head in the direction of Louisiana and disappeared before their very eyes.

Significantly, the ghostly fleet and the apparition believed to be the Pirate Jean Lafitte were spotted just before the disastrous Hurricane Katrina. Many have come to believe that seeing Lafitte or his ships is a warning that something evil is about to befall his beloved Louisiana coast.

But the ghost of Jean Lafitte is not confined to the open Gulf alone. Many legends exist concerning Lafitte’s golden treasure and there are as many hiding places as there are versions of the tale. Most center around the old Barataria area, Grand Terre and Grand Isle particularly, and it is said that often the ghosts of pirate watchmen can still be seen, sitting on the spot where Lafitte’s gold is hidden, guarding it forever into the afterlife. Archaeological digs in the area have turned up little of significance and no gold, but the legends persist throughout south Louisiana. Many believe that Lafitte is coming back for his treasure one day.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar
941 Bourbon Street,
New Orleans, LA, USA
(504) 523-0066

Tradition has it that the Lafitte brothers operated this blacksmith shop as a legitimate appearing business, serving as a front for their privateer enterprises. One of the brothers was the infamous Jean Lafitte, Privateer, and co-hero of the Battle of New Orleans. Rumor has it that his treasure is buried in everyone's backyard. There are many myths and rumors about the life of Jean Lafitte, but very little has been substantiated.

One of the all-time favorite tourist attractions of the New Orleans French Quarter is Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, on the corner of Bourbon Street and St. Phillip Street. It was built sometime before 1772, and is one of the few remaining original "French architecture" structures in the French Quarter.

The ghost of Jean Lafitte is also frequently sighted at the infamous Blacksmith Shop in the French Quarter of New Orleans. This is where Jean and his brother Pierre hatched many of their most famous plots and raids, so it stands to reason that the pirate might visit it in the afterlife. Some claim that here, too, a treasure has been stashed, waiting to be discovered. Many have claimed to have encountered Jean Lafitte sitting in the darkened rear of the bar, alone at a table with a brandy in one hand, the smell of cigar smoke heavy around him. When they look again, the figure is gone. Others have been alarmed to see two red eyes peering at them from the black depths of the fireplace; still others claim to have encountered what is believed to be the ghost of Pierre Lafitte in the bar’s Ladies Room.

One thing is certain, just as in life, he is never far away and at a moment’s notice he is still able to steal our very breath away!







Blackbeard’s Pirate Treasure


Jean Lafitte: Gentleman Pirate of New Orleans
Jean Lafite, pirate. ... There is a national park named after him, and along the Mississippi below New Orleans sits the City of Jean Lafitte. ...


Jean Lafitte Bistro ~ New Orleans Restaurant
Jean Lafitte Bistro is the newest addition to the Moran family's long history as a ... Veranda view from Jean Lafitte's Bistro The adjoining veranda ...



Handbook of Texas Online:
Jean Laffite (Lafitte), pirate, was born in Bayonne, France, probably in 1780 or 1781, the son of a French father and a Spanish mother. ...


Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Official National Park Service site. Located in New Orleans, LA.


Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve Home Page
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve was established to preserve for present and future generations significant ...The park consists of six physically separate sites and a Park Headquarters located in southeastern Louisiana. The sites in Lafayette, Thibodaux, and Eunice interpret the Acadian cultures of the area. The Barataria Preserve (in Marrero) interprets the natural and cultural history of the uplands, swamps, and marshlands of the region. Six miles southeast of New Orleans is the Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery, site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans and the final resting place for soldiers from the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and Vietnam. At 419 Decatur Street in the historic French Quarter is the park's headquarters and visitor center for New Orleans. This center interprets the history of New Orleans and the diverse cultures of Louisiana's Mississippi Delta region.


Jean Lafitte
Jean Lafitte, or Laffite, c.1780-c.1826, was a Louisiana privateer and smuggler who helped US forces in the Battle of New Orleans at the end of the WAR OF ...

City of Jean Lafitte Tourist Commission

2654 Jean Lafitte Blvd., Lafitte, La. 70067 Ph: 1-800-689-3525

Twenty miles from New Orleans, a small Cajun village stretches along Bayou Barataria. Many travelers visit New Orleans Louisiana but only the lucky few discover the magical beauty and many tourist attractions of Jean Lafitte, only 30 minutes from the French Quarter.


Jean Lafitte - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For the town named after him, see Jean Lafitte, Louisiana. ... The descendants of Jean Lafitte's men play an important role in Lovecraft's story The Call of ...


The Legacy of Jean Lafitte in Southwest Louisiana
It was their descendants who have perpetuated the legendry of Jean Lafitte in Calcasieu Parish (then St. Landry) almost to the present day. ...


Jean LaFitte
Jean Laffite, pronounced lah FEET, (1780?-1826?), was a New Orleans smuggler, pirate, and patriot. ... His family name was originally spelled Lafitte. ...


Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours
Located 15 Minutes outside of New Orleans provides swamp tours by small airboat or larger vessels.