Everyone loves a good pirate story, don’t they? After we purchased one of our vacation rental properties – Featherbed Island House – in Machiasport, we discovered that it has a connection to the notorious pirate, Cap’t Black Sam Bellamy.
Although Cap’t Black Sam Bellamy had a career as a pirate captain for under two years, he is known as the wealthiest pirate in recorded history, according to Forbes Magazine. His nickname was the “Prince of Pirates” and his crew was know as “Robin Hood’s Men”.
A lot has been said recently about Cap’t Sam down on Cape Cod. You see, his pirate ship, the Whydah, sank off the coast of Wellfleet, MA, when the Captain was only 28. Rumor had it that he was going to make a stop on the Cape to visit his lover, Goody Hallett. Tragically, the boat sank in a dangerous nor’easter in 1717. The ship went down with 143 people on board. A hundred and three bodies washed up on shore, none of which was identified as the captain.
All was forgotten for quite some time until the wreckage of the Whydah was found off the coast of Cape Cod in 1982 and it contained considerable loot. At the time of its sinking, the Whydah was the largest pirate prize ever captured, and the treasure in its hold amassed roughly 4.5 to 5 tons, including huge quantities of indigo, ivory, gold, and 20,000 to 30,000 pounds sterling, divided into 180 sacks of 50-pound (23 kg) each according to an account on Real Pirates.
There is currently a museum in Yarmouth, MA devoted to the pirate ship, The Whydah and her history. Currently, they are running DNA testing on some of the contents, hoping to prove once and for all if this wreckage was, indeed, the pirate ship of Cap’t Bellamy. (It’s quite an exciting development – read more about it here).
But what happened to the rest of the loot that wasn’t in the ship? And what’s the connection with Machiasport, Maine?
According to a Seattle Times article, Cap’t Bellamy had high hopes to establish a pirate utopia in the Machiasport area of Maine. The grassy stretch of riverbank between Renshaw Point and the Old Rim Bridge was the parcel of land where Cap’t Bellamy planned on building a “pirate retirement community”. (Our property, Featherbed Island House, abuts Renshaw Point).
W.C. Jameson, in his book, Buried Treasures of New England: Legends of Hidden Riches, Forgotten War Loots and Lost Ship Treasures, writes about the Machiasport fort. According to the book, around 1716, Bellemy chose a region, easily defensible, where the entire bay could be observed from its vantage point. A fort was erected — the first part of the captain’s kingdom where he could command the entire east coast. An underground vault was dug and in it was placed considerable treasure — the location kept secret, because after it was constructed, Bellamy ordered the workers killed. The loot is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. Within a few weeks of Bellamy’s death, the fort was abandoned, it’s walls decomposed and today there is no trace of a fort.
So is the treasure still out there? I’ve spoken with several of my neighbors who all said they tried and tried to discover the buried treasure as children in the neighborhood. But no one has stumbled up on it yet. I wonder if it could still be there, just waiting to be found?