Mysterious Pirate Treasure Box Found in Tampa Bay Attic

Did Grandpa find pirate treasure? Mysterious box containing a map, coins and a mummified hand found in Tampa Bay attic.
mysterious-pirate-box

While doing some spring cleaning a few weeks ago, Maria Lopez made an unusual discovery in her grandfather’s attic. It was a simple wooden box, but inside were fascinating (and macabre) clues to a family mystery.

Fastened inside the box with copper wire is an old wedding photo, 18th century Spanish and Portuguese coins, a 1930s map of the Hillsborough River and a mummified hand wearing a ring.

Did Ernesto Lopez find the treasure of Gasparilla?

Maria’s brother Mike believes the couple in the photo may be their great grandparents, Eve and Ernesto Lopez. He remembers their grandfather telling stories when they were children of Ernesto finding the treasure of Tampa Bay pirate legend Jose Gaspar.

Several local antique stores described the contents of the box as “authentic and gruesome,” though a Tampa Bay historian says they do not appear to be genuine Spanish coins.

Coins found in attic may be treasure of Jose Gaspar

Whether the coins are authentic or not, Mike thinks the hand is real, and may belong to Jose Gaspar himself.

Mummified pirate hand found in Tampa Bay attic may belong to Jose Gaspar

Hillsborough River map may show location of hidden pirate treasure

The Legend of Gasparilla

Jose Gaspar, the legendary buccaneer who inspired Tampa’s Gasparilla Pirate Festival, as well as fantastic tales of lost treasure, most likely never really existed.

It seems the mythical pirate was a tall tale concocted by a man named Juan Gómez. He claimed to be one of the few crew members to escape a fateful attack by American pirate hunting schooner USS Enterprise in 1821. While Gaspar chained the anchor of his ship to his waist and dove into the water to avoid giving the enemy the satisfaction of killing him, Gómez lived to tell the tale.

The story was included in a brochure in 1900 for a hotel on Gasparilla Island, where the pirate supposedly stored his vast treasures in a hidden den that had never been found. The legend of Gaspar began making its way into other writings after that, without any other historical evidence to back it up.

Boz found in attic reveals family pirate mystery
Is this the hand and treasure of Jose Gaspar?

via WFLA & USA Today

Lake Michigan Shipwrecks Visible from the Air

The waters of Lake Michigan are so clear right now that many of its historic sunken ships are currently visible from the air.
Lake Michigan shipwrecks visible from the air
Remains of the 133-foot wooden steamer Rising Sun visible from the air in Lake Michigan. It became stranded off Pyramid Point on October 29, 1917.

During a routine patrol, the US Coast Guard Air Station in Traverse City recently discovered that the waters of Lake Michigan are so clear right now, many of its historic shipwrecks are visible from the air.

Related: What is a giant crucifix doing at the bottom of Lake Michigan?

Last week they shared some amazing photos of these wrecks lying on the bottom of the lake. While not much is known about some of them, the Coast Guard has added some information on the wrecks that was provided by viewers.

Shipwreck of the James McBride in Lake Michigan
The James McBride ran aground near Sleeping Bear Dune and was abandoned on October 19, 1857.

Unidentified shipwreck in Lake Michigan
Unidentified shipwreck in Lake Michigan

Unknown Lake Michigan shipwreck
Unknown shipwreck visible in Lake Michigan below the cliff

Two unknown shipwrecks visible in Lake Michigan
Two sunken ships in shallow water

via Smithsonian

Monster Hunters: Tea Krulos Explores the World of Paranormal Investigation

Milwaukee journalist Tea Krulos documents the lives of paranormal investigators and encounters some strange things along the way in his new book Monster Hunters.
Monster Hunters author Tea Krulos width=
Monster Hunters author Tea Krulos. Photo by Jennifer Janviere.

Monster Hunters is available now: BUY IT HERE

For his new book Monster Hunters, Milwaukee journalist Tea Krulos immersed himself in the world of paranormal investigation. He spent over a year traveling around the country in search of poltergeists, Bigfoot, Mothman and other American legends with passionate individuals who have dedicated their lives to demystifying the unexplained.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to Krulos about his weird experiences on the road, as well as the upcoming Milwaukee Paranormal Conference he is orchestrating to celebrate the weird in Wisconsin.

Cult of Weird: Where did your interest in the paranormal begin?

Tea Krulos: When I was a kid, I loved this stuff. I would go to the library and find all the books I could on the subject. As I got older, I had a more casual interest. I’d watch documentaries and reality shows and occasionally read on it, but wouldn’t consider myself a researcher.

For Monster Hunters, you dove headfirst into the lifestyle of paranormal investigators. What was that like?

It was great, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I liked the subject matter and I like interesting people, so I thought it would be a good match for me. I set out with a goal of trying to write about a good range of people– ghost hunters, ufologists, cryptozoologists, demonologists, true believers, skeptics, hoaxers, serious researchers– and I had good luck finding all these types of people and really had the time of my life getting to know them.

Monster Hunters searching for Bigfoot
Squatch watch

During the research process with the subjects of the book, did you experience anything strange yourself?

Yes! The first strange thing that happened was when I joined the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee on an investigation of the notorious Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Kentucky. That place is supposed to be extremely haunted and the team has had a couple of creepy experiences there. While I was with them, one of the members had either a fear based paralysis or I guess a spirit possession. I also had a terrifying night out on a Bigfoot expedition in Michigan. We were awoken by a bloodcurdling scream and later that same night witnessed a UFO. I’m not saying it was a Bigfoot and extraterrestrials, but it was a weird and frightening night in the woods.

Did these experiences change your perspective on the paranormal?

It did a little. I went in very skeptical. Journalism, to me, means you need solid proof before you report it as fact. I did encounter a few cases where I can at least say I don’t know what happened. So I wouldn’t say I’m a true believer, but it did make me more of a believer in mystery. Who am I to say I know definitively that something does or does not exist?

Monster Hunters author Tea Krulos with the Mothman.
Tea Krulos with a statue of Mothman in Point Pleasant, WV

Did your research take you to any interesting places here in Wisconsin?

I took a fun day trip out to Elkhorn, where I met Linda S. Godfrey, researcher and author (and Milwaukee Paranormal Conference speaker). She was the first to report on the Beast of Bray Road, a werewolf-like creature spotted running around the farmlands of Elkhorn. I wrote a chapter on her in my book Monster Hunters titled “The Accidental Werewolf Chronicler.” I went out to interview her and then my friend and I cruised around Bray Road. We didn’t see a Manwolf, but it was cool to see the scene firsthand. Most of my other Wisconsin material was joining the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee on ghost hunts in the city and surrounding suburbs, although one case took us up to Juneau, WI.

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is coming up in June. What can we expect from that?

The conference started as a way for me to talk about my book– several people I wrote about will be giving talks at the event. It quickly grew into something bigger. There hasn’t been a para con in Milwaukee for ten years, so people are really excited and I know people from all over the state and beyond are attending. I didn’t want to get in over my head, so I started year one as a one day event with about a dozen speakers, most from right here in Wisconsin. I think I got a good mix of different subject matters. In addition to the speakers and panels, there is a lot of fun stuff in the vendor hall and some tours and an after party after the con. Admission is free, which I think is pretty rare for any sort of convention like this. I’m very confident that this year will lay groundwork for an expanding annual event. People can find the day’s schedule and more info on the speakers at: www.milwaukeeparacon.com

What are some things paranormal enthusiasts can do in Milwaukee if they want to encounter something supernatural?

There are a couple paranormal investigation teams in town, including Brew City Paranormal and the previously mentioned Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee. I’m most familiar with PIM and I know they do a lot of public events, like presentations at local libraries and “tag along” investigations a couple times a year. Allison Jornlin is Milwaukee’s ghostlore expert and she runs Milwaukee Ghosts- Tours & Investigations. Shaker’s Cigar Bar aka “Milwaukee’s Haunted Bar” is a fun place to hang out and they offer a variety of tours, too. I’m glad to say everyone I just mentioned is participating in the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference.

Where can the Cult of Weird community find more of your work and get the latest updates?

If you go to teakrulos.com you can find info on my first book, Heroes in the Night, other projects I’m working on, and a blog. I post something every month that has links to articles I’ve written and other news.

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is being held June 6th, 2015 at the Irish Heritage & Cultural Center. Monster Hunters will be released that day and available at the conference.

Monster Hunters by Tea KrulosMonster Hunters: On the Trail With Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators

Do ghosts exist? What about Bigfoot or Skinwalkers? And how will we ever know? Journalist Tea Krulos spent more than a year traveling nationwide to meet individuals who have made it their life’s passion to hunt down evidence of entities that they believe exist but that others might shrug off as nothing more than myths, fairy tales, or the products of overactive imaginations. Without taking sides in the debate, Krulos joins these believers in the field, exploring haunted houses, trekking through creepy forests, and scanning skies and lakes as they collect data on the unknown poltergeists, chupacabras, Skunk Apes (Bigfoot’s stinky cousins), and West Virginia’s Mothman. Along the way, he meets a diverse cast of characters—true believers, skeptics, and hoaxers—from the credible to the quirky, and has a couple of hair-raising encounters that make him second-guess his own beliefs.

BUY IT

1947 Buick hearse rusting in a field in Greece

1947 Frankenstein Buick Hearse

A Flint-built Buick converted into a hearse in Greece with 18 windows and ornate details.

Cheese Made From Human Toe Bacteria: The Pinnacle of Scientific Achievement

In what is surely the pinnacle of scientific achievement, scientists have created cheese using bacteria from human toes, mouths, armpits and belly buttons.
Scientists create cheese using human toe bacteria

If you loved vagina yogurt, then you’re going to be really excited about the latest scientific breakthrough: Cheese made from human toe bacteria.

And armpit bacteria.

And belly button bacteria.

Not to mention, each cheese is complete with the donor’s body odor.

Selfmade: Human Toe Bacteria Cheese

At some regrettable point in what will no doubt be referred to as a dark period in human history, microbiologist Christina Agapakis and artist Sissel Tolaas decided to make cheese using microbes growing on their own skin for an exhibit at the Science Gallery in Dublin.

After swabbing various parts of their bodies for their own personal Lactobacillus, Agapakis grew the bacteria and yeast in the lab until there was enough to add milk to. That’s when the lovely toe bacteria got to work turning the milk into curdled toe jam.

According to this article on NPR, Agapakis had this to say about her exhibit:

“People were really nervous and uncomfortable, and kind of making these grossed out faces. Then they smell the cheese, and they’ll realize that it just smells like a normal cheese.”

Good, now even regular cheese has been ruined.

Thanks, science.

I live in Wisconsin. What the hell am I supposed to do now?

Cult of Weird Readers Weight in on Toe Bacteria Cheese

What? No snot and earwax? I'll wait.
Athlete's Feta
The trendy cafes will buy it and call it some stupid name you won't even know your eating it.
Cult of Disgusting

Would you try toe cheese? Share your thoughts in the comments below.