While there are often interesting and nostalgic things to be found when clearing out a loved one’s home after a long life well-lived, an old wooden box containing a pirate’s treasure map, old Spanish coins, and the skeletal remains of a human hand would likely surprise most anybody.
But that’s exactly what one Florida family found while digging through their Grampa’s Tampa attic, reports the USA Today.
According to Mike Lopez – grandson and heir apparent to the mysterious pirate treasure map, severed hand, and Spanish coin-holding wooden box – his sister was working to clean out their Grampa’s Florida attic when she stumbled upon the pirate treasure box a few weeks ago.
Then, with a similar fascination to the kids who opened up a wooden box to find a game called Jumanji, Lopez’s sister opened her new found treasure chest to reveal a beat up old map that seemed to feature the Hillsborough River, the old Spanish coins, an old black and white family picture and, the box’s most bizarre content, the decrepit human hand which also happened to be wearing a ring.
“Maria came across (the box) and once she told me she found a hand in a box, I was totally blown away,” said Mike Lopez. “Maybe my great-grandparents were pirates.”
The wooden box had the pirate treasure map, old Spanish coins and skeltal hand well in order, the hand (ring on its bony finger) strapped into the box with copper wire, reports WFLA 8.
As for the grainy black and white photo, Lopez believes it is a picture of his Great-Grandparents, Eve and Ernesto Lopez.
“It seems as though this belonged to my Great-Grandparents because there is a picture of them in there,” said Lopez.
Possible stories behind the rest of the Florida treasures in the box are a bit uncertain, though Mike and Maria Lopez have some pretty solid theories.
As kids, Mike and Maria’s Grampa told them about how his father, Ernesto Lopez, found the treasure of José Gaspar, a legendary Spanish pirate and raider of the Tampa, Florida area. So when Maria found the box of seeming pirate booty and spooky, ringed skeleton hand, connecting the loot to their Great Grandfather Gaspar find wasn’t much of a stretch.
So they shopped the box of alleged Gaspar pirate goods around town, with resulting feedback calling the treasure box’s unique items “gruesome and authentic.”
“Either my great-grandfather made the best, most elaborate pirate hoax ever and never shared it with anyone or he really did find some treasure on the Hillsborough River,” said Maria in an email to WTSP-TV. “There’s really no way to know which is the case.”
The purported pirate treasure map features an overview of the Tampa area and is believed to be circa-1930s or so. The Spanish coins and ring on the dead skeletal hand are believed to be much older, however, dating back to the 18th century.
And who is the poor soul who lost their hand, and ring, to the treasure box?
The Lopez family believes it belongs to none other than the aforementioned pirate, original Tampa Bay Buccaneer, José Gaspar.
“We are not sure what we’re going to do with (the skeletal hand),” said Lopez. “Possibly keep it forever. It’s part of our family now.”
So the next time you’re cleaning out a Florida attic, don’t be surprised if you happen upon some pirate treasure. Arrrgh!
[Image via FOX 13 Now]