Wiccademous, Pirate’s Treasure and Hurricanes….Marijuanna Smugglers, Giant Snakes, Bears, Hauntings, Hidden Springs, Commissioners with Pet Alligators, Various and Sundry Rumors of Foul-Play…

“A little nonsense now and then….” 

Amelia Island has its share of legends.  After all, we were home to famous pirates, like Louis Aury and “entrepreneurs” often revered, but little better than legal pirates.  With

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Shrimper or ?

the oldest saloon in Florida, parts of town with a history of smuggling and streets named for questionable businesses, you’d think Fernandina residents would enjoy the stories.  We still have those more interested in finding a reason a story can’t be true, than in enjoying the local color.
Bring a sense of adventure and enjoy the island and it’s stories.  We have a rich history and you’ll collect or make a few of your own.   Don’t spend too much time looking for the reasons to call the old stories a hoax.  Think about MaVynee Betsch.   If someone described her to you, and you didn’t know the history of the island, would you believe?  How about the exploding boatload of marijuana in the 70’s?  The entire North Beach was covered and for days, the police department tried to stop

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Cuban Tree Frog

people, driving from hours away, from picking up garbage bags of contraband.   Lynyrd Skynyrd played locally for a sherif’s race and one of the high school teachers was a family member.   A city commissioner once dumped a truckload of manure on the courthouse steps or maybe it was City Hall..  Another man held himself at gunpoint over a land dispute…in front of the post office.    A local bartender at the oldest bar in Florida was elected as Mayor.    Giant Cuban Treefrogs are now on Amelia Island.   Which stories are true or are they all true?

Years ago, I came across a 10′ plus diamondback rattler near the old public dump on the island.  I could only measure the snake by the roadway it lay across.  With a head over one edge and the tail over the other, it must have been one of the biggest rattlers ever witnessed.  At 10 or 11 years old, with my dog and no witnesses, I can’t prove any of it. Proximity to an old dump, nearness to warmer tidal water from a creek and proximity to unlimited food, led me to believe the snake grew for a reason.

Around the same time, I saw a very large woodpecker with a light-colored beak.  Ivory-billed Woodpeckers were considered extinct at the time but, debate over existence aside, I know what I saw.  As a kid, I didn’t know woodpeckers were supposed to be rare or extinct.  I only knew it looked bigger than a pileated and the beak was light.

I’m going around my elbow to make a point.  Some stories may be true and some may be tall tales, but enjoying the truth and rich fiction or fact is much more fun than trying to debunk every interesting bit of local color.

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Hurricane Dora in 1964?

My family lives on land near the subject of the Wiccademous story.  At one time, our land was owned by a gypsy/fortune-teller(?) woman and later, someone with a houseful of dogs .  He threw so many liquor bottles into the attic and the woods, I found bottles by the hundreds, in the nearby swamp.  Anyway, every few months, someone comes through the property with a story about the Wiccademous

and a camera or video recorder.   The first time, I pointed them down the street…not much fun.  By the fourth or fifth group, I started to ask if they were looking for the legendary owner of our land 75-100 years ago?  We have the largest oaks in the area and it is much more fun to send a group to the big oak at the rear of the property, than it would be to ruin the fun!   Besides, the stories might be true!

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