The owner of a Caroline Street address in Key West may be sitting on $12 million in buried treasure, and a resident ghost just might be willing to help them find it.
I uncovered the story in a 1925 Key West Citizen while searching for a bit of Key lime history. It was front-page news, and a story that combines two of my favorite subjects. Let’s open the hatch and dive headfirst into the haunted Key Lime Pie Hole and see who wants to be a millionaire.
According to an article published on Sept. 10, 1925, tales of buried treasure on the rear of the property that formerly housed the old Masonic Temple had been rumored for some time in Key West, but details were scant and the exact location remained a mystery.
William Pent was living on Caroline Street with his family when a spirit appeared to him in a dream. “A man appeared to me and asked for a bit of black thread. I noticed he wore a bandage about his head, and this looked to be stained with blood, which gave the bandage a checkered appearance. In my dream I gave the thread as asked, and watched to see what he intended to do with it. I saw him go to the back door of our house and tie one end of the thread there, and going a few paces away he disappeared. I then awakened and thought no more of the dream until a few weeks later when the circumstances came vividly to mind.”
The article explains that a few weeks later, Pent was digging a hole to plant a Key lime tree. He struck a flint rock marked with crosses and arrows. Below that, he unearthed a can that contained a fragile flag, a quill pen and two charts splashed with blood. A message on one of the charts told of an Egyptian captain who sailed with a Spanish crew. They encountered pirates in the Gulf and he lost all but five of his men in the ensuing battle. They sought safe harbor at Key West, but his men were slain by natives and the captain was badly injured. His final note said, ”I am dying and have buried the treasure my ship was carrying. It is twelve millions or more in gold. This treasure will make someone happy.”
A week after William Pent’s discovery, his father, Charles, was pulling weeds when he discovered an iron stake protruding from the ground. He dislodged the stake, and beneath it found a small crockery jar with a wide, tightly sealed mouth. Upon breaking the seal he found a length of gold chain, a small gold locket, several small coins and some stones that looked like diamonds. “As we examined the locket we found there was something in it, and upon removing the glass inside I found a paper folded several times, until it was small enough to fit under the tiny glass. This paper had strange characters on it, and none of us could make them out. … The chart had a crude drawing on it. … The drawing was of a mound from which protruded a forearm and hand. In the hand was clasped a dagger which pointed to the words — Go due south.”
The Pent family realized that these charts could lead to the buried millions, so they placed them in the care of a neighbor who owned a safe. The items were quickly returned because “it was believed that the keeping of the charts had brought a spooky feeling into their home.”
The charts and treasure were then placed in the care of another resident who, in true Key West pirate fashion, disappeared to Miami and was never heard from again.
The 1925 article interviewed a neighbor of the Pent family who awoke to the sound of shovels and discovered a hole in the ground about the size of a child’s grave. It also reveals the address of the original Pent family home, where workmen razing an old building found a few old Spanish coins after the Pents had moved on.
If you live on Caroline Street, or in the surrounding neighborhoods of Old Town, take advantage of the impending cool weather and dig a few holes in your yard. You just might end up finding the $12 million treasure. Fill your holes back in with Key lime trees and you can pluck treasures right from their branches all summer long. If you need help summoning the ghost for more clues, I can help with that, too. And if you feel like sharing the treasure of gold or the treasures that grow on your Key lime trees, you can contact me at the email below.
Love & Limes!