Pirates and the Biscayne Bay Socks

Want to visit Biscayne National Park?  Well, leave your hiking boots at home and put on your swim fins because over 95% of the park is underwater.  The park features jeweled coral reefs, mangrove forests, tropical beaches ... and pirate legends!

Pirate Black Caesar

The Pirate Black Caesar*

One of the best known pirates of Biscayne was Black Caesar ... or should we say two of best known pirates were named Black Caesar.  It's hard to separate pirate legends from the facts.  It is likely the legend began with the first Black Caesar and continued when a second pirate adopted the same name to could capitalize on the fear that the name inspired.

The legend of Black Caesar starts around 1700.  He was said to be an African tribal chief of immense size and extreme intelligence.  ​He was captured by Spanish slave traders and put aboard a ship South America.  According to legend Black Caesar and a friend escaped from the ship and began a life of piracy before they ever reached shore.  In their stolen lifeboat they would wave their arms and pose as shipwrecked sailors.  When a rescuing ship welcomed them on-board they would attack, stealing money and provisions.  

Eventually Black Caesar and his partner travelled up the coast to the waters of Florida.  At some point he and his partner had an argument and Black Caesar killed his pirate-partner ... supposedly the fight was over a woman.  He took on additional pirates and Caesar's Rock, a small island in the Biscayne National Park, was said to be his secret lair.  According to legend he kept a harem of stolen women there, along with his provisions and money. 

Black Caesar had a clever approach to piracy ... he would tie a rope to a rock on an island and use it to lean his ship over so that it was sideways on the water, half submerged.  This would hide the sails and masts so that the ship was nearly invisible.  When the ropes were released the ship would pop up and make its attack.  Surprised victims often said that Black Caesar's ship seemed to appear out of nowhere!

Then the stories stopped.  One legend says that Black Caesar joined Captain Blackbeard's crew and was hanged along with Blackbeard in 1718.  But no one really knows if he died, or retired, or just moved on to another occupation. 

A 100 years later, Henri Caesar was a Haitian slave owned by a wealthy French planter.  As a child he was a "houseboy," performing general household tasks for the French family.  Like the pirate Black Caesar, young Henri Caesar was said to be an extremely large man.  Because he was so big and strong he was moved to work in the lumberyard.  Life as a lumberyard slave was much more difficult than that of a houseboy.  When the Haitian Revolution began in 1791 Caesar joined other former slaves in attacking French soldiers, then moved to attacking French boats on the coast.  He eventually traveled north and was pirating in the same general area as the first Black Caesar.  Henri was also called Black Caesar, but it is not known if he named himself Black Caesar of if others chose the moniker for him.  Either way, he took advantage of the fear invoked by the first Black Caesar!

Colin O'Donoghue as Captain Hook in Once Upon a Time

Colin O'Donoghue as Captain Hook
in the ABC TV series "Once Upon a Time."
... nothing to do with Black Caesar
or the Biscayne Bay socks, it just seemed fun to
post a picture of my favorite pirate hottie.  🙂

And then ... nothing.  Some say he joined the legendary pirate Jose Gaspar (who may or may not have existed) and continued pirating for several decades until Gaspar's death in the 1820s.  But no one really knows.

FiberWild! Biscayne Bay Socks featuring HiKoo's CoBaSi yarn!

The Biscayne Socks

The legend of Black Caesar leaves us with more questions than answers, like, Did pirates wear socks?  Well, they would have had some pretty awful blisters from wearing their black leather boots if they didn't!  We can assume that Black Caesar's favorites would have been the Biscayne Bay socks, named in honor of Biscayne National Park and the latest sock in our Park Your Socks sock of the month series.  The sample socks are knit in CoBaSi's Deep Turquoise, Seafoam and Indigo ... the sea-inspired colors are the favorite of any pirate!  The leg of the socks have sea turtles all the way around ... even the fiercest of pirates must love cute little sea turtles!

So knit the new Biscayne Bay Socks ... or walk the plank! gggrrrrr!

Happy Knitting! ... Scout

* I found this sketch all over the internet, but no where was there any mention of the artist.  If you know who he/she is please let us know so we can properly credit the artist for this awesome sketch!

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