In a late night epiphany (the kind that comes right as your drifting off to sleep with the lights out and the covers up…yeah that one) I decided that before I get too excited or too clouded from stress I should come up with a list of starting points, such as documents, etc, that could prove this local pirate’s existence. I took to compiling a task list of sorts, mostly of sources I plan to check up on. Aside from finding out if such a set of occurrences actually did transpire in this area, here is my annotated list of things I need to investigate (In no particular order):
First, would be to search archives to see if I can find any newspaper articles that talk of robberies in the Bay that could have been committed by this man. But I will need to confirm the time frame that he ran his operations. This will probably be the longest and most tedious task, my eyes hurt just thinking about it. I also need to look into whatever the local and social history is of Virginia and Maryland at this time to see if there are any links between this small story and the larger picture.
Second, is the identity of this pirate. Definitely the hardest part of this. It’s an essential part of the story. I will have to do some fieldwork, talking to the locals and finding more about the folk tale. If I can get a name I can look at census records and local paperwork (birth and death certificates, marriage certificates, land deeds, etc.), this information could help me find out more about his life and what would lead someone to piracy. What were the larger issues that would drive crime?
Third, I need to find out a location. I need to know what part of the Bay he operated out of. From there I could try and pin point the type of pirating he did, what kind of targets he chose. I might be able to look into police records, maybe there was some kind of coast guard operating then, that would have reports of criminal activity on the Bay. This means I am going to need to look into crime during the time period he supposedly operated under and see what kind of system, if any was in place. If I can pin point the time I might be able to find insurance claims, or other documents that could give me more information.
Fourth, I hope to find out what kind of boat he might have used and equipment. But that will be one of the later steps in the process, since I need to have a lot of other background information before I could pinpoint that.
The story will not only have to fit into the history of local crime, but it also needs to be linked to the greater history of American Pirates. Could this man be the LAST American Pirate???…I have my doubts, serious doubts at that, but it should be an interesting journey to find out.