DATELINE: Gainesville, Florida – Growing up on the Treasure Coast 


Back in June, we created an area of the site where our readers could submit their own stories.  The first is an article from Darrel Strickland of Gainesville, Florida. 



As a child, living in Ft. Pierce, I was always around those who collected arrowheads, bottles, insulators, shells, etc.  Later, my grandmother introduced me to the original Real Eight members.  Of course, at the time I really did not know how famous they would become, but I still remember some of the stories they told.

There are many families to mention that were connected in some way or another with the 1715 Fleet.  Art McKee was a pioneer but there were others.  Many have long since moved away from the Treasure Coast.  Many have passed away.  I am still trying to get families who were involved in early salvaging efforts along the Treasure Coast to tell me their stories.  Many have old charts, photos, letters, etc.

One story that needs to be told is of Homer Cato.  I was fortunate enough to meet his wife years ago at the McLarty Museum.  No one there knew who she was.  She had brought some friends and was telling everyone about her husband’s connection with Kip Wagner, etc.  I am sure she is no longer with us, but hopefully a family member will share some of her stories.  I know of one story where Homer showed Kip Wagner where some barrels were supposedly located.  There is a plate in the museum that he found in one of the wells.  Homer helped to get the McLarty family to donate the land where the museum is presently located.  The museum opened shortly after Kip Wagner passed away.  There was a museum started in the Seagle Building in Gainesville and relocated to Satellite Beach, Florida.  There was even a bank that had some items salvaged by the Real Eight Company on display.  That was before the McLarty Treasure Museum opened.  Over the years I have found many places with 1715 artifacts including a restaurant in San Mateo (outside of Palatka), The St. Lucie Museum (Ft. Pierce), Governors House (St. Augustine), to name a few.

We are lucky that John de Bry and others have shared photos of the 1715 collection in Tallahassee, submitted by Darrel Strickland, Gainesville, Florida. 


Ben Costello

Ben Costello

Ben Costello is a director of the 1715 Fleet Society and an attorney in Washington, PA. His full bio can be found here.


  1. AvatarDarrel Strickland says

    Thank you for posting my story. Could had made it 20 pages, but who wants to read that much.
    I finally got Doug Girard to let me send some of his stories. Following told to me in his words with permission.
    “Early 60s, Kip Wagner, Bart Timmerman, and I would go dig under the old cabin when it was still on stilts. Back then, it was still empty. Kip later found the owners and used it as a base camp for the wreck out in front. I had an old Bounty Hunter and sifter. We would find the cobs them laying in the dunes and on the beach. They looked like old black colored shells. We also found broken olive jars, onion bottles, plates, etc. This was when Jungle Trail was used. There was an old road later became A1A. This is when an old Bridge crossed the inlet.”
    Thank you, Doug, and hoping more to come.

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