Research Pays Off

Here is an interesting story about the benefits of good old-fashioned research. One of our illustrious members, Terry Armstrong (member # 9), and Tom Gidus, known to the shipwreck community as researchers and salvors of note, located two bronze cannons that were recovered from one of the 1715 Fleet wrecks. Terry posted the following story on Facebook.  I asked Terry if he would allow me to post it on our Newsletter page because I thought it was fascinating, and he agreed. The information contained in this story will be included in his upcoming book “Old Treasure New Blood”. We can’t wait for the book to hit the market. When it does, we will let you know!

So Karen McKee furnished me with some documents from her dad’s collection including a letter from Jack Carr to him where he asks for Art’s help in salvaging a couple of the 1715 Fleet wrecks, and he claims he has already recovered “4 or 5 brass guns”. Well, Yo ho hum me thinks… eyewash. But there is another handwritten document from Art wherein he says they sold two “brass guns” to Walter Frazier (that would actually be Walter “Fraser”) who was building the Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth Park located just a little north of Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine. Actually, Art says they sold some guns from the Wedge Wreck to Fraser in 1954, and then two “brass guns” to Walter Fraser in 1955 (for $3000.00). I’m sure SOMEBODY out there already knows about this, but I did not.

So I went there today with Thomas Gidus to find out if this could possibly be true. I’ve lived in Florida for close to 60 years off and on and never visited Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Park. Neither had Tom.

As serendipity would have it, there was a big beer fest going on in the park and we were directed to park in a limited lot where there was a single available parking slot. I parked there, we exited my vehicle, and LO! Straight ahead of us not 100 feet away was a statue of Menendez flanked by two bronze cannons!! I was dumbstruck. Close examination revealed two obviously sea-salvaged bronze guns, 8 feet long, with one having the specified date outlined in Art McKee’s note! So, YES! Carr did recover some bronze guns, however we don’t know if they came from the Wedge Wreck or the Sandy Point Wreck (or even some undisclosed wreck). My money is on Sandy Point. What happened to the ‘other’ bronze guns Carr recovered? We don’t know, but we now know where two of them are!! BTW, park attendants yelled at us to get off the grass, but we maintained in the face of their acrimony and got the photographic evidence regardless. Yes, we are paparazzi heroes! Good for us, yadda, yada …

No lifting rings on these guns, which seemed odd. But then there were none on the bronze guns located by Global Marine Exploration at the Cape, and those were probably even older than these two.

Big question: Are there more, and where are they??? Food for thought all you Fleet contractors. Get some!

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