Homer Ludwig was a shabby appearing handyman who lived on Key Largo at the turn of the century. This island is about 30 miles south of Miami, Florida. One day in the early 1890s Ludwig bought a small sailboat with the announced intention of going treasure hunting. Folks in the area laughed at this, figuring that the old fellow was becoming a bit senile.
Ludwig claimed to have knowledge of how a captain of a wrecked ship had buried money and valuables on a sandy beach for safekeeping, intending to return later with another vessel to reclaim the hoard of gold and silver coins. The handyman told his friends that the captain died before he could recover his treasure. Being kind to the old fellow, his friends merely smiled and wished him good luck.
Months went by without Ludwig's being seen about his old haunts. Fisherman, however, reported that they had seen him build a shack of driftwood and palm fronds on a deserted beach at Key largo.
Word got around eventually that the old fellow had found some treasure, and soon local beachcombers were following him to discover the source of his money-but without success. Friends reported that on some occasions, ragged old Homer woild only have a dollar in his pocket, then, a few days later, he might haul out a roll of bills that would choke an alligator-all this in spite of the fact that he had ceased doing odd jobs.
It now developed that he was selling ancient gold and silver coins to a coin dealer in Miami - only disposing of perhaps a hundred dollars worth at a time. Apparently Ludwig had discovered shipwreck treasure. It is assumed that he had found treasure from the El PinqueorPopulo, one of the ships of the 1733 Spanish plate fleet which sank on the reefs at the north end of Key Largo.
One day in September, 1909, Ludwig was seen by fisherman while hoisting the sail on his small craft.A couple hours later a violent storm struck the area, and Ludwig was never heard of again. A man of simple habits and simple wants, he had no desire to be rich, no desire for the niceties of life. All he wanted was peace and quiet.
Was his story true or is it all a bar room yarn?
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