Grave of Jose Perfino - Atlas Obscura

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Grave of Jose Perfino

Oaklawn Cemetery

Visit the final resting place of a potential pirate at this historic burial site.  

Sponsored by Visit Tampa Bay
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Marked by a modest gravestone on the palm-filled grounds of Oaklawn Cemetery is the final resting place of “a Cuban pirate” known as Jose Perfino. In the decade leading up to the Civil War, Tampa was a small, melting pot of a village, made of a mix of merchants from the north, Hispanic fishermen, Irish laborers, African slaves, and U.S. soldiers. 

Late on a December night in 1849, one of those soldiers was shot in the back outside an oyster house. Witnesses were said to have seen Perfino acting strange: looking out for someone, armed with a pistol. “El Indio,” as he was known, was arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to death. But just before his scheduled hanging, Perfino escaped. Soon after, a posse captured him and he was shot while trying to escape again. 

From its football team to the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival, Tampa Bay oozes with pirate lore. But whether Perfino was an actual pirate remains a topic of debate. According to news reports at the time, the Cuban was “somewhat eccentric” and, overall, “a bad character.”

Sponsored by Visit Tampa Bay.

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