New Book Links Father Junipero Serra to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island

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He is known as the Apostle of California. What is not known is that Stevenson may not have written his classic tale without a miracle credited to the legendary priest.

There would be no Pirates of the Caribbean without Treasure Island,” Amrhein contends, “and there would have been no tale of Treasure Island if Father Junipero Serra had had not saved the galleon the year before her fateful voyage.

The new book, Treasure Island: The Untold Story, not only documents that there was a real Treasure Island but that Father Junipero Serra, an icon in California history, had a credible role in the making of Treasure Island.

Treasure Island is a fictional account of an adventure to a Caribbean island to recover a treasure buried in 1750. In real life, there was such a treasure buried in 1750 on a deserted Caribbean Island and that story begins the year before in 1749 when the galleon, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, traveled to Veracruz, Mexico, to pick up a large consignment of silver pieces of eight. On board were Father Serra and nineteen other Franciscan priests.

When the Guadalupe arrived within sight of Veracruz, she was blown off by a storm. The hapless ship then encountered a violent hurricane. The crew despaired but Father Serra led his fellow priests in a prayer to St. Barbara begging for deliverance while the galleon wanted to slip beneath the waves. It was December 4, the feast day of St. Barbara when their prayers were answered: the wind died and the seas calmed.

The Guadalupe and six other ships later departed Havana, Cuba, on August 18, 1750, for Spain. They encountered another hurricane which propelled the Guadalupe and her cargo of treasure to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina. It was here that Blackbeard, the pirate, was killed in 1718.

In Hampton, Virginia, a merchant captain named Owen Lloyd and his peg-legged brother, John, departed for what seemed to be a routine trip to St. Kitts where Owen was going to reunite with his wife. She had left months before because of the hardships that she and Owen had suffered at the hands of the Spaniards in the war that had just ended between Spain and England. Their sloop sprang a leak and diverted to Ocracoke where the Lloyd brothers were hired to tow the disabled Guadalupe into the inlet. After that was accomplished, the Lloyd brothers engineered a scheme to steal the treasure that had been offloaded onto some English sloops. On October 20, 1750, while the Spanish guards were having lunch, the two sloops weighed anchor and made for the inlet. John Lloyd’s sloop ran aground and he was captured. Owen made a clean getaway and buried his treasure at Norman Island, a deserted key in the British Virgin Islands. The treasure was later recovered but the aftermath left the countries of England, Spain, Denmark, and The Netherlands in a diplomatic turmoil as their Caribbean governors had each dipped their hands into the pot of gold.

In 1879, Robert Louis Stevenson found himself in Carmel at the mission of St. Charles Borromeo, the second mission built by the Father Junipero Serra. This was the favorite mission of the legendary priest and it was here that he was buried in 1784. That day was the anniversary celebration of St. Charles. Stevenson was moved to tears at the devotion and reverence of the Indians, descendants of the converts of Father Junipero Serra who now lay buried beneath the sanctuary floor. He was compelled to do something about preserving Father Serra’s mission so he wrote a plea for help in the Monterey Californian. Later, he would recall that nothing interested him more in Monterey than the mission at Carmel.

In late August of 1881, Robert Louis Stevenson, a struggling and nearly unknown author, began his story of Treasure Island. He was inspired by a map drawn by his twelve-year-old stepson, Lloyd Osbourne. Lloyd was named after a treasure hunter living in San Francisco named John Lloyd, a close friend of his father and a suspected lover of his mother. Both he and the eighteenth century Lloyd brothers were described as a Welshman.

John Amrhein, Jr., a maritime historian residing on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, has documented this amazing story in his soon-to-be-released book, Treasure Island: The Untold Story. It took nine years to complete with the help of a team of international researchers. “Amhrein’s work serves as a compendium of historical fact and events surrounding a story that has captured the imaginations of both young and old for nearly a century and half,” says the Monterey Historical Society after a careful study of his 396 page work.

Today, we see the fantasy, Pirates of the Caribbean, making billions. “There would be no Pirates of the Caribbean without Treasure Island,” Amrhein contends, “and there would have been no tale of Treasure Island if Father Junipero Serra had had not saved the galleon the year before her fateful voyage.”
For more on this true life prequel to Stevenson’s classic story of adventure visit The expected release date is August 18 and will be published in ebook format as well.


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