The Last Pirate (another story)
|St. Augustine Record
Lived to Great Age.
John Gomez, Formerly of St. Augustine, Drowned at 122 Years.
Word reaches us from our Everglade correspondent that old John Gomez, the centenarian, had
been drowned while fishing, on Thursday, July 12th, and his body had been recovered the following
Saturday much decomposed, and buried on his island, Panther Key, where he had lived to an age
that is granted to few to have escaped disease and accidents for a period of 122 years, and at last to
meet his death in an unnatural way, by drowning. The act that he was out on the waters of the Gulf
fishing at the time he met his death, is evidence that the old man was still vigorous enough to get
about, and it is possible that he may have lived another ten years had he not met with the sad
accident which resulted in his death.
That he was the one of the oldest, if not the oldest citizen of the United States, at the time of his
death, there can scarcely be any doubt. His story has been known for years to our citizens, and for
over ten years he and his wife have been wards of the county, the County Commissioners on many
occasions making personal investigations about the old man, and for over ten years have paid him
the sum of $8 per month from the county funds.
John Gomez, in telling the story of his life to a Press representative in May, 1896, stated that he was
a native of Portugal, and went from the island of Madeira to France while very young. Afterward he
went as a cabin boy on a vessel sailing to this country, but the captain of the bark was so cruel to
him that he ran away when the bark arrived at Charleston, S. C. From there he came to St.
Augustine, Fla., long before the Spanish flag ceased to wave over the fort. He said while in France
he saw Napoleon Bonaparte on dress parade many times. He said he had been married but once,
and looking, at his aged wife, ironically said, "that was once too often." He had never had any
children. He was a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and exhibited his crucifix with pride. The
island upon which he lived was distant about fifteen miles from the Mareo postoffice, which was his
address. At the time of this interview with him he was over 118 years of age, which would have
made him over 122 years old at the time of his death. He said that he had never taken a dose of
medicine in his life, and always had good health until within the last few years, when he had been
troubled with rheumatism.
John Gomez, in physicial makeup, was a short, heavy-set man, with a head of heavy, curly hair,
which had once been black, but was then silvered all over. He had large, dark eyes, fairly well
preserved, and bore marks of having been rather a handsome man. He served in the Seminole War
from 1835 to 1837, under General Taylor, and was in the famous Okeechobee battle, which was
fought December 25, 1837, at the edge of Lake Okeechobee. His wife hails from Glynn county,
Georgia, and is over 70 years old. --- Fort Myers Press.