Juan “John” Gomez

Photo added by Robert Adlet

Juan “John” Gomez

Birth
Portugal
Death 13 Jul 1900 (aged 118–119)
Marco, Collier County, Florida, USA
Burial Collier County, Florida, USA
Memorial ID 96569369 · View Source
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Buried on Panther Key-Grave Unmarked
One known as the oldest man in the US John was a self proclaimed pirate that once sailed with Jose Gaspar the famous pirate that invaded Tampa Bay. John is a character well known in early Florida History. Also known as Panther Key John. He named the Key where he lived Panther Key because the Florida Panthers would swim to his island and kill his goats. Others called it Gomez Key. He was a Pirate and a Pilot because of his uncanny ability to guide the ships and boats around the waters from St Augustine to Marco Island. He told of his escape from Jose Gaspar, he hid under the seat of a fishing boat which was pulled to shore and he paddled with a board to sea. After drifting for 3 days without food or water he was picked up by a schooner going to Key West and never left Florida after that. Teh Ft Myers Press on June 14th 1894 on Gomez' 113th birthday told that he was a cabin boy on a transatlantic vessel in Charleston SC but left because the ships master was mistreating him. He came to St Augustine. On one of Gomez' trips to Tampa Bay he found his wife Sara Green. Sara's daughter Martha Weeks was quoting saying he was homeless, hungry and wearing rags to the point of being naked. Sara took him in and feed and made clothes for him. He returned the kind guestor by marring Sara in a small ceremony in front of the entire Welcome community. He lived with her until she died and he then packed up and moved on to Panther Key. His first schooner was named RED JACK. In 1857 a frequent visitor named John Bethel said Gomez had a fine boat & took parties on excursions. He would pilot goverment ships through shallow bays until 1861 when Fla joined the Confederacy & blockade of Tama Bay tourisum so Gomez began working on blockade runners and served on the Tampa Home Guard Unit of the Confederacy. He and his current wife homestead on Panther Key in 1876. Chaqrles Kendall wrote in 1889 that Gomez was over 100 yrs old. He said he fought in the Seminole War.Gomez & his wife lived off Fish, Turtles, Turtle Eggs, coffee, sugar and meal. Kendall invited Mrs.Gomez to have supper with them in 1889 but in 1898 Kenneth Ransom & frineds visited there with Gomez and found a young girl with Gomez. Kenneth Ransom asked Gomez his age and he said "If I live till Christmas as I hope I shall I will be 123. He was short thin & spoke with a clear voice. He had blck eyes and wore gold earrings in both ears. John Gomez' body was dicovered July 13th 1900. He presumably fell from his boat and became entangled in his nets. John Gomez decomposed body was brought back to Panther Key and buried in an unknown location. Many articles and books have mentioned or written about Juan John Gomez.
The John Gomez story
Profiles of Early Settlers in 1953
Oldest Living Settler in 1914
The Mangrove Coast 1942
A Year in a Yawl 1898
Key West House once a Pirate Hideout 1973
Forrest & Stream 1900
The Caloosahatchee 1932
Piracy off the Fla Coast 1911
Odet Phillippi Pinellas Peninsular First White Settlers 1936


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  • Created by: Marsha Allen Durrance
  • Added: 5 Sep 2012
  • Find a Grave Memorial 96569369
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Juan “John” Gomez (1781–13 Jul 1900), Find a Grave Memorial no. 96569369, citing Panther Key Island, Collier County, Florida, USA ; Maintained by Marsha Allen Durrance (contributor 47062595) .