Throwback Thursday: Playa Bagdad


BROWNSVILLE, Texas — There are rumors that the pirate Jean LaFitte was in this area and there was one person that gave an account that was very specific.

His name was William Neale and he came to this area around 1821, left, and returned around the time of Texas Independence. He ran into a lady that was supposedly Mrs. Lafitte and she came up with tales that were very specific for the time.

At the time she was about 55-years-old, so the math adds up. She told William Neale about Barataria Island and the bayous of Louisiana. as she went on and on and on, she actually had a little tin-type, and it said “Jean Trene” and that was her name. According to William Neale, LaFitte was here because Neale said there were plenty of people here in 1835 that spoke of him, and they spoke very specifically about him.

In 1867, there was a tremendous hurricane that came through and absolutely wiped Playa Bagdad off the face of the earth. This was the makings of how the Rio Grande River was at two periods of time. The river was originally off further to the northwest and then the hurricane of 1933 changed it. This hurricane made a turn and cut right through the middle of Bagdad. At the mouth of the river at the time of the Civil War, there was a second life to Bagdad. Although the city was blown away to a great degree directly after the Civil War, between 1863 to 1866 there was a thriving metropolis here of about 12,000 inhabitants. They were here because of the cotton blockade that the Union imposed upon the Confederacy during the Civil War.

We have periods in Rio Grande Valley history. Ghosts upon our horizon and many more stories than you can imagine.

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