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It is on the navigation charts, taxes are paid regularly by the owner, it appears in deeds of the 17th century, but it does not exist, it is underwater.
Several curiosities and mysteries surrounding an underwater island in the North American state of Rhode Island are reported in yesterday’s edition (10) of the local newspaper Warwick Beacon.
We are talking about the 267-hectare Greene Island, acquired in the distant year of 1642 from the local Narragansett Indians by an English captain, John Greene, who installed a colony of Puritan believers there.
Greene bought the island for 30 Wampum rosaries, a designation given to a kind of bargaining chip, made of shells of marine mollusks traditionally considered sacred by the Amerindian tribes of the northeastern region of the current United States.
In 1773, three years before US independence, it would be sold to a John Brown for $ 3,000 in silver.
A fascinating island
The island once had high dikes and trees and was a favourite place to camp. Storms and floods regularly wreak havoc, as well as a nesting area for terns and seagulls and a breeding site for horseshoe crabs.
Warwick historian Henry Brown knows a lot about the island. From the window of his house he could see it on the horizon, when it still existed. Now it is only, from time to time, a patch of sand.
But it remains very much alive in your memory. As a child, and taking advantage of the island’s accessibility on foot during low tide, I loved exploring it. When he was thirsty, he could always resort to one of two freshwater springs.
The stories of pirate treasures, allegedly buried at the site, fascinated him at the time. His discovery of a bottle of Dutch rum further strengthened those beliefs.
The remains of a shipwreck also intrigued the population.
“The only surviving corn field of a flint hard corn variety, known as Johnny Tee, was grown on Greene Island,” recalls Brown in a statement to Warwick Beacon.
In the past, citizens gathered on the island every 4th of July, lighting and setting off fireworks to celebrate. Fish and clams were plentiful.
Using oxen carts, zostera was collected, a kind of water grass that, mixed with farm manure, was kept in piles during the summer months, and then used to fertilize the fields and orchards of apples and pears .
The Great Hurricane of 1938
Everything started to fall apart with the great hurricane of 1938, which literally broke the island in two and exposed even more the wreckage of a 31 meter wooden ship.
Despite the local belief that it was a pirate ship, it is believed to be the British schooner Gaspee, which ran aground and was burned by independent settlers on the night of June 9, 1772, an operation that was seen as the first blow for freedom of the nation.
In time, however, the island, split in two, would definitely disappear, only occasionally catching a glimpse of sand in its place.
The island has been the subject of a survey by the Rhode Island Marine Archaeological Project for several years. With the silting up, even the wreckage of the mysterious ship is disappearing, which is the great poster of the region, thanks to the stories of the missing island, of pirates and treasures.
Taxes continue to be charged
The City Hall of Warwick seems to be the sole beneficiary of the situation today, as in its records the island exists and, as such, charges taxes on it.
The island belongs to the company Spring Green Corp. and is being taxed to date, for a total of $ 91.78 (R $ 425.86) per year.
Its owners tried in vain to reverse the situation, as the city demanded an evaluation of the land, despite the obvious difficulty that the evaluators would have to find the island.
The company therefore prefers to pay the annual tax to support an expensive assessment of an island that does not exist.