Haunted Island off Biloxi, Mississippi
Deer Island is easily visible from the beaches and attractions of historic Biloxi, Mississippi. It is a rookery for the Great Blue Heron and is preserved in its natural state as a Mississippi Coastal Preserve. Nine different rare and/or endangered species live on the island, along with at least one ghost!
Humans have visited or lived on Deer Island for thousands of years. Ancient American Indians came there to hunt, gather and fish long before the birth of Christ. The French arrived in 1717 and turned it into a rabbit ranch! By the early 1900s an amusement park operated on the island.
Hurricane Camille changed all of that. The horrible storm destroyed the last structures on the island in 1969 and forced the remaining inhabitants to move to the mainland. The wisdom of their relocation was confirmed in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina send a wall of water over Deer Island. An artificial reef now helps protect its sandy shores from further erosion.
Two of the most severe hurricanes ever to strike the United States, however, could not sweep away the story of a ghost that haunts the windswept island.
The story of the Ghost of Deer Island was first published by A.G. Ragusin in 1922. He named Capt. Eugene Tiblier, Sr., age 78, as the authority for the tale.
According to the captain’s story, two fishermen were spending the night on the island when a great shaking and rattling suddenly took place in the palmettos. Believing the noise was caused by wild hogs moving about, the men tried to ignore it. The sound finally became so annoying that they decided to investigate but were stunned to come upon the headless skeleton of a man standing erect in the palmettos! The two men ran for their boat with the headless ghost in pursuit, barely escaping from its clutches.
The ghost was thought to originate from a tale of buried treasure and pirates. Elders of the community told of how a pirate captain once sailed his ship into Biloxi Bay to bury a large treasure. A treasure pit was prepared on Deer Island and the captain deposited his loot there. In a final bloody act, he chopped off the head of one of his own men and left his body behind to guard the secret spot.
A different Biloxi fisherman verified the tale for Ragusin, telling the writer that he had personally seen the ghost while exploring the island with two other men. In an encounter much like that described by Capt. Tiblier, the men heard a great rattling coming through the palmetto bushes before the ghost appeared. It was so terrifying that all three of the explorers rowed for the mainland as fast as possible.
The Ghost of Deer Island is credited for mysterious lights and strange sounds observed on the island to this day, so the next time you walk the beaches of Biloxi at night or enjoy a view of Mississippi Sound from your hotel room, keep your eyes open! You just might catch a glimpse of the strange lights that have haunted the people of Biloxi for 200 years.
Also of interest: The Biloxi Lighthouse.