61 GASPARILLA MAGAZINE NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 unique circumstances surrounding Stackhouse and his departure from the island. He wrote a book called “A Title Examiner’s History of Boca Grande: Where Nothing Unimportant Ever Happens, and It’s All a Matter of Public Record.” He wrote in the foreword, “the Journey’s End abstract read like a history book. Significant events in the development of Gasparilla Island – the arrival of the railroad in 1905, the 1920s Florida land boom and bust, the 1945 sale to Sunset Realty Corporation – were all reflected by original, raw historical documents in the chain of title.” In a book written by Dr. Theodore VanItallie for the Boca Grande Historical Society, “Designs for Paradise: Architecture and Life Style in Old Boca Grande,” the facts behind Journey’s End and Stackhouse were explored. “He had a nebulous past, a hot temper and a penchant for privacy,” VanItallie wrote. “He engaged contractor B.S. Barnett, who had just completed the first beachfront house in Boca Grande in 1913 …” The lumber used for the house was virgin pine from the forests that used to stand between Arcadia and Wauchula. The lumber, as well as laborers, other supplies and tools, all were floated down the Peace River and across Charlotte Harbor. Instead of going into Gulf water, they pushed the barges down the bayou side of the island, where they unloaded and took the materials and workers over land by mule train via “corduroy roads” that stretched from bayou to beach. The corduroy roads were made from palm logs packed closely together. Stackhouse only lived in the house just shy of two years. Much of the house’s early history was documented thoroughly by Dr. James Ingram, Michael’s father. He lived in the house during the early 1960s, when he was an island doctor. “Henry Stackhouse had become increasingly involved in personal and business disputes,” Ingram wrote. “Several horses disappeared and were found slaughtered; later a man was killed. How deeply Stackhouse was connected to these events is not known, but he did find it wise to depart abruptly during the night in 1916.” HISTORY The house quickly fell into disrepair after being foreclosed on by The Punta Gorda Bank and C.H. Whidden. For eight years nature took over, and during the course of that time it survived seven hurricanes and many vandals. In his research on the home Dr. Jim wrote, “The property surrendered to underbrush, and the banana patch behind the house grew rapidly to fill the whole backyard. In 1921 the area’s worst hurricane rolled the Gulf in from the west and over the island. Whatever windows, doors and furniture had not been taken from the house by vandals were blown to the mainland.” More than a foot of sand covered the floor of the home after the doors and windows were gone, and coupled with the gaunt, forbidding original structure, the house gained a reputation of being haunted at around this time. The first ghost story was rather generic, about a headless woman who roamed the beach at night between the house and Little Gasparilla Pass. (Was she possibly the ghost of Joseffa, the pirate Gaspar’s decapitated love?) More ghost stories were to come through the years.
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