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Pass Christian, Mississippi

A phantom rowboat with four ghostly figures at the oars.... a slender woman playing a harp... and the form a burning ship seen just off the coast of this small Mississippi town. Sometimes they say the sound of the mysterious harp music can be heard on the breeze from the ocean. Some insist the land near where the music is heard bears a terrible curse, explaining why no resort or restaurant has ever succeeded here.....
So what strange tale is behind the appearance of the phantom boat and the mysterious music?

This area of the coast has not always been a forgotten and deserted place. Once, back in the 1850's, a mansion stood here which belonged to a Captain Hawes. He had been a rich, old seamen who had retired to the Mississippi coast near Pass Christian after his ship had caught fire and sank in the gulf waters nearby.
While this may seem to be a tragic tale of the old captain... it isn't. In fact, Hawes and his first mate are believed to have actually started the fire and scuttled the ship on purpose to cover a robbery that they had committed.
While in Uruguay, Hawes had taken on a passenger and his wife named named Vinesto. He had agreed to transport them to the United States, before he learned just how wealthy the couple was and that they had brought with them a large trunk filled with gold.
Julia Vinesto was a beautiful woman who was excited about the new life that she and her husband had waiting for them in New Orleans. She loved to play the harp and each day during their ocean journey, she held a concert for her husband and the ship's crew on the upper deck. In fact, she was playing here when the ship burned and sank.

Only Captain Hawes and four of the crewmen escaped, but the ghost of Julia Vinesto haunted the captain for the rest of his life. It was said the music from her harp tormented him day and night and he was never allowed to live in his mansion in peace.

Years later, after the mansion was long gone, the sound of the harp was still reported along the rough coastline near Pass Christian and in the vicinity of the ruins of the house. Some of the older locals still claim that on certain nights, the glow of a burning ship can be seen on the horizon, just before it seems to slip beneath the water.

Pass Christian is seven miles west of Gulfport on Highway 90. The ruins of the Hawes Mansion were located on Pitcher's Point, a part of the coastline located between Pass Christian and Long Beach.

Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor

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