Connecticut History for Kids: Pirates of the…Long Island Sound?


c) Connecticut Explored, Summer, 2023

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Welcome to our page for young readers! In this issue we’re talking about Connecticut’s islands. Legend has it that some Connecticut islands are home to buried treasure!

Pirates of the…Long Island Sound?

Captain Kidd

When you think of pirates, you might imagine a ship flying a flag with skull and crossbones sailing through the Caribbean Sea. Or maybe you picture Captain Hook and his crew from Peter Pan. But did you know that one of the most notorious pirates of all time sailed around Long Island Sound and may have even buried treasure along Connecticut’s shoreline?

A pirate is a person who commits crimes at sea or along the coast. Around the year 1700, when Connecticut was still an English colony, dozens of pirates sailed in nearby waters. Some looked to rob ships of their cargo. Others, known as “privateers,” did business with Connecticut merchants who wanted to make a profit in spite of British laws that limited trade.

Among these privateers was Captain William Kidd. Born in Scotland, Kidd was hired by a colonial governor to protect English ships from pirates, but he was later suspected of being a pirate himself. Legend has it that, on his way to Boston to face justice, he stopped to bury treasure on islands in Long Island Sound, including the Thimble Islands, Cockenoe Island, and Charles Island. He also may have ventured into the Connecticut River to hide stashes at Thirty Mile Island. (For more about Thirty Mile Island, check out “I, Pampenum”: Indigenous Efforts to Save Thirty Mile Island, page XX.) Loot that he buried on Gardiner’s Island in Suffolk County, New York was later found; for centuries hopeful Nutmeggers have searched for more of Captain Kidd’s treasure on Connecticut islands – with no luck.

Charles Island

But Connecticut hasn’t forgotten its pirate past. Milford, home to Charles Island, holds an annual “Pirate Fest” during which actors playing Captain Kidd and his crew arrive by boat to the cheers of hundreds of fans. Charles Island lies just off the coast of Silver Sands State Park and is now a Natural Area Preserve that protects a different sort of treasure – nesting habitats for shorebirds like heron and egret.



Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands Park Way, Milford

Downtown Milford Business Association’s 21st Annual Pirate’s Day

Sunday, June 4, 2023, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Lisman Landing, Milford Green, Milford Historical Society, Milford


“Cruising the Thimble Islands,” Connecticut Explored, Spring 2009



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