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The legend of the Blue Crab and Aaron Burr’s daughter

By Jan Edwards/ The Bulletin

When living along the Gulf Coast of Texas – or just visiting it – it doesn’t take long to fall into the relaxed lifestyle and share what the area offers with neighbors and friends.

Two coastal lifestyle offerings are legends of the area and boat loads of fresh-caught seafood, the likes of which can be found no place else. The long Texas coastline offers a treasure chest full of both things.

The Blue Crab can be found in almost every waterway in the South. You’ve probably caught one or two yourself. They can be boiled, bar-b-qued, or cleaned and added as lump meat in a profusion of tempting dishes. But have you ever really looked at that crab?

It is not only a delicious meal, but the source of mystery and an interesting legend.

The Blue Crab is low in calories and high in protein, cholesterol and legend.

Many people have looked at and cleaned a great number of crabs and never knew the mystifying tale which, when once heard, will never allow them to look at the lowly Blue Crab the same way ever again.

On the back of every Blue Crab is a mysterious, faceless woman. I know I never saw the lady until the local crabber showed her to me. Catch one and look at its back. Starting at the side opposite the pinchers, you can trace out a faceless head, a lady’s bodice, her arms and a full skirt.

She is always faceless, so her identity is a mystery, but her specter is on every Blue Crab. No one is sure who she is, but some who live on the coast think she may be the image of Theodosia Burr, the only biological daughter of Aaron Burr.

Burr shot his political rival Alexander Hamilton in a famous duel in 1804, the last full year of his single term as vice president.

He got off the hook legally, but Hamilton’s death ended Burr’s political career.

While it lasted, Burr was the third vice president of the United States (1801–1805), serving during President Thomas Jefferson’s first term.

In Texas, the legend of his daughter, Theodosia Burr, in a nutshell, goes something like this.

It is told that Theodosia had been captured by pirates (possibly one of Jean Lafitte’s henchmen) and was shipwrecked at the mouth of the San Bernard River, where she died in the arms of an English-speaking, cannibalistic Karankawa Indian.

Circumstantial evidence suggests the legend could be true, so Blue Crabs (especially those in Texas) may just bear the image of Theodosia.

Once you’ve seen the mysterious lady, you’ll look for her on every Blue Crab you see – just deepening the mystery.

Is that you, Theodosia?

(Jan wants to hear from you. Write her in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)