Billy Bowlegs

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Billy Bowlegs (not to be confused with the Seminole chief Holata Micco) is the name of a pirate who scourged ships along the Gulf Coast, according to local tradition. The Billy Bowlegs Festival in Fort Walton Beach, inspired by Mardi Gras celebrations and the Fiesta of Five Flags in Pensacola, is reportedly named for him. However, there is some confusion over the exact identity of the historical figure — if he ever existed at all.

When the Billy Bowlegs Festival was begun in 1953 by the Fort Walton Beach Jaycees, its namesake was said to be William Rogers, a pirate who reportedly scuttled his treasure-laden ship, the Mysterio, in Choctawhatchee Bay to avoid capture. However, when a local family whose ancestors were named Rogers protested the association, which had resulted in vandalism of graves by treasure-seekers, the festival's organizers declared William Augustus Bowles as the eponymous pirate.[1]


  1. Bob Sikes. He-Coon: The Bob Sikes Story, page 395.