From 1846-1873 this was the site of the famed “Hurricane Club”, a tradition which began on the island of Lokoko in the South Pacific Seas (S 19˚ 57’, W 136˚ 29’)
Captain Drake “Goldbelly” Stillman and his first mate, Delilah “Little Rose” Netherlander were abroad the legendary vessel “The Junebug” when they were struck by a terrific storm. The Junebug, transporting exotic foods from the region, 600 odd cases of exquisite wines pilfered from the old French royal coffers and an undocumented cache of gold bullion, acquired, no doubt, through dubious means, tumbled about the frothy sea, washed over by waves three times the height of the ship’s mast.
The Junebug met its end on a rocky promontory off the coast of Lokoko. Goldbelly and Little Rose managed ashore, clinging to the crates that carried their supplies. Subsequently, they were captured and brought before the Royal Court of King Pappu and Queen Ludellah to plead for their lives.
As the Hurricane raged on, it was the foodstuffs and the rare bottles of wine that not only saved their lives, but became the basis for a wild and sumptuous feast. The King and Queen, in turn, chartered the construction of a new vessel, named The Junebug II, to assist their new friends in their journey homeward, stuffing it to the brim with local delicacies.
Once returned to New York City, Goldbelly and Little Rose began the tradition known as “The Hurricane Club,” a yearly feast for prominent merchants, diplomats, landed gentry, celebrated artists, high-ranking officers of the Navy – as well as a few known pirates. In 1861, the King and Queen of Lokoko made the long journey to dine with their dear friends, returning home laden with the finest foods and drink from America.
The Hurricane Club funded several expeditions to the South Pacific in search of gold bullion, which was never found.