Philippe Park, Safety Harbor

Haunted Mound
Haunted Mound

Original Entry:
​Brandy:  I first heard the urban legend in the late 1990s.  I worked for a company that had an office in Safety Harbor.  One afternoon, we had a picnic planned and I was told that the Native American midden in the park was haunted.  I brought an ELF meter (this was when I was still newer to paranormal investigation) and walked the midden.  Nothing happened.  I asked for more information and was told that the mound was haunted by either the shaman/priest or the chief of the Tocobaga tribe.  He was see ascending the mound at certain times and I believe he was associated with the direction of west.

I put out a call for stories for the mound and none were submitted.  In a conversation the weekend of the investigation I did have confirmation from one person who told me that she had heard the mound was haunted.  She also said that she had heard from another person “really into the metaphysical” that Pinellas and/or the Tampa Bay area was protected from hurricanes because of the Native American burial sites.  (2/7/14).

On Feb. 9, 2014, we set out to investigate.  This included my pets, pug brothers Odysseus and Achilles.

The investigation included the following:

1)  The mound by Pavillion 7.  Research revealed two legends associated with that area.  The first was that of the Native American haunting.  The second involved Odet Philippe, the first non-Native settler to the region.  He established a plantation in the area in 1821.  He was buried somewhere in the park area, theoretically near the homestead, but his grave has never been found.

2)  There was a suicide that took place in the park in 2009.  Researchers found this bench for the investigators to study.

Pre-investigation research, by Donna and Bryan. 

Philippe Park
2525 Philippe Pkwy.
Safety Harbor, FL 34695
Phone:(727) 669-1947

Philippe Park was acquired in 1948, making it the oldest park in the county. This historically rich park bears the name of Count Odet Philippe who introduced citrus culture to Florida. The existing park property was part of the original Philippe plantation from which several citrus trees still remain.

Odet Philippe was the first permanent, non-native settler on the Pinellas County peninsula, acquiring 160 acres of land in what is today Safety Harbor in 1842. He was a successful businessman who introduced cigar making and citrus to Tampa Bay. His descendents, including the McMullen and Booth families, are among the county’s most well known pioneer clans. Philippe was buried in the park – his former plantation – in 1869, but the exact location of the gravesite is not known. [1] If actual gravesite is “not known” then is this a memorial only? [2]

Amateur video [4] Those slow-down rumbly things on the roadway are a booger and hard to see in the dappled sunlight – we experienced same as in video.
Following photo from page 7 of Tampa Bay History [5] Well worth the read, tries to sort fact from legend.
The Tocobaga Tribe: Tocobaga Indian Mound in Safety Harbor, FL: Video and article. [6]
WTSP Channel 10 video [7]

900 A.D. – 1600s: Tanpa, the “capital city” of the Tocobaga tribe. [7] [14]
1528: The Spanish were not kind to the Tocobaga. One of the cruelest was a commander of the conquistadors named Panfilo de Narvaez, who came to the area in 1528. He and his men pillaged the Tocobagans’ ceremonial grounds and huts. They cut off the chief’s nose and fed his mother to the pet greyhounds. [14]
1787: Odet Philippe born in Lyon, France
1821: On the shores of what is now known as Old Tampa Bay and near the present-day Tampa suburb of Safety Harbor, Phillipe established a plantation named St. Helena. An old Indian mound sat near his landing site, and he constructed his homestead close to the edifice. [16]
1848: Originally the mound was rectangular, but about a third of it was lost during a hurricane. [14] [20]
1869: Odet Philippe passed away
1948: Park opened [14]
1952: Park dedication [9]
1955: Open-air amphitheatre [10] Open-sky theater [15]
1963: Odet Philippe was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame [16]
1979: Stone retaining walls were built around the mound [14] “Originally, this mound was rectangular in shape, but a tremendous hurricane in 1848 washed away approximately 1/3 of the mound. At that time, Odet Philippe used the mound to save his family from the tidal surge.” [17]

Notable Stories:
2007: Tocobaga Indian remains found, interred, ceremony, Safety Harbor [18]
A Brief History of Safety Harbor, Florida, By Warren Firschein, Laura Kepner, page 46 regarding burial near mound in park. [19]

Crime in Area:
2013: Suspicious man threatening to kidnap children [11]
2009: Suicide – Baywalk scandal [12] [13] On-site survey of area January 18, 2013, by members Bryan and Donna to ascertain bench location depicted in photograph; the bench is the northernmost one inset into the stone walkway along the water, closest to the restrooms for Pavilion #1, though indicated in the article as being close to Pavilion #7. We inspected each of the five bench locations and realized that telescopic photograph lenses can increase the optical illusion – as linear as the walkway appears, there IS the appearance of the curve and the trees match up.


Brandy:  Though I expected to get little response on our equipment I was surprised to discover areas of EMF.  When we first arrived on the mound I noted that the EM was on a 0 — perfectly flat — on the Trifield meter.  Odysseus and Achilles showed no fear of the location.  My initial questions were unanswered and elicited no response.  Yet, on the third attempt of “Is anyone here?” I did get a spike.  The meter spiked several other times when I asked questions (Are you the Native American?  Are you Odet?) but the consistency of the answers was not there.  When the questions were repeated for confirmation I would not get spikes. I did verify that my phone and camera were turned off at the time.

Issues with the park did include the wonderful afternoon weather.  There were people present and while not overly crowded, there were enough to keep us from doing recordings or EVPs.  The pugs enjoyed themselves but seem to have found little of either extreme interest or diversion. 

When we got to the bench area I, again, attempted EMF readings.  I did get some spikes,despite an otherwise flat reading. Questions again did not get a consistent answer.  Photographic evidence was also not compelling, though I did get several nice images.  See below.

Follow up investigation:  11.19.2016

Present:  Jamie, Dawn, Kress, Frank, Brandy, Achilles and Odysseus

Brandy: The park was beautiful, as always.  Dawn and I walked through the park.  She had a rather unique story to add about the area, which will be entered on this page outside my entry.  We did walk the mound, but there was little EMF activity.  The pugs were relaxed and calm.  Others had to go, so I continued my walk with the pugs around the mound.  At the base I had some interesting activity.  When I asked if anyone was present with us, the meter spiked.  When I asked for confirmation, it did again.  When I asked other questions, I had little response.  I did get a spike on villager and doing daily activities.  I would ask, again, if anyone was there and it would spike.  Yet, there was no response to inquiries about Odet, the citrus plantation, or most anything else I asked.   I did get two spikes outside of the area when I was not asking questions.  That was interesting and I’m not sure why, except that there were people around and EMF might be attributed to cell phone activity.  

I will be posting two podcasts on SH and the investigation via Paranormal Pets at

My images showed nothing, but they are lovely. 

Below:  The tree Dawn described, the area of activity at the bottom of the hill, and pooped Para Pugs.

11.29.16 –from Dawn

Here’s my quick Phillippe Park story. First let me give a little background story. November 24th 2014 a very very close friend of our circle was killed tragically in a motorcycle accident on Ulmerton Rd. We felt him everywhere after his death, I would see him, smell his Cologne, just feel him around me, us, our circle, at events etc. Jump to Jan 2015…. we were attending a wedding at Phillippe Park of some very close friends in our large circle. At the wedding we placed a photo of Rob at the unity candle alter so he could join us in spirit. My now ex husband & I were taking pics at the huge tree by shelter 7 ( the wedding was held right there at that shelter by the famous tree.) As we are taking pics we notice that a huge blue ball of light between the upper branches. In 3 frames we saw it start, grow, & get huge then 4th frame just gone. I’ve looked every where for the original pics & can’t find them. We know it was Rob, we felt his energy. I think Phillipe Park is loaded with spirit energy, I would even go as far too say that tree is some kind of vortex making it easier for Rob to join us. The energy from that tree is magnificent. Phillippe Park is amazing.

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