Redhawk Ranch – Wimauma
A story about peaceful Redhawk Ranch by Dave Lapham
Chasing ghosts across the length and breadth of Florida had been a thrill so far. I’d met dozens of wonderful people and had many exciting experiences, but like any road trip, it could wear you down. And after many weeks and hundreds of miles, I was getting tired and was thinking of taking a break from my travels. That’s when I met Bud and Brenda Hoshaw of the Redhawk Ranch, five miles south of Wimauma. They invited me to their ranch and spiritual retreat center, and I quickly accepted. From the moment I passed through the gates, I felt at peace, completely relaxed. But the tranquility and serenity of the place belies its violent past. Indigenous people occupied the area around Tampa Bay and the southwest coast of Florida for thousands of years. There is strong evidence that some of them lived on what is now the Redhawk Ranch. Tocobaga and Calusa tribes made their homes along the stream that flows along the south side of the retreat center.
The Tocobaga and Calusa tribes made their homes on what is now the Redhawk Ranch
The Calusa were powerful and dominated the area from just south of Tampa Bay to Fort Myers and inland to Lake Okeechobee. Their original name, Calos, meant “Fierce People,” but they, as well as the Tocobaga to the north, were no match for the Spanish conquistadors who came into the area in the 1500s. Hernando de Soto, who landed in the Tampa Bay area in May, 1539, was especially brutal. De Soto’s troops raped, murdered, mutilated, and slaughtered innocents with abandon. They even had trained greyhounds that attacked on command. The Spanish fed the dogs human flesh. Smallpox, measles, and other diseases brought in by the Spanish further decimated the native peoples in the area. In time the land passed into the hands of white settlers, and the Indians were no more.
But something or someone wanted Native Americans back on the land. Bud and Brenda Hoshaw are Native Americans, Bud part Menominee and Brenda Cherokee and Cheyenne. The story of their acquisition of the 18.5 acres that is now the Redhawk Ranch is bizarre. About twelve years ago, Bud and Brenda lived in a beautiful log home about four miles away. This house on five acres was their dream home, and they were quite happy. Then one day Brenda was on her computer when an advertisement for an 18.5- acre tract nearby popped up. She thought it strange, because she had been researching other things, not real estate. She deleted the ad and went back to work. The ad popped up again, and over the next ten days every time she went on the computer to Google something, the advertisement came up.
Finally, Bud told her, “Let’s call the realtor. This obviously means something.” And so they did. Carl Weiss took them to the property on Route 579, which turned out to be hard to find, because the large “For Sale” sign had fallen over and couldn’t be seen from the road. The frontage was completely overgrown and there was no drive into the place, although two rotting gate posts stood several yards off the road. But as soon as they stopped and got out of the car, Brenda knew she had to have the property. Brenda is psychic, and the first thing she saw was an Indian by the old gate posts. He seemed to be a sentry or lookout. And as they walked the property, she felt and saw other entities, including a red hawk. In the northeast corner, she was almost overcome by the beauty and peace of the place. A bank in New York owned the property, and when Bud and Brenda discovered what the bank was asking, they were dismayed. They couldn’t afford it. But Brenda prayed about it and knew they were supposed to be there, so they made an offer—one third of the asking price. The bank accepted their offer without even a counter offer. Stranger still, they discovered later that another man had gone around the realtor and directly to the bank with a much better offer and was refused.
An evening of ghosthunting at Redhawk Ranch
On one recent occasion, Brenda invited several sensitive friends down for an evening of “ghosthunting.” Claire Castillo, Frank and Debbie Visicaro, Rick and Denise Incorvia, Cynthia Anderson, and Helen Bender all assembled with Bud and Brenda in their living room. They were asked to walk around the property without discussing their experiences and then write down whatever ever they saw, smelled, heard, or felt. After everyone was finished they would gather and tell the group what they had experienced. Three hours later, they all returned to the living room, excited by what they had encountered. To begin, several of them felt that the whole area had once been underwater, and as geological changes had occurred, it had become dry land. There was also some sense that a stream once existed next to the driveway. They also felt that the stream running along the south side of the property had once been much wider and deeper.
Debbie and Rick agreed that this area had once been a village. They both had a vision of a panicked group of women, children, and old men getting into two canoes on the stream in the southwest corner of the ranch and fleeing. They felt that the village was under attack by white men. Not far away, several members of the group sensed a burial ground. Farther upstream Brenda had a vision of an area where women gave birth. Possibly a hut of some kind once stood there. She said her knees went weak, and she had difficulty breathing. There was high energy all along the stream. Frank also had a vision of several Spanish swords lying on the ground near the northeast corner in the vicinity of Bud and Brenda’s Sacred Circle. He also saw what he thought was an angel, a wolf, and an owl, which he sensed were keeping them safe from deception. Near the creek he had the feeling that a child had drowned. Denise and Bud saw a chief that was made of wood, its head covered with brightly colored wooden feathers. And almost everyone saw wraith-like wolves, eagles, coyotes, dragonflies, and even a white horse, in addition to the ghosts of two young white girls. Cynthia said she sensed a brave showing off the horse in a camp right behind the house.
On this occasion and many times before and since, Cynthia, Debbie, and Brenda also met an old man, a chief, sitting in a rocking chair on Brenda’s porch. They smelled his pipe before they even saw him. He is a kindly person, and Brenda is comforted by his presence. The group stayed late into the evening, sharing with each other. And although they each had different experiences, they all agreed that, except for the area where the burial grounds were located, the whole ranch was filled with positive energy. On my visit, as usual, I saw nothing, but I was filled with peace and a sense of well-being. And I did have one experience. While walking into the Sacred Circle with Bud, the wind chimes hanging there began tinkling, which, Bud told me, almost always happened. Still, it made me smile. After we soaked up the good vibes in the circle for several minutes, Bud motioned to me, “Come on. I want to show you something else.”
And we walked out into a circle of trees in the center of the field which fronts the house. Bud produced a compass and handed it to me. When I stood exactly in the center of the ring of trees, the north arrow pointed north, but if I moved one step to the left, the needle swung left. If I stepped one pace to the right of center, it swung to the right. Very curious. Bud and Brenda have several mastiffs for security. They are sweet dogs, but Bud is careful to pen them when strangers are around, because they are very protective. On my visit, Bud was with me when I got out of my truck, so all they did was lick my hand and vie for attention. I love dogs, and we made friends quickly. When I drove away from the house and stopped across the field at the Sacred Circle for one last look, the dogs came bounding after me, crowding around and begging for attention.
When I finally walked back to my truck, opened the door, and started to step up, Butkus, their big male who doesn’t weigh much less than his namesake, sat on my foot and looked up at me with soulful eyes. He didn’t want me to leave. “I know, pal. I don’t want to leave either, but I’ve got to go.” With that he raised his rump and licked my hand goodbye. Driving away, I laughed out loud with happiness, totally revived and ready to get back on my haunted road trip. The Redhawk Ranch is a fantastic place, and when I finish with this book, I’m going back for a nice, long stay. I hope I can finally meet some of these friendly ghosts in person.
For more ghosthunting stories in Florida check out Dave Lapham’s book Ghosthunting Florida.