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Book details
  • SubGenre:Historical
  • Language:English
  • Pages:158
  • eBook ISBN:9781618500236

Life & Death on the Loxahatchee, The Story of Trapper Nelson

by James D. Snyder

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This is the story of a real-life Tarzan who paddled up Florida's wild Loxahatchee River in the early thirties and over sixty years amassed a thousand acres and hewed a popular tourist attraction. Some knew him as trapper, hunter and alligator wrestler. To others he was a celebrity host, snake charmer, voracious reader and woman charmer. When he was found dead of mysterious causes at age 59, many had a motive for murder. Who or what might have killed Trapper Nelson?

He began life as the sickly son of a landless Polish immigrant. In the next sixty years he was to wrest from the wilderness a thousand acres along Florida's most breathtaking jungle river. At age 25 Vince Nelson "disappeared" up the wild and scenic Loxahatchee to escape the glare of publicity after his brother had killed a fellow trapper in a dispute over money. After carving out a cabin, dock and outbuildings, he opened "Trapper's Zoo and Jungle Garden."

Over the years be became known as The Legend of the Loxahatchee, with as many faces as the people who thought they knew him. Trapper, hunter, alligator wrestler, gambler, snake charmer, woman charmer, voracious reader, the man who once sought recluse became famous as wealthy socialites arrived in yachts to tour his expanding property and savor his tales of life in the wilderness. Suddenly this real-life Tarzan's life ended as mysteriously as he lived it. On a steamy July day in 1968, Vince Nelson was found dead of a shotgun blast on his jungle complex.

About the author

Author-historian James D. Snyder has written eight books ranging from this first century history to the colorful 5,000-year-old history of Indians, Spaniards and farmer-settlers in Florida. He has a journalism degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and a master's in political science from The George Washington University.

Before his second career as an author, Snyder spent over twenty years in Washington, DC as a magazine writer, editor and publisher. He then formed Enterprise Communications Inc., which published seven business magazines and sponsored several conferences.

He now lives in Tequesta, Florida on the Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee River.  As an avid kayaker, it wasn't long before journalistic curiosity led Snyder upstream through Jonathan Dickinson State Park and into the world of Vince "Trapper" Nelson. The rest is in the book.