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.