Old Florida Blog
Discover What Made Florida So Great
Trapper Nelson and the Loxahatchee
Photos courtesy of Jonathan Dickinson State Park: by Earnest and Theresa Woleslagel (above); Toby Marcovich (Below)
The Wildman of the Loxahatchee River
The early 1900s saw the Great War and the Great depression, but neither were great for the working class American. Trenton New Jersey was much smaller in 1908-1923, when Vince Natulkiewicz was born and raised on her streets, but it was still a tough, urban area where working class men and women strove to make ends meet. For the Natulkiewiczes, recent Polish immigrants, things were made more difficult through not speaking English. They persevered as a family by all chipping in. From a young age, Vince and his brother Charles would spend most days hunting in the forests around Trenton for game to supplement the family’s meager wages.
Life was hard but exciting for the boys until their mother, Christine, passed away and their father remarried. Vince particularly did not like his new stepmother, and, at the age of 15, he ran away and dropped out of school. Using trains as a “free” means of transportation, Vince headed west to Colorado and New Mexico before making a fateful journey South into Mexico where he was arrested for gun running and sentenced to one year in prison. He did not serve much time at all, however. In fact, he claimed that he was released because the Mexican prison could not afford to feed him. So, he was asked to leave Mexico and never return.
What they saw was amazing, the Jupiter Lighthouse looked out upon crystal clear water teaming with snook, otters and goliath grouper. They did not make it to Key West, because they jumped off as soon as the train cleared the bridge.
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A father & son team of anthropologists and Florida State Park Rangers who love to inspire travel and teach about nature and history. This blog digs into our home state, which we would love for you to come and visit.