Mon October 24, 2011
The spirit of Trapper Nelson
By A Treasure Coast Essay
Fort Pierce, FL – Halloween is coming. Time to talk about a haunted place on the Treasure Coast. One of my favorites is the pioneer home-site of Trapper Nelson in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, south of Hobe Sound in Martin County. Trapper Nelson has been dead for 43 years, but some people insist his spirit is still there. He was born Vincent Nostokovich in New Jersey. He bummed around and ended up owning 800 wild acres on the Loxahatchee River. He was 6-4 and weighed 240 pounds and became known as "the Tarzan of the Loxahatchee." He trapped animals and developed a zoo popular with tourists but was forced to close it when it was deemed unsanitary. He became a recluse and in 1968 was found dead of a shotgun blast to the stomach. The death was ruled a suicide, but many considered him the victim of a murder. You can visit his home-site on a cruise conducted by state park rangers, some of whom say they have felt Trapper Nelson's presence. One ranger - a female - said she heard him speaking, and he told her, "If I weren't dead, I'd be asking you out." That's interesting. A ghost who flirts. I wonder what he says to the male rangers. For 88.9 FM this is Paul Janensch.
Treasure Coast essayist Paul Janensch was a newspaper editor and taught journalism at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.