Frederick Christian Voss, a steam engineer, was born at Bath, Maine, on 28 February 1865. He learned his trade at Bath Iron Works. One of five children, three of whom had already died, Fred was advised to seek a warmer climate. He went to sea at age eighteen on a five-masted schooner and wound up in Florida.
In 1886, he was hired as engineer of a small steamer, “Lake Worth, “by owner U.D. Hendrickson. Captain H.P. Dye and Fred made regular runs between Titusville and Jupiter on Indian River. With the demand for service on Lake Worth increasing, the steamer was moved to the lake to provide passenger service. One of their stops was at Hypoluxo Island, where Fred met Lillie Elder Pierce. (See H.D. Pierce story.) Lillie’s uncle, William H. Moore, asked Fred to help him convert his schooner to a steamboat named “Hypoluxo,” and they were awarded the mail route from Juno to Hypoluxo. Starting in 1893, they made daily runs, carrying not only mail but freight and passengers.
Fred and Lillie fell in love and were married 12 May 1894 at the home of her parents on Hypoluxo Island. Fred built their first home on the island and, later, a large, permanent house on the mainland. Fred used extra heavy timber for the roof, and the house was a neighborhood haven during several hurricanes.
Fred took Lillie to Maine in the summer of 1896 to meet his folks but they were back in Hypoluxo in time for the birth of their first child, Lillian Frederica, born in October.
Fred continued to work on steamboats in Florida during the winters and, during many summers, traveled to Maine where he found work. He also had a small charter yacht, “Victor,” on which he took parties on cruises around South Florida.
By 1903, Henry M. Flagler was extending his railroad from Homestead to Key West. He needed pilots and engineers for the big sternwheelers used to transport men, equipment and supplies through the shallow waters of the Florida channels. Fred and his brother-in-law, Charles Pierce, along with many other boatmen from Lake Worth and Indian River, were hired by Flagler. Fred became engineer on the “Peerless,” and Charles, captain of “Wanderer.” Both went through the great hurricane of 1906.
During the summer of 1921, Fred joined Lillie’s cousin, Walter R. Moore, in having a 78’ pleasure yacht built in Bath, Maine. They named her “Donnygill” for Walter’s son, Donald, and Fred’s son, Gilbert. They ran charter parties out of New York in the summer and out of Florida in the winter. The whole family usually went along. About ten years later, they sold “Donnygill,” and Fred spent the rest of his life farming his land. Fred and Lillie’s savings were wiped out in the crash of 1929.
Fred and Lillie were members of the Lake Worth Pioneers’ Association and Boynton Methodist Church (now First United Methodist) and were active in the community. They had six children:
Lillian Frederica (Mrs. Harvey E. Oyer), Charles Hannibal, Frederick Christian, Jr., John, who only lived five days, Walter Reginald and Gilbert Lincoln.
Fred died of a stroke at home, at age ninety-two, on 27 November 1957. He is buried in Hillcrest Memorial Park, West Palm Beach. A year later, Lillie moved to a small cottage next to her daughter’s home in Boynton Beach, and the house Fred built was razed by the new owner of the property. What a tragedy because the house would have been an historical treasure. LiThe died 14 September 1967 and is buried beside Fred.