Nathan Wesley Pitts and his wife, Caroline F. (Carrie), from Ormond, Florida, arrived on the shores of Lake Worth about 1887. At that time, they bought 5 acres of land on the west shore for $2.00 from Ellen V. Pinkerton. Two years later, they homesteaded Pelican Island, located in the north end of the lake, for which they paid the U.S. Government $19.47.
Pelican Island, called Nuctsachoo by the Indians, became Pitts’ Island. Long and narrow, running north and south, the island contained about 15 acres of land. The soil was rich and fertile from centuries of pelican droppings. When the Pitts arrived, they found a lush, tropical jungle. Being horticultural enthusiasts, they preserved and encouraged all the native growth and made winding, shaded paths throughout the island. They built their house on the south end, with a wide verandah and many rooms to accommodate the boarding guests who soon began to arrive to enjoy the island’s tropical beauty.
Many articles were written in praise of Pitts’ Island. One was “Our Own Riviera” by Julian Ralph, Harper’s Magazine, March 1893. In one paragraph of his long tribute, he wrote:
“It is on Pitts’ Island, at the head of the lake, that one may see the possibilities of that climate, not only because Mrs. Pitts came to Florida expecting to die, and yet remains a comely and vigorous factor in the world, but because she and her husband cultivate almost every semi-tropical fruit that will grow there.”
The Pitts sold their 5 acres on the west shore in 1891 to William Leighton, Jr., for $3,500. Late in 1892, they bought 80 acres on the east shore (present day Riviera Beach) from E.N. Dimick for $180. They sold Pitts’ Island to James W. Munyon in 1901, and thereafter it was known as Munyon’s Island.
Nathan Wesley Pitts was a charter member of the Lake Worth Pioneers’ Association. He served as chairman of the board of Dade County commissioners when the county seat was at Juno. He died in 1902, and Carrie returned to Ormond where she died in 1914.