Roswell K. Brown (“Ros”) was twelve years old when his parents moved the family to the shores of Lake Worth in 1876. Son of David and Fannie Brown, Ros was one of their five children, all born in Illinois. They had spent the previous six years in Jacksonville where Ros’ father was a dairyman.
Ros’ family settled into a large house on the east shore of the lake, about three miles south of the inlet, and soon were joined by two other large families, the Dimicks and the Geers, who stayed with the Browns until their own houses were built. Ros grew accustomed to having a houseful of people and in later years, commented that hospitality was extended to anyone passing through the area, friend or stranger.
On the lake, Ros met another boy his age, Charlie Pierce, who lived on Hypoluxo Island with his parents. Ros and Charlie shared many camping and exploring adventures over the next few years. When Ros was fourteen, he was invited to go along on a trip to Biscayne Bay with Charlie and his father, H.D. Pierce. Ros excitedly stowed his fishing tackle, gun and bedding on board the Pierce’s old sailboat, “Creole.” They left Lake Worth Inlet one morning and sailed south along the coast for forty miles. Arriving at Hillsborough Inlet late that afternoon, they made camp ashore and rigged mosquito bars, without which sleep would have been impossible. The two boys explored the area while it was still daylight. Finding a turtle egg nest on the beach, they brought fifty eggs back to camp, not a whole lot considering it took a dozen eggs for a batch of flapjacks, their staple diet on this trip. They also climbed coconut trees for a supply of green nuts, which provided drinking water and even water for coffee when fresh water was not available.
They were unable to continue their trip the next day due to a hard southeast wind, and the boys continued to explore the tropical jungle. Mr. Pierce, however, had done all that before and decided to walk nine miles to the New River House of Refuge and spend the night with the keeper. He told the boys to sail the “Creole” on south in the morning if the sea was smooth and wind fair. The two young boys were so excited about being left in charge, they stayed up half the night talking and keeping a big campfire going to keep up their courage. They finished all their chores in the morning, stowed everything aboard and sailed on down the beach in a light breeze, picking up Mr. Pierce on the way.
So Ros grew to manhood in south Florida. He had spent the first six years of his life in Illinois, too young for school. During the next six years in Jacksonville, he may have attended school. When he arrived on the lake, there were no schools. The settlers decided a school was needed. Ros’ father donated a half-acre of land, another pioneer donated the other half-acre, and Ros helped George Lainhart build a school. That was in 1886 when Ros was twenty-two, too old for school.
In 1885, Ros’ father, David, gave him 40 acres of his homestead property. Ros later bought and sold various parcels of land on the east shore of the lake and homesteaded 80 acres of his own in
Roswell K. Brown was one of the three-man Republican County Committee, organized before the fall elections in 1888. The following year, he was married to Anna L._____ . Sometime after 1893, they moved to Washington State, where Ros became Collector of the Port, Port Townsend, until his retirement. He returned to visit Palm Beach many times over the years, and died between 1938 and 1940.