Before burning down, this island resort promised cure-all elixir and a fountain of youth. It was one of Florida’s earliest swindles.

A little more than a hundred years ago, people from up and down the East Coast would journey to a small island in Lake Worth Lagoon to down “Dr. Munyon’s Paw-Paw Elixir,” a cure-all said to heal rheumatism, nervousness, sleeplessness and a whole host of other maladies.

There were several problems. James M. Munyon was not a doctor. His elixir was little more than fermented papaya juice. And the resort from which he sold it, the Hygeia Hotel on Munyon Island, also offered a “fountain of youth,” the waters of which were just plain old H2O pumped into the well through pipes connected to the mainland.

We were turned on to one of South Florida’s earliest and more successful snake-oil salesmen as part of our Sound Off South Florida project, in which we investigate answers to questions submitted by you, our readers.

Recently, we delved into Florida history to answer the question, “Are Pine Island and Rock Island roads named after actual islands?” And we draw water again from that historical well, as reader Robert Boggy wrote in to ask, “What do we know about the hotel/bar on stilts that housed/fed commercial fisherman and blue collars that burned down (early 1900s) Munyon Island?”