The Real Florida…and Florida Cracker Culture..
I live in Florida, USA. Most people who travel here are looking to visit the theme parks like Disney or Universal Studios. These are not the real Florida. The real Florida has a wonderful history. There are thousands of acres that are being preserved by the ranchers who still own the land.
The video below is worth seeing if you want to understand something about the history the present day men, women, and children of the real Florida.
It is a land of horses, brought here by the Spanish in the 1500’s. The horses drive the cows…some of special breeds from India. Dogs help with the round-up…and 4th and 5th generation children ride the range with the grandparents.
The environment is vast, wild, peaceful and filled with wild-life of all kinds: turkey, hogs, eagles, alligators and more. This is the real Florida. History has shown that the men who worked the miles of Florida from coast to coast were sturdy, rugged individuals. We must not forget the women who shared this land with them. They had their babies here with nothing more than a mid-wife and prayer that they would survive. These people were often referred to as Florida Crackers . They were also the Florida cowboys. Yes, before the wild-west cowboys, the Florida cowboys were here!
What were the Florida Crackers? (see video below)
- Crackers were self-reliant, simple and tough (mostly Scots Irish) immigrants who settled the backwoods of Florida.
- Came to Florida by the promise of independent living and cheap land e for raising cattle
- Crackers battled everyone from the Seminole Indians and the British army
- They also battled malaria from mosquitoes and wild animals.
- Living among the palmetto and scrub, they survived on turtles, possum, frogs, grits, cornbread and greens and whatever else they could catch.
- Historians will tell you that “cracker” originally meant “a braggart.” Some use the term today to describe country folk or someone who was born in Florida.
- The word “cracker” actually came from the sound of a whip made when rounding cattle.
What was the Florida Cracker House?
- wood-frame construction, an elevated first floor,
- a large attached front porch, a revealed fireplace, horizontal wood siding in both the exterior and interior,
- A wrap around porch with an overhang was key to beating the sun outdoors. The windows usually had netting or shutters to keep out bugs and other creatures
- Rocks or bricks made of oyster shell and lime served as pilings to keep the shelters off the ground.
- Crackers often built their homes of cypress wood, which has inherent anti-rot and anti-insect properties.
VIDEO OF THE REAL FLORIDA (Longer version video)