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Don Boyd | all galleries >> Galleries >> Memories of Old Hialeah, Old Miami and Old South Florida Photo Galleries - largest non-Facebook collection on the internet > What is a Florida Cracker?
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1950's Patrick D. Smith

What is a Florida Cracker?


Thank you to Alvin Lederer for contributing this image from a Patrick D. Smith book.

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Cracker Cowman 24-Sep-2010 22:26
No one knows for sure, where the name "CRACKER" came from, but I disagree, with the theory, that it came from a few cowmen cracking whips. In my younger days I had the pleasure to work cattle many days with real cracker cattlemen , who were born around the turn of the century or before. They used their buckskin whips sparingly and only when needed. They didnt abuse or excite their cattle. This "theory" was concocted by some non "cracker" book writers or authors, who felt some obligation to make up an answer to the question, "Where did the name "Cracker come from"? Because, all my life I've heard of, not only, Florida Crackers, but Georgia crackers also, I believe the name Cracker came from the practice of "Cracking Corn" with a stone or wooden morter and pestel, a practice used by rural settlers that did not have access to grist mills. "Cracked" corn or grits was a very common staple in the diets of many more "Crackers", than a few cowhunters. Growing corn and Cracking it in this manner was passed on to the pioneer settlers by the native americans. This is my story and I'm stickin to it.
Charles Manetta 03-Feb-2010 15:28

I believe that you are mistaken. The term "Florida Cracker" came from the Floridians that lived South of what is now know as Orlando. (Basically the Everglades) The Everglades used to fill the entire region of Florida from Tampa in the West to the New River Inlet near Jupiter in the East. There were only two beasts of burden that could traverse this swampy land, the Mule and the Oxen. The teams of Oxen were driven with a big whip that made a loud crack (a sonic boom). This is the origin of that term, not slaves. It became popular for the African American population in recent years to adopt this term, but Southern Florida was a refuge for many of the freed slaves, wanted criminals, and Native American Indians that escaped the "Trail Of Tears" There weren't many slaves in the swamp! In fact, the Seminole and Miccosukee Indians integrated with many of these freed slaves. The Unites States Government launched three independent wars the 1800s to subdue these Indians but were never successful in conquering them. These Indians in Florida are the only Native Americans that never signed a peace treaty with the US and are a true separate nation. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and The FBI do not have any jurisdiction on their lands, unlike all of the other Tribes.
Harvey Weinstein 12-Jan-2010 07:49
Pat, Correction: The original term "crackers" was given to the white men who used to herd people (not cows) Slaves!!! The white men didn't herd the cattle the slaves did; thats why they called them BOYS. The normal term for Black men in those days BOY and later COWBOY. The first COWBOY'S were Black and the term became heroic and tough as early cinema became more popular. Other than that historical data I agree on your definition of Cracker. I would just like to add that I have met and know of crackers in all colors and ethnicities.
Bob Sara 04-Nov-2009 00:36
Don, I would question the "1950's" dating of this because of the line "those who drive pick up trucks, and those who drive BMW's" It is safe to say there might have been all of ten people in the entire state who knew what a BMW was in the 1950's.