Florida Crackers

Florida's pioneers came to this state with only the customs and traditions of their past homes and the dream of a new beginning in Florida. The daily life of these early Florida settlers was very different from the present. The family unit had to work together to prosper in this time of simpler means. Each family member played a distinct role.

 

The Mother

The mother made sure the household ran smoothly. She was responsible for the daily household chores and other daily necessities. A Florida pioneer mother didn't have the time to be bored. Her typical day included activities such as cooking for her family, preserving fruit and vegetables, making soap and candles, and sewing clothing for her husband and her children. It was the mother's job to spin yarn, weave cloth, take care of the vegetable garden, and tend to the chickens. If necessary, the mother would even take on the role of teacher to her children. She was also responsible for passing down folk rhymes, stories and songs to them.

 

The Father

When the family first settled, it was the father's job to clear the land and build the home. After the home was built, the father's job of providing for and protecting his family was endless. Typical chores of the father consisted of plowing and planting the farmland and hunting and fishing for food.

The father spent much of his time performing the essential outdoor chores and teaching his sons the skills required to care for a family in early rural Florida. Skills such as loading a gun, using an axe, saw or knife, and caring for livestock, were all necessary for survival.

 

Children

Florida's pioneer children did not have as much free time as children today. They would often spend their days performing chores around the home in aid of their mothers and fathers. Boys would spend time with their fathers learning how to hunt, fish and trap wild animals. Girls would spend time with their mothers learning how to cook, sew and clean. During the day, the older children would also attend school.

When the children did have free time, they would spend it swimming and playing by themselves or with others. Girls would often play with their dolls or pretend to be in school. Boys would often get together and play games.  The weekends brought many joys to children. Often on Saturdays, the family would hitch a horse to the wagon and head into town for the day. On Sundays, the family would go to church, and the children would get to play with other children their same age.

 

Further reading:

Akerman, Joe A. Jr.
1976 Florida Cowman: A History of Florida Cattle Raising. Kissimmee: Florida Cattlemen's Association.

Rivers, Larry Eugene, and Canter Brown Jr., eds.
2010 The Varieties of Women’s Experiences: Portraits of Southern Women in the Post-Civil War Century. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Ste. Claire, Dana
2006 Cracker: Cracker Culture in Florida History. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Tinsley, Jim Bob
1990 Florida Cow Hunter: The Life and Times of Bone Mizell. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.