Florida Cattle Ranching
This handsome 128-page publication presents the entire content of the acclaimed multi-media museum exhibit, Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition, in book form. More than 200 photos present historical documentary images, scenes of contemporary ranch life, and artifacts that range from the Spanish colonial spurs to modern electronic ID tags. The engaging text describes Florida’s cattle ranching heritage from the 16th century to the present.
Cowboy with Cracker horse at an open range roundup near Fort McCoy. Ca. 1910. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image n045020.
Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation P.O. Box 421929 Kissimmee, FL 34742-1929 www.floridacattlemen.org/foundation 407.846.6221
F I V E
C E N T U R I E S
T R A D I T I O N
FLORIDA CATTLEMEN’S FOUNDATION
An enclosed DVD includes two broadcast-quality videos that present the fascinating story of Cracker Cattle and Cracker Horses descended from stock introduced by Spaniards in the 1500s, and twelve audio segments that feature dozens of Florida cowboys, cowgirls and ranchers who inform and entertain you on topics ranging from cow-dogs and Cracker cow whips to cowboy funerals and hilarious poetry based on ranch work experiences.
Florida Cattle Ranching
F L O R I D A
C A T T L E M E N ’S
F O U N D A T I O N
Introduction Florida’s cattle industry, one of oldest and largest in the nation, is vital to the state’s well-being. Ranching is an essential economic activity that preserves many aspects of the natural landscape, protects water resources, and maintains areas used by wildlife or for recreation. Yet few know about Florida’s unique ranching traditions, which have been adapted to the subtropical climate and influenced by the state’s distinctive history. In Florida, those who own or work cattle traditionally have been called cowmen. In the late 1800s they were often called cow hunters, a reference to hunting for cattle scattered over the wooded rangelands during roundups. At times the terms cowman and Cracker have been used interchangeably because of similarities in their folk culture. Today the western term “cowboy” is often used for those who work cattle.
Cow skulls on fence. Okeechobee, 2008. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State. A collection of cow skulls adorns a fence at the Dixie Ranch.
Brahman, Brahman-Angus crossbreed, and egrets. Vero Beach, 2008. Photo by Bob Montanaro. Cattle egrets among Brahman (light) and BrahmanAngus crossbred (dark) cattle at the Treasure Hammock Ranch. A common sight in Florida, the graceful cattle egrets came from Africa via South America. They eat insects that cattle flush from the grass as they graze.
Herding cattle through water, Horse Creek Ranch, Hardee County, 2012. Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr. L-R: Doyle Carlton III, Brian Alexy, and Dale Carlton move a few head of cattle with the help of yellow cur cow-dogs.
in Florida. Many had established large herds of wild cattle and stock acquired from the Spanish. Cattle herding was vital culturally and economically to the early Seminoles, as attested to by the name of their leader, Cowkeeper (ca. 1710-1783). They remained Florida’s major livestock producers throughout most of the 1700s. During British rule (1763-1783), English planters and Creek Indians in west Florida owned substantial herds. Cowmen from Georgia and the Carolinas spread into north Florida during that period.
Spanish stirrup. Brass, ca.16th–17th century. Loaned by the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research. Photo by Ray Stanyard. This is the only verifiable colonial Spanish stirrup in Florida.
In early Florida, Europeans, Americans, and Indians stole cattle from each other. Rustling became particularly widespread by the second half of the 18th century, and was one of the elements that led to the Seminole Wars. During the periods of Spanish colonization (1565-1763, 1783-1819), the main ranching areas were Payne’s Prairie in Alachua County, Tallahassee-St. Marks, inland from St. Augustine along the St. John’s River, and, later, Pensacola. Hides, tallow, and sun-dried beef were processed for the St. Augustine garrison and for export. Ranchers owned land, cattle, and horses; cowhands came from more modest economic backgrounds and many were Native American.
Handmade wrought iron British-style riding stirrup, ca. late 18th–early 19th century. Loaned by the Florida Bureau of Archaeolog ical Research. Photo by Ray Stanyard.
Location of Spanish ranchos in Florida ca. 1680. From Florida Cowman, A History of Florida Cattle Raising by Joe A. Akerman, Jr. Kissimmee: Florida Cattlemen’s Association, 1976. Page 4.
The 19th Century: Struggle and Sacrifice When the U.S. took possession of Florida in 1821, it was described as a “vast, untamed wilderness, plentifully stocked with wild cattle.” Florida "scrub" or Cracker cattle were descended from the mix of Spanish and British breeds. These hardy creatures survived on native forage, tolerated severe heat, insect pests, and acquired immunity to many diseases. Early Florida cowmen survived in difficult conditions. They fought off panthers, wolves, bears, and cattle rustlers. Cowmen spent weeks or months on cattle drives across difficult marshes and dense scrub woods, often enduring burning heat, torrential thunderstorms, and hurricane winds. From central Florida they sometimes drove cattle as far as Jacksonville, Savannah, and Charleston. This gradually changed in the 1830s when the cattlemen re-established trade with Cuba, and Tampa, Punta Gorda, and Punta Rassa became important export ports.
Steamship at Wharf. Punta Rassa, 1890s. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image rc19392.
The number of cattle increased rapidly from the 1840s until the Civil War. Florida was second only to Texas in per capita value of livestock in the South. After the Armed Occupation Act of 1842, cattlemen from the overstocked states of Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas homesteaded 200,000 acres in Florida. Some seized
At the wharf, cattle were crowded into every available spot on board schooners or steamships that plowed the waters between Punta Rassa, Tampa, St. Andrews Bay, Charlotte Harbor and Cuba.
Cattle Drive at Bartow. 1890s. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image rc02673. This early photograph was identified as follows: “At the far left is Crayton Parker, in the middle is Tom Smith on a horse named Boomerang and at the right is Aunt Jeanie feeding hay to a cow.”
Scrub Cattle at Punta Rassa, early 1900s. Courtesy of the Southwest Florida Museum.
After the Civil War there were still wild cattle in Florida, as well as attractive markets to the north and south. During the next three decades, trade boomed with Cuba, Key West, and Nassau, and Florida became the nation’s leading cattle exporter. From 1868 to 1878, ranchers received millions of dollars in gold doubloons for more than 1.6 million cattle exported to Cuba. The Cuban commerce provided income to cattlemen, merchants, and shippers, and contributed to the state’s recovery from Reconstruction-era depression.
A bit and a pair of spurs, ca. late 19th century. Loaned by Billy Davis. Photos by Ray Stanyard. These inexpensive, utilitarian items are typical of those used by Cracker cowboys of the period, possibly originally purchased from Montgomery Ward or Sears Roebuck and Co. catalogues. Bit, Star brand, Buermann’s Dog-leg. Cast iron. Spurs, Buermann’s Eureka Star brand. Sheet metal. The cowboy on the opposite page is using a bit and spurs identical to these.
Cowboy with Cracker horse at an open range roundup near Fort McCoy, ca. 1910. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image n045020. 20
A Bit of Cow Country. From Frederic Remington (1861-1909), “Cracker Cowboys of Florida,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, v.91:543, August 1895. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image rc02057. The drawing depicts a 19th century cow camp.
McClellan Saddle with saddle pockets. Leather with brass fittings, ca. 1904. Loaned by James Levy. Photo by Ray Stanyard.
Two bits and a pair of spurs, ca. late 19th century. Loaned by Billy Davis. Photos by Ray Stanyard. Bit, McChesney Gal-leg. Steel. Bit, North & Judd Anchor brand. Cast iron. Spurs, North & Judd Anchor brand. Steel.
Thousands of military saddles like this McClellan were left over at the end of the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War I. Many were utilized by American stockmen, particularly in Florida, as the split seat afforded good ventilation. Several different McClellan styles were manufactured, but only the model 1913 “mule packer’s saddle” was made with a saddle horn. When roping became more common in Florida, early cowmen would sometimes attach a small horn to the front of the pommel. As roping became more common, McClellan saddles faded from popular use. Today working cowboys rely almost entirely on western saddles.
20th Century: Ranching Modernizes The 20th century brought changes affecting cattle ranching infrastructure and occupational traditions. As Cuban demand declined early in the century, ranchers turned to domestic markets and cattle were shipped by rail throughout the country. Modern technology brought many positive changes. As early as 1858, ranchers attempted to improve the quality of their herds with Brahman cattle, originally from India. Since the 1930s, ranchers have successfully cross-bred native cattle with Brahman, Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn, Charolais, and Limousin to improve size, resistance to heat and insects, hardiness, and meat quality. This led to the development of hybrids such as the Braford and Brangus breeds. Ranchers struggled with and overcame severe insect pests, such as Texas ticks and screw-worms, through medical and scientific research. In the early 1900s, Texas tick fever entered Florida with cattle from other states. By the 1920s, the State Livestock Board made it mandatory for ranchers to construct vats and dip cattle in an arsenic solution every two weeks. Although expensive and
Tick Inspection Station at the Baker County Line. Early 1900s. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image pr01403.
Brahman bull. Bradenton, 1900s. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image pc5941. Brahman cattle are well-suited to Florida because they are heat tolerant, mature early, and are larger and more disease-resistant than many breeds. This early Brahman bull, Emperor Jr. 10th, owned by T.P. Chaires Jr. of Bradenton was said to be one of the outstanding Brahman Bulls of the time.
Brahman cattle, Hardee County, April 2008. Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr. Brahman cattle head for the cow pens on the Bar Crescent S Ranch. The fifth generation of the Smith family continues the ranching tradition established by their great-great grandfather, Doyle Carlton, governor of Florida from 1929-33. 26
Fighting screwworms. Sebring, 1958. Photo by Jim Stokes. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image c028500. A pilot prepares boxes of sterile screwworm flies to be dropped on a cattle ranch. Within a short time this program eradicated one of the most serious pests in the history of cattle ranching. It is estimated that the screwworm damage to livestock in the Southeast was about $20 million annually from 1935-1959.
Screwworm cycle, The Florida Cattleman and Livestock Journal. October 1949.
difficult, the effort curbed the problem. Fencing became widespread in order to separate treated from untreated animals. The fever resurfaced in 1935 and 1960, resulting in intense eradication programs implemented by Florida’s Department of Agriculture. In 1949 the Florida Legislature passed the Warren Act, requiring ranchers to fence their pastures. The fence law struck a blow against small ranchers who relied upon grazing cattle on open tracts of land that they could not afford to buy. In the mid-20th century, many ranchers improved nutrition by upgrading their pasture grasses. This made it possible to raise a cow on three or four acres, in contrast to the 40 acres previously required. To further maximize growth, ranchers provided their cattle with supplementary feed at crucial points in the yearly production cycle. Dried citrus pulp pellets, produced from byproducts at citrus processing plants, have been used as feed since the 1920s. 30
Barry’s Screwworm Killer advertisement. From The Florida Cattleman and Livestock Journal. February, 1945.
Barry’s Screw Worm Killer. Liquid in steel can, ca.1940s. Loaned by Julianne Barry. Photo by Ray Stanyard. Barry’s Screw Worm Killer, made in Newberry, was one of two popular screw worm medications marketed statewide by north-central Florida companies. The other was Smearex, which was made in Ocala. During the screw worm epidemic every animal had to be frequently checked for cuts and scratches and all wounds treated with medication.
Screwworm eradication flyer by Florida Livestock Board and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1940s. Courtesy of Florida Cattlemen’s Association. 31
Marks and Brands Record, Polk County, vol. 2 (1938–1945). Loaned by Polk County Historical Museum. Photo by Ray Stanyard.
Cookware and utensils used by cow hunters in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Loaned by W. D. Batey and sons. Photos by Ray Stanyard. Skillet, spider type. Cast iron, ca. early 1900s.
Before registration became statewide in 1945, livestock brands and earmarks were recorded by each county. Cattle ears are represented by a figure-eight diagram. The brands and marks of many pioneer cattlemen recorded in this book reflect Polk County’s rich history of cattle ranching.
The legs keep the skillet above the wood fire. Forks, dinner. Steel with wood handles, ca. 1860s. Probably from Civil War mess kits. Plate, dinner. Porcelain over tin, ca. 1860s. Spoon, wooden.
Early barbed wire fencing in Osceola County, Kissimmee. 1915. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image rc11287. 32
Citrus labels. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida. Cattle ranching and cowboy themes have been incorporated into many citrus labels, a practice that demonstrates the close connection of the citrus and cattle industries in Florida.
Cattle feed produced from Minute Maid Company’s citrus pulp. 1950s. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image rc15569. Cattle feed made from pulp, membranes, seed, and rind discharged during the manufacture of concentrate converted a disposal problem into a profitable operation.
Waverly Brands advertisement. The Florida Cattleman and Livestock Journal. January, 1949. Feeding cattle whole citrus is a practice continued by some cattlemen today.
Cow killed by an automobile. Volusia County, 1920s. Florida State Archives. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image rc11290.
Arsenic test kit. Cooper’s “Cattle Dip” Tester, William Cooper & Nephews, Chicago, ca. 1920s. Wood, glass, cotton, and other materials. Loaned by David Hunt. Photo by Ray Stanyard.
Before fencing became mandatory in 1949, automobiles and cows sometimes collided. The result was often disastrous.
This test kit from the Florence Akins Ranch in Polk County was used to measure the strength of the arsenic solution used for dipping cattle during the tick eradication program of the 1920s and 1930s.
Cattle tattooing kit: cast aluminum pliers; Ketchum brand “Animal Tattoo Ink;” needle-type letters and numerals; and plastic toothbrush. Loaned by Sean Sexton. Photo by Ray Stanyard. The ears of cattle are tattooed to track tests for brucellosis infection, also known as contagious abortion and Bang’s disease. In 2001, Florida was granted brucellosis class-free status by the U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Cattle branding irons, ca. 1940–1960. Steel. Loaned by Stanlo Johns. Photo by Ray Stanyard.
Seminole Cattle Ranching The Seminoles’ relationship with cattle has endured for centuries. Prior to their arrival in Florida and subsequent designation as Seminoles, Creek Indians in Alabama and Georgia were engaged in cattle production. By 1740 the followers of the Oconee Creek leader, Cowkeeper, established Florida’s largest settlement in the Alachua area. Heavily involved in a cattle economy, by 1775 the Seminoles were working cattle herds alleged to number thousands of head on Paynes Prairie using trained cow-dogs.
Brands shown here are “ID,” “J,” and “HG.” ID stands for “Indian Department.” It was used from the early 1940s until around 1953, when the cattle were distributed to individual herd owners. Toby Johns (Panther clan) used the J brand, and Henry Gopher (Panther clan) used the brand HG.
Slavery was a long-term cultural practice among the southeastern Indians. Black slaves fleeing to Spanish-held Florida often lived with the Seminoles, affording them a major source of manpower for such pursuits as cattle production. There was constant trouble between the Seminoles and Georgians over the ownership of cattle and runaway slaves on the Florida/Georgia border. These conflicts sparked U.S. aggressions against the Seminoles in the First Seminole War (1818). Continued aggressions between the Seminoles and EuropeanAmerican settlers over cattle and grazing lands contributed significantly to starting the Second (1835-1842) and Third Seminole Wars (1855-1858), which reduced the Seminole population to around 200. After the Civil War, Seminole families in Big Cypress and around Lake Okeechobee raised cattle despite harassment by rustlers. In the early 20th century, cattle posed such a liability that few Seminoles raised them. Without strife over rangelands, the Seminoles and Cracker cattlemen got along well. Ranchers sometimes hired Seminoles, whom they considered to be excellent cattlemen. A new era of Seminole cattle ranching began in the 1930s, when the Dania and Brighton Seminoles acquired starter herds. The Seminole Tribe established the Indian Livestock Association in 1939. In 1944, they created separate cattle enterprises for Brighton and Big Cypress, with the Central Tribal Cattle Organization providing general supervision. Seminoles banded with other Native American stockmen in 1974 to form the National American Indian Cattlemen’s Association. Today, the Seminole Tribe is one of Florida’s leading beef producers. Sophisticated video auctions promote tribal cattle across the nation. The success of the cattle program has allowed the Tribe to pursue other successful economic ventures. 38
Seminole cattlemen holding branding Irons. Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation, 1941. Courtesy of Judy Montsdeoca Bronson. Left to right: Willie Gopher, Sr., Joe Henry Tiger, Jack Smith, Sr., Frank Huff, Sr., Andrew J. Bowers, John Josh, Naha Tiger, Toby Johns, Frank Shore, John Henry Gopher, Lonnie Buck, Charlie Micco, and Harjo Osceola.
Le Anne Billie with horse. Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr.
Lariat, or Lasso. Nylon. Immokalee, 1997. Loaned by Stanlo Johns. Photo by Ray Stanyard. This coiled lariat is made of three-strand nylon hard twisted rope. The Seminole Brand rope factory began manufacturing in 1996 and closed about two years later.
Bumper sticker advertisement for Seminole Ropes. Paper. Circa 1997. Donated by Stanlo Johns. Photo by Robert L Stone. 39
Moving cattle. Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation. Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr. Herding cattle into pens on the Brighton Reservation: (left to right) Adam Osceola, Eric Johns, Bobby Yates, and Adam Turtle.
Seminole Indian cowboys marking and branding a calf in the corral during round-up. Brighton Reservation, 1950. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image c014304. Left to right: Andrew J. Bowers, Joe Henry Tiger, Willie Gopher, Sr. Rudy Osceola and his grandson, Rowdy. Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr. Rubber boots are sometimes worn when working in wet pastures. 44
José Carlos Martinez. Miami-Dade County, April 2008. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image FS060815.
Tom Everett. Marion County, March 2008. Photo by Robert L. Stone. Courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State.
José Carlos Martinez is a cowboy, rodeo champ, and horse trainer from Pinar del Rio, Cuba. In Florida he has worked as a cowboy and horse trainer at ranches in southwest Miami-Dade County.
Thomas Everett, Sr. (1932–) worked cattle throughout Central Florida for nearly six decades until a horse accident disabled him.
Florida ranching traditions have been influenced by Hispanic culture from Spanish and Minorcan colonists to recent residents. Many Latin Americans who arrived in the late 20th century preserve ranching traditions, though few actively work as ranchers or cowboys. On numerous small ranches in the rural Redland area southwest of Miami, Latin Americans keep horses or recreate the architecture, customs, and leisure activities of their homelands. Many participate regularly in rodeo events within the Latin community. Women assume many roles, performing all but the most dangerous and strenuous work. It is not uncommon for them to work cattle 50
from horseback, operate tractors, bale hay, or run errands such as buying feed, veterinary supplies, truck and tractor parts, hardware, and other provisions. Women often maintain the books, manage finances, track political developments that affect the ranch or cattle industry, and are active in youth activities such as 4-H and FFA. Women’s auxiliary organizations, such as Florida Cattlewomen, make classroom presentations to inform students about the beef industry. Since the extended matrilineal family is an important social unit, some Seminole women own cattle herds, participate in tribal cattle management, and work at the weighing pens during the annual roundup.
Lewis Clayton. Gainesville, June 2006. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image FS060818. Lewis Clayton raised crops and hogs before he began cattle ranching on Kanapaha Prairie, Gainesville.
“Hombres.” Arcadia, 2008. Photo by Jimmy Peters. Mexican American cowboys at the VC Ranch: left to right, Alfredo Manriguez, Lynn Hollingsworth Mills (daughter of ranch owner Victor Clyde Hollingsworth), Francisco Barbosa, Javier Manriquez, Luis Manriquez, Teofilo Manriguez, and Pancho “Juan” Martinez.
Iris Wall with granddaughter Whitney Edwards. Indiantown, September 2006. Photo by Robert L. Stone. Courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State. 2006 Woman of the Year in Agriculture, Iris Wall owns the High Horse Ranch in Indiantown. Her granddaughter, Whitney Edwards, a hairdresser, often helps her with cattle work. 52
Partin Family sitting on fence. Osceola County, ca. 1952. Courtesy of the Osceola County Museum. The Partins of Osceola County are a well known cattle ranching family. Along the fence, left to right: Richard Earl Partin holding Janie Partin Pickering; Dorothy Platt Partin; Barbara Partin, Bertha Bass Partin (Mrs. H.O.); Kathy Tyson Baker, Connie Autrey Partin, Judith Partin; Michael Steven Partin; “Peetie” Partin; Martha Thomas Booth; Becky Partin Kemfer; Henry Hyatt Partin, Jr.; Susan Bronson Williams, Steve Partin; Katherine Partin and Sherry Bronson. Standing, L-R: Henry O. Partin, “Geech,” “Doc,” and Doug Partin. 53
Renee Strickland. Parrish, 2007. Photo by Tina Bucuvalas. Courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State.
RRR Ranch. Medley, April 2008. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image FS060813
On the Strickland Ranch in Parrish, Renee Strickland shares the work with her husband, Jim. The Stricklands engage in the international trade of Florida cattle.
A cigar clenched in his teeth, a Cuban American cowboy attempts to rope a steer at the RRR Ranch. 54
Ranch Life Ranch life revolves around the annual cycle of work generated by the cattle. Most Florida cattle ranchers are in the cow-calf business. On many ranches calves are generally born in the fall and spring. At two to four months they are wormed, vaccinated, earmarked, and the males are castrated. When the calves are 7 to 9 months old they are weaned and sold at weights ranging from 300 to 600 pounds. Since Florida’s environment does not support efficient grain production or highly nutritious forages, calves are shipped to western states where they are grazed and fed until they reach finish weights. Cattlemen refer to gathering livestock and performing procedures as “working” the cattle. Most cattle require working twice a year. On large ranches cattle are worked year round; smaller herds may require working only every two months. The cattle are herded into pens using a system of gates and chutes to separate the calves,
brood cows, bulls and steers. Calves are usually worked in a mechanical “calf table,” a steel frame that holds them in position while multiple procedures are performed. Larger animals are worked in mechanical-hydraulic squeeze chutes. Most Seminole cattle belong to small family-owned herds tended by a central crew under a cooperative arrangement. They often work the cattle by roping and using manpower to handle the stock because cow pens, calf tables and squeeze chutes may be far away. The annual roundup and shipping is the busiest time on the ranch, and the major annual payday. Only the largest operations employ a full-time crew of six or more cowboys year round. When ranchers need additional help to work cattle they may hire “day-riders,” or receive assistance from family members, friends, or neighboring ranchers with whom they have a reciprocal agreement.
Working cattle. Vero Beach, September 2008. Photo by Bob Montanaro. Cowboys herd heifers into Treasure Hammock Ranch pens where they will be treated with insecticide for horn flies. Left to right: Will Barker, Rob Tripson, Daniel Brolman, Sean Sexton (on tractor), Davey Pitman.
Working a cow in squeeze chute. High Horse Ranch, Indiantown, September 2006. Photo by Robert L. Stone. Courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State. Left to right: Cab Butts sprays the cow’s back with an external parasite treatment, Whitney Edwards vaccinates for respiratory disease, Marshall Davis and Jim Harvey administer two different oral medications for internal parasites.
Mike Wilder (1954–). Working cowboy saddle, leather. Rain slicker, rope, and cow whip attached. Saddle, slicker and rope loaned by Mike Wilder. Whip made and loaned by Ned Waters. Photo by Ray Stanyard. This saddle and attached accessories are typical of those used by working cowboys. The saddle itself is designed for comfort and durability, was custom-made to fit the rider and his horse, and is devoid of frills and fancy decoration. The full-length yellow vinyl-reinforced nylon rain slicker is split at the waist to allow it to drape over the horse and saddle, as a wet saddle will quickly chafe the rider.
The 14-foot nylon cow whip is a popular length for working from horseback; long enough to afford adequate reach, but not so long as to be difficult to handle.
The nylon rope may be used to lasso cattle which range from small calves to bulls weighing up to 2,000 pounds. Many cowboys also attach small saddle bags, or pockets, (not displayed here) to carry a variety of items. Work Area. Photos by Robert L. Stone.
Branding iron set. Steel. Loaned by Sean Sexton.
Work table. Cypress wood. Built and loaned by Sean Sexton. The table contains items typical of those used when working cattle in a squeeze chute. All items loaned by Sean Sexton:
Cattlemen keep detailed records on each animal.
This set of branding irons consists of 0 through 9 and the “Bar G” ranch, or holding, brand. Cattlemen use the numbered brands for year designation, and some may give each animal an individual identification number. The holding brand identifies the ranch or owner.
1. Antibiotic, LA-200 brand. Brown glass bottle.
5. Large syringe. Stainless steel.
The antibiotic is administered with small syringes (not displayed) to treat cattle for infections. Alcohol and cotton balls are used to clean the area.
This is an older device used for administering oral medicine, such as de-wormer. The modern method employs an applicator gun, such as the one being used by two men in the photo (page 57), connected by a plastic hose to a one gallon container as shown on the table.
2. De-horner. Steel. Cattle are de-horned to protect themselves and those who handle them from injury. After dehorning, the area is treated with blood-stop powder. 58
4. Nose leads. Steel, with rope attached. Nose leads are used to control cattle resistant to being worked.
Branding iron heater pot. Steel. Loaned by the Florida Cattlemen’s Association. A portable propane-powered gas-fired “pot” like this is probably the most common method of heating branding irons today. However, some ranches use electrically– heated brands.
6. Large red marker crayon. The crayon is used for temporary identification of cattle as they are worked.
Cowboy with calf. St. Lucie County. Photo by Carlton J. Ward, Jr. Sean Moss carries a tired calf to help it keep up with the herd as they move across the Adams Ranch.
Barbed wire, Adams Ranch. Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr. Fence maintenance is a continuing task on cattle ranches.
Working cowboys with cow-dogs. Okeechobee County, January 2008. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image FS060805. Left to right: Cab Butts and Ernie Carrier head out with a pair of black mouth yellow cur dogs to gather cattle early on a chilly January morning at the Dixie Ranch.
Uploading. Sarasota, 2008. Photo by Jimmy Peters. Arthur Kersey loads cattle into a tractor trailer at the High Hat Ranch.
Occupational Skills The many occupational skills of the working cowboy are learned informally, through observation and imitation. In the past, roping cattle was not a common practice in Florida because of the extensive areas of dense scrub where a snagged rope could result in a serious accident. Since screw-worm treatment required that each animal be roped and subdued, cowmen adopted lariats and replaced hornless McClellan saddles with western-style saddles. Today, roping is a valuable occupational skill. Traditional methods of cattle identification include flank branding with a hot iron and “marking” one or both ears using a knife to cut a combination of standardized shapes. It is common practice to mark and brand cattle because earmarks are often easier to read from a distance. One owner may have several different brands and earmarks, and individual family members often have their own brands and marks. Today, ranchers usually brand by applying an iron heated by a portable “pot” fueled by a small propane tank or by using an electrically heated branding iron. Some use numbered plastic ear tags rather than earmarks.
Tending cattle often requires that certain animals, such as cow and calf pairs, are sorted from the herd and separated. Efficiently sorting stock from horseback is one hallmark of a highly skilled cowboy. This complex task requires excellent horsemanship, a well-trained horse, and plenty of cow sense. Conversely, the ability to match up a cow with her calf after they have been separated is known as “mammying-up.” This unusual skill requires a photographic memory and the ability to observe subtle cattle behavior. Those who excel at these skills are highly regarded by their peers. Good equestrian skills and a well-trained horse are essential to successful cattle tending and serve as important symbols of ranching culture. Ranch horses are trained for specific tasks, such as stock sorting and roping. Although the American Quarter Horse is used by cowboys throughout the U.S., some Floridians prefer the smaller Cracker Horse for its agility and stamina during hot weather.
Roping calf. Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation. January 2008. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image FS060839. Koty Lewis attempts to lasso the hind legs of a calf that Alex Johns has roped by the head. Most Seminole cattle are owned by 66 families. They are managed in a cooperative arrangement and squeeze chutes are not available for each herd. Consequently, the Seminole cattle crews do a lot of roping.
Cowboy with whip. May 2008. Photo by Carlton J. Ward, Jr. Matt Harrison cracks a cow whip as he moves a herd. A fourthgeneration cowboy, he runs the Harrison Cattle Company with his father on land in Hardee, De Soto, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties.
Reading Ear Marks Ear marks are usually “read” from left to right as you face the animal. Seasoned cowmen say marks have advantages over brands. When you approach a cow, it will invariably turn its head toward you. Properly Graphic: Earmarks. From 1984 Florida Folk Festival program booklet (White Springs: Florida Folklife Program), page 12. Courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/ Florida Department of State.
notched ears are clearly visibile, making identification quick and easy. In addition, if a brand is mud-covered or old, or if the cow is too far away for a brand to read, the ear marks provide identification. The diagrams below show what the different marks or cuts are called:
Earmarking a calf. Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation, January 2008. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State. Bobby Yates cuts earmarks with a razor-sharp pocket knife while Carlos Leon holds the calf down.
“Cut it Out.” Arcadia, 2008. Photo by Jimmy Peters. Working as a skilled team, Frank Langsford and his ranch horse expertly cut a cow from the herd at the VC Ranch.
Cow-Dogs Florida is one of the leading states in the use of dogs for cattle ranching. Florida cow-dogs are mixed breeds. Probably the most popular breed in the mix is the Southern Blackmouth Yellow Cur. Another popular breed is the Catahoula Leopard, which may have its origins among the French or Native Americans of Louisiana. Florida cow-dogs perform three important functions. The cow-dog flushes strays from hammocks, scrub and swamps, working easily in areas that are difficult for horse and rider to penetrate. While mounted cowmen drive the cattle from the rear, cow-dogs control their movements by working the sides and front to keep the stock in a cohesive herd. And, since cattle view the dogs as predators, they will seek safety by gathering into a tight group when the cow-dogs repeatedly circle or “ring” them, while barking and nipping.
Cow-dog circling herd. Morriston, June 2006. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State. One of Billy Bellamy’s yellow curs circles a herd at his Cedar Hill Ranch to keep the cows in a tight bunch. A few good dogs can maintain a large herd tightly grouped for hours if necessary.
Working cow-dog. Okeechobee County, January 2008. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State. A yellow cur cow-dog aggressively confronts a cow that has broken from the herd on the Dixie Ranch. 76
Material Culture Floridians hand craft specialized equipment used by the cattle ranching community. Mexican vaquero culture played a profound role in shaping the fancy, highly-decorated cowboy equipment, tack and apparel that developed in the West—but there was little vaquero influence in Florida. Most gear used by Florida cowboys is unadorned in comparison to that used in the West. The cow whip is an essential part of working cowboy gear and an icon of Florida cattle ranching. In the past, cow whips were plaited from tanned buckskin. Today, most Florida cowboys use weatherand rodent-proof whips plaited from braided nylon cord. The Florida cow whip is fastened to a wooden handle by two thongs, a distinctive feature that gives it more flexibility than whips plaited over the handle. A comfortable, durable saddle is essential. A custom-built saddle fits the rider and horse properly, is designed to meet the demands of its intended use, and lasts for many years. Ranch brands were used by early settlers and Indians to identify livestock. The practice was especially important when cattle ranged freely. Ranch brands are usually passed to the next generation,
and old branding irons become treasured heirlooms. Many brands consist of simple block numbers or letters, a characteristic derived from the British ranching heritage. Ranch architecture includes entryways, gates, and signs. These utilitarian art forms range from simple hand-made wood and metal components to elaborate designs cut from metal using hightech computer-controlled plasma arc machines. Designs often incorporate the ranch brand and visual elements, such as cattle, herons, live oaks, and cabbage palms, which reflect the ranch environment. Riders use spurs to help control the movement of horses. Used properly, they are necessary tools for the protection of the rider, cattle, and the horse itself. Ready-made spurs can be purchased, but many prefer spurs that are custom made to personal specifications. Chaps are protective leather garments worn over jeans. Chinks are short chaps that have become increasingly popular among Florida cowboys, in part because they are not as hot as full-length chaps. In Florida, chaps are most often seen as colorful, fancy apparel worn by drill teams, bronc and bull riders, and rodeo queens.
Junior Mills. Okeechobee, June 2003. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State. George “Junior” Mills made buckskin whips to supplement his income as a working cowboy. He treated the finished whips with a heated mixture of pine rosin, beeswax, and beef tallow to preserve the leather and prevent barn rats from eating them.
George Altman. Wauchula, March 2007. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State. George Altman is one of the few who still plait cow whips from buckskin hides he tans himself.
Ned Waters (1957–). Cow whip, nylon with guava wood handle. Bartow, 2008. Loaned by Ned Waters. Photo by Ray Stanyard. This 14-foot whip was plaited from nylon cord, the material preferred by contemporary working cowboys because it is rot- and rodent-resistant.
William Noah Waters (1871–1944). Cow whip. Buckskin with guava wood handle. Bartow, ca. 1940. Loaned by Ned Waters. Photo by Ray Stanyard. Ned Waters inherited this 12-foot whip from his grandfather. It probably was originally a 14 to16-foot whip, but was shortened when it was fitted with a new tail. The hide was tanned using animal brains.
George (1912–2006) and Buddy Mills (1958–). Cow whip, buckskin. Okeechobee, 1975. Loaned by Buddy Mills. Photo by Ray Stanyard.
George Altman (1946–) Cow whip, buckskin with hickory wood handle. Wauchula 2005. Loaned by the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.
George “Junior” Mills cut the “strings” for this 11-foot whip then taught his son, Buddy, how to plait the whip. Buddy has continued to craft traditional buckskin whips using the methods he learned from his father. The dark coloration is the result of dipping the finished whip in a heated mixture of beef tallow, beeswax and pine rosin to preserve it and discourage rodents from eating it.
This 14-foot whip was plaited from a hide Altman tanned in an alum solution. All Florida cow whips, whether nylon or leather, are loosely fastened to the handle by two thongs, which makes them flexible and easy to use.
Saddlemaker Mike Wilder. Kenansville, September 2006. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/ Florida Department of State. Seventh-generation Floridian Mike Wilder has earned a reputation for making welldesigned saddles that will last for years. He made this commemorative saddle for the Great Florida Cattle Drive of 2006.
Curly Dekle demonstrating whip handling skills at the Florida Folk Festival. White Springs, 1988. Photo by Gregory Hansen, courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image fa4792. J. P. “Curly” Dekle crafted buckskin leather whips and was a skilled whip artist. He was a perennial favorite at the Florida Folk Festival, where his presentations included plenty of down-home humor as well as engaging demonstrations of his prowess with whips.
Branding iron maker. Okeechobee, October 2006. Photo by William Mansfield, courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State. Tony Hapner welds a branding iron at Domer’s, Inc., a welding and machine shop that has made branding irons since 1926.
Felix T. Torres (1913–1995). Saddle carved for his son, Felix G. Torres. Miami, 1964. Leather, silver. Loaned by Felix G. Torres. Photo by Ray Stanyard. At the Torres Saddle Shop in Hialeah, the Torres family has made and repaired saddles and other custom leather goods for several decades. The late Felix T. Torres was from the ranching area of Santa Clara in the province of Las Villas. He moved to Havana, where he became an accomplished saddlemaker. He passed the tradition to his son, Felix G. Torres, when he was very young. Torres saddles enjoy an international reputation for excellence. One of the family’s old photos shows the Governor of Havana riding on a Torres saddle.
Felix T. Torres making a saddle with wife Maria E. Torres, son Felix G. Torres and Nery Perez looking on. Havana, Cuba, 1956. Courtesy of Felix G Torres.
George Platt. Okeechobee, January 2008. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State. George Platt makes tack and a variety of leather goods for working cowboys. He also builds and repairs saddles.
Jeremy Evans. Fellowship, February 2007. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State. Jeremy Evans and his wife, Connie, fashion custom spurs in a shop behind their home in Fellowship, west of Ocala.
Billy Davis in his spur making shop. Kenansville, April 2004. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image FS060849. Billy Davis clamps the heel ridge portion of a spur onto a jig in preparation for welding the shank to it. He crafts custom spurs and spurs similar to the classic designs of 1840-1940.
Jeremy and Connie Evans. Spurs, custom handmade “Gal-Leg” style. Steel with sterling silver and copper overlay and brass rowel. Fellowship, 2008. Loaned by Jeremy and Connie Evans. Photo by Ray Stanyard. Jeremy made the body of the spur and his wife, Connie, did the overlay and engraving. The rowel is a brass clock gear.
Doyle Rigdon’s lace-up boot with spurs. Brighton, September 2008. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image FS060829. Like many Florida working cowboys, Doyle Rigdon prefers to wear lace-up boots because the snug fit and low heel make it easier to move quickly when working on the ground.
Faye Blackstone trick saddle, Manufactured by the Western Saddle Company, Ca. 1940. Leather, metal. Loaned by the Florida Agricultural Museum. Photo by Ray Stanyard.
Rodeo award belt buckle. Silver and gold. Loaned by Leo Ledesma. Photo by Ray Stanyard. This buckle was awarded to Cuban-American rodeo champion Leo Ledesma for winning the team roping championship at Davie, Florida in 1998. Faye Blackstone (1915-2012) executing one of her most famous tricks, a reverse fender drag. Parrish, 1952. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image n036758. Faye Blackstone achieved national fame as a barrel racer and trick rider, inventing feats such as the daring “back fender drag,” which she performed in Wild West shows. Faye’s husband, Vick Blackstone (1913-1987), was a rodeo champion. In 1982, he was inducted into the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, and Fay into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame—the only couple to share this honor.
Pete Clemons receiving award boots.
Fancy cowboy boots. Leather, sterling silver. Loaned by Pete Clemons. Photo by Robert L. Stone. These boots were presented to Pete Clemons at the 1955 Silver Spurs Rodeo, Kissimmee, for winning the “Best All Around” title for two consecutive years.
Pete Clemons with Buster Kenton. Kissimmee, 1949. Courtesy of Pete Clemons.
Program booklet, “First Annual Silver Spurs Midwinter Rodeo.” Paper, 8.75 inches x 11.75 inches, 20 pages. Event dates: February 25-26, 1951. Courtesy of Silver Spurs Rodeo. Photo by Ray Stanyard. The Silver Spurs Rodeo is held each February and June in Kissimmee. It is the largest rodeo east of the Mississippi and is annually ranked among the top 50 events sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). The program booklet cover depicts the old rodeo grounds. Today the event is held in an indoor climate-controlled 8,300-seat arena. 100
When Pete Clemons was asked to represent the Kissimmee Jaycees at a national convention rodeo in Colorado Springs in 1949, they fixed up a pickup truck to look like a chuck wagon. Buster Kenton (right) decorated it with a cartoon character he called Cowboy Jake. Clemons won the Best All Around competition to the dismay of the western competitors. Cowboy Jake became the mascot for Osceola High School. Clemons was tremendously successful in his 25-year rodeo career. He won the Best All Around Cowboy title at the Silver Spurs Rodeo in Kissimmee nine times. This required excelling in five events: saddle bronc, bareback bronc, calf roping, steer wrestling, and bull riding. He competed throughout the U.S., as well as in Canada, Cuba, and South America.
Rodeo award belt buckle. Silver and gold. Loaned by Pete Clemons. Photo by Robert L. Stone. This buckle, inscribed “All Around Cowboy, San Antonio, Florida, 1951,” was presented to Pete Clemons. 101
Matt Condo, bronc rider. Palatka, 1971. Courtesy of Matt Condo. Matt Condo rides a bronco named Claim Jumper at the 1971 Florida Rodeo Cowboys Finals Rodeo, Palatka. Condo garnered Best All-Around Cowboy honors at the Arcadia Rodeo five times. Seminole rodeo legend Josiah Johns, who is next to ride, is in the chute, wearing a light-colored hat.
Pat Hansel presents a buckle for Best All Around Cowboy to Matt Condo at the Indiantown Rodeo. Photo by Charles Covington, courtesy of Debbie Hansel Carlton and Leola Parker Hansel.
Josiah Johns, Seminole rodeo champion. Las Vegas, 1976. Photo by James Fain, courtesy of Willie Johns.
Rodeo chaps. Leather. Loaned by Matt Condo. Photo by Ray Stanyard. These bat-wing style rodeo chaps were made from the hide of a mule deer killed by Florida rodeo champion Matt Condo when he was competing in Colorado ca. 1961.
Bareback bronc rigging, leather with steel D-rings. Loaned by Matt Condo. Photo by Ray Stanyard. Made by Bob Fraker, Ft. Collins, Colorado, for Matt Condo, ca. 1965. The rigging is secured to the horse with a cinch.
Josiah Johns ropes a calf at the 1976 Indian National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada. The legendary Seminole cowboy garnered Best All Around Cowboy honors five times at the Arcadia All-Florida Championship and Chalo Nitka rodeos and was three-time steer wrestling champion of the Florida Cowboy Association.
Pat Hansel The All Florida Championship Rodeo, held in Arcadia since 1928, is Florida’s oldest rodeo and the centerpiece of the state’s vibrant rodeo scene. Pat Hansel was known in Arcadia as “Mr. Rodeo.” As a stock contractor Pat provided some of the best roughstock—bucking bulls and broncos—of his era. His bulls included Wooley Booger, a big black Brahman-Angus crossbreed; Bearcat, a quick, compact red bull; and the legendary Seminole Chief. Seminole Chief so dazzled the audience, contestants and stockmen with his performances at the 1981 PRCA National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City that he brought a $20,000 selling price, an astronomical sum at that time. Pat’s bucking horses were always among the best, too. Claim Jumper was the most renowned, having a rodeo career that spanned eighteen years. Pat is remembered by thousands for his warm and colorful commentary as rodeo announcer at the Arcadia arena. His close friend, livestock auctioneer Wendell Cooper, was inspired by Pat’s friendship and contributions to the rodeo community to write this poem for Pat’s funeral. Photographs and artifacts loaned by Debbie Hansel Carlton and Leola Parker Hansel.
Rodeo Memories of Pat Pat Hansel was a man you needed to know If you were a Florida Cowboy and loved rodeo. He knew all the contestants and could call ‘em by name. Pat changed a lot of things in the rodeo game. In the old days rodeos weren’t organized and the judging was rough, The stock wasn’t even and winning was tough. There was a lot of complaining, most times about pay. Pat set out to change all that, said he would find a way. He was one of the first in Florida to join the PRCA. Pat’s efforts in rodeo are still remembered today, He took a bull to the national finals because he could. That bull brought $20 thousand, no one thought he would. Now things were better and it wasn’t just luck. Pat raised his own stock and those suckers could buck. His bulls were his pride and their names would inspire. A lot of bull riders still remember Ring of Fire. Another little bull that was seldom rode, A full-blooded Angus that was a sight to behold. A little guy that would spin right outside the gate, he was so small Pat just called him six-and-seven-eights How he came up with those names sure puzzles me. He must have stayed up nights thinking what the next one would be Those names were sure different I remember one now, The funniest of them all was one he called screech owl His friends will sure miss him of this there’s no doubt. He taught all us cowboys what rodeo was all about. Be fair and honest, try hard as you can In rodeo and in life, you will be a top hand I’m glad I could count Pat a personal friend of mine. If you ever needed help, he’d be there every time. If you were down and out Pat would lend a hand, But he’d make you get up saying, “Son act like a man.”
41st Arcadia All Florida-Championship Rodeo Rodeo program booklet, 1969. Jacki Duncan Condo (L) and Debbie Hansel Carlton pose for a Coke advertisement.
Pat was a winner right up to the end, surrounded by the love of his family and the respect of his friends His last win was his best; he’s left this earthly sod. Pat went home to be with Jesus and the family of God.
Custom-made belt buckle worn by Pat Hansel, silver and gold. The figure of Pat was originally holding a microphone, which has broken off.
Rodeo clown Bill Shaw fends off Pat Hansel’s bucking bull, Seminole Chief, at the National Finals Rodeo, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1981. Pat Hansel is in twotone western jacket, center. Photo by James Fain.
Pat Hansel (L) and unidentified sign painter with Pat’s rodeo stock truck, Arcadia, 1966. Photo by George Shupka.
Red checkerboard cowboy boots made for Pat Hansel by the Tony Lama Company. Pat had several pairs of boots custom made for his rodeo announcer attire.
—Wendell Cooper March 24th, 2007
A note from Pat Hansel’s daughter, Debbie Hansel Carlton: Pat Hansel announcing the rodeo in Indiantown, 1972. 104
Wendell Cooper was fighting a battle with cancer when he wrote this wonderful poem. He lost that battle and also went home to be with Jesus and the family of God a year later. Thank you God for making our lives richer because of Daddy Pat and Wendell.
Pole bending. Williston, April 2007. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image FS060834. A competitor negotiates a tight turn in the girls’ pole bending competition at the annual FHSRA rodeo
Boot and spur of bull rider Stephen Keighley, Williston, 2007. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image FS060808. Bull riding spurs are fastened tightly to the boot with a padded leather strap and held firmly with a twisted wire wrapped under the boot, in front of the heel. A leather thong wrapped tightly around the boot top secures the boot to the foot.
Grand Entry. Williston, April 2007. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program/ Florida Department of State. Carrying the American flag, Ashley Mills leads girls on horseback bearing colorful flags to create a dramatic “grand entry” at the annual FHSRA rodeo, Williston Horseman’s Park.
High School Rodeo bull riding. Williston, April 2007. Photo by Robert L. Stone, courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, image FS060824. Robert Carter of Cross City. Some high school bull riders earn scholarships to compete on college rodeo teams, others go on to compete in professional events.