Florida Crackers

Florida Crackers

The origin of the term “Florida Cracker” is somewhat in dispute. Some say it refers to the cracking sound made by the whips used by early white settlers to herd their cattle. Others say the term comes from the use of cracked corn in making moonshine, a common activity on the Florida frontier. Either way, the term generally describes a class of early Florida pioneers, mainly small farmers and cattle ranchers. Cracker cowboys are sometimes called cow hunters, because they typically allowed their cows to wander over the open range to obtain the best grass wherever it could be found rather than confining them in enclosed pastures. When it was time for branding or driving the cattle to market, the cracker cowboys would search the woods and round up all the cows with the aid of whips and cattle dogs. Florida Crackers are also distinguishable by the architecture of their frontier Florida homes, their musical traditions, and foodways.