November 15: Cattle and Conflict – The History of Cattle Ranching in Florida

Fighting over a stolen herd by Frederic Remington.
The image was included in an August 1895 Harper’s magazine article entitled, “Cracker Cowboys of Florida.”

Presenter: Dave Southall
Location: Collier County Museum, 3331 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, 34112

With the removal of the aboriginal population and later the Seminole people, vast herds of cattle, descendants of the Andalusian breeds brought by the Spanish in the 16th century, roamed wild across central Florida. These cattle herds provided an important contribution to the Confederate cause during the Civil War feeding both the Southern Army and many Southern Cities after the fall of Vicksburg in 1863. Once the war was over, "Cow Hunting" was one of the few ways to survive on the frontier.  Reconstruction era Florida offered few opportunities to returning Confederate veterans. Former cattlemen and ranchers tried to resume their operations despite the upheaval created by “Yankee Reconstruction.”  Open range, unclaimed herds of long-horn cattle, and the lawless frontier created Cattle Barons, Carpet Baggers, wide-open cow towns, rustlers, and a new breed of tough cow-men who weren't afraid to use a gun to settle disagreements. Learn about the characters and times that rivaled Dodge City and the “wild west.”

David Southall is a graduate of Paul Smiths College of Forestry and the State University of New York at Buffalo with degrees in Science and Education. Following a tour of duty in Vietnam, he obtained his MS in Plant Biology from Cornell University. In his early career Southall was founder/CEO of a nursery, landscape, greenhouse operation and a natural areas management company specializing in wetlands restoration and mitigation, wildlife management, and invasive species control. He retired after 14 years with the Collier County Museums where he was responsible for museum programs and living history events.

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