Commissioner Adam H. Putnam

Florida Agriculture: 500 Years in the Making

Florida's Agricultural Heritage in Paintings by Robert Butler

Cracker Cowman

Cracker Cowman

Many cultures of the world take pride in a cattle-based system of value. One of the oldest is the Mashai of Eastern Africa. But until the advance of the more sophisticated cultures of the West, most cattle-based financial systems enjoyed what might be called by modern standards "moderate success."

An enlightened look at the music, art and literature of the Western World will reveal a startling variety of expressions regarding a cattle culture. It seems that etched into Western psyche is an indelible signature left by a people’s relationship with the bovine. The level of bovine management in the Western world has been so skillful that the entire world has copied and thrived on the results.

Men like Lawrence Silas — a famed Cracker cowman from Kissimmee, Fla. — is but one of many whose sweat and blood created better breeds to feed a growing nation. The family history of many like him played out on the prairie of time, the swamps of trial.

Armed only with an attitude, a horse and dog, and a cowhide whip, the Cracker cowman carved his mark into the tree bark of American history. At the threshold of a new century, cattle remain an integral part of Florida’s culture and economy. The "crack" of the whip still rides the wind of Florida’s open spaces.

— Robert Butler, 1999

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