The founding fathers of Florida are the pioneer “cow hunters” who migrated south in the 1800s when the government opened up new territories after the Seminole Indian Wars. In search of wide open prairies and water, daring young pioneers loaded up their families in covered wagons, gathered up their cattle, and ventured south. It was a long and arduous journey into an unforgiving environment.
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An excursion into the heart of the Everglades 40 miles west of Clewiston is a unique “place to learn” (translated from the Miccosukee), the namesake of the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. Walking through tall glass doors, the visitor is greeted by a large inscription depicting the purpose of the museum: “The museum collects, preserves, protects and interprets Seminole culture and history, inspiring an appreciation and understanding of the Seminole people.” The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, located in the middle of a 64-acre swamp on the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation, demonstrates and displays in their own words their story of survival in the unforgiving Everglades.
Featuring true stories as told by Florida’s rugged pioneers who survived disease, drought, floods, and varmints to carve a lifestyle in wild Florida. As Norman Proveaux (Myaaka) says: “True ‘Cow Hunters’ are bred, not made”.
“The cowboy is not the dying breed he is said to be by those that drive down the highway looking for him. As Lee Marvin told Jack Palance in the 1970′s movie, ‘Monte Walsh‘: ‘As long as there is one man on one horse pushing one cow, there will always be cowboys’.”- Robert Ray Smith, Owner
Hardee County Livestock Market, Wauchula, Florida
The true Legacies of Florida’s “cow hunters” who tamed the last frontier is recorded in their historic lessons and lifestyle, working the land as they knew it, and learning its ways. The pioneers respected the land and wildlife that gave them spiritual and economic sustenance; the gift of a unique lifestyle in an era that will never return, yet their heritage continues.
“Would Do, Could Do and Made Do,” was a way of life as the cow hunters lived through struggle and forbearance. As told in their own words and pictures, this book is a living tribute and memorial to the lessons they inscribe for future generations.
Where the Swallowtail Kite Soars:
The Legacies of Glades County, Florida and The Vanishing Wilderness
Palmdale, a remote town in Glades County with a population less than 1,000, is on the curb of creeping urbanization.
Today, more people than Palmdale’s entire population are moving into Florida each day.
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The pioneer culture and Florida’s last wilderness is threatened by growth that exploits “blue gold” water and the land. The sprawling ranches set amidst tall cabbage palm prairies are disappearing. The cost to stay is more than the price to sell with high inheritance taxes and the evaporation of a cattle based economy.
The early pioneers forecasted Florida’s future in their own lifetime as they struggled to hold onto a way of life in a place where few chose to carve a living.
Their stories predict the high premium of development: light pollution, traffic, sewage, crime and the “napalming” of native trees replaced by “ornamental” shrubs, cement, and gated communities. They foresaw the destruction of natural eco-systems, water shortages and communities where wildlife extermination businesses spring up to destroy “pesky” intruders such as squirrels, woodpeckers, snakes and other Everglades species.
The story of Palmdale, Florida, and its people reflects a proud cultural heritage living on the edge of civilization. Palmdale is a ghost town today with only a few ranches left and the Seminole Indian Tribe living off a small market economy against the odds of metropolitan growth, dollars and political power.
This story reflects a tragic national trend threatening the survival of rural America.
“I am a true ‘Florida cracker’ but with a little extra salt!”
Whether it is hunting “piney wood rooters,” parting cows, rounding up wild horses, hunting alligators or heading-up the six family owned W&W Lumber Yards, Iris Wall is at home in what she says “is the best town on Earth” Indiantown, Florida.
A soft breeze feathers through thatches of palmettos spiking a crimson horizon, as dragonflies â€œtoe-danceâ€ from peak to peak, flashing their turquoise iridescence along a whimsical path. Beams of sunlight stream through waving cabbage palms tracing their graceful stalks into native scrub. Quietly, the morning awakes in this small crevasse of Glades County, nestled on the western shore of Lake Okeechobee in the vast Everglades prairie; a living spectacle of Nature’s unobtrusive Beauty that captures the senses and stamps its unique imprint upon space, time, and those who carry their weary bodies from the bustle of city drama into the fresh air of the pristine wilderness.
Celebrating National Day of the Cowboy
published in Florida Cattleman’s Magazine
It’s quite a surprise to see the Premier of the Republic of Macedonia wearing a Stetson, and perhaps even more of a surprise to learn that Florida cattle ranchers are working on exporting live animals to the southern most part of the former Socialists Federation of Yugoslavia, but this is the cultural and economic bridge being extended around the world by two Florida cattlemen: Bud Adams and Jim Strickland.
The 1800s cattle drives are carved deeply into the legends of Florida history when “cow hunters” drove their herds over hundred of miles on the old “cracker trail” to markets in Punta Rassa, shipping them aboard paddle boats to Cuba and Key West to replenish the beef supply after the Civil and Spanish American Wars, and by train from Ft. Pierce north to the breadbasket of the country.
Nancy Dale, keynote address to the Inaugural Graduating Leadership Class of the Glades/Hendry County EDCs June 16, 2007
Culminating six months of interactive workshops and seminars, twenty graduates of the inaugural leadership class of Glades/Hendry County Economic Development Councils received their diploma June 16, 2007 at the Clewiston Country Club with more than one hundred guests in attendance. Janice Groves, Hendry EDC Executive Director and Emcee Dan Regelski, Director of the Small Business Development Center at Florida Gulf Coast University, congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to take the foreground in leadership for the community.
Published monthly in Farmer and Rancher Magazine
In 1700, the Fussell family traveled the long route to America from England eventually homesteading in Georgia. “In 1875, my great granddaddy George W. Fussell made his way through the flatwoods, down to what is now known as Polk City,” said rancher Dewey Fussell who lives upon the land cultivated for over 130 years.
Published in The Cattleman Magazine, Sept. 2005
A year before Baron G. Collier used his own money in 1923 to stretch the first road across the wild and intrepid Everglades that would eventually link Naples, Miami, and Tampa, Robert Roberts, Jr. and his pioneer family had already planted deep roots in an even more remote part of South Florida’s Big Cypress swamp in a town, yet to be named, Immokalee.
Running was no longer easy. The uneven curvature of the ragged stones tore effortlessly through frayed jeans, every stride a drudgery of toil and pain. This infliction of the world had to stop, manifested in the bloodstain of a hopeless cause. But for now, there was no other way but to run until the cursed body surrendered….
Small Farm Magazine, April 2003
Chief of Police Magazine, July 2003 Police Times Magazine and web site, July 2003 Florida Police Chief Association Magazine, July 2003
Chief of Police Magazine, Spring 2004
Miami-Dade County covers more than one thousand square miles with a multi-cultural population of more than 2.5 million people. This montage of diverse cultures, interests and lifestyles is the domain of Miami-Dade County Police Department Director Carlos Alvarez.
San Francisco Police Chief Alex Fagan
Cambridge Scholars Publishing – Florida College Level English Assocation: Iris Wall “Cow Huntress” from Indiantown, 2008
BIRMINGHAM POLICE DEPARTMENT PREPARES FOR HOMELAND SECURITY
Chief of Police Magazine, April 2003
SURVIVAL STRATEGIES FOR VISIONARY POLICE LEADERS IN THE NEXT DECADE
The Florida Police Chief Association Magazine, November 1999
9-1-1 DISPATCH: THE OPTIMUM CUSTOMER SERVICE IN COMMUNITY POLICING
9-1-1 Magazine, September 2000
Law and Order Magazine, Sept. 2000
BOOT CAMP: THE LAST STOP FOR JUVENILE OFFENDERS
Law and Order Magazine, December 2000
VISIONARY LEADERS OF THE PORT ST. LUCIE POLICE DEPARTMENT
The Florida Police Chief Association Magazine, April 1999
THE FT. PIERCE POLICE DEPARTMENT: A TURN-AROUND AGENCY
The Florida Police Chief Association Magazine, July 1999
Chief of Police Magazine, August 2000
A VISION OF THE 21ST CENTURY POLICE DEPARTMENT
Police Chief Association Magazine, October, 1998
The Police Times Magazine, Aug/Sept. 1999
Presented results of statewide research conducted by N.Dale of Florida Police Chiefs.
HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS: COMMUNICATION ETHICS IN TELEVISION NEWS
Broadcast Education Journal, February 1998
Glades County Democrat beginning June 1st, 2000 to Present
Featured Stories (partial list):
Donald Peeples: The Legendary Life of a Florida “Cow Hunter”
Ancient Indian Mounds;
Palmdale: The Tin Lizzie Trail to the Garden of Eden;
The Old World Indian Farmers at Fort Center;
The Railroad Opens the Gateway to Glades County;
Tribute to a Lost Art â€“ The Closing of the Cypress Knee Museum
2006 and 2007: Presented paper to the Florida College English Assocation Conference in Lakeland and at Indian River Community College on “Pioneer “Cow Hunters” – The Books”
Keynote Address – Glades/Hendry County Economic Development Council – “Carving an Economic Role into the Future” – 2007
Clewiston Museum – “Would Do, Could Do, and Made Do: The Florida Pioneer ‘Cow Hunters’ Who Tamed the Last Frontier” – 2006
Florida Police Chief Association Conference
Presenter: “Survival Strategies for Visionary Police Leaders in the Next Decade,”
Published survey results conducted by N. Dale of Florida Police Chiefs.
Summer Conference, Daytona Beach, FL, June 22, 1999