Some of the original American pioneers in Florida began arriving as early as the 1760s, when Great Britain began a brief stint as the controlling colonial force in the region. These men and women staked out inhospitable territory and were greeted by clouds of mosquitoes, acres of scrub, and hostile Native Americans.
Nonetheless, these pioneer families were able to establish cattle ranches and sparse agricultural settlements in the state, and many of Florida’s most notable citizens — from former Governor Lawton Chiles to astronaut-senator Bill Nelson — can trace their families’ roots back to these daring and resilient settlers.
There is some debate as to why these pioneers were referred to as Crackers. Some tales have the origin of the term pointing to the cowboys’ usage of whips to herd cattle — the crack of the whip being something of a clarion call — while others give it more pejorative origins.
The Spanish colonialists in the region maintained that their towns were the height of civilization and that these hard-edged interlopers were not only culturally inferior but also spiritually lacking. The term quáquero (a bastardization of “Quaker”) referred to any Protestant but was used with particular animosity toward these American settlers.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition