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Jacob Summerlin: King of the Crackers Paperback – January, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Florida Historical Society Press; First Ed. edition (January 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1886104166
  • ISBN-13: 978-1886104167
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Revels on January 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Once upon a historical time, Florida was very much like the Wild West, its land used primarily for agriculture and cattle ranching. The "Crackers," Florida's early settlers, were men and women of the soil, rough and hardy people famed for skills that most Americans associate with rodeos and roundups. Joe and Mark Akerman, a father and son team of historians, bring this era and one of its central figures to life with JACOB SUMMERLIN: KING OF THE CRACKERS.

Summerlin's ancestors arrived in Florida in the 1780s, and he grew up near Alligator (now Lake City). A true frontier scion, he had little to no formal education, but quickly mastered the skills necessary to survive in a hostile environment. This book follows Summerlin from his youth through his service in the Second Seminole War, his work supplying beef to the Confederacy, and his civic contributions to the town of Orlando in the late 1800s. At his death he was considered one of the richest men in Florida, yet he always referred to himself as "nothing under the sun but a native-born sun baked old Florida Cracker."

Students of Florida history will enjoy this slim volume, not only for the insight into the life of an under-appreciated Florida founder, but also for the rich details of what it was like to struggle for survival on the 19th century frontier. The illustrations---including old photographs and original artwork by Joe Akerman---help the reader better envision the people, places, and tools used by Florida pioneers. Summerlin was a man of many paradoxes: an uneducated boy who went on to found good schools, an Indian fighter who appreciated native ways and won the Seminoles' respect, and a Confederate provider who disapproved of secession.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Virginia Allain on December 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
Many non-Floridians have difficulty picturing cowboys in the state's early history. Summerlin's biography shows the development of the great herds in Central Florida and the cattle drives to the west coast. The cattle were sold and shipped to Cuba. Later during the Civil War, herds were driven north to feed the Confederate army.
Summerlin became extremely wealthy, but remained unassuming. He provided land for the courthouse and schools in Bartow and later was instrumental in getting Orlando's courthouse built.
This biography rates five stars for opening a window into the early times of Central Florida. Those with an interest in this topic can also read the fiction book, A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David A. Proctor on March 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
Joe and Mark Akerman have made an excellent addition to the field of Florida history with their book on Jacob Summerlin. "King of the Crackers" is especially impressive when one considers the dearth of source material on Summerlin. The writing is accessible and enjoyable (unlike, alas, much academic history that is produced today) and the authors clearly have a strong command of Florida history. I heartily endorse the comments made by Tracy Revels in her review and I would encourage anyone interested in Florida's own "Wild West" period to buy this book.

David Proctor
Professor of History
Tallahassee Community College
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William L. Vacca on May 16, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A boring, flat and one dimentional depiction of an amazing chapter in Florida history. The only redeeming quality to this book was that it was very short and I did not waste a lot of time reading it.
A monotone, textbook like narration.
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