Cracker Origins: Second Saturdays at the Settlement

Su Edgar raised the whip above her head, brought it around in a large circle and struck the ground letting out a defying “CRAAACK”. She was demonstrating at Barberville Pioneer Settlement’s Second Saturday event showing how the Florida Cracker’s got their name. Su works with animals on her farm, herding cows, so she knows how to use the “Cracker cow whip (or bull whip, depending on who you ask)”. No, the animals aren’t hurt; it’s the sound that gets them moving. And it’s easy to see why. As Su spins the whip around for a few more rotations, the animals in the distance on our farm begin calling out in response (Igor, the goose in particular). Everyone pays attention when the whip snaps the ground.

Inside the schoolhouse, things are a bit calmer. It’s a scorching hot Florida summer so it’s nice to step inside and see the demonstrators in our air-conditioned schoolhouse, a luxury that the pioneers could only dream of. In the auditorium, Karen Puracan has brought her walking wheel. The wheel is as tall as she is and spans the width of two arms lengths. She starts the wheel spinning and steps forward and back as she spins. Forward and back, forward and back. “A woman would easily walk miles a day. Four steps forward, four steps back. She would do it all day long, for pennies a day.” Behind Karen, her daughter, Hannah is preparing wool to spin on a smaller wheel. Stretching it through the wool, carder and making it nice and soft for the next spinner.

Across the Hall in the Weaving room, Echo Harger is working on a pattern for the next rug. She tears the fabric into long strips which will be wrapped onto the shuttle and pushed through the strings on the loom. Su is back inside now, working in the weaving room.

A young girl approaches and asks if she can take a turn. Su is happy to oblige. She shows the girl how to peddle and how to pull the handle of the loom. Perhaps a future weaver is born.

It was a wonderful day at the settlement. In addition to demonstrators, there were three classes happening: Charlie Cracker: Dying Cotton using Native FL Plants, Pine Needle Basket Weaving , and Blacksmith Classes. Everyone who came learned a lot and had a great time. Thanks to everyone who attended, our volunteers and instructors. We hope to see you Next month on September 10th for our Fire and Ice: Chili Cook-off and Ice Cream Churn-off. Come taste and vote for your favorite! More info here.

Children learn what it was like to go to school 100 years ago.

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