A Land Remembered, Patrick D. Smith

Updated on July 20, 2019
PegCole17 profile image

Peg Cole is a self-published author who writes stories, book reviews, interviews and how-to articles.

A Land Remembered, Patrick D. Smith
A Land Remembered, Patrick D. Smith | Source

Florida, in modern times, is filled with luxury hotels, beach-front resorts, tourists, orange groves and a collection of residents that usually come from other places. Few realize the raw nature of its existence before the railroad brought commerce to the area.

Rampant with alligators, snakes, marshy swamps, and mosquitoes, this land in its original state was home to the Seminole Indians. With razor sharp saw-grass to be traversed, devastating hurricanes and treacherous flooding coupled with sudden crop-killing freezes, settlers had a full-time job trying to stay alive.

Author, Patrick D. Smith, during his research for the novel, ran a trading post to gain insight into the lives of the native people of Florida. He describes the evolution of the state from its roots as a swamp and prairie to its explosive growth in population and major industry in a fictional story that captures the true spirit of early settlers.

The Florida Everglades

Alligator Mississipiensis
Alligator Mississipiensis | Source

Most people have little idea of what it was like scratching out an existence living on roots, berries and raccoon stew. In his novel, A Land Remembered, Smith gives the reader plenty to think about.

Hardships after the Civil War included a serious shortage of even the most basic supplies. Groceries like flour, sugar, fabric for clothing, shoes, ammunition for hunting and cookware needed to prepare meals were hard to come by.

He tells of the "Cow Cavalry," a group commissioned by the state's governor to round up stray cattle. Their job was to drive the cows to Georgia to feed the remaining Federal troops. Along the way, they also collected and conscripted male settlers to run the cattle, whether willing or not, to travel through the harsh land with its collection of predators and diseases like malaria and dysentery. Federal troops were known to raid villages, taking "everything they could get their hands on" leaving settlers without their horses, mules and cows with no recourse. Buzzards would collect those who objected.

Florida Swamp
Florida Swamp | Source

Confederate deserters, hiding out in the swamps to evade arrest, preyed on the families of isolated settlers, killing and devouring even their work animals.

Native Seminole Indians, that were also hunted and pursued, moved deeper into the swamps of the Everglades to avoid those who wished them harm.

Schooners traveled down the rivers carrying supplies for the local trading posts where settlers would bring animal furs to trade for their basic needs. There, they could occasionally get items they couldn't make or grow like coffee and flour.

Schooner

Schooner built 1871, Photo by Stephen Taber
Schooner built 1871, Photo by Stephen Taber | Source

Currency and Trade

Legal tender following the war was limited to Spanish gold doubloons carted around in wagons pulled by oxen. With the peril of extreme storms like hurricanes came the ever-present swamp creatures hungry and waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting.

As early cowhands pushed their herds towards the nearest marketplace, they crossed treacherous prairies and uncleared land filled with quick sand and hordes of mosquitoes. Often those dangers were enhanced by cutthroat cattle rustlers ready to kill for a profit and personal gain.

Quick's Store, Candler, Florida 1800s

Trading Post 1800s
Trading Post 1800s | Source

For what this one island is worth today my pappa could have bought the whole . . . state back in 1883 when I was born. Folks has gone as crazy as betsybugs."

— Solomon MacIvey, 1968

South Florida - Modern Times

Modern Day Miami Beach, Florida
Modern Day Miami Beach, Florida | Source

Solomon MacIvey

The story opens with a narrative by the elder Sol MacIvey who is at the end of his life. He has decided to defy his doctor's orders and return to his old home on the prairie of Southern Florida.

His earliest memories come flooding back as he reconnects with his Native American friend, Toby Cypress, who formed a lifetime bond with Sol's father through mutual need and respect. Sol's ancestors struggle to grow crops on their homestead while trying to keep their work oxen safe from deadly creatures that lurk in nearby woods.

They flourished despite the odds by capturing, branding and driving herds of cattle across the state to market.

Seminole Family

Seminole family of Cypress Tiger at their camp, near Kendall, Florida, 1916. Photographer: Botanist John Kunkel Small, 1869-1938
Seminole family of Cypress Tiger at their camp, near Kendall, Florida, 1916. Photographer: Botanist John Kunkel Small, 1869-1938 | Source

The text weaves its way past a series of events through three generations of MacIvey's trying to establish a homestead. The author introduces their hired hand, Frog, whose dedication and respect for the family convinces him to stick around for a lifetime. Others join the small establishment in the scrubs to become an integral part of the family and its endeavors.

A mixture of "Bonanza" with its Ponderosa, and an impoverished post-Civil War “Gone With the Wind” existence, this tale keeps the reader engaged as they grow to care for and understand the characters portrayed.

The story provides insight into the erosion of the hard work ethic that prompted patriarch Tobias MacIvey to leave his roots and seek out a new existence in the developing south as life becomes easier with the passage of time.

Cattle Drive, 1913

Photo by William Creswell, USA
Photo by William Creswell, USA | Source

Tobias MacIvey

Coming out of Georgia in 1858, with a horse-drawn wagon, his wife and their small baby, they crossed into Florida with "a sack of corn and a sack of sweet potatoes," and the tools necessary to clear the land and build a house.

His forty-acre farm in Georgia's red clay soil had failed. Seeking more nourishing soil and a new start, he sold the land for the goods he'd been able to stock into the wagon: "a few packets of seeds, a shotgun and a few shells, a frying pan and a cast-iron pot" which would have to serve the family for years to come.

He traded the wagon horses for a pair of oxen they named Tuck and Buck. As part of the trade, they got a guinea cow, a strangely diminutive animal which would provide milk for all of them.

Their journey through the wilderness, finding and establishing their first isolated homestead, losing it to disaster, then moving farther south to again, seek out richer soil leads them into a whole new world of experiences and eventual enrichment as their family grows and adds members.

With each generation, existence grows easier with successful crops, acres of producing orange groves and ready-made housing for the offspring that come along. When they found a way to earn bushels of money, they finally had it made.

Horse Drawn Wagon

Horse drawn wagon at an unknown street construction site.
Horse drawn wagon at an unknown street construction site. | Source

This story has all the appeal of a grandfather's tale, mixing pioneer adventure with a slice of history told by a seasoned storyteller.

This is a saga that will stay in your mind as a keen reminder of what the frontier held for our ancestors. It tells of hard work, sacrifice and reward that comes, but not without its share of loss and grief.

Pioneer Homesteaders on the Frontier

Hog of the Forsaken

Patrick D. Smith Talks about the Book

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Peg Cole

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    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi William,

      Having the wilderness settled for us was a true gift. I'm sure there were early hardships up in your area back in the day.

      Thanks for stopping in and for the nice comment.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hello Genna,

      It's such a pleasure to see you here at this book review. Thank you.

      Many years ago when I lived in Miami, the church would sponsor youth group outings to the Everglades. It was always surprising to see the inhospitable conditions out in the actual swamps. Also, we used to fish out there back in the 60s when fishing was still good.

      My paternal grandmother's mother used to tell us stories of her childhood when she would see Native Americans at the trading post and walking along the trails with their papooses. That would have been in the late 1800s. I wish that I had asked her more questions.

      Thanks again for coming by.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      3 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I'm glad to be living up north in a settled land. Those times certainly were hard, and I admire those that paved the way for me, wherever it may be.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      3 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Peggy...

      What a beautifully written hub. Like Smith's book, you take us on the MacIvey journey through generations of family, progress and change. I don't think many people realize how inhospitable Florida was (and still is in some ways), and the challenges the Seminoles and other Native Americans that were forcibly relocated there had to face, as well as early settlers. This was a pleasure to read, Peggy. Thank you.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Good Morning, James,

      It's always a pleasure to see that you've visited. Yes, can you believe, Florida cowboys? It's not what folks usually think of in terms of running herds.

      I appreciate your comments and your kind words.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      3 months ago from Chicago

      I enjoyed the journey you took us on. A cattle drive in Florida!? Who would have thunk it. As always, your writing is crisp and your narrative interesting.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Thanks, Nell, for stopping in on this review and for the kind words. I love that you've discovered your roots across the pond! Maybe they were Pilgrims? My Mom's relatives came over from Vienna in the early 1900s. It's a small world.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      3 months ago from England

      I also love his voice. It's perfect for the story he is telling. I do love your reviews. After finding out that many of my relatives settled in Massachusetts I am fascinated by anything American now.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hello Maria,

      Thanks for listening to the Patrick Smith video. I was also enchanted by his southern charm and his way of talking. We are kindred spirits from Georgia heritage, that's for sure.

      I'm glad you could glean some comfort from the comparison of homestead issues that we face these days versus what those folks in the story faced.

      As always, I'm grateful for your kind compliments on the review.

      Hugs, dear one.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      3 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Peg,

      Your book reviews are some of the finest I've read.

      I'm enchanted by the sound of Patrick D. Smith's voice, reminding me of my favorite Georgian Uncle.

      This is a reminder to me that today's homestead issues are minor by comparison to the early pioneers.

      Have a peaceful evening. Love, Maria

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hello Dora,

      You know, I'm amazed at the resilience of those early pioneers and others who braved raw elements to build a homestead. Thanks so much for coming by to check out this book review.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi Pamela, Glad you enjoyed the book review. How difficult it must be to live without air conditioning and other comforts. When we first built our home we didn't have a/c and those Texas summers are sweltering. Also, living in Florida as a kid, we had one wall unit air conditioner and used it only on Sundays.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for this interesting book review. The book seems filled with history, culture and raw human experience. We need this kind to help keep the stories and the memories alive.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi there, Flourish,

      Thanks so much for coming by to check out this book review. It truly is the kind of story that inspires gratitude for the blessings we have with today's modern conveniences like grocery stores, air conditioning, automatic washers and dryers and electricity. Glad you could make it over. :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      3 months ago from Sunny Florida

      This book sounds very interesting. You wrote an excellent review of the book as well. I can't imagine how tough it was to move to FL in that era, while I sit typing in my air-conditioned FL home. LOL

      Comparing this story to 'Gone With the Wind' and 'Bonanza' made the book sound very good to me.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hello Linda,

      The story reminded me so much of the tales my own dad would tell us kids about our grandfather and his dad who lived a similar existence. My grandfather was born in 1880, the son of a sharecropper who fought in the Civil War and relocated from South Carolina to Georgia. How I wish I could go back and talk to him about life as he knew it.

      Thanks for coming by and I hope you'll find this book interesting. It's on Amazon.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi Peggy,

      The story is a far cry from the comfy life the Cartwrights had on the Ponderosa, but it tells of the struggles their poverty-stricken neighbors might have had during that time. The similarity to "Gone With the Wind" is the part where Scarlett has to pick cotton and dig for sweet potatoes and cries, "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."

      I do hope you'll find a copy of the book and check out this story. He's written several others, too. Thanks for dropping by on this book review and for the kind words.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      3 months ago from USA

      We sit in the AC and drive to the grocery store and restaurants for food while these folks really had it rough. What you describe is a really scary reality. We certainly do have it easy. You did an excellent job at summarizing this tale of intrigue and making readers want to read the book.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This article gives a fascinating look at life in the past. The people that you describe had very difficult lives. I'll definitely read the book if I find it. Thanks for reviewing it, Peg.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      When you wrote that it had parts of "Bonanza" and "Gone With The Wind," that got my attention. Pioneers certainly had many hardships and faced uncertainty, but were obviously brave folks to take on such a mission. That is a wonderful book review, Peg.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hello Bill, With your roots in history and storytelling, I believe you would like this book. I sure did.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That would be a fascinating read.Thanks for the review.Now I am intrigued, Peg!

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hi Brandy, Thank you! Hope you find time to read the book.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Lisa Jane, There are many such "oh, wow!" moments in the book that tell of this woman's sacrifice for her family. Great reading.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      3 months ago from UK

      You are fortunate to have a signed copy of the book. I have seen people queue a long time to get books signed by authors.

    • BrandyMcNelson profile image

      Brandy McGhee Nelson 

      3 months ago from Arkansas

      Great review! I have added it to my to be read list! Thank you.

    • Lisa Jane39 profile image

      Lisa Jane 

      3 months ago from Washington

      Peg, sometimes I think about how to live a simpler life now. I can't imagine having 1 dress

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Thank you, Lisa Jane. I'm with you about living during simpler times. One thing that struck me was brought out by the character, Mrs. Tobias MacIvey, who owned only one dress and she wore it for years before getting a new one. Amazing.

    • Lisa Jane39 profile image

      Lisa Jane 

      3 months ago from Washington

      Peg, you did a great job at writing this book review. It caught my attention and now I want to read it. By this review, I think people will get the notion that we have it easy today than our ancestors did. But I still wish that I could live in those days.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Thanks, Liz. This book was a reminder of how easy we have it these days compared to the characters in the novel. I really enjoyed reading it. My brother met the author's son at a presentation and got my copy autographed for me!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      3 months ago from UK

      I think sometimes we take for granted modern day life. You give a great review of this interesting historical book. It's good to reflect on how things were in the past. Hopefully it willmake us appreciate the present more.

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