On Father's Day we visited the historic settlement of Fort Christmas, FL, which displays a full-scale replica of the original Fort Christmas and restored pioneer homes to show the heritage of the homesteaders, the Florida Crackers.
On December 25, 1837 the US army established the fort (hence the name Fort Christmas) but it was abandoned in 1838. The simple wooden fortification was short-lived but it gave its name to the town of Christmas.
In 1842 the settlement Act provided incentives for families (160 acres) to homestead the interior of Florida increasing the population and allowing Florida to qualify for statehood in 1845.
The Yates house (ca. 1890) The Yates family built this one room house and homesteaded the property , herding cattle, raising livestock, hunting deer, turkey, and hogs. The kitchen was on the front porch until the sons added a kitchen to the rear of the house in 1923.
Several other historic homes were brought to this park, all lovingly furnished with things from the past.
One great hall displays articles of daily life, like how to make butter or what the wash day was like
A famous Sculptor born right here in the town of Ft. Christmas, best known for his sculpture of the famous race horse Seabiscuit.
Hughlette "Tex" Wheeler (1901 - 1954) began drawing and carving horses from wood and beeswax at an early age and with help from family and friends he went to attend the Cleveland School of Art. He won the Matzen Scholarship to study a year in Paris.
Where does the name Florida Cracker come from? Florida was the lead cattle producing state in America for many decades. The cows roamed freely and had to be 'hunted' by cattle hunters, or Florida Cowboys, cracking their whips to flush their stock out of the palmetto scrub.
Today being a Florida Cracker means one has deep roots in the state, born and raised in Florida, not being transplanted from a Northern state.