Florida Seminole Tourism

A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith

Welcome to the 2023 Summer book series! Last year, we explored two children’s books. These two books celebrated Seminole legends, Seminole history, their ways of life, and traced the incredible legacy of Betty Mae Jumper. This year, we are shifting the focus to adult literature. We are highlighting two very different options that feature Seminole representation. This week, join us to look at Patrick D. Smith’s A Land Remembered. The sweeping historical fiction novel heavily features Seminole history and representation throughout the book. Additionally, it showcases the determination and resilience required to live in a changing Florida.

In our featured image this week, you can see a Florida cracker on a marshtackie horse. Marshtackies are a small, hardy breed uniquely adapted to the harsh conditions of the Florida hammocks and prairies. In the novel, the MacIvey family receives a marshtackie horse from a Seminole camp who patriarch Tobias MacIvey had helped previously. The horse, Ishmael, represents one of many ways the MacIveys and Seminoles are intertwined throughout the novel. The novel also serves as a cautionary tale over the dangers of greed and overdevelopment, as the final generation of the MacIvey family grapples with his legacy.

Below, you can see a Seminole chickee (with sides) on Lake Okeechobee, circa 1910. Keith Tiger and his camp lived around Lake Okeechobee in A Land Remembered. The lake is an important ancestral Seminole space. Additionally, you may read more about Lake Okeechobee in a previous post.

State Archives of Florida

Discussion Questions

Please note while reading this novel that it is adult historical fiction. Many words, circumstances, and events are not suitable for children. Additionally, we will be discussing trends and events in the novel throughout the rest of the post. So, if you want to read the book with entirely fresh eyes, come back to this post after you have completed it! While reading, we encourage you to contemplate the discussion questions listed below.

  1. How do the fates and lives of Toby Cypress and Solomon MacIvey deviate?
  2. What are Solomon MacIvey’s regrets? How do these play into the broader trajectory of Florida ‘progress’?
  3. What lesson was Toby Cypress hoping Solomon would learn? Do you believe he learned it at the end of the novel?
  4. How would Solomon’s father and grandfather feel about how his life ended up? Would they be proud, or sad about his actions?
  5. Where does Solomon’s change of heart at the end of the novel come from?
  6. Were the MacIvey’s and their actions good or bad for Florida?
  7. How did Smith depict Seminoles in the book? What is Smith trying to say about their experiences and place in Florida history?
  8. How did the lives and motivations of Tobias, Zech, and Solomon differ? What do you feel like each of the three regretted or wished they had done differently?
  9. The story of the MacIvey’s begins and ends with Solomon MacIvey at the end of his life. What was the purpose of this literary choice?
  10. What does Solomon mean by the statement “The ones who got the shaft from all this so-called progress were an old man named Keith Tiger and Tawanda Cypress MacIvey and my half-brother Toby Cypress MacIvey and a bunch more still living out yonder in the swamps in chickees.” (Smith 864-5)

A Land Remembered

A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith is a historical fiction novel. Spanning over three generations, the book covers over a century of Florida history. The focus of the book is the MacIveys. They are a fictional Florida cracker family who scraped to survive in the swamps and prairies of inland Florida. The novel opens with the wealthy and mysterious Solomon MacIvey. Elderly and nearing the end of his life, he drives through Miami to the Tamiami Trail and across to Punta Rassa, reminiscing about the changes wrought by time and contemplating his long-gone family. Solomon visits his half-Seminole brother, Toby Cypress. He apologizes for the mistakes and regrets he has with his life, legacy, and their relationship. Thus, begins A Land Remembered, which traces the lives of Solomon, his father Zechariah, and grandfather Tobias MacIvey.

Escaping starvation and the horrors of pre-Civil War Georgia, Tobias MacIvey moves his wife and young son Zechariah to the Florida scrub in 1858. Tobias’ story begins in 1863, after five years of nearly starving on cattail flour, skunk meat, and whatever else he and his wife Emma could scrounge. What followed was over a century of toil, learning how to live in the brutality of inland Florida and catch and sell cracker cattle in Punta Rassa to the Cuban market. But, the most important parts of the novel don’t really focus merely on the cattle industry. Instead, they focus on the interpersonal relationships between the MacIvey family and the camp of Seminole Keith Tiger. Their fates, and eventually their families, would become intertwined as they both worked to survive and thrive in the face of a changing Florida.


Seminole Representation in A Land Remembered

Throughout A Land Remembered, Smith includes Seminoles, their culture, and their history in the storyline. When Keith Tiger and Tobias MacIvey first meet, Tiger and others from his camp are chased by white cattlemen. The cattlemen are trying to punish them for killing a wild calf while starving. Tobias offers them food and sanctuary at his homestead,  protecting them from the cattlemen who justify their brutality by stating “…it’s against the law for an Indian to be in Florida now. They’re all criminals and ought to be in Oklahoma. That’s the law.” (Smith 50) At this first meeting, the struggles faced by Seminoles are put into sharp contrast. Not only must they make a living in the harsh environment, but they also have to avoid and survive the encroaching hostile white settlers.

This meeting also sets up a history of friendship between the MacIveys and Keith Tiger and his camp. The Seminoles teach them about coontie flour, and advise Tobias on how to successfully capture wild cattle. They also furnish Tobias with a marshtackie horse and cattle dogs, who were instrumental in Tobias being able to survive and build his homestead. Cattle dogs like this were first trained for cattle ranching by Seminole cattlemen, and Florida crackers adopted the practice. In turn, Tobias gives them much needed guns and ammunition (which they may not have otherwise been able to purchase), and cattle from his own herds to survive. During this time, cattle rustlers especially targeted Seminoles. While Seminoles had a long history of cattle ranching, it became so dangerous that many abandoned ranching in favor of safety.


Florida History is Seminole History

Many of these historic moments and events seen in the novel are real moments in Florida history. Smith researched for the novel for over two years, and these moments are benchmarks in the MacIvey family history. These include the impact of the Civil War, the Great Freeze of 1895, the Florida land boom of the 1920s, the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, the coming of the railroad, and the Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928.

These moments had wide sweeping impacts, for the MacIvey family and their Seminole friends alike. Often, they survived through their friendship, both helping each other in their time of need. There is no way to divorce the two groups from each other in the context of this novel, and from that first meeting onward their lives and survival seem entwined. Although they are not on-page characters for most of the novel, it is clear Seminole history and experiences are Florida history.

Throughout the novel, Smith intersperses real, historic struggles faced by Seminole people during this century. Forcible relocation to Oklahoma and the long-felt impacts of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the dangers of Seminole cattle ranching and the realities of contending with an inhospitable government, trading posts, and the shrinking and diking of the Everglades are some of the many hardships they adapted and sacrificed to overcome. Additionally, Smith included the Seminole’s real-life contributions to the success of Florida Cracker cattle, such as the use of marshtackie horses, cattle dogs, and long-range practices.

Cracker Marketing Wood, 1888, State Archives of Florida/Morrow

What is a Florida Cracker?

Although the name may seem odd, being a “Florida cracker” is a big point of pride for many Floridians. Florida crackers represent a central part of Florida pioneer history. It is important to note that in Florida, “cracker” has a very specific historic meaning. Florida crackers were frontier cowboys, known for the “crack” of their whips as they drove cattle across Florida’s wild terrain.

In an Orlando Sentinel article from 1997, crackers were further defined as “a self-sufficient inhabitant who scratches his living from the soil or some raising livestock” (22 June 1997, Orlando Sentinel). Much like the MacIvey family in the novel, crackers in history valued independence, self-sufficiency, and adapting to the land to survive. Generally, they maintained positive trade and work relationships with Seminoles. Many wrangled and drove wild cattle across Florida, selling them either to the armies to the north or to the Cuban markets to the south.

Cracker cattle were wild cattle descended from seven Andalusian cattle brought by Ponce de Leon and the Spanish in 1521. Punta Rassa, which is heavily featured in A Land Remembered, was a favored port for selling cracker cattle to the Cuban market. Jacob Summerlin, one of the most famous Florida cattlemen and known as the “King of Crackers,” helped establish the port when he and his brother started shipping cattle to Cuba in 1858. So, crackers would drive their herds from all over the state to get a premium price for their cattle. Summerlin, and eventually the Hendry family, owned cattle pens where cattle were kept during price negotiations, prior to being shipped. A Captain Hendry is Tobias MacIvey’s cattle sale contact in Punta Rassa. Below, you can see Florida cracker cattle at Punta Rassa prior to their transport to Cuba, circa 1900s.

State Archives of Florida

A Cautionary Tale

Spanning over three generations and a century of Florida history, A Land Remembered also serves as a cautionary tale to the dangers and pitfalls of greed and over development. The center of the final generation of the MacIvey family, Solomon, faces his regrets at the end of his life. Entranced by the money and power that taking advantage of the natural resources and real estate development could garner him, Solomon stepped beyond his family’s wishes and developed, sold, and dredged the land.

The source of his falling out with his half-brother Toby, he was deeply regretful of the cost of his actions at the end of the novel. Solomon laments “If I could rip out the concrete and put back the woods, I would. But I can’t. Progress ain’t reversible. What’s done is done forever, and I’m sure as hell not proud of it. If any of you idiots had the brains of a jaybird you would stop right now too” (Smith 865).

Solomon MacIvey’s regrets were many. His inability to go back and change his actions is also seen in his last interaction with his half-brother Toby Cypress. In the face of Sol’s regrets, Toby states “It is all gone, Sol, just as Lake Okeechobee as we once knew it is gone, and the custard-apple fires is gone, and the bald cypress are gone. You are trying to capture the fog, and no one can do that” (Smith 22). This also was true for the Florida cracker legacy, where men sacrificed, changed, and sold the natural resources of Florida in the face of profit. Their greed ended up killing and forever changing the land that they loved. In the end, it was their downfall, ushering in a new Florida that was unrecognizable.


Summer Book Series 2023!

We hope that you enjoyed our first installment in our Summer Book Series 2023! Next month, check back in for another summer book. So, what do you think we will be reading next?


Additional Sources

The author accessed these sources digitally. Page reference numbers may not align with paper and hardback copies.

Smith, Patrick D. A Land Remembered. Pineapple Press. 1984. Digital.


Author Bio

Originally from Washington state, Deanna Butler received her BA in Archaeological Sciences from the University of Washington in 2014. Deanna moved to South Florida in 2016. Soon, she began working for the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office. Deanna was the THPO’s Archaeological Collections Assistant from 2017-2021. While at the THPO, Deanna worked to preserve, support, and process the Tribe’s archaeological collection. She often wrote the popular Artifact of the Month series, and worked on many community and educational outreach programs. She lives in Fort Myers, FL with her husband, son, and dog.

Comments: 1

  • Rick Richbourg
    July 25, 2023

    While historical fiction, “A Land Remembered” is a great window into what it took to settle the wilds of Florida near the turn of the Twentieth Century. If you are at all curious about Florida in the early days, A Land Remembered is a great read and I highly recommend it.

    (My family first settled into the panhandle of Florida in the 1820s and it is hard to imagine today – how hardscrabble Florida was in those early days. I even still have family as far south as Clewiston, Okeechobee and Belle Glade.)


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