A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith
by Nancy Miller
(Red Banks WI)
This was a great weaving of the history of Florida into a novel format. The book follows the travails and travels of the Mac Ivey family through three generations. Tobias Mac Ivey leaves Georgia after the Civil War to better his family’s life, and stakes a homestead near what I think may have been the Ocala or Orlando area. Actually, he squatted on the land thinking he owned it by right of homesteading, but his son later acquires the deed to the property knowing the treachery of others could take it away.
The story involves homesteading and cattle drives, orange groves and hunting, and ends with his grandson as a real estate tycoon who realizes at the end that a good life has more to do with how one arrives at that point and what is learned than what is measured by wealth. Fiercely independent folks who found a way to survive and prosper, the Mac Iveys could still be a role model for us today.
The tribulations the early settlers in Florida suffered and sometimes survived were varied and many. I positively itched all over when reading about a horde of mosquitoes that attacked the cattle and crew causing them to nearly go insane. And I complain when I get a few bites! The account of hurricanes and floods and the oppressive heat and humidity made me appreciate my shower and air conditioning.
Cattle brokers, Indians, and outlaws all figure into this colorful tale, and Smith brings the history of the real Florida Cracker alive with Tobias Mac Ivey and his descendants.
My folks lived near Kissimmee after retirement, so that part of the tale was especially interesting to me, as were the parts about Fort Myers and Palm Beach. My brother has lived in Florida for 50 years and his knowledge of the history and people of all the areas of the state are evident in this website. My visits with him over the years always fueled my interest in learning more and reading more about the state. Understanding how the land was just free range back then to what it is today, and how orange groves were made into exclusive properties (like Disney World) and home sites has always fascinated me.
Smith’s book adds to the historical context of the Florida I already know and have experienced, and adds to the respect I have for our settlers in any area of this diverse and vast country.
Enjoy it for yourself.