Bone Mizell Legendary Cowhunter

by Mike Miller
(Mount Dora, Florida)

Bone Mizell

Bone Mizell

Florida history has its fair share of characters whose reputations seem to endure for years after the time in which they lived.

Bone Mizell is one such character. He was born in Florida in 1863, and died in 1921. He was one of 12 children of Morgan Mizell and Mary Fletcher Tucker. His real name was Morgan Bonaparte Mizell, and he was a legendary Florida cowboy, or as they called them back then, cowhunter.

Bone's father was a great fan of the French Emperor, so he chose the little ruler's name for his son's middle name. The name was ironic because Bone grew up to be 6 foot 5 inches tall.

The life of Bone Mizell has been written about in many books and articles. Just Google his name or go to Amazon and you will see what I mean.

His likeness has also been captured in drawings and paintings by Frederick Remington and other artists.

He was famous for his riding skills. He and other cowhunters in those days rode small horses called "Marsh Tackies". Not only was he a great rider, he was an expert with his long bull whip.

He worked for most of the cattle ranchers in south central Florida including Captain Hendry of LaBelle and Ziba King of Fort Ogden.

He was single all of his life, but was famous for visiting almost every house of ill repute in Florida at one time or another. He never owned a home, so most folks said he never slept in a bed unless it was one of those bordellos.

He was not only tall, he could be mean and he was lean and muscular. He was also very talkative and cracked people up with his jokes and wry observations. This was even more noticeable when he had been drinking, and it seems like he drank often and a lot.

One famous story has a local sheriff arresting him and others for playing poker. Bone protested that they weren't playing for money, they were playing with poker chips.

"It's the same as money", the sheriff said, and hauled them off to jail.

In the morning Bone was ordered to pay a fine or stay in jail. He handed the judge some poker chips, and the judge protested that the fine had to paid in real money.

"The sheriff says poker chips is the same as money", said Bone.

The judge laughed and let him go.

Even the way he died is part of his legend. He was in the Fort Ogden train station waiting for some money and lay down on a station bench to take a nap. When the station people tried to wake him up, they discovered he was dead.

The cause of death on his certificate read "Moonshine - went to sleep and didn't wake up."

Bone Mizell is buried at the Joshua Creek Cemetery southeast of Arcadia. To visit the grave, take CR-31 south out of Arcadia until you come to CR-760. Follow it east a bit more than a mile and you will come to the cemetery.

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