Florida's Rural History

Tour curated by: Tampa Historical Team, especially Zachary Gleaton

This tour explores the exceptionally rich rural history of Florida. The ability to investigate this often more-obscure agricultural and pioneering past of the state is greatly aided by the work of the Cracker Country Rural History Museum. As a 'living' museum stationed at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Cracker Country focuses on rural Florida in the 1890’s. The title cracker Country is heavily influenced by the term “cracker” which followed immigrants from Shakespeare England to the Americas and eventually to Florida. The term “cracker” represents Florida’s Cow Hunters and the sound their whips made. As a ‘living’ museum, Cracker Country consists of multiple historical structures, rather than a single modern museum hall. The structures where gathered from around the state either by donation or purchase. Cracker Country was originally based around one house in particular, the Carlton House. The founders of the museum, Mildred and Doyle Carlton, wanted to exhibit the family’s house to the public so the property at the fairgrounds was purchased for its pristine Florida beauty. Over the years Mildred and Doyle continued to collect structures to bring them to the property. The museum has a good range of buildings from many places from around the state. Each building is authentically recreated to give the visitor a realistic view into rural Florida. The museum is not open to the public year-round however. The museum is open to elementary school tours in fall and spring. The public can visit the museum on any day of the Florida State Fair as well as for Smithsonian Museum day in September and a special date in December to celebrate the holidays.

With special thanks to the Cracker Country Rural History Museum: http://www.crackercountry.org/

Locations for Tour

Alderman Carlton moved his family from Georgia to Florida in 1843 using the Florida Armed Occupation Act to receive land. This would allow Alderman to receive 160 acres of land as long as he built a house on his land and cultivated part of the…

Daniel H. Smith’s family moved to Florida in the mid 1800’s and ended up north of Zephyrhills. Willis Smith raised 8 boys and 4 girls and one of the children, Daniel Smith, moved eight miles west of Zephyrhills into Wesley Chapel. In the area…

The building was built in the early 1900’s by Cummer and Son Cypress Co., and had to be moved out of the Green Swamp in Sumter County to be brought to Cracker Country Museum. The post office building was originally used as a logging camp in the…