Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 List of Figures
 A community event
 A social history of Apalachee...
 Governance and politics in Apalachee...
 Biographical sketch

Title: Suwannee River town, Suwannee River country
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098132/00001
 Material Information
Title: Suwannee River town, Suwannee River country political moieties in a Southern county community
Alternate Title: Political moieties in a Southern county community
Physical Description: xiii, 257 leaves : diagrs., maps ; 28cm.
Language: English
Creator: Sapp, Richard Wayne, 1946-
Publication Date: 1976
Copyright Date: 1976
Subject: Social surveys -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Political sociology   ( lcsh )
Politics and government -- Florida -- 1951-   ( lcsh )
Anthropology thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Anthropology -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 247-256.
Statement of Responsibility: by Richard Wayne Sapp.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00098132
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000163748
oclc - 02762722
notis - AAT0105


This item has the following downloads:

PDF ( 5 MBs ) ( PDF )

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
    List of Tables
        Page viii
    List of Figures
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page 1
    A community event
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    A social history of Apalachee county
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
    Governance and politics in Apalachee county
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
    Biographical sketch
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
Full Text



Richard Wayne Sapp

A Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
Of the University of Florida
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy




The Center for Rural Development and the Department of 4-H

and Other Youth Programs, Institute of Food and Agricultural

Sciences, University of Florida, sponsored the research for this

dissertation with a working graduate assistantship. I began

active research in the county I have called Apalachee in June

1974 and completed that phase in May 1975. During the summer of

1974 I labored in tobacco warehouses in the county seat, Lizbeth,

and the following summer I worked in Lizbeth as project coordi-

nator for a summer program of the Suwanne River Economic Council.

These activities provided additional insight into my host com-

munity and the financial means to remain there during those


I went to Apalachee County to examine political processes in

the context of a human community, a socially whole unit,, rather

than of a specific group or geographic area. This approach

seemed eminently applicable to study in large-scale complex

societies. My premise suggested that to get at widespread phe-

nomena in complex systems, we must enter by examining proces-

sual or organizational nodes of interaction rather than structural

nodes. Of course, some social scientists have long done exactly

this, but the method has particular value for the cultural

anthropology of complex societies. Consequently I chose to look

at the distribution of political power and resources within a

large (15,000+ inhabitants) social arena. While I think the work

itself was successful, I missed the close, intensely personal

experience of working day by day in a tiny, isolated group

formerly the hallmark of the professional anthropologist.

I initiated the active phase of on-site research with a set

of methods and principles in mind. Methodologically the work

resembled decades of anthropological tradition. I planned to

sit quietly, listen, question, and read what I could of the area

and the people. I determined to be honest in my approach, open

in my "search for truth," and confidential with all volunteered

information. These principles served me well and were only

muddled by their occasional inconsistency with contractual obli-

gations to my employer.

My reception in the community must be understood as inter-

action with at least two levels of meaning, which structural

analysis endeavors to decipher--a public front and a private

interior. When natives of Apalachee County inquired challeng-

ingly, "Why did you come here (to do your research)?" they seemed

to mean not only "Why here?" but "Why not elsewhere?" Privately '

implied was a clear statement--"Leave Us Alone"--restating the

plea sewn on the First Flag of the territory of Florida, a

product of rural, north Florida localism. Locals frequently

asked, "How have people received you here?" revealing a protective

premise of localism and provincialism underlying their interest.

Publicly the people described themselves as "friendly" and

received me well. Locals stuck a hand up in their version of

waving and I waved back, waved every chance I got, whether or

not I knew the person on the other end of the greeting. At this

level, the level of public form, the whole world is a stage and

the people indeed are "friendly."

The private sphere opened less to me, for intimacy took

time, and this brought me to realize another structuring principle

of Apalachee society--familism. A person involved in great

sets of kinfolk or many voluntary associations has a high thres-

hold requirement for sympathetic interaction with strangers,

and I consider myself fortunate in the close relationships I had.

Intimacy, in a sense, is a gift of birth or marriage, and though

a great grandmother of mine was born in. the southern end of the

county in 1882, though I was related to a well-remembered

marshal of the county seat, though I bore a familiar cracker name,

I had to demonstrate my ability and willingness to reciprocate in

the public display of being a "good old boy"--I had to earn my

way in.

Grappling with practical and methodological considerations

led me toward the formation of hypotheses during my field work.

This repetition of interest in the nature of my reception forced

me to try to'understand the implications of a dual level of

interaction. I realized that a we-vs.-they spirit of localism

was a structuring principle in the social life of rural north


After work like mine in Apalachee County, one owes a debt

beyond immediate repayment to two groups of people--the pene-

trated host community and the assertive academic community. These

debts cannot be compared, because their fundamental nature springs

from distinctive and occasionally opposing premises. The hosts

must protect their integrity from exploitation and uncharitable

publicity, while the academic sponsors must pry in order that

they may understand and interpret social life in all its complexity

as truthfully as possible. I am not at liberty to cite the names

of individuals of the host community who aided and befriended me,

for whatever personal reasons. Although the manuscript names

positions and personal names, identities, wherever possible, have

been disguised. I can only say thank you, and hope that the

analysis I present of your community and your way of life is free

of major errors: you did receive me well.

To the academic community of the University of Florida I

owe a debt of gratitude for urging me to ask the impertinent

question--"What are the reasons?"--and to view responses with

benign (but not patronizing) skepticism. Shepherding my tenure

in graduate school was a demanding and often thankless task.

I will not single out all who have played a role in my academic

and career development and who deserve a special thank you, but

the following have had a deep and lasting effect on my personal

and professional life: Dr. G. Alexander Moore, chairman of my

supervisory committee, and Dr. Solon T. Kimball read and critized

early drafts of the manuscript. Mr. Carl Feiss, Dr. Paul Doughty,

and Dr. Alfred Clubok have served on my supervisory committee.

Dr. James Brasher, Dr. Thearon McKinney, Dr. B. R. Eddleman, and

Dr. Michael Davis have sponsored my work with the Institute of

Food and Agricultural Sciences of the University of Florida.

Dr. Bill Smith and Mr. Jim Brown, extension personnel, always

lent me a helpful hand in north Florida. Martha Hetrick of Edition

Makers assisted in the preparation of the manuscript.

I wish to express my gratitude for and appreciation of the

support and encouragement offered me by my own families. Without

their unstinting care I would have fallen by the wayside long


Finally it-must be made clear that many people have played a

part in the development of this manuscript--the facts included,

opinions expressed, and interpretations presented. Errors,

omissions, and occasional rejection of good advice, however, can

be charged against no one but myself.


Preface ii
List of Tables viii
List of Figures .ix
Abstract x















Biographical Sketch 257








1971 138


1965-1975 140



TIES OF 5,000-20,000 INHABITANTS 148


FLORIDA JULY 27, 1974 151

1914-1940 (inclusive) 153
















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
Of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Richard Wayne Sapp

June, 1976

Chairman: G. Alexander Moore, Jr.
Major Department: Anthropology

Studies of the political institutions of the southeastern

United States exhibit three major problems--one historical, one

structural, and one methodological. The historical problem

derives from the region's peculiar agricultural nature, which

allowed the development of a tradition of plantation aristocrats.

These elites of the "Old South" tended to monopolize the inter-

actional relation between town and country components of the

Southern county community.

Structural and methodological flaws derive from the charac-

teristics of sociological research, not from populations studied.

The structure of party politics, especially the division of the

population into two dominant parties (Democratic and Republican)

and the resultant competition between the parties, is the subject

of the majority of speculation and research about Southern politics.

These studies examine decision-making and governance as a structure

of relations between local representatives of national voluntary

associations and public policy produced as the outcome of interplay

between these associations.

The methodological problem results from an emphasis on survey

research using questionnaires and structured interview techniques. F1yj

Hunter's B search for community "power structure" is typical.

This research program carried a biasing premise in the idea that

voluntary associations are the uniformly American form of social


The fieldwork behind this manuscript required one year. Princi-

pal data-gathering methods were participant observation, interview-

ing, and analysis of written material. The methodology counters

the bias of survey research. Findings challenge the historical and

structural flaws cited above.

Apalachee County, a north Florida county community, nestles in

a bend of the Suwannee River. The urban county seat is the center

of government and associational life. Scattered over the country-

side are farming neighborhoods whose interactional centers are rural

churches. County seat and rural neighborhoods are coupled by mutual

exchanges of goods and services: neither are, of themselves, cultural

wholes. The poor quality of its soils and the relative recency of

settlement (post-Civil-War) give the community its distinctiveness;

it never had a planting elite.

Apalachee society is structured along moiety lines: town and

country. These halves rest on an earlier "cracker" horizon of

isolated single-family homesteads. True crackers subsisted by

living off the land and practicing hoe agriculture; they were

fiercely independent and socially isolated. Apalachee moieties

are also related to regional traditions: townmen as town nabobs

in the Cavalier tradition and countrymen as yeoman farmers in

the Calvinist tradition. Townmen promote associational inter-

action, valuing familism (nuclear), hierarchy in organizations,

"progress," and paternalistic interaction with countrymen.

Countrymen value familism (extended), localism, and personalism,

interacting on individually egalitarian rather than ordered

associational terms.

Black persons were never more than 25 percent of the community's

population. They participate peripherally in community political

life, their relations modified by the Southern caste system.

The division of governmental offices falls along moiety lines.

Townmen control municipal governments; countrymen control the

powerful county bodies. Except for jobs, the governmental insti-

tution is not a major source of political prizes. The country

moiety is the dominant political force.

Politically, moieties compete through ephemeral factions,

whose interaction replicates the valued interaction pattern of

the parent moiety. The town relies on an.informal men's associa-

tion (a group) for action; the country, on a loose coalition of

interested persons (a collective). Factional types are dis-

tinguished as international and structural, respectively. A

local bank backs each faction, thus revealing the major prize

gained from political involvement--access to credit. To arrive

at these conclusions, two types of political competition are

examined: an extraordinary political fight involving a confronta-

tion between the two factions, directly, and a routine,

scheduled set of electoral encounters.





Plenty of time had elapsed since the last referendum

on liquor in the county, "dry" now for twenty years. The Con-

stitution in Florida requires only a two-year wait between refer-

endums, and by 1973 five years had elapsed.

In 1973 the "wets," who favored selling hard liquor in

Apalachee County, decided that the time was propitious for their

cause. No long-simmering emotions had flared in 1967, no one had

vented emotions publicly, and liquor had lost just 51 to 49. If

they could mount a well-orchestrated "sales campaign" with an

economic "pitch," using the "business approach" to this issue by

reckoning in dollars-and-cents terms, they could overcome that

narrow margin and win. If they pushed hard, if they organized

better, if they developed a hard-hitting advertising campaign,

their chances were excellent.

The wets believed that another factor operated in their

favor; this farm county seemed to be filling up with outsiders,

"Yankees" and urbanites from south Florida--all escaping the

"rat race." These new residents, coming from places where

liquor was sold with few restrictions, would surely prefer to

live in a wet county, and these people would tip the scales

toward victory.

Harry Grimes organized the campaign for the wets. A some-

time businessman, sometime cattleman, he had good connections to

both county political coalitions--the downtown interests and the

rural interests. Grimes had led the liquor effort in 1967, and

besides, he kept a business connection which would turn extremely

lucrative if the wets won. He called himself a "one-man committee."

Before the pro-liquor group could force an election on the

liquor issue, however, they had to petition for a special elec-

tion. Crimes directed the effort to collect the signatures

required--25% of county voters. Feelings about liquor ran

strong in the county, and when area newspapers gave special

coverage to the rekindled issue, signatures collected rapidly.

In August the County Supervisor of Elections certified the

signatures on the petition and set the referendum for October

16, allowing sufficient pre-election time for emotional build-up.

SOnly when signature collection was well underway did the

Reverend Smith, a local Baptist preacher, begin to organize the

drys, the anti-liquor faction. Smith located a couple of hard-

working preachers in Lizbeth, the county seat, and they set to

work on a campaign of their own. The wets had an organizational

advantage, and unless Smith worked hard, the election would

surely swing against his cause. He knew that once opened, the

evils of this Pandora's box might not be undone in his county.

Both wets and drys established campaign treasuries in

Lizbeth banks: wets at the State Bank and drys at the County

Bank. The wets were crowing over a dozen large donations. The

drys reported small donations, but small donations from scores

of people. When, in mid-campaign, a local newspaper favorable

to the drys published the official list of contributors to the

wet treasury, donations to Grimes's comm ittee "dried up."

The three weekly newspapers in Apalachee County worked

actively in the wet-dry battle. Two advocated voting against

liquor and openly supported the drys. The established Lizbeth

News-Leader attempted a neutral stance, counseling reason, dis-

passionate examination of the facts, and voting for the more

"progressive" sides, but it never actually endorsed voting for

liquor. Active official support of the wets was out of the

question. The people would vote on October 16, and the vote

would be close, but the community favored a public front shunning

liquor, regardless of private sympathies.

Grimes, for the wets, instigated a newspaper campaign to

escalate community interest in the coming election. His adver-

tisements played on the nerves of county residents:


So the Bootlegger can supply!
Vote for Legal Control October 16th

Smith launched a counter campaign for the drys in area newspapers.

He specifically attacked Grimes's economic arguments:


Former State Beverage Director, Don Meiklejohn,
told the United Drys six years ago that a
license which costs $600 in Apalachee County was
worth at least $20,000. If it was worth that
much then, what is it worth today? In Brevard
County a license was bought for $1,800 and sold
for $67,000.


In September the campaigns were gaining emotional momentum.

The wets advertised:



Why Send Local Dollars Out of Town?

Under Legal Control our citizens won't find it
necessary to travel to adjoining counties to make
their beverage purchases and while there make
many other purchases.



When Reverend Smith countered this advertisement by flaunting

the names and signatures of anti-liquor community leaders in

a full-page newspaper ad, Crimes could only cry that

Many of the 354 plus business and professional men
of Apalachee County desiring legal control refused
to be intimidated when asked to sign a "Dry" state-
ment being carried around by the Preachers. We

have been told that some of the personally "Dry"
will vote "Wet" for progress of Apalachee County.

Jdckeying for advantage, both sides adopted characteristic

terms of reference for themselves and for the opposition. The

wets called themselves "The Committee for Legal Control" and

sneered at the drys as "the Preachers." Reverend Smith called

his group "The United Drys" and simply snubbed his opponents as

"the wets." Both wets and drys formulated campaign and propaganda

strategies. Grimes knew that his chance of victory lay in sell-

ing his economic views to the public and keeping personalities

out of the fracas. The drys rebuked Grimes's economics and

broadened the issues tangential to liquor. Smith maintained

that the community had staked its religious heritage, "the family,"

and public morality on the outcome of the election.

Late in the campaign the drys discovered Grimes's personal

business interest in the liquor issue. The chairman of the wets

was forced to write:

As you know, I own property at the northern
interchange and I want to say here that I fully
expect to make a profit on any sale of land
or development that can be attracted to this
location. It is estimated that one motel
could add close to one million dollars to our
tax rolls and I believe this with the addi-
tional employment opportunities and possible
other development would be advantageous to
all the people in Apalachee County.

This revelation on the eve of the election injected Grimes

himself as an issue into the campaigning. Local people

muttered that if the county "went wet," Grimes "was going to

make a killing" selling his land to a national motel chain.

They said he had not already sold out, because no large motel

would settle a franchise in a county where drinks could not be

served with meals. Locals tended to disbelieve Grimes's

claim that his profit would "be advantageous to all the people."

What was good for Harry Grimes was not necessarily good for

Apalachee County. This incident tipped the scales.

On October 16, 1973, 4,814 voters went to the polls for the

Apalachee County wet-dry election, 54% of the registered elec-

torate. Of that number, 54% voted for the county to remain

dry. Reverend Smith's drys won by a margin wider than their

1967 victory--a resounding success in a hard-fought and often

bitter campaign.

In the final newspaper edition before the election, the drys

ran a large advertisement with the following Biblical quota-

tion in capital letters:

ROMANS 14: 10-13

10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why
dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we
shall all stand before the judgment-seat of
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord,
every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue
shall confess to God.

12 So then every one of us shall give account
of himself to God.
13 Let us not therefore judge one another any
more: but judge this rather, that no man
put a stumbling-block, or an occasion to fall
in his brother's way.

This quotation cut the controversy like a double-edged sword.

The drys meant to suggest a parallel between liquor and the

"stumbling-block," thereby urging people to vote to keep the

county dry. A secondary but important thrust of the verses

opened the door to reconciliation between community factions

using religion, which had separated the groups, as a symbolic

point about which both might rally and reconstitute as a unity.

Win or lose, life in this small county-community had to con-

tinue. When the fracas was all over, these groups must lay aside


In an editorial two days after the election, the Lizbeth

News-Leader, cautious supporter of the wets during the campaign,

doubted the finality of the election results but called for a

reunited Apalachee County:

At long last, October 16 has finally come and
gone--much to the delight of Wets and Drys alike.
However, we find ourselves at exactly the same
point at which we started from over one month
ago. . Face it, none of us have won anything
at least not yet. Now is the time to have
a unified county. If the county is to be dry--
it should be as dry as is humanly possible for any
place to be in this day and age. .. [We should be]
concentrating on total unity of the citizens in this
county. . Don't drop the battle now. The
problem remains unsolved and continues to grow on
an even larger scale than yesterday. And tomorrow
it will have grown even more.

Even now, years after this election, Harry Grimes 's wife

attends church alone.

The wet-dry election of 1973 was a special contest in the

Apalachee County political arena. It distinctly divided the

opposing coalitions and settled a matter of public policy with-

out involving government in a partisan role or the elected

officials normally charged with supervision of public policy.

The unusually deep emotions generated in the fray remained

years later, suggesting value conflicts more profound than the

manifest issue. What was the meaning of this event?



The goal of this research has been to present a sociological

analysis of structures and processes of community activity revealed

through a study of local politics in one county-community in north-

central Florida. The study was designed not as a general community

study but as a complement to other research through the Institute

of Food and Agricultural Sciences of the University of Florida.

This larger research framework examined alternative arrangements

and costs of financing and producing certain public services and re-

lating quantity of services (of specified quality) under alternative

facility arrangements to costs to the system (Eddleman >OiM,/l 117).

Hence, although the fieldwork upon which this dissertation is

based was applied in concept, this manuscript will present material

in a theoretical context.

Knowledge gained from studying political value allocations will

enable policy makers, program planners, and private citizens to

more realistically assess community systems of rationality for

such allocations. Plans may then be based on an understanding of

or at least some appreciation for the ongoing models of community

action held by the people themselves. This dissertation is de-

signed to show how the people of one community are organized to

meet their political wants and needs and, most importantly, what

their system's operating assumptions are.

While all social systems allocate resources according to

structuring principles, allocation is an especially acute task in

communities like the counties of the southeastern U.S.A., where

traditional agricultural resource bases must support a number of

distinct, interdependent, and often mutually hostile subcultural

traditions. A national system of social and moral provincialism

contains the agricultural exporting regions of the U.S., and the

Southeast in particular, to a relation of economic, intellectual,

and political dependence upon manufacturing centers of the nation,

thereby exacerbating the difficulties of resource allocation in

county-communities. The need to understand systems of value allo-

cation in chronically resource-poor twentieth-century Southern

counties cannot be overemphasized.

I undertook to understand local-level politics by focusing on

community organization--public decision-making as a function of

political processes that set goals, determine means and alterna-

tives, and negotiate a course of action: ultimately an authorita-

tive allocation of values (Easton, 1953). These processes, syste-

matized in a body of rules, have three dimensions: a structure of \

interaction, a system of customary behavior, and a system of values

(Kimball & Pearsall, 1954). Within the relational structure of

a community, coalitions form about commonly held value positions

or about unified task-oriented efforts; their interactions, cus-

tomary behavior, values, resources, and relative power are open to

assessment. These coalitions infiltrate, and in turn are balanced

by, semi-public and governmental structures of appointed and elected


Public services are deployed in the process of making decisions

based on the felt needs and desires of groups influential in the

political process. Factions mobilize for the purpose of implement-

ing shared policies and common values, working out paths for in-

fluence and communication in the interaction-exchange networks of

the community (Homans, 1958). The resultant public service infra-

structure of a community reflects the policies and values of com-

peting groups as well as the structure of community competition,

cooperation, and compromise; it is a mini-model in physical terms

of the culture of the community.

Images of public service deployment are shared within, and the

subjects of continual negotiation between, relational groups.

Images or perceptions are formulated in relation to systems of

values, expressed through customary behaviors, and operationalized

through structures of interaction exchange. Actual deployment is

a reflection not so much of "rational" evaluations of resources,

capabilities, and limitations, in Weber's sense of the term, as

of cultural perceptions or images of such rationality. This is

the usual problem with the rationality concept--it is not so much

objective as it is relative.

In proceeding with this research I used the "natural history"

methodology to approach the research situation. Data were collected

in vivo, through observation, rather than in vitro, through

isolation and experimentation. The sub-community models intro-

duced in Part I, the community social history, were viewed through

a more comprehensive model of community social structure, relieved

of preconceived or eclectic structuring frameworks insofar as was

possible. This methodology commends the use of a variety of tech-

niques and focuses them on individuals and relational groups, their

activities, and their relationships in events. Internal and ex-

ternal conditions and variables then can be considered within the

parameters of space and time (Arensberg & Kimball, 1968). I have

relied principally on participant-observation (including interac-

tional and event analysis), interviewing, and content analysis of

related literature (local newspapers, area census tracts, novels, v

travelogues, and other accessible documents).

A system of hunan community derivative of Europe and still

basic to the southern United States is the county-community.

Conrad Arensberg has suggested, "The distinctive community form of

the South was and is the county" (Arensberg & Kimball, 1965,

p. 106). The symbolic heart of this traditional community, the

county courthouse, has been the central point of political and

economic assembly for county residents. Its people lived dis-

persed in neighborhoods clustered about small Protestant churches,

points of assembly in socialization and socializing as well as

bastions of moral and spiritual rectitude. The courthouse was

situated in a county seat that served as a central marketplace but,

until recently, was neither an urban nor an inherently dominating


In Florida, counties are the smallest constitutionally estab-

lished governmental structures; towns and cities are chartered

separately and maintain a corporate existence at the will and

whim of the state legislature. In the north center and the north-

west, county residents have held tenaciously to traditional

regional forms of social organization, even in the face of massive

national social readjustment.

Along with this county-community organizational form, much of

Florida's countryside has lived under a shadow of relative

poverty and economic dependence (Bostwick, 1946; Hebel, n.d: (c. 191/j;

Thompson, 1973; U.S.OEO, 1967), if the general literature is to be


Into this economically poorer, more "traditionalist" rural north

Florida region urbanization is gradually encroaching from the south

(Tampa-Orlando-Gainesville), from the east (Jacksonville), and

from the southwest the Gulf coast (Pickard, 1972).

The consequences for regional forms of community in general

and for Florida's county-community in particular of incipient

urbanization; invasion by extraneous, dominant community forms

such as the city or metropolis; and mounting intervention in local

affairs by non-local regulatory agencies are an unresolved ques-

tion. The classic answer is local social disorganization (Wirth,

1938). Vidich and Bensman in 1958 exhumed and revised this theme

as local "surrender to mass society" after they had studied a

"township" in New York State. A number of writers have disagreed

with this view, arguing that there is much evidence that community

forms are flexible, adaptive, and persistent through time (Arens-

berg & Kimball, 1965; Gans, 1962; Mumford, 1961).

As county seats become urban places, they are able to match

the dominant economic position in the county with political domi-

nance, supporting the cosmopolites' inherent anti-rural biases

and thereby altering traditional social patterns. When city hall

vigorously contests with the county courthouse, local governments

find themselves in strained and overlapping functional coexistence,

sharing the load of public services and competing for public re-

sources. This overt conflict is often evidence of community re-

organization and an expression of more fundamental cultural con-

tradictions. With growth in population of the county seat, economic

diversification, and hence reorganization of community relational

sets, the kernel of conflict sprouts visible manifestations such

as strains to redefine charters of various governmental bodies

(e.g., Miami-Dade County's urban-county governmental restructuring

from 1957; Jacksonville-Duval County's near total consolidation

in 1968; Gainesville-Alachua County's continual well-publicized

efforts to effect a plan for governmental consolidation during the

decade of the 1970s). Interestingly enough, the majority of move-

ments for these "reforms" in the U.S. Southeast and across the

nation have not succeeded, despite "objective economic evidence"

warranting their consideration.

If there are distinctive modes of human community, we should

expect distinctive organizations of political phenomena since

current students generally understand political activity to arise

from the socio-cultural matrix and to reinforce the value system

(Balandier, 1970; Rosenthal & Crain in Clark, 1968). I have herein

followed the suggestion that political studies be explicated in

terms of social organization, the distribution of social resources,

and the generators of social inequalities.

When V. O. Key (1950) considered politics in the U.S. Southeast,

he emphasized three points:

1. That politics was the #1 problem of the
South as a whole.
2. That Southern politics was factional and
Florida's especially so.
3. That the key issue in politics in the South
and particularly the "black-belt" South
was the Negro.

We will see how these statements fare in examination of a north

Florida county on the edge of the black-belt.

In Part I we will examine the social history of the Apalachee

county-community. We begin with the early 1800s' entrance of

"cracker" subsistence farmers and follow the history through the

inmigration of yeoman-dirt farmers and townmen. Throughout we

will focus on community subsistence and industrial activities and

on the credit function.

In Part II we examine the formal structure of governance and

move on to the native system of political competition, to which

the formal system is only tangential. This native system struc-

tures competition between community moieties--townmen and country-

men. Black people have little aggregate or individual influence

in the county. Organization for political action follows tradi-

tional patterns for social action of the respective moieties;

townmen compete through a semi-formal association, a clique of

town nabobs, out of which interactional factions rise in ex-

ceptional circumstances. Countrymen compete through a structural

faction, whose leaders hold the traditional leadership position

of rural neighborhoods: preachers. We examine both periodic

electoral contests and an extraordinary non-periodic contest.

I suggest that Key's conclusions about north Florida politics

erred because he focused on analysis of elections and "issues"

(where he could find them)without studying the social matrix be-

hind the public face of political events. In Apalachee County

"race" is not the key issue in politics. This type of error

results fromstudying community power structure in the manner

which Floyd Hunter (1953) popularized: entering communities

through the associational nexus of the towns. This strategy of

listing and cross-referencing guarantees that a political system

such as that of the Apalachee county-community will be misunder-


Throughout this essay we will be concerned with the question

of the wellsprings of political activity in this county-community.

What is the connection between this system and field of relations

and the peculiar dynamisms of the structures: Between politics

and the historical sequencing of basic economic activities?


Between politics and the total social phenomena? The significance

of this work will ultimately lie in its ability to be faithful to

these "tests" of adequacy and to integrate the hypotheses thus





Apalachee County lies at the navel of Florida's north center

(see Figure 1). Near the county cross major transportation

routes, by railroad and by automobile, that afford easy access to

more glamorous, more publicized parts of the state. Although

more than 50% urbanized (1970 standards, U.S. Census Bureau:

incorporated places of 2,500+'population; see Table 1), this major

agricultural center of Florida specializes in the production of

field crops (corn, tobacco, watermelons) and cover and forage

crops (peanuts and soybeans). Cattle, poultry, and swine raising

and commercial harvesting of slash pine contribute significantly

to the local economy (Thompson, 1973). In the center of the

county Lizbeth, the county seat and urban hub of 6,830 people

(1970 census), squats like a giant spider reaching to all corners

of the county along outflung roadways (see Table 2).

Two community traditions influenced the late-developing social

structures of Apalachee County. Havard (1972) has suggested that

the historical Southern dichotomy of life-styles fell along the

following lines:











Year Columbia Hamilton




























































































Year Lizbeth Jordan

1970 6,830 820

1960 6,544 663

1950 4,064 753

1940 3,427 684

1930 2,734 498

1920 3,103 708

1910 3,450 262

1900 1,659

1890 687

1880 458

1870 ----

Calvinist-Yeoman Farmer Cavalier-Planter/Town Nabob

Radical individualism Social conformity
Personalism Caste
Personal independence Paternalistic dependency
Populism Conservatism
Unity out Factionalism in
Regionalist traditions Nationalist patriotism

He wrote that this split fathered two mainstream traditions in the

South: yeoman farmer and plantation farmer. The yeoman farmers,

he said, opposed governmental centralization and exhibited an

aversion to urbanism, industrialization, and the entrepreneurial

classes; they were libertarian, egalitarian, and populist. The

plantation whigs, identified with downtown mercantile interests,

supported themselves as planters, factors, bankers, and merchants,

sat as the "county seat clique," developed the theme of racial

segregation in the post-bellum era, and promoted a cult of "manners"

and paternalism.

Before turning to a discussion of county government and politi-

cal activity, we will identify these elements in the social history

of Apalachee County, with a single important exception: absence

of the plantation farmer. The infertility of the sandy soils in

the great bend of the Suwannee River and the lateness of settler

infiltration into the vast reaches of pine barriers in Florida's

heartland account for his absence. Before Apalachee had a town

to speak of, Florida west of the Suwannee River was settled in

the classic bi-tradition discussed by Havard, and the Florida

coast to the east of Apalachee had a long history of towns and


Nestled in the great bend of the Suwannee River lies

Apalachee County, Fl8ida. There was a time in the not-too-

distant past when the white man was unknown there: a time unlike

the "good old days" that live in social memory and imagination,

recorded and stored only in booRs. Time was when land, forests,

and aboriginals coexisted. Then a crack rent the fabric of time,

and the imperialistic Europeans reached out to the New World.

The Apalachees and the Timucuans, pushed to the wall, were no more

forever, leaving only the renegade Seminoles as the briefest of

sojourners. The social history of Apalachee County arrived at

that point of disjunction a century and a half ago, in the 1820s:

the era of the red man ended; that of the white man and the black

man began.

Throughout the Suwannee River Valley to the edge of historic

time lived aboriginals of the Apalachee and Chicasaw groups. To

the east the Timucuans exploited the lush coastal plains and

subtropical sea islands. To the north in the colony of Georgia

remained the town-dwelling Creeks, the remnants of whom drifted

as Seminoles south through Florida from the Okeefenokee Swanp to

the fasts of the Everglades. The Europeans with African slaves

drove these people out of the homelands and murdered them with

disease, with arms, and with starvation.

Bernard Romans, a British naturalist and writer, traversed

the interior of north Florida late in the 18th century and made

special note of economic features that would ultimately struc-

ture the social history of the area (Romans, 1961).

Cotton will grow in any soil, even the most
meager and barren sand that we can find.
(p. 97)

Hogs are so profitable an article, and so
easily made spontaneous, that it is a matter
of the greatest surprise to me that no more
are raised in Florida; especially as mast
is very various, and in great abundance.
(p. 120)

But the grand manufacture to be made of
timber here, is SHIPPING, for this pur-
pose no country affords more or better
wood; live oak, cedar, cypress, yellow
pine, are adapted by nature to this. (p. 124)

[He noted that the "ground nut" had been
introduced to the area by black people
from Guinea.]

The pipe is used here as with others.
Tobacco in some shape or other seems
be the American symbol of peace, friend-
ship and social conversation, to which
last Europeans seem also to have applied
it in imitation of the savages. (p. 69)
Tobacco is a source of great riches
in this country; the French have proved
that this plant may be an article of
great emolument especially as that
trade is on the decline in Virginia and
Maryland. . (p. 102)

Naval stores are likewise an article of
immense speculation in both provinces
[East and West Florida]. . (p. 143)

The area's utter provincialism obtained throughout the history

of the European settlement. The Spaniards, the French, and the

British clung to the coast, rarely venturing into the interior of

the province and then but tentatively. The inland swamps, flat-

woods, and rolling pine barrens only interested the"cracker folk,"

from the northern United States, who could wrest a meager living

from the drearily forbidding natural environment.

These early white inhabitants confronted four natural plant

associations in the Suwannee River Valley when they drifted

down through Georgia between the 1820s and the War Between the

States (see Figure 2). Swamp forests, the "hant" of black bear,

panther, and otter, composed mostly of water and laurel oaks,

sweet and black gum, bay, and cypress, bordered the Suwannee and

Santa Fe rivers around three sides of the county. Gaunt, wild

bovines, escaped from Spanish pens, roamed an association of

towering native yellow pine, oak, and interspersed grassy plains,

the flatwoods of an oval area southeast of the county seat.

These flatwoods roughly coincide with areas of excessive wetness

and a perched water table. A broad swath of northern-central

hardwood and pine forest paralleled the swamps next to the

southern-and western track of the Suwannee River. The upland

pine and oak forest, the pine barrens, covering a thin Hawthorn

limestone formation near the surface in the northern, central,

and eastern sections of the county, consisted of slash and long-

leaf pine and live oak.

Although the origin of the term cracker is disputed, Stetson

Kennedy claims that cracker first applied to an assortment of

"bad characters" who gathered in northern Florida before it be-

came a territory of the United States. Deep-South Southerners

later applied the epithet to the "poor white folk of Florida,

1 = Northern central hardwood
and pine forest

2 = Upland pine and oak forest

3 = Pine flatwoods

4 = Swamp forests (on riverine
borders of county only)

Adapted from: "Comprehensive Development Plan for [Apalachee]
County, Florida," Tallahassee, Fla.: Barr,
Dunlop & Associates, 1974, p. 10.




Georgia, and Alabama"(Kennedy, 1942, p. 59). He further relates:

Crackers are mainly descended from the Irish,
Scotch, and English stock which, from 1740 on,
was slowly populating the huge Southern wilder-
ness behind the thin strip of coastal civiliza-
tion. These folk settled the Cumberland Valley,
the Shenandoah, and spread through every
Southern state east of the Mississippi. That
branch of the family which settled in the Deep
South was predominantly of Irish ancestry, and
their modern cracker descendants still sing
songs in which their immigrant ancestors ex-
pressed hope for a better life in America.
S. (p. 60)

The early crackers were the Okies of their day
(as they have been ever since). Cheated of
land, not by wind and erosion, but by the plan-
tation and slaverysystem of the Old South,
they were nonessentials in an economic, politi-
cal and social order dominated by the squire-
archy of wealthy planters, and in most respects
were worse off than the Negro slaves. (p. 61)

Powell (1969), a white turpentine camp overseer of the late

nineteenth century, called the crackers of Apalachee County

"wild woodsmen" (p. 30) and mentioned a man who "had lived the

usual life of a shiftless Cracker, hunting and fishing, and

hard work did not agree with him" (p. 61).

When I speak of villages throughout this country,
I use the word for lack of a better term, for
in nine cases out of ten, they were the smallest
imaginable focus of the scattering settlement,
and usually one general store embraced the sum
total of business enterprise. There the natives
came at intervals to trade for coffee, tobacco,
and the few other necessities that the woods
and waters did not provide them with. Alligators'
hides and teeth, bird plumes and various kinds

of pelts were the medium of barter. They were
a curious people, and there are plenty of them
there yet, born and bred to the forest and
as ignorant of the affairs of every-day life
outside of their domain, as are the bears and
deer upon which they mainly subsist. A man
who would venture to tell them that the
earth moved instead of the sun, or that there
was a device by which a message could be
flashed for leagues across a wire, would run
the risk of being lynched, as too dangerous
a liar to be at large. (pp. 249-50)

The true crackers, Powell's "wild woodsmen," were never numerous,

and they rarely participated in the social life of the wider

Apalachee county-community. Crackers were born, lived, and

died in the woods. They buried their own in family plots far

from the nearest church. The willful isolation of their way

of life effectively secured their privacy and social remoteness

from the yeoman farmers who began to move into the Suwannee River

Valley in the mid-1800s. Cracker families settled the Apalachee

area without recourse to legal formalities. Thus, when the

yeomen farmers (and plantation farmers in counties to the west)

eventually purchased legal titles to land, true crackers were

forced out and deeper into Florida.

Cracker subsistence strategy depended on scratch, perhaps

slash-and-burn, summer agriculture and year-round food collecting

activities: hunting, fishing, and foraging. Because their

farming operations were so small, limited to the part-time efforts

of an individual family, they had no need of financial credit.

Indeed, their fiercely independent, egalitarian ethos pro-

hibited them from interacting significantly in the rural neigh-

borhoods of the community.

While the term cracker has been popularized in the last half-

century and extended to include the poorer white farmers

generally, no true cracker would refer to himself as such.

As does the term nigger, the word cracker connotes social dis-

approbation: the former applied to all black people and the

latter to the poorest rural whites.1

Few true crackers remain in Apalachee County, for two reasons:

their traditional habitats, swamps and forest edges, have almost

disappeared and the institutions of the community now readily

disturb their secluded way of life. A few families still live

on the borders of the county. There they exploit the food re-

sources of the rivers and swamps and perhaps scratch-farm a few

acres. They reputedly ignore official game limits and seasonal

restrictions and plow land whose ownership is disputed; their

hogs ("piney woods rooters") they loose in any convenient field

or woodlot, regardless of ownership. When a businessman needs

One speculates that the driving force behind withholding
respectability from the true crackers and the extension of
the consequently disparaging term to include countrymen of the
small farmer class originated with the townspeople. This
idea parallels the hypothesis that townsmen perpetuated and
revitalized the issue of racial politics in the twentieth cen-
tury. The specific group in both cases would have been the
planter/town nabob class, whose personal interest lay in divid-
ing the other class in the bi-class system of the Southern

a guide for a fishing trip up the Withlacoochee River or a hunting

expedition on the "Peckerwood Trail," a cracker male appears.

The technological changes of the twentieth century have

enabled social institutions to penetrate the isolation of the

crackers and enforce town mores. Cracker homicides are no longer

unreported and uninvestigated or allowed to result in clannish

feuding between secluded, but related, families. No longer may

the children escape the public school regimen. No longer may

they escape taxation by the state.

Because one social system does not altogether supplant

another, the cracker and his world view persist. While only a

handful of true crackers endure in the county, their shacks

dotting primitive dirt traces on the poorer agricultural lands

near the river, modern-day imitators erect trailers in remote

corners, moving to north-central Florida from New York, Pennsyl-

vania, and Miami to escape the "rat race." These backwoodsmen

[and many of the yeoman farmers) butcher their own stock, carry

weapons openly, and begrudge bureaucratic authority. More

important, however, their values have suffused the world views

of the general populace of Apalachee County. Natives flaunt

their clannish familism, fierce individualism, and provincial

localism; countrymen talk physical violence with some enthusiasm

and, given the opportunity, resist "outside intervention" with


Compared to the rest of the eastern United States, permanent

settlers in numbers came late to Florida. The real growth of

Apalachee County in the present era began, not with Hernando De

Soto's expedition through the county to the Mississippi River

in the sixteenth century, not with seventeenth-century blazing

of the Old Spanish Trail, connecting the city of Pensacola with

Saint Augustine, the oldest continually inhabited city in the

United States--which became State Road 1 three hundred years

later and which the principal east-west thoroughfares through

the county still follow--and not when Reuben and Rebecca Charles

established a ferry on the Suwannee River in 1824 as the area's

first permanent white settlers (Hamilton, 1958). The real develop-

ment began after the War Between the States, when independent

yeoman farmers began moving to the area and turpentining and

timbering opened the county to major extractive industrial

activities, supplementing family farming.

Following the cracker infiltration of the area, a second wave

of in-migration, the yeoman small farmers, pushed south in

numbers. These early settlers of Apalachee County, descended

from English-Irish immigrants, small farmers in lineages of

small farmers, moved south from Alabama, Georgia, and the

Carolinas; this people was descended from other small farmers

who had abandoned Virginia a generation earlier in search of

cheap, unclaimed, and preferably sparsely inhabited lands. They

drifted in as families with their meager possessions stacked

high on a single open wagon and hacked homes out of pine and oak

wildernesses, under the most primitive conditions, all of which

have not been ameliorated to this day in rural neighborhoods and

urban black quarters. They planted and then traded their sur-

pluses, if any, at steamboat landings on the river--timber,

cotton, and hides in exchange for coffee, sugar, axes, and gun-

power. Salt they obtained themselves, from the waters of the

Gulf of Mexico where they trekked periodically to boil sea water

in shallow iron vats. These settlers installed themselves as

single isolated families and in small groups of families, erect-

ing Baptist and Methodist churches as the centers of dispersed

neighborhoods. Kennedy (1942) has described these settlers as

a mixture of true cracker and independent yeoman farmer types:

A hard-drinking, hard-fighting, hard-loving
lot, the crackers are nevertheless ferociously
addicted to piety. Mostly Baptist and Method-
ist fundamentalists, their favorite hymnal
has been the folksy Original Sacred Harp, as
contrasted with the sedate hymn-books of the
big planters. They hold frequent singing
festivals where they try to "sing each other
down" with the largest repertoire, and at
periodic square dances they "dance the pigeons
off the roof." They are also fond of such
festivities as family reunions, fence raising,
cane grindings, taffy pulls, corn huskings,
bear hunts, chicken pileus, barbecues, and
the like. (p. 66)

Today's natives refer to these times as "humble beginnings."

The rural clapboard churches built by these countrymen hosted

community social and ritual activities. Neighbors assembled

periodically for preaching and singing, for weddings and

burials, for suppers and courting. Such a rural church,

generally occupying the same site as the original of one hundred

years ago, is still frequently referred to as "the head of the


Complementing the rural churches were nearby school houses,

often in fact one and the same building, but always built, by

and for the people themselves, in the architectural vernacular,

the schools duplicating the box-like structure of churches and

houses. Today, rural school buildings have either been converted

to other purposes or destroyed--swiftly by man or his agent

fire or through time's remorseless patience withdrawing the

breath of life from their frames.

These early rural settlers found that precipitation varies

significantly for any one month from year to year, and while it

is adequate, nearly half the annual total falls during a summer

rainy season. A -droughty period frequently lingers from mid-

April through May, returning in the autumn (October and November).

Nearly all precipitation falls as rain; hail and snow are extra-

ordinary and long remembered after they do occur. The period

June through early November is hurricane season and can bring

excessive rainfall and temporary flooding, but rarely in the

ApalAchee area (see Figure 3).

2When remarkable conditions do obtain, the people of the area
add them to a repertoire of temporal markers relating personnel
to time and space, e.g. "Were you here when Dora (hurricane) came
through?" or "Wasn't that before the Great Freeze (1894-95)?"

Rainfall (in.)

8 .

7 .

6 .

5 tempe;

4 .

3 .

2 .

1 ,

Month J F

Adapted from:

(F) Temperature





S. 60





"Comprehensive Plan for [Lizbeth], Florida,"
Tallahassee, Fla.: Planning and Improvement
Division, Florida Development Commission, 1963.
Vol. I.



(from a 95-year record)

The wave of immigration onto the Apalachee countryside by

yeoman farmers, small and independent operators, left a visible

imprint on the county as did the cracker social tradition. The

social universe of the countryman is today structured by the

values of these people--familism, localism, andpersonalism--

and by the remaining ethic of the cracker frontier--individualism

and isolationism.

Children, male and female, coming of age in the yeoman farmer

tradition, generally find themselves enmeshed in a maze of kin-

folk who rapidly introduce them to the world, including the

world of work. Commonly, during school-age they ride buses for

two hours a day going to and returning from the public facility in

the county seat.3 The geographic factor of distance conditions

after-hours social life, when many of the town children may linger

and participate in formal and informal school-related activities.

Today certain technological changes and the greater parity of

affluence between town and country people (tenantry is a thing of

the past, and sharecropping no longer denotes a servile patron-

client relationship for the sharecropper) have much ameliorated

this friction of distance. At home in the country, whether or

not the family derives basic subsistence from farming, there are

often farm-type chores for youths, since many country families

During the 1971-72 school year, Apalachee County transported
67.3% of its pupils at public expense, driving an estimated
2,400 miles each day, not counting extracurricular activities
(Bureau of Economic and Business Research, 1973).

have adopted an income diversification strategy, subsisting in

part on a member's extra-farm wage and in part on farm products

Rural youths haunt the dozens of natural springs along the

rivers, socializing and being socialized to peer group drinking,

smoking, and courting intricacies. Young and early-middle-aged

adults also frequent these springs, but older adults go only to

introduce children to them. These relatively isolated, clear

bubbles pour millions of gallons of fresh water into the Suwannee

River every day; quiet, secluded, rarely furnished with more than

a crude and slippery rope swing tied to a high cypress or oak

limb: Wonderland rabbit holes of escape from adult supervision.

Blacks rarely,or perhaps never, visit these springs, in part

from a distaste for swimming as recreation (a distaste encouraged

by Southern whites). Whites have claimed these springs, then, as

restricted social territories, for social caste rules make it

taboo to appear unclothed before the other caste. Too, the widely

reputed penis size of the black male poses a threat to white

males, especially to those of courting age. Interpretations of

black male behavior as irresponsible and aggressive would intro-

duce ambiguity into a social situation enacted in the confines of

In 1969, 214 of the county's 1,091 farms were classed "part-
time": value of products sold $50-2,500/year and an operator
under 65 years of age who worked off the farm 100+ days during
the year. A further 116 farms were classed "part-retirement":
value of products sold $50-2,500/year and an operator over 65
years of age (U.S. Census of Agriculture, 1972).

a small social stage. Spring bathing is quite unlike public

bathing on coastal beaches, where a brilliant strand of sand and

the immensity of the water ripple away to the horizon in shimmer-

ing waves of heat. Bathing at a spring is to be enfolded in a

hovering and encircling swamp forest, where the sole source of

light and sole feeling for distance is a narrow tube directly

overhead and below. Thus the social stage retracts reducing the

potential for maneuver. Finally, there is the real threat of

violence publicly flaunted in the rear windows of countrymen's


Country youth learn weaponry at an early age, as nearly all

rural homes keep firearms loaded, handy, and on display in the

gunracks of pick-up trucks. Countrymen talk guns and shooting

and hunting, clothing their youngest children in camouflage cos-

tumes for the hunt and allowing their toy guns in the trucks with

dogs and adults. Throughout the hunt adults batter children with

instructions about gun care and with the rules of the hunt. Al-

though females often handle guns in a commendable manner (and

men are not generally reluctant to acknowledge this; conversely,

women seem to take a perverse pride in crediting the rare male

found in local kitchens with culinary skill of exceptional degree),

the gun properly belongs to the male's repertoire of cultural arti-


Countrymen tend to devote themselves and their winters to

the idea of hunting (at the opening of hunting season in October,

a townman remarked to me that the local country hunters do not

necessarily confine themselves to the state-regulated hunting

seasons--a practice reminiscent of the cracker frontier). An

entire wall of a home may be decorated with row upon row of

mounted deer heads and racks of deer antlers. Nowhere is the ..

spirit of utter freedom and independence, the tension and passion

of frontier psychology, more evident than in this highly regu-

lated activity. Men train their sons alone and in informal

peer-kin groups, the same groups that occasionally cooperate in

the annual work cycle which peaks in the summer. They assemble

in the winter for the cooperative-competitive game of skill,

luck, and death: the hunt.

Apalachee males have mechanized and motorized the hunt, now

a matter of hardware as much as keen eyesight, alert senses, and

quick skillful reflexes. For deer hunting, men load the rear of

pick-ups with deer hounds and, in the cabs, carefully tune the

CB (citizen band) radios that allow them to communicate along the

roads and through the forests. They loose the hounds at the edge

of the wood, listen for the baying, anticipate the point at which

the deer will spring across the nearest highway. They race to

that point and kill the deer as it dashes across the road. Compar-

ing body counts of individual kills of game affords hunters hours

of conversational pleasure and perhaps status validation through-

out the year.

Countrymen fish as they hunt--with passion--and in this activity

women participate as actively as men. Whites fish nearly year-round

from motor boats with rods and spinning reels, disdaining fish-

ing from the banks with cane poles as "nigger fishing." The

catch, like the bag of the hunt, stocks freezers for continual

variation in the local diet or fills deep-well pans for outdoor

fish fries at which kin gather for food sharing. Not all fish

are equally socially edible, however, for whites refer to some,

like the "mud fish," a black, fleshy fish that lives on the

bottom of the river, as "nigger fish," because of two character-

istics, one relating to the fish itself and one to the black

people: the meat of the fish tastes "tainted," slightly disagree-

able, and "niggers'll eat anything."

The countryman's social gamut runs heavily to family and

church reunions in the summer. These rites of intensification, not

essentially different from those described by Neville (1971), are

annual and relate to group maintenance by celebrating origins and

reifying continuities.

. churches were situated in the open
countryside surrounded by the graveyard for
the congregation, spatially uniting the living
and the dead. Each sat at the center of a
neighborhood of individual farms owned in-
dividually and operated with seasonal coopera-
tive effort with one's neighbors and kin. The
local congregation was bounded by the area
gathering each Sunday for worship services and
for ceremonials such as communion, baptism,
and periodic weddings and funerals. (Neville,
1971, p. 10)

For the focal point of these rites of intensification, a great

meal, each family contributes a number of food dishes prepared

by its women--far more food than it would itself consume. After

the church service or family ceremony women spread the food on

long, wooden planks laid side by side on carpenters' saw horses

to make tables under moss-draped oaks or adjacent tin-roofed


These activities tend to be organized and orchestrated by

females: a ritual social ahd a social ritual duplicated on a

small scale time and again throughout the year in the homes of

countrymen. Customarily then, an older women signifies the table

prepared by calling out for a prayer, "suggesting" a particular

mature male to give it. Women also visit and tend to the adjacent

church cemetery or family grave site, unless the undergrowth and

weed cover necessitates a massive cleanup-restoration, in which

case the men devote the Saturday before the reunion to this activity.

These essentially kin groups have lingering sentimental ties to

particular geographic locations and to particular churches their

ancestors helped establish.

Yeoman farmers have perhaps dominated area social life be-

cause Apalachee County lacks the necessary foundation for great

agricultural prosperity: high soil fertility. Indeed Apalachee

soils are for the most part sand. Of the eight general soil

associations found in the county, only two, the Blanton-Kalmia-Swamp

5For an excellent and marvellously funny account of a rural
Mississippi family reunion, which stylistically resembles those
of Apalachee County, see Eudora Welty's Losing Battles (N.Y.:
Random House, 1970).

and the Alluvial Land-Swamp associations, classify otherwise.

The Blanton association girds the county in a thin sliver border-

ing the surrounding rivers, and the alluvial predominates in de-

pressions, streams, and the sinks of the area. Soils under

cultivation generally lack nutrients, are predominantly porous and

subject to wind erosion, but with proper management farmers obtain

moderate to good yields (see Figure 4).

Sinks characterize the Karst topography of the gently undulat-

ing terrain. These enclosed depressions, locally called "go-away

holes," form when water dissolves the subsurface limestone at weak

or thin points, opening holes to the labyrinth of underground caves

that criss-cross and intersect beneath the county, from near the

surface to far below the water table. The porosity of this

geologic formation inhibits the formation of natural lakes, al-

though in the eastern sector of the county one finds a few ponds

and lakes ranging in size from 10 to 300 acres.

The sinkhole has developed a social personality of its own in

an area nearly devoid of streams. The entire county lies low and

completely within the Suwannee River drainage basin. Elevations

range from 38 feet (where the Suwannee and Sante Fe rivers meet at

the southern extremity) to nearly 188 feet above mean sea level in

the eastern sector. Ranchers and farmers tell of stock wandering

into sinkholes never to be recovered. Historians record that

steamers plied a great low prairie in a neighboring county till

the water drained away through a sinkhole. Since environmental

1 = Lakeland-Blanton'Associa-
tion: well-drained sandy
2 = Kenney-Lakeland, phosphatic
Association: well-drained sandy
3 = Blanton-Wagram Association: well-
drained sandy soils.
4 = Blanton-Susquehanna-Wagram Association:
generally well-drained sandy soils
with occasionallyclayey or loamy subsoils.
5 = Mascotte-Leon-Pluimmer Association: poorly
drained sandy soils.
6 = Blanton-Chipley-Surrensy Association: well-
drained sandy soils and poorly drained
soils with loamy subsoils.

Source: General
Soil Map, Suwannee
River Resource Con-
servation and
Development Project.
Gainesville, Fla.:
Soil Conservation
Service, U. S. Dept.
of Agriculture, 1972.



planners relate development potential to the strength and conforma-

tion of subsurface topography, the Apalachee area has, in theory,

a low potential for nonagricultural growth.

The term countryman in Apalachee County connotes "dirt farmer,"

for countryman itself simply denotes non-townmen. The dirt farmer

category does not include the categorically marginal "gentleman

farmer," who may reside in the country. There are two classes of

dirt farmer, big farmer and small farmer, both of whom own their

land. Small farmers historically have owned 40 to 80 acres, or

"one-horse farms," regardless of whether the draft animal was a

horse or a mule (or even a tractor in the 1940s), and they manage

no tenants. Interestingly enough, horseback riding for pleasure

has long been disdained by countrymen. This attitude relates to

differential traditional uses of the horse: to the small farmer

the horse was a necessity as a draft animal and beast of burden;

-to the "gentleman farmer," the wealthy town professional, the horse

was a relatively inexpensive luxury and a means of transportation

for supervisory visits to the small homes and fields of tenants.

The gentleman farmer bred or purchased animals for qualities other

than ability to pull a wagon or a plow: from horseback, one looks

down to one's servants.

Big farmers manage great expanses of land under their personal

cultivation, and at one time they employed tenants on these lands.

Few of the white large farmers retain live-on laborers in the

context of a patron-client relationship although this practice

once prevailed widely on all large farms: In exchange for hard

(if not always willing) work, the landlord provided food and shelter,

a liquor allownace, and minimal but necessary legal protection.

At one time during the era of cotton and till the Second World

War, a large number of farm tenants inhabited the countryside.6

But big and small, black and white, the dirt farmer distinguishes

himself by personally directing farm operations and personally

taking a hand in the work, as opposed to the gentleman farmer,

whose farm work is done by others.

The rare townsman who not only invests for profit in rural

land but also farms that land,, calls himself a gentleman farmer.

Countrymen believe that the gentleman farmer shies from row crops

without a full-time overseer (or perhaps tenants), to concentrate

on raising cattle,not hogs generally. Locals claim

that the dirt farmer makes his money in the country
and spends it in the city
the gentleman farmer makes his money in the city
and spends it in the country.

Different traditional patterns of land use and subsistence

characterize these two farm types:

6The U.S. Census of Agriculture gives the following figures
for percentages of Apalachee farms operated by tenants: 1920 =
34.7, 1930 = 42.4, 1940 = 32.3, 1950 = 20.9, 1959 = 8.0, 1964 =
5.6, and 1969 = 4.6. The 1969 percentage is figured as 51 of
1,091 farms.

Dirt farmer: Cropland, pastureland, woodland.
Rural homestead with garden, dairy cow,
hogs, chickens, scuppernong grape
arbors, cash and subsistence
cropping, chicken houses on con-

Gentleman farmer: Pastureland and woodland.
Home in the city and perhaps in the
Basic subsistence activity a pro-
fessional job in the county
seat (lawyer, doctor, banker).
Cattle, flower gardens,
and cash crops, if any crops at

There are no blacks in the category, although one young black

in a traditional black profession indicated an interest in

joining it by opening a horse farm--what more vivid demonstra-

tion of social rise could be made, given the social history of

the horse in this county--the gentleman farmer generally in-

vested in land from a successful profession in the county seat,

perhaps acquiring a tobacco poundage allotment, which over the

years he rents out for clear profit to a dirt-farmer producer,

rarely, if ever, growing the crop himself. The townman is

gradually drawn into farming as a hobby or a tax shelter, al-

though it occasionally becomes a consuming interest, for he finds

that contacts made in the farm business draw him to countrymen

as a townman become, in part, one of them.

Thus the gentleman farmer maneuvers from a position of

power, especially if his profession is the practice of law in

the county seat. Lawyers may mediate between townman and

countryman at the nexus of political and official power.

Apalachee County has one gentleman farmer in this very position,

lawyer and cattleman. When complaints under law are discussed

in the countryman's coffee klatsch, at a restaurant on the out-

skirts of Lizbeth, this gentleman's name is most frequently

aired as the man to whom the complaint will be taken. Like the

position of black mediator in the black community, this broker-

age position easily becomes the focus of latent hostilities.

When cattle prices dropped to the point that cattle were no

longer worth raising in 1975, dirt farmers and rural cattlemen

of the county blamed the situation on lawyers and doctors who

flooded the market with cattle to make quick profits. This

dabbling profiteering consequently ruined the livelihood of the


At this point we must understand a salient pattern of land

ownership and of derivative political influence in north Florida.

The counties considered in Table 3 form the drainage basin of

the Suwannee River in Florida. Of these counties, Apalachee is

the least tied to great landholdings, but only four of all of

Florida's counties (one of them in north Florida) exhibit

less acreage owned in such chunks. Timber companies in

north Florida account for the overwhelming majority of these

landholdings, and only the giant sugar, phosphate, and land

development corporations of south Florida rival them in the state

at large.




Apalachee 415,290 30 84,920 20.4
Columbia 401,280 35 202,310 50.4
Dixie 431,500 4 296,200 68.6
Gilchrist 214,950 18 91,280 42.5
Hamilton 315,160 29 186,160 59.1
Lafayette 342,330 15 288,870 66.9
Levy 665,740 51 467,960 70.3
Madison 434,630 38 217,560 50.1

Adapted from: Daniel E. Alleger, "Florida's Rural Land--How
Its Ownership is Distributed," Agricultural Experiment Station
Bulletin 766, Gainesville, Fla.: University of Florida, July 1974.

Agricultural statistics support the thesis that farmers with a

tradition of small independent operations settled Apalachee County,

for this subsistence pattern remains as the predominant historical

legacy. Total numbers of farms increased during the depression

years of the thirties in Florida as a whole and in Apalachee

County, while surrounding counties suffered the incursions of

national timber corporations. Mean farm size in Apalachee has not

tended to fluctuate as in Florida and the surrounding counties.

Although the trends of the twentieth century point to larger farms

but lesser numbers of farms--supporting the prevailing skepticism

about the future of the yeoman farmer's way of life--the ideal of




Apalachee Co.

Hamilton Co.

Lafayette Co.

Madison Co.

1900 1935 1969

40,814 72,857 35,586

1,679 1,810 1,091

1,085 856 402

580 440 325

2,100 1,305 737

1900 1935 1969

106.9 83.0 394.3

131.5 139.1 252.2

168.5 129.6 283.2

158.7 138.2 233.5

108.1 114.2 278.6

(thousands acres)
1900 1935 1969

4,363 6,048 14,031

221 252 275

183 111 114

92 60 76

227 149 205




Apalachee Co.

Hamilton Co.

Lafayette Co.

Madison Co.

1935 1969

2,468,639 3,774,119

130,444 131,657

57,881 49.005

22,118 38,379

79,857 85,796

1935 1969

1,489,070 10,167,849*

25, 395 164,679*

31,019 26,294*

8,376 16,646

17,216 53,160

*1959 figures
Adapted from: Census of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.: Bureau of the Census, U.S. Dept. of Commerce,
June 1972.

the small family farm remains a living tradition in the country-

side Csee Table 4),

The vantage of historical hindsight shows farm trends over-

taking Apalachee County decades after appearing in neighboring

counties. Men working the soil are no longer farmers, but

"agriculturalists" or "farmers, ranchers, and growers," because

some (especially some south Floridians, said a local banker)

resent being called farmers. Mechanization and the extension of

civil rights have altered the constituency of labor pools and

have formulated different labor needs year by year.

Churches, rural schools,,and crossroads general stores have

served as centers of widely dispersed rural neighborhoods, tying

the scattered populace into networks of communication. Over the

years a demographic shift in population has emptied half a hundred

of these hamlet centers for each that exists today. Yet the names

of these long-departed social units still- dot the maps and spice

the conversation of locals: Columbus, Marion Station, Fort

Eagle, Hudson-upon-the-Suwannee. The railroads, as much as any

factor, accounted for the distribution of population throughout

the countryside of Apalachee County; Lizbeth, the present county

seat, was formed forty years after the county was first settled,

as a station stop on a railway spur from Georgia.

In Apalachee County farming neighborhoods appeared prior to

Lizbeth, the urban county seat, and decades before numerous and

ephemeral market centers that sprang up every few miles along

railroad rights-of-way. In those years before and briefly after

the War Between the States inhabitants marketed preponderantly

at the river. After 1880 or so, rural people marketed chiefly

at crossroads stores and at tiny commercial nuclei strung like

beads -along county railway chains built to sell real estate and

to haul timber. When the easily accessible timber had been

harvested, the railways folded up their tracks and moved on south

along the central Florida ridge or to the flatwoods of the Gulf

coastal counties. By the 1900s Lizbeth (and to a lesser extent

Jordan) exerted preeminent market influence in the county.

Consider the townspeople. In Apalachee County the dirt

farmers arrived first. Townspeople, as small merchants and

peddlers, part-time preachers, tonsorial artists, usurers, entre-

preneurs in cotton ginning, grist milling, or timber milling,

appeared on the heels of the farmers, setting up in dozens of

rural neighborhoods, at intersections toosmall to be crossroads,

and at numerous railroad stops. In 1926 "The railroads radiate

from [Lizbeth] like the spokes in a wheel, reaching all sections

of the county, giving a large number of shipping points within

the county. No farm in [Apalachee]County is over eight miles

from a railroad" (Polk, 1927, p. 7).

The county was founded in 1858, and Lizbeth officially became

the county seat a decade later, three years after its founding as

a small railroad terminus. Despite its "humble beginnings," by

1871 Lizbeth bustled as "the railroad centre of the state" and


"the principal manufacturing town in the State, and Ewasi rapidly

increasing in importance and population" (Nichols, 1871).

This unguardedly optimistic, but at the time not altogether

unreasonable, assessment of Apalachee County potential considered

a climate characterized by long hot summers and mild winters

(see Figure 3). Summer temperatures rarely display much day-to-

day variation in any given year, and relative humidity is usually

high. Winter cold spells linger only two or three days, and even

on the colder days, temperatures almost always rise above freezing.

The Apalachee county-community only coalesced in the decade

after the end of the War Between the States. During those years

Lizbeth became the county seat, merchants swarmed into the pine

barrens, and the railroads marched outward from that less-than-

town to make it, at the turn of the century, Florida's most promi-

nent inland commercial center. During those years a settled lawyers'

row (still existing)-sprang up in the county seat, incorporating a

permanent legal institution to temper the independence of isolated

cracker homesteads and yeoman farmer hamlets scattered through the

county. Effective concentration of politico-legal power in the

institutions of the county seat began then: the social structure

had'imported a legal system to enforce the authority of that struc-

ture to distribute power and its prizes and spoils. During this

era the credit function was dispersed among crossroads store owners,

landlords with tenants, town money-lenders, turpentiners with a

camp of blacks to look after, others. Centralizing forces came


from outside the county, riding international economic cycles of

prosperity and despair involving the raw materials of the county:

cotton and naval stores.

The townsfolk of Apalachee County have led a distinctly differ-

ent way of life from the countryfolk. Kinsmen dominate the lives

of town folk to a lesser degree than they do of countrymen. The

large country families have sloughed off relatives to live in the

towns and to work in town businesses, over the years intermarrying

with town-based families. These countrymen-in-town, a significant

element in most small north Florida towns, must bridge two cultural

worlds: To be in good standing with country relatives, they must

participate in an extensive network of kinship reciprocities

germane to the countryman's social system, and execute faithfully

the expectations of employers, neighbors, and friends in the town,

they must learn and follow another occasionally conflicting set of

operating principles based on the life devoted to "getting ahead."-

A local physician, for example, a member in good standing of a

large country-kin group, prefers not to accept relatives and friends

as patients, although he does not hold inflexibly to this rule.

Charging fees for services rendered to kin violates the county

ethic of free labor exchange, but failure to charge a fee violates

the townman's image of the businessman as a valued social personality.

The dual nature of the respective ethics conceals an ironic situation:

the countryman publicly espouses favoring relatives and friends

while privately complaining of the necessity to do so, the townman

publicly defends a fairness doctrine, a "rational" system of fee-

for-services priority scale, but privately works hard to see that

his favorites receive their share and more.

The social nature of the work environment suggests that the

family system of the townspeople differed from that of the country

people. In the country men worked in the open where, till the

advent of mechanized farming, income level depended in part upon

amount of work done and the ability to be up and out before dawn

till after sunset. Wives brought dinner pails into the fields so

that work would be interrupted as little as possible. The more

sons a family had, the greater the amount of work they could do.

Work began before ten years of age and continued (like work in the

turpentine camps) until a man escaped or died. The extended family,

which tended to cohabit in the same rural neighborhood (called

"communities," either after a church or a prominent family; e.g.,

"New Corinth community," after the New Corinth Methodist Church,

or "Singer community," after the Singer family which had long

farmed much land thereabouts), participated in work sharing,

especially in times of family crisis.

The family system of the townspeople operated within a far

more enclosed setting: the locus of work, a store or a mill. A

man and wife or a man and business partner easily handled the

When neighbors plow a sick man's fields today, it is good
cause for comment and a newspaper story.

business of the store, where income depended on direct commodity

exchange for money (or credit) rather than on the duration of

work-related activity inside or the number of workers there.

Children were not a direct economic asset, because too many black

men would work under brutal conditions just to subsist on the

lowest wages. The town merchant might marry his children into

rural families to increase his clientele, as a rural crossroads

storekeeper might, but four reasons doomed even this as a con-

scious effort. First, the prevailing romantic ethic of marriage

for "love" has pervaded the literary atmosphere of twentieth-

century pulp novels and magazines. Second, the church acted as

the field for locating marriage partners, and townspeople and

country people frequented different churches. Third, even an

early respectable age for marriage followed too many years of

nonproductive activity and upkeep by.the townman. Fourth, before

the Second World War most countrymen handled sums of money in any

consequence only once a year--at fall harvest--although they

trekked to the county seat on many a Saturday. In commerce the

extended family was as much a bane as a boon, for relatives manipu-

lated kinship ties to procure credit, which the procuring tie

hindered the repayment of--especially repayment with interest.

Town logic tended to smaller, more nuclear families with less

well-developed kin affiliations than country families. When a

proprietor fell ill, the wife remained at home as nurse. If a

partner could not keep an enterprise open, it closed until the

owner returned or creditors foreclosed.

Lizbeth serves as a locus for persons who sell extralocal

products at retail prices and purchase local products at whole-

sale prices. As one countryman said, "The farmer's the only man

who asks both, 'What do you want for this?' and 'What will you

give me for this?'" This comment typifies the countryman's


Townmen voice opposing views, as in a complaint which over-

looked, perhaps consciously, the countryman's desire to pay "cash

on the barrelhead," thereby avoiding credit charges and the socio-

economic status of debtor to a townsman:

Every year it's the same. Farmers come in
here to look over the new cars. The first
thing you hear is how poor the weather's been.
Then it's how much crops this year have
suffered. Next thing is how high fertilizer
is getting to be. Well, they'll drive off in
an old pick-up (truck) and come back time and
time again, till they've beaten your selling
price down and made you plumb tired of seeing
him. Then they pick out the biggest luxury
car you have on the lot and pay cash for it.

The native system of social organization relates to and

derives its endurance from internal relational patterns in sub-

sistence activities throughout the community over time. At the

local level townmen mediate at the nexus of locally organized

production economies and nationally organized distribution

systems. In Apalachee County the townman element of the native

townman-countryman system has seized control of this local

production-distribution nexus, operating through approved social

forms of the higher order system. For instance, in Apalachee

County county seat mens' clubs (which as the following pages

suggest, represent the townman's characteristic form of social

activity) organize and preside over the rituals of Farm-City Week

in November and the Apalachee Tobacco Festival in August, both

arranged so as to manage the ambiguity inherent in a meeting be-

tween systems disparate in power. When a countryman-in-town

accuses "the Chamber of Commerce crowd" of pushing Apalachee County

"down the growth and development path to ruin already taken by

south Florida," we find three levels of meanings:

1. An anti-growth (and perhaps anti-outsider)
ethic derivative of north Florida localism.

2. An anti-town/urban ethic of the country-
man in the native social system.

3. The anti-community organization (or
anti-hierarchy) ethic of the personalist
representing an egalitarian native social
system opposed to the townman's dominat-
ing social activity--the voluntary associa-

The town nabob group per se has not maintained a historical

continuity in this community. Prominent families of the pre-

1920s have generally failed to perpetuate themselves biologically,

although a claim to high social status lingers in the community's

sociological imagination. Should a descendant of suitable means

return, his claim to social honor would be upheld. Apalachee

County has not existed as a community long enough to determine

how long such residual status may persist. The failure to abide

and beget relates, perhaps, to differing export economies of the

times, which have shifted from a turpentine-cotton-lumber complex

to a tobacco-pulpwood-banking complex.

The rotation of elites prompted by changes in community

revenue-producing activities has bequeathed two characteristics

to the Apalachee town nabob class: small size and a tenuous hold

on high status. Warner (1962) wrote: "The newer regions of

America, because of rapid social change and their comparative

recency, tend not to develop a superior old-family class" (p. 78).

Since frontier families settled Apalachee late, there is neither a

plantation aristocracy nor a group of decadent "old families" to

monopolize an upper-class prestige while economic power rests in the

hands of an upper-middle class, as in Mississippi counties studied

in the late 1930s by Davis, Gardner, and Gardner (1941).

None of the town influentials have successfully claimed status

as small town aristocrats, although the closest would be the few

remaining members of the family of the former state governor from

Lizbeth. Few of these families have held a status for more than

two generations. Aside from the governor's family, herein must

be counted the leading banking family and older professional men

and their families.

The public cemetery for whites in downtown Lizbeth has allowed

these nabob families to remain in death as cohesive as in life.

Grave plots of the prestigious and wealthy families lie centered

and aligned at the top of the cemetery hill. Graves of the

founding family (which donated the land for the cemetery) lie at

the apex of the hill, surrounded by thigh-high marble railings.

Round this family are ranged the plots of other, less powerful

members of the town nabob class, whose plots are demarcated by

less ostentatious granite and concrete.

The townspeople have set themselves the task of organizing

and regulating the social relations sets of the country. From

their nuclear families the true townmen (not the countrymen-in-

town) generate activity requiring the participation of country

people, imposing their value system as they interact from positions

of economic and social authority. On the other hand, rural families

interact intensively in extended kinship alliances and tend to

respond warily, without enthusiasm, to the overtures of town

organizers and promoters. This town initiation-country response

pattern, coupled with a debt-credit pattern of relations, has

perpetuated the barriers--in symbol and in deed--between towns-

people and country peoples, which although weaker than in past

decades, have not died. The townman's self-appointed task of over-

seeing internal social interactions and external economic linkages

between locals and externally situated agencies and institutions has

generated continual conflict on the county.

Activities in voluntary associations most characterize towns-

people. Locals claim that the people of Lizbeth overorganize,

thereby attesting to the social importance of the formal club.

In an area where familism is a definite virtue, at times a neces-

sity, the formal organizations substitute for the intimacy of a

close-knit extended family. In these clubs task accomplishment

(community service) and group maintenance rate equally important,

and far more so than their show of fraternalism.

Towns people grade their clubs by age, ethnicity, and social

class. Adults organize youth clubs under the guise of the educa-

tional and religious systems, which are so structured to take up

more of the time of town youth than of rural youth, since (1)

adults charge town youth far, less with work and "chores" than

farm youth, and were it not for these organized actitivies, town

parents or hired black "maids" would themselves be forced to super-

vise the children. In rural areas, youth may be "cut loose"

because the large social zones and the expected social behavior

within them are homogenous. Town parents face a different chal-

lenge, because urban areas are a patchwork of public and private

zones calling for matching behaviors which youth by definition have

not mastered--perhaps because they have not mastered the cues

demarcating zones. (2) the friction of distance, discussed

earlier, penalizes town youth less heavily than rural youth.

8The census for 1970 listed 229 "private household workers"
in Apalachee County: 176 of them employed in Lizbeth (U.S. Bureau
of the Census, 1972).

Towns people live nearer the schools and hence need not ride for

hours on school buses.

Within the school establishment community divisions between

town and country represented within each age grade tend to coin-

cide with the pupil breakdowns into classrooms, even though the

school uses other, formal criteria (such as "intelligence") for

segregating purposes. Older teachers from this area well remember

when sex was also used as a segregating mechanism. Only within

the decade of the 1970s have blacks and whites been publicly

integrated, although racial caste lingers as a formal segregating

principle in informal relations such as peer groupings. Club

activities (Beta club, Key club) reflect the wider social divi-

sions of the county.

Except for social clubs like the Benevolent Protective Order

of Elks or the country club, people of Apalachee County relate to

"clubbing" on the basis of age, sex, caste, and often social class.

There are men's clubs and women's clubs, young people's clubs and

old people's clubs, white clubs and black clubs. The principle

of social class within bi-class community overlies all the other

criteria as a segregating mechanism.

In the cry for consolidation of schools cultural power
statements lie hidden. Riding two hours each day, from rural
homesteads to schools in the county seat, not only consumes time
but energy. Bus rides force rural youth out of bed earlier in
the morning (and hence earlier to bed in the evening perhaps);
it follows that they participate less in "experience-widening"
extracurricular activities, sports and social interactions.

Men's clubs, for example, tend to activity specificity:

religious clubs ("brotherhoods" specific to particular churches

in particular denominations), .'fraternal clubs (Masonic lodges and

area hunting clubs), and "community service" or task clubs. The

four principal white-male task clubs are: the Junior Chamber of

Commerce (Jaycees), the Kiwanis club, the Lions club, and the

Rotary club. The Jaycees, the least active, offer a social bridge

from clubs of adolescence, from simple legal adulthood to community-

recognized adult status (the Junior Woman's Club performs a similar

function for women), by validating adult status through participa-

tion in club activities which are highly ritualized in nature:

e.g., presenting the nearly annual Miss Apalachee County Beauty

Pageant.or sponsoring fund-raising events for local charities.

Young men graduating from club to club, advancing through the age

grades, make an easy social transition on the level of form because

nearly every club is structured similarly in Apalachee County

regardless of overt function: a minimum slate of officers and a

maximum slate of committeemen.

Of the three principal white, mature men's clubs, it is said:

The Rotary club owns the town;
The Kiwanis club runs the town; and
The Lions club enjoys the town.

This statement ranks the clubs in terms of socio-politico-economic

power. Rotarians strongest as a whole and Lions clubbers least

strong. This ranking holds generally for the relation of clubbers

to social prestige as well. As expected, then, the Lions work

the most energetically at "community service."

A middle-aged informant related the following story. He

was born into a large farm family of very modest means. Through

education and manipulation of the structure of male age groupings

and his old father's knowledge of the area's political situation,

he not only climbed the social ladder but won election to a re-

sponsible county-wide office. When he obtained a university

degree, he returned to Apalachee County to teach school, joining

the Kiwanis Club and the local Florida National Guard company.

The guard afforded him an opportunity to interact in a position of

benevolent authority with many of the county males who rely on

income from guard duty to supplement family incomes. Well-managed

ties with the men in the guard, plus demonstration of goodwill and

enthusiasm in the Kiwanis club, plus a large kinship network, were

factors immeasurably helpful in elevating him from the rank of

classroom teacher to that of school administrator. This occupa-

tional advance was marked by receipt of a graduate degree, by

marriage, and soon after by a change of membership from the Kiwanis

club to the Rotary club.

The primary recreational field outside schooling for'youth,

outside kin folk for rural adults, and outside voluntary associa-

tions for town adults, is the church. White town churches, much

larger on the whole than white rural churches, are highly organized,

formally constituted, and then formally reconstituted at a myriad

of age-graded levels; each department, class, and committee elect-

ing its own slate of ranked officers and keeping them busy. If

anything, the worship of the Creator more carefully segregates

socially than any other activity field outside kinship, and activity

in this field closely replicates kin role titles: the men's

"brotherhood," "Father," the "Holy Family."

In Apalachee County church rank reiterates the general rank

of its membership. Urban churches consider themselves higher in

rank than rural churches. The rural churches consider themselves

no better than, but"just as good as" the urban churches. Perhaps

a church is a collective gathered to ritually reinforce in sacred

ceremony its interpretation of proper secular relationships within

the universe. Thus, in form and in content the communal church

ceremony expresses ideal interactional patterns and values: man

to man, man to God, and man to universe.

We may correlate church social rank with the amount of indi-

vidual freedom to extemporize during a communal service, with which

rank varies inversely. In Apalachee County the small Episcopal

church, for example, ranks very high; nearly every word and move-

ment conform to a schedule, and communicants know exactly what to

expect from the preacher (the "rector") and from each other.

Activity proceeds at an unemotional, orderly, rehearsed pace, led

by a single individual specifically clothed and trained for this

specific task. Changes in the form of worship or in interpreta-

tion of the holy writings are not local prerogatives. The service

emphasizes reaffirmation and continuation.

Holiness churches, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Churches of

God bear low social rankings; Baptist churches occupy-the mid-

range, the numerous sects (Freewill, Independent, Primitive,

Southern) comprising the overwhelming majority of the Apalachee

County church-going public. Churches of low rank value spontaneity

and regard individual experiences "with the Lord" with rapture;

individuals prize self-expression; several people, all informally

clothed, initiate to the audience at different times in the cere-

mony; people move in specific relation to the circumstnaces of

that particular Sunday meeting; the preacher, who often serves part

time, is inventive in speech and gesture, although he relies on

repetition of key phrases and movements, emphasizing a personal

commitment, an emotional religious experience.

Baptists span the high- and low-valued church types: ceremonies

proceed in a highly regulated, formalized, prescribed manner, but

the essence of the service promotes a highly personal, intense

relationship between the individual and God. The ceremonial

format of Baptist churches varies between sects, locally ranked

by the same criteria as other denominations, Southern being not only

the most numerous but also the highest ranked. As with the

Methodists, the downtown First Baptist Church--"de fust chuch"--

is the largest, most formal, most active, most organized, most

visible, and most wealthy of its denomination in the county. Indeed

the First Baptist Church of Lizbeth is the largest church of any

denomination within the county.

Public investment in area recreation lags behind expressed

public interest. The few official declarations of interest in

such recreation have come from either the State of Florida (which

supports five public facilities in the general area) or the town-

based development authority, which the state legislature created as

an arena for public display for local merchants and politicians

of the State Bank of Lizbeth's political faction. This authority,

tied to the bank and the local chamber of commerce, occasionally

promotes speculation in the creation of a public park on the

Suwannee River in the northern section of the county. It aims to

capitalize on the Stephen Foster theme, despite the presence of a

similar facility not 15 miles upstream, on the county border, but

situated in a neighboring county.

In this chapter we have sketched the origins of dominant white

social categories in the Apalachee county-community. First to

arrive in the early 1800s were the true cracker backwoodsmen. The

isolated, individualistic way of life of the craker remains in

spirit in the community although the crackers themselves have passed

into history. Following the War Between the States, a wave of

independent yeoman-dirt farmers entered the area from the north,

with townmen-entrepreneurs following. Two distinct life-styles

remain in Apalachee County which are traceable to these separate

traditions--town and country. In the next chapter we shall discuss

the role of the black man in the social history of the country.



The "racial situation" in the southern region of the United

States has frequently been described as a relationship of caste

in the classical social science sense of the word (Davis, Gardner

Gardner, 1941, Dollard, 1937). That is, there endures a fixed

and theoretically inviolable disparity in access to social

resources between the categories of persons making the society:

a closed hierarchical system of groups with differential access

to prestige and economic goods and services, with membership

completely ascribed by birth. Reality, however, suggests that

rigidly proclaimed barriers in this country yield when necessary

or convenient.- William Faulkner (Light in August), John Howard

Griffin (Black Like Me), and others have spoken eloquently to this

social fact.

Maintenance of caste dogma and caste boundaries has gone

underground since the government tabooed public and/or official

support for policies of white supremacy. Private publications

such as The Citizen, official organ of the Citizens Councils of

Ameri'ca, maintain the old cries for "racial integrity" and "states'

rights" (i.e., white supremacy and isolationism), but the body of

caste system tradition passes orally.

As elsewhere in the South, white "old timers" reminisce

about lynchings, murders, and mutilations they have witnessed

(none ever admits having himself participated, much less as a

principal actor, in one of these tragedies) and recall infamous

legends concerning local blacks, legends passed on to them which

they in turn pass on. An elderly, sickly white man, for decades

in the naval stores industry, described in vivid detail how "they

caught this buck nigger" and shackled him by a five-foot chain to

a stake planted on a spot by the railroad tracks where he

allegedly raped and murdered a white woman. "They" piled wood

around him in a circle and set it afire. "Well, just about the

time you could see the grease a poppin out of him," a train

happened by. The engineer, never one to pass up a free show,

halted the train, allowing passengers to climb on top of the cars

and watch the man burn.

Berreman (1960-61) and others have maintained that caste in

the United States, unlike caste in India, lacks sacred justifi-

cation for its existence, but the evidence from Apalachee County

suggests otherwise. In this county, where 80 percent of church-

goers affiliate Southern Baptist of a fundamentalist sort, white

people interpret religious myths as support for the.system, "as

documented" in the Christian Bible. Black people of course do

not share the prevailing white belief in the categorical charters.

The preachers of the countryside, practically unlettered and

frequently employed only part time, but generally not the

preachers of the town, who are occasionally graduates of seminaries

and fully supported by their churches (these categorical descriptions

are by no means invariable), refer in private to the book of Genesis:

"Then the Lord put an identifying mark on Cain as a warning not to

kill him" (Genesis 4:5). White people "logically" tend to inter-

pret that God's mark, this unexplained, mysterious, and unremitting

curse, had to be black skin, for "What could be worse than that?"

Here perhaps we find a pragmatic example of the social necessity

to find a symbol for an extant referent rather than of intellec-

tual gymnastics to find a referent for an extant symbol.

A favorite story manipulated to account for caste as a holy

system in the United States (in The Living BibZe [Wheaton, Ill.:

Tyndale House, 1971] a specific disclaimer is added in the margin)

is Noah's drunken curse of his son Ham and Ham's descendants: "May

they be the lowest of slaves to the descendants of Shem and Japeth"

(Genesis 9:24-25). Benet illustrated the type of social inter-

pretation of this passage:

"I get my sailing-orders from the Lord."
He touched the Bible. "And it's down there, Mister,
Down there in black and white--the sons of Ham--
Bondservants--sweat of their brows." His voice
Trailed off into texts. "I tell you, Mister," he
Said fiercely, "The pay's good pay, but it's the
Lord's work, too. We're spreading the Lord's seed--
Spreading his seed--"
(Slaveship Captain speaking in the "Prelude" to Stephen
Vincent Bgnkt's John Brown's Body [N.Y.: Farrar 6
Rinehart, 1942] p. 12).

The Negro, as black man, fits a local system of symbolic

opposition. Preachers teach the concepts of "heaven" and "hell,"

the respective abodes of the Christian God of Love in the sky and

of the arch-fiend, the devil Satan, in the bowels of the earth,

by reference to color schemes familiar to readers of John Milton's

"Paradise Lost":

Heaven: White and gold
Hell: Black and red

Indeed, white and black preachers alike describe a Satan black

in color and demeanor. Interestingly enough, the anti-black force

in the southern and border states, the sheeted Ku Klux Klan, most

frequently resorted to terror by arson, symbolically uniting white

with impersonal godly power and black with inflicted, but deserved,

suffering through pain in fire.

This thin veil of religious support for an extant though time-

weakened caste system justifies, in the eyes of many whites, a

secondary association of black with social anti-values. Where

whites value familism, localism, and the work-is-virtuous ethic,

these whites claim that blacks neglect their families, bring

outside authorities ("agitators") into the county to "meddle" in

strictly local matters, and refuse to work for an honest living.

Local idiom suggests three socially fundamental types of

black persons in Apalachee County: turpentine or pulpwood blacks,

country blacks, and town blacks. The pulpwood workers descended

historically from the turpentine workers. Some speculate that

more than a loose theoretical-historical linkage dependent upon

nature of work activity exists; that generations of male descen-

dants have followed the occupation that usually crippled or

worked their fathers to an early death. Zora Neale Hurston,

a regional black writer, said: ". . teppentime folks are born,

not made, and certainly not overnight. They are born in teppen-

time, live all their lives in it, and die and go to their graves

smelling of teppentime" (1948, p. 7).

Naval stores, a vigorous regional industry from the 1870s

until the early 1950s, has declined to near insignificance, and

at present a sole entrepreneur milks the pines of their sap.

Regional white people made fortunes in this business, founded

on a supply of unskilled, legally unprotected and dependent black

labor. Relations of a patron-client nature between the laborer

and the white owners and supervisors endured as long as the market

for the raw materials remained strong. Kennedy wrote:

Negroes have provided the labor for the naval
stores industry since the beginning of slavery
in America. Generation after generation they have
followed its southward migration, and the majority
of those engaged in it today are descended from
a long line of turpentine workers. More than
any other occupational group these Negroes are
denied the rights for which the Civil War was
supposedly fought. As one who knows told me,
"A Negro who is foolish enough to go to work in
a turpentine camp is simply signing away his birth-
right." They are held in abject poverty and
peonage by a combination of forces quite beyond
their power to oppose. (1942, pp. 261-62)

White men with access to a black labor pool contracted to tap the

trees on land owned by other whites. The contractor and his

white overseers (called woods riders because they checked the

productivity of the black laborers from horseback) then moved a

settlement of black people into the area of the leased trees,

housing them in portable huts in a "camp." The camp owner, him-

self usually absent from the camp, founded a commissary for "his"

blacks where the barest essentials could be had. Purchasing was

rarely a matter of exchanging cash for commodity, though, for these

blacks rarely had cash money. Rather, commodities were purchased

on time with substantial credit charges affixed, the balance

eventually subtracted from the purchaser's share in the seasonal

profits, for full repayment was forever difficult.

Contractors sublet stands of pines to black men, encouraging

them to maintain families in the camp on the theory that the men

would thus be bound to their service and prevented from "running"

when accumulated debt negated any profit from a year's activity.

It was not at all unheard of for the owner to supply a woman for

a man without, "marrying" the pair by the simple expedient of

assigning them to a cabin and opening an account for them in the

camp commissary. An owners' association served not only to

disseminate information and innovations related to the industry

but also to return indebted laborers to camp owners who in the

absence of formal legal apparatus, meted out punishment personally

and severely.

.Turpentining strained a man's physical endurance to the limit.

A camp boss at the turn of the century compared another strenuous

agricultural enterprise to it: "In point of severity it [growing

cotton] is not to be compared to turpentine culture . ."

(Powell, 1969, p. 349). He related:

The work is severe to a degree almost impossible
to exaggerate, and it is very difficult to con-
trol a sufficient quantity of free labor to
properly cultivate any great number of trees.
The natives follow it more as a make-shift than
a vocation, and are only too glad to abandon
its hardships for any other character of work
that comes to hand. (Powell, 1969, p. 27)

The camps initially worked captive labor leased from the Florida

state prison system, which in 1870 operated 20:1 black to white,

although by the 1890s the proportion had reputedly dropped to 2:1

(Powell, 1969, p. 332).1

Saturday payday activity illustrates the nature of the black-

white relationship in this extractive enterprise. Early in the

morning the white man loaded his trucks or wagons with black men,

men hungering for the diversity and excitement of the county seat.

There, men who lived for long months in virtual isolation in the

deep woods proverbially spent their money riotously on liquor,

gambling ("skin games"), and women. Early Sunday morning those

physically able and of such a persuasion returned to camp via

the return truck. Those left behind often remained involuntarily,

as guests of the City Marshal or the "High Sheriff" until Monday

morning, when the contractor or an overseer, a camp "captain" (or

"cap'n"), ritually returned to the county seat to bail men out of

1Powell tried to explain: "I attribute the increase [in
whites relative to blacks] to several different causes. In the
early days it was possible to send a negro to prison on almost
any pretext, but difficult to get a white man there, unless he
committed some very heinous crime" (1969, p. 332). By 1890 this
situation had evidently changed.

jail with money from a standing account for that very purpose.

The overseers added the amount of the bail and fine plus the

payoff to the appropriate law enforcement official to the

worker's commissary debt.2

Turpentiners worked a stand of trees for seven years or less,

and when blade and cup eventually killed the trees, they moved

on. The personnel of any one camp changed every move, some

arriving and some managing to escape. These people, savaged by

a life of hardship and want, were outsiders in the lands that

supported them, lands where toleration was the exception rather

than the rule, and they settled only when economic expediency

dictated that "teppentime" had run its course as a way of life.

While no turpentine camps remain in Apalachee County, many

black men earn a living today in pulpwooding--cutting pines and

shipping them by truck or by rail to industrial processing plants

Hurston related the classic southern white-black joke between
Jim, a white turpentine woods rider, and Joe, a black hand: "I
know, I know, Jim retorted in mock sternness. It's Saturday
nights that's your trouble Joe. Saturday pay-night, you spend
all you got on likker and women. Before draw-day, you're pestering
my life out of me for more money. Pretty nearly every man on the
camp is the same way. Saturday night! Saturday night! Look
like that's all you colored folks live for on this camp, Saturday
night! Joe looked very serious while Jim was preaching. When
the woodsman had finished, Joe kept on looking serious. Finally
he scratched his head and seemed to reach a conclusion. I speck
youse right about that Saturday night business, Mister Jim.
Fact of the matter is, I knows youse dead right. But if you
ever was to be a Negro just one Saturday night, you'd never want
to be white no more" (1948, p. 40).

(none in Apalachee County) where they are converted into paper,

rayon derivatives, and other commercial products. Pulpwooding

has inherited turpentining's reputation as strenuous labor. In-

deed, a white "old timer," who himself did hard physical work

all his life in the pulpwood industry, claimed that there is no

harder work than the old-style pre-machine, hand turpentining,

called "chipping and dipping," but the closest thing to it is

pulpwooding. Laborers in pulpwood claim the reputation for

toughness, hell raising, and ignorance of the old "turpentine

niggers" as well as the same pattern of labor relations with the

personalistic white owners of town woodyards where railcars are


Where overseers previously employed dozens of unskilled black

laborers, machines today do most of the heavy field work of

felling trees, sawing to length, and loading on trucks. Even at

such transfer points as barren woodyards along railroad tracks

in the county seat, where heavy labor in direct sunlight predomi-

nates, the back-breaking work is much ameliorated. Since no

commercial or industrial establishments have replaced the jobs

lost to mechanization, the black men thus employed have been

forced into three strategies, strategies not necessarily discreet:

migratory patterns of wage earning, welfare exploitation, or

permanent out-migration.

Social distinctions between town blacks and country blacks

derive from the essence of the townman-countryman bi-class system

of social relations in the area. Blacks, too, share the philo-

sophical bias of the town sophisticate-country bumpkin dichotomy

with whites who apply it among their own kind. In turn, all

whites reverse the social implications of that philosophy against

blacks who live in the county seat--town blacks see themselves

as more sophisticated than rural blacks and expect some validation

of this status by whites. Whites, on the other hand, dare not

legitimize this distinction and prefer to consider them "uppity,"

meaning that whites believe that behavioral affirmation of this

distinction played out among the blacks threatens the basis of

the caste system itself because the blacks and whites use the

same criteria of sophistication. Only the racial line thus

stands between dominance of black townmen over white countrymen.

Town blacks have adopted behavioral strategies based on

frequent observation of interactions between town whites and

country whites, which often take the form of town dominance-

country submissiveness. Town blacks perhaps easily extended

deprecation of country status to country whites as well as to

country blacks. Coupled with imitative learning based on

repetition in observing dominant town white-submissive country

white encounters, this imagined dichotomy of "sophistication"

has caused blacks to modulate their behavior depending on the

category of white person faced. In the whites, especially

country whites in town, this black behavioral tactic triggered

a status-protection drive to reinforce caste lines. But the

black certainly knew from experience the propensity to violence

of the lower-class white and of the "cracker," and this fore-

knowledge caused a mediation, a third behavioral set, not servi-

tude but not equality: black behavior with vague connotations

generates social ambiguity and hence greater intercaste pressure

to conform and submit.

Town blacks have traditionally earned livings working under

white supervision, whereas country blacks in Apalachee County,

except for the formerly large tenant class, predominantly lived

and worked independently on their small farms.3 Business enter-

prises such as dry cleaners employed blacks in dark, damp sweat-

rooms as pressers toiling over great steam irons. Agricultural

warehouses and lumber mills used black men for the heavy labor of

hoisting and moving while women worked as domestics in the homes

of affluent whites; Employment diversification for the black

woman, except for the solitary homelife of the school teacher,

remains minimal but greater than for the black males, for many

women do find employment as assembly-line workers in the area's

small textile mills or the chicken processing plant.

For a few black men alternative employment has meant the

ministry, taking the duties as local black mortician, or operating

a business in the small black business section. These positions

offer a man the chance to rise economically to the level of the

3Today fewer than 100 black families are independently
involved in agriculture in Apalachee County.

white "middle class" and to exercise some power, albeit in a

mediating role, between white and black castes. There, whites

with power or black patrons can easily jeopardize a man's reputa-

tion and security, whites by force and blacks by ceasing to

frequent the business of a "Tom" and shopping at a rival white


In the mid 1970s country blacks and town blacks alike lived

in ethnic neighborhoods, named enclaves on side roads and off

the principal paths of commerce. There, scattered about one-room

church buildings, live a handful of black farmers as truly inde-

pendent as any local white small farmer. Faulkner wrote that

you could always distinguish a Negro country road: . a

road marked with many wheels and traced with cotton wisps, yet

dirt, not even gravel, since the people who lived on and used it

had neither the voting power to compel nor the money to persuade

the Beat supervisor to do more than scrape and grade it twice a

year" (Faulkner, 1955, p. 398).

We should think of race and caste, not just as sets of

categories which separate groups, but also as definitions pro-

viding means for them to come together, to interact in fact and

in imagination. We may carry this much further if we think of

race and caste as sets of rules for relating (not interacting

is a form of relating).

Two "feelings" about race relations in Apalachee County

must be considered here. Whites promote the idea that relations

between the races are much less "strained" than in any surrounding

county, and a white saying so often had an incident or story to

illustrate this difference:

Why just last year there was this black boy in
Lafayette County tried for murdering a white boy.
Now used to be they'd a just strung him up . well,
that was years ago. He'd a gone to jail and never
come out. Well, this boy here got off with life
[meaning that he received a life sentence] and it
was an all-white jury too.

Although I have less data from blacks testifying to this

point, there appears to be something of an opposed and cynical

feeling--that relations ii Apalachee County are more strained

than in surrounding counties. Nevertheless a general presumption

exists that relations between the races have changed a great

deal in recent years. Whites almost invariably related this era

of desegregation to wider social degeneration and lamented the


Blacks more slowly testified to the extent and nature of

changes forced in the system although grudgingly granting that

there had been some change.

Superficially, or publicly, relations between the races have

changed immensely during the past quarter-century. Seating around

the county courthouse remains but the bench backs no longer carry

specific caste designations. The "separate but equal" school

system was phased out during the 1960s, and blacks occasionally

eat in the downtown Dixie Grill, although whites rarely eat in

a black-owned cafe--caste breaking up and not down. Caste

impediments for entrance into the voting public of the community,

such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and forceful denial, are no

longer. The Ku Klux Klan no longer has an organization in the

county, and the White Citizens' Council formed at the height of

the school integration crisis never gained community support or


In private systems of relations the traditional patterns of

interaction remain in effect. In agriculture, for example,

blacks presumably need no longer perform and be generally limited

to menial and laborious tasks, now that the Federal governmental

system has intervened directly and massively in the food produc-

tion-processing-distribution system. Still, independent agri-

cultural operations in the area tend to exclude black entre-

preneurs, except for a handful of black small farmers who have

held tenaciously to the land deeded them after the War Between

the States.

Of the 146 Negro farmers in Apalachee County in 1964, 113

were full owners of their farms: 23 were part owners and 10 were

tenants. By 1969 the total had dropped to 84 Negro farmers:

73 full owners, 11 part owners; and no tenants (U.S. Department

of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Census of Agriculture, 1964

and 1969).

All farmers claim that they are hard-pressed to recruit and

pay for semi-skilled agricultural labor and, hence, turn

increasingly to machinery produced in outside manufacturing

centers, which must ordinarily be bought on credit, reinforcing

the farmer's dependence and subservience to town credit lenders.

White countrymen claim that they would much rather experience the

frustrations of working with agricultural equipment, which fails

to equal human labor in the quality of work done, than to work

agricultural labor which must now be handled carefully, patiently,

and quietly or else will disappear in the midst of a job. This

new set of interactional rules counters traditional normative

relations (directions of white domination and black .subordination)

and hence irritates and frustrates the white farmer, who finds

his self-image and positive value of "independence" threatened

within the very context where he learned to be most secure.

This interactional system is illustrated by one abstract

sequence of activities in tobacco crop production. In Apalachee

County basic allocations for market production were held by 94

farmers: black = 6 and white = 88.

1. Seeding in beds: the farmer, black or white.

2. Transplanting to the fields: mostly black labor.

3. Application of insecticides and sucker (branching) control:
the farmer.

4. Cropping (picking): blacks and whites of the lower classes,
frequently middle-class children, and the farm family itself.

5. Curing: women do the light work of stringing or racking, and
men do the heavy work of lifting and hauling.

6. Warehousing: manual labor by black men and women and lower-
class white children; technical labor by white men and women.

7. Buying and selling: white men.

8. Shipping: black men perform heavy tasks supervised by
white men.

The following story concerning a system of debt peonage was

told me by a local white man. It illustrates the recent anachron-

istic state of relations between blacks and whites; this based

on events in a neighboring county:

When I moved there in 1959, I first went to see
the Sheriff. He took me right over to register to
vote, backdating the entry because I had only been
in the area a few days. Well, when he found out
I made my living lending money to niggers, he
made me a deputy sheriff. That way, he said, "If
you ever have to kill one, it'll be legal." The
way I operated was like this: I'd scout out the
nigger jooks and the quarters making acquaintances
here and there. Pretty soon the word got out
that I could be hit up for a loan and they began
a-coming. I'd lend a man $5 and collect $7 at
the end of the week. Why once I made $250 on a
$20 loan. But I always got a signed blank check
from them as security, because .1 knew didn't none
of them have any banking account. So if they
defaulted, I'd fill in the check, cash it, and
have the Sheriff arrest them for passing bad
checks. Then after they'd stayed in jail a few
days, I'd bail them out and take them to the owner
of the pulpwood yard--a friend of mine--who'd
reimburse me their $50 bail and put them to work
to repay the both of us. Once I was waiting at
the woodyard on payday to collect a note and saw
this nigger walk out of the office counting his
money. When he seen me coming, he put the money
in his pocket and told me he didn't have any. I
insisted, and when he reached into his right pocket,
I knocked him out with my fist--cause I'd seen
him put the money in his left pocket. I figured
he was reaching for a knife. Well, I went to my
car and got my gun and put it right into that
nigger's nose. When he come to, he gave me the
money he owed me. I've still got a lump on my
hand from where I hit that nigger. That's one
nigger I could've killed. I left there in about
1964 cause I got tired of the work--it was just too
easy--like shooting fish in a tank. I ain't
never had no use for niggers.

Area blacks understand the local social system too and

have worked actively from within to change it. The following

incident, related to me by a young black Apalachee entrepreneur,

illustrates the dynamics involved in local social change:

Back a couple of years ago, there was a fight
between a black high school girl and a white
woman bus driver. The Sheriff put the girl in
jail and sent the white woman home after taking
her to the hospital for a check-up. Well there
was a mass meeting in Cherished Harmony Baptist
Church to protest his holding the girl in jail;
she was underage and there was no proof that the
girl caused the fight. They were listening to
speeches and about ready to march on the court-
house to picket and sleep on the steps there, if
need be. Well I got up and announced that I
wasn't going to sleep on any steps outside,
because I had a good bed to sleep in. I left
with a few others and went quietly to the Sheriff,
asking him to release the girl on her own
recognizance or in the custody of her mother
or us. The Sheriff and the youth counselor both
refused. So we went home and called the Governor
and got an executive order to release the girl.

Although the necessities of making a living and mediating

the interactional fields do bring them together, blacks and

whites historically live apart and play apart, interlocked but

segregated in zones of social space. Whites have generally

enforced this communal separation--as if spatial proximity related

in direct proportion to social access to the family hearth.

At first glance, maps of social divisions in the city of

Lizbeth resemble a maze, a surrealist pastiche. By conceptually

dividing the city into quarters, we find that each contains both

white and black neighborhoods (see Figure 5). The derivation of

these separate quarters resulted, not only from a conscious

separation, but also from an ecological corollary to the forms

of labor relations. (A young white man of Lizbeth joked, "They

live all around us. It's like a donut around a hole.") For

example, the southwestern black neighborhood in Lizbeth began as

the quarters-nucleus of a large sawmill in the late 1800s. A

sawmill owner, in a position to employ dozens of unskilled

laborers, was then a man of considerable power and economic re-

sources. Owners maintained themselves as paternal bosses to

their hands, black and white, often supplying them with cheap

housing near the mill. Such was the case here. The black

neighborhood in southeast Lizbeth originated as a settlement of

black railroad laborers early in the twentieth century.

Few blacks lived in Apalachee County before the War Between

the States, but they are nearly one-quarter of the population in

the 1970s. The black people have participated in the same social

relations as the white people, with the additional burden of

subordination in the system of caste relations of the region.

Many blacks lived in turpentine or logging camps in the county

under the supervision of white "bosses" until these activities

withered after the Second World War. Apalachee County has a minor

tradition of independent black farmers who nest on pockets of

land held by their families since the land was deeded them after

the War Between the States. Blacks in the towns worked in "gangs"

Key: Main thoroughfare
----- Railway

///// Black neighborhood




on the railroad or in sawmills and lived on the outskirts of

towns in racially segregated neighborhoods, or "quarters." No

other ethnic minorities reside in Apalachee County. Now that

we have introduced the cast of characters, we shall bring the

social history up to date.

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs