Florida Western

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A Florida Western can be used to describe a small number of films and literature set in the 19th century, particularly around the time of the Second Seminole War. Not a significant number of these films have been made, as most Hollywood and other genre westerns are usually located in other regions of the United States, particularly the former frontier territories of "the West".


A series of novels about Florida in the 19th century and their Florida cracker characters have been called Cracker Westerns. [1] [2]


In 1895 Frederic Remington and Owen Wister traveled to Florida to write a story on Florida's cowboys for Harper's Weekly . [3]

In the 1990s a series of Cracker Westerns by several authors were published.

In 2014 Rough Edges Press published Palmetto Empire by David Hardy. This novel follows the fictional adventures of backwoodsmen, outlaws, and rebels in the era of the First Seminole War.


It was during the 1950s that most of these films were produced and many included a fictional and stereotypical portrayal of the real life Seminole leader, Osceola, who resisted American expansion into Florida during the late 1830s. The film Distant Drums (1951), which was one of the earliest Florida Westerns made, even changed his name to Oscala and portrayed him as a malevolent savage, filled with a constant bloodlust who fed living prisoners to alligators.

One of the advantages of these types of films, however, was that the producers often used the Florida Everglades as a backdrop. Now a contemporary audience has the benefit of glimpsing this wilderness in its mid-20th century form. The producers of Distant Drums even used the historic Castillo de San Marcos fort as a backdrop for the story. It was depicted as a fictitious stronghold for Spanish gunrunners selling armaments to the Seminole on the west coast of Florida, although it is actually located on the east coast.

Films which were made and could be considered Florida Westerns include:


  1. "Cracker Western Books". Archived from the original on March 27, 2011.
  2. p.17 Ste Claire, Dana Cracker: The Cracker Culture in Florida History University Press of Florida, 2006
  3. pp.57-58 Clark, James C. 200 Quick Looks at Florida History Pineapple Press Inc, 01/09/2000

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Seminole Wars</span> Conflicts in Florida between the US govt. and Seminole Nation (1816–58)

The Seminole Wars were a series of three military conflicts between the United States and the Seminoles that took place in Florida between about 1816 and 1858. The Seminoles are a Native American nation which coalesced in northern Florida during the early 1700s, when the territory was still a Spanish colonial possession. Tensions grew between the Seminoles and settlers in the newly independent United States in the early 1800s, mainly because enslaved people regularly fled from Georgia into Spanish Florida, prompting slaveowners to conduct slave raids across the border. A series of cross-border skirmishes escalated into the First Seminole War in 1817, when General Andrew Jackson led an incursion into the territory over Spanish objections. Jackson's forces destroyed several Seminole and Black Seminole towns and briefly occupied Pensacola before withdrawing in 1818. The U.S. and Spain soon negotiated the transfer of the territory with the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wilhelm scream</span> Widely used sound effect

The Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect that has been used in a number of films and TV series, beginning in 1951 with the film Distant Drums. The scream is usually used when someone is shot, falls from a great height, or is thrown from an explosion. The sound is named after Private Wilhelm, a character in The Charge at Feather River, a 1953 Western in which the character gets shot in the thigh with an arrow. This was its first use following its inclusion in the Warner Bros. stock sound library, although The Charge at Feather River is the third film to use the effect. The scream is believed to be voiced by actor Sheb Wooley.

The history of Florida can be traced to when the first Native Americans began to inhabit the peninsula as early as 14,000 years ago. They left behind artifacts and archeological evidence. Florida's written history begins with the arrival of Europeans; the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in 1513 made the first textual records. The state received its name from that conquistador, who called the peninsula La Pascua Florida in recognition of the verdant landscape and because it was the Easter season, which the Spaniards called Pascua Florida.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Seminole</span> Native American people originally from Florida

The Seminoles are a Native American people who developed in Florida in the 18th century. Today, they live in Oklahoma and Florida, and comprise three federally recognized tribes: the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, as well as independent groups. The Seminole people emerged in a process of ethnogenesis from various Native American groups who settled in Spanish Florida beginning in the early 1700s, most significantly northern Muscogee Creeks from what is now Georgia and Alabama.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Osceola</span> Seminole leader

Osceola, named Billy Powell at birth in Alabama, became an influential leader of the Seminole people in Florida. His mother was Muscogee, and his great-grandfather was a Scotsman, James McQueen. He was reared by his mother in the Creek (Muscogee) tradition. When he was a child, they migrated to Florida with other Red Stick refugees, led by a relative, Peter McQueen, after their group's defeat in 1814 in the Creek Wars. There they became part of what was known as the Seminole people.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Second Seminole War</span> 1835–42 war in Florida

The Second Seminole War, also known as the Florida War, was a conflict from 1835 to 1842 in Florida between the United States and groups collectively known as Seminoles, consisting of Native Americans and Black Indians. It was part of a series of conflicts called the Seminole Wars. The Second Seminole War, often referred to as the Seminole War, is regarded as "the longest and most costly of the Indian conflicts of the United States". After the Treaty of Payne's Landing in 1832 that called for the Seminole's removal from Florida, tensions rose until open hostilities started with Dade battle. For the next four years, the Seminole and the U.S. forces engaged in small engagements and by 1842 only a few hundred native peoples remained in Florida. The war was declared over on August 14, 1842.

<i>Distant Drums</i> 1951 film by Raoul Walsh

Distant Drums is a 1951 American Florida Western film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Gary Cooper. It is set during the Second Seminole War in the 1840s, with Cooper playing an Army captain who successfully destroys a fort held by Spanish gunrunners and is pursued into the Everglades by a large group of Seminoles. The fort used in the film was the historic Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida, and most of the principal photography was shot on location in Florida.

<i>Light a Distant Fire</i> 1988 novel by Lucia St. Clair Robson

Light a Distant Fire is a 1988 historical novel by Lucia St. Clair Robson that fictionalizes the story of the Second Seminole War, Andrew Jackson, and the charismatic leader Osceola, warchief of the Seminole tribe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Billy Bowlegs</span> 19th-century Seminole chief and military leader

Holata Micco was an important leader of the Seminoles in Florida during the Second Seminole War and was the remaining Seminole's most prominent chief during the Third Seminole War, when he led the Seminoles' last major resistance against the United States government. With the possibilities of military victory dwindling and facing starvation, he finally agreed to relocate with his people to Indian Territory in 1858. He is buried in Hughes County, Oklahoma.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Delmer Daves</span> American film director, producer, and screenwriter (1904–1977)

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Micanopy</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fort King</span> United States historic place

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Seminole Tribe of Florida</span> Native reservation

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<i>The Everglades</i> (TV series) Television series

The Everglades is an American crime-adventure television series that aired in syndication for one season from 1961–62 and in reruns. Ron Hayes starred as Constable Lincoln Vail, a law enforcement officer of the fictional Everglades County Patrol who traveled the Florida Everglades in an airboat, a vehicle which was often the focus of the program. Hayes, a northern California actor and stuntman, was an avid outdoorsman and conservationist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Seminole Wind (song)</span> 1992 single by John Anderson

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<i>Seminole</i> (film) 1953 film

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