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North American Cattle Ranching Frontiers: Origins, Diffusion, And Differentiation

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In this revisionist study, historical geographer Jordan reinterprets cattle ranching in the Old World and New, challenging the notion that western cattle culture derived principally from Texas.


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In this revisionist study, historical geographer Jordan reinterprets cattle ranching in the Old World and New, challenging the notion that western cattle culture derived principally from Texas.

14 review for North American Cattle Ranching Frontiers: Origins, Diffusion, And Differentiation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gaye Ingram

    Terry G. Jordan's research has been basic to my understanding the real South, the one that began before and persisted long after the cotton boom and Civil War. In this book, he traces North American cattle-ranching to European and African origins that first meet in South Carolina. Although the British colony of SC advertised widely in Ireland and the Rhine River Valley for "Protestants: Farmers, Not Graziers," among the start-ups offered immigrants were land for farming and cattle (seed, farm im Terry G. Jordan's research has been basic to my understanding the real South, the one that began before and persisted long after the cotton boom and Civil War. In this book, he traces North American cattle-ranching to European and African origins that first meet in South Carolina. Although the British colony of SC advertised widely in Ireland and the Rhine River Valley for "Protestants: Farmers, Not Graziers," among the start-ups offered immigrants were land for farming and cattle (seed, farm implements, and a still were others). Drawing on their history as cattle growers, most of the Scots-Irish and many of the English immigrants discovered SC's geography made it possible to grow herds of cattle even as they worked their rice farms. The bounteous wetlands and piney woods provided free forage for their stock in the shoots of new cane in the large canebrakes that remained green most of the year and in the protected grasses and plants that grew beneath the tall stands of longleaf pines. Even when their rice fields fared poorly, their stock of cattle and hogs proliferated in nearby free ranges. Jordan shows how registries of brands developed and how the South Carolina practice of free-range ranching drew also on African ranching practices. Slaves from ranching sections of Africa became important players in the emerging cattle ranching practices of the coastal regions. A single mounted horse rider might control a large herd. Their expertise on horseback and the responsibility with which they were entrusted gave these enslaved workers a freedom and prestige unavailable to their fellows who worked the rice farms. Thus old-world practices and a new geography created a new cattle raising culture in South Carolina. It moved down through the pine barrens that follow the southern coasts into Georgia, across East and West Florida and the Mississippi Territory into Louisiana, where Spanish practices (e.g., use of lariate to rope cattle) were added to the already proven practices. From Louisiana and the piney woods of East Texas, it spread west and north. As Jordan shows, this was not a small culture. Indeed, in 1860 the sale of beef, hogs, and hides produced more revenue in the Southern states than cotton. Among the features that developed early were what was called "penns," cleared land that included a small dwelling house, usually a log cabin; a fenced-in area for holding milk cows, calves, and some of nearby herd at night; another for a slaughtering area; and another to protect the home vegetable garden produced for family use. These were often large establishments, but they were eminently portable. As the range grew thin, cattlemen simply moved southward to a similar location, where they could quickly clear and build a cabin and outlying facilities. The pinewoods and adjacent canebrakes and swamps were literally filled with cattle penns from South Carolina to Louisiana by 1812. Cattlemen were already in place and moving at the time of the Revolutionary War and by the time cotton began to make millionaires out of many who had migrated from the Northeast and the Atlantic seaboard states. As a Southerner, I'd always been at a loss to reconcile the South I knew with the plantation South. In this and other works by Jordan as well as by historians like Grady McWhiney, I discovered what I believe helps account for the large population of middling Southerners who have long formed the backbone of the general culture of the South. Jordan's prose is eminently readable, and this book contains many simple maps and charts that complement the text. It traces the ranching culture from the South Carolina into the northern plains, identifying evolutionary points. Fascinating. I read it the way I read novels. Only more so. I recommend it to anyone interested either in the South, the southern frontier, or ranching. Comment

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beau Smith

    The best book on the history of ranching that I've ever read. Can be a bit dry in spots, but it is a history book after all.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Edward

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ted

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael Block

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rob C

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Zellner

  8. 5 out of 5

    José María

  9. 5 out of 5

    Thiam Fall

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  11. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christal

  13. 5 out of 5

    rêveur d'art

  14. 5 out of 5

    Terry Walker

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