Morgan Bonaparte "Bone" Mizell, caught between two Worlds!

By
Real Estate Agent with Florida Supreme Realty SL514814
https://activerain.com/droplet/4BzM

When people think cowboy their theme song is usually considered as Home on the Range. That would be correct in Western Cowboy lore but the lyrics don't coincide with America's original cowmen, the cow hunters. Now simply known as the Florida Crackers the title has developed into an entirely new meaning that includes anyone who has been born and raised here. 

 Unlike western stories about the American cowboy not much is written about the first American cowboys. Here in Florida is where their roots began. Not too much romanticism exists in an environment of sweltering heat, swarms of mosquitoes and sloughing through water all day.

They were called cow hunters or cow men, not cowboys. The tools they had were mainly a spanish bred small, sturdy and agile horse called a Marsh-Tackie that could endure Florida's harsh summer heat. A gun was almost a luxury but their whips were mandatory. It's said that a cow hunter could flick a fly off a cow's butt while not disturbing a hair. At roundup time toward Summer's end the crack of the whip is what got the herds moving and earned these men the nickname by Florida Cracker at the turn of the19th century.

We can thank the Spaniards for getting us into the beef business. Explorations as early as the 1500's are the cause. Shoal waters on Florida's West coast made it difficult for ships to navigate and often they'd have to release horses and cows to lessen the draft in order to proceed. Whereas a longhorn could not survive meandering in water all day the Spanish variety adapted well without damage to hooves or overcome by waterborne infections.

With hearty cows and horses came the rise of the heartiest of cow hunters. "Bone" Mizell. He never owned a home or a bed and if he slept in one it was usuallyin  a brothel. His motto seemed to be along the lines of fighting, drinking, screwing, joking and drinking. Oh, and man could he ride, described as phenomenal by his peers of the day. His whip was an 18 footer and he mastered it. Standing 6'5" he was a towering man for his day. Born in 1863 and died in 1921 his claim to fame, other than his legendary carousing, was by becoming the model for Frederic Remington series of paintings in Harper's New Monthly Magazine issued August 1895. The painting above was named "A Cracker Cowboy".

There may have been some reluctance for Remington to cover this story and paint Mr. Mizell due to traveling in central Florida in the middle of Summer however we're so glad that he did. Remington was not ready for the rawness and grit he saw here as opposed to the Western counterpart's portrayal. A year after the fame had worn off, "Bone" Mizell was arrested for cattle rustling. As the story goes "Bone" knew every brand and every owner of each brand and could identify every offspring of each cow in all in nearly all of the Florida ranches. He had just started to tie one on at the local watering hole, The Arcadia Bar & Grille Saloon, and found himself being hauled to jail for the crime by two deputies. Unfortunately "Bone" had rustled the Judge's own cows which made him an unruly and biased victim. Mizell admitted to the crime saying he knew by the brand they were owned by the Judge and asked for a dismissal. When asked why he, the Judge, should grant him one "Bone" went on to explain "Now look a here Judge, I stole hundreds of cattle and put your mark on 'em. Jus 'cause I've stole a few from you, you go and have me indicted. You just better get this whole deal nolly-pressed." I don't know if that's the actual quote but it certainly makes sense why Morgan Bonaparte "Bone" Mizell was immediately released from court that day, March 2nd, 1896 . Florida's "Cowboy" heritage began way before the romantic Wild West variety came along and Bone's rustling arrest may be the last this Country had seen. The lifestyle still exists although the players have calmed down a bit from those early "lawless" days.

 

"Bone" literally died with his boots on while waiting for a telegraph

at the Fort Ogden, Florida train station, he was 58.

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florida history
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Ambassador
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Kevin- what an interesting story about Florida crackers. I had no idea.  being a Texan, the only cowboys I knew were those I saw and learned about in Texas. 

Mar 06, 2015 02:36 AM #1
Rainmaker
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Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

It's funny how the "rustling" portion of the story brought about my initial interest Kathy Streib  then come to find out the connection with Frederic Remington. Apparently these old "cow hunters" were an ornery bunch right here in our back yard on the "other" side of the lake.

Mar 06, 2015 04:20 AM #2
Rainmaker
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Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond

So interesting Kevin J. May   ...my father was a fine artist and could copy most artists...my bro has one he copied of F. Remington...I so appreciate these men who lived this life...thanks for sharing.

Mar 06, 2015 09:38 PM #3
Rainmaker
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Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

There's some difficulty imagining the raucousness of this lifestyle while the majority of the civilized World saw only the propriety of the Victorian Era. We're lucky to have had artists like Remington to help visualize the chasm between the two Ginny Gorman

Mar 07, 2015 02:46 AM #4
Rainmaker
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Nick T Pappas
Assoc. Broker/Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, @HomesBirmingham & Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Hun... - Huntsville, AL
Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource

 Kevin, yes a very interesting story that prompted me to do a little more research about the Florida Crackers. Apparently that term and the cow hunters are steeped in Florida history as well as other southeastern coastal states. A lot of history there I was not aware of.

Mar 07, 2015 03:06 AM #5
Rainmaker
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Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

Our native Indian population dates back 10,000 years Nick T Pappas  with much of it left undiscovered. The Spanish explorers are what put us on the map while disease from European settlers decimated their numbers. 

Mar 07, 2015 03:37 AM #6
Ambassador
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

What I learned

Mar 07, 2015 10:33 AM #7
Rainmaker
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Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

Kathy Streib, being featured might help us to find the words in the poem or lyrics to the song named "The Ballad of BoneMizell". I was hoping to include them both but my search reached a dead end. I am forever grateful for the recognotion my friend! So glad to see that you enjoyed this small piece of Florida history. 

Mar 07, 2015 11:29 AM #8
Rainmaker
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Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Kevin, as they say "now I know"! Thanks for the history lesson! Enjy your day!

Mar 07, 2015 08:49 PM #9
Rainmaker
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Cindy Edwards
RE/MAX Checkmate - Johnson City, TN
CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677

Kevin, found my way over here, via Kathy.  What a great history lesson.  Who knew???

Mar 07, 2015 11:49 PM #10
Rainmaker
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Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Thanks to Kathy I did not miss your post this week...I can see why she included it!

Mar 08, 2015 12:17 AM #11
Rainmaker
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Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

Wayne Martin, you've got some colorful pioneers in your neck of the woods too. At 81 and sunny it's hard not to enjoy it here! Thank you for swinging by.

Cindy Edwards, glad you liked it, our Wild West was scaled to the state rather than across the Country. On ventures like this Kathy makes an excellent guide!

Kristin Johnston, Waukesha Realtor 414-254-6647 I love that Kathy Streib has vision far beyond her staging and you were able be a part of my posting thanks to her.  

Mar 08, 2015 04:29 AM #12
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Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Kevin, this is an interesting story about a colorful character.  It must have been a hard life back then.

Mar 08, 2015 11:10 AM #13
Rainmaker
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Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

The beauty of it all must have offset the hardships back then. Today we get small glimpses of that Silvia Dukes PA, REALTOR and realize, apparently it was enough.

Mar 08, 2015 08:40 PM #14
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Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Thanks Kevin, I always enjoy a bit of history, and this is very interesting.

Mar 09, 2015 12:24 PM #15
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