Jacob Summerlin: King of the Crackers (Pt. 2)

Jacob Summerlin: King of the Crackers (Pt. 2)

Jacob Summerlin, affectionately known as the "King of the Crackers" and "King of the Cracker Cow Hunters," was a trailblazing figure in the cattle industry. His life's work involved shipping cattle from Florida to Cuba, establishing a lucrative trade relationship that had a lasting impact on both regions. This blog post delves into the fascinating process Summerlin employed to get cattle from the Sunshine State to the Caribbean island, and why his methods were so effective.

Gathering and Preparing the Cattle

The journey of the cattle began long before they set hoof on a ship. The first step involved gathering the cattle and preparing them for their oceanic voyage. These cattle were usually kept in pens near the loading docks, where cowmen would camp underneath houses for one or two nights. Cooking over a campfire and sleeping under mosquito nets, these men were the backbone of the operation, ensuring that the cattle were well-cared for and ready for the next phase.

Ingenious Loading Techniques

When it came time to load the cattle onto the ship, Summerlin and his team employed a unique and humane method. They would place seashells into five-gallon oil cans and shake them, startling the cows just enough to get them moving but not enough to cause stress or injury. This innovative technique allowed for the efficient and ethical herding of the cattle onto the ships.

The Journey from Punta Rassa to Cuba

The cattle were shipped from Punta Rassa, Florida, a location strategically chosen for its proximity to Cuba and its suitability as a steamship port. The journey across the waters was the culmination of meticulous planning and preparation, ensuring that the cattle arrived in Cuba in the best possible condition.

Arrival and Impact in Cuba

Once the cattle reached Cuban shores, they were usually sold to local ranchers or meat processors. The Florida cattle were highly favored in Cuba for their venison-like quality, a characteristic that made them particularly appealing to the local population. This trade not only benefited the Cuban meat industry but also solidified Jacob Summerlin's reputation as a significant figure in the cattle trade.

Legacy of Jacob Summerlin

Jacob Summerlin was more than just a cattle trader; he was a visionary who saw the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship between Florida and Cuba. His methods and business acumen played a crucial role in establishing a thriving trade route that had economic implications for both regions.


The story of Jacob Summerlin serves as a compelling example of innovation, entrepreneurship, and cross-border collaboration. His humane and efficient methods for cattle trading set a standard for the industry, while his strategic foresight established a trade relationship that had lasting benefits for both Florida and Cuba.

So the next time you enjoy a steak or a burger, take a moment to appreciate the complex history and the pioneering individuals like Jacob Summerlin who have shaped the cattle industry into what it is today.

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