Who are the Cattle Kings

From the Tampa Sunland Tribune, May 4, 1882


"Who are the Cattle Kings?"

Editor Floridian:--As you are aware, there has been much said and written about the "Cattle Kings of Florida"--usually, I presume, in derision. Now, if it would not give too much trouble, it might serve a good purpose to examine the tax list and show through your columns who is the largest cattle owner in the State. Many persons are curious to see how the big men stand in relation to taxes. If they own the cattle claimed for them the tax lists will or should show it.


In response to the suggestion of "Inquirer," we have looked through the tax books of 1881 of those counties in which the so-called "Cattle-King" are supposed to be located, viz; Manatee, Polk, Hernando, Hillsborough, Sumter, Volusia and Brevard, and find the largest cattle owners to be as follows:

Monroe--F. A. Hendry returns 15,000, J. E. Hendry 800, W. M. Hendry 500, L. M. Hendry 400, Z. King 2,000, Jacob Summerlin 1,200, J. J. and O. R. Blount 1,400, A. T. Frierson & Co. 1,100, Total cattle returned in the county, 24,710.

Manatee--Z. King returns 2,500, W. H. Vanderipe 2,500, Jacob Summerlin 2,000, Jasper Summerlin 1,300, W. B. Henderson 2,000, Charles and R. C. Hendry 1,100, H. T. Lykes 900. Total in this county, 53,273.

Hernando--Hope & Lykes return 700, H. T. Lyke 2,000, Total in this county, 14,882.

Hillsborough--W. B. Henderson returns 1,250, Jonah Yates 1,000, J. T. Lesley 700, H. T. Lykes 350. Total in this county, 21,223.

Polk--B. Guy returns 1,200, Geo. Hamilton 1,200, W. W. Willingham 2,000, Total in this county, 22,082.

Sumter--J. T. Lesley returns 2,000, Total not footed up for 188l; but the return in 1880 showed 16,276.

Volusia--Jacob Summerlin 1,000. Total in county, 13,635.

Brevard-L. W. Hooker, agent, returns 5,200, W. H. and N. R. Raulerson, Jr. 4,000, R. B. Parker, for himself and his agent, 2,500, H. D. Johnson, 2000, A. D. Johnson, Jr., 2,000, E. Whidden, agent, 1,500, J. M. Lanier, Sr., agent 1,200, E. O. Morgan 1,000. Total return in this county, 39,632.

These eight counties show on their tax books, estimating for Sumter, the same as in 1880, a total of 205,714 "neat and stock cattle." They show further that at the head of cattle owners is F. A. Hendry, of Ft. Myers, who returns 15,000, all in Monroe, while five others of the same family return 2,000, making to the credit of the Hendrys 17,800 head. Next in order come Jacob and Jasper Summerlin with 5,500; L. W. Hooker, agent, represents 5,200; King gives in 4,500; W. H. and N. R. Raulerson, Jr., 4,000; H. T. Lykes and Hope and Lykes, return 3,950; W. B. Henderson, 3,250, &c.

If these returns are to be relied on, it is quite evident that, so far as the tax books show, F. A. Hendry head the list of the "Cattle Kings of Florida."

Manatee County shows the largest number of cattle, viz: 53,273. Brevard County comes next with 39,632. Monroe has 24,710, Polk 22,082, Hillsborough 21,223.-- [Tallahassee] Floridian

Post scripts to the above article:

It is interesting to compare the figures below with the tax list figures above.

"The following is an approximate statement of the herds owned by some of the more wealthy cattle men in south Florida.

Z[i]ba King, 30,000; Hendry Bros., 20,000; H. T. Lykes, 10,000; J. T. Lesley, 9,000; Summerlin & Son, 12,000; Ben. Guy, 8,000; Irvin Lockle[r], 7,000; W. B. Henderson, 7,000. W. H. Vanderipe, Nelson Lockle[r], A. G. Zipprer, W. H. Willingham and several others, own herds of from 3,000 to 5,000."

------------Bartow Informant, March 18, 1882

A calf one year old was a "yearling" one two years old a "herdic," often called a "harry-dick." Nobody then and there had ever heard of a "maverick."

------------Julia E. Harn, "Old Canoochee Backwoods Sketches," Georgia Historical Quarterly 24 (December 1940), 383.