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In The Beginning

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Written by Robert A. Fisk

The cattle tick problem covered many years in Florida for the cattle men, as we have talked about before. It was not only a problem for the size and weight of the cattle but on the income for the cattle men themselves, and they were not in total agreement on compulsory dipping of the cattle.

The October 17, 1918 edition of the Tribune carried the following, “Eradication Of Cattle Tick To Be Voted On November 5.”

“The voters of Osceola county are called upon to decide whether the dipping of cattle to eradicate the cattle tick shall be made compulsory, or shall be left to the option of the cattle men and the proposition will be a part of the ballot in the general election to be held throughout the county on November 5, when the votes are to be cast for the officers whose terms expire at the end of the year and on two constitutional amendments, one to increase the amount of taxes that may be levied for school purposes, (does this sound like the present day?), and the other to adopt state wide prohibition on January 1, 1919. It is predicted that both amendments will be adopted, and that Florida will become dry on January 1, 1919. Just what the outcome will be on the cattle dipping proposition is unknown, since there  are  many   large    cattle men who oppose the matter being made compulsory during the war due to the shortage of labor.

“Osceola county, this year, levied a special tax to build dipping vats throughout the county, but materials have been hard to get, and the building program has hardly gotten started. The plan calls for forty dipping vats, all to be open to the public, so that cattle men in all parts of the county could dip their stock without driving them a long distance to reach vats. Most of the large cattle men have long ago constructed their own vats on their ranches, and have been dipping their stock as often as they deem it necessary. The county is confronted with a rather peculiar condition as regards the smaller cattle men and a condition that some of the larger raisers think will be a hindrance to certain extent in ridding the county of the troublesome tick, and that is the fact that there are a large number of cattle running on open range that it is said is next to impossible to get rounded up for regular dipping. To make the dipping compulsory would subject the owners of such stocks of cattle to a heavy penalty for not dipping every fourteen days until a period of six months had elapsed, and unless these cattle were dipped the tick would again get into the herds that are on fenced up ranges. The larger cattle men know that it is now very difficult to get enough labor to look after their stock, and that to be compelled to dip every fourteen days would mean to be forced to keep a bunch of men on hand every day during that period…”

And, on October 17, 1918, “Commissioner A. F. Bass Opposed to Compulsory Dipping Of Cattle (He was a cattle man.)”

“I am opposed to adopting the compulsory dipping law in Osceola county at this time because I think it is unnecessary and that it would work a hardship on most of the cattle men just at this time…” He goes on to repeat most of the reasons given by the editor’s article on the matter. As you can see there were two sides to the question, as usual. One must remember that at this time Florida had no fence law until in the 1950s.”

In the October 24 edition of the Tribune carried the story, “Time For Making Cattle Dipping Compulsory Rests With The State Board.”

In that article Mr. A. A. Coult, Educational Director of the Florida Cattle Tick Eradication Committee of the Southern Settlement and Development Organization, Jacksonville, Florida, sent the Tribune information about the work in Florida by R.W. Storrs, Secretary of the State Live Stock Sanitary Board.

“The Cattle Owners Association of Polk County held a meeting in Ft. Meade last Saturday and adopted a Resolution endorsing an election in that county to vote for compulsory dipping of cattle…”

“Orders have been received by material supply dealers in Florida to let cement for use in building cattle dipping vats have priority over other orders, and no special certificate is required of dealers filling such orders. That will clean up the main drawback to building dipping vats and the number yet to be built in the county can be ready before time for compulsory dipping to begin.”

“In connection with the time for starting the dipping, the following statement by P. W. Storrs, a member of the live stock Sanitary Board, is valuable.”

“After the people have authorized the work by their votes, the time of starting systematic dipping of cattle is left to our board. Under no circumstances will we order cattle dipped regularly until weather conditions are favorable, which will not be earlier than the 1st of March.”

“If at that time there should be such shortage of labor that the work can not be done without undue hardship on the cattle owners, that will be taken into consideration.”

The voters in Escambia county gave a majority of several hundred votes for compulsory dipping of cattle…

“Brevard county has already held its election, and voted by a big majority to carry on compulsory dipping of cattle…”

“All the Osceola cattle along the border (Brevard) will have to be dipped regularly as soon as work is started in Brevard county, or else kept this side of the county line, under penalty of prosecution of the owner.”

“The Orange county line has to be protected now.”

“If Polk county votes for compulsory dipping of cattle, as it cattle association has endorsed, all of that border will have to be patrolled next year and all the time until Osceola county takes up the work.”

“It looks as if the Osceola cattle men are the ones who will be in trouble if this county does not vote to make cattle dipping compulsory, as systematic work can not be started until authorized the voters. A. A. Coult.”

In that same issue R. W. Godwin, another cattle man, approved the letter of Commissioner A. F. Bass.

In the 24th, 1918 edition of the Tribune – not 2004 but 1918 – we find, “FLORIDA SHOULD WAKE UP!”

“(From Miami Herald) Fifty two counties in Alabama have voted an extra 3 mu school tax and the others will follow, for that State is educationally awake. Will Florida continue to doze?”

“The above is taken from the columns of the Tampa Tribune, and that paper hits the nail squarely on the head when it intimates that Florida is sleeping on the proposition to better schools of the State.”

“Fifty two counties of Alabama have voted to increase their taxes for school purposes by exactly the amount that the people of Florida are being asked to consent to have their own taxes raised – raised whenever the authorities in the various counties determine that it is necessary.”

“Some opposition has developed to the proposition, the objectors basing their complaints against the giving of the asking for authority on the fact that the county that increases the taxes, if the constitutional amendment is accepted by the people, will have to raise more money – that it will cost individuals something more that they are now paying.”

“Next to the successful prosecution of the war, providing funds for the education of the children of the State is the most necessary thing for the people to do.”

“Alabama sees that plainly, and is providing more funds for her schools.”

“Unless Florida does the same thing, her schools will lag behind other Southern States, the children will lack for educational facilities, and the state will be irreparably injured.”

“No man should permit the consideration of the despicably small tax he will in addition to those now assessed against him, to interfere with the bettering of our schools – of making them equals of any in the country.”

If you remember it was only in 1916 that Osceola finally required compulsory school for those up to the 8th grade. I have always like the bumper sticker that reads—If you think education costs try ignorance!