"C" is for Cattle ranching

Nov 8, 2017

Credit SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cattle ranching. Cow pens, cattle drives, and open-range herding—typically associated with the American West—were important features of the agricultural landscape of colonial South Carolina. British settlers brought husbandry traditions to the colony. Many enslaved West Africans also had extensive knowledge of cattle raising. Cattle ranching, a lucrative frontier occupation appeared first in the lowcountry, where black bondsmen became America's first cowboys. Periodically, cattle drives occurred, and drovers or "crackers" using whips herded livestock to Charleston. The livestock was then butchered and the beef packed in barrels for export. The cattle ranching tradition that germinated in South Carolina and other areas of the southern backcountry subsequently spread to the frontier of the middle South during the early 19th century and eventually developed into the large-scale ranching and cowboy culture of the West.