"D" is for Drovers

Oct 16, 2017

Credit SC Public Radio

"D" is for Drovers. From around 1800 until the 1880s, livestock from Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina were driven through Greenville County to the seaport at Charleston—destined for markets in the north and in the Caribbean. These drives were made possible by the completion of a road from Greenville County across the mountains into Knoxville, Tennessee in the late 1790s.

Herds consisted primarily of cattle or hogs, but also included sheep, mules, horses, and turkeys.  A typical cattle drive consisted of 100-120 head of cattle attended by three drovers: one on horseback and two on foot. Drovers became expert whip-crackers, and the term “crackers” may have derived from the whips they used. The expansion of railroads into the upcountry and across the mountains, coupled with the gradual decline in open-range grazing, led to the demise of the droving trade.