north central Florida

A look back at the Florida Cracker at Dudley Farm Historic State Park

One of the things I love most about our journey through Florida is learning things about our state that I had no idea that I didn’t know. It is funny how you live your whole life somewhere and find out that you know very little about the place you call home.

For instance, do you know where the term Florida Cracker came from?  It refers to the cracking sound made by the whips used by early Florida settlers to herd their cattle.

I love it when we find a place that we can mix in learning some Florida history with a day of fun, and Dudley Farm Historic State Park provided just such an adventure.

Watch the video and get a peak of historic dudley farm

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Dudley Farm Historic State Park is located in Newberry, Florida, which is just west of Gainesville, making this Florida gem a convenient outing for anyone visiting the Gainesville area.

This is not a recreation of a farm but an authentic working farm, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A visit to Dudley Farm is a walk back in time, taking you through the changes in farming and Florida farm living through three generations.

The tour of the Dudley Farmhouse, the grounds, and the outbuildings are guided by your cellphone. Just simply call the number on the guide map and put in your stop number, followed by the pound sign. Guide maps are normally picked up at the visitor center, but due to Covid19, the Visitor Center is currently closed. Guide Maps can currently be found at the restroom building near the parking area.

The farm was established by Phillip Benjamin Harvey Dudley Sr. before the Civil War but his son, P.B.H. Dudley Jr., developed the farmstead that you can visit today.

Eighteen original buildings built between the 1880s and 1930s still exist on the grounds today, including the restored family farmhouse and separate kitchen building, both with their original furnishings.

It was very cool to see the staff and volunteers dressed in period clothing tending to the daily farm chores. These chores can be anything from maintaining the crops or tending to the livestock consisting of cracker cows and horses, bronze turkeys, and heritage breed chickens.  

Due to Covid19, the visitor center and commissary were closed when we visited. This was disappointing as I am sure there were more interesting facts we could have learned. However, the closure is understandable as most of the staff are volunteers in the age group considered most vulnerable.

This is a walking tour on an old dirt road pathway and grass. In my opinion, it can be done in a wheelchair but with some difficulty. A wheelchair lift is available at the farmhouse to allow wheelchair visitors access to view the farmhouse.

A visit to Dudley Farm is a value family experience at only $5.00 per carload. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday, closed Monday & Tuesday.

No pets are allowed at the homestead. Picnic tables are provided near the parking area.

John and I spent about 3 & 1/2 hours viewing the grounds and buildings. How much time you need to allow for your visit depends on your level of interest in Florida’s Pioneer History. May I suggest combining a visit to Dudley Farm Historic State Park with one or more of Gainesville’s other interesting attractions from the list below?

Dudley Farm Historic State Park is located at 18730 W. Newberry Road
Newberry, FLorida 32669

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2 replies »

  1. Dudley farm was Dudley Plantation. And that “cracker” term was not just used on cattle. They came from South Carolina walking their enslaved Africans. One of the Dudley patriarchs is also responsible for one of many Florida lynching atrocities of two young black boys for a crime committed by a couple white boys that used them as scapegoats. Here’s history whitewashing the story and leaving out key pieces. It was a slave plantation before it was a humble farm only because emancipation occurred.

    • Thank you for providing that information. You are right, that information certainly was not talked about on the tour. Do you know where I can read up on the history of the plantation? I would like to hear more of the story.

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