A Land Remembered is one of the best books I have ever read in my lifetime. Patrick Smith was a genius and he captured the life and times of Florida’s past at the turn of the last century magically and interestingly. A Land Remembered should be required reading for anyone living in the beautiful State of Florida. ~Ron Curtis
A Land Remembered
A Land Remembered opens in 1968 with the rich but despondent Solomon MacIvey as he cruises along Biscayne Bay in his silver Rolls Royce, then jumps back in time to 1858, when his grandfather, Tobias MacIvey, arrives in the Florida wilderness to start a new life with his wife and infant son. The sweeping story that emerges over the span of the next 114 years is a rich, rugged Florida history featuring a memorable cast of crusty, indomitable Crackers battling wild animals, rustlers, Confederate deserters, mosquitoes, starvation, hurricanes, and freezes to carve a kingdom out of a swamp. They survive and prosper, but at a high cost.
Here’s how they start their humble trek into the Florida wilderness in 1858: [Excerpt from Chapter 2]
Tobias MacIvey was thirty years old and had been in the Florida scrub for five years. He had come south out ofGeorgia in 1858. In his horse-drawn wagon there was a sack of corn and a sack of sweet potatoes, a few packets of seeds, a shotgun and a few shells, a frying pan, several pewter dishes, forks, and a cast-iron pot. There were also the tools he would need to clear the land and build a house: two chopping axes, a broadaxe foot adz, crosscut saw, auger bit, a fro and drawing knife.
His wife Emma, five years younger than he, held the baby as gently as possible as the wagon bounced over an old Indian trail that skirted to the east of the Okefenokee Swamp and then turned due south. Tobias had owned forty acres of red Georgia clay which he tried to farm and failed. When he sold the cabin and land he had enough money to buy only what was in the wagon.
When they crossed into Florida and reached Fernandina, Tobias traded his horses for a pair of oxen which Zech named Tuck and Buck. Included in the trade was a guinea cow, a strange-looking little Spanish animal with a small body that stood only one foot from the ground. But she had a huge udder and would provide milk for all of them.
So begins the journey of Tobias, his wife Emma and son Zechariah in the Florida wilderness in the mid 19th century. This is the story of three generations of a pioneer family in Florida and a story portraying the tenacity of American pioneers: how they survived and prospered in an often hostile environment. There are those still around today in Florida who sat across the dinner table from grandparents and heard first hand similar stories from those who where there when it happened. Whether you are a Florida native, a newcomer to the state, a student of history or simply looking for an unforgettable book to read, you will love A Land Remembered. Don’t even hesitate – purchase A Land Remembered now.
Looking for the audio version? You can get it through iTunes.
Patrick Smith Answers Common Questions About A Land Remembered
EXCLUSIVE BONUS – Every hardbound copy of A Land Remembered includes a FREE copy of the DVD, “Patrick Smith Answers Common Questions About A Land Remembered”, normally sold for $12.95. It’s yours free, only available here at ALandRemembered.com.
Student Edition of A Land Remembered
A Land Remembered is available in specially edited student volumes, available in both hardbound and softbound editions. These are very popular among younger readers and many schools use them to teach about Florida history.There are also very handy teaching guides available for elementary and middle schools. Get the youngsters in you life out from in front of the TV or the video game and let them learn the joy of reading with A Land Remembered. Read more about the student editions and teaching guides by clicking here. Following are some reviews and descriptions of A Land Remembered by many people of all ages and backgrounds. This is a long page, so just keep scrolling down.
Patrick Smith’s sad and curious chronicle of Florida’s last century begins in 1858, when Tobias and Emma MacIvey and their son, Zecheriah, abandoned 40 acres of played-out Georgia clay and headed for the wilds of Florida, where they settled in the vicinity of present-day Gainesville and commenced farming. Before 100 pages have passed, the MacIveys endure the pangs of hunger, a plague of mosquitoes, a ravaging band of Confederate Army deserters and a nocturnal visit from a bear that eats all the meat from their smokehouse. Rattlesnakes, wild boars and alligators are their neighbors in this desolate country; so far from civilization, there is just one law, and that is Murphy’s.
Despite adversity, the MacIveys manage to build a considerable kingdom out of ranching and orange groves over the next half century. Mr. Smith’s little band all but invent pluck, thrift and human kindness. When mosquitoes destroy a herd of cattle, the MacIveys dust themselves off and start over. When two-fisted varmints burn their cabin, they move south to a new homestead. Freezes, tick fever, hurricanes – all these things and more they endure somehow, with time left over to make friends and keep up good relations with the Indians down in the swamp. Much more happens to three generations of MacIveys than ever could have happened to a genuine Florida family; they are the prototypical settlers, the personification of frontier life.
Mr. Smith is not much interested in the peculiarities of character, and as a consequence his tale is short on the sort of human conflict that occupies most novels. In its stead, however, is the elemental struggle of man and nature. Zech MacIvey builds upon what his father, Tobias began, and as he builds, he changes. In his grandson’s words, Tobias “never owned so much as a grain of sand. He was a squatter. He believed that no man can own the land.” Zech, on the other hand, not only buys and fences what he farms but dabbles in the sort of land speculation that his son, Sol, will use to make a fortune during the real estate boom of the 1920’s.
Each generation learns from the one before, but for each in its turn, life’s inevitabilities and necessities are different. Sol MacIvey, the last – and by his own account the least – of his line, is no less concerned with combat and survival than were his father and his grandfather; but he has forgotten what they fought for, and he uses their skills with a feckless resolve in a lifetime spent affixing the MacIvey name to countless hotels, banks and property deeds, thereby effecting the final and irreversible transformation of a wilderness of wolves, panthers and wild parakeets to one of high-rise condominiums, drained swamps and polluted bays. This is a success story gone curiously sour.
By the end of A Land Remembered, it is hard not to like the MacIveys for their winning ways; but at the same time it is impossible not to see how their industry, which was once a boon, has managed to implicate them – and thousands like them – in an environmental disaster so vast that it affects virtually an entire state. Thus does this novel distinguish itself from mere off-the-rack generational sagas, for while we come to its elegiac story knowing the sad ending, we have to finish it in order to comprehend how such good people could perpetrate so much sorriness. – Malcolm Jones, book editor of The St. Petersburg Times in St. Petersburg, FL
Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading A Land Remembered. My ancestors (Mom’s side) came to Florida around the turn of the century, and I have heard many of the kind of “tales” told in the book all my life. But Mr. Smith REALLY brought everything to life through this incredible, absorbing story. I STILL think of the characters every now and then. Kinda “wonder what they are doing!!” 🙂 Thanks for making my ancestral history take on flesh and bones!!! I am an amateur genealogist, and I LOVE to find books that paint this kind of a picture for me. – Patti Jones Schacht
Sometime in 2002, someone advised me to read A Land Remembered since my heritage is deeply rooted in Florida. I was spell bound. My mother was born on Merritt Island in 1911, I find it ironic that is where your father lives now. Both of my parents were born in Florida in 1911. My parental grandfather was considered one of the major founders in Miami, as he paved the first streets on Miami Beach. Times and things have changed so much over the century.
My mother in 2003 was 91 and of good mind. She was living in an assisted living in Alabama close to my brother. He called to tell me she wasn’t feeling well, so I got in my car and decided to drive there. I truly wasn’t expecting anything more then a hospital stay. When I arrived, I learned she had had a serious heart attack. When I entered the room she was in good spirits and telling jokes. After my brother left to go home, because he had been there all night, I was there alone with my Moma. I was extremely tired after driving all night, but felt I needed to converse with my mother until she fell a sleep. I told her about your Dad’s book, and I had brought it along to read to her.
I started reading the first chapter, where MacIvey was going to see Toby Cypress before he died. As I was reading, she often remarked I remember that. Solomon MacIvey was the male version of my mother. As I was reading the final paragraphs of the first chapter, my mother had another heart attack and died. It was almost as if she was waiting for me to get there and then by reading that first chapter and that MacIvey was saying his final goodbyes, it was okay for her to pass on. Maybe I am reading too much into it, because it was quite difficult to see her pass on. But it made an indelible mark in my heart. – Jill McGahey Tuminello, FL
I don’t write fan mail…this is a first. After praising A Land Remembered to my grandson and best friend I purchased copies for them since I’ve found that it’s easier just to gift them instead of loaning out my own and then having to replace it when it never finds it’s way home. Tropical Storm Hannah hit our coast a few weeks ago and we lost our electric for a couple days. While the rain poured outside my husband and I read by lantern light in different corners of our living room as we reread (for the umpteenth time) our own copies of A Land Remembered. It was a delightful journey. Many Thanks! – Joyce Equi
You might think that Patrick D. Smith IS Sol MacIvey reincarnated in this tale of Old Florida. How else can you explain his vivid, captivating description of life in early Florida? I am a native Floridian and when I grab my cherished pictures and family mementos to evacuate for a hurricane, you can bet my copies of ALR will be with me! This book is a timeless treasure and not a one-time-read.
I had read this book several times and when it became assigned reading for my daughter, we each grabbed a copy and read it ‘together’. During each of the pivotal points in the lives of the MacIveys, we would make eye contact and either smile or wipe away tears. No words were exchanged because the book is filled with emotion and you really ‘feel’ the characters as real people with real pain and sorrow.
This book should be required reading as you cross the state line into Florida. It is truly a rite of passage for Floridians and any one who loves history. We are blessed to have this account of pioneer life in wild Florida. If I could sit around a campfire and listen to stories told by anyone…..it would be Patrick D. Smith.
I wanted to share with you book worms that this is one of my entire family’s favorites. All I can say is that you will laugh, you will cry, you will love this book. The writing is so vivid it literally carries you back in time to a place in Florida that is still untouched and raw. Almost every member of our family has read it more than once. A great read, especially for native Floridans. – Lori Ford
Click here to see what younger readers have to say about A Land Remembered.