March Conversations at The Crocker

Gulf Coast Trade with Cuba and Fishing Ranchos

The Conversations at the Crocker series takes look at our long trading traditions with Cuba with emphasis on ranchos when an anthropologist and an archeologist present their research

It might surprise a lot of people in Manatee and Sarasota counties to know that there has been an active Florida trading commerce with Cuba since the 1600s. Mostly it’s been smoked mullet, but also citrus, cattle, and other commodities. At the Historical Society of Sarasota County’s popular series Conversations at The Crocker, an archaeologist and an anthropologist take an in-depth look at Florida’s trade with Cuba. They will focus particular attention on the Cuban fishing ranchos and the origins of modern Sarasota and Manatee. For more than 100 years, Cuban fishermen set up seasonal fishing camps along our coast where they would catch fish, salt them and send them back to Cuba to sell.

This Conversation takes place on Tuesday, March 13 starting at 7 p.m. at the Crocker Memorial Church, 1260 12th Street (Pioneer Park) in Sarasota. Free to members of the Historical Society and students; guests, $10 at the door. 

Leading the Cuba Conversation are archaeologist Jeffrey Moates, and Professor Uzi Baram, a professor of anthropology at New College.  

Three Cuban fisherman are credited with showing Josiah Gates and his brother-in-law fields near a spring on the south side of the Manatee River,” said Jeffrey Moates.  “Gates would use the land to settle a homestead that became the center of the Village of Manatee, today’s eastern part of Bradenton.” And that’s only a tiny part of the story. Using maps, historical photographs and documents, Moates and Baram will draw you into a time and a place of ancient peoples who have left clues to thriving waterside communities. 

Jeffrey Moates is Regional Director for the Florida Public Archaeology Network, and he is based at the University of South Florida (USF). In 2010, Moates and USF staff developed and coordinated Rancho Regattas, public programming to celebrate Cuban fishing rancho history and archaeology in Florida.

Uzi Baram is a Professor of Anthropology at New College of Florida and founding director of the New College Public Archaeology Lab. In his experiments with public outreach and community engagement, Prof Baram has commissioned two video games that teach the history and geography of the Cuban fishing ranchos of Sarasota Bay.  

Archaeologist Jeffrey Moates

Priofessor Uzi Batam

Established five years ago by the Historical Society of Sarasota County, Conversations at the Crocker is a series of interactive conversations that explore the people, places and events that have shaped this part of Florida. Before each Conversation, the Historical Society offers docent-led tours of the two heritage properties at Pioneer Park that the society curates, The Bidwell-Wood House (l882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901). Annual membership at the Historical Society is $35. For more information, contact Linda Garcia, Site Manager, at 941-364-9076

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