The Barber/Mizell Feud

Moses Barber came from Georgia in 1833 and first settled just north of McClenney Fla. Moses was often referred to as "the Indian fighter who chased the Seminoles south of the Georgia Bend." He once had so many dogs, that it took a whole steer per day to feed them. Moses became a cattleman, and by 1860 was worth 21,400 in land, and 116,180 dollars in other property, in addition to owning 100 slaves. By today's standards, he was a wealthy man.

During the Battle of Olustee, the Yankees confiscated almost all of his property, including most of his cattle herds for food, then freed all of his slaves. To make matters worse, he had lost his son Isaac in the civil war. Moses packed up what he had left, and moved to the Kissimmee basin. He acquired some large tracts of land and soon had some large cattle herds.

The Barbers were very active in the early citrus and cattle industry in Central Florida. During reconstruction, the Mizell family moved in, and through "politics" became the most powerful men in local government, in Orange County, during, and after, Reconstruction. The Barbers did not like the Federal Government, and resented the Mizell's power over cattlemen. On the other hand, the Mizells saw the Barbers as powerful in their cattle and land holdings.

The local officials from the Reconstruction government [and of Mizell influence] harassed the Barbers, namely Jack. Barbers were often being brought to court on fabricated charges, often for fines for failing to pay cattle taxes. The cattle tax was unfair, very high, and the Barbers had a lot of cattle. But when they failed to fully pay their tax, they were fined outrageous amounts. Often, cowmen would have to sell their herds just to pay off these fines to the local officials. In almost all cases, a Mizell was behind the taxation and fines. At one time Jack Barber was imprisoned for [what appears to be a failure to pay a fine] he was in prison at Chattahoochee.

The two families exchanged threats, most came from the Barbers, who threatened to shoot any Mizell that was found on their range. The sheriff was a Mizell, and the county judge was a Mizell. The actual feud began when a prize heifer, named Tater Peelin' , belonging to DEED BARBER, was found with an altered brand among Morgan Mizell's herd. DEED BARBER, who was only 14 yrs. old, tried to reclaim his prize heifer, but he was caught in the process and Sheriff Mizell forced him to kill and butcher the animal on the spot. Then Sheriff Mizell charged him with cattle rustling. On February 21, 1870, at Bull Creek, near Kenansville, not far from the Barber Ranch, Sheriff David Mizell was shot, he died the next morning at sunrise. NEEDHAM YATES, AND HIS TWO SONS, along with MOSES BARBER Jr., were blamed for the murder, which was said to be in revenge for what had happened to DEED BARBER. All the men, except Moses Barber were rounded up.

While the three men were being escorted to the jail in Orange County, they were shot [evidently by their captors]. To replace the dead Sheriff in office, David Stewart was made Sheriff, he was a close associate of the Mizell clan. Some accounts blame him for shooting the three Yates men. Then on May 5, 1870, the State issued an indictment for murder against MOSES BARBER. The following month, Judge Mizell organized a posse to hunt down the Barber men, this was another act of revenge by the Mizells. They found Isaac Barber, tied him up to a tree and shot him dead. 20 shot guns were emptied into Isaac's body, so that no single shooter could be blamed for the crime. A witness to the murder managed to escape and went to the Barber homestead to tell Isaac's wife, Harriett, that her husband had been killed.

The posse then confiscated Barber cattle. Mose, Jack, and Little Mose escaped the posse by riding through Shingle Creek Ford, so as to leave no hoof prints, [this is now called Boggy Creek, south of the Orlando International Airport] But, later Little Moses was captured. The posse tied him up, put him in a large croaker sack, weighted with plowshares, then threw him into Lake Conway. He surfaced several times, almost escaped, but eventually they shot him and he went to the bottom of the lake. ANOTHER STORY, SAYS HE WAS THROWN INTO A POND OFF SOUTH FERN CREEK IN ORLANDO.

Moses and Jack Barber left the area, they said they were going to Texas, but some say that they only made it as far as West Florida. We know that Andrew [JACK] Barber came back, because he died in Florida in 1916. The feud lasted for 20 years, some say longer, a few say it is still going on.

OTHER NOTES: Moses Barber ran cattle in Orange, Osceola, Brevard, and Palm Beach Counties. His center of operations seems to have been Kissimmee. He often drove cattle north through Volusia County, now called the town of Barberville.

Some other Barbers, Carl Barber, oldest son of Joe Barber, was born in Conway in 1887, he was the first to ship live beeves by rail in the 1920s. He was instrumental in the cattle tick eradication program. In 1956, he organized the mid-Florida livestock auction market in Orlando. Many barber men belonged to the Masonic lodge and to the Oddfellows. Barbers were active in both the citrus and cattle industries. Andrew Jackson Barber [born in 1839] served in the federal army during the Seminole war, he was one of the few men stationed at Fort Christmas. In 1855 he returned to central Florida and settled on lake Conway, at the Daetwyler place. His 1st wife was violet roberson 1859, she died, he married 2nd wife, Anna Hull, in 1894, she was the daughter of William Hull.

 Contributed by: Carlson of Florida <>