John S. Otto


The herders of the Old South held little land and few slaves but owned considerable numbers of livestock. They grazed their livestock on the unclaimed public lands, or “open-range,” at no charge, a practice which was safeguarded by state laws until after the Civil War. Living throughout the Old South, the herders were especially numerous in the mountains and the coastal plain, where the soil possessed little fertility, and where most of the land was unclaimed public domain. In the southern mountains, herders raised hogs in the unfenced hardwood forests, exporting porkers to southern plantations and to midwestern slaughter houses. In the southern coastal plain— the sandy coastal lowlands which stretched from the Chesapeake Bay to the Rio Grande River— herders raised cattle in the pine forests, exporting beeves to southern cities and to the West Indies.