Florida Folklife Program

Folk Heritage Awards Recipient: Joseph Killgore

Joseph Killgore, . Florida Folklife Program/Department of State.  Photo by Robert L. Stone..
Joseph KillgoreFlorida Folklife Program/Department of State. Photo by Robert L. Stone.

Joseph Killgore (1907 - 2001) - 2000 Florida Folk Heritage Award

Joseph Killgore (Dade City) was a netmaker who first learned this traditional art in 1927.  Killgore earned his living from commercial fishing, but after retirement he continued to make cast-nets using nylon twine, wooden mesh boards, and his own needles. Although machine-made monofilament cast-nets are more commonly used in Florida, handmade cast-nets have some distinct advantages. Killgore’s nets were not only more durable if cared for properly, but he used to note that his hand-tied nets open out more easily and sink faster and thus are easier to use than mass-produced nets. He explained that the traditional craft requires a great deal of patience since even a small net requires as much as two weeks of knot-tying, measuring, and counting meshes to complete. Killgore learned other traditional Florida arts, including making cracker cow whips and brooms, and taught several people to make nets.