Gladesmen were husbands and sons who built small homes in the Everglades. They constructed “glade skiffs,” which were small boats that could adequately navigate through the narrow canals and waterways deep in the ‘glades. These men would leave for weeks or months at a time, building temporary encampments while they hunted and fished in almost complete isolation. As a result, Gladesmen developed an intimate relationship with the land and understood how to adjust to the seasonal shifts, changing water levels, wildlife, and other elements. As knowledgeable stewards, Gladesmen often served as guides to incoming researchers and surveyors coming to discover the Everglades.
The ascent of the Gladesmen into the Everglades continued alongside the development of the area. When the Ingraham highway was completed in 1916, this road gave Gladesmen an entry point into the wilderness along with researchers and tourists. They constructed glade skiffs, which were narrow boats, about two feet wide and 16-18 feet long to carry Gladesmen and their gear through the backcountry. The Gladesmen would stand at the back of the boat with a large pole to move through the shallow muddy waters and look out for game. Upon their return, Gladesmen would sell whatever game they managed to kill, including alligators, deer, turkey, rabbits, pigs, fish, frogs, turtles and other wildlife.