Joseph Killgore

2000 Florida Folk Heritage Award

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Joseph Killgore (1907-2001) 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.