Florida Guide > Florida History
Panhandle Pioneer Settlement
Blountstown in Calhoun County is home to the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement which can best be described as a living history museum built to preserve the pioneer lifestyle and create a legacy for future generations to come.
Willard and Linda Smith were the original founders and, as a couple who chose to adopt a pioneering lifestyle for themselves, they felt that original values and traditions of the Panhandle region were slowly being eroded with the onset of modern methods and new technologies.
The site was granted a land lease in 1989 which signalled the development of the settlement as it is seen today. All of the dwellings were painstakingly transported from around the region and neighbouring states to simulate an early agricultural pioneering community with a farmstead.
Today the buildings contain not only documents and research materials but also artifacts and tools used in every day life by the pioneers of the time.
The centerpiece of the settlement is the Yon Farm House built in 1897 which has separate milk shed as one of its outbuildings.
Surrounding the farmhouse are a wooden framed Post Office and General Store dating back to 1941, a Fire Station together with horseless carriage and antique fire engine, a Methodist Church with exposed beams and natural oak walls and the two roomed Shiloh School House which, we are led to believe, later was used for storing farm implements.
Interspersed among the major buildings are fine examples of private dwellings which include the Wells Log Home built in 1846 and the McClellan House a four bedroomed Georgian farmhouse.
Also not to be missed are the working Grist Mill and the Blacksmith Forge.
Throughout the year workshops are run by local craftsmen who are only too pleased to share their knowledge and skills on topics such as spinning and weaving, fireplace cooking and syrup making. Visitors are actively encouraged to get involved and embrace the pioneering spirit.
The Settlement also hosts a number of special events with such fine names as ‘Hog Butchering’ and ‘Peanut Boil’ mixed in amongst the more traditional proceedings of folk dancing and singing.
The General Store sells an assortment of handcrafted goods including quilts, embroidery and wrought iron decorations from the local forge. Also on display is a range of homemade produce that includes syrup and honey.
The Settlement is open just four days a week, so it’s often best to call first, but it is well worth a visit and gives a wonderful insight into the lives of the original pioneers.
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