Thursday, August 22, 2013

Panhandle Settlement a true historical treasure!

“One can never truly appreciate what one has until one understands what got them there” (one of my own undeniable truths of life). I have always appreciated the importance of history to our future and I recently discovered this wonderful little jewel known as Panhandle Pioneer Settlement located in the beautiful Sam Atkins state park in Blountstown, Fl. (approximately 50 miles slightly southeast of Dothan, Al and approximately 25 miles south of Marianne, Fl.) and this place truly appreciates history in a way seldom found today. Panhandle Pioneer Settlement is a wonderful and loving tribute to a bygone era that has been painstakingly rebuilt on the inside and out with an amazing attention to detail. This 18 building living tribute to times long gone is the dream of co-founder Willard Smith. Willard was concerned at an early age that the wonderful time in which he was raised might be forgotten and that the rich cultural history of his area would be nothing but a passing memory. So in July of 1989 with the help and support of fellow co-founder his charming and actively involved wife Linda, the two set out to make Willard’s early childhood dream become a reality and they did so with uncanny accuracy and respect to the young Willard’s earliest vision. A tour of this immaculately trimmed and lusciously green quiet and peaceful homage to an era from early 19th to mid 20th century begins (where else other than the center of social life for all local citizenry at the time) the general store, as you tour the settlement, you can’t help but be impressed with the creativity and the cleverness of local pioneers/citizens of the area from the mud and stick chimney’s, to the graves (not real gravesites) covered with shells and broken crockery to prevent erosion and animal intrusions. Panhandle has three different type of log cabin joints showcased amongst their buildings that most would never have known about, however, at Panhandle Settlement they are showcased and described in detail with the wonderful volunteer tour guides like Darryl Taylor (the retired Supt. of schools for the Blountstown area who actually attended a one room school house exactly like the one in the settlement). From a local 1942 gymnasium to an 1820 log cabin, the blacksmith shop and the old Methodist church with everything in between you are whisked away to a time that should NEVER be forgotten and don’t miss a stop by Doc Dowling’s office a revered Dr. from the early to mid 20th century who’s career included the assisting of the births of over 4,600+ children during his 51 year tenure as the “local doc” his hat still sits on his desk in his office and you would swear that he would show up any minute to grab it an go. Panhandle Settlement is almost entirely funded by visitors and the thousands of hours of amazing volunteers that give so much of their time and hard effort to the loving preservation of this historical gem. This is NOT a money maker…YOU are critical to the growth and continuation of this wonderful spot and if you check the schedule of events ( the Settlement also offers re-enactment days, a variety of classes ( period arts and homemade syrup in the General Store. So I implore all that have ANY kind of appreciation of our history and our culture, Panhandle Settlement is lovingly recreated in a beautiful and serene part of a beautiful state park and waiting for you…if but for a moment of your fast paced lives, you journey back to a time long gone but thanks to Willard and Linda NOT forgotten, you, your friends, your children will make a memory here and who knows, you may even get a fresh cracklin or possibly even taste some FRESH just made homemade syrup and who can’t appreciate a good “hoe cake”…Bring cash as it the only tender they except, NO CREDIT cards at Panhandle, it would be downright “desecration”!

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