By Jodi Mailander Farrell

Experience life as early settlers of the Florida Panhandle did at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement in Blountstown, where hands-on classes are held in blacksmithing, fireplace cooking, jam making, basket weaving and quilting, among other old-fashioned skills.

The five-acre simulated agricultural community, an hour's drive northeast of Panama City, consists of 18 buildings, most dating from the early 1800s to the 1940s.

There is the two-room Shiloh Schoolhouse, built around 1886 and filled with old books, wooden desks, an abacus and a United States flag with 48 stars. In cabin homes, beds with hammock netting, wood-burning stoves, wash boards and wash tubs harken to simpler times. At a general store, shelves are lined with cigar boxes and snuff. 

Preserving Panhandle pioneer life and sharing it with future generations is the mission of the Settlement, founded in 1989 with artifacts donated from local families. The authentic glimpse of Florida history has attracted visitors from as far away as Canada and Arizona. 

Blountstown is a small town of almost 2,500 in Calhoun County in Northwest Florida. It’s named for John Blount, a Seminole Indian Chief who was a guide for General Andrew Jackson during his invasion of Spanish Florida in 1818, which led to Florida becoming a U.S. territory. 

Info: 850-674-2777;