Pike Pioneer Museum changes its name

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Features Editor

The only thing constant is change and a change has occurred at Pike Pioneer Museum.

The museum has changed its name to the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.

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According to Museum Director Charlotte Gibson, the new name is more inclusive and lets the public know the museum’s scope is much wider than just its home county.

Gibson said the logging locomotive came from Butler County, where it had been on display for many years in Chapman. The little red schoolhouse came shortly thereafter from Montgomery County. The Scout Cabin came from Coffee County, the Reunion Cabin from Dale County, the log barn from Wilcox, the smokehouse from Mobile, and the new addition, the train depot from Crenshaw County.

"These additions made the new name even more logical," Gibson said. "When one looks for museums such as ours, one uses the term ‘pioneer.’ We will now be listed on the Internet and in other listings under ‘pioneer’ instead of Pike. We want to be the home of all things ‘pioneer’ in the state of Alabama. The state has no such designated repository. It would be nice for this museum to be so designated."

Gibson said all of those who settled the counties of Alabama came from more eastern locations.

"Originally, more of them came from the British Isles," she said. "People throughout the Southeast shared common lifestyles, farming methods and culture. The story of the Alabama Territory and its settlement is represented here at our museum. From the Native American exhibit to the domestic lifestyles of later settlers, the museum has one of the finest collections in North America. Visitors from all over the world consistently comment on the quality of our collection."

Founded in 1969, the Pike County Association began collecting artifacts and building a museum to house them. In 1971, the museum opened its doors to the public 365 days a year.

Supported through the generosity of many and manned by volunteers, the museum grew through the years and broadened its scope.

Most of the first artifacts donated came from Pike County. Through the years, contributions from all over the state have joined the collection and, now, represent most of the counties in south and central Alabama.

"We feel we offer a fine resource for the education and amusement of, not only school children, but also adults," Gibson said. "Travelers, tour groups and local families comprise the visitors’ list. We feel the new identity of the museum will be informative, inclusive and will act as an improved drawing card."