Pioneer Museum fosters appreciation for the past

Published 6:41 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2022

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The Pioneer Museum of Alabama was a-buzz with excitement Tuesday as a large group of youngsters from the Boys and Girls Club of East Central Alabama came to learn and better understand how life use to be.

Barbara Tatom, museum director, said when young people visit the Pioneer Museum that is validation of founder Curren Farmer’s dream “that others may learn from the past.”

Museum assistants, Autumn Rogers and Jacob Burnham, and docents Deborah Huggins-Davis, Art McKnatt and Julia Scruggs joined Tatom as tour guides.

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The Boys and Girls Club members visited the Adams County Store, the Little Red Schoolhouse, the Demonstration Cabin and the museum’s Village Square. They also had an opportunity to tour the main museum and view and learn about many of the museum’s thousands of artifacts.

Tatom said the tour was designed so that the youngsters could experience what it was like to actually walk into a country store and view the “goods” that were sold and learn about the cracker barrel and the potbellied stove that provided warmth in the wintertime. In the schoolhouse, the school room had a blackboard and chalk for writing, wooden desks with inkwells and a globe for mapping the world.

Jaine Treadwell | The Messenger
Deborah Huggins-Davis, a docent at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, took young visitors on a journey thought the museum’s Village. She answered questions about the stores and how they differ in the services they provide today

In the Demonstration Cabin, the ‘boys’ and girls’ learned about cooking on a wood stove and that most all of the food pioneer children ate was homegrown.

Walking around the Village Square, the boys and girls “visited” a dentist’s office, a soda fountain and a barber shop. From the mural by Brundidge artist Larry Godwin, they learned how life was before the train came to Troy and how the coming of the train brought change and a new way of life to Troy.

Priscilla Boykin, a group leader, said the goal of the visit to the Pioneer Museum of Alabama was for the young people to learn about how life was different in times past and that some of their family members and ancestors, probably experienced ways of life similar to what they were viewing.

“This visit is an opportunity for these boys and girls to see how people lived before,” Boykin said. “Hopefully, it will be encouragement for them to want to know more and to be more excited about learning more about Alabama’s history.”

The tour of the Pioneer Museum was organized by Patricia Montgomery with the hope that the children would come away with a greater appreciation for what they have today.

“It’s important that children understand how life was – that people didn’t always have the conveniences that we have today,” Montgomery said. “They need to learn to take care of what they have and not be wasteful.”

The leaders said, after visiting the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, hopefully, the children will remember what they saw and learned and, perhaps, that will make a difference in how they view life and heighten the respect they have for those who came long before them.