A short drive down Highway 14 in Loachapoka is a passage back in time to the home of the Lee County Historical Society's Trade Center Museum and heritage town.
"For us, preserving our past is extremely important," said Deborah McCord, secretary for the Lee County Historical Society. "We have artifacts and documents that, if we had not been here, would have been lost. These are things like signed deeds from the Creek Indians who lived here, land documents and journals from the general stores in this area."
The Lee County Historical Society was founded in 1968 to preserve the surrounding area's history, documents and educate the public about East Alabama. The Society also restores, preserves and presents historical artifacts from the area.
The historical museum is completely volunteer-operated, and many of these volunteers are middle-aged or older.
"We try to teach people historical crafts from the area including spinning, weaving, quilting, blacksmith, pottery, soap making, basket weaving and other heritage crafts," McCord said. "Our heritage gardens have 10 historical buildings on site. Part of our mission here is to keep these buildings and their contents preserved and in good working order for the public to see."
The Lee County Historical Society's Pioneer Park holds 10 historic buildings and exhibits from the area. The buildings were built during the mid-1800s and the Lee County Historical Society worked to preserve the historical artifacts.
"The Lee County Historical Society brings a sense of who we are," said Charles Mitchell, vice president of the Lee County Historical Society. "All of us are a product of our heritage. Some of us have experienced Lee County all of our lives."
Mitchell explains the Society strives to preserve and share the human history of this part of the South and has done so since 1968, amazingly, with only volunteers.
History is more than artifacts and old buildings, McCord explains, because history teaches us about our ancestors and how society has progressed to modern times.
"We feel like we are a quite vital source for information on the East Alabama of 1850," said Jeannette Frandsen, president of the Lee County Historical Society. "Granted, we have many other items of later vintage, but we try to do the old-timey crafts and projects of early settlement times."
Saturday, the Society will hold December's Second Saturday. The event features a heritage garden walk, blacksmith demonstrations and a performance from the dulcimer group, Whistle Stop Pickers. Frandsen said it will be a day for both the young and old to experience seasonal food and holiday crafts.
"The school field trips that we schedule are my favorite because we are teaching kids about things that won't be anywhere else in this area," McCord said. "Especially as accessible as we are to the surrounding counties and the surrounding school systems."
McCord, a retired school teacher, said she enjoys educating the public about the area's history. The Society holds various events throughout the year and welcomes school children to attend various field trips.
"You can see the excitement in the children when kids learn about the past," McCord said. "We try to have hands-on things so they just aren't reading about history in a textbook or hearing their teacher lecture."
In October, Pioneer Park was the home to the 42nd annual Historical Fair called Syrup Sopping.
"Here they see it demonstrated in the blacksmith's shop, the pioneer living, one-room school house, the spinning, weaving, the Creek heritage, heritage gardens," McCord said. "All those things they get to see and actually put their hands on. They can taste, see and feel. I really think our education program is the most exciting."
Learning works as the staple to the Society, and their preservation of local history motivates them to ensure it stays prominent, McCord said.
"I feel our history is so important. It's my history and your history. Everyone who is from here, this is our history," McCord said. "It tells about our ancestors, tells about our neighbors. It's something that I hope will be passed down to more generations."
McCord said history alters people's perspective of how life was like in the past and how events shaped our future.
"Preserving the past is what we do best," Fransden said. "And we do try to collect and record things used in those early days."
The Pioneer Park and museum is open Wednesday through Friday, 12:30-5 p.m. The museum is open on Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
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