Friends of Sharon Johnston Park, Inc. is a non-profit 501c3 organization chartered to support the park. Currently, Friends is helping the park with fundraising and special projects. Membership is available. Please contact the park office at 256-379-2868. Like us on Facebook at Friends of Sharon Johnston Park.
Newspaper article for the current project, The Pioneer Village at Sharon Johnston Park:
Friends of Sharon Johnston Park, Inc., is working to establish a pioneer village at the park. Nestled in the rolling hills of Northeast Madison County sits Sharon Johnston Park, an outdoor, recreational park under the auspices of the Madison County Commission. With its cedar and stone fencing, the park reflects the early settlement look of New Market, the pioneering community of North Alabama.
Wanting to preserve our rural heritage, the Madison County Commission intended the park as an agricultural museum complex depicting pioneer life of the nineteenth century. When lack of funding derailed the original project, the fencing and horse arena were the only features left at the park from the endeavor.
Today, Friends of Sharon Johnston Park, Inc, a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization supporting the park, has the opportunity to continue work on the rural heritage museum project which began in 1982. Having purchased a rural village consisting of twenty-one edifices, Friends of Sharon Johnston Park, Inc. is calling upon supporters to donate funds toward relocation and renovation costs.
The Pioneer Village at Sharon Johnston Park reflects the period in Alabama’s history when homesteaders moved west seeking a permanent settlement. Long before the antebellum home, the cabin represented life on the frontier prior to statehood. Early settlers, such as the Sniders of Mountain Fork in New Market, built small cabins and acquired land for the homestead. Part of the Pioneer Village, the Snider-Fanning cabin, built in 1833, serves as a symbol of the practical shelter solution of the period as well as a symbol of the houses of the rural poor
The goal is to create a working, living museum depicting rural life in 19th Century Alabama. Children, predominantly from North Alabama and Southern Tennessee, will have a chance to experience life as a pioneer by visiting the Pioneer Village. During field trips and park events, visitors may see a blacksmith hard at work forging a horseshoe at the livery stable while Nanny is at her cabin washing clothes in the antique wash basin. The newspaper editor of the Alabama Republican (1816), may be setting type on the printing press in the print shop; the dentist may be pulling a tooth or cobbling shoes in his office; and the undertaker will be hard a work building a wooden box; while the sheriff is keeping the peace at the village jailhouse. The simplicity of the buildings and collection of original equipment, trade implements, and items for daily living give the visitors and authentic experience of the period. Additionally, visitors will be able to participate in wagon rides or buy candy at the village mercantile store. In addition to experiencing daily life, the visitors may be able to learn a trade or a domestic skill common to the era from local tradesmen and town folks.
The relocation of the Pioneer Village to Sharon Johnston Park will ensure its survival and sustainability. Restoring and relocating the village to Sharon Johnston Park will be an asset to all citizens of the region. Funds are needed for relocation costs, improvements to the buildings and refurbishing of antique farming equipment and implements.
Persons wanting to make a donation or interested in becoming a Friend of Sharon Johnston Park may contact the park office at 256-379-2868, Monday – Friday, 7:00 am – 3:30 pm. Like us on Facebook at Friends of Sharon Johnston Park, Inc. for updates and information.