An old timer once said Pine Castle is more of a state of mind than an actual place. I suppose that's because it's so hard to define in terms of physical or geographic boundaries.
The original Pine Castle was a private residence, erected by a fellow named Will Harney who came to this little corner of heaven from Kentucky in the years immediately following the Civil War.
Harney was a poet by nature and training, and composed many tributes to the idyllic virtues of the Central Florida frontier. In truth, though, he endured all of the many hardships our pioneer settlers encountered in those days. Even worse, he lost his young wife very soon after staking claim to land on Lake Conway south of Orlando. Deeply saddened, but undeterred, this single father tamed his homestead lands and erected a castle using the native pine trees. Dubbing the structure his "Pine Castle," he used it in the by-lines of the various articles he wrote as a correspondent for northern newspapers interested in the area.
Within a matter of just a few years, the name of "Pine Castle" wasn't just being applied to Mr. Harney's home, but to the entire neighborhood. (It was, after all, the most striking landmark between Orlando and Kissimmee!) Basically, that encompassed the modern cities of Edgewood and Belle Isle, and all the pockets of unincorporated Orange County that surround the Conway chain of lakes.
The people who settled the area around the original Pine Castle were a neighborly lot. They came together to work for the common good. Republican and Democrat. Baptist and Methodist. Yankee and Cracker. It didn't matter. The classic example of this community spirit was the old Union Church, erected in 1900. Just about EVERYBODY in Pine Castle had a hand in its construction, and it was used by all congregations.
In 1915, the early settlers voted to formally incorporate the Town of Pine Castle. They elected Charles Jefferson Sweet (1876-1960) as their first mayor, and his name served as the inspiration for one of our previous festival themes: SWEET '16!
Other founders were Rev. Dr. George Thomas Bennett (1858-1944); Eugene Blume (1872-1933); Edward D. Evans (1893 - ?); Henry L. Funk (1893-1927); Clinton C. Hall (1858 - ?); Bert Oscar Hansel (1891-1960); Edward Wesley Hansel (1883-1947); Rufus Jackson Hansel (1884-1948); William Mather Hansel (1859-1946); John F. Harris (1869-1951); Charles H. Hoffner (1855-1931); Charles F. Johns (1867-1947); L.J. Jones; Frank Arnold Kauffman (1883-1971); Augustus C. Knudson (1881-1945); Charles Livengood (1870 - ?); Frank Livengood (1872 - ?); Paul Macy (1868-1948); Fred E. Mann (1885-1949); John William Matchett (1863-1931); G.C. Miller; Solomon Frank Phillips (1858-1939); Fred M. Preston (1874-1928); John J. Reeves; Dr. David C. Roney (1855-1923); John C. Schnarr (1851-1919); Fred Scholhamer (1850-1918); Jeremiah B. Smith (1886-1957); Albert W. Tanner (1887 - ?); Charels V. Tanner (1857-1926); John H. Tanner (1881-1959); James G. Tyner (1880-1969); and William Wigman (1879-1936).
In keeping with its tradition to theme Pine Castle Pioneer Days to honor significant people or events in its history, the 2017 theme was Fort Gatlin. Fort Gatlin was a military installation initially constructed in 1838 during the Second Seminole War, one of four built in what is now known as Orange County. Not only did the fort provide a base of operations for the US Army but also a place of refuge for the small number of settlers in the area whom were being attacked and harassed by small bands of Seminoles. The 2017 Pine Castle Pioneer Days magazine featured several articles describing the fort and its use.
On November 19th, 2015, Belle Isle City Hall hosted the first public screening of "Pine Castle," a new short film by local filmmaker Rob Matheson. To watch the film online, visit this link below:
Pioneer Days' Board will hold a planning session on Thursday, April 20th, 2017(6:30 pm) @ Belle Isle City Hall, 1600 Nela Ave, Belle Isle, FL 32809
or email email@example.com
As always, this planning session is open to the public. We welcome visitors, especially folks who are interested in getting involved!
Lydia Pisano, Secretary
Freddie Langston, Sunday Services music
Rob Matheson, videography
Marjorie Rogers, old timers coordinator
Ginger Rudiger, Mistress of Ceremonies
Brad Staton, Sunday Services circuit rider
An annual family-oriented, community-sponsored/planned event promoting the living history of the Pine Castle area thru demonstrations and other educational opportunities for attendees.
Copyright 2017 Pine Castle Pioneer Days, Inc.. All rights reserved.