The Scott House. (HCP file photo)
The Scott House. (HCP file photo)
The Highland County Historical Society Friday announced plans to hold the second annual Highland County Pioneer Day, a celebration of the county’s history, next month.

The Society held the first Pioneer Day in 2019, in honor of the 175th anniversary of the Scott House Mansion and the Highland House Museum. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 29 and will be held primarily outside at the Scott House property.

“With everything being disrupted, we thought a lot about it,” Historical Society board member John Kellis said. “We use all of the Scott House property. We just felt that we can socially distance there.”

Because all of the Pioneer Day activities are spread out throughout the property outside — and because there is a variety of events happening simultaneously to enjoy — Kellis said that physical distancing should not be a problem.

“There’s really no reason why anybody should feel uncomfortable,” he said. “There’s three major sections, and they’re all spread out. If anybody comes to the event, they should be able to have all kinds of things to look at. If one area has too many people for them to feel comfortable, they can move elsewhere.”

Due to physical distancing limitations, tours of the Scott House will not be offered this year, but the Society hopes to include nearly all of the outdoor activities enjoyed by hundreds of visitors last year.

Instead of the tours, Kellis said they hope to offer “a series of talks or demonstrations on the east porch of the Scott House,” which he said is a shaded area. This could include discussions of different aspects of Highland County history or pioneer skills demonstrations.

The first Pioneer Day event included booths for each of Highland County’s various communities to set up and share historic information about their respective areas. Other organizations dedicated to local history, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Southern Ohio Genealogical Society, also had booths.

Kellis said that they already have 10 groups committed to participate again in 2020.

“The idea has always been that this is a Highland County event,” Kellis said. “It’s not our society, it’s not Hillsboro, it’s Highland County. We just have an ideal property that’s centrally located.

“Their booths are a history of their communities. That’s what we want to give everyone the opportunity to learn about.”

Grassy Run Historical Society will be sharing demonstrations on a variety of pioneer Appalachian skills throughout the event. Last year, that included rope making; quill writing; cooking; tin punch; weaving; archery; blacksmithing; hunting; quilting; painting; and camping.

“They have seven people already committed, and there’s probably a few more that might,” Kellis said. “We also have a blacksmith, a gentleman who does powder horns, a lady with some quilts and a person who does archery in a trailer, where it’s safe, for kids and things. We hope that front lawn will be completely full this year.”

Also again this year, Highland County Antique Machinery Club will host an antique machinery show, featuring antique tractors and farm machinery, at the former Hillsboro High School grounds.

Area Scouts are also expected to return this year to assist with camping and other activities throughout the day.

The event will also include a bake sale, a pancake breakfast and other refreshments such as hamburgers and hot dogs sold in the evening. They also hope to provide music throughout the day.

More information, including a complete schedule of events, will be released as the historical society works to finalize details in the coming weeks. With many other local events canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kellis said that assuming state and local orders don’t change, the society looks forward to offering this unique event celebrating Highland County’s history.

“So many people said it was such a community-oriented event,” Kellis said. “This is history, and everything is the way life used to be, the way our communities used to be, the way the tractors and machinery used to be, and then the Scott House and the history of it.

“Everything is looking at the background and history of Highland County and life 150 years ago, so we’re trying to keep that as much as we can and give people an opportunity to come out and learn some of those things that isn’t always the easiest information to find.”