Building Pioneer Village on the Howard County fairgrounds has been a community effort. Ross Flodder, owner of Flodder Sawmill in Greentown, has been behind many of the details that make the village feel authentic.
Ross, his daughters Tosha and Tonya and his Eastern High School industrial arts classes have worked on or cut wood for 12 of the 14 Pioneer Village buildings.
Opened in the early '90s, Flodder Sawmill cuts and dries around 20 types of Indiana wood that are sold to customers who make floors, truck beds, furniture, instruments and more.
In 1976, one of Ross’s industrial arts classes moved a log cabin from a property in Tipton County to the Eastern High School grounds for the United State’s bicentennial. It was later brought to Pioneer Village as one of the log cabins that sits on the grounds now.
One of Flodder’s building construction classes also built the general store for Pioneer Village. They modeled it after an old general store in Phlox, a small community now part of the city of Kokomo.
The Flodder family replaced a wall on another donated log cabin. They also replaced 40% of the wood on the round barn. They used wood from the same forest the barn was originally made from.
“Whoever built the barn originally took the trees out of those woods behind the property and built it,” Tosha Flodder said. “When we cut everything to rebuild it, we got the trees from the exact same place.”
Ross has always loved working with wood and learned at a young age how to identify trees and the different properties of each species.
“I’ve gone out in the woods with my dad and my uncle and my grandpa since I was in third- or fourth-grade,” Ross said.
He knows poplar and cypress won’t rot because of their natural properties. This makes them good candidates for siding and the wooden walkways between the Pioneer Village buildings. Poplar was the preferred siding material in pioneer times, giving them an even more authentic touch.
Ross and his daughters have also made the signs for Pioneer Village buildings. Sometimes the signs are not made from wood, one of the only details of the buildings that isn’t completely authentic. Ross said some things must be made from more durable materials to keep the cost of maintenance low.
Despite the amount of labor he has put into Pioneer Village, Ross never has charged full price for his contribution. He enjoys working on local projects and was in the Greentown Lions Club for over 20 years.