Pioneer Day

Join us for the second annual Pioneer Day at Silver Dollar City!



Live out history on a guided tour of McHaffie's Homestead where students will experience a day in the life of a pioneer. Each student will receive a biography card of an actual child that was born and raised in the homestead. Learning stations will be set up throughout the park to enlighten students with stories from the blacksmith, schoolmarm, weaver, general store workers and more. At the end of the pioneer experience, students will discover how their child emerged into adulthood, how they provided for the family and ultimately what happened to them as grownups.

Lesson Plans

Casey/McHaffie Homestead

This homestead is the actual cabin that was built on Swan Creek near present day Forsyth, Missouri. It was moved from its original location when the Corps of Engineers began the construction of the dams on the White River. It was reconstructed at Silver Dollar City becoming one of the original buildings. Here, it has been preserved to depict the pioneer experience in the Ozarks.

Wilderness Church

Religion was a way of life for the pioneers in the Ozarks and continues to be a driving force in the region today. These early settlers had different religious backgrounds (Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc). Most communities had small "union" churches. This meant that the people who settled here combined all of their religious practices into one community church. Because of this, religion in the Ozarks can look different than religion in other places.

Oak Trail School

This is typical of the one-room schoolhouses found in the Ozarks. There were several of these small schools spread throughout the many communities until the Missouri General Assembly made the decision to reorganize these smaller schools into larger schools. A teacher in this type of school had to be able to teach all of the grades and all of the subjects. Many times the older students worked as peer tutors to the younger students. Leonard McHaffie, who lived in the Homestead Cabin, became a teacher in one of these schools.

General Store

The general store was central to the pioneer experience. Each small village in the Ozarks would have a general store where pioneers could buy or trade items they could not make or produce themselves. It would have been a special outing for the children to go to the general store with their parents. As a treat, many store owners would give the children a small piece of candy. As it is here, it was typical for the Post Office to be located in the General Store.

Blacksmith Shop

A few of the homesteads in the Ozarks has their own blacksmith shop to repair or make household items. With the slaveholding families, such as the Casey family, it was often one of the slaves who was the blacksmith. But, in most cases, the blacksmith shop was in town and the pioneers would take items to be repaired or purchase items needed for their daily lives.


Many mills were built in the Ozarks. Not only did these mills provide a service for the settlers, it also became a gathering place for the men of the community, such as feed stores and country cafes are today. The first mill built on Swan Creek near Forsyth was built and operated by the Oliver family, relatives of Levi and Polly Casey.

Oklahoma Land Rush

Levi and Polly (Haggard) Casey moved to the White River area of the Ozarks in the 1830s. Many members of the Casey and Haggard families migrated with them, part of the push-pull immigration pattern common to the Scots-Irish people. Life in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas was hard, especially with the American Civil War tearing the area apart just a few short years after the families settled here. In addition, the Reconstruction period in the region was a violent time. When the Baldknobbers organized in 1883, loyalties in the area were again split and Missouri Governor Thomas Crittendon has to step in to prevent another Civil War. Members of the Casey and Haggard families (who had been primarily Confederate during the Civil War) were split on their loyalties during this time. When land opened for settlement in Oklahoma, some members of the Haggard family took the opportunity to settle west and leave behind them the devastation of the Civil War and Baldknobber eras in the Ozarks. While in Oklahoma, they intermarried with Native Americans, took part in building the railroad across the state and were prominent in the cattle industry.



Contact our Group Travel Department

Call 800.417.7770