Pearlious Bledsoe grew up on a farm in Ridge Spring where she had no electricity or running water. So, about 20 years ago, when Bledsoe and her daughter, Sheri Gossett, started coming to John Osteen's property, she was taken back to her earlier years.
Starting in 1976, Osteen built a log cabin, chicken coop, outdoor privy, school house and Confederate museum on his Couchton property; the smokehouse is the only thing he bought and reconstructed.
“My favorite is the smokehouse, because is it exactly what we had on our farm,” Bledsoe said. “My dad smoked his meat, cured it, sugar cured ham and salt cured hams.”
Nothing strikes Bledsoe as unusual on the property, as she has dealt with it all.
“We had everything we needed on the farm, raising the food, vegetables and fruits, and the meat.”
She also had her granddaughter, Savannah Gossett, with her. Being such devoted visitors, the family can remember when Osteen had animals, like goats, chickens and horses, on the property.
“It was real nice, and it really put you in the atmosphere of 70, 80 years ago,” Savannah Gossett said.
To help in creating that atmosphere on Saturday, Osteen's log cabin was alive with the scent of coffee, fresh, baked sweet potatoes, biscuits and flat cornbread. Containers of cane syrup and homemade grape jelly sat on the red and white checkered tablecloth, as Osteen entertained new and old comers to his open house.
“What's your favorite season?” one person asked.
He held up four fingers, causing everyone in the room to smile and laugh.
Cotton sat outside the cabin, nearby his sugar cane mill. Meat hung in the smokehouse.
The schoolhouse – a replica of the Reid Schoolhouse his mother attended in Sumter County – holds books hundreds of years old, has benches and desks lined up and has a set-up teacher's desk in front complemented with a written-on chalkboard.
Having been a school teacher, this is Sheri Gossett's favorite part on the land.
“The SMART board was wonderful,” she said. “But we've lost something in education with all the technology. There's not that personal communication. Of course, this little one-room school house is not going to work today, but we need to get back what we lost with the love and personal relationships (with students).”
The Confederate museum is where one might find Thomas Osteen, John Osteen's grandson.
“I really love it,” he said. “I try to come out every year to help out.”
John Osteen taught his grandson the Osteen history. Thomas Osteen finds this quite handy when it comes to the Confederate museum, as he informs bystanders about the museum's pictures, documents, weapons and artifacts.
The tour ran from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Around 11 a.m., John Osteen was still keeping warm in his log cabin with his guests.
“It's been a good day so far,” he said. “I've been on this stool most of the day.”
The open house continues today from 1 until 5 p.m.
The property is located at 3184 Wagener Road, across from Couchton Baptist Church.