"Family" is the key word for the Laniers. The Lanier chronicle is but one example of a story repeated often in Central Florida History: cracker cowmen settling the land and building enterprises, relying on family support and inter-generational ties to create communities and ensure success. The extended Lanier family is well-known to long time Osceola County residents, marrying into other prioneer families and becoming prominent citizens.
The Lanier House, a part of the Pioneer Village, is an integral part of telling the story of one of Osceola County’s pioneering families. This home that currently lives at our Pioneer Village presents an example of the “Florida Cracker” architectural style, and is an original – built in Osceola County sometime in the late 1800s. Through this authentic structure, the Osceola County Historical Society is able to share the narrative of an average Pioneering family in Florida for growing generations.
John Lanier, family patriarch for the Lanier family, was called “one of Florida’s pioneer ‘Cattle Kings’” by Myrtle Hilliard Crow. He was born in 1805 and migrated to Florida sometime prior to his second marriage in 1839. He and his wife, along with their children, moved through Florida throughout the 1800s as John established himself as a cattle rancher.
According to Crow’s book, “Old Tales and Trails,” the Lanier family arrived what is now Osceola County in the late 1860s as John searched for better cattle pasturage. They purchased property a few miles southwest of Kissimmee from Mrs. Malinda Yates, and began settling into their new home at “the Point.”
John Lanier died in 1888 at the age of 83, leaving a large line of younger Laniers still farming and ranching in Osceola County. During the last decade of his life, John witnessed huge changes in Osceola County, including the huge Disston drainage projects that changed the shape of the land and water.
Raymond Lanier, John’s grandson, is credited with purchasing the Lanier Home that is now located within the Pioneer Village. The Lanier House owned by the Osceola County Historical Society was originally located at 1964 Ham Brown Rd, and according to property tax records, it first appears as a taxable property in 1906. However, researchers believe that the house was built by Jonathan Strickland in the late 1800s, and sold to the Lanier family in 1905.
The narrative for this house spans 100 years of history for the Lanier family, from John Lanier’s birth in 1805 and arrival in Florida in the 1830s, to his grandson Raymond’s purchase of a home and farm land in 1905 where he starts a family in the 1920s. It shows the Lanier family assisting each other over three generations, sharing work, property, and other resources. They represent a major theme in central Florida history as cattlemen migrate to the area with their families, settle down, establish communities, expand into vegetable and citrus, and start businesses to diversify their income.
The home itself is representative of the “Cracker House” style from the late 1800s in Florida. The double pen type or “dog-trot” house was commonly built in a log construction form in the region until the mid to late 19th century, and then continued to be constructed in dimensional lumber forms as the sawmill industry began to exploit the vast resources of yellow pine and cypress timber in the late 19th to early 20th century. The houses commonly have porches across their fronts, broad roof overhangs as their eaves, and gable ends that often extend beyond chimneys placed at the gable ends. The style is most associated with the ability to provide maximum shade from the sun to the interior spaces while also encouraging a cooling air flow around and through the structure. The construction of the house is very distinctive, and it is a unique survivor of the time period. It may be the only surviving example of frameless, “box” or “sawmill” construction in the region.
In 1986, the home was donated to the Osceola County Historical Society by Ross Lanier. It was relocated to the Bass Rd. location and restoration was completed to return the house back to what it would have looked like in its day.
The unique construction of the home, as well as its importance as a relic of an Osceola County Pioneer family, makes this building incredibly rare and valuable to the history of Osceola County.
It's clear that the Lanier family was and still is living history for Osceola County. If you'd like to see more Pioneer Family history or other Osceola history, take our survey so your voice can be heard!