Nestled within the Cypress trees covered with Spanish moss, Shingle Creek is a local treasure and a natural remnant of Florida’s rich cultural history.
Shingle Creek has been a pivotal part of life in Osceola County for centuries. Long before pioneers moved to Osceola County, Native Americans used the Shingle Creek area to sustain life. The creek was utilized for transportation, hunting, fishing, gathering and protection. Waterways were very important for them, and Shingle Creek provided nearly everything for their day to day needs. During the Second Seminole War, Shingle Creek was a Native American stronghold.
As pioneers made their way into the area just before and after the Civil War, Shingle Creek was one of the earliest settlement areas within Kissimmee. At this point, it earned the name Shingle Creek after a local sawmill that made roof shingles out of the abundant Cypress trees nearby. Pioneers needed a water source to make daily survival possible, and Shingle Creek once again offered the necessities for daily needs, including hunting, fishing and transportation.
In 1873, the pioneer settlement community of Shingle Creek gained the first post office in the area. As more and more families made Osceola County their home, the population of the Shingle Creek community rose to 815 members by 1887. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, are families such as the Yates, Bronsons, Steffees and Babbs raised families, produced and bought cattle, pineapple, citrus and timber to the Kissimmee market by way of train, boat and wagon.
In “Old Tales and Trails,” Myrtle Hilliard Crow shares an account of Shingle Creek by Mrs. Axie-Johnson-Bronson:
“Trees were very few on this creek, except where Bonnet Creek flows into it. Women and children could get to the banks only in one place to fish. There was some button wood and much sawgrass everywhere. The banks were overflowed, and it was full of water lettuce and flags. There was a large bird rookery, and the ‘gators ate them and every dog that came their way.”
Settlers along the creek also had to deal with natural disasters, including flooding. As Johnson-Bronson told Crow: “The banks of the creek overflowed, and the water covered a large territory, standing so deep around the house that Mrs. Yates found it very interesting to sit on the porch and watch fish from the creek swim by.”
Evidence of these early settlements can still be seen up and down Shingle Creek, thanks to historical preservation initiatives. Babb Landing is one example of these early settlement locales right along Shingle Creek.
In 1914, the Babb family moved to the newly established Shingle Creek community from Tennessee. At the present-day site of Babb Landing, the Babb family established their successful citrus operation, including citrus groves and harvesting. The sandy soil near the creek provided a successful start to their business. Some of the historic structures built by the Babb family in 1915 still exist today. Together, they represent a unique collection of historic agricultural facilities still at their original location.
With all this rich history, it’s no surprise that Babb Landing was chosen as the new location of the Osceola County Historical Society’s Pioneer Village. The Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek remains an important natural feature of the area, and will continue to play an important role in Osceola County history for generations to come.