Historic Spanktown sparkles again in holiday spotlight

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:18

    FLORIDA-The Poloniak Holiday Lighting Display on Spanktown Road simply marks another highlight in that historic area of the Town of Warwick. The hundreds of spectators who make that trek, especially the children, probably have no idea what a unique area they're in when they arrive there. Spanktown Road is acutally a rather short connecting road starting at Jessup Road, through Union Corners Road and ending at Big Island Road. Near that intersection with Big Island Road was the Zebulon Wheeler gristmill and sawmill, built in the late l700's. The Zebulon Wheeler home of the early l800's still stands beautifully maintained by Howard and Elmire Conklin. Heading towards Union Corners is another splendid early house still much in use as a residence and Bed and Breakfast now owned by Bill Signor. It was built about l840 by Samuel and Elmira Gardner, and years later became the elegant home of Samuel Houston. The Poloniak house and property was once part of that dairy farm which was later inherited by Joan Kocot Poloniak's parents, John and Christine Kocot. Continuing on the left is the large restored house known, perhaps, by most area residents as the Wheeler Jessup house. It was earlier the family home of D. J. Parkhurst. Just across the intersection of Union Corners Road, and now part of St. Joseph's Cemetery, is the c. l8l3 Spanktown Schoolhouse. It came into existence shortly after the state's Common School Law of l8l3-23 created rural school districts. It was originally School District No. 4. Legend has it that that school gave rise to the "Spanktown" name. Supposedly, a schoolmaster who taught in that schoolhouse spanked his somewhat "obstreperous" wife with an iron skillet. Fact or fiction? Only that long-forgotten couple knows. A last vestige of industry before that road ends at Jessup Road is the Doll Lumber and Veneer Co. That now mostly quiet sawmill was operated until recently by Ray Tunquist. Veneers and fancy woods, many harvested locally, were the specialty of the once-busy mill.. Now, however, Spanktown celebrates the wonders and mysteries of the Poloniak Lighting Display. Where does reality end and fantasy begin? The reality is probably the effort that goes into setting up the lights and and taking them down. The reward obviously is the pleasure and good cheer that flows outward from brightly-lit Spanktown and touches people from all over.