BONIFAY — Longtime Bonifay resident Ben Holland, who lived in the area of town known to older generations as Pepper Town, has been sharing his cannonball story with generations of local residents — as well as anyone how he can take a picture with.
“I’ve taken pictures with senators, singers and undertakers,” said Holland. “That cannonball’s been around.”
Holland explained that he applied for and received a building permit for $38 in 1974 to start building his house, and while building the footer for the home, he came across the Civil War era cannonball.
“I took it straight to the Piggly Wiggly and had it weighed, which was weighed at exactly 12 pounds,” he said. “We measured it at 13 and a half inches around.”
Holland has a hobby of collecting photos, and finding of the cannonball tied in with his love of photography. So over the years, he has been taking pictures of the cannonball with various people at various places.
“I don’t know how it got there, but I know where it’s going and it’s going around,” said Holland. “I’ve had pictures taken with beautiful women and senators, I even have a picture of Robert Sikes, who was a representative for Florida and Herbert Peel, the undertaker. It’s going around and I intend it to keep going around until its time for it to come home.”
He said it was a proud piece of history from Pepper Town.
“This goes back to when the county seat was in Noma and the only post office was in Caryville,” said Holland. “In 1944 they ran a line through here and that was the start of Pepper Town. I helped build the laundry mat, the old convenience store next to it and the Piggly Wiggly across the street and I love where I live, it’s my castle.”
Another effort he’s making is to clean up and restore Liberty Hill Cemetery.
“I’ve been toting around canisters for donations and I’ve even got an account set up at the First Federal Bank here in town,” he said. “All I need is a riding mower and some weed eaters and I’ve got someone with heavy equipment to clear out the road real nice.”
He said he’s moved to work on the cemetery because his father, mother and brother are there and that he also has a plot there.
“I’ve lived past them and I’ve often asked God why and then I know that I love to see people smile and I love to make them laugh,” said Holland. “I’ve found that using that cannonball was a way to bring people and places together. Life’s too short to be an old stick in the mud.”