Statesboro Adventure Statesboro Adventure, 2016

Marguerite and Betsy's Statesboro Adventure, March 2016

In March 2016 Marguerite went to visit her sister Betsy in Winter Park, Florida. This was done in part to attend a Neville family reunion related to the long-ago sale of the family farm. In 2006, 69 acres of the Neville Family Farm (owned by Marguerite and Betsy's maternal grandfather) was sold to the Bethany Foundation, a not-for-profit arm of the group of Primitive Baptist Churches that are throughout the Southern United States. Several family members belong to the Primitive Baptist Church of Statesboro. Throughout their lives our Grandfather was a Primitive Baptist and our Grandmother was a Southern Baptist. The Bethany Foundation purchased the property and divided it into four quadrants. An assisted living facility (The Lodge at Bethany) is on one quadrant; the Grace Crossing Apartments for low-income seniors are on a second quadrant. The two remaining quadrants will be developed in the future. The Farm is outside of the small town of Statesboro, Georgia (30,000 people plus 24,000 students at Georgia Southern University). The Lodge at Bethany was completed in early 2016 with space for 48 residents. On March 13 they held a Dedication and Open House. The Neville family was invited and gratefully acknowledged for selling the land to them. Marguerite's grandfather's name was William Gesmon Neville, he went by Gesmon, and was born on a nearby family farm in 1892. He passed away in 1965, a few months after "giving Marguerite away" when she married Crawford Jackson Jr. Marguerite's grandmother for whom she is named, Marguerite Nunnally Neville, was born in 1888 and passed away in 1976. Since much of the family still lives in or near Stateboro, GA, it was the perfect time to also have a family reunion.

On the map below you see the town of Statesboro with the sold family farm in blue . In red are three parcels of land (about 15 acres) still owned by Neville family descendants (Ruffus Corner and Unsold Farm part of the same legal parcel, Grandma Town lot is separate parcel).

Below shows The Lodge at Bethany on the old Neville family farm (part of area in blue on the map above).

A new road on the land off of the main road (West Jones Avenue) is called Gesmon Neville Lane in honor of Gesmon. Gesmon Neville Lane ends with the Grace Crossing apartments. The Lodge at Bethany is on another new road, Bethany Way. Below is the front of the Lodge at 77 Bethany Way.

The photo below is of the 9 cousins in attendance at the Dedication: Left to right: Betsy McMillan McCaghren, Jeffrey Neville, Peggy Ray Guin, Richard Neville, Marguerite McMillan Jackson Dill, Carolyn Bennett Broucek, Bill Neville, Lovett Bennett Jr, Joe Neville Jr. The cross over the alter and the alter table were made from lumber milled from a large cedar tree on the farm property.

Peggy, Betsy, Marguerite Marguerite Uncle Joe Neville

The photo above is of three generations of the Neville family taken in about 1961. From left to right: Jeffrey Neville, Lovett Bennett Jr, Peggy Ray Guin, Robert Karp, Barbara Bennett, Ross Neville, Carolyn Bennett, Bill Neville, Richard Neville, Betsy McMillan, Joe Neville Jr, Marguerite (Wheety) McMillan, Sara Neville Bennett, Joe Neville, Marguerite Neville Guin, Jessica Neville (Karp), Gesmon Neville, Marguerite Nunnally Neville, Gesmon Neville Jr, CDR US Navy.

Dinner with the Cousins

There were 12 Neville cousins who grew up together. The nine cousins in attendance enjoyed two evenings of family dinners held at the home of Lovett Bennett Jr and his wife, Missy. Also at dinner was Uncle Joe Neville, a retired Superior Court Judge who is now 93. Our other surviving aunt, Sara Neville Bennett, is 85 and will soon move to the Lodge at Bethany to occupy lovely rooms on the site of the original farm house. To date, there are over 65 decendents of Gesmon and Marguerite Neville!! Five children, 12 first cousins, 25 of their children, and at least 25 children in the next generation.

Visiting Statesboro

While in Statesboro, Marguerite and Betsy stopped by the law office of Lovett Bennett Jr to see some family photos. This painting is of Grandaddy during his career as a lawyer. There are several lawyers in the Neville family including Uncle Joe Neville, Joe Neville Jr, Lovett Bennett Jr, and two (soon to be three) from the next generation!

We also went by the lot that used to be "Grandma's little house". It is a very small lot -- the house was maybe 800 square feet and demolished a couple of years ago. Grandma loved living in town so she could walk to the First Baptist Church down the street. She had lived on the farm most of her life, did not drive, and was dependent on Grandaddy or cabs to get into town (less than 2 miles away but that seemed very far when we were children!). She really enjoyed her "freedom" when she moved to town in about 1970. Later we stopped at the cemetery where there is a large Neville plot with graves of many family members. The photo on the right is of the marker for our mother, Jessica Stafford Neville, who died in 2008.

Winter Park Visit and Betsy's Grandchildren

We returned to Winter Park for a few days and spent a good bit of time with Betsy's grandchildren, Cary (age 7), Cannon (age 4), and Henderson (5 months). We did lots of fun things with them, including celebrating St Patrick's Day, going to a local park and to the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens where Cannon fed some goats!. We also did some sewing for other grandchildren and went to a couple of movies, too.

Day trip to Mount Dora and Ladies' Lunch

One day we went to the small town of Mount Dora for their street fair and had lunch at the historic Lakeside Inn. The Inn, founded in 1883, is the oldest continuously operated hotel in the State of Florida. Early guests traveled there by train, often from as far away as New York.

Another day we had a ladies' lunch with Marguerite, Betsy, Betsy's friend Sandy, and our cousin Peggy.

It was very nice to see lots of family and visit the family's roots in Statesboro. We also drove to Swainsboro, Georgia (a a town of about 7000 people 30 miles away) to find our father's homesite. The home was demolished many years ago and there is a new fire station on the property. All of our McMillan relatives have either died or moved away and the town is fairly typical of small Southern towns that don't have much going for them anymore. Our father was born and died there (1919-1983) but Betsy and Marguerite didn't spend much time there after their parents divorced in about 1950.

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