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Historical Society resumes in-person meetings with double-annual event
Honors 3 volunteers, hears from Judge Scott Allen
Bulloch County Historical Society executive director Virginia Anne Franklin Waters, right, presents Rodney and Nadyne Harville with the Jack N. and Addie D Averitt Award for Excellence for their volunteer work during the society's first monthly meeting in
Bulloch County Historical Society executive director Virginia Anne Franklin Waters, right, presents Rodney and Nadyne Harville with the Jack N. and Addie D Averitt Award for Excellence for their volunteer work during the society's first monthly meeting in about two years at Pittman Park United Methodist Church on Monday, Jan 24. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

After a 22-month hiatus from face-to-face meetings, the Bulloch County Historical Society held a makeup annual meeting for 2020 and 2021 Monday, reporting 30% growth in membership over those two years and presenting awards to three volunteers who have been working to preserve historic cemeteries.

Billed as the society’s 47th Annual Meeting, Monday’s luncheon in the Pittman United Methodist Church social hall was also the January 2022 monthly meeting, picking up from where they left off in February 2020. Judge Emeritus H. Scott Allen appeared as a long-promised guest speaker.

But the Bulloch County Historical Society continued some programs and activities during the hiatus and has seen surprising growth, its president, Joe McGlamery, noted in opening remarks to the members.

“It’s great to be back,” said McGlamery, who is also the Statesboro Herald’s president within Morris Newspaper Corporation. “The Bulloch County Historical Society has been very active since last we saw you. We continue to prosper even in this global pandemic. Our membership, I’m happy to report, stands as of this hour at 392. That’s a gain of three from our board meeting last week.”

The society has added 91 new members in two years.


Video ‘Tidbits’

“Hideaway Tidbits,” short videos about topics of historical interest and the Historical Society’s projects hosted by its executive director, Virginia Anne Franklin Waters, are one way the organization has kept in touch with members. “The Hideaway” is the home of Waters and her husband, Bill Waters, a board member who chairs the society’s Historical Marker Committee. With new videos emailed to members usually twice each month, so far there are 55 “Tidbits,” which can be found on YouTube, McGlamery reported.

Georgia Humanities, the state National Endowment for the Humanities affiliate, has awarded the Bulloch County Historical Society two grants totaling more than $15,000 to produce the videos, he noted.

The society also mails members a monthly newsletter, Rambling Through Bulloch.


Markers and graves

In the past few months, the Historical Society has resumed dedication ceremonies and placements in its long-term program of installing freestanding, cast-aluminum historical markers. Made to order by Sewah Studios in Marietta, Ohio, with gold lettering and an electrostatically applied finish, the markers cost about $3,500 each.

In mid-November 2021, Historical Society members unveiled a marker for the vanished village of Adabelle and were joined there by descendants of one of its founders, Washington Manassas Foy. That was the 27th and latest marker installed by the society, which supports the ongoing program with funding from the Jack N. and Addie D. Averitt Foundation.

Then, on Jan. 6, the society dedicated the “Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair” and “Kiwanis Club of Statesboro” marker at the fairgrounds. In fact, that 26th marker had been erected about two years earlier, before the pandemic delayed plans for a dedication.

More than 50 people attended each of the recent marker dedications, McGlamery noted.

One of the society’s most recent projects is cleaning gravestones in Statesboro’s city-owned Eastside Cemetery. To date, about 800 tombstones have been cleaned using a product called D-2 Biological Solution, McGlamery reported. The society has budgeted $25,000 for the Eastside project, and some of the organization’s leaders recently met with city officials in an effort to have the cemetery’s bylaws updated and enforced.

“Thanks to all of you for helping us to be one of the most successful and active historical societies in Georgia if not the Southeast,” McGlamery said.


Judge Allen speaks

Waters introduced her friend Scott Allen as the guest speaker. A Statesboro High School honor graduate and the class STAR student in 1977, he went to the University of Georgia for his bachelor’s degree and then to Vanderbilt Law School for his law degree. His legal career then took him to Augusta, where he met his wife, Sandra.

Guest speaker H. Scott Allen shares some of his Statesboro and Bulloch County stories during the first Bulloch County Historical Society monthly meeting in about two years at Pittman Park United Methodist Church on Monday, Jan 24. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

“Scott has lived in Augusta, Georgia, for 35 years and made a huge impact on his community,” Waters said.

Judge of the Richmond County Civil and Magistrate Court for 27 years until he retired from the full-time judgeship at the end of 2020, he continues to handle some court sessions as an on-call “senior” judge.

He has served as a trustee of Historic Augusta, is a member of the Richmond County Historical Society and serves on the sustaining fund board of Sacred Heart Cultural Center. Waters noted that Allen received a Philanthropist of the Year award in Augusta several years ago.

Similarly, “his parents were great leaders and contributors” here in Bulloch County, she said.

His father, Judge Francis W.  Allen, who died in 2007 at age 83, was long the Bulloch County State Court judge and once served in the Georgia House of Representatives. Scott Allen’s mother, the late Margie Shuman Allen, owned rental property and antique stores.

The retired judge shared colorful memories of Statesboro from the 1960s and 70s when he and his brother, the late Francis W. Allen Jr., were growing up here.

For example, when he was a Cub Scout, the den mother was Villette Melton, whose husband, the late Emory Melton, worked at the Smith-Tillman Mortuary, and the family lived on the second floor. So, each Monday afternoon during the school year Allen and seven or eight other boys met there for Cub Scouts.

“The hearses were great transportation. We went on a field trip. …,” Allen recalled.  “Now, if there was a body, we had to have quiet time, quiet activity on those Mondays.”

After many other recollections, naming many local people, Allen also shared humorous observations from his years as a judge. He then presented the Historical Society a gift, a framed program from his grandmother Eunice DeLoach Shuman’s 1921 graduation from First District A&M, the regional high school that evolved to become Georgia Southern University.


Awards of merit

Saluting member volunteers, the society presented two awards that are not given every year, but “only when merited,” Waters said.

The Jack N. and Addie D.  Averitt Award for Excellence, dated 2020 but with this being the first time it has been presented since 2015, went to a married couple, Rodney and Nadyne Harville, “for a lifetime of dedication to the Bulloch County Historical Society.”

Rodney Harville previously served as the society’s president for several years and is a current board member. He and his wife have worked in tandem on every project and still attend almost every function, Waters said.

“Rodney’s passion is the upkeep and preservation of Bulloch County’s cemeteries, in fact, all cemeteries in Georgia,” she said.

Harville has so far worked with Boy Scouts and other volunteers in cleanups of 22 Bulloch County cemeteries, by his count. Some of these were previously hidden from view by vegetation and debris.

He also planned with the late state Sen. Jack Hill to propose legislation for a $2 added fee on each death certificate issued in Georgia to supply a special fund for cemetery preservation and restoration.  Modeled on a Delaware program, this legislation has not moved forward since Hill’s unexpected death in April 2020. But Harville and Waters intend to push for it again.

The society also presented the Smith Banks Award for Volunteerism, dated 2021, to Burney C. Marsh. This award was last given in 2018.

Marsh “has done hours of genealogy work on many Bulloch County families,” has begun writing articles for Rambling Through Bulloch and has been instrumental in the society’s Eastside Cemetery project, Waters said.

“Bernie has also cleaned tombstones at Upper Mill Creek Church Cemetery, Lake Cemetery, the Hendrix Cemetery and many in Friendship Church Cemetery … using D-2,” she said. “He has cleaned over 200 in Eastside.”

The Historical Society plans to hold another annual meeting, 2022’s, in June.

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