ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Historical Society and Harmony Hall Plantation Village Committee have gone their separate ways.
The two entities officially split following a vote taken during a meeting Tuesday.
The vote was unanimous to separate and divide the money held in the treasury between Harmony Hall Plantation Village and the Historical Society.
The meeting was called to order by acting Historical Society President Seth Lewis. The first order of business was to elect Sunday Allen to serve as Bladen County Historical Society secretary for a term of 90 days and current Treasurer Tony Parnell to remain for a term of 30 days.
In the group’s prior meeting, Allen had resigned her position as Historical Society president and Parnell had resigned his position as treasurer. Both agreed to serve in their newly elected capacities for the stipulated period of time.
Allen read the minutes form the prior meeting and Parnell issued the treasurer’s report, stating the group had $978.04 in the checking account and two certificates of deposit with $11,838.40 each totaling $23,676.80. The treasurer’s report and minutes were both adopted.
After the treasurer’s report was given, Historical Society member Lewis Smith asked to make a comment. Smith asked about postage for the Historical Society mailbox in the amount of $70.
“The money for the box was not paid until January,” said Smith.
He told the group he had sent the bill for the postage to the treasurer. Smith said the bill was not paid and the box was locked and he finally paid $58 for six months and later paid $70 to keep the box open for one year. Smith said he was promised a check would be issued at Tuesday’s meeting for the postage reimbursement. The group voted to reimburse Smith for the postage.
Parnell was asked by Lewis if he had received any receipts for postage prior to Tuesday and he replied, “No.”
Following the reports, Lewis called for the proposal to split the two groups.
“Our last minutes have been duly documented by the Bladen Journal,” said Lewis.
He told the group there were five points to the proposal. The first point is to legally separate the two entities; for each entity to have its own board and officers; to separate the funds with $5,000 held for the Bladen County Historical Society and the balance to go to Harmony Hall Plantation Village; Harmony Hall Plantation village will receive all the real property which is approximately 100 to 102 acres; and the name Harmony Hall will not be mentioned again in Historical Society meetings.
Smith said he wanted to give a brief history of the Historical Society.
“How long will it take?” asked Lewis.
“About five minutes,” said Smith.
Smith commented the Historical Society was formed in Elizabethtown in the late 1950s. Smith said Wanda Campbell worked diligently to gather the history of the county and the group would meet at different locations and discuss the history of the location.
“Over the last six to eight years, it’s turned into Harmony Hall. Several are still living who would like to have what we had,” said Smith.
He told those gathered that Lib Turner “kept the books” for the Historical Society until her death and Smith said he has maintained the books since Turner passed away.
“I think I ought to have a say,” said Smith. “I hope we can do our history things and Harmony Hall can do their things.”
Allen said, “The history of the organization is important.”
She read from the Articles of Incorporation of the Bladen County Historical society dated Nov. 8, 1962. She noted that the purposes of the society as stated in the document were to collect and preserve historical materials connected with Bladen County for present and future generations; to preserve and restore any buildings and places of historical value for present and future generations, to furnish a platform for members to have the opportunity to discuss history and to lease rent or obtain and sell real or personal property to obtain income and to acquire all kinds of property real or personal by purchase or gift to preserve the history of the county for future generations.
The original names listed on the incorporation document were Wilton Melvin, Porter Cain, James Monroe and Wanda Campbell.
Allen pointed that all of those items were being carried out by the Historical Society.
Lewis moved the meeting forward and said, “I am excited, Lewis (Smith), at your proposal. Some folks may choose to stay members of the Historical Society. Some may chose to just go with Harmony Hall.”
He added, “I sincerely hope you can fill this room with Historical Society members. Bladen County iss the Mother County of 55 counties.”
Lewis finished by saying that the split may breathe new life into both organizations.
Then he called for the vote on the issue and the vote was unanimous to split the two groups. It was decided to have the necessary legal documents drafted and filed by July 30.
It was decided that a reorganizational meeting for the Historical Society will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 11, at the Bladen County Public Library in Elizabethtown at 7 p.m.
Harmony Hall Plantation Village will hold its reorganizational meeting on Tuesday, July 21, at 7 p.m. at the Bladen County Public Library in Elizabethtown.
—Erin Smith can be reached at 910-862-4163.