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Dames attend 92nd annual conference

Mar. 19—THOMASVILLE- The John Lee of Nansemond Chapter, National Society Colonial Dames Seventeenth Century, was represented by three members — President Jinanne B. Parrish, Historian Pamela F. Tucker, and Drucilla B. Bennett — at the 92nd Annual Conference of the State Society, held in La Grange, Georgia. The 45th Georgia State President, Phyllis H. King, presided over the conference.

The Dames met on Friday morning for a tour and box lunch at Hills and Dales Estate. The gardens were designed and planted by Nancy Ferrell beginning in 1832. The Georgian-Italian villa was built in 1916, by textile magnate Fuller E. Callaway, Sr. and designed by the firm of Neel Reid. Callaway's son, Fuller Callaway, Jr. later married Alice Hand, of Pelham, Georgia, who became the lady of the estate.

In the afternoon, a memorial service was held for Georgia Dames who died in 2023. The service was held in the historic Bellevue Mansion, built 1852-1855 and is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in the state and was the home of Benjamin Harvey Hill, who had it built for his wife, Caroline Holt Hill. In 1942, it was bought by the Fuller E. Callaway Foundation and presented to the La Grange Women's Club and is a National Historic Landmark. A Colonial Dames Historic Marker was also placed at the mansion.

A formal banquet was held on Friday evening at the Highland Country Club, established in 1922. The featured speaker was Dr. Richard Ingram, chairman of Lafayette Alliance, which seeks to foster the ideals of the Marquis de Lafayette, whose statue graces the beautiful fountain on the square in downtown La Grange, named for the estate outside Paris of the wife of the Marquis de Lafayette. Dr. Ingram spoke of Lafayette's return visit to George Washington and a tour of America after the Revolutionary War.

Saturday was spent in meetings with reports by the Society officers, chapter presidents, and state committees. Chapter awards were presented. Two Georgia high school seniors were awarded scholarships. The Georgia Society State American History Teacher of the Year was named. Jeremy G. Rich, a 17-year teacher at Bishop Hall Charter School, Pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church, Thomasville, and a Thomas County Commissioner was the recipient.

The Georgia Society was honored by the presence of National Society President General Yvonne Y. Hiteshue, Ohio, for the entire conference. She is a retired 35-year educator. Her presentation on Saturday was very enlightening and inspiring. She also spoke of the beautiful bow pin available to members for purchase to support her projects.

The conference had a total of 66 members and 16 guests present. Of the members present one was a national officer, 13 were state officers, three honorary (former) state presidents, and 11 chapter presidents.

Membership in the National Society Colonial Dames Seventeenth Century is open to any woman 18 years of age or older, who can prove lineal descent from an ancestor who performed a function in the settlement of one of the 13 original colonies before 1701.