At first blush, last week’s meeting of the Bladen County Historical Society made us scratch our collective heads. A little recap of the past few months may be necessary to understand why.
Earlier this year, a proposition was made by Historical Society member Lewis Smith to separate the Historical Society and the Harmony Hall Plantation Village Committee into two entities. Given the history between the two, it was probably a good idea.
Both sides saw the opportunity as the first step toward moving forward and becoming more successful and, within several weeks, the two groups were officially separated — a divorce that included a monetary split agreed on by both entities. Going forward, Harmony Hall had a solid cast of supporters, while Smith claimed he had fresh new faces waiting in the wings to jump into the Historical Society leadership AND had always wanted to remove Harmony Hall from the Historical Society.
For our part, the split was touted as both necessary and groundbreaking.
Recently, the Harmony Hall folks met and elected officers, hitting the ground hard with planning for the upcoming Battle of Elizabethtown re-enactment.
This past Tuesday, the Historical Society met and … pretty much elected the same people as officers that are leading the Harmony Hall efforts.
It all seemed surreal and perplexing, like the past few months were for naught and we were right back where we were when Smith first proposed the split.
But after thinking about it further — as well as talking at length with mover and shaker Seth Lewis, an officer with both groups — we now see just how genius last week’s re-organization of the Historical Society was.
The fact of the matter, as we suspected from the start, is that Smith never did have fresh new faces ready to step in and lead the group. So when it came time to vote on officers, the only folks there were members of both the Historical Society and Harmony Hall.
The result is a positive on two fronts: first, it puts the leadership of both groups into basically the very same hands; and second, it probably removes Smith’s cantankerous influence on either group once and for all.
We wish both groups well. A lot of interesting ideas are already being generated that would benefit the county as a whole — including the establishment of a county-wide museum. We think such a facility would be perfect if it were to blend in with what the Bladenboro Historical Building already has, a win-win for both groups.
And it’s not out of the realm of possibility that, down the road a piece, the two groups may very be reunited as one. And under the current circumstances, that would make a lot of sense.