A friend of a friend-Geraldine Nealy-B.G French Jr. – October 17

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for October 17, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

I mentioned in a previous post that earlier in the week I got to attend a lunch with a lot of businessmen from Lumberton, NC. One of them has done much to transform Lumberton, NC. His name B.G French Jr. and his company Lumber River Real Estate created some of Lumberton finest neighborhoods. The B.G stands for Berry Godwin who is his great, great-grandfather.

The French family has some fascinating history with Robeson County.  Berry Godwin was born Oct. 1, 1826 in Selma, NC. He came to Robeson County in 1855 after marrying Martha Faulk in 1854.

Part of his family tree was married to Angus McLean a North Carolina Governor, Godwin Heights is connected to the French Family, Meadowbrook Cemetery is connected to the family, and the list goes on and on.

Governor Angus McLean on the far left greeting Orville Wright on December 17, 1928.

Angus McLean

Meadowbrook Cemetery Entrance off of 24th Street in Lumberton, NC

Meadowbrook Cemetery

Berry Godwin started accumulating land around the county, partly for his turpentine business in St. Pauls Township, his Cotton Oil & Ginning Co., in Lumberton and also for farming, real estate and other business enterprises.

Once because of the civil war he had to pay twice for a tract of land he was acquiring from the Blount family. This interesting story about the purchase of 4,000 acres for $18,000 from the administrator of the Blount family was published in The Robesonian, July 14, 1861. Berry Godwin agreed to pay half the purchase price and then make installments in 1863, 1864 and 1865. The deal was made in Confederate dollars that depreciated during the Civil War.

After the war the Blount family brought suit against the estate management and won its case, thereby declaring that Godwin would have to pay in U.S. money.

Berry Godwin was able to make his payment and retain the 4,000 acres in northeast Lumberton known as the Meadows. In it today are the extensive business and residential developments along the Fayetteville Road and Barker-Ten Mile Road, including Wycliffe, The Oaks, and Forest Acres. He also acquired many lots in the town of Lumberton. That real estate purchase helped become part of Lumberton’s modern-day residential neighborhoods

On February 15, 2013 I and a lot of people came out to surprise B.G French Jr. at Candy Sue’s Restaurant in Downtown Lumberton. He was recognized by his friends and received North Carolina’s highest honor “The Order of the Long Leaf Pine”.

According to the Long Leaf Pine website, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine honors people who have made a significant contributions to North Carolina.

Mountain Home Music host Joe Shannon recieves North Carolina's most prestigous honors The Order of The Long Leaf Pine. Presented to individuals who have proven record of extraordinary service to the state.

B.G French Jr, a Lumberton native, attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After he graduated in 1966, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy for three years. Discharged in 1969, French spent seven years in the banking industry. In 1977, he returned to Lumberton because of his interest in Lumber River Real Estate.

According to information provided by French, the company was established in 1945 when his father B.G French and two friends, Franck McLeod and Erwin Williams, started Lumber River Discount Company to finance cars. The three of them asked William Lennon, who was currently serving in the Pacific in World War II, to come back and become a partner.

In the early 1950s, Lumber River Real Estate was formed.

In the early 1950s, Lumber River Real Estate was formed. One the gems of Lumber River Real Estate is the neighborhood located off of Fayetteville Road in Lumberton called The Oaks. The Oaks is a 400-acre residential area in North Lumberton that includes a professional office park.

The Oaks

The Friend-B.G FRENCH JR.


The Friend of the Friend-GERALDINE NEALY-in pink outfit at her Grandson J.R Nealy wedding.

Geraldine Nealy

Miss Lumber River Real Estate

B.G French spent a lot of his life working to make Lumber River Real Estate a life changing business. He had some major help from Geraldine Nealy.

She wore a lot of hats at Lumber River Real Estate. She was the vice-president, she was the sales manager, she worked there for 35 plus years, and she was active in the professional associations that make the profession of real estate special. She has been Past President of Lumberton Board of Realtors. In 1988 she was selected Real Estate Agent of the year. On top of that if you ask around people will tell you she has spent her life being involved in the church and community.

She is also a grandmother that is extremely proud of her grandchildren.

Geraldine Grands

So the next time you drive around Lumberton and go past neighborhoods like Wycliffe, Mayfair, Mayfair North, and The Oaks remember that Lumber River Real Estate, B.G French, and Geraldine Nealy all had a part in transforming Lumberton, NC.



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