September 13, 1998
I want to thank you for the great job you are doing with my beloved Liberty Co. - especially Bristol. I was born there 61 years ago and have many wonderful memories of growing up there. It is truly a "Garden of Eden". I would like to share some of my memories with you and everyone who visits this wonderful website.
I am the daughter of Johnny and Bonnie Wheeler, granddaughter of Rev. Clayton M. and Nellie Ritter Wheeler. We weren't a wealthy family and I'm sure we had our share of hard times. However, we had all we needed, we were happy, we had a paradise to live in, and I never knew or realized we weren't wealthy. We lived on one end of Lake Mystic, facing the beach and a beach house/dinner club. My dad ran the beach house by day and was the chef by night at the dinner club. I had my own private beach and swimming place - the salty water of the lake was so blue, so clear, so beautiful! The roads around Bristol were of the whitest sand I ever saw - the only paved roads were the ones that lead to Blountstown and Quincy.
Special memories center around my grandparents. They were wonderful people with a firm belief in God. I felt honored to be his granddaughter - I don't know if that was because he was the only person I knew who served in the Civil War, or because he lived to be 101 years old. They owned the land where the Holiness Church is now, and, I think, the surrounding property.
I remember Parley Shular and his family, who were wonderful people and good friends to my family. I would go on Easter Egg hunts with them so big that they seemed to cover acres!
I remember sitting in a big tree in the middle of town where all of the kids played when "Bully" Rankins fell and broke his neck. I'll never forget how scared I was!
Another childhood friend was Sara Catherine Chestain. Her mother was the principal of the school and her father was the Sheriff. I seem to remember my dad being his deputy at one time.
We moved to Kentucky when I was 12, and only came back to visit. This past year I went to Bristol to visit my grandparents' graves a Lake Mystic Baptist Church, and was amazed at the changes that have taken place over the years. I drove around Lake Mystic and hardly recognized it due to all the beautiful homes that are now there. When I lived there, there were only one or two homes around the lake, with a plentiful growth of plant life.
It is a lovely little town - but then I thought it was paradise when I lived there many years ago! It was truly a "Garden of Eden" then, and remains so today.
Marnell Wheeler O'Leary
(Editor: Martha English Amos)
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