Bland families come together

Published: Friday, July 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 30, 2005 at 10:09 p.m.
It's the first weekend in July, which means the Bland Community Families of Alachua Inc. is getting ready for their annual homecoming.
And the families' weekend of togetherness kicks off at 6:30 p.m. today with an awards banquet at Paramount Resort and Conference Center, 2900 SW 13th St., Gainesville. Rep. Ed Jennings Jr., D-Gainesville, will be the keynote speaker and Bubber's Combo of Jacksonville will provide the music.
Bland Inc. is made up of a group of African-Americans with roots in the Bland community, located near Alachua on County Road 241 in northwest Alachua County. The community was described in 1914 as "B-L-A-N-D simply spells a great and splendid plantation, home, store and a multitude of accessories, all the property of J.L. Matthews."
Joseph L. Matthews was a former Bradford County reporter who moved to Bland. He also was the community's former postmaster. The post office closed in 1903.
At one time, the community was centered around the school, Ogden Elementary, and recently Bland Inc. received a grant from the Florida Humanities Council to research and write the school's oral history. Currently, the group is looking to interview anyone who attended the school or taught there.
It is believed the school was started in 1907, according to Verdell Washington Robinson, a Bland native and Gainesville resident.
Robinson completed the fifth-grade at Ogden and remembers the school as being a two-room wooden building with two teachers and "no running water or electricity." The school closed for good after the 1950-51 school year, she said.
This weekend , the Bland families also will embark on an Adopt-a-Road cleanup at 7:30 a.m. Saturday on CR 241 from NW 278th Avenue to CR 236.
A business meeting will be held at 11 a.m., also on Saturday, at the High Springs Civic Center, U.S. 441 in High Springs. The oral history project will be discussed and also a change in requirements for prospective scholarship recipients.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, there will be a cookout, also at the civic center.
And ending the weekend of festivities will be worship services at 11 a.m. Sunday at Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, located in the Bland community. Bishop Donald Horne of New Smyrna Beach will deliver the message.
Also on Sunday during worship services, the families will honor Bland native Mattie Strawder, who celebrates her 100th birthday today.
For more information, call Robinson at (352) 373-4062.

Bland homecoming

  • What: The annual homecoming activities of the Bland Community Families of Alachua Inc.
  • When: 6:30 tonight for banquet, 2 p.m. Saturday for cookout and 11 a.m. Sunday for worship services.
  • Where: Banquet is at the Paramount in Gainesville, cookout at the High Springs Recreation Center and worship services in Bland.
  • Information: Call Verdell Robinson, (352) 373-4062.
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