In February 1980, more than 33 years ago, my husband and I purchased a home in the Settlers Grove neighborhood. Our daughter Katrina Elizabeth was just a toddler.
We had just celebrated her second birthday in Charleston, S.C., with our many friends. When we bought the house, while living in Charleston, we had no earthly idea that we were the first African-Americans to own property in that area of Newton County. It was not our underlying goal to try to purchase a home in an all-white neighborhood.
One of the Covington City Councilmen informed us about this. My husband and I almost said, “Really?” in unison. I was completely shocked. The area we had lived in in Charleston was integrated. We were both used to being in a multicultural setting in more ways than one. But this was our first encounter, being the first people of color to live in an all-white community. My husband and I did pray and we trusted God that everything would be alright.
We didn’t encounter any bad treatment from any of the neighbors. We did notice that many of the residents moved out, and eventually the neighborhood turned almost 95 percent African-American. That was just fine with us, too. We grew up like that.
We still have long-time friends whom we’ve met and remains friends today. Both my husband and I come from friendly families. This made our lives so much better, moving into a new Southern town east of Atlanta.
Last year, after owning it for more than 32 years, we lost our home to a tragic fire. It was a severe loss to me, my children and, yes, my one and only grandson Nolan Miles Stanfield. This home was very dear to him as this was where his mother Katrina Elizabeth Godfrey Stanfield was raised. It was the only home of his dear uncle Grier Trevor Godfrey. It was the home where his uncle babysat him on numerous occasions. It was the home where he played with his uncle’s precious dog Max, which thankfully was saved from the fire. He loved Max just as hard as his Uncle Grier Trevor did.
We finally decided to demolish the home at 10119 Settlers Grove Road. It was hard on the family. We had 32 years of powerful history in that home. Joy, pain, laughter, revelations. My radio ministry was founded there in 1992. My call to the ministry was realized there. Countless days were spent there organizing many programs and groups.
The greatest thing I can say about this house is both my son’s life and Max’s were not lost. I lost a lot of worldly treasures in the fire, but I’m happy to share with the readers that God has renewed our family. We are going forward in Jesus and try to continue to serve humanity.
Minister Elizabeth Patridge-Godfrey works for Bethlehem Baptist Church in Covington and is active in community efforts.