Spotlight on Nassau Gardens

Gene Bennett


Gene Bennett has a delightful farm in Bryceville with much history. His wife, Jane   and her family were given this 130 acre farm by their great grandmother.  The Bennett’s have lived on the property in Bryceville for more than 42 years.

Originally the Stokes family was given this property by John Mizell with a Spanish Land Grant. At the time of the Civil War, the Union soldiers were approaching the area for the Battle of Olustee.  Many of the local families were concerned the Union soldiers would raid their homes so they put all of their valuable possessions in canvas bags and dropped them in Brandy Grand Creek.  Then they poured hot tar over the canvas bags to save them from the troops.  Luckily, none of the possessions were discovered and the families later went back to retrieve them.  Since that time, the creek has been called Tar Lake.
In this particular area of Bryceville there are numerous lakes, rivers and streams which were treacherous to cross.  The only mode of transportation at the time was horse and wagon so there were times when travel had to be postponed until the water was shallow enough to cross.  In times of crossing these bodies of water, the pioneers fought swarms of mosquitoes and other biting insects which made their treks more difficult.  They worked hard to build roads and bridges in this area to make local travel easier.  One particular family - the Stokes - would drive a wagon over to the Brandy Branch Cemetery on a regular basis to keep it clean and remove overgrown brush.    Mrs. Bennett’s great grandmother, Sarilda Pringle, and others in the family along with many neighbors are buried in the old cemetery.

The farm has a beautiful live oak tree which is well over 50 years old. The branches are quite gnarly which demonstrates the old age. It is quite amazing!

Gene enjoys feeding his albino channel catfish, common brown channel catfish and several exotic Koi fish.  When the water is high in the pond, the catfish go under the edge of the bank and dig out a cave for breeding young.  It is easy to see how one could sit for hours observing the various fish and their antics.