Blythewood Farms was purchased from the LeGuard family by Bess Neil’s father, Pearson Blythe Mayfield.
Mayfield said he bought the farm so his family could enjoy the cool summer breezes and delicious spring water which furnished abundant water for a big area.
Because the original spring was 20 feet over the back boundary line, he had to buy an additional 50 acres to get possession of the spring.
Still standing on the Blythewood property is the Hair Conrad cabin, said to be the oldest structure in Bradley County, which Conrad built and moved his family into in 1800.
The son of a Scotch-German immigrant and a full-blooded Cherokee woman, Conrad married and had three children with Kathy North. After they separated, he married Ollie Candy, daughter of the famous Cherokee Samuel Candy and a granddaughter of Nancy Ward.
The Conrads had five children. During the late 1700s, before Bradley County was established, Conrad farmed a sizable piece of the south end of the property, raising apples, peaches and so forth.
He established a school for Cherokee children and worked on writing the Cherokee Constitution in 1827. He served in Washington, D.C., prior to 1836 as a delegate for the Cherokee Nation.
Conrad led one of the first groups on the “Trail of Tears,” but became ill on the trip and died soon after arriving in Oklahoma.
A fifth-generation grandson of Conrad, who is in the publishing business, served as president of the Cherokee Nation.
After Conrad’s death, the Cooper family purchased the property of Hair Conrad and lived in the cabin for some time. Cooper, being a Northern sympathizer during the Civil War, was called out on his front porch and shot to death. The Cooper family cemetery is on the hill behind the cabin.
A Carter family from Dalton, Ga., acquired the property and, in 1871, built the house which sits in the “the bad curve on Blythewood Road.” The road had earlier forded the creek at the end of the driveway.
Horses have always been a part of Blythewood Farms for Neil, as she recalls being picked up after school by her father. “We would stop at Sheffield’s store for two Cokes and a dime’s worth of cheese and crackers, go to the farm, saddle up two horses and ride all over the neighborhood. Daddy visited with the farm owners and the wives would nearly always bring out delicious sugar cookies for me.”
Several years later upon returning home after being in school in New York, Bess learned her mother had sent her horse to Happy Valley Farm for training. That was how she met and later married the horse trainer, David Neil.
After Neil’s service in the Army during World War II, they started their business of American saddlebred, nursery, breeding and training farm, believed to be the second oldest of its kind in the country. They lived in and raised their two daughters in the house on the curve.
The smaller house where Neil now lives was built for her mother, Mary Summerfield Key, and was named “The Keyhole.” An automobile accident claimed the life of David Neil in 1965.
The following year, the Neils’ oldest daughter, Margo, married J. Max Everhart, and they live in the “house on the curve.” Their daughters, Key and Anne, also live on the farm and are both very much involved in the business.
Historic preservation is very important to this family whose roots are deep in Bythewood Farms, where four generations have lived and three generations are involved in carrying on the family business — land Hair Conrad farmed during the 1700s before Bradley was a county and before the removal of the Cherokee to Oklahoma.
The Hair Conrad Cabin is still visited by members of the Cherokee Nation, as well as Red Clay and Rattlesnake Springs and other sites in this area, which played such a big part in Cherokee history.