From the Okeechobee, Florida, News:
Anyone around Okeechobee in the 1970’s might remember the big two-story house on the corner of NW Second St. and US Highway 441. David R. MacNeil and his wife Carrie had owned it since the 1920’s.
But when Barnett Bank bought the property, the house had to be either torn down or moved. That’s when Harvey Sampson came into the picture. He and his wife Edith had wanted to start a children’s home and this house was certainly large enough to hold as many youngsters as they could handle.
Tom Hebel, who was manager at Barnet Bank at the time, told Sampson, “If you move that house you can have it.”
Mr. Sampson, now 88 years old, remembers it like yesterday.
“I went to a fellow here in town who moved houses and asked him what he’d charge.” He recalled. “He looked at the house and said he could move it for $25,000.
“I went back and told Tom Hebel the price and said ‘I don’t have that kind of money,’ and Tom said — right then and there — ‘We’ll make you a loan.’ And they did. Can you imagine? That wouldn’t happen today,” he continued.
Harvey and is wife Edith attended the Grace Brethren Church here in town at the time. (Randy Macomber was the pastor then.) The church owned 20 acres in Bassenger, and they gave Mr. Sampson one acre for the house. They named the place “Crossroads,” and according to Sampson, he had children ready to move in even before the house was ready.
“To move the house,” Mr. Sampson said, “We had to cut it in two and move both halves. When we got both halves to Bassenger, Edith said, ‘Don’t put them all the way together. We’ll have a breezeway.’ So that’s what we did.”
Edith was a school teacher and taught kindergarten to all the Bassenger kids in that Breezeway. The couple also took in a total of 32 foster children during the 12 years the children’s home was in operation.
“The Big House,” as Mr. Sampson still refers to it, was too big for them after Edith got cancer and they couldn’t take care of children anymore. He sold the place to Jeff and Debbie Clemons with the condition that he could have a house trailer there on the property.
Mr. Sampson, now widowed, still resides there by himself and his little dog Louie. He can’t do much anymore and he’s legally blind, but he has some wonderful memories of what God has done throughout his life.