Written by Mr. Willie Anderson, Ms. Cecilia Anderson, Mr. Thomas Livsey, Mrs. Dorethia Livsey, and Mrs. Lois Thomas
The Anderson and Livsey families are two prominent families of Gwinnett County who reside in the community now known as "The Promised Land Community." The Andersons and the Livseys, along with several families, purchased large portions of land within this community from an Irish immigrant named Thomas McGuire. It must have seemed like the "Promised Land" to Thomas McGuire who settled on a 956 acre farm in the early 1800's, which he won in a land lottery. Located just south of Centerville, at the intersection of Lee Road and Centerville Hwy 124 in Snellville, Georgia, is the old Thomas McGuire House. This house is now owned by the Livsey Family. Today, the Anderson and the Livsey families continue to be proud residents of what was first known as "The Bethel Community."
The history of the Promised Land Community is shared along with many African-American families who were land owners and residents of the community, and these families were contributors to its development. As entrepreneurs, Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Mitchell Anderson owned and operated the only African-American grocery store within the Bethel community in the 1930's. The revival of the Promised Land Community emerged when Thomas & Dorethia Livsey opened The Promised Land Grocery Store in 1970. The store continues to serve the community today.
The Promised Land Community has a heritage of being industrious, diligent, and of having a high regard for education. In the 1930's, many families were farmers who worked hard and instilled within their children the importance of education. During this time, the New Bethel AME Church served as a school for African-American students from the first through the seventh grade. Because public transportation was not available for African-American students, most of the children within the community were unable to attend school beyond the seventh grade. Education for African-American students beyond the seventh grade was provided at Bruce Street High School, which was located approximately seven miles away in DeKalb County. The only other public school available was Hooper-Renwick High School, located several miles away in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
The church became not only a place of worship, but a place to offer academic, social, and economic development for the community. There were several families that made outstanding contributions to the New Bethel AME Church and played pivotal roles in the building of the church. Their patriarchs and matriarchs worshipped together, just as the younger generations are doing today. Through the church, which has served as the focal point of the community, faith, education, honesty, hard-work, achievement, and service were instilled. The members have worked faithfully and the fruits of their labor have produced entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, educators, politicians, and success in several various professions.
Today, this vibrant community is emerging as one of Gwinnett County's prospering communities, and the opening of the new Gwinnett County Public School, Anderson-Livsey Elementary School, offers a renewed spirit of heritage, commitment, accomplishment, and unity. This honor gives credence to the dreams and aspirations that the Anderson and Livsey families have. The families are grateful for such an honor and look forward to many years of learning that will take place at the new school. Their vision echoes the motto of the school, "Providing Learning that Lasts a Lifetime."