The following biography was recently read at the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet Thursday evening, Sept. 14, during the announcement of Barbara Middleton’s selection to receive the 2023 Spirit of Greenville Award.
Part of Greenville’s charm is its rich history, beautiful historic homes, churches, and districts, and an abundance of camellia lined streets.
Greenville and Butler County have a great treasure in camellias that make our town and county a show place. One Greenville native has been a true champion of our city’s history, heritage, and camellias for decades.
As we all know, Greenville is the “Camellia City” and Barbara Perdue Middleton has dedicated years to promoting the beauty and significance of these gorgeous blooming shrubs.
Through her extensive research of local camellias, Mrs. Barbara discovered that camellias were brought to Butler County by settlers from the Carolinas in the nineteenth century.
Shrubs planted in the 1840s-1850s were still thriving and blooming well into the twentieth century.
She has tirelessly promoted and encouraged local camellia horticulture and gives programs on the heritage of Greenville as “The Camellia City.”
During her long-time presidency of the Butler County Historical Society, Middleton organized and helped the Greenville Camellia Society hold camellia shows in Greenville in 2002 and again 2009.
When an historical marker was unveiled on the State Capital grounds in 2009 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the camellia being named Alabama’s state flower, it was Mrs. Barbara there to represent the City of Greenville.
In March 2019, Mrs. Barbara represented Greenville and its camellias at the American Camellia Society convention in Mobile, where her display booth was swamped the entire public viewing day, with crowds of people asking about Greenville and its camellias.
As a member of the Greenville Camellia Society and a champion promoter of camellias, Mrs. Barbara was a key component in the American Camellia Society’s event hosted in Greenville the past April, when Greenville was announced as a new site on the National Camellia Trail.
She’s also an enthusiastic camellia photographer and has done lovely watercolor camellia paintings, as well.
Mrs. Barbara, who has served as president for the Butler County Historical & Genealogical Society since 2002, has initiated and accomplished numerous important history and preservation projects for Greenville and Butler County. She is dedicated in her mission of preserving the history and heritage of Butler County and its people.
She works with the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Greenville to promote and highlight Greenville as a wonderful tourism, business, and residential destination.
Mrs. Barbara was very active in organizing and promoting Butler County’s Bicentennial in and the City of Greenville’s Bicentennial in 2022. She is also gearing up to play a large role for the Greenville Camelia Society’s Garden show that will be hosted at Beeland Park in January 2024.
Mrs. Barbara is a faithful member of Spring Creek Baptist Church, where she has serves in in many positions, such as teach Sunday School classes, and serves as the Director of Missions and Church Historian. She is also a historian for the Butler County Baptist Association. She is a valuable member of the Steiner Store Homemakers Club and the former Greenville Art Guild, and the Greenville Camellia Society.
Mrs. Barbara’s career includes 33 years as a bookkeeper at Greenville Cash & Carry. She also worked as a bookkeeper at Norman Trading many years prior. All of which are career highlights to hang one’s hat, however, it is throughout her lifetime of volunteer service, her strong Christian faith, and true love for others, that Mrs. Barbara has been a dedicated and hardworking member of many groups, organizations, and projects, and has made lasting contributions to our community.
Tonight, it is my honor to present the highly deserving Mrs. Barbara Middleton with the 2023 Spirit of Greenville Award!