Andrew J. Nealley (1815-1887) built this house and managed a store on Main Street at the Landing. Joseph Maddox (1847-1916) bought both properties.
A Maddox descendant who later lived here, Willis Sally, was a decorated World War I veteran.
One of several brothers who came from New Hampshire in the early 1800s as the cotton mill arrived and bought a lot of South Berwick property, Andrew J. Nealley managed a store on Main Street at the Landing. He also built this house, and then sold both properties to Joseph Maddox.
The store was one of several grocery stores to be operated by Maddox and his son, Albert Maddox (1873-1954), and eventually by grandsons, Alden and Stanley Maddox. Other Maddox stores were on the corner of Liberty and Pleasant Streets at the Landing; in the brick business block in Central Square; and in Milton, NH, and Lebanon, ME. They were known as J. A. Maddox and Sons, and were certainly one of South Berwick's first experiences with the economic advantages of “chains”. They operated in the early 20th century through World War II.
The Nealley-Maddox House has remained in the family for about 120 years and is still occupied by Maddox descendants today. In 1916, it narrowly escaped destruction by fire. “The Boston and Maine Railroad had just delivered many barrels of kerosene, enough to keep all grandfather's customers supplied for the winter,” writes descendant Tim Benoit, “when a thunderstorm sent lighting into them causing a huge explosion and the barns burnt down. All the local citizens came out to help get all the furniture and clothing out of the house so the family would have something left. Then the direction of the wind changed and the house was saved.”
Albert Maddox was active in the community. He became the president of the Odd Fellows and later of the Rollinsford Bank. After his death, his widow Erna Maddox owned and rented out the former Maddox store in Central Square through the 1960s.
Married in 1914, Erna and Albert Maddox raised a large houseful of children and step-children. It was Erna's second marriage. She had been living before in Topsham and married to Rev. George H. Salley, and he died in 1911. By a previous marriage, he had had three children named Ruth, Kenneth, and Willis Salley. George and Erna had a son, George Salley, Jr. When Erna remarried, all four Salley children joined the Maddox household, which eventually had four children more-- Greta, Alden, Stanley and Betty Maddox.
In 1940, Greta Maddox married Maurice Benoit, whose father Leon was an enterprising resident of South Berwick who owned several blacksmith shops. Leon is remembered for driving a succession of new Ford automobiles. When the Ford motor company started making cars in Detroit, he would take the train to Detroit every year, buy a new car and drive it back to Maine.
Some of the Salley children had interesting lives away from South Berwick. Willis Salley, shown left, was decorated in World War I, after serving in the 303rd Field Artillery, American Expeditionary Force, in St. Mihiel and Verdun, France. He remained active in veterans' affairs when he returned, and was a York County deputy sheriff in 1947. He married Blanche Goodwin in 1941. He was a Mason and a trustee of the Freewill Baptist Church.
George Salley moved to Florida and built one of the state's largest law firms. Ruth Salley got a doctorate from Columbia and became executive director of New York University.
(Written with Maddox family information provided by Tim Benoit. Revised in January 2010.)