I decided this is going to have to be a multi-part post. Otherwise, dear readers, you will be scrolling for an uncomfortable amount of time. We saw an amazing amount of stuff on Tuesday’s photo trek, and it all has an equally amazing amount of back-story.
Fellow Chorale member Tommy Thompson sent me an interesting story entitled “How A Mule Kick Killed Eight People.” The story was about a feud in Edgefield County, and we decided that we absolutely had to head down that way for a photo trek.
Of course, as interesting as the story of the feud was, a single location just doesn’t work for a photo trek. So, the night before I loaded up my GPS with several possible targets in the Edgefield area. The next morning I rendezvoused with Tommy down on Augusta Road, and we headed south.
There is always so much along this road that is of interest, and it’s tempting to stop and take photos of every rustic barn and old house. I’ve long found that if I allow myself to get distracted like this, I never reach my destination. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but sometimes not. We drove straight on through Greenwood and turned onto Highway 178. This route took us to the community of Epworth. There are some interesting old buildings there, and my great-great grandparents are buried only a couple of miles north of there. There is also the old Epworth Camp Meeting site. The only distraction I allowed was a brief turn onto the Epworth property so Tommy could see the old tabernacle and cabins. I had photographed and explored it before, so we kept going.
The store described in the article about the feud was at Meeting Street, which was the crossroads of Highways 378 and 430. There were ways to get there on major highways, but we decided to cut through the Sumter National Forest on back roads. We figured we were close enough to our destination that we could afford a couple of distractions now.
From 178 we turned onto Martintown Road. With the word “town” appended to the road name, it immediately caught my interest. Was this another ghost town I had missed? Probably not. Often a large family would settle in an area and lend their surname to a community. The suffixes “-town”, “-ville”, or “-burg(h)” might often be appended to describe the area, but there was never really a town there.
Our route did, in fact, wind us through some lovely rolling farmland. There were dirt roads off of either side of our road, and they were mighty tempting. At one point our road’s pavement gave out, but it soon reconnected to another paved road. The last stretch seemed VERY familiar, as if we had explored this stretch when looking for the Ouzts cemetery a couple of years ago.
Our road did connect us to 378, and we turned east toward Meeting Street. Soon we arrived at the old Timmerman Store and pulled in. Right behind the store is an auto mechanic shop, and there was a guy working on a vehicle out in the yard. We walked around and asked if we could take photos of the old store, and he gave us permission.
We didn’t get the mechanic’s name, but he had lots of information for us. The store had been covered with antique advertising signs, but they have had problems with theft. Just last Friday they had taken them all down and stored them, since there had been renewed interested in the store and the story behind it. He said that they would probably remove the old gas pump, too, before someone tries to steal it.
A Feud, A Mule, and A Senator
So, what about this feud, and how did a mule kick kill eight people? In 1940 Davis Timmerman, who owned the store at Meeting Street, also owned a mule. The mule got loose and wandered into Wallace Logue’s field. The mule encountered a calf and kicked it, killing it. Timmerman agreed to pay Logue $20 for the calf. When Logue came to the store to get his money, he demanded $40. Timmerman refused, so Logue grabbed an ax handle and proceeded to beat Timmerman. Timmerman drew a gun from behind the counter and shot and killed Logue. Body count – 1.
Timmerman went to then Sheriff Harling and told him what he had done. The shooting was ruled self defense, so Timmerman was cleared. Wallace Logue’s widow, Sue Logue, didn’t see it that way. She and Wallace’s brother, George, got her nephew, Joe Frank Logue, to find someone to kill Timmerman. Joe Frank had been a policeman in Spartanburg, and he hired Clarence Bagwell to do the deed.
Some time had passed after the initial incident when Logue and Bagwell went to the store. There, Bagwell shot Timmerman in the back as Logue waited in the car. Body count – 2
Unfortunately, Bagwell was a drunk and a braggart, and somehow managed to spill the beans about what he and Logue had done. On Sunday, Nov. 16, 1941, newly elected Sheriff Wad Allen and Deputy W.L. “Doc” Clark headed out to arrest the Logues. George Logue had gotten word of the warrant, so he and Fred Dorn, a sharecropper on his land, ambushed the lawmen. Sheriff Allen was killed immediately, and Deputy Clark was mortally wounded, as was Fred Dorn. George Logue was also wounded in the exchange. Body count – 5
Before he died, Deputy Clark was able to escape and report what had happened. The next day dozens of lawmen surrounded the Logue home. It was a standoff with armed Logues barricaded inside. To prevent further bloodshed, then local Circuit Court Judge Strom Thurmond, a Logue family friend, was asked to intervene. The story goes that he walked straight through the ring of lawmen and up to the house, where George Logue met him with a shotgun. Thurmond asked to speak to Sue, and was able to convince them to surrender.
Sue Logue, George Logue, Joe Frank Logue, and Clarence Bagwell were convicted and sentenced to the electric chair. Joe Frank’s sentence was commuted to life in prison, but the other three were executed. Sue Logue became the first woman in South Carolina to be executed by the electric chair. Body count – 8.
However, there is more to the story. Some locals wondered how Thurmond was able to convince the Logues to surrender, when they had been so violent. It was rumored that while superintendent of Edgefield schools, Thurmond was having an affair with Sue Logue while she was a teacher. Even after the conviction, Thurmond apparently tried to get the sentences commuted. It was he who escorted Logue to her execution. Thurmond’s driver was interviewed for T. Felder Dorn’s book “The Guns of Meeting Street,” and described what he saw. According to Murderpedia…
As Sue was driven from the women’s penitentiary to the death house at the main penitentiary in Columbia, she was sitting on the back seat with Strom. According to the driver, they were “huggin’ and kissin’ the whole day”.
Probably Sue was the only woman ever to have sex on her way to the chair!
So, a truly salacious story that all started with a mule. As I read the story, my interest was piqued because many of the names of the characters in this story are names that I’ve found in our family history. Timmerman, Dorn, and Harling are all names of various great-great-great-grandparents from that area, although these characters would be very, very distantly related.
Little Stevens Creek Church
From the Timmerman Store and Meeting Street we headed south toward Edgefield. Off to the left I spotted the historic Little Stevens Creek Baptist Church and decided to explore. The church is on a long access road, but is visible from 430. North of the access road is an open field with an odd solitary monument. At least, it looked like a monument. We couldn’t get close enough to really check it out.
I had visited this church before. It was after I had gotten my first GPS, but before I got my first digital camera. I’m sure I’ve got some old film photos of the area. The cemetery is full of family names to which I’m related – Dorn, Ouzts, Timmerman, Harling, etc. I haven’t done the research to see how any of these individuals might be related, but it was interesting to see the names, none-the-less.
I found one tablet slab that was done by W. T. White.
Next to that was an elaborate obelisk topped with an unusual pointing finger. It turned out that this was the grave of Thomas Chappell, a descendent of the original Thomas Chappell who founded the town of Chappells, which is on my ghost town list. The Chappell family plot was ringed by a cast iron fence with an elaborate Tree of Life motif.
Another row of headstones caught our attention because of their sameness. There were over a dozen headstones exactly alike, and bearing the name Bryan. It was a striking effect.
There were also obvious relatives of Strom Thurmond here – several Stroms and several Thurmonds.
It was time to move on. We headed south on highway 430 towards Edgefield.
In the next part we spend some more time with the amorous centenary senator from Edgefield, and explore some of the famous pottery from the area, and discover a couple of ghost towns and an abandoned church in the process. Still lots come come.