History and Genealogy

A Tour through Mid-Georgia – Part One

Philomath Church

Philomath Presbyterian Church

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Houston had stayed overnight after our Ghost Tour of Woodburn Plantation the night before. He had Monday off, and since Laura was out of town, Glynda and I decided to head down to Athens with him for a road trip. Of course, this would be one of our typical rambling road trips, full of history and interesting sights.

…and, of course, we couldn’t really take interstates. We headed down Augusta Road, then cut through Belton, Antreville, and the town of Iva. Just out from Iva we spotted a sign for one of my ghost towns.

Moffetsville (more…)

A Haunted Tour of Woodburn House

Woodburn House Ghost Tour-013

Woodburn House

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Last weekend the Pendleton Historic Foundation offered “ghost tours” of its historic properties – Ashtabula Plantation and Woodburn House. Tours would be conducted for Ashtabula on Friday, and for Woodburn on Saturday. My brother Houston was going to be in town, so I got tickets for Houston and Glynda for the Woodburn tour.

We drove on over to the Pendleton/Clemson area warily – not because of ghosts but because of traffic from the Clemson. Turned out to be a valid concern. The game had just ended when we arrived, and we had to turn left across three lanes of game traffic on Highway 76. It took awhile. Finally we did make the turn, and arrived in time for our tour. (more…)

The Schools of Edgefield and Saluda Counties

Fruit Hill School HDR Texture

Fruit Hill School in Edgefield County

I had finally found a practical way of uploading my list of extant schools into my GPS. Rather than upload them as favorites, I was uploading them as custom POIs. The only drawback was that they didn’t show up on the map unless I specifically selected one. Oh well. It was a start.

My maps and several online sources indicated that Edgefield and Saluda counties were full of cool old schools that were still standing. Armed with this tool I set in search of a few.

My primary goal for the day had been a stop by the Pottersville Excavation Site just north of Edgefield. I had described that stop in the last post, so in this one I’ll focus on the schools. (more…)

Archeology at Pottersville

Pottersville Kiln Excavation-013

Potsherds at Pottersville

October is Archeology Month. As such, the Archeological Society of South Carolina has been promoting several opportunities for the public to get involved on its Facebook page. The one that caught my eye was an excavation at the Pottersville site north of Edgefield. last Friday I contacted the dig supervisor, archeologist Nicole Isenbarger, and made arrangements to visit.

November of last year Tommy Thompson and I tried to locate Pottersville. I had the coordinates, but the location didn’t look right. The directions we got from the guy at Edgefield Pottery sent us on a wild goose chase. As it turns out, my original coordinates were correct. So, early Friday morning I headed out to rendezvous at the dig site for an 8:00 am start. (more…)

Old Homes Tour of Laurens


Kudzu TV

A couple of weeks ago Mary Ellen Lives from the Laurens County Museum contacted me about several old houses in Laurens that were scheduled for demolition. This list also included the Old Laurens Hospital, and Mary Ellen wanted to know if I was interested in photographing any of these before they were torn down. Of course, I said yes. We set up a time and made a plan for our visit.

In the meantime, I think I had finally sorted out my GPS POI problem. I was finally able to upload my list of possible schools as waypoints. Since we were meeting at the Museum at 2:00, I could head out earlier and see if, in fact, my points were working. (more…)

Mystery Cemetery


O'Neal Cemetery

I was out and about on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon trying to hunt down the perfect photo. I also had a box or so of old electronic gear in the back of my Subaru. I figured in my ramblings I’d probably pass one of the county’s many “convenience centers,” and would be able to recycle it.

My rambles took me to the community of O’Neal, north of Lake Cunningham on Highway 101. Just off of O’Neal Road, I saw a sign for a convenience center on Camp Road, just around the corner. As I pulled into the center I spotted a chain link fence and a row of strange headstones.

O'Neal Cemetery

The way these were lined up, and since they were right at a disposal center, I wondered if it might be a K9 cemetery. I dropped off my electronics and drove back around. (more…)

Classical Revival Schools

Gray Court-Owings School

Gray Court-Owings School
Photo by Panoramio User Bearden82

The photo above is of Gray Court-Owings School. In the 1970s my father was principal of the school. I attended there as a student from second through eighth grade. In the 1980s I got my first teaching job there, teaching music and a gifted and talented program, as well as getting the school started on its nascent technology program. From my classroom where I was teaching I could see the house I grew up in, which was the house I was living in at the time. Needless-to-say, the school and I go back a LONG way.

One of the things I liked best about this old school was the architecture. The school sits high on a hill, and the imposing entrance calls out for attention. As I was reviewing the State Archives School Insurance Photos I saw that lots of other schools from around the state have similar features. (more…)

Pumpkintown Area Schools

Oolenoy School

Oolenoy Community House

I had just finished up with the Nature Conservancy Hawk Watch up on Caesers Head, but I still had some time to explore. I had several locations marked from the Greenville Survey, as well as some others I wanted to check out. I found more than schools. I found a story of destruction, determination, and rebuilding.

My first, and most productive stop was Oolenoy Community House, located in the old Oolenoy School. This school is the classic early 20th century design with a central bell tower. At first glance the design looks just like the old Wolf Creek School just outside of Pickens.

Oolenoy School-011 (more…)

The Mystery of the School Car


Pleasant Grove

As I was browsing through the collection of photographs of old schools from the South Carolina School Insurance Collection, I noticed something odd. The same car started showing up in photo after photo.

Car Collage

You don’t notice it while viewing the images one by one on the archives website, but when you look at them en masse, it’s one of the things that jumps out.

Obviously I assumed that it belonged to the agent who was responsible for inspecting and photographing the schools. Stands to reason. I can see it going something like this…He (and I’m most definitely sure it was a “he” given the time period) would park the car in front of the school, do his inspection, then step out front for a photo. Including the car in the photo also proved that he was there, and that he had been the one to take the photo. (more…)

Bell Tower Evolution

Old Shiloh School B&W

Old Shiloh School in Anderson County

My encounter with two old schools with similar architecture made me want to take a closer look at historic rural school architecture in general. Probably the best resource for this in our state is the South Carolina School Insurance Photograph collection housed online at the South Carolina State Archives website.

The early 1900s saw a flurry of school construction. Schools were consolidated, and new rural schools were constructed for both Black and White populations under the Rosenwald grant program. In 1919 the state created the Sinking Fund Commission to provide insurance coverage for public schools and other public buildings.

In 1935 the office of Special Agent was established for the Commission. The duty of the Special Agent was to inspect the state’s property holdings. The result of which was the creation of a collection of photographs of schools, taken from 1935 until 1952, which the Sinking Fund was absorbed into the state’s Budget and Control Board. (more…)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...