The Lost Town of Mitchelville

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Mitchelville Park Center, Hilton Head Island

NOTE: Yeah, I’m still behind on blogging. Now I’m about two weeks behind, but I’m slowly catching up. 🙂

A few months ago I learned about an exhibit at USC’s McKissick Museum about the town of Mitchelville. As I read more about Mitchelville, I knew I had to add this one to my list of South Carolina ghost towns. The recent trip to Bluffton offered the perfect opportunity to explore this town on the northeast shore of Hilton Head.

During the Civil War Union troops captured Hilton Head Island and established that as one of their bases of operations. Beginning in 1861 escaped slaves, or “contrabands” as they were called, sought refuge on the island. The Union soldiers were unsure of what to do with the slaves, so in late 1862 General Ormsby M. Mitchel allowed the escaped African Americans to establish the town of Mitchelville. This one of the first examples of the Port Royal Experiment, where African Americans were given control of the land to work for wages.

Mitchelville Map 1864
Mitchelville Map circa 1864, Creative Commons from Wikipedia
Mitchelville Refugee Quarters 1864
Mitchelville Refugee Quarters 1864, Creative Commons from Wikipedia

Continue reading “The Lost Town of Mitchelville”

Lowcountry Small Town Tour

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Downtown Bamberg

I’m still playing catch-up with my blogging. I’m about a week behind, but maybe over the next couple of days I can get caught up.

When Glynda first got married she lived in Savannah and our family would make the occasional trip down there for a visit. This was 40+ years ago, so I-95 was non-existent. The only way to get there was a series of two-lane roads that went through lots of tiny towns in South Carolina.

Now for the present – last weekend my paddling buddy, Matt Richardson, turned 40, and his wife, Cris, planned a surprise party for him. Since I’m now retired with nothing better to do, I decided to drive down and join in the surprise. I had the time, so I decided to replicate the trips from long ago, avoiding the interstates, and driving through all of the little towns, taking photos along the way. I also planned to hit a couple of ghost towns. Continue reading “Lowcountry Small Town Tour”

Fourth in Florida

Been a busy week. We headed down to Florida to Laura’s sister’s house for the Fourth holiday. The days at Amy’s have been spent on day trips, but mostly paddling out on the Indian River. I have fallen woefully behind on blogging. I’ve got a couple of ghost town reports and other write-ups to finish. … Continue reading Fourth in Florida

A Week’s Busy Activity

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I’ve gotten behind on my blogging. It seems that living life is taking more time that the documentation thereof. It’s an ironic consequence of having available time. When I do sit down to write, I tend to fall asleep. So, here goes a bit of catch-up…

Saturday Evening – Super Moon

Saturday’s full moon was a “super moon”. That’s a relatively recent term, meant to generate more interest in astronomy. A super moon occurs when the moon reaches perigee at full moon. Since it’s at its closest point to Earth, it is supposed to appear larger. Of course, this only works if the moon can be placed in context, near the horizon. The lensing effect of the atmosphere automatically makes the moon appear larger.

The trick is to find a good place to take a photo with a clear view of the horizon. I decided to try Bald Rock. I’d had success up there with sunrise shots, why not a moon rise?

I got to the location well before sunset. There were a few other around, but it wasn’t crowded. As I set up my camera and gear a woman nearby asked if I was there for the super moon. I said that I was. Another photographer set up nearby. Soon, others were joining us on the rock.

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The sun was setting behind us, so there wasn’t a good shot of the actual sunset. I did take a few photos of the Piedmont through the evening light. Continue reading “A Week’s Busy Activity”

Cokesbury Tour, Tabernacle, and Ninety-Six

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Old Cokesbury College Main Building

It finally happened. As many times as I’ve been here and photographed the exterior, I was finally able to get inside the old main building at the old Cokesbury College. This weekend is Greenwood’s Festival of Flowers, and as part of the event they were holding an open house at the historic location. While in Greenwood I hit a couple of other locations I had been wanting to photograph. I was joined by fellow explorers Mark Elbrecht, who alerted me to this year’s tour dates, and Alan Russell.

I had tried to do this last year. Mark was able to go down on a Saturday, but I had to delay until Sunday due to a paddling trip. Even though their website said the event would be Saturday and Sunday, when we got there Sunday morning everything was closed up tight. We never got into the building.

This year it would be different.  The Chamber of Commerce had even used one of my photos of the old building on their promotional website.  I was going to make sure that we were there on the correct day.  So, Mark, Alan, and I headed down and arrived at the site at about 10:30 am. Continue reading “Cokesbury Tour, Tabernacle, and Ninety-Six”

Leaving Charleston – Strawberry Chapel and Childsbury

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We had a great, wildly diverse weekend in Charleston, from swamps to beaches to city church yards. When planning this trip, we intentionally stayed an extra night into Monday so that I wouldn’t think about work at all on my first official day of unemployment. That meant that we could take our time coming home, and we did just that.

Laura and I love taking the back roads to and from the low country. Our plan was to drive northeast out of Charleston, then turn north through the Francis Marion National Forest. There was at least one ghost town along the way, and I was sure other interesting places would present photographic opportunities.

As we headed north on 17 I mounted the GoPro to my windshield. I wanted to get video as we crossed the the Cooper River Bridge. The video itself that interesting, but I got a couple of interesting stills. Never mind the reflection of my GPS and XM radio on the dash.

Cooper River Bridge Continue reading “Leaving Charleston – Strawberry Chapel and Childsbury”

Waterfall Ramble – To the Top of South Carolina and Beyond

Dry Falls

I wasn’t really planning to do a waterfall excursion. Truth be told, I didn’t really have anything planned. Laura was away at her sister’s, so I had Saturday available for a solo outing. My only real thoughts were to head up to Sassafras Mountain and check out the new overlook, then just see where things went from there. Turns out it was a perfect day for catching waterfalls.

I started out early, taking 276 to Highway 11, and from there over to Highway 178. There were some low clouds giving way to clear skies, with fog hanging where those clouds touched the mountains. Table Rock was shrouded, so I didn’t pause for any photos there. On Highway 178 I got to Bob’s Place, and on a whim turned down toward the Estatoe Valley, heading toward Twin Falls.

Estatoe Valley Morning Continue reading “Waterfall Ramble – To the Top of South Carolina and Beyond”

Perryville Pickin’ and Grinnin’

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Perryville Pickin’ & Grinnin’

Back in April Stephen and I visited the Pickens Flea Market and stopped by the Musician’s Circle. One of the regulars, Robert Perry, played a homemade tub bass and had a distinct persona.

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Robert Perry, Mountain Man

Stephen struck up a conversation with Robert’s girlfriend, Sharon, and she told us about a weekly gathering at Robert’s place. This past Monday neither of us had Chorale rehearsal or other engagement, so we decided that we would head up and check it out. Continue reading “Perryville Pickin’ and Grinnin’”

Dark Corner Ramble

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This was a Second Saturday, and I was supposed to be joining my partners in crime at Lowcountry Unfiltered for a jaunt down to Harris Neck Wildlife Area. However, due to lots of factors I won’t go into now, I wasn’t able to join them. Even though I couldn’t make that trip, I was still in the mood for an exploration, even if it was a short local trip. Houston came up from Georgia, joining Laura, Glydna, and me for an excursion into the Dark Corner.

It was Houston who had proposed the venue. He had looked a map of Upstate South Carolina recently and saw lots of spots that he had never visited. We decided it was time to erase those deficits.

We first took a quick detour by Jungle J’s Hats and Knives. We could have wasted most of the afternoon just trying on hats and looking at knives. As it was, I still came away with a new hat. I tried on several that looked really good, and it was hard to choose just one, but I behaved.

From Jungle J’s our route took us through the back roads north of Taylors and Greer. Eventually we took Milford Church Road to Highway 101. Since we were close, I decided to head down to Gilreath Mill. There we encountered a wonderful surprise. Continue reading “Dark Corner Ramble”

Finding Granby

Congaree River

It had been a rough week. We’re getting ready for our Chorale Concert, our district is getting ready for its accreditation visit, and I’ve been working on projects for a graduate course. On Friday I had a state tech leaders meeting, and on Saturday we had a paddling trip scheduled with my friends from Lowcountry Unfiltered. So, I loaded up the boat early, and Friday morning headed southward.

The meeting proceeded about as well as expected, which was not well. I came away with a stress-related headache. Rather than head to lunch with my colleagues, though, I parked myself in an Atlanta Bread Company with my laptop and worked through conference calls that had to be made. My plan had been to head on down to Santee for the night, taking photos along the way. My friend Dwight suggested dinner with his family, so I had a couple of hours to kill. I thought I would see what could be found of the town of Granby.

The town of Granby was first settled in the early 1700s on the western bank of the Congaree River, across from present-day Columbia. The trading post established by James Chestnut and Joseph Kershaw in 1765, became an important gathering place. It was captured by the British during the Revolutionary War. The town served as the county seat for Lexington County until 1818. On Robert Mill’s atlas the town shows up just southeast of Columbia on the other side of the Congaree River.

Lexington District - Granby

According to the Lexington County entry on Wikipedia

In 1785, Lexington County was established, with the township of Saxe Gotha renamed to “Lexington” in commemoration of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. The county’s first courthouse was built at Granby, located just south of present day Cayce. From 1800 to 1868, the county was organized as a district with the same name.

With the clearing of upriver lands for the spreading cotton culture, Granby became plagued with floods. The district seat was moved in 1820 when the present town of Lexington was laid out on a high, healthy sand ridge near Twelve Mile Creek.

Continue reading “Finding Granby”