Monday, October 20, 2014
I had started off the morning with a nice visit with Nicole and Carrie at the Pottersville site, just north of Edgefield. On my previous visit to the site, Carrie had told me about the old Tompkins School, where Sue Logue had been a teacher. I didn’t find it on that trip, but was able to locate it in Google Earth. Since I had the location pinpointed, I was determined to find it this time.
To recap, Sue Logue was the first woman to be executed by electric chair in South Carolina. Logue was sentenced for orchestrating the death of Davis Timmerman, as well as being implicated in the shooting deaths of Sheriff Wad Allen and Deputy “Doc” Clark. She was also rumored to be having an affair with Strom Thurmond. The Tompkins School was not only where Logue taught, but where it was rumored that she had several rendezvous with Thurmond when he was superintendent of schools for Edgefield County.
Now that I knew where to look, finding the school was easy. Getting a decent photograph of it was another matter. Vegetation had grown up all around the building so that it was difficult to even make out the general design of the school.
There were no “No Trespassing” signs, so I decided to explore. The building wasn’t in the best of shape, so I gingerly stepped over the threshold.
From what I could see there were two classrooms. One of the rooms looked like it had a raised area for a stage. There were old clothes and junk everywhere.
On the other side of the building was another classroom, and the roof looked like it was starting to fall in on the back. There was what appeared to be a kitchen behind.
I left Tompkins School, and since I was so close, decided to spend some more time searching for Elijah Dorn’s grave at Celestia. The dirt Old Edgefield Road to Celestia was rougher than I remembered, but the Subaru handled it well. Soon I was at the coordinates, and pulled into the area.
Since I had plenty of time I decided to do a bit more exploring. This spot is on publicly-managed game lands. I didn’t worry about trespassing, but I did worry that I didn’t have an orange vest. That’s something I’m going to have to add to my collection of supplies for when I’m out and about, especially this time of year.
There was an obvious trail, and I followed it as far as I could. There were a few old bottles along the way, and some rock outcrops that distracted me occasionally, but I didn’t see the cemetery.
The trail petered out just before reaching the creek, and I still hadn’t seen anything. Reluctantly I headed back. Since I had my GPS with me this time, I ventured away from the trail, following the ridge line. Still nothing. I made it back to the car, and started exploring to the south a little bit. Here I hit pay dirt, sort of. I found a long trench, and behind that some bricks and the closest thing to a foundation I had yet found.
I will be back, but next time I come I’m going to have two things with me. First, I’m going to grab my brother’s metal detector, not to dig up relics, but to see if I can pinpoint some of the buildings. Second, I’m going to bring my cousin who used to be the postmaster for the town of Saluda. He knows the actual location of the grave. No more wandering aimlessly in the woods.
It was time to head back north, but along the way I wanted to find a few more schools. I also didn’t want to trace the exact route I took last time, but cover different ground. At the other end of Old Edgefield Road I found Mount Olive Church and the location of Mount Olive School. I’m pretty sure I found the actual school – it does look like the one from the School Insurance photos.
Just outside of Greenwood I spotted a sign pointing toward Callison. It was not a name with which I was familiar, so I decided to check it out. It turned out to be nothing more than a crossroads with a couple of old buildings. A volunteer fire department was nearby.
Bold Spring Church was also nearby, and there were two buildings that could have been the old Bold Springs School.
I looked, and Callison wasn’t too far from several places I wanted to visit in Greenwood County. I wasn’t too far from the old Rock House, purportedly haunted, and frequently visited by by those interested in abandoned photography, etc. I think I found the place, but didn’t stop. I may come back for a more in-depth visit. I did continue on to the community of Bradley, where I found the Bradley School. I had missed this the first time I’d visited. The school is down a narrow side street, and you get the impression that you’re going down someone’s driveway.
In front of the school was a sign saying that there was parking in back. There were also No Trespassing signs around.
The school has the dual entrances – one for boys and one for girls. Typically these led into separate cloak rooms. I did use the GoPro on the extension stick to try to get a shot of the interior. It revealed a single room with wooden benches, which, I’m sure, were added later when the building took on the role of community center.
It was time to get back on the road, so I headed pretty much straight home. Even so, there were a couple of places along Highway 25 to catch my attention. Near the town of Ware Shoals one passes by the old Brewerton School. For years this place was covered with absolute junk. there was trash everywhere. Now it looks like the area has been cleaned up, and someone has restored the old school. It looks like it’s now used as a private residence.
In the community of Princeton is another old school. This one is brick, and is now used as a Masonic lodge. This once had large windows to allow light into the classrooms. Now the large portals have been bricked over, and smaller windows are in place. The brick additions are pretty obvious.
On the front of the building is a granite block with carvings saying that the building was erected in 1925, “Dedicated to our children.” The block also has the name “J. H. Hope State Supt.” James Hope was the longest serving state superintendent, and the one for whom Hope Rosenwald School is named.
I said “pretty much” straight home. Well, not exactly. I did have a couple more deviations. I made the mistake of checking my GPS. It first led me to the Friendship School, on out on the other side of the Saluda River. I drove past the location twice before deciding that this was, in fact, the school. It’s been extensively redone as a private residence.
I drove over and checked out the old Belton School, which now serves as the municipal building.
From Belton I took Highway 20 toward Greenville. My next GPS coordinate was in the community of Cheddar, where I found the old Oak Grove School – yet another school now in use as a community center.
I was so tempted to explore Williamston and Pelzer, but I kept going. I did take a quick detour at Piedmont to shoot the old Sue Cleveland School. This is a fairly recent closure.
Finally, I had to take a quick shot of the old Grove Station School on the way back into Greenville.
As I was headed back into town I spotted the old Bakers Chapel School building, but decided not to turn back. I was late enough as it was. Even so, my score for the day was thirteen schools observed, and twelve photographed. Add to that an archeology dig and a ghost town, and it wasn’t a bad day’s exploration.