Hark! How the …

Christmas Bells
Photo by nix0rs on DeviantArt

Yeah, it’s that time of year. The turkey has barely been cleared away, and the malls will be filled with Black Friday shoppers. The song EVERYONE will hear at some point is “Carol of the Bells.” In fact, most shoppers and just about any media consumer will have already heard it, since Christmas music is shoved down our throats starting at Halloween.

The song is on our repertoire for the upcoming Christmas Concert with the Greenville Chorale. So, obviously, we’ve been working on it since starting rehearsals in mid-November. Most of us have sung this so many times that we have it memorized.

Carol of the Bells is one of those earworms that people either love or hate. I tend to come down on the former side, but it can get old. The song was based on an ancient Ukrainian folk chant that was supposed to have mystical powers. It was typically sung for as a new year carol, which in the Ukraine was considered to be April. The chant consists of four notes repeated over and over with varying text.

In 1916 Mykola Leontovych took the four-note motif and arranged it into the song with which we are now familiar. Leontovych’s Ukrainian text kept the new year theme, and was entitled “Shchedryk,” which means “bountiful evening.” In 1936 Peter Wilhousky wrote the English “Carol of the Bells” text, and a hypnotic marketing tool was born. Continue reading “Hark! How the …”

Thanksgiving and Remembrances

Furman vs Wofford-003

Lots has happened over the last couple of weeks. I haven’t been timely in keeping up with the blog, and now Thanksgiving is upon us. I’ll try to play a bit of catch-up here.

First, remembrances…

Last week the world marked the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. There were lots of specials on various news outlets. There were all of the per-requisite conspiracy theories, but I found most of these to be quite interesting.

Many remember where they were when they received the news. I was only two years old at the time, about to turn three. I don’t remember anything. The first person I remember as president was Lyndon Johnson. I definitely remember Nixon’s first election as president.

Also premiering 50 years ago was Doctor Who. In fact, it debuted the day of the assassination. The producers insisted that the first episode be broadcast twice, since no one was watching the first time. William Hartnell’s Doctor in “An Unearthly Child” was quite different from modern interpretations of the character. BBC had an excellent dramatization of the production of those early episodes. The next night was the actual episode to commemorate the anniversary – “The Day of the Doctor”. The episode was broadcast without commercials, and was absolutely fantastic. It hit all of the right notes for the Whovian fandom, and was immensely satisfying. Continue reading “Thanksgiving and Remembrances”

A Feud, a Mule, a Senator, a Potter, and a Ghost Town or Two – Part Three

Spann Methodist Cemetery
Spann Methodist Cemetery
Ward, South Carolina

In Part One of this trek we visited the site of the Logue-Timmerman Feud in Northern Edgefield County. In Part Two we explored Edgefield itself, and found the site of the ghost town of Pottersville and an abandoned church. In this final installment we migrate to Saluda County, and visit a town with an unusual church, and find a ghost town with a heavenly name.

Johnston , Ward, and Spann Methodist Church

We left Horn Creek Baptist Church, retracing our steps along the dirt Old Stage Coach Road. I had plugged the coordinates for our next stop into the GPS, but it kept wanting us to turn onto some even dicier dirt roads. I stayed the course until we reached pavement, then turned onto Gary Hill Road. Here we passed a MASSIVE federal penitentiary. We didn’t think it would be kosher to stop and photograph a prison, but here’s an image of it from Google Earth:

Edgefield Penitentiary Continue reading “A Feud, a Mule, a Senator, a Potter, and a Ghost Town or Two – Part Three”

A Feud, a Mule, a Senator, a Potter, and a Ghost Town or Two – Part Two

Strom Thurmond Statue
Strom Thurmond Statue in Edgefield

In the previous post I described how a mule kick killed eight people, and we explored the Little Stevens Creek area. In this post fellow singer and explorer Tommy Thompson and I ventured further into Edgefield County seeking out pottery and abandoned churches.

Edgefield has long been known for its amazing pottery. ETV’s History Detectives even did a segment on one of the “face jugs” from the area. Of course, I was not as interested in the pottery itself as in the town that grew up around the industry. Landrumville, aka Pottersville was located just north of Edgefield. Robert Mills’ 1825 Atlas shows its location.


I wanted to see if I could find it. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places. However, since it is still an active archeological dig, all of the location information has been redacted. There are lots of scholarly articles on the site. But, just like the NRHP listing, any article I could find said that the kilns were on private property, and that the address was restricted.

As a workaround, I took the Mills map and tried to overlay it onto Google Earth. Matching the roads and landmarks from 170 years ago was not an easy task, but in the end I came up with an approximate set of coordinates. Even if I couldn’t reach Pottersville exactly, at least I would be able to take a photo of the area. Continue reading “A Feud, a Mule, a Senator, a Potter, and a Ghost Town or Two – Part Two”

A Feud, a Mule, a Senator, a Potter, and a Ghost Town or Two – Part One

Timmerman Store
Meeting Street – Old Timmerman Store

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. Continue reading “A Feud, a Mule, a Senator, a Potter, and a Ghost Town or Two – Part One”

Furman Class of 1983 30th Reunion

Welcome Alumni

This past weekend was Homecoming at Furman University. More importantly, though, it was my graduating class’s 30th reunion. Hard to believe that it’s been that long. The weekend was spent reconnecting with classmates and old friends.

In past years I’ve tried to take off Friday so that I can spend the day up at Furman. Of course, that wasn’t a problem this time. I met Jim Davis and his wife Jenny, and we took a quick tour of the newly remodeled student center. Of course, we had to have lunch in The Paddock. Jim was able to have his first [legal] beer on campus.

Jim with His First Legal Beer on Campus Continue reading “Furman Class of 1983 30th Reunion”

To Helen Back

photo by Keith Dover

Keith wanted to head out for a photo trek. Thursday seemed like a good day for an exploration, so we swung through Clemson and picked up Ken, and the three of us headed for the mountains of North Georgia.

The weather was not promising. We had a 30% chance of rain, and as Keith and I left Greenville raindrops were falling on my windshield. However, it looked like the front would blow through quickly. By the time we got Ken and continued on our way, blue skies were breaking through to the west.

From Clemson we took 123 through Westminster and continued on until we got to the Tugaloo arm of Lake Hartwell. Our first stop was Old Madison. This is on my list of ghost towns, and the last time I was here was with Laura and her mother. I wanted to explore a bit more. The old Madison School building was in much worse shape that when I came through last. The roof had collapsed. We didn’t take any photos of that, but I probably should have just for documentation. We did stop and took a few pictures of the old Madison Baptist Church, a white-framed building with a classic steeple that seems to be in regular use.

Old Madison
Madison Baptist Church HDR
Madison Baptist Church-001 Continue reading “To Helen Back”

Exploring Jacks Township

Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church
Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church

For November I wanted to make a major push on my book so that I could get early drafts submitted to publishers. That means spending lots of time in libraries and calling up lots of local historical societies to check some of my research. I’d made arrangements to meet with Elaine Martin in the genealogy section of the Laurens County Library. I wanted to find out some information about the ghost town of Renno and the surrounding Jacks Township. Since our appointment wasn’t until the afternoon, that gave me the morning to explore the area once again.

Jacks Township is one of nine townships established in Laurens County in its early history. The area is located on the far eastern corner of the county. Large portions of it are in the Sumter National Forest, and as I was growing up the area always seemed very remote and mysterious. Years later as an adult that impression has not changed. That little wedge, including parts of Newberry and Union Counties, strikes me as a place where tales of imagination are born.

Laurens County Townships
Laurens County Townships
from The Laurens County Scrapbook
Continue reading “Exploring Jacks Township”

Autumn Paddle on Lake Oolenoy

Table Rock over Lake Oolenoy

After a front blew through, it looked like the weekend was going to have spectacular fall weather. My sister, Beth, called and asked if I had any adventures planned. I thought for a bit, and said, “Let’s go kayaking!” So, Saturday morning Beth, my nephew Philip, and I headed up to Lake Oolenoy at Table Rock State Park.

Traffic was crazy on the way up. Apparently the Greenville News had said that this was the peak of the leaf season, and that it would be gone soon. There were lots of leafy looky loos out and about, slowing down traffic and being a nuisance in general. All of the iconic overlooks along Highway 11 were packed.

We reached the lake and unloaded the boats. Neither Beth nor Philip had ever paddled, so I gave them some quick instructions. My brother Stephen joined us, so I launched those two to head out and practice while I helped Stephen get his boat unloaded.

Boats Ready for Launch
Philip and Beth
Philip on Lake Oolenoy
Beth kayaking
Stephen on Lake Oolenoy Continue reading “Autumn Paddle on Lake Oolenoy”