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Pleasant Valley - Three Stories
©Louise Pettus, 2001

Young people of dating age, back around the turn of the last century, delighted in parties that included contests and required creativity. They searched for themes (perhaps based on a favorite book or story they had read in school), played group games, had contests with a small prize for the one who came closest to pinning the tail on the donkey), etc.

The party did not have to be elaborate but the girls (who invariably were the party planners) wanted the party to be creatively different. One of this type took place in 1904 in the Indian Land section of upper Lancaster County.

The get-together was described by the Pleasant Valley correspondent to the Fort Mill Times in this fashion: “A delightful apron party was enjoyed at the home of the Hon. O. W. Potts on last Friday night. All the young ladies brought aprons finished every way, except hemming, which duty the young men performed with wonderful skill and celerity. Two prizes were given for the best and the poorest work. The first prize was won by Mr. Will Hood and the booby prize by Mr. Oscar Faris.”

After the aprons were hemmed, “a game of Pit was enjoyed and played by all.” Back then every girl was taught to sew. Usually the first garment made after sewing doll clothes was an apron. And, not only was the girl expected to master sewing, she had to learn to cook. An apron was considered a necessity. Later she would, no doubt, don the apron with a smile as she remembered the fun they had at the apron party.

—In contrast to the gaiety of the 1904 sewing party in Pleasant Valley was an earlier occurrence in the same vicinity. Sherman was on his march in late February 1865. The east wing of his army was in Lancaster and expected to head to Charlotte on an old road that runs east of present Hwy 521.

However, the Confederate cavalry officer, Joe Wheeler, and his men arrived in Pleasant Valley first. Maggie Culp Warwick organized a splendid picnic for Wheeler’s men. With contributions from her neighbors, Warwick served whole beeves and hogs to the hungry horsemen.

Still, Wheeler’s men were few and Sherman’s army was massive. There was great fear in Pleasant Valley that their fine homes would be burned. William Everette Warwick’s grist mill would certainly be destroyed and all depended on the mill for survival.

The Union troops did march northward and were within sound of the Pleasant Valley folk.Two unidentified ministers are said to have stayed on their knees devoutly praying for the people and for the grist mill to be saved.

The Union army veered away farther to the east, missing Pleasant Valley. The people long believed that the prayers of the ministers had saved their lovely community.

— One of the lovely, and certainly the largest, homes of Pleasant Valley, which might have been torched had the Union troops come that way, was a spacious home built by Cephas Key. The house had copper gutters with the date of 1860 written large on the guttering. The gutters were placed 3 years after the house was built, placing the construction in 1857.

Cephas Key was one of a group of migrants, mainly from Chester County, who had gone to Brazil in the early 1850s. Key soon returned. He built Wateroaks on present-day Barberville Road but then decided to return to Brazil. He left Wateroaks in charge of Turner Barber, a son-in-law.

Wateroaks was Georgian (the White Homestead of Fort Mill is of the same style of architecture). From the boxing on each of the eaves hung 75 to 80 carved wooden acorns spaced about every 2 feet.

Some time before 1900, 2 rooms were added to the back of the house, The front porch was extended to wrap around the side and connect to the back. A 3-sided porch was popular around 1900. The fourth side of Wateroak was converted into a “flower conservatory.”

The inside of Wateroak was just as impressive as the outside. Large rooms and a central hallway as wide as the rooms displayed the finest woods that set off a massive stairway decorated with scroll brackets, one to each riser. Each bracket had a cut-out oak leaf design.

By the 1960s when a journalist inspected it, the once beautiful old home was in “sad need of restoration.” Many thought it was haunted by ghosts. Some time in the 1970s the old house was torn down and the lumber sold. Wateroak’s beams can be seen in the ceiling of the Peach Blossom Restaurant off of I-85 near Spartanburg.