The following articles are contributed by Louise Pettus,
editor of The Quarterly, York County Genealogical & Historical Society.
LOCAL BRICKMAKING HISTORY
Our local red clay makes excellent bricks but there is no evidence that the early colonists considered that. Timber was too abundant to think of building with anything but wood. Conversely, in the Charleston area there were many homes built with bricks that arrived as ships' ballast from England. In 1799, James Latta, a successful merchant, determined to have himself a combination brick store and home in the heart of the village of Yorkville (now York). Like Charleston merchants, Latta built a store, office area and kitchen on the first floor while the family lived on the second and third floors. He also had a piazza overlooking an interior garden. The foundation of Latta''s house was granite. The brick came from England. It is estimated that 750,000 brick went into the house. All of the brick was pulled by oxen from Charleston to Yorkville on unpaved, rutted roads. There were between 200 and 300 cart loads. The walls are 7 bricks thick. The Latta House was finished in 1803 and is still standing across the street from the York County courthouse. A contractor, Thomas B. Hoover, was building homes in Yorkville at least as early as 1820. In 1831 Hoover was hired by William Elliott White of Fort Mill to build White's second home, this one of brick. The home is known today as the White Homestead, property of the Close family of Fort Mill who are descendants of William Elliott White. In 1911 the White Homestead was inherited jointly by Elliott White Springs and his father, Col. Leroy Springs. Workmen were hired to renovate the house. They found the original contract made with Thomas B. Hoover. Hoover had used 6 iron brick "moles" (molds) which he rented from Robert Clendenin, a Yorkville lawyer. The clay most likely was local. It is believed that the White Homestead is the second-oldest brick home in York County. From the 1830s on there were built more and more brick structures, especially churches and store houses. However, there were still stores of wood construction built on the main streets of local towns on up into the 1900s. Winthrop College came to Rock Hill from Columbia in 1896. All of its buildings have been of brick construction. Used in the first two buildings, now known as Tillman Hall (formerly Main Building) and Margaret Nance (formerly North Dormitory) were brick made on the site by a company owned by W. N. Ashe of Yorkville. Ashe used convict labor, loaned by the state. In 1906 Ashe built a large brick plant across the Catawba river in Van Wyck next to Seaboard Airline Railway tracks. The plant still operates but is now owned by an English company, Boral. Fort Mill got a brick company in 1901. It was called the Charlotte Brick Company. Land was bought from Samuel Elliott White that was near the Dinkins Ferry and the Southern Railroad tracks about two miles from town. Three of the four owners were Charlotte businessmen; the fourth owner was B. D. Springs, a Fort Mill native. Dormitories were built to house about 75 workers, almost all of them single. Perhaps more than half were European immigrants. There were a number of stables for the mules that were a necessity in the early brick plants. The "village" was called Grattonsville. The road to the old site is today called Brickyard Road. No sooner was Grattonsville in operation than it was struck by a tornado in mid-May 1901. Most of the buildings were demolished though the machinery was not much damaged. The Fort Mill Times reported that mules were pinned down in their stalls and that a cow belonging to B. D. Springs was killed. All of the chickens were killed except the rooster and he was completely stripped of his feathers. Oddly, the tornado took away the walls and roof of the brick company's office building but left the desks and chairs in place. The company survived at least until World War I.
Benjamin Neely Miller, M. D. (1871-1952) practiced medicine in western York
County for over a half century. From 1900 until a few months before his death
he served the Hickory Grove-Smyrna areas directly but indirectly affected
all of the people of York County. He worked tirelessly and is credited with
being one of the leaders in founding the York County Medical Society and
in establishing two hospitals--Divine Savior in York and York County General
Hospital. Educated at Davidson College and the University of the South (Sewanee),
he went on to the University of Maryland Medical School. Dr. Miller chose
to begin his practice in the village of Smyrna. He traveled in horse and
buggy over a wide range of scattered communities that included Kings Creek,
London, Piedmont Springs, Kings Mountain National Park, and Cherokee Falls.
In 1900 it was more a mining area than anything else. In the early 1900s
every summer brought typhoid epidemics. In 1905 the epidemic season began
in March. In April Dr. Miller contracted the dread disease. It would be 10
years before a typhoid vaccine was developed. The only known treatment was
a starvation diet in an attempt to avoid intestinal ruptures. It was June
before the doctor, then very thin, was able to go back to work. That same
summer, Miller and his bride of less than a year, Adeline Jane Whitesides,
moved into a new home. He had a small office built along the side of the
road near his house. The only telephone was in the house. Addie took his
calls, kept the doctor's books and kept house. It was a transition period
in medical history. There were few drugs available and only two available
for two specific diseases. Quinine, long used by Indian tribes, served to
treat malaria. The other drug was Salvarsan used to treat syphilis. Dr. Miller's
satchel carried iodine for patients who might be suffering from pleurisy
and phlebitis and to paint a circle around an infected area to prevent it
from spreading. Epsom salts , digitalis (a heart stimulant) and syrup of
squill (for coughs) were among his staples. He never trusted the stethoscopes
of his time and always put his ear to the patient's chest. He always carried
two bags, one for the medicine, a few insturments, cotton and gauze. The
other was his obstetrical bag. Neely delivered many babies. In the early
years of his practice he often stayed all night in the mother's home. It
was the most time-consuming element of his work. In the first quarter of
the 20th century the birthrate was very high with most families having 6
to 9 children. Pneumonia, influenza (called "the grippe" at that time) and
whooping cough were prevalent in the winter. Dipththeria, typhoid and colic
tended to be present more in the summer. His daughter, Martha Miller Douglas,
who wrote his biography, says that Dr. Miller always tried to keep up with
the latest medical practices and adopted them whenever possible. "He had
the joy of using antibiotics, delivering babies in a hospital, and having
access to good hospitals, staffed with good doctors, to whom he could refer
patients." Travel was difficult. Mrs. Douglas wrote that "Western York County
seemed to be overlooked every time money became available for improvement
of roads in York County." (A perennial Western York County complaint.) She
wrote that her father would drive "as far as the road permitted in his buggy.
Someone always met him with a horse to carry him over the last few miles."
Dr. Miller was so concerned about the road problems that he ran for road
commissioner and got all but 10 or 15 votes. In 1936 he was drafted as mayor
of Hickory Grove. When asked why he practiced medicine by a State newspaper
reporter, Dr. Miller said, "Because I love it."
Leila A. Russell, an 1889 Winthrop graduate, was destined to become one of the college's most distinguished alumnas. Her potential was evident as an undergraduate when she organized the campus YWCA and became its first president. Leila spent several years teaching in Anderson County and then was hired as York County's first supervisor of rural schools. Soon she was also teaching at Winthrop. She combined the two jobs neatly. Leila Russell was resourceful, creative and very persuasive. Problems abounded but she thrived on the challenge. No student teacher had an automobile (students weren't even allowed to have cars on campus until 1953). How would they get to the rural schools? Miss Russell arranged for the girls to be placed in country schools on, or near, train depots. Among others, York County schools that fitted the bill were at Blairsville, Catawba Junction, Lesslie, Friendship, Oak Ridge, Hickory Grove, Ebenezer, Ogden, Glendale, Oakley, Smith's Turnout, Tirzah and Smyrna. Riverside elementary school in Lancaster county was also used. How would the student teachers be housed? Miss Russell found parents who were willing to give the Winthrop students room and board. Many of the regular teachers had never been to college. Miss Russell diplomatically dealt with that problem and saw to it that the regular teacher's skills were upgraded. Most of the schools were in terrible condition. How could the money be raised to make needed improvements? Miss Russell had a plan. She organized the parents into clubs and persuaded them to hold benefits of any kind that would raise money. By 1912 she had persuaded 8 school districts to levy school taxes for improvement of existing facilities and in other cases persuaded communities to build larger and better schools. She started a newspaper column which was printed weekly in the Yorkville Enquirer. After a paragraph or two of suggestions for improving the schools she added letters from students (having asked the students in each school she visited to send her letters that told what their school was doing). A typical Leila Russell item in the Enquirer: "Are you boys and girls making use of the libraries in your schools? And if you have no library in your school can you not manage in some way to raise ten dollars to secure one? Having done this, ask your trustees and Mr. Carroll for ten dollars from the school fund, and Mr. Carroll will see that the state gives you ten, so that you will have thirty dollars to put into good books." She promised all the boys and girls who read at least six books to have their name read on County School Day and to have the name published in the Enquirere. She formed the boys into Corn Clubs and the girls into Tomato Clubs and saw that the best ears of corn and finest jars of tomatoes were displayed at the county fair. Walter Kerr, an 8th grade student, wrote that before Miss Russell came and talked to the Oak Ridge students that his school was unpainted except for a place that was painted black for a blackboard. There was only one classroom and the little stove could not heat it. Water had to be brought a long distance from a house in the community. Writing in November 1912, Walter said that now that his school was new and built according to one of the Clemson plans. The school was painted white; the windows were screened. A large Old Dominion stove heated the room and they now had a bell, a clock, two large maps and a piano. They had not had a library before, now they had 148 books. The trustees had seen to it that Oak Ridge had a "deep bored well" and a shady play ground. All of this for $1,500 and a great deal of contributed labor. Leila Russell personally prodded at least 15 rural communities to build new and better schools in the years 1911-13. With that accomplishment behind her she accepted an appointment as executive secretary of the Winthrop Alumnae Association, a position she held until 1945.
One of York County's Revolutionary War heroes was Maj. Frank Ross with the Whig militia in the Regiment headed by Col. Thomas Neel. Ross was with Neel in the "Snow Campaign" of 1775-1776 which was mounted against the Cherokees and called by that name because of the heavy snows the men struggled with in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the summer of 1776, Ross commanded a battalion that took part in the Keowee expedition, a second attempt to contain the Cherokees who were assisting the English armies. On their way to the "Block House" in Greenville County, the York battalion heard that Colonel Height, a Whig Indian trader, had been killed by the Cherokees who had abducted Mrs. Height and two doughters. When a young son of Mrs. Height attempted to follow and rescue them, he was murdered. Ross and his men pressed on to the Keowee towns. The advance guard had 125 men with 25 Catawba Indians as scouts. The Catawbas, according to Maurice Moore, "would often pause in march and examine with the greatest care the bark of the tallest trees to ascertain if they had been recently ascended." When the army entered a cove, the Catawbas halted them and pointed out that the fresh marks of many men trampling the wild peavine and weeds. The Indians advised the men to wait until the main army came up before advancing any further. The whites were too impatient and insisted on going ahead. Reluctantly, the Catawbas again led the way. They went into a small valley with a branch. The Indians saw more evidence, including a fresh footprint, that the enemy was near. This time the Catawbas said they would go no further. For half an hour the whites intrigued them to move but they refused. A young French officer, an aide to General William Moultrie who was present, suddenly shouted, "I will lead, if the rest will follow!" The men fell behind him and he led them up a trail toward a bald mountain covered with wild peavine has high as a man's head. About 400 yards on the crack of a rifle was heard an the Frenchman was dead. Suddenly the Cherokees were everywhere. The Whigs tried to run and tangled themselves helplessly in the peavines. The Cherokees, equipped only with tomahawks and scalping knives, had the advantage. One of the attacked soldiers was Maj. Frank Ross. Ross, who was 6 feet tall and weighed around 200 pounds, was more muscular than his adversary. Ross dropped his musket and grappled with the tomahawk-carrying Cherokee whose greased body made him difficult to hold The tomahawk sliced into Ross' skull but before the Cherokee could strike again one of Ross' men came to the rescue. Though bleeding heavily, Ross took the tomahawk and buried it in the Indian's brain. The soldiers finally located Mrs. Height in an Indian village. She had been murdered. They buried her there but saw no sign of the two daughters. The two daughters were "sold from one tribe to another" and five years after first captured were on the banks of the Mississippi River where a French trader found them. He purchased them from the Indians, took them to New Orleans and saw them placed on a boat for Charleston to rejoin their South Carolina relatives. Three years after Maj. Ross was nearly scalped, he was back in Cherokee country. This time he was not so lucky. Gen. Joseph Graham of North Carolina wrote in his journal: "The brave Major Frank Ross died of his wounds the 31st of March, and was buried with military honors the 1st of April, in sight of, and opposite to, Augusta, on the Carolina side." Ross was 35 years of age and left a widow, Rachel, the daughter of Alexander and Margaret Moore Love. There were also three small sons, James, Alexander and William. A Moore family history called Rachel Ross a "rather remarkable woman" It was said that the night before her husband was killed, Rachel Ross dreamed of his death and was not surprised when she received word. She died in 1790 and was buried in Turkey Creek Cemetery in York County.
William E. Rose, 1813-1892, was a self-made man. Born in Langley, Buckinghamshire, England, he had only a little education when he landed in New York, aged 11. Without "friends or fortune" the boy made his way to Albany where he obtained an apprenticeship as a silversmith. Rose's employer lost his business before the boy was trained so he found a job with a large iron establishment where he worked several years. Hearing of Tredegar Iron works in Richmond, Va., Rose worked there and then drifted off to several iron works in Pennsylvania. When Rose was 27 and had saved enough money to go into business for himself, he heard of an iron works he could lease in South Carolina. The lease on the Spartanburg Iron Manufacturing Company expired in two years. Rose then secured a two-year lease on the Cherokee Iron Works which was followed by a six-year stint as manager of the High Shoals Works in Lincoln County, N. C. In the year 1852 Rose abandoned iron manufacturing and moved to Yorkville, S. C. where he purchased a hotel building he named for himself. Rose's Hotel, located on South Congress street, became Yorkville's number-one hotel. The handsome chandeliers were often commented on by visitors. Dances were frequent in the elegantly furnished main floor. Rose's Hotel was a three-story structure with a veranda. There was a livery stable attached, not only to care for the guest's horses, but had horses for rent. A hotel omnibus carried people to nearby Sutton's Springs and other attractions. Carriages carried people from the depot free of charge. Rose's Hotel was in walking distance of the courthouse and housed many of those from out-of-town who had reason to appear in court. Attorneys and circuit-riding judges were housed there as well those who came to testify during the major sessions. Charlestonians made Yorkville a favorite summer resort as they attempted to escape the fevers of summer in the low country. From the balcony of Rose's Hotel, the Confederacy's secretary of war, John C. Breckenridge, addressed the citizens of Yorkville at the time of Jefferson Davis' flight from Richmond. When Union troops occupied Yorkville during Reconstruction, they chose to make the hotel their headquarters and placed the 7th Cavalry in the building. After the withdrawal of federal troops in 1876 the building returned to hotel use until the World War II era. Rose became superintendent of the King's Mountain Railroad in 1860 and president of the railroad in 1864. His presidency lasted only a year. When it became obvious that the Confederacy was losing the war, Rose left Yorkville to return to the iron business in North Carolina. The new position was unsatisfactory. Rose was soon back in Yorkville. At the end of the Civil War, South Carolina was occupied and power shifted from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party backed by Federal troops. Rose affiliated with the Republican Party and was elected to the state sene from York County. He served from 1868 to 1872. When elected to the SC Senate in 1868 Rose moved his wife and children to Columbia where he purchased the Congaree Hotel property which he managed until his death in 1893. Rose wished to be buried in Yorkville beside 8 of his deceased children--5 sons and 3 daughters. When the Charleston, Cincinnati and Chicago (3 C's) train arrived in Yorkville with the body, there was an escort of prominent Yorkville citizens waiting. Following a funeral service in the Episcopal Church, Rose was buried in Yorkville's Rose Hill Cemetery.
On June 7, 1832 the United States Congress, for the first time, voted to reward eligible Revolutionary War veterans with pensions. It was a little more than 50 years after Yorktown, the last battle of the Revolution. Surviving veterans had to prove their service at the courthouse or swear to a judge. They were required to furnish evidence by "living witnesses, by documentary proof, by traditionary evidence, by incidental evidence, or by the rolls." John Rooker, aged 77, of York District went to the courthouse and took with him what George Taylor, the examining clerk, called "traditionary evidence." What Rooker furnished was his statement that he entered the service in Franklin, N.C. in August 1776 as a private for 6 months "to go to Kentucky to guard its Inhabitants from the Ravages of the Indians." In March 1777 he volunteered to serve under Col. Daniel Boone and served under him for 7 months until Col. Hagans of Virginia brought a reenforcement of 100 men. After this service Rooker returned to North Carolina and stayed until December 6, 1790 when he "Removed to South Carolina York District." Rooker had no written evidence, no discharge papers, and knew no one in 1832 who could testify of his service. He offered as character witnesses the name of Benjamin Chambers, the Judge of the Court of Ordinary (Probate Judge) of York District and Bartlett Meacham, a citizen of Fort Mill District. Rooker's claim was approved. For the rest of his life Rooker would receive a United States treasury check for $43.35 annually. The widows of veterans were eligible for pensions of lesser amounts if they were married to the pensioner before January 1, 1794. Five years after her husband's death and a year before she died, Anna Hawkins Rooker, then age 86, applied for her pension. She swore that she married John Rooker in Lincoln County, N.C. sometime in the year 1780. In neither pension application was there any reference to children or other family members who might be able to support their parents. The Rookers had nine children-- four sons and five daughters. Anna Hawkins Rooker also had to have character witnesses. Willis Reeves appeared before James Quinn, a York District Justice of the Peace, and testified to Anna Rooker's character. Reeves also submitted a two page preface torn from a book written by John Rooker. The book was titled "An Essay on the Sovereignty of God" and was published in Charleston by W. Riley in 1839. (A copy of the book is in the Louisville Baptist Seminary - the only known copy.) In his book preface, Rooker described his military service and its aftermath more fully than he had on his pension application but in neither case did he mention having being wounded in the war. Some of Rooker's parishioners, however, vividly recalled his hands as wounded in the Revolution. In a letter to Lyman Draper in Draper's MSS one man recalled that while Rooker was preaching he would hold up his hands "cut all to pieces by sabre wounds." This in contrast to another veteran who hid his hand inside his coat. Rooker occasionally filled in at other Baptist churches. He tried very hard to establish a successful mission among the Catawba Indians. His assistant pastor was Robert Mursh, a full-blooded Pamunkey Indian who had a Catawba Indian wife. He also set up a school in Lancaster District among the Catawbas which was taught by James Lewis. David Hutchison, a state-appointed commissioner for Catawba Indian affairs, once wrote that Reverend Rooker settled near the Catawba towns "with a view of teaching and preaching. I had high hopes that he would be successful...and I believe exerted himself to the best of his abilities. The result of which he candidly acknowledged to me was, that he thought he left them worse than he found them...." Rooker died June 24, 1840 and is buried at Flint Hill Baptist Church, one of three churches he founded.. Six years later his widow was buried in a field on a farm they once owned near Clover with two sons, Jennings and Joseph Dorris Rooker. Anna never joined her husband's church. She remained a faithful Episcopalian all of her days.
One of Rock Hill's early business leaders, William L. Roddey, was born Aug. 10, 1834 at Roddey's Station, about 7 miles south of Rock Hill, the son of John and Mary G. (Wylie) Roddey. When he was 16 he went to work as a mercantile clerk in Lewisville, Chester County. In the same pattern of William Henry Belk and many other early merchants, Roddey worked hard, learned the secrets of merchandising, saved his money, waited to marry and in a few years opened a store of his own. He was 26 when he married Anna Cousart Baskin, the daughter of a prominent Chester family. The day of their wedding, South Carolina seceded from the Union. Roddey entered the ranks of the 24th SC regiment as a first-lieutenant and eventually became Captain Roddey, a title he would carry the rest of his life even though, in the closing months of the war, he was appointed colonel. Wounded at Chickamauga, Roddey returned to battle in Dalton, Ga. where he suffered a head wound and was left for dead on the battlefield. Captured by federal troops, he was held at Johnson's Island prison camp for 3 months after the war's end. When Roddey returned to Lewisville he found that he could not collect what was owed him nor pay his own debts. He borrowed $2,000, paid off his debts and with a few hundred dollars left moved to Rock Hill where he was a partner in Wylie, Roddey and Augurs for 6 years. Joseph Wylie managed the Chester store and W. L. Roddey the Rock Hill store. From then on it was a great success story (a biographer wrote that Roddey was penniless in 1866 and when he died was the largest taxpayer in York County). His second business was W. L. Roddey & Co. The store was of brick construction, a rarity in 1882. With partners J. E. Roddey, J. F. Reid and S. L. Reid, Capt. Roddey operated the largest, most prosperous store in town. Soon Capt. Roddey and son, William Joseph Roddey, opened the first bank in Rock Hill -- First National Bank, which evolved into National Union Bank. Roddey retired from active involvement in the mercantile business in 1887, leaving day-to-day operations to others. The store building and its second-floor hotel burned in 1889 but reopened. In 1894 the Roddey store was reorganized and R. E. Saddler, Oran S. Poe, and John A. Black were brought into the business with Roddey's sons and the Reids. After Captain Roddey's death the store continued as Roddey-Poe Mercantile Company with J. E. Roddey and O. S. Poe, owners. In 1925 the building and goods were bought by Belk Brothers of Charlotte and became a part of the Belk department store chain. Captain Roddey turned to other enterprises. He became the largest stockholder in Victoria Mill. In 1901 Roddey founded a newspaper he named The Journal which soon became The Record. He was the treasurer of the Land and Town Site Company that developed Rock Hill's first subdivision, Oakland. He also set up a construction company in 1903 to build India Hook Dam, designed by his son-in-law, W. C. Whitener (another son-in-law was Frank Dowd, publisher of the Charlotte Observer). Capt. W. L. Roddey, who has been characterized as "broad-minded, public-spirited, generous, and scrupulously honest," served many years as a Rock Hill school trustee, backed the $60,000 bond that Rock Hill put up to entice Winthrop College, donated 2 acres of land to Clinton Junior College campus, among many acts of charity. In a time when most men chewed tobacco and drank heartily, Capt. Roddey was noted for never using either tobaccko or alcohol. He owned the first automobile in Rock Hill. Captain Roddey died June 10, 1909. He was a member of the Neely's Creek Associate Reformed Church but the funeral was held at the ARP church in Rock Hill. The funeral processional was impressive with "eight colored men forming a bodyguard, four on each side of the hearse." Immediately behind the hearse, "Uncle Lige," a lifelong friend of Roddey, rode horseback.
A destructive tornado struck downtown Rock Hill on the afternoon of Nov. 26, 1926. It was the day after Thanksgiving, rather late in the season for such a violent storm. The "black as ink twister" took less than 10 minutes to change the face of the business section. Beginning on the west side of the town, the twister cut a path about three blocks wide. The main force of the tornado hit Main, Hampton, Johnston, Saluda and Moore streets. Everything not nailed down was blown away. Trees toppled. Electric and telephone wires were whipped loose. Every automobile parked downtown was severely damaged. Some were moved up on the sidewalks; others were smashed. Lyle Hospital had its roof lifted off, and the whole building was flooded. The First Presbyterian Church tower was ripped away and set down on the church lawn. Every house on Quantz Street in the Aragon Mill village was damaged. The Aragon Mill baseball stands were scattered to the winds. The mill lost 35 bales of cotton in a fire started by the storm. The Industrial Mill was even worse off. The main roof was taken off by the twister. The boiler room was torn apart. The final estimate was $100,000 in damage. The smokestack of the city water and light plant toppled onto the roof of the office building. Practically every house and office building lost chimneys, if nothing else. The southside of the Episcopal rectory was torn off, and part of the roof went with it. The porch of St. John's Methodist Church was lost to the wind. The First Baptist Church skylight was broken, and the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church lost a memorial window. Bethel Church was destroyed. A recently released prison inmate became a hero by rescueing two small children from the middle of the street. One person was killed. Joe Crockett, an employee of Southern Railway, lost his life when the storm picked up two railroad cars and slammed them against an embankment. The following day, visitors swarmed Rock Hill to view the damage. One of the gawking sightseers ran over a 5-year-old boy sitting on a curb. The boy's foot later had to be amputated. With only one life lost, Rock Hill was luckier than many other towns. The great storm which had started in the Ozarks and whipped across five states, killed 74 people and injured 200. On each side of the three-block-wide swath there was very little damage. Winthrop College and houses along Oakland Avenue were not touched. Fort Mill reported high winds but no damage. York had neither wind nor rain. About the time downtown Rock Hill was repaired, another disaster struck. This time it was fire. On Jan. 31, 1927, four buildings were destroyed including two drugstores -- J. L. Phillips Drug and Rock Hill Drug. Doctors Blackmon, Strait, Massey, Hay, Walker and Stevens all lost their offices, which were located on the second floor over two drugstores. The fire was believed to have started in the Manhattan Cafe. The Friedheim Building adjacent to the cafe had a fire wall that saved it. The London Building was lost. On March 5, 1927, another fire hit Main Street. This time the A & P store and the Western Union building were damaged extensively. The Elks club and Morris Jewelry were destroyed. The feeling was that the whole block would have burned if the fire had not been spotted by Anna Poe, who was serving a late supper at the Rose-Ann Tea Room to members of the cast of the Denishawn Dancers, who had performed earlier in the evening at Winthrop College. On April 25, 1927, another fire burned City Wholesale Co. Oil-soaked was found there and at R. T. Fewell's lumber yard. Fire Chief T. O. Flowers was convinced that Rock Hill had a "firebug." All fires had occurred on a Friday night. The last fire was May 12. The arsonist, if there ever was one, was never caught.
Towns often grow in spurts. Rock Hill's growth from village to town occurred in the 1890s, largely from the stimulus of cotton mill building and the successful bid for Winthrop College. By 1906 Rock Hill was having growing pains. The town had 5 cotton mills and an estimated population of 12,000 people. Still, there was no sewage system, few sidewalks, and inadequate street lighting. The only public transportation system was a mule drawn streetcar that traveled from Main Street to just past the Winthrop College campus. One of the reasons Rock Hill had won Winthrop College in 1895 was its proud boast that it had more paved streets than any other community in South Carolina. (Columbia and Charleston soon passed Rock Hill's 10 miles of macadamized roadway.) In a January 1906 letter to the editor of The Record, an irate citizen complained that Rock Hill was losing ground by not building a sewer system and installing paved sidewalks. He added that he did think the present town council was superior to the council of a few years before, about which he "was informed that the entire time of one meeting of council was consumed in discussing whether or not a hitching post should be two feet or two feet and six inches high!" The Record editor wrote that Rock Hill's major need was a trolley system that would connect Rock Hill to Yorkville, Fort Mill, Ogden, Smyrna and Edgemoor. (There was no mention of connection with Charlotte.) The first action of city council in 1906 was to install concrete pavements from Main Street down Railroad Avenue (later Trade St., now Dave Lyle Boulevard) to the train depot near the Oakland overhead bridge. Downtown had had granite slabs serving as pavements since 1895 and a few residential areas, notably Woodland Park (now Marion and Saluda Streets) had had paved sidewalks even longer. The improvements must have inspired the council and private citizens. Within a year there was a power, light and water company laying seven miles of mains, a reservoir, a standpipe holding 150,000 gallons of water and a 200,000 gallon artesian well. No longer would Winthrop College, which had its own deep well, have the only pure water in town. Not all citizens supported the improvements. Backyard privies and individual wells suited some just fine. But there was one matter that kept everyone hot under the collar. They all agreed that Southern Rail Road's passenger service was deplorable - "utterly inefficient and inconvenient". Freight rates for goods originating in southern states were much higher than on goods coming to the south from northern states. On top of that, freight always took priority over passenger service. There were a number "swing trains." These had mixed passenger and freight cars. Rock Hillians complained that they never knew when the swing trains would arrive in Rock Hill or leave for Charlotte. One day there were 25 passengers waiting to board for Charlotte. When the train arrived it uncoupled and left for Chester with a party of tourists. The railroad replied that every train running between Chester and Charlotte stopped in Rock Hill. There were 5 northbound and 5 southbound trains each day. However, the railroad official said that Rock Hill simply did not have enough business to justify anything other than mixed freight and passenger trains and freight had priority. Fifteen years later the automobile had replaced the railroad as the number one passenger carrier and Rock Hill had embarked on one of the most ambitious road building campaigns in the state.
The idea of commemorating the service of Confederate soldiers dates back to 1866 when Mary Amarintha Snowden organized the Ladies' Memorial Association in Charleston.The idea spread over the south until almost every town had a memorial association. Markers and plaques in public buildings and cemeteries were the objects of money-raising drives. A subscription drive spearheaded by Samuel E. White of Fort Mill resulted in the first Confederate monument in this area. With proper ceremony, Fort Mill's Confederate soldier was unveiled in 1891. Then Chester dedicated its monument in 1905; Lancaster in 1907 and Ebenezer in 1908. Rock Hill's Anne White chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was organized in with 10 charter members: Mrs. R. H. Fewell, Mrs. John Gelser, Mrs. James F. Reid, Mrs. B. M. Fewell, Mrs. A. R. Witherspoon, Kate Fewell, Mary White, Mrs. Elizabeth Sherfesee, Annie Louise Sherfesee, and Emma Roach. The Ann White Chapter grew and during the first 25 years had as many as 60 members on the rolls. They helped organize a chapter at Winthrop College in 1899. By 1907 the Winthrop Chapter of the U. D. C. had over 300 members. That year both groups worked to raise money to send to the U.D.C. building at Jamestown, Va. where the first permanent English settlement was made 300 years before. Each May 10, the Ann White Chapter members placed wreathes on the graves of Confederate veterans in Laurelwood Cemetery and placed U.D.C. crosses for identification. Each January 19, Robert E. Lee's birthday, the chapter held a dinner or reception for the area Confederate veterans. The chapter was named for Mrs. Ann White who had two sons, James Spratt White and Andrew Hutchison White, who served in the Confederate army. Always, the U. D. C. looked after the welfare of the old veterans. It was said that if one "drifted into the County Almshouse" the group would not rest until they got him into the Confederate Home at Columbia. Some U. D. C. records were destroyed in a fire so that it is not precisely known when the Ann White Chapter began raising money for a Confederate soldier monument but it is known that they worked hard and during World War I they purchased Liberty Bonds for the purpose. The chapter received help from the Kiwanis Club, the Rotary Club, and the Rock Chamber of Commerce who combined to pledge $1500 for the project. The Rock Hill city manager's office helped raised the final $4,600. Where to place the monument was another problem. Finally, after much difference of opinion, the club members, "weary of the long drawn out strain," allowed Charles Cobb, a prominent local banker, and the city manager to arrange for the placement in a newly-acquired acreage for a future town park which they decided to call Confederate Park. Academy Street had its name changed to Confederate Street. On April 18, 1922, the cornerstone was laid with Masonic ceremonies. On May 10, the monument was unveiled before a large crowd who participated in "marching, singing, speaking, and band-playing." The statue of Georgia marble was unveiled as the band played softly, "Way Down Upon the Swanee River." Following the ceremony there was a march to the cemetery to decorate the graves. Later, the monument was moved from Confederate Park to Laurelwood Cemetery. It became the custom each May 10 to have a program at Ebenezer Avenue School followed by students marching to Laurelwood to decorate the graves.
South Carolina's first legislature following the Revolutionary War created counties that began operating in 1785. Each county had a courthouse but circuit courts that would act as appeals courts were also needed. In 1791 new district courts were established. One of the new courts was named Pinckneyville District in honor of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a native Charlestonian who was active in national politics. Pinckneyville tried cases from the counties of York, Chester, Spartanburg and Union. The site was mandated as one mile from Pinckney Ferry where Pacolet River emptied into the Broad River. Construction had hardly begun before the river flooded the area. The town was moved to higher ground. One mile from the town was the "Hanging Ground." At least one horse thief was hanged there. It was intended that Pinckneyville would be the Charleston of the upcountry. To that end, streets were named for Charleston streets--Meeting, Broad, Water, Trade, etc. The town was designed to become a commercial metropolis as well as "a center of social activity." Soon, Pinckneyville had gained several stores, a tavern and inn combination, and a post office. Alexandria College was chartered by the Rev. Joseph Alexander but it never got off the ground. There was never a church. Church-goers attended either Bullocks Creek or Mount Tabor, both Presbyterian churches. The jail had walls 18 inches thick made from hand-pressed brick. It measured 14 x 20 feet and had 2 cells located between the walls and the fireplace. Each cell was only 2 x 4 feet with no door. Prisoners were lowered from the top of the cell which had an iron grate fastened over it. One cannot imagine a more cruel contraption. The stage coach that carried 4 passengers with luggage also served as a mail coach which "ran rain or shine." Drivers would blow one long distinct blast when approaching the town from the York side of the river. There was a short blast for each passenger so that the innkeeper would know how many guests he would have to feed. It was said that the chickens became so aware of the stagecoach blasts that they would "literally run for their lives." Two of the towns best-known merchants were Daniel McMahan, a storekeeper, and Thomas C. Taylor, the innkeeper. The two men, both natives of Ireland, detested each other. There were frequent law suits over property lines. One of their neighbors had 2 oxen he named McMahan and Taylor because he said the oxen would not pull together. Before he died, Taylor requested that his body be buried in front of McMahan's place so that Daniel McMahan would have to look at his grave every day. Taylor died in 1832 and was buried as he requested. McMahan lived to be a very old man, dying in 1878. In 1800 the districts were rearranged. The Pinckneyville court district was abandoned. The town managed to hold on for a few years but was labeled a "dead town" in 1840. By that time Daniel McMahan was living in the old courthouse which he had turned into a residence. By 1950 the only surviving building was the jail which today is a crumbled pile of bricks. Pinckneyville is all but forgotten but it should be mentioned that for a time Thomas E. Suggs, a clock vender from Waterbury Connecticut lived in Taylor's inn. He ran the Waterbury Clock Factory at Bullocks Creek across the Broad River from Pinckneyville. Scattered records also show that the famed clockmaker, Seth Thomas of Litchfield, Connecticut was at Pinckneyville. It is probably correct to say that at one time Pinckneyville was a distribution center for some of the highest quality shelf clocks produced in America.
Many of our local churches have created the office of church historian. The historian's duties are generally light--until a landmark date is reached. In this area that date will likely range from the 25th anniversary of the founding of churches into several centuries (the Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church in Lancaster County celebrates its 240th year of existence this year). Many churches, as they approach an important year in their history, will plan to publish a history. The historian, who may have a committee appointed to help him in his task, is immediately confronted with some questions. When was the church founded? Where was the first church located? Who were the founders? Who were the ministers? How many church buildings have we had? What major events have occurred in our church history? Are there records, and, if so, where are they located? Have other churches of the same denomination written histories? It can get complicated and the research problems will vary from church to church. Let us use one church as an example. Philadelphia United Methodist Church in Fort Mill township of York County demonstrates some of the problems facing the church historian. When was Philadelphia founded? The church 's historian, Mrs. Ruth C. Adkins, was immediately faced with the fact that the name "Philadelphia" first appeared in Methodist records in the First Quarterly Conference of Sugaw Creek Circuit, March 17, 1832. It would seem that the founding date is clear, but the entry actually read, "Philadelphia, formerly Felts". Indeed, in the previous year, 1831, there is a reference to "Felts Meeting House." The name William Felts turns up in Methodist records both before and after 1832. In 1819, at Harrison's Methodist Church (in Mecklenburg County, south of Pineville), William Felts, steward and class leader, was disciplined. It seems that Felts "...had not renewed his license according to the Discipline . . . ." So, some time before 1819 Felts led a congregation of Methodists. Further research by Mrs. Adkins showed that on October 25, 1816, when the Sugar Creek Circuit met at Harrison's, the note was made that, "There is one from Thyatyrah Society, Brother William Felts, who is not present on account of sickness." Thyatyrah Society? Indeed, there is an account in 1815 that mentions William Felts of Thyatyrah Society. Mrs. Adkins comments, "We do not know where the Thyatyrah Society was located, but we do know that Mr. Felts owned the property where the first Philadelphia church building was located." Further research placed William Felts' property at a spot near the present-day crossroads of Hwy 160 and 21 Bypass (close to Springs Farms' New Peach Stand). William Felts' name as representative of Philadelphia church appeared in the Quarterly Conference reports until the year 1857. So, we have three names for a Methodist congregation in the same vicinity--Thyatyrah Society, Felts' Meeting House and Philadelphia-- and dates ranging from 1815 to 1832 as candidates for the founding of Philadelphia United Methodist Church and at least two locations. Mrs. Adkins chose the least debatable date, 1832, as the founding date and titled her history, 150 Years of Methodism in Fort Mill, S. C. 1832-1982. If she had chosen 1815 as Philadelphia United Methodist's founding date she could have claimed her church to be the oldest Methodist church in York County--older than Yorkville's 1824 founding by Rev. William Gassaway and Rev. Joseph Holmes.
A horse with a lifeless body tied to its back wandered up to a York District farmhouse in early 1846. The body on the horse was Stephen Pettus, plantation owner. Four of his slaves were soon apprehended and charged with the crime. Such murders were unusual, but not remarkable, but the sequence of events that followed the murder is most interesting and helps to instruct us about the times. Records are incomplete and we can only surmise some of the events that followed the discovery of Pettus's body. There was a trial within the month. William Clawson, an in-law, neighbor and lawyer, became both the defense attorney for the accused slaves and administrator of Stephen Pettus's estate. W. I. Clawson, William Clawson's relative, was commissioner of equity for York District. He presided over the trial, but the case was not heard in regular court because slave codes required that slaves be tried in "slave courts." The slaves had admitted guilt from the beginning. Clawson sentenced the slaves to be sold to "parts West" and to never return to South Carolina. Thomas Pettus, a cousin of Stephen Pettus, was selected to escort the slaves and sell them. His eligibility was based on the fact that he had occasionally served as a sheriff's deputy and had been to Alabama "three or four times." Thomas Pettus was deputized by the sheriff to carry out the court's assignment. Having been involved in the building of "carryalls," the Southern frontier's version of the Plains covered wagon, he decided to take along a half-dozen to sell to Alabamians planning to move further West. The wagons carried a large number of Seth Thomas clocks on consignment from the firm of McElwee & Sutton of Yorkville. McElwee & Sutton would give Pettus a commission on the clocks he sold. Before he left, Pettus advertised that he would deliver letters and papers for hire as far as Chambers City, AL. The slaves were sold for $2,800, and the money turned over to the estate of the murdered man. Were there alternatives available for the Clawsons, Pettuses, and other lawyers and slaveholders when facted with slave-committed murders? In their eyes, to execute the slave and thereby lose the financial benefit to the estate seemed unreasonable. In some Southern states, but not in South Carolina, the law provided that the state reimburse the slaveholder the full market value if the slave were found guilty of murder. South Carolina had no state penitentiary building before the Civil War. To imprison would be to place people in the county jail, which was large enough to accommodate only a few prisoners. County jails were designed for short -term incarcerations, not for a life time. There is no way to tell what motivated the slaves to commit the murder. Slaves courts were not required to set down the testimony and they required only the agreement of a magistrate and three citizens. The law did not require an attorney for the slave's defense, either. Clawson charged Stephen Pettus's estate $50 for defending the slaves who murdered him. Ironically, selling the murderers to "parts West" took care of the estate's best interest. In 1846 the West was Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Demand for slaves to work the virgin cotton fields was high. The price Thomas Pettus got was the average price for a field hand in Alabama that year. Probably, "Sol and three others" wore ankle chains and walked the distance to Alabama. That would fit the descriptions of the time. Certain towns, such as Chambers City, AL, were known to have "depots," or "pens," which were constructed much like cattle stalls but tighter in order to prevent escaptes. There the slaves were held until the scheduled auctions. Pettus probably received cash for the four slaves. When he returned he charged Stephen Pettus's estate $36 for "trip expenses."
In November 1808 William Pettus was elected to serve as a York County representative in the S. C. House of Representatives. When he reported to the swearing-in ceremonies on the 30th of November he was declared ineligible to serve since he was not a freeholder. David Hutchison, like Pettus, a resident of the Catawba Indian Land, wrote that the Indian Land settlers: " . . . were called upon for tax, which they paid on all their taxable property. They were called upon to do military duty; to serve as Jurors, and to perform all the duties of citizens; but denied the privilege of representation; we could not sit on a jury for the trial of a slave. The District elected a Lease-holder to go to the Legislature. He was sent home, and the District deprived of a representative that session." John Springs III, a neighbor of Pettus, was serving as foreman of the York District Grand Jury in 1824. Springs authored a petition to the State Assembly to permit the people of the Indian Land to have a representative on the same basis as the rest of York District. Springs described the 15-mile-square Catawba Indian Land as "fertile, Populous, Wealthy and respectable." And added that perhaps the area was "not inferior in point of intelligence and respectability," to any part of the state "exclusive of towns and citys none of which there are on the Indian Land." Springs' petition noted that the refusal of the Legislature to seat Pettus "gave rise to the passage of an Act authorizing the Catawba Indians to grant and make leases for life or lives or term of years not exceeding Ninety Nine and, that they should be a qualification equal to a freehold, in all cases where a freehold is not required by the constitution." Pettus purchased a life lease in order to serve in the legislature. He was elected in 1810 and served until his death in 1818. John Springs was an executor of Pettus' estate and once referred to him as his mentor. In 1824 Springs wrote that in the past 39 years only one other representative from York District's Catawba Indian Land had been elected to the state legislature. Springs did not identify the second representative but merely stated that he had purchased 500 acres of poor land outside the Indian Land boundaries in order to qualify to serve, a condition that not many men would be able to afford. And, as Springs pointed out, few men would be willing to purchase a lease for life when they themselves were likely to "expire in ten or twenty years and possibly in one or two." Springs also thought that that such a purchase of property, in order to be elected to a government post, showed "a zeal and anxiety for representation that few Men of Virtue, talent and modesty would like to exhibit." And, he said, that the jury wanted the General Assembly to understand that there were men mentally qualified to serve who didn't own 500 acres of land. Four years after the petition was presented to the General Assembly, John Springs was elected a representative from York District. Why, in 1828, did Springs contradict what he had written in 1824 about men of virtue? It may have been the rumor that some wealthy lowcountry men were attempting to purchase leases that had been negotiated before the 99 year rule in 1808. The purpose, it was said, was to hold the leases until they expired and then take possession of the land. The same fear may have motivated Capt. Benjamin Person, who happened to be a neighbor of Springs and a fellow officer of Flint Hill Baptist with Pettus. Person was elected to the S. C. Senate (1830-31). Person was not able to get any legislation passed that would have prevented speculation on the Indian leases. Person resigned from the Senate and moved to Jackson, Tennessee where he died in 1840, the same year that the ill-fated Treaty of Nation Ford was signed
A peddler with a pack on his back was a familiar sight to our ancestors. Storehouses were few and far between. Roads were rough. The peddler with his needles, thread, combs, quills and other sundry items was made welcome. When James Latta, an Irish immigrant, brought such items into Yorkville following the Revolutionary War he had no competition. There was not a single store in town. He spread his wares on planks under the trees in front of the courthouse. Latta made a quick ascent from rags to riches. By 1799 he had accumulated enough money to build a combination store-home opposite the courthouse. The imposing brick structure remained in the family until 1931 and still stands. Latta prospered and his son, Robert Latta, became a "merchant-prince" with additional stores in Camden and Columbia. With time there were variations in the peddling routine. While many peddlers remained independent of stores or financial backing, others were employed to sell goods on commission. In Yorkville during the 1840s there was a firm doing business as a copartnership under the name of McElwee and Sutton. Jonathan McElwee and Alexander C. Sutton employed at least a half dozen men to work at the combination trading of clocks, carryalls and slaves. Covering a geographical area that extended from North Carolina to Alabama, the "peddlers" roamed the countryside to show their wares. The carryall was a covered wagon which, in many ways, resembled a small Conestoga wagon. Inside the wagon were shelves with planking placed as a restraining device to keep the goods from sliding out when traveling over rutted roads. The carryalls were manufactured locally. Joseph Herndon, a Virginia native, born in 1806, moved to Cleveland County, NC and started his business career as a peddler on horseback who then graduated to doing business out of a carryall. In 1847 when he had enough money he moved to Chester, SC and became a partner of W. Dixon Henry. In 1854 he moved to Yorkville and set up two businesses, a tannery and a grocery store. Herndon not only became successful he was noted for his generosity in helping other aspiring young man rise in business. In the 1880s Leroy Springs of Fort Mill, who had just dropped out of the University of North Carolina as a sophomore, took a job with Burwell and Springs, a wholesale grocery firm in Charlotte, as a "drummer." He took a wagonload of groceries through the countryside, sleeping in barn lofts at night, and when he had sold the goods he returned to Charlotte for another load. Like Latta and Herndon, Leroy Springs prospered and moved into merchandising. In 1895 he took the profits from his mercantile company (the largest store between Charlotte and Atlanta) and built the Lancaster Cotton Mills. Springs eventually controlled mills in Fort Mill, Chester and Kershaw as well as Lancaster. He is another example of a shrewd, ambitious young man who started as a peddler and became wealthy. Over time, country stores dotted the countryside. Gradually, opportunities for peddlers diminished but they did not completely disappear until sometime in the first quarter of this century. Bessie Rodgers Pettus, 91, of Indian Land in upper Lancaster County, remembers that when she was a small girl, "Mr. Jack Ashley had a wagon with shelves built around the sides and a top on the wagon. It was pulled by one mule. Built in the outside were chicken coops ready for the chickens he traded. He also traded cloth, needles, pins, buttons and thread for eggs. Mr. Jack lifted me up so that I could see the cloth. I picked out white eyelet.
York County has always been "good country" for the growing of peaches and grapes. The first settlers reported that the Indians served them stewed peaches and old plats and deeds occasionally show an area marked "orchard". The Catawba grape, found growing wild in this area, was of such high quality that migrating pioneers carried root stock with them and propagated the choice purple grape all across the eastern United States. By the early 1800s many of the plantation owners had well-established orchards of a wide variety of fruit trees and grape vines. Before cold storage and canneries, the farmer either grew his own or did without. Over time, the growers discovered from experience which were the best varieties, the best types of soil, and how to make their orchards most productive. By 1858, the Southern Pomological Society had been formed by leading growers. This society was an outgrowth of York District's Indian Land Society, an agricultural society, whose major officers were Andrew B. Springs, D. D. Moore and S. S. Elam. The Southern Pomological Society met in Charlotte, N. C. on November 4, 1858. The convention was chaired by Maj. A. B. Springs of Fort Mill District. Permanent officers elected were: Dr. W. R. Wylie of Chester District, president; Richard Austin Springs, who lived on Springsteen plantation near Rock Hill, vice president; with A. B. Springs a member of the executive committee. The Yorkville Enquirer in 1858 wrote about A. B. Springs: "Major Springs is the most assiduous cultivator of fine fruit in the whole country, and can boast of an orchard of the rarest and most delicious fruits. His selections of stock are from the nurseries of the South, and constitute much of the variety that produce through the entire fruit season." The newspaper article concluded that Andrew Springs' fruit cultivation had two major benefits.beyond the enjoyment of eating the fruit. His orchard was also an "agreeable pastime" and his neighbors gave him their "kind gratulations" for his generosity in sharing his fruits. The York Enquirer, August 18, 1859, reported that Capt. Simril of York had a "grapery more luxuriantly and practically beautiful than a dozen flower-gardens". The newspaper pronounced York District's climate as nearly perfect for the growing of the vine. The Enquirer also noted that the district was a strong temperance area with a thriving "cold-water army." The paper suggested that: "By way of encouragement, suppose our Temperance friends (who rule the ranche) incorporate into their pledge a special exemption to those who get drunk on wine of their own manufacture." During the Civil War, Jonathan L. Sutton, who lived on Turkey Creek, regularly advertised his distillery. Under the headline, "GRAPES, GRAPES", Sutton instructed, "Gather all you can and bring them to me, and I will distill them for one third of the spirits....I will give $1 per bushel for persimmons--to 500 bushels to be delivered to the distillery." Sutton later stated that the persimmons ran 12 bushels to the barrel. Presumably Sutton was manufacturing for a local supply but some of his persimmon and peach brandy may have made its way to the soldiers in Virginia. Letters home often thanked parents and friends for the "fruit of the vine" and doctors often prescribed any type of alcohol as a pain-killer. During the Civil War many of the orchards and vineyards were neglected. They had been luxuries prior to the war but afterwards there was little spare cash to spend in restoring them. In the 1920s there was a revival of interest in peach growing. The prices paid by Northern markets were tempting. Elliott White Springs, grandson of Maj. Andrew Baxter Springs, after being fired from his cotton mill job by his father, decided to combine a writing career and farming. One of his efforts was directed at establishing commercial peach orchards. By the 1950s Elliott Springs was selling 25 varieties of peaches and nectarines to New York markets and getting top prices. The Springs peach orchards are still flourishing and so are a lot of other good orchards across the county. Going out to the orchards and picking your own fresh fruit or stopping at a neighborhood peach stand is a York County tradition of long standing. May it continue.
About the year 1930, a York County pre-Revolutionary War log house in the Bethel section was turned into a "Memorial Room" to display items and tools used by pioneer settlers of the area. People from all over North and South Carolina came to see the relics. Among the items on display were a corn-sheller, spinning wheel and yarn reel and several guns, all homemade. The builder of the cabin back in 1776, Robert Turner, was a blacksmith who also made all of the hasps, nails and hinges for the house. Turner's "tooth-puller" was on display. Actually, the dental appliance was no more than a gimlet with a hook branching off to one side. After the hook was placed around the tooth, the handle was turned. This instrument was used locally until after the Civil War. There were spools beds, a trundle bed and a set of 150-year-old dishes. Candle molds, snuffers, a wheat sieve and long-handled waffle irons testified to a way of life that was long past. Other items put out for display were old letters, tax receipts, doctor bills, an 1800 blacksmith bill, and an 1842 account of three bales of cotton taken to Charleston where they were sold for 8 and 3/8 cents a pound. There was a "doctor book" used by several ladies of the household who prescribed not only for themselves but for the neighborhood. The opium box of one of the ladies was a reminder of the days when opium poppies were grown locally. The house itself was so interesting that James Stanhope Love, a newspaper columnist from Clover who was known as "Ben Hope," wrote a small 25 cent book to describe it. The log house was a story and a half with the second floor used only as one huge storage area. Originally there were three rooms downstairs but sometime before the Civil War the cabin was enlarged by the additon of two rooms in back and a piazza was built on the front. The square notched logs were chinked with a mortar made of water, lime and "finely sifted wheat straw." The original mortar was still intact. In 1932 the heart of pine floors and doors were still in excellent condition. The roof, always of hand split oaken shingles, had been replaced a number of times. The huge rock fireplace was the major attraction. Love described the fireplace as so wide that two people could place their chairs on each side and lean back against the rock sides to enjoy the fire. A man could stand upright in the fireplace; only if very tall would he need to bend his head. There was a little recess in the rock wall that measured 8 by 10 inches which was intended to hold tobacco and pipes. An iron rod for iron kettles and pots crossed the chimney. Several iron hooks, stout enough to support a roasting deer, were anchored in the rock. The rock of the fireplace was supported by a mantel or "fireboard" that was cut 16 inches square from a huge oak. The chimney itself was so wide that people could sit below and see the stars. In fact, said Love, the seats beside the fire were good places to read and sew during the summer. More light came in the chimney than in the small hand-made panes of glass in the windows. Typical of pioneer days, there was not likely to be a living room or formal "sitting room." The huge room of the Turner house that contained the fireplace was where most of the family activities took place. While food cooked in the kettles or baked on slabs of wood near the fire, the women might be weaving or quilting by the light from the fireplace. The Turner house also displayed a quilting frame annd flax hackles. The hackles were boards studded with sharp spikes with which to break up the tough reeds that were the source of linen cloth. While potatoes roasted and corn cakes baked on wooden planks, the children played or recited their lessons. In the Turner case, a schoolmaster was boarded in the household. The last people to live in the "Memorial Room" were J. G. A. Turner, his wife, son and nephew. When Turner build a more modern home for himself, he decided to share his family treasures with the world.
Ogden, a rural community south of Rock Hill, was the home of A. L. Neely in the early part of this century. Neely wrote folksy poetry about his home, school, church, family and, more than anything, about farm life. In 1925 the State Publishing Company published Neely's writings in a slim book titled, "Ogden Jingles." Neely made no attempt to disguise Ogden or its people. One of his poems was called, "Ogden Crop News." It was written one especially wet spring when it rained so much that the farmers' fields were soggy and grassy. Part of the poem went this way: "Pearson's grass grows long and green Betchler's grows cockleburs, Garrison, and Sims grass have met And crawled across the rows. ....Strait and Nuson, Smith, and Kidd, Are soldiers brave and true. They face grass with dauntless grit, Like heroes always do." Neely recalled Ogden's first school, called Mineral Spring School, a one room log affair that had vanished by 1925 but was remembered as sitting in a field covered with cowslips and daisies. The children of Mineral Spring School delighted in playing Goosy Goosy Gander, Ring Around the Rosy and other such group play. He recounted their names as McFadden, Kidd, Byres, Dunlap, Isom, McKants, Bookout, Percival, Parish, Evans, Moore, Strait, Duncan, Bates and Neely. "Our teachers teach, our preachers preach Where once the savage stood Through thick and thin they're fighting sin And they are doing good." A rare bit of history was recorded by Neely in a short essay in which he gives the history of Antioch Methodist Church. The account was pieced together from "scraps of pages from the original church register over forty years ago. These records fell into the hands of the writer about 1910...." Antioch Methodist Church was founded by Rev. J. Marion Boyd, who served the Rock Hill circuit. In 1878 he set up the church because there was no Methodist church near. "He saw in this Black Jack Valley what appeared to be almost a wilderness with a family living here and there in log dwellings, and it was in these log houses that Rev. Boyd started a work that resulted in building Antioch." The private homes used for the first services were those of Thadeus K. Bates and James H. Kidd during the months of March, April and May, 1878. In June the Methodists built a brush arbor. In August, 18 men brought their axes and began chopping down trees for the first church building. Not much had to be bought. Even the roof covering was oak split on the grounds. The total cash expense of building the church was $255.10. The records showed that 51 people contributed money but that 3 men contributed most of the money: Ferguson H. Barber, Arnold Friedheim of Rock Hill, and W. B. Byers. The church was completed and dedicated by Reverend Boyd September 29, 1878. Neely said it would be "hard indeed to estimate the good socially and morally that has resulting from the building of Antioch." Neely's poems were printed in the Weekly Newsletter of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, in the Woodman's maagine, "Sovereign Visitor," and in the Weekly Fairfax Enterprise. One of the most amusing poems was titled "Tax Returning Time" which ends this way: "His fertile soil is very deep Many feet to the clay He never said his land was cheap Until returning day."
Early one Saturday morning in October 1915, a dozen farmers were hard at work on the grounds around a small rural schoolhouse. They mowed, sodded bluegrass, cleared underbrush, cut out trees and stacked the wood in a neat pile. Inside the school, farm wives scrubbed and polished every inch of the building. While the work went on, a big pot of soup bubbled on the stove. All the women had brought something for the soup they would serve at noon to all those who had worked to beautify the building and its grounds. The work was part of a project taken on by the Oak Ridge Community, a few miles outside Rock Hill on the Chester highway. Family names included Steele, Faires and Patterson. In the afternoon, their children and others held meetings of their clubs. The older girls and some of the women were members of the Bread Club. The younger girls belonged to a Tomato Club and the boys had their choice of belonging to either the Corn Club or Pig Club. These activities stemmed from a school improvement movement that originated in Maine in 1898 and spread from there to different sections of the country. The first school improvement association in the South was begun in Richmond by a woman's club. Winthrop College's first president and a former school superintendent, David Bancroft Johnson, heard about the Richmond work and investigated. He was impressed by it and the work of the North Carolina Betterment Association. In 1902, Johnson organized the South Carolina Association for the Improvement of Schools. Members of Winthrop's senior class were the first members. They met as study groups to address the particular problems of rural schools. With an almost missionary fervor, the girls pledged to seek positions in communities that needed the leadership skills they had learned as a part of their teacher training. In 1904 the organization adopted a new name, The South Carolina School Improvement Association. It was composed of Winthrop faculty and the college's graduating classes of 1903 and 1904. Any white woman who wished to join was eligible. By 1910 the membership was more than 10,000 statewide with clubs in every county. There were no club dues; only service was required. Each woman was required to do one thing during the year that improved a school district. At this time four out of five South Carolina schools were rural. The association issued pamphlets and made suggestions for improvement.The Oak Ridge group clearing the grounds and scrubbing the building were following one of the major lines of improvement. The corn, tomato and bread clubs were another type of improvement. The association also stressed better pupil attendance, building up school libraries, consolidating schools, and initiating local taxation to provide a sound financial base. The clubs were expected to make the schools the intellectual center of the community, but they did not forget recreation. At Oak Ridge every Friday evening the whole family would gather with their neighbors to hear a talk that was intended to improve the quality of life and then would play games, sing and dance. The enthusiasm of the Oak Ridge community for school improvement ran high. Farmers plowed and manured a large acreage for the school garden that Winthrop recommended as essential to a good rural school curriculum. The community had bazaars and box suppers to raise money to equip a modern kitchen for the school. Oak Ridge School added rooms and space enough for two Winthrop College student teachers and for their supervising teacher when she visited. The famed Hetty Browne, considered by the U. S. Department of Education to be the nation's leading authority on rural education, was the Winthrop supervisor and Oak Ridge became one of her "model schools" in 1915. Educators from all over the United States came to see Mrs. Browne's Farm School (on Winthrop's back campus) and some of them took the trouble to ride one of the farm wagons out to the Oak Ridge School or a companion school, the India Hook School at the junction of Mount Gallant and India Hook Roads.
Witty and shrewd, she had the ability to gain the admiration of an assortment of people including her fellow Indians, an eminent architect, a college professor, and the Scotch-Irish settlers of her neighborhood. Known as Sally, or "Aunt Sally" in her old age, she was born near the Horseshoe Bend of Sugar Creek, a tributary of the Catawba River, sometime around the year 1745. Her mother was most likely the daughter of the famed King Haigler, best known of all the Catawba chiefs. Her father was Matthew Toole, a white man of considerable skills who was a representative of the South Carolina Council, trader, soldier, and interpreter (or "linguister"). Tools Fork, a York County stream was named for him. Not much is known of Sally's youth. She managed to survive the severe smallpox epidemic of 1759, probably unscathed, since she was described as "beautiful" in youth. She was a spectator, in 1760, when the British red coats built the North Carolina fort at present-day Fort Mill. She learned to speak English "pretty well." In 1763, with the Treaty of Augusta, the Catawbas signed a treaty guaranteeing them 144,000 acres, an area 15 miles square, in what is now portions of York, Lancaster and Chester counties. Sally married Gen. New River whose real name he refused to divulge preferring to be called "New River" for a West Virginia battle in which he gained distinction by killing the chief of the Shawnee tribe. In the American Revolution, New River, recently made chief of the Catawbas, and already an old man, served with 40 other Catawba warriors under Gen. William R. Davie of Thomas Sumter's forces. In 1780 the feared British Gen. Lord Cornwallis' forces threatened the Catawba reservation after the defeat of Gates of Camden. New River led the Catawba women and children, a group that undoubtedly included Sally, to Virginia to stay with a friendly tribe. When the Catawbas returned from their exile they found their villages destroyed and livestock vanished. New towns were built further up the river. Apparently New River and Sally lived at a town called Turkey Head in Lancaster County. Sally New River, as queen, was entitled to wear a distinctive silver eagle ornament around her neck. Like most Catawbas, she probably also wore a silver nose ring. A favorite frontier story involved Sally and a newly arrived Irishman who feared snakes above all else. According to the story, on a cold, snowy night in a frontier tavern, Sally shared an Indian "secret" for subduing snakes. She advised that a long limber pole be cut and carried and, if a snake should pop out, he would be so frightened he would pop back in his hole. One can imagine the glee with which the frontier people circulated the story about the Irishman, at the instigation of Sally New River, carrying a long pole through the blizzard. Sally New River's shrewdness is evidenced in several ways. As Professor Blackburn of South Carolina College told the story, Sally with other Catawbas, was shown a magnetic compass. The professor played a trick on the Indians by also having a small penknife in his hand, thus moving the needle. When the professor challenged his audience to do the same, Sally first attempted to move the needle with a stick and then, spying the professor's knife, brought out her flint and showed the professor she could not be easily misled. More significant than the incident with the compass was Sally's foresight in reserving an area of about 550 acres of prime river land in Lancaster County still known as King's Bottoms. She reserved the area for "Sally New River her with other women of the Ntion themselves their heirs successors, or assigns forever . . . " She had the document signed by Gen. New River, other head men of the tribe, and by four of the state-appointed land commissioners in the year 1796. The deed was recorded in the Lancaster Court House in 1808, four years after the death of Gen. New River. A child of two very different cultures, this "remarkable personage," as Robert Mills described her, died in the winter of 1818-19 in her primitive cabin at Turkey Head on the banks of the Catawba River in present-day Indian Land township.
The South Carolina legislature passed a bill in 1993, signed by Governor Carl Campbell, that, in effect, revoked the Nation Ford Treaty of 1840 made between Catawba Indians and leaseholders. In her book, The Catawba Indians - The People of the River, which was published in 1966, Douglas Summers Brown titled a chapter "The Last Treaty - 1840." Mrs. Brown fixed the site of the Nation Ford Treaty as on the west side of the Catawba River in York County at a place generally known as the Cross Roads, about one mile above the ford. It was close to the spot where many years later Hamiliton Carhartt would construct a textile village known as Red River. In that area in earlier days were an inn and a few houses. Until the railroad was constructed, the Cross Roads was the spot for people to wait until flood waters subsided and allowed them to cross the river. It was at the Cross Roads on March 13, 1840 that the Catawba Indians, represented by their chief, Gen. James Kegg, and other "head men" of the tribe, Col. David Harris, Maj. John Joe, Capt William "Billy" George, and Capt. Philip Kegg placed their marks on the treaty. J. D. P. Currence signed for Col. Samuel Scott, and H. T. Massey signed for Lt. Allen Harris. A number of leaseholders were present and were represented by five commissioners appointed by the South Carolina governor, Patrick Noble. The five men, all found to be acceptable to the Indians, each held leases on more than a thousand acres of Catawba land. The five commissioners were John Springs (1782-1853), David Hutchison (1767-1845), Edward Avery (1792-1863) , Benjamin S. Massey (1785-1854), and Allen Morrow (1799-1883). Three of the commisioners were from York District - John Springs of the Fort Mill area, David Hutchison, who lived close to the Cross Roads, and Edward Avery of the village of Ebenezer. Benjamin S. Massey and Allen Morrow both had land on Twelve Mile Creek in Lancaster District's Indian Land. Only the youngest, Allen Morrow, had been born in the Catawba Indian Land. John Springs was born in the Providence community of Mecklenburg County, N. C. David Hutchison was born in County Antrim, Ireland and came to the Waxhaws in 1773, moving with his widowed mother to York sometime after the Revolutionary War. Col. Edward Avery was born in Virginia. Benjamin Sykes Massey was born in the Waxhaws, just below the Catawba Indian boundary. Gen. James Kegg, chief of the Catawbas, was a full-blooded Indian and nephew of the famed Catawba queen, Sally New River. He asked the commissioners to give him the money to buy the land promised in the treaty and the title in his name but neither the commissioners nor the other Indians were willing. However, Kegg was willing to be taxed by the state and to be subject to the state laws and "entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens." Kegg died in 1853, about 68 years of age. In July 1840, four months after the signing of the Nation Ford Treaty, citizens of the Indian Land met again and sent a "Memorial" to the state legislature urging the acceptance of the treaty. The committee that wrote the memorial were Rev. Archibald Whyte, who lived at the Cross Roads, J. S. Sitgraves, Richard Austin Springs, A. S. Starr and James Moore. They included a report of the Indian commissioners on the current status of the Catawbas, then 88 in number. The state legislature agreed to the terms of the treaty in December 1840. The treaty set aside the Treaty of Augusta of 1763 which had determined the boundary lines of 15 miles square, promised the Indians a tract of land in Haywood County, N. C. valued at $5,000, and a sum of $2,500 when they moved to North Carolina, plus $1,500 each year for 9 years. There were 508 land surveys following the treaty which were necessary for the former leaseholders to get state grants of the land. It took 17 years, at the rate of one-half cent per acre tax, for the former leaseholders to pay off the $2500, plus interest, promised to the Indians by the state. The leaseholders kept their part of the bargain but the State of South Carolina was not able to get the North Carolina land as promised the Catawbas. Worse, the state never attempted to renegotiate a treaty that could be sent to the U. S. Congress for ratification as required by law.
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