Odds And Ends, Notes From Local History
By - Roger Jewell
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\THE MYSTERY OF 75 CENTS
The Batson post office was created in December of 1890 and was located north west of Travelers Rest in Batson, South Carolina. Batson, SC is no longer on any current map but it was located near the area of Old Bates Field which was near today's intersection of Old White Horse Road and Geer Highway. The community was the location of cotton fields, a general store, Batson School and Ebenezer Church.
In 1900 a great mystery developed when community residents started missing certain important pieces of mail. Someone eventually became so upset that they complained to postal officials in Washington, DC. The officials in Washington sent two postal inspectors to Batson, SC and they were certain that the problem rested in the ranks of the community post office.
The inspectors laid a trap, hoping to catch the wrong doer. The inspectors placed 75 cents in marked coins inside an envelope and mailed the envelope to an address in Chicago from the Batson, SC post office. The letter was intercepted after leaving the post office and sure enough, it had been opened, resealed and the coins had been replaced with postage stamps.
Officials suspected assistant postmaster Miss Kate Carter. An investigation followed and inspectors found the marked
coins inside a post office drawer and Kate had the only key. An arrest warrant was issued for Kate Carter. The story made every newspaper in South Carolina as did the description of Kate.
Newspaper's stated Miss Kate Carter, age 20, was dark haired, dark eyed beauty who wore gold rim glasses and was very intelligent. While awaiting trial, Miss Carter became an instant charmer in South Carolina. She was the daughter of Matthew O. Carter who not only was the head postmaster of Batson, SC, but was also the famous inventor of the popular Carter Plumbing Wrench and other inventions.
When the case came to trial, the circuit judge also became impressed with Kate's beauty and charm. The charge against Kate was dropped because the judge ruled the arrest warrant had not been filled out properly.
Miss Kate Carter spent the next several years working for Judge Joseph McCollugh as his personal stenographer and typewriter operator and traveled around the state with the judge and his family. Kate became the toast of South Carolina and many towns such as Columbia, Edgefield and Greenwood welcomed her visits with open arms.
Nobody ever determined what to do about the missing mail from Batson SC.
CHRISTMAS ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO
Federal officers invaded a swath of northern Greenville County part time businesses a few days before Christmas 1922 as liquor still operations were busted in Cleveland, Meridale and Travelers Rest.
Overall ten liquor stills were raided. All of the distilleries had capacities of over 60 gallons each. Over 3,000 gallons of homemade beer and several gallons of low grade wine were seized from the Cleveland and Meridale areas. Two more stills were raided in the Terry Creek area where three men were arrested and two cars were seized along with ten gallons of whiskey. For the pre Christmas sweep almost a dozen men were arrested and hundreds of gallons of whiskey destroyed along with a half dozen vehicles.
Near Travelers Rest four more men were arrested for transporting whiskey in several vehicles. Nearly 30 gallons of liquor was seized.
Federal officers said the five day sweep produced a new five day record from the previous ten years but also said they could have gotten more if the northern Greenville County roads were not so bad.
Federal officer Rueben Gosnell said "More people are involved in illegal liquor traffic than ever before in 1922 in Greenville County." Gosnell, at that time had 17 years experience in busting liquor operations in Greenville County.
Strom Thurmond's Quest For Yellow Grits
In 1955 former governor of South Carolina, Strom Thurmond became the state's U.S Senator. In early April of that year, Thurmond had been in Washington, DC for three months and could not find yellow grits anywhere in Washington. The capitol city had plenty of white grits but nobody knew anything about yellow grits. After many morning breakfasts without the Southern staple, Thurmond sent a plea to the people of South Carolina for yellow grits.
Leave it to South Carolina people to rush to the aid of another, especially in Marietta, South Carolina. Ben Landreth, a long time resident and merchant in the northern Greenville County area, stepped up to aid Thurmond. Landreth identified with the misery of being up north and not being able to find yellow grits. “I know the pains that Thurmond is feeling,” Landreth said. “I spent several months in New York while attending school and couldn't find grits anywhere up north.” Landreth decided to mail a package of yellow grits to Thurmond and was assisted with the mailing process by Marietta post master Norwood Cleveland.
But this yellow grits story did not stop in Marietta. Thurmond's plea spread across the nation in newspapers. Yellow grits was being mailed to the senator from all across South Carolina and the southland. Within two weeks Thurmond had received “a ton of yellow girts” or at least a year's supply, depending on which newspaper story you were reading. Even a four year old child whose mother read him the newspaper every morning sent Thurmond a parcel of gits from Marion, SC.
As the boxes of grits started to stock pile and take over Thurmond's office in the Senate, the senator decided to share with the entire United States Senate. So, Thurmond donated 25 pounds of yellow grits to the Senate dining room so others could experience what they had been missing. He explained to the dining room manager that white grits which were available around Washington are not as tasty as the yellow variety which come from South Carolina. Two of Thurmond's aides carried the 25 pounds from the Senate Office Building to the Senate Dining Room. The aides assured the dining manager that the two bags and one package were real honest to goodness yellow grits that were grown, harvested and ground in South Carolina.
Thurmond kept receiving more and more yellow SC grits that he had to start refusing the gifts. He said, “The great people of the great state of South Carolina love their grits so much that they hate to see anyone go without them.”
As the grits news spread across the nation, northern newspapers made the mistake of referencing grits as “hominy grits.” An editorial writer down state had enough of the yankee mistake and ran the following editorial:
“It was bad enough when Sherman marched to the sea and Sheridan rode through the Valley of Virginia and Grant hemmed Lee up at Appomattox Court House. Those were the fortunes of war. The gentlemen in gray took their chances and lost. But, as it is superfluous to announce, they did not go down without a fight.
But now we are the subject of another damyankee invasion just as barbaric, equally unwelcome, similarly inept. In the Charleston Junior League Cook Book it is recorded, 'To call them hominy grits gives Charlestonians fits.'
Yet in all the discussion about Strom Thurmond and his nectar of the gods from South Carolina they have been called 'hominy grits' every single time or grits. All just because some manufacturing big shot up North packaged the product and in order to penetrate the darkened intellects of his neighbors he labeled it hominy grits.
If one should wish to buy a machine to grind up corn into this product he'd still, even today, ask for a grist mill and it would be so tagged and classified and billed to him. But we are taking this insult added to injury without a fight without scarcely a protest. This yankeeism is being generally accepted. It has infiltrated itself into our midst and we find the fact humiliating.
We believe that coarsely ground corn is grist before it is cooked – or grits if you insist. But we shall not retreat one iota beyond this line. When the product is placed in a utensil with four to six cops of water in each cup of water to each cup of grist, and cooked for at least an hour at a slow boil – it will cook quicker at a fast bubble, stirred continously to prevent sticking – then and only then it becomes hominy.
Avast and avaunt to this hominy grits stuff. We shall have none of it.”
And so it goes.
Remembering Chico Bolin
By - Roger Jewell
Travelers Rest High School coaching great had many excellent seasons in football, basketball, baseball and track. However does anyone recall the 1963 athletic season that was probably the school's best ever? We are talking about all sports within the 1962-63 school year.
During that school year, Travelers Rest established a 49-4 record in all athletic events. That included the Devildogs' third Skyline Conference baseball championship. In football Travelers Rest lost only one game and that was to Skyline champ Liberty 12-7. In basketball the Devildogs had an excellent season going 22-1 and earning the state championship. And in track, Travelers Rest lost only 1 out of nine meetings to win the Skyline championship and a third place finish in the upstate meet.
Athletic awards went to Tommy Brown (most valuable runner), Fave Hodgens (most valuable in basketball), Penny Hopkins (most valuable alternate in basketball), Wayne Ward (most valuable alternate in basketball), Chuck Werner (best batting average in baseball), Pete Buchanan (most valuable in baseball and best alternate in football), Alvin Crisp (most valuable field man in track), Don Ballenger (most valuable in lineman in football), and Roger Hayes (most valuable back in football).
Success would not stop there in 1963 which was Bolin's fifteenth year at TR. In observance of his fifteenth year Bolin was given an anniversary party. The party included a football game. Former players returned to TR and formed two teams, the Devils and the Dogs. Bolin coached the Devils and coach Joe Small coached the Dogs. Afterwards, Bolin said, "You would think on my anniversary they would have let me win. But they beat me 13-6."
Bolin picked up his 100th career win in 1964 by defeating Berea, 13-0. Five short years later he recorded his 150th career win in 1969 with a 41-22 victory over arch rival Slater-Marietta. By the way, his Devildogs went 10-0 through the 1969 season. "I am just as pleased at our undefeated season as I am at winning the 150th," Bolin said.
Former sportswriter, Gary Boley described Bolin accurately when he wrote, "Chach Chico Bolin prowles the sidelines at Travelers Rest High School games liken to an enraged lion in captivity. His head hung low, he paces swiftly when there is no action on the field. When there is action on the field, he casts a sharp eye toward the line of scrimmage. He shouts, his face turns to a bright red and he literally grabs boys from the bench and pushes them onto the field. He wins ballgames. Bolin gives the game all he has. He expects his boys to do the same and he can detect at a glance when they are and when they are not. Bolin has entertained the fans of the Travelers Rest Devildogs for many years. He endures his agony not only in football but basketball, baseball and track. He won over 150 games in football alone. But he doesn't take credit. He says the wins were presents from his boys."
It Happened In February
February, 1927 - The Travelers Rest High School girl's basketball team set a shutout victory world's record by defeating Fork Shoals High School 80-0. Pictured above the team consisted of: Annie Sue Nabors, Mary Howard, Alma Mayfield, Myrtle Tate (captain), Oleta Ashmore, Iris Hadden, Pauline Bridwell, Ruth Morgan, Carrie Coleman, Corene Hart and Lena Foster. The team was coached by B.B. Knight. Otis "Blackie" Carter was assistant coach and became head coach the following year. The Greenville News reported, "This bevy of basketball beauties brought fame to Travelers Rest High School by establishing what is believed to be the best shut out record ever made this side of Mars. They beat Fork Shoals High School 80-0. It is a mark for other teams on this planet to shoot at."
February 1, 2927 - Poor Roads In Travelers Rest. And you thought our roads are bad today. Read this February 1, 1917 letter to the editor describing Main Street, Travelers Rest.
"Travelers Rest is now shut off on every side on account of bad roads. We are sorry for and yet amused at the autoists going through our town. Though when one gets through they don't pass this way again.
Last week one was drawn by three yoke of oxen right through Main Street of Travelers Rest with engine helping the six oxen all it could. But in spite of all this the car stuck and had to be pried out. Think of it! And it is a very common thing to see cars being being drawn by mules and to see some people down in the mud prying and cussing the engineer and road commissioners. It is rumored the convicts are all to be moved to the mountains and it is a shame that this last gang of road hands will be moved and leave us in this condition. If all of the road gangs are moved to the mountains, how are the engineer and commissioners going to see the work. They can't get through Travelers Rest.
It is dangerous to drive through here with a horse and buggy. A number of single trees have broken and people had to get out and repair the brake so they could manage to get out. Where it is possible the cars, buggies, wagons and even folks on horseback, are taking the liberty to drive through people's yards to avoid the dreadful mud. If north Greenville had what was due, we would not have such a complaint neither would we see poor old horses stall going down hill. We can only boast of eight miles of good roads north of Greenville while a greater portion of the money we are taxed is spent and will the amount of money that is left do us any good. It is strange this road is not completed to the mountains as all of the people from Greenville and from all other cities through the lower part of the state even as far down as lorida, travel this road to the mountains." - The letter to the editor was signed, "A Resident of Travelers Rest."
February 6, 1927 - Otis "Blackie" Carter, famous Furman basketball star, left Travelers Rest to join the New York Giants, National League baseball team in Sarasota, Florida for pre-season training. Known in the East as "Nick" Carter, he spent the winter keeping mentally fit by teaching and physically fit by coaching at Travelers Rest High School.
It Happened In January
January 1, 1922 - News from Travelers Rest on New Year's Day reflected the accomplishments from 1921. The Travelers Rest Telephone Company was reorganized during the Winter of 1921 and work was completed to restore phone lines connecting Travelers Rest with Greenville. This allowed citizens of Travelers Rest to connect with the outside world. Another big development took place with the reopening of Wings Quarry in what would become known as the Renfrew section. The quarry, located on what is now Rock Quarry Road, provided much needed employment to area residents and place much needed money in circulation. The granite company had daily capacity of approximately 500 tons of crushed stone.
Regular train service resumed in 1922 on the Greenville and Northern Railroad which pleased all citizens of Travelers Rest. The railroad provided the only connection with Greenville and the outside world. Prior to the resumption of services Travelers Rest and area residents had to resort to automobiles and trucks for freight and passenger service.
January 8, 1922 - Citizens of the area were interested in the roadwork which was being done on the link connecting Travelers Rest with the White Horse Road. The road, which was about two miles in length, was blessed with the beginning of a widening project. The roadbed was also straightened in many places eliminating unnecessary curves. It was believed that when the work was completed trade would grow in Travelers Rest. Also work started on the Tugaloo Road, running from New Liberty Church to Tigerville by work forces of the county. The road started in Tigerville and was going to be improved all the way to New Liberty.
January 3, 1923 - The 1923 new year was troubled with the arrival of an influenza epidemic in Greenville County. Travelers Rest was hit hard by the sickness as an average of 24 cases were reported over the first three days of 1923. Doctors attributed the epidemic to extraordinary weather conditions which prevailed from early winter. Rapid changes from mild to cold and vice versa resulted in severe colds, lagrippe and when the sickness assumed a more aggressive stage it became influenza. Almost all locations in the count were stricken, Travelers Rest was considered the worse with physicians reporting they were being worked hard here to handle patients. Several people died in Travelers Rest. Patients were advised to self quarantine at home. There were no protests.
January 1924 - The new year opened with an epidemic of measles during the last part of the month. The out break was brought under control by January 31st. Measles forced the closure of Pleasant Retreat School for a period of at least two weeks. The school at that time was a two teacher school with an enrollment of 65 students. Both teachers were stricken as well as many students. Measles also hit Ebenezer. Several students of Ebenezer School were stricken but the school did not have to close. Prompt action in quarantining cases kept the growth of the illness in check in the Ebenezer community.
January 28, 1922 - WOLVES IN MARIETTA. A group of young hunters in Marietta ran across four large wolves while hunting rabbits about one mile from Marietta. One wolf was killed while three got away. During the first part of the day, with three inches of snow on the ground, the boys killed three rabbits. During the afternoon, young Duff Stroud strayed away from the group and started following a strange set of tracks. At the end of the trail he came to a large hole in a bank. He placed his rifle against a tree and grabbed a long stick and poked the stick inside the hold. A large wolf jumped from the hold and knocked Stroud down. He grabbed his rifle and fired two shots at the running wolf. The second shot struck the wolf down. Then Stroud heard movement behind him and saw three more wolves. He ran back to his group and brought them to the den. The dead wolf was gone but there was plenty of blood on the ground and many tracks. The boys followed the tracks and found the dead wolf being devoured by the other wolves. They fired their guns and the wolves ran away. Many years later in August of 1962 Duff Stroud, age 78 was killed when he was crushed by a piano. He was helping his son move to Old White Horse Road when the piano slid off of the truck in the Ebenezer community.
It Happened In December
DECEMBER 3, 1914 - John T. Wood was appointed postmaster of the Tigerville Post Office. Jasper E. Watson was reappointed postmaster of the Travelers Rest Post Office.
DECEMBER 5, 1910 - Salaries were increased by Greenville County, the Travelers Rest magistrate's salary was increased to $45 and the Constable in Travelers Rest salary was increased to $45.
DECEMBER 20, 1911 - Ten dollars in gold was given to Elliot Batson of Travelers Rest for growing the biggest pumpkin in Greenville County. Batson's prize pumpkin weighed 47 pounds. The winner was announced several months earlier but the prize was not awarded until December 20th. The ten dollars in gold was presented to Batson by the Traxler Real Estate Company.
DECEMBER 4, 1911 - 73 year old Confederate veteran Jerry Hall was buried in the Ebenezer Baptist Church cemetery in Travelers Rest. Hall served faithfully in the War for Southern Independence as a member of the 16th South Carolina Regiment of Volunteers, Confederate States of America. He passed away on December 1st at 20 Store Street, Poe Mill, Greenville.
DECEMBER 13, 1913 - Ralph Tate of Travelers Rest won a trip to Washington, DC for raising the largest quantity of corn in Greenville County on one acre of land. Tate raised 117 bushels of corn.
DECEMBER 15, 1915 - Dr. C.P. Benson announced he is building a new drug store in Travelers Rest and it is being erected by J.N. Williams.
DECEMBER 1921 LETTERS TO SANTA:
Dear Santa, As Christmas is almost here, I think that we ought to be nice and good as we can, for mother tells me that Santa does not like bad boys and girls. Please Santa remember all. It makes me so sad when I think there are so many little children that will not be merry on Christmas. Fred Carroll, Greenville, SC.
Dear Santa, I want some gloves, pearl beads and some fruit and candy. Please Santa, I want to tell you I am so glad I am not like the little girl I read about in the news who wanted you to bring her another daddy because she was naughty and had to be spanked. Your Little Friend, Ina Mae Forrester, Greenville, SC.
Dear Santa, I want a train, bicycle and all kinds of fruit. Please bring my teacher a box of chalk. Clinton Baty, Greenville, SC.
Dear Santa, I want a set of furs, a story book, a false face, candy and all kinds of fruit.
Lillie Bates Davis, Travelers Rest, SC.
Dear Santa, Please bring me a locket, a doll carriage a little blackboard and some old maid cards and all kinds of fruits. Ruth Greene, Travelers Rest, SC.
DECEMBER 10, 1930 - The cornerstone of Travelers Rest High School was laid by the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina. The Grand Mason I.C. Blackwood of Spartanburg presided and with the beauty and dignity of the Masonic ceremony presented for such occasions, laid the cornerstone after declaring it to be tried, true and trusty. The Grand Lodge convened with Cooper Lodge of Travelers Rest at 11:30 and at high noon the procession moved to the site of the beautiful new high school building, which would become one of the finest rural high school buildings in this part of the state. Placed inside the cornerstone were: a list of students by grades, pictures and news materials about the old building, names of trustees, contractors, pictures of 1930-31 students, histories of the PTA of Travelers Rest and complete histories of the school and town. The high school was the second building to be erected in Travelers Rest during 1930. The elementary school was completed at the cost of $16,000 and the cost of the high school was $30,000. The two schools had a combines enrollment of 330 students, 200 in the elementary school and 130 in the high school.
DECEMBER 10, 1930 - 200 students of the Fountain Inn school were vaccinated against Smallpox by Dr. Baylis Earle, county health commissioner and other county health employees. Several other vaccination clinics were scheduled across Greenville County. No protests were held.
DECEMBER 23, 1931 - Travelers Rest Methodist Church presented a Christmas Tree and Yuletide program consisting of choruses and recitations by members of the church Sunday school.
CHRISTMAS, 1931 - While citizens of Travelers Rest were celebrating Christmas, thugs tried to rob the Farmers Bank in Travelers Rest. Thugs pried open a window and attempted to open the bank vault by hacksawing the combination dial. The attempt failed to open the safe but the vandals ransacked the bank.
Also during Christmas in Travelers Rest prowlers attempted to rob Jerry Batson's store but did no more damage than kick out a plate glass window in the front of the store. Mr. Batson had heard noises several times during the night at his store which was a short distance from his residence. Around 2:30 a.m., he heard noises and went outside in time to see someone kick out the the store's front window. there were four persons around the store. Batson fired several gun shots and the four people disappeared around the corner of the store. The culprits were never captured even though county officers followed their footprints but lost the tracks near the railroad.
DECEMBER 16, 1944 - Mrs. Gladys Butler of Travelers Rest was presented the Distinguished Service Cross which was awarded posthumously to her husband, 1st Lt. George W. Butler for extraordinary heroism in action in Dutch New Guinea on June 11, 1944. Lt. Butler volunteered to lead an assault against the enemy within 100 yards of our defensive line. Boldly, aggressively and with complete disregard for his own safety, he led his men in a well organized attack. Near the end of the action, while still leading his men, and pressing the assault, he was killed. The courage of Lt. Butler was an inspiration to his men and resulted in the complete destruction of the entrenched enemy. Lt. Butler was the son of Mr. and Mrs. G.D. Butler of Travelers Rest.
DECEMBER 31, 1944 - Pvt. Calvin C. Turner, son of Mr. and Mrs. John T. Turner was reported missing in action in France since December 9, 1944. Pvt. Turner was a graduate of Travelers Rest in 1942 and prior to entering the military, he was employed in the office of Slater Mill.
DECEMBER 19, 1945 - The Bank of Travelers Rest announced it would be opening for business by January 15, 1947.
DECEMBER 1945 - Lt. Joseph Ralph Cunningham, son of Mr and Mrs Sload B. Cunningham was declared dead by the War Department. He had been listed as missing since August 15, 1942 when his plane went on an unescorted mission from which it never returned. He was a graduate of Travelers Rest High School and attended Clemson before he entered military service.