Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mni Wak’áŋ Chante

Mni Wak’áŋ Chante

We live in a marvelous country, these United States of America, a place of remarkable diversity, both in its people and topography. Our neck of the woods, the south, is second to none in beauty and hospitality. When we travel, we learn so much about the people and places we visit. Often we learn about ourselves and the pluses and minuses of home. Tonight I will share some experiences and impressions of a place my son and I have come to love and appreciate for its land and people, the name and location of which I shall disclose presently. First, however, a little background.

When I was in junior high school I was exposed and fell victim to a terrible affliction, the sport of crazy people, duck hunting. For many years I suffered with this terrible addiction, held captive by the riff raff I thought were friends, but rather were other poor addicted souls, my hunting buddies.

As time went by, however, things got better. I found that I could withstand the temptation to set an alarm for 3 a.m. to go stumbling through the darkness into wet, cold, dank swamps, marshes, and other haunts of the mentally impaired. I kicked the habit. I settled down, got a steady job, and started a family. Everything seemed to be going so well.

Ahh, but then my first born, a most precocious and curious young man, came under the influence of an older gentleman, known to many as Papa. That gray-haired old man took that young boy to school in the most wondrous of universities, securing as his personal tutor the master of all pedagogy, Mother Nature. The little fella didn’t stand a chance; he fell in love with the outdoors, hook, line, and sinker.

Within a short while of his exposure to the sporting life, there was talk of flirting with madness again. The D H words were being spoken in my presence. The pursuit of quail, deer, and doves was too tame. Yours truly was being pressed into service to broaden the education of the young outdoorsman. Next thing you know, we’re down at the Sumter Wateree Club deep in the swamp driving a little john boat with a 1960’s vintage 5 1/2 horsepower Johnson through the pitch black dark, jumping logs, getting hung on stumps, and standing in waist deep freezing cold water. Pure ecstasy!! Spending time in the Wateree with John and Papa created memories I will treasure forever as I know John will too. I wouldn’t trade those experiences with John and my Dad for anything.

As time went by and John grew older we began to broaden our places to hunt ducks which included Rimini and Pack’s Landing and much of Lake Marion. Then John heard about Arkansas and how good the duck hunting was out there, so off we go to Arkansas. Soon we are lining up at 2:30 a.m. for the 4:00 blast off to go racing through the Bayou Meto to beat those other guys to the “hole.” We have had some great times in Arkansas.

We then became interested in even more adventurous treks in search of the green-headed, orange-footed swimmius quakamus or anus platyrhynchos to the zoologists.

My friend, Eddie Kinney, had been telling me for years about his trips to visit Hutch Hutchins up on the northern prairie. Eddie related stories of the extraordinary hunting up there and encouraged me to make a trip to the Great Plains.

So in the fall of 2001, as John was beginning his 10th grade year at Sumter High, we began making plans to head out on a great journey to the north. Eddie put us in touch with a guy in Devils Lake, North Dakota, Kyle Blanchfield, who owned and operated a hunting and fishing resort and guide service. We made arrangements to stay at Kyle’s place, Woodland Resort, right on Devils Lake. On October 11, John, Jeffrey Spigner, my nephew, and I flew out of Charlotte to Minneapolis, then to Grand Forks, North Dakota where we rented a truck and made the two hour drive west to Devils Lake.

One of our stops that first afternoon in Devils Lake was at the Wal-Mart to pick up some supplies. Like every Wal-Mart everywhere, we found a microcosm of the folks living in that community. Right away we noticed a large number of Native Americans shopping there. North Dakota is the home of those Native Americans that whose languages were various dialects of the Siouan (Sioux) Language of which the Lakota and Dakota are two of the primary groups. A sub-group of the Dakota are known interestingly enough as Santee Dakota. The name Dakota is a corruption of a Lakota word meaning friends or allies.

The name "Devils Lake" is a direct translation of the Sioux phrase mni wak’áŋ (literally: spirit water) The Sioux called the lake mni wak’áŋ chante, which separately translate as mni (water), wak’áŋ (spirit), and chante (bad). Early European-American settlers thought this meant "Bad Spirit Lake", or "Devils Lake." The "bad" referred to the high salinity of the lake, making it unfit to drink, and "spirit" meant the mirages often seen across the water. The Christian concept of the devil was not present in the Sioux religion.

By the time European-American settlers arrived in what is now North Dakota, the indigenous peoples there were nomadic plains Indians, following the herds of buffalo which they hunted on horseback. Their historic nomadic culture and development of equestrian culture and resistance to domination by the government and military forces of Canada and the United States have made the Plains Indian culture groups an archetype in literature and art for Native Americans everywhere. When we think of an American Indian most often we think of someone on horseback living in a Teepee.

As more European and American settlers moved into the Great Plains, the conflicts between the two cultures escalated. Names and places associated with the Sioux such as Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, the Little Big Horn, and Wounded Knee are very familiar to us. We remember, also, the Sioux were ultimately defeated and forced to accept government defined reservations in exchange for the rest of their lands, and domestic cattle and corn in exchange for buffalo. They became dependent upon annual federal payments guaranteed by treaty and were forbidden to hunt buffalo. The commercial buffalo hunters, railroads and the federal government, through systematic slaughter of the buffalo to deprive the Plains Indians of their primary food source, nearly brought the great herds to extinction. Because the Plains Indians regarded the buffalo as a sacred animal and religious symbol, their decimation had a negative spiritual and cultural effect on the Plains Indians, as well as depriving them of food and shelter. We shall return to the buffalo and to Native American’s later in our discussion but for now let us continue the story of our quest for swimmius quakamus.

We settled into our room at the Woodland Resort and then met with Kyle to discuss how we might find some ducks. We didn’t use Kyle’s guide service, but he was very generous and gave us some very helpful information telling us to head north out of Devils Lake on Highway 20, then turn east or west on the various side roads and ask permission from the local farmers to hunt on their land. We had a plan. By the way, in North Dakota all directions are given using north, south, east or west.

On that first morning we drove out of town heading north on Highway 20 as suggested. We literally began riding up to farm houses, knocking on the door and asking permission to hunt their land. The people of North Dakota are very gracious and welcoming. We were given permission to hunt more often than we were turned down. That first day we hunted a couple of potholes but the results were not very impressive.

The area in which we were hunting, eastern central North Dakota, is known as the Prairie Pothole Region and is the core of what was once the largest expanse of grassland in the world, the Great Plains of North America. The name “pothole region” comes from a geological phenomenon that left its mark 10,000 years ago. When the glaciers from the last ice age receded, they left behind millions of shallow depressions that are now wetlands. The smaller of these depressions are known as potholes. There are also larger sloughs or marshes the locals call coulees. The potholes and coulees are rich in plant and aquatic life, and support tremendous populations of waterfowl.

In North Dakota, ducks are hunted both in fields and over water. Hunting over and around water includes lakes, potholes, and coulees. In South Carolina, all duck hunting is done over water. There is no field hunting here. We had done a little field hunting in Arkansas using pit blinds which is much different, however, than the field hunting techniques of North Dakota. On this first trip to North Dakota we were planning to do all our hunting over water in the pot holes and coolies. We were not equipped to field hunt as we had no lay-out blinds needed to do so, and really didn’t know how to hunt a field. Consequently we were looking for ducks using potholes and coulees.

On our second morning we decided to change our strategy somewhat. We would scout and locate ducks, then find the owner and ask permission to hunt that area. As we were scouting we came upon a coulee that seemed to have promise. There were a fair number of ducks in the area. There was a dirt road running across to the other side, but it was very narrow and there was a sign there that said “road closed.” We needed to get to the other side to have a better look. The road was built up a little so that the water was about three feet below the surface of the road. After surveying the situation it was decided that we would drive across, no matter the sign, to reach the other side. We began slowly moving across this narrow little bridge of a road. We got about halfway across and then realized that the road grew increasing narrow as it proceeded across the coulee. It was going to be impossible to make it to the other side. Nothing to do but back up.

I asked John to walk at the rear of the truck as I was backing up, facing the truck so that if I was in danger of backing off the road into the water he could call out and stop me. I began backing up very slowly. It seemed all was going well. But then, bam-a-lam, off the road we went. I looked at John and he was wheeling around to see what had happened. He had been walking with his back turned to the truck! You can imagine there was quite an exchange between teenaged son and father regarding who was at fault and responsible for the rental truck laying with two wheels off the road, bottomed out and close to flipping over in the water. What a mess.

We were literally in the middle of nowhere. Somehow it was decided that I should be the one to walk and find help. Several miles later I came to a farm house. There I found a delightful older man who seemed not the least bit annoyed and actually happy to get on his tractor, drive down to where we were precariously hanging off the road and drag us back to safety. Miraculously, no harm was done to the truck. Not only did the farmer pull us out, he then gave us permission to hunt, as the coulee we had fallen into belonged to him. We’ve been hunting on Mr. Erikstad’s place every year since.

The majority of roads in the North Dakota country side are gravel. Hunting ducks in North Dakota requires a lot of driving on these gravel roads to scout and find the areas ducks are using. They move from field to field, eating the grain residue left on the ground after harvest. Before and after feeding in the fields the ducks rest and roost in the potholes, coulees, and lakes. Being migratory, they are constantly moving. New groups are coming down from Canada periodically. Their travel plans are generally related to the local weather or conditions to the north.

Late in the afternoon of our third day as we were returning to Devil’s Lake after a hunt in the same coulee into which we had almost overturned the truck, we experienced an event, perhaps by chance or by divine intervention, that changed the course of that first visit and all our future visits to North Dakota. We were traveling down a gravel road, just before dusk, when we came upon a field that was literally covered in ducks. More ducks than I had ever seen or even imagined there could be in one place at one time anywhere on earth. We stopped and observed as group after group of thousands of ducks, got up out of the field in the waning sunlight leaving to find water upon which to roost for the night. I know you think I am exaggerating but I assure you I am not. It was amazing. We sat there on the side of the road watching in awe at the sheer magnitude of the sight.

After a few minutes of believing the unbelievable, we noticed there was a pickup truck that had stopped a few hundred yards ahead of us to watch, as we were, that magnificent display of nature’s bounty. We decided to pull up and talk to them to get some information about the owner of that field. There we found a couple guys, one of whom was a wildlife officer from the Lake Alice Wildlife refuge. He, too, was amazed at the number of ducks we were seeing.

A moment later a funky old Dodge pickup truck came along and pulled over. The lone occupant, a man that looked to be about my age, got out and asked what we thought about all those ducks. As soon as we opened our mouths and uttered the first few syllables of our special dialect of Sumter, South Carolina Southerneze the guy driving the Dodge began asking who we were and where we were from and so on. He was very pleased to hear that we were father and son and nephew. This guy then proceeds to tell us that he and some friends would be hunting in this field in the morning and asks if we would like to join them. Glancing at each other in disbelief at our good fortune, we responded that we would be delighted to do so. That evening and the next morning were the beginning of a continuing adventure and friendship that has lasted fifteen years.

The guy in the Dodge that invited us to hunt was Bill Wakefield. Someone we didn’t know at all, but who, we would soon learn, was a legend in North Dakota. A man that knows how to get things done, he sprang into action on the side of the road that first evening we met him. “Follow us to the house” he insisted, in his distinct North Dakota accent “We need to get some gear together so we can hunt those ducks in the morning.” So follow him we did, to a farm house just down the road known as “The Blue Goose”. There we learned that we would be hunting with a group of Bill’s friends who had come over from Wisconsin. The next couple of hours were a frenzy of activity, gathering and loading dozens of decoys and other gear for the morning hunt, all accomplished under the direct supervision of our newly found friend. We had never hunted ducks lying flat on the ground in a field before, but we were very excited as we expected many of the ducks we had seen that evening would be returning to that same field the next morning. We were not disappointed.

The morning was cold and windy. In the dark, we set up a hundred or so field duck decoys and dozens of Canada geese decoys and a few snow geese decoys off to the side. We had a large group of hunters, eight all total, and all like us, had very little experience. There weren’t enough layout blinds to go around so we southern boys lay on the ground and covered ourselves with sage grass and barley stalks and waited in the dark looking up at a billion stars. There’s always that wait when duck hunting; waiting for daylight, that first whistle of the wings in the darkness, legal shooting time, the first call of a hen mallard, the first shot fired way off in the distance, and the first group to come in. We waited.

Aside from the fact that we couldn’t hit the backside of the barn lying on our backs on the ground, shooting straight up in the sky, the hunt was incredible. The number of ducks that were flying around in the sky over that field was astounding. Layer upon layer, drove upon drove, thousands upon thousands circling, circling, circling with many coming down ready to land on the ground in that barley field.

The hunt that morning was the first of many we would experience over the years through the friendship and generosity of Bill Wakefield. I would be remiss not to mention a few of the most memorable. There was the hunt when it began snowing hard just after sunrise, so cool looking we were smiling and laughing as if we were children who had never seen such a thing before. Then there was the time the meteorite exploded over the decoy spread in the pre-dawn darkness and the whole sky lit up in a surreal display of nature’s awesome power.

Let us not fail to mention the week that only 32 ducks were harvested during the entire visit. And then the week the temperature never got above freezing and the ducks were everywhere. One morning that week when it was sleeting and the wind was howling at 45mph, five limits were harvested in nine minutes after legal shooting time. It snowed the last night of that week and all the ducks, thousands, left during the night. Not a single duck to be found the next morning.

The hunting stories could go on but let us share a little information about this amazing place. A unique and disturbing phenomenon that has occurred in the Devils Lake region is the rising water levels and resultant flooding. We recently experienced a flood here of unprecedented proportions and know first-hand of the devastation too much water can cause. However, the flood waters here have now receded and we are cleaning up and working to return to normalcy. The situation in North Dakota is quite different, however.

Devils Lake is an endorheic, or closed basin lake, draining an area of 3800 square miles. The salinity of Devils Lake is high, similar to the Great Salt Lake in Utah which is a closed basin lake as well. Until recently there was no outlet from Devils Lake. In 2003, work began on an outlet to divert water into the Sheyenne River, which became operational in 2006. During the past twenty-five years, there has been a slow, steady, and significant rise in the water level of all the lakes and wetlands in the area. Devils Lake and other lakes in the regions have doubled in size, forcing the displacement of over 600 structures including 400 homes and an estimated 250,000 acres of farmland.

Lake Alice and Dry Lake which are north of Devils Lake and contiguous to several of the farms that we often hunt, have experienced a significant rise in the water level and flooding as well. Our friend, Bill, experienced the loss of farm land and structures because of flooding. Here are some aerial photos of ‘the hanger”, a big metal building, and 10 grain bins. As you can see, over time the water continued to rise and this area was inaccessible.

The “official” explanation for the flooding is that it stems from two factors: high precipitation for an extended number of years and lack of a natural outlet for that water to exit. Many in the area believe, however, that the ditching of low lying farm land in northern North Dakota and southern Manitoba has resulted in the rise of the waters. Because of high commodity prices during the last quarter century, farmers ditched these low lying areas to increase their plantable acreage in order to maximize profits. This ditching resulted in more run off flowing into the coulees and lakes. Over the last couple of years, thankfully, water levels have receded somewhat, resulting in farmers reclaiming a small portion of their lost acreage. This past October, we were able to drive to the “hanger” where Bill was working to clean up the debris left by the lake waters on the land around it in preparation for planting.
On the southern shore of Devils Lake is the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. Established in 1867 in a treaty with the U.S. government the reservation consists of more than 400 square miles. The Spirit Lake Tribe, formerly called the Devil’s Lake Sioux ( Mni Wakan Oyate) is a federally recognized Sisseton Wahpeton tribe. There are approximately 6000 members living on the reservation. The largest community is Fort Totten where the tribal government is located. The tribe operates the Spirit Lake Casino and the Cankdeska Cikana Community College on the reservation. The unemployment rate is near 50%. There is a high incidence of domestic violence and child abuse cases, thought to be related to high levels of poverty and alcoholism. This is a sad state of affairs for these people whose ancestors were once self sufficient, proud and courageous.
North Dakota is a land of extremes. The wildlife, weather, agriculture, land, and its people, make our 39th state very unique. As previously mentioned, the waterfowl population and opportunities for hunting are second to none. The winter weather is unlike anything we have ever experienced. The average high temperature in Devils Lake in January is 14 with the average low being -2. On average there are 53 nights per year during which the temperature falls below zero. There are 104 days during which the temperature fails to top 32. The record low in Devils Lake is -41.

Agriculture is huge as 90% of the land in North Dakota is devoted to crops, the third highest percentage in the country. The size of the farms are huge as well, with fields referred to as quarters and sections. A section is a field that measures one square mile, 640 acres. Over the years the sizes of the farms have gotten larger, while the number of farmers has declined. Evidence of this can be seen by the abandoned farm houses found throughout the countryside. North Dakota is our nation’s largest producer of barley, wheat, oats, canola, flax, sunflowers, safflower, mustard, lentils, and honey.

North Dakota is the 4th least populated state in the country with an estimated population in 2015 of only 756,927 , 90% being White, 5% Native American, 2% Latino, 1% African American, and 2% mixed races and other. Most North Dakotans are of northern European descent, with 47.2% being of German and 30.8% of Norwegian ancestry. North Dakota has more churches per capita and the highest percentage of church attendance in the nation. 35% of the population is Lutheran and 30% Catholic.

In recent years North Dakota has experienced the highest percentage of population growth of any state, primarily due to the oil boom in the Bakken Formation in the north western part of the state. As a result of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling, the state was the 2nd largest oil producer in the country as of 2012, with an average of 575,490 barrels per day. With the current glut of oil and drop in oil prices, production has slowed somewhat recently. In contrast to its high percentage of population growth, the state is the least visited in the nation. It ranks last in the number of tourists that come to the state each year.

Our family has certainly done its part to improve the tourist ranking of North Dakota. After our first visit, John and I went back to North Dakota together with a couple of his friends three consecutive years. Following those four trips, John and friends began making the trip on their own without me. John has been to North Dakota every October for the past 15 years, with me tagging along the last couple of years since I am now on a more flexible schedule.

When we go up now we look forward to renewing our friendships and returning to a place that has become so familiar and welcoming. We love driving around the farm and seeing the work going on as it is truly an awesome operation. We also enjoy checking out Bill’s pet herd of buffalo. As previously mentioned, the buffalo were hunted and killed to near extinction, from an estimated 60 to 100 million in 1800 to less than 500 by 1900. Buffalo have made a resurgence thanks to the efforts of conservationist and ranchers. The current population of buffalo has been growing rapidly, and is estimated at 350,000 nationwide, which include herds on state and national parks, reservations and private ranches. Interestingly, the buffalo is on the ND license plate.

We have so many great memories from the adventures that we have experienced in North Dakota with Bill personally and as a result of his hospitality and that of his friends and neighbors. After a few years, Bill invited us to begin staying at the “Blue Goose” as his guest. On numerous occasions, Bill has taken us in his own truck to scout for ducks. In the early years those rides were crazy as Bill drives like a maniac. His driving would scare us half to death. Thankfully, he has mellowed somewhat as time has gone by. We are grateful for his hospitality, his love of adventure, but most of all, his friendship.

Given all the unique characteristics of North Dakota and the fantastic adventures we have experienced there, the take away that I bring home each time I visit is the generosity and friendly spirit of its people.

The essence of a true sportsman is not the quantity of the game harvested but rather the quality of the shared experiences with family and friends in Mother Nature’s great outdoors. The “trophy” is not what one hangs on the wall or the pictures of the kill but rather what we remember and cherish of our time together. It is a time of love and respect for God’s miraculous creation aligned with the love and respect we have for family and friends. To find, feel, and capture that love is actually the game we are hunting and hope to put in our bag.

Presented to:
The Fortnightly Club
Sumter, SC
February 17, 2016
Dr. John B. Hilton Jr.


It has been confirmed by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department that the flight of ducks we observed and hunted on Bill Wakefield’s farm during our first trip to North Dakota in October of 2001 is one of the largest flights to be documented in recent history and has assumed legendary status among outdoorsmen and wildlife officers in the region.

Monday, May 26, 2014

These People Don't Know Who I Am

This evening we shall review my attempts to solve a mystery. I began my search for clues several months ago after attending a funeral service at the Long Branch Baptist Church. The person for whom the service was being held was a member of the community of people known in Sumter as “Turks”. As the eulogy was being shared I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about these “Turkish people,” although my family and I have had numerous connections with them over the years. I am sure many of you have some personal knowledge and interaction with “Turks” as well. My curiosity was particularly whetted by comments about the deceased having attended the “Old Turk School in Dalzell.”

As the service ended and we walked to the cemetery behind the church I noticed the headstones included names such as Oxendine, Scott, Hood, Ray, Buckner, and Benenhaley. As I left that service I set out on a mission to learn more. My research has indicated there is much mystery, contradiction, and controversy regarding the background and identify of this clannish group that has been in Sumter County for over two hundred years. Indeed, I discovered an ongoing controversy among the Turks themselves regarding their heritage. This paper is an effort to share information about their journey and to discover something of their history. We may find, however, that my research raises more questions than answers.

Since this group of copper skinned, dark haired people are called “Turks” one might assume they were from Turkey. Some folks think this is true and some do not. A fascinating article by Calvin Trillin in the May 8, 1969 edition of The New Yorker begins with an astounding sentence, “The Turks who live in Sumter County aren’t really Turks.” The search to trace their history and determine the identity of this group has taken me down several intertwining paths. All these paths take us back to none other than General Thomas Sumter, the Revolutionary War hero for whom our fair city is named. The lines are blurred as to what is fact, fiction, legend, and myth regarding the General’s connection with the ancestors of the Sumter Turks. Let us first consider the more traditional and for many years the most widely accepted explanation of their heritage and identity provided by several historians. We shall see the historians based their accounts on an oral tradition, as there are no primary source documents that connect the “Turks” with Thomas Sumter.

Anne King Gregorie says the ancestors of the Sumter Turks were Joseph Benehaley, who served as the General’s scout, and a man named Scott, his bugler. She says a confused tradition connects Sumter with them, as they were either victims or members of a pirate ship that landed them in Charleston.
Cassie Nichols reports that General Sumter found Benenhaley and Scott engaged in cock fighting in the low country. Nichols refers to Benenhaley as “Yusef Ben Ali,” a “Caucasian of Arab descent” and Scott as a “Frenchman using an assumed name.”
Robert Bass’ account says that in August of 1780, while camped at Land’s Ford on the Catawba River, General Sumter’s forces were growing with regiments of militia and riflemen coming in from the lower Congaree, led by Col. Thomas Taylor, from the Broad River, following Col. Henry Hampton, and from Burke County, North Carolina led by his nephew, Capt. John Sumter. Bass goes on to say “And from the Barbary coast came Yusef ben Ali and one who called himself John Scott.”

The accounts shared above were all “lifted” and slightly paraphrased from Stateburg and Its People, a compilation of previous notes, letters, articles, and writings attributed to Thomas Sebastian Sumter and John Rutledge Sumter, the great-grandsons of the General, published in 1922. The portions of the book that are relevant to our research were written by T.S. Sumter. His knowledge of the origin of the Turks is based on oral history. I will share some direct quotes from Stateburg and Its People, written around 1917. The specific details are very important in our search for answers and will surface later in our discussion this evening.

I quote from Stateburg and Its People, “General Sumter then commenced trading with the Indians for land and bought a plantation from them as high up as the Santee River and made a home near Nelson’s Ferry. It was during this period that the war for American Independence broke out. It was not long before General Sumter had a following of friendly Indians and whites to join him in the fight for freedom. It was on one of his recruiting trips he came upon a crowd of men fighting game chickens at a crossroad.” “It was from this crowd he enlisted Joseph Benenhaley and a man who gave his name as Scott. He made Joseph Benehaley his scout.” “He was a Caucasian of “Arab” descent. Scott, the other man, was always thought to be of partly French descent and had an assumed name. General Sumter made him a bugler.” “General Sumter, after the revolutionary War, gave the two old soldiers a piece of land near his home at Stateburg, where they lived and he cared for them during his lifetime.”

The narrative continues with, “Joseph Benenhaly and the man Scott were either pirates or had escaped from pirates - the writer has forgotten which, but they were ‘white men’.” He then relates the story of how “their dark complexion brought up the question of their having a right to sit on a jury and when General Sumter was sent for – the writer (T.S. Sumter) was told this by the late Col. Jas. D. Blanding, who was about 18 years old, who said he saw General Sumter walk in, place his pistol on a desk and deliberately shake hands with both men and turning asked if that was sufficient. Of course this was sufficient to establish them as belonging to the white race.” T.S. Sumter then writes “I got all of this information as written above from my father (Sebastian D’Amblemont Sumter), who remembered General Sumter well, being 18 years old at his death, and was told this by General Sumter, whom he conversed with and rode with often as a boy. He, my father, showed me the very spot on the Stateburg hill where he said, ‘My son, here is where grandfather, (meaning the old general) jumped his horse over this ditch and escaped thence into the Waxhaw country, after the Tories had surprised him over there at the Ruins.’ I asked him if Benenhaley or Scott were with him and he laughed and said he did not know.” T.S. Sumter writes further, “I was born and raised at the ‘Home House’, near where the Benenhaleys and Scotts and their families lived. They got to be called ‘Turks’ by the country people.” “I know that if they ever wanted advice or anything they would come to my father or uncles or some of the family as their ancestors did to my ancestors and as they have done with me.” “It is or has been unfortunately, but nevertheless true, that on account of their inherited dark complexions they have been confused with that class of people known as Red Bones, scattered about in North and South Carolina, but this is entirely as mistake. They have never made any alliances except with white people as all of us know who are conversant with their history.”

Let us now consider a significant contradiction regarding the very essence of the “history” of the Turks we just shared by T.S. Sumter. This contradiction comes directly from T.S. Sumter’s father, Sebastian D. Sumter. In a letter written by Sebastian Sumter to McDonald Furman, dated August 16, 1889, responding to an inquiry by Furman about Benenhaley, Sumter writes, “As to the original Ben-En-Ali, I know nothing having seen him only once or twice in my early boyhood nearly sixty years ago. I am very certain that General Sumter had no hand in his importation and do not think that he made his appearance here until after the first decade of the present century.“ This is quite a different story from that reported in Stateburg and Its People, in which T.S. Sumter says he was told all this “by my father.” (Sebastian)

What about Joseph Benenhaly being of “Arab descent”. There were certainly people of Arab descent and Muslims in South Carolina, before, during, and after the Revolution. There are numerous documents that confirm their presence. One such document is the record of the SC House of Representatives from January 20, 1790, when a petition was presented to the House by four “Free Moors, Subjects of the Emperor of Morocco,” asking that should they ever be charged with a crime that they be tried under the same laws as the Citizens of this State and not under the Negro Act.” Those making the petition were named Francis, Daniel, Hammond, and Samuel, their wives being Fatima, Flora, Sarah, and Clarinda. There are other documents as well that could be presented that support the presence of Muslims and Arabs in SC during this time.

No written records can be found with the exact spelling of the name “Yusef ben Ali.” The 1810 census for Sumter District names a “Joseph Belenhaly” as the head of a family of seven including his wife Elizabeth. This could be the “Southernized Anglican” version of the spelling. The 1820 census names “Joseph Benenhali” as head of a family of twelve. The 1830 census listed seven in the household, but Joseph was listed as deceased. His wife was listed as “Elizabeth Bennenhaly” and his sons as Joseph, Francis, and Ferdinand Benenhaley. Note the different spellings for the last names, for which there is no explanation.

In an article in the 1943 Baptist Courier, entitled “Long Branch in the Santee” the author, J.H. Mitchell, a former pastor of Long Branch Church, makes a connection between the pronunciation of the Sumter Turk named Benenhaley and that of Benengeli, a Muslim character in Don Quixote, the Spanish novel written by Cervantes in 1615. Many who believe that Joseph Benenhaley was of “Arab descent,” use the pronunciation of the name as evidence to establish that the name Benenhaley is of Arabic origin.

As an aside, you have probably surmised that Long Branch Baptist Church is made up primarily of Turks, which is true. Initially, the Turks attended High Hills Baptist Church, along with their neighbors, White and Black. The Whites sat on one side of the isle, the Turks sat on the other, and the Blacks in the balcony. There are three cemetery areas at High Hills as well, one for Whites, one for Blacks and one for Turks. In 1904, many of the Turk families left High Hills Baptist Church and formed the Long Branch Church.

But let us return to our mystery and see what of Scott, the General’s bugler, a “Frenchman under an assumed name.” Our search takes us again to McDonald Furman, about whom we shall say more later on. In a letter to McDonald Furman, dated September 7, 1889, we read: “I would cheerfully write an article on the history of the “Red Bones” of this township if I had the information to do so. I like yourself am fond of history and have been much interested in the several articles from your pen on the subject. All I know of the Scotts et cet of this township is that Dave Scott, some sixty years ago, the progenitor of the Scotts here was living and subsequently died in Kershaw County - he living on a portion (of) that vast domain granted by the State of South Carolina to Gen Sumter for Revolutionary Services. Dave Scott was quite old when I knew him and he was said to be one of Gen Sumter’s soldiers of the Revolution and had been brought down or induced to come down from North Carolina to settle upon his (Gen Sumter’s) land. As to the other families of “Red Bones” I have never heard anything said concerning them but I presume they came down under the same circumstances that Dave Scott did as they all settled on Gen Sumter’s Land. Respectfully, K.E.L. Peebles (?)(I am unsure of the writer’s name)

This letter is dated within three weeks of the letter from Sebastian Sumter to McDonald Furman. Furman was obviously seeking information on the mysterious group of copper skinned, dark haired folk he referred to as “Red Bones” whom we may now call Turks. It is clear that the writer of the letter (Peebles?) also referred to Scott and his family as “Red Bones”.

Why was Furman seeking information about “Red Bones?” He was an amateur ethnologist and anthropologist living in the Privateer area of Sumter County, and the great grandson of Rev. Richard Furman. Held in high regard by the Smithsonian Institution Bureau of Ethnology, most of his fellow South Carolinians, however, considered him an eccentric. Many of Furman’s writings were published in the Sumter Watchman and Southron.

He studied groups of people of mixed ethnicity all over the south but was most interested in a racially mixed group very near his home who he called “Red Bones”. “They are a mixed race and have never been slaves.” “They are supposed to be descendants of Indians and negros, but nothing is definitely known of their origin,” Furman writes in an 1894 issue of the Watchman. These “Red Bone” families bore the surnames of Goins, Chavis and Oxendine. Furman found there were many other mysterious groups of mixed blood peoples, living in small isolated groups all over the South. These groups all share similar ethnic characteristics but have many different monikers for their groups. Melongeons, Croatans, and Brass Ankles are some of the more well known. These people, sometimes referred to by anthropologists as “tri-racial isolates,” were not considered white nor black, but existed in small isolated, and often endogamous groups.

In his book Almost White, Brewton Berry, originally from Orangeburg, provides a study of many mixed race sub-groups across the United States which he refers to as “mestizos.” He identifies the Sumter Turks as just such a group of mixed race peoples. Berry also maintains that peoples identified as tri-racial isolates or mestizos all have some level of Native American ancestry. Could the people living not as whites or as blacks but as “Turks” in Sumter County have a Native American connection in their ancestry?

This question takes us back to where we started with General Thomas Sumter. As you may recall Thomas Sumter was born in Virginia and served in the militia there. In 1761, Sgt. Thomas Sumter accompanied Lt. Henry Timberlake and an interpreter into the Virginia backcountry (Tennessee) to verify that the Cherokee war had ended. During the four month expedition Timberlake and Sumter had extensive contact and communication with the Cherokee, spending considerable time living in their villages.

In 1762, Timberlake, Sumter, and an interpreter accompanied three Cherokee Chiefs, one of which was named “Stalking Turkey” to visit King George III in London. During the trip the interpreter died and Sumter became the defacto interpreter for the Cherokee Chiefs. Sumter returned to Charleston with the three Chiefs spending some time with them in South Carolina.

We know that after Sumter’s initial visit to SC, he returned and purchased land from the Indians on the Santee River and established a home at Nelson’s Ferry. It is also well known that during his campaigns during the Revolution he spent significant time in areas of North and South Carolina where there were large numbers of Native Americans and that his guerilla bands included Indians. The bottom line here is Thomas Sumter was well acquainted with Indians and was very successful in dealing with them.

Could it be that Scott and perhaps even Benehaley were Native Americans or part Native American, recruited by the General on his trips around SC and into what is now Robeson County NC, to fight with him? Could Scott and Benehaley have been invited, along with some of their kinsmen, to live on the 150,000 acres of land around Stateburg granted Sumter by the State after the Revolution, with the General and his heirs becoming their benefactors? Many believe this to be the case and it has caused quite a bit of controversy within the Turk community. Some want to claim Indian heritage and others resent that position, believing they are the descendants of an Arab named “Yusef ben Ali”.

In Strangers in Their Own Land, Stephen Pony Hill shares information about the eight tribes of Native Americans in our State. In chapter five Hill discusses the Cheraw Tribe which he says is primarily located in Sumter County. Hill argues that “the core ancestors of the Cheraw Indians were six men who arrived in the area of the High Hills circa 1804.” He believes John Scott, Aaron Oxendine, William Deas, and John Chavis came from the “Charraw Settlement” in present day Robeson County, NC. The other two ancestors of the tribe were John Buckner and Joseph Benenhaley. Regarding Benehaley’s ethnicity, Hill concedes that he may have been of Arab descent, although it seems illogical for an “Arab” to become a “scout” in the back country of SC. He also points out the legends surrounding his background and connections with General Sumter are fraught with contradictions. Regardless, he argues, the descendents of Benehaley married men and women of Indian ancestry living in Sumter County.

As time went by, Hill believes that the Indians of Sumter County formed two communities, with the Chavis, Gibbs, Goins, and Smilings near Privateer and the Benenhaleys, Buckners, Deas, Oxendines, and Scotts near Dalzell. Initially both of these communities were called “Red Bones” by their neighbors. Around 1910 the Chavis, Goins, and Smilings of Privateer began gradually moving back to Robeson Co. The community at Dalzell continued to grow and soon came to be known as “Turks”, Hill submits. So the community that ethnologists might call “tri-racial isolates”, which we know as “Turks” may be the descendents of Native Americans, Christianized at some point, who came down from Robeson Co. NC which is the land of the Lumbee. Is this possible?

Some of you more seasoned members of our group may recall that our fellow Fortnighter, Roger Ackerman, wrote a paper on the Lumbee Indians some years ago, connecting the Lumbees with the “Lost Colony of Roanoke”. What a fascinating topic that could have a connection with our search for the identity of the Sumter Turks. You may be pleased to hear, however, we are not going there tonight as time is of the essence.

We need to return to McDonald Furman for just a moment, however. A letter written to Furman dated, August 8, 1889, which is the same time period as the other letters of this nature, from an unknown writer living in Red Springs, NC indicates that the writer believes the Oxendine name was derived from Ocksenstein of German origin. He goes on to say that a German immigrant married a Croatan Indian which was the beginning of the different families of the Oxendine name found near the Lumber River. Here is yet another connection with the Lumbee’s with a very familiar Turk name.

Many Turks in Sumter now believe that they are descendants of Native Americans that most likely came down from Robeson Co., N.C. For several years now they have been amassing documentation to that effect. On November 22, 2013 the Department of Minority Affairs for the State of SC officially “recognized” the Cheraw Tribe of Sumter as the eighth Native American Tribe in South Carolina. Ralph Oxendine, the Chief of the Tribe, says there are now more than 900 registered members. The tribe is currently negotiating the purchase of some property near the Highway 378 flea market in order to establish their “tribal grounds”. Mr. Oxendine shared some interesting points with me regarding why the “Red Bones” and subsequently the “Turks” maintained the mystery regarding their identity and ancestry until recently. There have been times in our past when being identified as a Native American was not in one’s best interest.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 resulted in an “ethnic cleansing” and relocation of 46,000 Native Americans from their homelands in the south to federal lands mostly in Oklahoma. The “Trail of Tears” refers to the relocation of 16,000 Cherokee during which as many as 6,000 died along the way. Not until 1923 were all Native Americans, regardless of tribal affiliation, recognized as American citizens with the right to vote.

Perhaps the Turks were advised by their greatest benefactors, General Sumter and his progeny to maintain their “whiteness” as it was certainly in their best interest. We recall that T.S. Sumter in Stateburg and Its People referred to Benehaley and Scott as “white men” and was emphatic they were not Red Bones. He shared the story of General Sumter striding into the courtroom asserting their “whiteness” and their right to serve on a jury, an opportunity no Indian would ever have. T.S. Sumter also states that if the Turks “ever wanted advice or anything” they came to the General and his heirs. No doubt there was some kind of symbiotic relationship between the Sumter family and the copper skinned clan living on their land.

As previously mentioned, there is quite a controversy currently within the Turk community regarding the ethnic makeup of their ancestry. Some have embraced the notion that they are the descendants of Native Americans. Others are adamant they are of Arab descent and argue that the Turks who are claiming Indian ancestry are doing so “for the money”, meaning they are hoping to profit from the special status now being afforded Native American “Tribes” in our state and across the country. Moreover, some criticizing the Native American faction argue they are participating in “pagan ceremonies.” Believe me, the folks on opposite sides of this fence are very passionate about their position.

Greg Thompson, a resident of Stateburg with family ties to the Turks, has done extensive research on the Turks through personal interviews and a review of the few historical documents available. He is the co-author of a book, as yet untitled, to be published soon with a comprehensive history of the Turks of Sumter. He shared with me there will be DNA testing results in the book that will be of interest to those in Sumter that are curious as to the ethnic background of the Turks.

As we near the conclusion of our time together, let us now consider the “Old Turk School” that initially stirred my curiosity and started this research project. I found that indeed the Turks did have their own schools, the first being established near Stateburg around 1870. The “Benenhaley School”, located on what is now Shaw AFB, was in operation from 1885 through the First World War. When this school closed, the Turk children attended schools in various spots, including the old American Legion building in Dalzell, an old house on Craven Lane and the old Sunday School building of the Long Branch Baptist Church both of which were off of what is now Peach Orchard Rd.

In 1934 the Turks appealed to the school district for a more proper facility. The school district offered for the Turks to attend the black schools but they refused. When the Turks threatened to litigate, a new building was constructed in 1935 on Stamey Livestock Road, a short distance before the intersection of Frierson Rd. This school was in operation until 1961.

As you know, the 1950’s and 1960’s saw the beginnings of sweeping social changes in our country. Sumter County was no exception. Around 1950 the Turks petitioned Sumter School District 2 to allow their high school aged children to attend Hillcrest High and threatened litigation. The school district acquiesced and a handful of Turk students began attending Hillcrest. The white parents and students were very upset. The Turks were not allowed to participate in any organized school activities including athletics. Many school social events, such as the “Prom” were cancelled and “private events” were organized by the white parents. The Turk students were treated very unkindly by the white students. They were subjected to derogatory comments, and many humiliating and physically harmful situations. Academic success was difficult as well because their previous learning lagged behind that of their white cohorts. Some of those admitted dropped out. It was not a happy experience for the Turk students. General Sumter was not around to come to their aid and no one seemed to believe that these were the descendants of “white men.”

In 1953, Turk parents petitioned the school district to allow their younger children to attend white elementary schools. The school district refused and the Turks brought suit in federal court in Charleston. On Monday, August 31, 1953, Judge Ashton Williams issued an order restraining the school district from refusing to allow the children to attend the white elementary schools. The school district could no longer require them to attend only the Turk School.

That evening in Dalzell there was a mass meeting of more than 100 white parents who decided to keep their children out of school if the Turks were allowed to attend. On Wednesday, September 2, 1953, Judge Williams issued a second order removing “the mandatory clause of his first order and in effect allowed the school board to designate a school of attendance for children of Turkish descent.”

In 1955 and 1956, Turk parents brought suit again, this being after the landmark 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case which found that separate but equal schools for Blacks violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, this next round of hearings ended with the same results. The courts upheld the district’s right to require the Turk students to attend the Turk School and deny them admission to white schools such as Shaw Heights Elementary. The basis of the Turks’ argument in all these cases was that they were “Turkish descendants” and were “white people”. The school district argued that they were of “Negro descent.”

Enter Ira Kaye, a New Yorker who came to Sumter via Shaw AFB and married Ruth Barnette of Sumter. During his time at Shaw he became familiar with the unique social position of the Turks in Sumter. The Turk parents approached him and asked for his help. Kaye told them he would take the case if they would abandon the argument that they were white. Initially, the Turks would not agree to that tact as they said it was “dividing their community” but eventually agreed.

During the interim, while the Turks were considering whether to drop the “white” argument, Kaye overhead and observed a Turk couple about to have a baby being admitted to Tuomey hospital. The father was arguing with the clerical person about the race to be put on the birth certificate of the child. In those days in Sumter one could be designated as White, Black, or Turk on a birth certificate. Kaye overheard the Turk father saying “That birth certificate is going to brand that child for the rest of her life, we are white.” The Turk couple left the hospital heading for Columbia. By having the baby in Richland Co. their child would avoid the stigma of being designated “Turk” on her birth certificate. Kaye left the hospital that night determined to help the Turks.

Long story short, Kaye joined forces with the ACLU, (the NAACP turned him down as the Turks weren’t Black) took the case to the Federal Court of Appeals in Richmond and in October 1961 the school district was ordered to close the Turk School and allow the Turk children to attend the elementary schools with the white children. Before the 1961 ruling, Kaye helped an individual Turk family gain admittance for their 6 year old daughter to attend Shaw Heights. She was the first, and for a while, the only Turk in the school. Her story is fascinating as well, but will have to wait to be told another time.

So what is the human connection and the moral of this story? When we study history or look around our own community today we can find examples of man’s inhumanity to man while right alongside we find examples of the hope, resilience and strength of the human spirit to work and find a way to right the wrongs that surround us. Being human, we all make mistakes, as did our forefathers, but we can all work to make things right as they did as well.

As I was researching this paper I was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk to lots of people, young and old, a good number of who are connected with the Turk community. One lady told me her father and grandfather had always said they were the descendants of Cherokee. Others were told by their fathers and grandfathers they were Turkish. Some were told not to ask about their heritage. Some of their stories were troubling and heart breaking. Others were inspiring and uplifting. Some wouldn’t talk at all; some talked reluctantly, while others were happy to share and I think found it helpful to tell their story.

In closing, I will share one story with you. As a child this lady attended the Turk School during her first and second grade years. When the Turk School closed in 1961, she transferred to Shaw Heights. Initially the going was very tough as she and the other Turk kids were not accepted at all. They were often taunted and picked on. As she moved into high school, things were still difficult and she always felt she was “looked down on” by the majority of the white kids.

After graduating from Hillcrest she had the opportunity to attend college in Alabama. There her life changed radically. She made many new friends. Her classmates were very complimentary of her “beautiful tan skin” and many asked if she was from Italy or of Italian descent. She met a wonderful man whom she married. She told me, “As all these good things were happening to me I thought to myself ‘these people don’t know who I am’.” It was during this time that she came to realize she could define who she was for herself, rather than let others determine her identity as had been done in such a negative way during her youth. She came to grips with being different and being Turk.

We set out this evening to solve a mystery, that being the identity of Benehaley the “scout” and Scott the “bugler”. I’m not sure we accomplished that but I hope you enjoyed the trip, I know I did. I look forward to hearing your comments as perhaps you hold the key to unlock the door that leads to the garden in which together, we shall solve the conundrum of the Turks.

John B. Hilton Jr., Ph. D.
The Fortnightly Club
April 30, 2014


Almost White: Brewton Berry (1963)
A History of Sumter Co: Anne King Gregorie (1954)
A History of the Turks: W.D. White, manuscript, South Caroliniana Library (1975)
Charles James McDonald Furman Papers: South Caroliniana Library (1863 – 1904)
History of Sumter Co: Cassie Nichols (1975)
Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Ira Kaye and Ruth Barnett Kaye: http://lcdl.library.cofc.edu/lcdl/catalog/lcdl:11792 (1996)
Nowhere Else on Earth: Josephine Humphreys (2000)
Personal Conversations and Interviews (2014)
Stateburg and Its People: T.S. Sumter; J.R. Sumter (1922)
Strangers in Their Own Land: S. Pony Hill (2010)
The Gamecock: Robert Bass (1961)
The Lumbee Indians: Roger Ackerman , Fortnightly Paper (circa 1994)
The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake: Duane H. King (2007)
The Watchman and Southron
Thomas Sumter: Anne King Gregorie (1931)
U.S. Journal: Sumter County, SC, “TURKS”: Calvin Trillin, The New Yorker, March 8, 1969

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Everything To Me

When I wake up in the morning she’s the one I want to see
Go to bed at night I need her right here next to me
When things are going good she celebrates my success
I’m worried ‘bout a problem she helps me with the stress
Her laughter is the music to a song I want to sing
When I’m going to a party she’s the one I want to bring
She’s a little bit of everything to me
She’s a little bit of everything to me

Sitting ‘cross the breakfast table smiling back at me
The sugar in my coffee, the lemon in my tea
Keeper of my secrets, my pal, my best friend
The one I want to talk with, my beginning and my end
She’s an angel, she’s a devil, she’s so good you know she’s bad
She’s my dancing partner, she’s the best I ever had
She’s a little bit of everything to me
She’s a little bit of everything to me

Keeps me on the straight and narrow
Pulls me in, back from the brink
Drives me home on sat’day night
If I’ve had too much to drink
We been so long together
She knows what’s coming next
Lord knows I’m a lucky man
Tell you she’s the best
She’s a little bit of everything to me
She’s a little bit of everything to me

Copyright Johnny Hilton 2011
Quiet Place Music BMI

Find My Way Back Home

Summertime is here again, hay is on the ground
Corn is high and in the breeze, and there’s children all around
Everywhere there signs o' life, little rabbits in the grain
Blackberries on the side o' the road, smell of an evening rain
Makes me want to find my way back home
Yes it makes me want to find my way back home

Come to know so many folks, L.A. to Alabam’
All the time searching, just to find out who I am
Then one day it came to me, I ain’t never been the same
I found the answer wasn’t on the road, it was back from where I came
It made me want to find my way back home
Said it made me want to find my way back home

My traveling days are done you see, now I’ve settled down
‘Cause the dream came true ‘bout a little home on some shady Southern ground
And there’s a little girl I’m so glad I married, took her for my wife
To share the things that are in my heart and love her all my life
And she makes me want to find my way back home
Yea, she makes me want to find my way back home

Now I’m caring for my family the best that I know how
Tending to the old folks, who’ve lost their way just now
Raising up my children giving them my time and love
Teaching them the golden rule and to trust the Lord above
And they make me want to find my way back home
Yea they make me want to find my way back home

Summertime is here again, hay is on the ground
Corn is high and in the breeze, and there’s children all around
Everywhere there signs a life, little rabbits in the grain
Blackberries on the side a the road, smell of an evening rain
Makes me want to find my way back home
Yes it makes me want to find my way back home
Oh I know I’m gonna find my way back home

Copyright 2004 Johnny Hilton
Quiet Place Music BMI

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Forever Young

Forever Young

Memories of our youth stay with us forever. Some are comforting and peaceful, making us feel safe and secure. Others are exciting, frightening, exhilarating, serendipitous adventures. As we grow older we often reflect on those times. As teen agers, we all had places where our friends gathered to “hangout”. No matter where or when, every hometown had its spots at which the young gathered together to experience the rights of passage from childhood to adulthood. This evening, just for fun, we will take a short journey back in time to remember one of those places where teenagers in Sumter hung out over three decades from the mid-forties through the mid-seventies. This was a place where many experienced some firsts… a first dance, kiss, cigarette, drink, or heart break. There was always lots of drama, highs and lows, all played out most often in plain sight of the crowd.

November, 1944 marked the beginning of a relationship between the City of Sumter and its teens which lasted for over thirty years with the announcement of the formation of The Teen Age Canteen. The first canteen was located on North Main Street across from the post office near the current location of the Creech Building. Mayor Edwin Boyle, A.T. Health, and W.E. Covington paid the rent on this original building which was the former sight of a bowling alley. The first “hostess” was Mrs. Douglas McKeown. Membership was for teen residents of Sumter County at a cost of 15 cents. A contest was held to determine the name of this new facility and Mary Quincy, a senior at Edmunds, won $5 with a submission of “The Hang Out”.

As with any institution in the community, events at the Canteen were a reflection of the larger societal context in which it found itself. Visitor’s cards were issued to “servicemen still in their teens home on furlough.” The Teen Age Canteen opened its doors for the first time on Dec. 11, 1944, five days before the Germans launched their last counter offensive of WWII, the Battle of the Bulge.

There was a “Teen Canteen Board” made up only of teens and an “Adult Advisory Board” first chaired by Mrs. J.P. Brunson. This “board structure” of students and adults making collaborative decisions was used throughout the next thirty years of the life of the Canteen.

In October of 1945, the City of Sumter began construction on a new building on North Salem Avenue which would become the new Teen Age Canteen. On January 11, 1946 the first dance was held at the new canteen. According to the ITEM two to three hundred teenagers in “bobby sox and hair bows, moccasin and ballet slippers, sweaters and skirts, and purple high school athletic jackets swung out to the tunes of “Chickory Chick”, “Beulahs Buggy”, and “Buzz Me”.” Teen leaders for the new canteen included Jimmy Knight, Bobby Morrow, Helen Murray, Bobby Cuttino, Charlotte Jarman, Orian Davis, Marilu Shaw, Mildred Inskeep, and Maxie King.

If we move forward to November of 1948 we find that hundreds of teenagers are still attending the Canteen, so many, in fact, that it is decided that only junior high school students could attend the canteen that year. Dues had risen to 25 cents. Teen leaders during this time included Ladson Cubbage, John Duffie, Alice Shelor, Sister Heath, Molly Ariall, and Bunny McLauren.

Events in our hometown are subject to the societal influences that are at work elsewhere in the world. In an ITEM article and photos from March of 1951, we can see that the “big bands” of the Forties era are still popular among the locals. Interestingly, just two months after this photo, the song “Sixty Minute Man”, by Billy Ward and the Dominos, an African American Rhythm and Blues group, would be released. After hearing this song, Alan Freed, working as a DJ at a radio station in Cleveland at the time, is credited with coining the phrase, “Rock and Roll”. In the song, which boasts of the sexual prowess of the singer, the lyrics say “I’ll rock em, roll em, all night long, I‘m a sixty minute man.” Alan Freed starting using the phrase “Rock and Roll” to describe the Rhythm and Blues music he was playing so that it would avoid the racial prejudice of the time among white audiences. The music of the teens was evolving and so would our community and the Canteen as the years went by.

If we move forward to the fall of 1955 we find the Canteen at a pivotal moment. As the Canteen became more popular than ever, the neighbors are complaining about the noise. In late September of 1955, a complaint from someone in the neighborhood was read to City Council by Mayor Pricilla Shaw. A response to the complaint had been prepared by the Canteen Teen Board. In their response the Teen Board reported that over two hundred teens were in attendance at the Canteen and were keyed up after an Edmunds - Eau Claire Football game. Most of the noise came from talking and cars as teens were coming to and leaving the dance at the Canteen after the game. The noise was exacerbated by congested traffic due to “inadequate parking facilities” since parking was available on one side of the street only.

The Teen Board came to City Council armed with solutions to the problem which included: 1. To hold remaining dances at a non-residential area (the Legion Hut), 2. To endorse a plan proposed by a citizen to build a parking lane from Salem Ave. around the canteen to exit on Hampton Ave. 3. To recommend that City Council relocate the Canteen to another facility at a more suitable location. Board members at this time, all from Edmunds High School, included Owen Lee, Sherbie Knight, Johnnie Mills, Billy Fort, Cathy Bryan, Betty Kennedy, Lester Hudson, David Rogers, Tommy Bowen, Howard Jones, Martha Dabbs, Johnnie Sue Stone, David Addlestone, Marion Myers, Jessamine DuBose, and Sammy Pringle.

A few weeks later, at the October, 1955 meeting of City Council, the Teen Board sent a delegation to petition Council for a new and larger teen canteen building, located in a “less congested area”. Several possibilities were discussed by Council which included building a new center at the municipal airport sight on Miller Road, or acquiring the old Miller school building and sharing the facility which was being used at that time by the Little Theater. It was pointed out by City Manager Wade Kolb, that a bond issue would be needed to finance such a project. Members of City Council also pointed out that this was a county problem, not just a city problem, and that that an increase in the tax levy would likely be necessary as well. Despite the efforts of the Teen Board, the Canteen was not relocated nor were improvements made to help with parking issues. No changes were in the cards for the Canteen in Sumter on that day, but there were significant changes about to take place in other southern towns. On Dec. 1, 1955, two months after the Teen Board met with City Council, Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama when she refused to give up her seat in the colored section of the bus to a white passenger after there were no more empty seats in the white section. Changes were coming but they came slowly to sleepy southern towns in the late fifties.

The Canteen continued to be a hub of teen activity on through the fifties and into the sixties. There were dances on the weekend, and more sedate “hanging out” activities during the week which might include a few games of pool or some ping pong. There were assortments of other activities at the Canteen for the members as well which included bridge classes, fashion shows, hay rides, and bake sales to raise money. There were dances at every season of the year, Christmas, Halloween, and of course, Valentines. For many years a Valentines king and queen were voted on by the kids and crowned at the Valentines dance.

As previously noted, the big bands were replaced by rock and roll and then came soul music from Memphis and Motown. In the mid to late sixties “Soul Music” was king. I began my “professional music career” at the canteen in 1963, where I played my first paying gig. Countless bands and musicians got their start at the Canteen. Junior High night was the time when the younger musicians could play. Kids enjoyed seeing their peers making music.

There was always plenty of adventure at the canteen no matter which decade one examines. Sneaking in a little alcohol hidden in your pants or coat sometimes took both athleticism and artistic talent. On Junior High night, once you went inside you couldn’t go out until the appointed time for parents to arrive to take you home. Of course, that didn’t keep those southern belles, soon to be debutantes, from climbing out of the bathroom window so they could rendezvous in the park for a little romance with their boy friend, who hadn’t gone inside at all but was waiting by the swings as previously arranged.

The year that I played my first gig at the canteen, 1963, Martin Luther King made his “I Have A Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the “March on Washington.” An estimated 250,000 gathered on that hot August day and heard Peter, Paul and Mary sing Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind”. Bob Dylan and Joan Baez sang a duet, “When the Ship Comes In.”

Three months later, on November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The next evening Bob Dylan opened his show with his first public performance of his song that would become an anthem for many young people and the most famous protest song of the sixties, “For The Times They are a Changing”. Changes would soon be woven into the fabric of our hometown.

In the mid-sixties the music teens were listening to went through another major metamorphosis primarily influenced by the Beatles. The June 1967 release of the Sgt. Peppers album by the Beatles marked the beginning of the “psychedelic era”. That same summer of 1967, 100,000 hippies converged on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco in what became known as the “Summer of Love”. This was the summer I graduated from high school, on May 30, 1967, one day after my 18th birthday. Two summers hence, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, “the event that changed the history of rock and roll”, took place Aug. 15 – 18, 1969 with 500,000 young people camping on Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm in the Catskills of upstate New York. There were 32 musical groups, including Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Who, Joe Cocker, Jefferson Airplane, The Band, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and Jimi Hendrix. Things would never be the same again.

As the sixties were winding down and we moved into the seventies, teenagers in Sumter were looking for something “different” than teenagers of the previous decades. Attendance at the Canteen had declined significantly as the sixties came to an end. Parents and community leaders looked for ways and places to provide “wholesome” activities for teens. Rock and Roll had become Rock. The drug counter culture, Vietnam War protests, the civil rights movement, and the generation gap had all come home to Sumter. In the fall of 1969, concerned parents were holding meetings to determine how to provide places where teens could and would congregate that would also provide some supervision.

The decision was made to give the old canteen a face lift and a name change, as spending the money for a new facility was, again, not in the cards. In February of 1970, the TAC Shack was born. Taken from the old name of the Teen Age Canteen, The TAC Shack had a new look and feel which had been designed by the kids on the Teen Board. There was a flurry of activities during the first couple years of the TAC Shack. The Parks and Recreation Department, parents, and the Teen Board were working hard to make some positive things happen. This article in the ITEM on Thursday, May 7, 1970 announced that a “Memorial Day Pop Festival” was planned for Swan Lake Gardens put together by the TAC Shack Teen Board. Woodstock was coming to Sumter. Three bands were on the bill: Blood, Stone Creek, and Krishna. These names for the bands were clearly a reflection of the times.

Tragically, four days before this article ran in the ITEM, the Ohio National Guard fired on a group of students at Kent State University conducting an anti-war demonstration, killing four students and wounding nine. The May 4, 1970 shootings led to protests on college and high school campuses throughout the United States. A student strike of four million students caused more than 450 college campuses across the country to close, with both violent and non-violent demonstrations, including the University of South Carolina where I was a student at the time. We had become a nation at war with itself. These were difficult times for teenagers to sort things out and find their way.

The Canteen continued to provide activities and events in which teens could participate into the seventies. Playing pool was an activity that remained a favorite the entire thirty year life of the Canteen but bridge lessons and fashion shows had given way to guitar lessons, leather working classes, and modern dance.

The golden years of the canteen were in the past, however. Never again would there be the big crowds of the forties, fifties and sixties. In 1973, a teen center was opened at the old Green School on the Pinewood Rd., known as the Spectrum, which only lasted a year or so, but this more “mod” venue further reduced the number of teens visiting the Canteen. As use by teens of the building on Salem Ave. for a “hang out” declined, it was increasingly being used by others. Square dance groups, some of which were teen agers, began to meet at the “Memorial Park Youth Center”, as it came to be known, on a regular basis to square dance.

Ironically, of the groups that wanted to take over the Youth Center the one that created the most conflict with teens were the senior citizens. In the spring of 1978, the Sumter County Council on Aging asked City Council for the use of the building. This resulted in an outcry from the square dancers and others interested in keeping the Youth Center for use by kids only. A compromise was reached and The Council on Aging would be allowed to use the building when it did not conflict with youth activities. The writing was on the wall, however.

Bolstered by grant money for remodeling and up keep of whatever facility was available for its use, the Council on Aging eventually won out. At the City Council meeting on June 20, 1979, City Council voted to grant the Council on Aging a 15 year lease for the building at 110 N. Salem Ave., formerly known as the Teen Age Canteen. In the end, the Canteen died a quiet death and just faded into our memories as a special place for all of us who spent part of our teen years there.

The Canteen has gone through lots of changes, just as our town and nation have, and just as we all do as we are growing up and growing older. The music changed from big bands, to rock and roll, to soul, and then rock. During the years the Canteen was a hang-out for kids in Sumter, massive social changes occurred in our nation and our community that were as significant as any in our history. The hippies of the counter culture remind us that relationships are more important than possessions. The anti-war movement reminds us that one can disagree with the government and still be a patriot. We all remember that our first patriots were at war with the established government. American was born out of protest. The civil rights movement changed the way we interacted with our neighbors, particularly in the south. It reminds us that “all men are created equal” and resulted in more opportunities for minorities and women including access to better education, increased participation in the political process, and expanded employment and career choices.

We have all gone through lots of changes as we have grown older. As we reflect on our younger days let us draw from that time of both security and adventure for our days ahead. My prayer for us all as we move farther away from our teen years is that we can hold on to the mystery, excitement, anticipation, and hope that being young is all about. Let the love we share with friends and family be a source of vigor and renewal as we grow older. Let us measure our wealth by what we share rather than what we keep. As Bob Dylan wrote in his song of blessing for his three children, and I wish the same for all of us, “May you stay forever young.”

Presented to:
The Fortnightly Club
November 7, 2012
John B. Hilton Jr.

Forever Young
Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Additional thoughts:

“Dreams can come true, It can happen to you, If you’re young at heart”- Frank Sinatra 1953

“Be young, be foolish, but be happy” - The Tams 1968

“I’m growing older but not up, my metabolic rate is pleasantly stuck” - Jimmy Buffett 1980

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood” - Hooters cocktail napkin 1999

“He who has good health is young” – China Chef Fortune Cookie 2012

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It's The Only Thing That Lasts

"It's The Only Thing That Lasts"
(Or Is It?)

There are people, places, and events in the lives of everyone that hold special significance. One of those special places in my life is Cane Savannah. From childhood to the present, being intimately intertwined with the lands in and around Cane Savannah has fostered a deep affection in the heart of your presenter. Working the land: on our little family farm, planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops of soybeans, com, wheat, oats, peanuts, hay and long leaf pine. As a teen-ager, gaining an up close and personal understanding of the old saying "coming in the short rows now". Living on the land: building a home, starting a family, raising children,and enjoying the serenity of the woods for twenty years. Playing on the land:riding horses, camping, hunting, cooking, steaming oysters, Bar-B-Q'n, hay riding, raising a glass with friends, and in younger days, inviting a lady or two out to the country to "gaze at the stars". Most recently, researching the history of the land, that parcel of paradise entrusted to me by my father, which I share with you all this evening.

Some questions we will answer are: Who owned and lived at the Cane Savannah Plantation? What was the exact location of the Cane Savannah Plantation? Where was the plantation house located? To answer this question we will identify the exact location of some roads that pin point the house spot. And lastly, what became of the Cane Savannah Plantation?

There is no doubt indigenous peoples lived at Cane Savannah, as artifacts have been found in several places nearby. Information regarding the Native Americans that inhabited the area before the arrival of European settlers,however, must be the subject of a later presentation, perhaps. The story of Cane Savannah I relate to you now begins with Matthew Singleton.

Born in 1730 on the Isle of Wight, England, Matthew Singleton came to America with his father, Christopher Singleton, living in Virginia before moving to South Carolina. In 1750, at nineteen, Matthew married Mary James, daughter of Sherwood James of Virginia. Sherwood James moved his family to South Carolina in 1753 bringing Matthew and Mary James Singleton with them (Nichols, 1975).

By this time, Matthew and Mary had a daughter, Nancy Anne, who would later marry Isham Moore, about whom we shall have more discussion momentarily. Matthew Singleton obtained a grant of 500 acres upon which]he built a home that came to be known as Melrose, located in what is now Manchester State Forest, just off the River Road near Poinsett State Park(Gregorie, 1954).

There is some controversy regarding the exact location of this home. Some believe it was located off the River Road just beyond the Arthur Gayle Road very near the site of old Manchester. Others believe that it was at campground site number five in Poinsett State Park.

Matthew Singleton's role as a community leader and patriot in the District Eastward ofWateree is well documented. In 1770 he signed a petition for the establishment of a Chapel of Ease, which later became The Church of the Holy Cross. He was a representative at the First and Second Provincial Congress, a signer of the so called SC Declaration of Independence, commander of a volunteer Company of Horse of which Isham Moore, his son-in law, and John Singleton, his son, were also members, and participated in the Snow Campaign. In addition, late in the war he and his son John served with Francis Marion. After the war Matthew Singleton served in the General Assembly, helped organize the Claremont Academy, a school in the Stateburg area, and played a role in the development of the town of Manchester (Nichols, 1975).

In the latter years of his life Matthew Singleton moved to Cane Savannah. Nichols (1975) reports that "In Appreciation for his loyal and patriotic service in the cause of independence during the war, in 1784 the State of SC gave him the Cane Savannah Plantation. Leaving his beloved Melrose, he moved to his new home where he died in 1787" (pg. 358). The grant of land from SC Governor Benjamin Guerard was 4000 acres.
(Singleton, 1784) A house was built on Hatchet Camp Branch, near the current Cane Savannah crossroads, about which we will have more discussion shortly.

In addition, Matthew Singleton built a millpond and mill on Cane Savannah Creek. (Singleton, 1786) That millpond is today known as Boyles Pond. Amelia Barnwell "Toots" Harper and Caroline Arthur Hendrix,descendants of the Moore family, have indicated another house was built, at some point, on the Cane Savannah Mill Pond. (personal communication, A.Haper and C. Hendrix, February, 2009) Unfortunately, no records of exactly when either house was built nor any pictures of the houses have been found.

Matthew Singleton's estate was divided between his son, John, and his daughter, Nancy Anne, wife of Isham Moore. The Cane Savannah Mill and Plantation were left to Nancy Anne Moore, thus Isham Moore came into the possession of that property. The will of Matthew Singleton was destroyed in a fire in the Sumter District Clerk of Courts office in 1805, but court documents from 1839 in the settlement of a dispute between the Moore and Singleton families regarding an unpaid debt that Matthew Singleton owed Charles Pinckney, indicate that the estate was divided between John Singleton and Nancy Anne Moore and that Isham Moore inherited all the lands of the Cane Savannah Plantation and Mill (Rice, 1839). Now we begin the saga of the Moore family.

Born in 1750 in Northampton County, North Carolina, Isham Moore was in SC by 1770 (www.singletonfamily.org). Like his father-in-law, Isham Moore was a prominent member of the Manchester community. He too,petitioned st. Marks Parish for the establishment of a "Chapel of Ease" in the Stateburg community. Moore served during the Revolution as a lieutenant in the mounted company under the command of his father-in-law,Matthew Singleton (Nichols, 1975). Anne King Gregoire (1954)introduces some controversy regarding Moore's allegiance during the revolution,however, as she reports that his name appears on "the legislative list of the loyalists to be amerced 12% of the value of their states"(pg 46).

Isham Moore worked as a surveyor and a planter, gradually increasing his holdings of land to several thousand acres. The Federal Census of 1790 indicates he was the largest slaveholder in Claremont County with 145 slaves( Gregorie, 1954). Present day Sumter County was at that time part of Claremont County. Moore played an important role in the development of the town of Manchester, surveying and laying out much of the town and owning significant property and numerous lots there (Nichols, 1975).Isham Moore also served as a County Judge and in the State Legislature. (Gregoire, 1954).

He and his wife, Nancy Anne Singleton, had six children. In his will,Isham Moore divided his property among all his children. His holdings in the town of Manchester, farmland, and lands giving access to Beech Creek and the Wateree River were divided among his two oldest sons and daughters. His youngest son, John Isham Moore, inherited all the properties at Cane Savannah. The language in the will indicates that Isham Moore was probably living at Manchester when he wrote his will. He died April 24th,1803, just eight days after signing his will (I. Moore, 1803).

John Isham Moore lived on the Cane Savannah Plantation he inherited from his father. He continued family traditions; being a planter and public servant, as State Senator and Lt. Col. in the State Militia (South Carolina Portraits, 1996). Like his father and grandfather, John I. Moore chose a wife from a prominent family, marrying Hermione Richardson, daughter of James Burchell Richardson, Governor of South Carolina 1802-1804, and granddaughter of General Richard Richardson, Revolutionary War hero (www.singletonfamily.org).

The Moore family continued to live at Cane Savannah for several generations. Moore family members associated with the plantation include John Isham Moore, 1794-1852, followed by John Burchell Moore, 1830 - 1875, Marion Deveaux Moore, 1856-1929, John Singleton Moore 1860- 1930 (brother of Marion Deveaux) and McKenzie Parker Moore, Sr., 1890- 1966 (C. Hendrix, personal communication, February 2009), (M.P. Moore,
Jr., Personal communication, Feb. 2009), (1. I. Moore, 1852), (J.B. Moore, 1875), (M.D. Moore, 1929), (J.S. Moore, 1930).

The last member of the Moore family to be born at Cane Savannah was Dr. McKenzie Parker Moore Jr., on November 7, 1919. Dr. Moore is a retired physician now living in Charlotte, NC. Unfortunately, the house in which Dr. Moore was born burned around 1920when he was an infant (M.D. Moore Jr., personal communication, February 2009).

Dr. Moore shared a story with me regarding the burning of the Cane Savannah Plantation house as told to him by his mother. The fire was started by sparks from the chimney somehow igniting the eaves of the house. Since the house was burning from the roof downward, this gave the family an opportunity to escape and time to save a few possessions. Baby Mac (Dr.Moore) and his crib were put safely in the yard away from the house. As the family and housekeepers were removing items from the house into the yard they began throwing some of them into the crib with the baby, apparently unaware that he was laying there. Luckily someone noticed what was going on, that the baby was in potential danger of being smothered or crushed from items being piled in the crib, and informed the mistress of the house of the situation. The family joked for years afterward that Mac was spared from the fire, but nearly lost his life in the crib.

In recent years there has been speculation and discussion on the part of the Cane Savannah locals, generated in no small part from questions posed by your presenter, regarding the exact location of the house that burned in 1920. One would think that an event occurring so recently and with a resident of the house still alive, the answer would be readily available. That has not been the case, however. Dr. Moore told me that when the home place was destroyed the family moved to Charleston and he lost touch with the area around Cane Savannah. He said he was certain the house was north of the Railroad but not really sure if it was on the west side or east side of the road (M. Moore, Jr., personal communication, February 2009).

Many in the local area believe that the house was located on the east side of the road (Sumter side) near some very large deodar cedar trees. These large evergreens are often called "Cedars of Lebanon". The belief that the house was on the east side of the road is held in part because of statements made by Dr. Moore himself several years ago upon a visit to Sumter. Let us now examine some evidence to determine the location of the house.

The S.H. Boykin Map of 1821, and the M. H. McLaurin Map of 1870 both indicate the location of the Cane Savannah Plantation home place. The Boykin Map of 1821 shows the location with the notation of "Capt. J Moore" as being west of the road and east of an unnamed "branch" which one would assume is Hatchet Camp Branch (Boykin, 1821). However, there are no other landmarks indicated on the map to further pinpoint the location.

The McLaurin Map of 1878 provides more information. By that time the Wilmington, Columbia, & Augusta Railroad had come through Sumter. That rail line, running east and west, passed through the Cane Savannah Plantation and on to Wedgefield. The McLaurin Map also shows a road crossing the railroad track heading north and south at or near what is now the Cane Savannah crossroads. On this Map the home place notation of "Est. Col. J.B. Moore", is on the west side of the road, north of the Railroad,and east of Hatchet Camp Branch (McLaurin, 1878).

Another very exciting and conclusive piece of evidence is a survey of the Cane Savannah Plantation dated 1889 done by James D. McIlwain. This hand drawn survey shows the entire plantation including the Cane Savannah Mill Pond and Mill. Of more significance to our research, however, it shows the railroad track, the road, and most importantly a sketch showing the location of a house. The house sight of the Cane Savannah Plantation is shown on the plat as west of the road, north of the railroad and east of Hatchet Camp Branch (McIlwain, 1889). This location is west of what is now the North St. Paul Church Road just slightly north of the CSX railroad at the cross roads at Spann's store.

In determining the actual location of the Cane Savannah Plantation home place,the question arises, is the St. Paul road of today in the same location as the road running north and south shown on the McLaurin map of 1878 and the McIlwain survey of 1889? Let us examine additional evidence.

Before 1960 the St. Paul Church Road was a dirt road and was named the Cane Savannah Road. There were majestic red oaks, live oaks, and cedars lining the section of road from the Cane Savannah crossroad going north to the curve. When I was a little boy I often accompanied my father riding under the canopy of the big oaks as we traveled down what was then not much more than a dirt lane. When the road was paved in 1960 most of the trees were cut down. The highway department required 33 feet of right of
way for the new paved road. Unfortunately, these majestic trees stood inside the required right of way so they were taken down. Drawings of the SC Highway Department construction plans for the paving of this section of the road show the exact location and diameter of the trees, some measuring as much as 48 inches across (SCDOT, 1960). After being cut, the trees were dumped into the edge of Hatchet Camp Branch. I have witnessed the decomposition of these trees during the forty-nine years since their demise.

The trees that stood along side the road are one of the keys that unlock the mystery of the location of the house. Since the road ran between the lines of trees in 1960 it undoubtedly did so for many years prior. The trees were either planted or left to grow along side the road. It takes many years for an oak to grow to the diameter of those indicated on the SC Highway Department drawings. The location of these trees provide natural evidence of historical significance nearly equal to that of a survey, if you will, that the road ran down this lane of trees and has been in the same location for a hundred years or more. That being the case, this confmns the site of the home place on the west side of the road, for the road is in the same location today as that indicated on the McLaurin map of 1878 and the McIlwain survey of 1889.

Carolyn Arthur Hendrix, granddaughter of Marion Deveaux Moore, has confirmed the location of the Cane Savannah home place as being on the west side of the road. (Personal Communication. C. Hendrix February,2009). So, those grand deodar cedar trees on the east side of the road were not the sight of the "big house" but may mark the sight of another smaller house in which other family members lived, including J. Singleton Moore,about whom we shall hear more presently. Mrs. Hendrix has confrrmed through personal communication that there was another smaller house on the other side of the road and that J. Singleton Moore did live there.

The next question for our consideration is exactly where on the west side of the road was the house? The McLaurin Map of 1878 and The McIlwain plat of 1889 both show a road leading to the front of the house from the east,coming from the direction of Sumter. There is a section of this road still in existence. This long abandoned road, lying just north and running not quite parallel but at a very slight angle to the existing Wedgefield Rd is known to many locals in Cane Savannah as the "Avenue". I have often ridden horses and hunted quail on this old stretch of road, which passes along side a soybean field and a "broom sedge and gum bottom". My father, J.B.Hilton, and his hunting buddies, H.Q. Jones, and Ernest Newman, who I often accompanied to this the area, told me on many occasions they believed the Avenue to be the original road from Sumter to Wedgefield. They were partially correct in that the Avenue ran from Sumter to Cane Savannah but ended there. In order to get to Wedgefield in earlier days, one had to either drive north to Stateburg, south to Manchester or catch the train.

The will of J. Singleton Moore, references the "Avenue" and indicates it ran east to west across the plantation (Moore, 1930). A Survey, done by R.F. McLellan in 1943, references the "old road" as being the line between two tracts of land in this very area of Cane Savannah, running on the exact same line as the Avenue (McLellan, 1943). The section of the Avenue closest to the sight of the Cane Savannah home place is now a canal ditch. However, if one travels east following the line of the canal until its end, the Avenue begins again and runs for several hundred yards. The present day canal was dug down the Avenue. Hattie Coles, daughter of life long area residents Andrew and Elizabeth Keels, told me the canal ditch was dug down the Avenue. The existing remnants of the Avenue run perpendicular to and are on each side of the drive leading into the Keels' front yard. Mrs.Coles remembers her father often driving the mule and wagon down the Avenue to avoid getting on the "paved road" for as long as possible (H.Coles, personal communication, February, 2009).

The "Avenue" is the road shown on the McLaurin map and the McLellan survey leading from Sumter to the Cane Savannah Plantation. The location of the remnants of the Avenue and the current canal ditch pinpoint the location of the home place of the Cane Savannah Plantation. The line of the Avenue and the canal intersects the road at 150 North St. Paul Church Rd. Since the McIlwain plat indicates the house to be just north of the Avenue,the location of the home place lies between 150 and 170 N. St. Paul Church Road.

My curiosity concerning the Cane Savannah Plantation was tweaked at a very early age. As a small child, I often heard my father refer to the big barn on our farm at Cane Savannah as "Colonel Moore's barn". With a lilt in his daddy's voice and a twinkle in his eye, that little boy was never quite sure if it were really true. And who was this Col. Moore from the Revolutionary War his daddy was talking about? As time passed, of course,it was obvious the barn was not old enough to have been built by Colonel Isham Moore, but perhaps J. Singleton Moore his great-grandson, built it, as he was the last of the Moore family to live on the property.

The final chapter of the Cane Savannah Plantation is a rather sad one.Upon the death in 1930 of J. Singleton Moore, 3000 acres of the plantation were sold through foreclosure for $5000, or about $1.66 per acre. (J. S.Moore, 1930) W.S. Manning, nephew of Gov. Richard I. Manning III, purchased the entire tract. Wyndham Manning, a former member of The Fortnightly Club and the son of Gov. Manning was the executor of J.Singleton Moore's estate. (lS. Moore, 1930). J. Singleton Moore had accumulated debts that were not paid by his family and all the lands he held as his death were sold in foreclosure.

Within a few years of the death of "Sing" Moore, the Cane Savannah Plantation was broken up and sold to various individuals. (McLellan, 1943). After the foreclosure sales only 359 acres of the Cane Savannah Plantation remained in the hands of the descendants of Matthew Singleton, with whom our story began. Marion Deveaux Moore, brother of J. Singleton Moore, left this 359 acres of land to his children and grandchildren (M.D. Moore, 1930). Dr. McKenzie Parker Moore Jr., Marion Deveaux Moore's grandson, sold the last bit of the plantation left in the family, 42 acres, in June of2006. (M.P. Moore, 2006)

The earth upon which we live is both precious and fragile. We know that now more than ever before during this time of potential nuclear and ecological disaster. The use of, quest for, defense of, and stewardship of land can bring out the best and the worst in human kind. We know from history the good and the bad that can result from wars of conquest, empire building, imperialism, industrialization, and our own manifest destiny. The desire to own or be in control of land may be a basic drive for all human beings.

You may recall an admonition regarding another more famous
Southern Plantation when Gerald O'Hara speaking with his daughter cried "Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlet O'Hara, that Tara ... that land doesn't mean anything to you? Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin' for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin' for, because ...it's the only thing that lasts."
Or is it?

Presented to the Fortnightly Club
Sumter, SC
March 18, 2009
Dr. John B. Hilton Jr.

John Burchell Moore
Lived at Cane Savannah. Attended Harvard Law School, earning an LL.B. in 1852. Married Anne Peyre Deveaux, grand daughter of Richard Singleton. Before Civil War he served as a Colonel in the Charleston light Dragoons (State Militia). During Civil War served in 4th cavalry, and as adjutant for 3rd Artillery Battalion, commonly called the Palmetto Battalion of Light Artillery. During his lifetime he collected a vast library.

Anne Peyre Deveaux Moore ManningAnne was the daughter of Videaux Marion Singlton and Richard Deveaux and Granddaughter of Richard Singleton of Home Plantation. She married John Burchell Moore, they had two children, Marion
Deveaux Moore and John Singleton Moore. Anne's aunt was Angelica Singleton Van Buren, wife of Abram Van Buren, son of President Martin Van Buren. Anne Peyre Deveaux was her husband's (John Burchell Moore) second cousin once removed, since they had a common ancestry from Matthew Singleton. John Burchell Moore died in 1875. Anne subsequently married Richard I. Manning I, son of John Manning, governor of SC and builder of Milford Plantation. J. Singleton Moore (Anne and J. B. Moore's
son), owner of 3000 acres of Cane Savannah Plantation, named Wyndam M. Manning, son of Governor Richard I. Manning III, as the executor of his estate. Upon the passing of J. Singleton Moore the plantation was purchased in foreclosure proceedings by W.S. Manning. Thus, the majority of the plantation left the Moore family.

Abbreviated Singleton / Moore Family Tree-----Matthew Singleton -(-M-ar-y -Ja-m-es) John Singleton (Rebecca Richardson) ~nne Singleton Moore (Isham Moore) I I mchard Singleton (Rebecca Coles) .~" John Isham Moore (Hermione Richardson)
/ ----... ~ "-' Angelica Singlet-on-(Ab-ram-Va-n B-ure-n) -Videau M\arion Singleton (Robert Marion Deveaux) ~n Burchell Moore(Anne Peyre Deveaux) ~ . ~
Marion Deveaux (John Pinkney) Anne Peyre Deveaux Marion Deveaux Moore (Caroline Naylor Parker) J. Singleton Moore I I (Adopted) Amelia Nott Moore Amelia Nott M\re (St. Julian Barnwell)
Amelia D.Barnwell "Toots" Harper
Marion Deveaux Moore (Caroline Naylor Parker)
McKenzie Parker Moore Sr. Desaussure Moore Nancy Moore Arthur John B. Moore Amelia Nott Moore Barnwell

Boykin, S.H. (1821). Map of Sumter District, South Carolina
Gregorie, A.K. (1954). History of Sumter County. Sumter, SC : Library Board of Sumter County
McIlwain, J.D. (1889). Survey of Cane Savannah Plantation. Plat book V-4,pg.351. Register of Deeds, Sumter County Courthouse, Sumter, SC
McLaurin, M.H.(1878). Map of Sumter County, State of South Carolina.
McLellan, R.F. (1943). Plat showing division of Cane Savannah Plantation.Plat book Z-5, pg. 14. Register of Deeds, Sumter County Courthouse,Sumter SC
Moore, I (1803) Will of Isham Moore, bundle 70, package 7, Probate Court,Sumter County Courthouse, Sumter, SC
Moore, J.B. (1875) Will and estate settlement documents of John Burchel Moore, bundle 170, package 15. Probate Court, Sumter County Courthouse, Sumter SC
Moore, J. I (1852) Will and estate settlement documents of John Isham Moore, bundle 161, package 18. Probate Court, Sumter County Courthouse, Sumter, SC
Moore, J. S. (1930) Will and estate settlement documents of John Singleton Moore, bundle 220, package 52. Probate Court, Sumter County Court House, Sumter, SC
Moore, M.D. (1929) Will and estate settlement documents of Marion Deveaux Moore, bundle 220, package 18. Probate Court, Sumter County Courthouse, Sumter, SC
Moore, M.D. (1930). Plat showing division of estate of MD. Moore. Plat book G5, pg. 6. Register of Deeds, Sumter County Courthouse, Sumter,SC.
Moore, M.P. (2006). Title to real estate. Deed book 1035, pg. 784. Register of Deeds, Sumter County Courthouse, Sumter, SC
Nichols, C. (1975). Historical sketches of Sumter County: It's birth and growth. Sumter, sc: Sumter County Historical Commission
Rice, W. (1839) Reports of Cases in Chancery argued and determined in the Court of Appeals and Court of Errors of South Carolina. Charleston, SC http://books.google.com/books?id=GPoaAAAA YAAJ&pg=PA11O&lpg=PAll0&dq
Singleton, M (1784). Land Grant. Singleton / Deveaux family collection,4MSS. 15 July, 1784 - December 1850. South Caroliniana Library,University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Singleton, M (1786). Indenture. Deed book BB. pg. 209 - 212. Register of Deeds. Sumter County Courthouse. Sumter, SC
South Carolina Department of Transportation (1960). Plan and profile of proposed state highway. Docket # 43.373. Road 40. Sumter County, SC
South Carolina portraits: A collection of portraits of South Carolinians and portraits in South Carolina. (1996). National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of South Carolina. Columbia, SC.

Cane Savannah Plantation Power Point Slides
1. Earth from space, Google Earth
2. Zoom from space to Cane Savannah
3. (4) Google Earth slides of Sumter Co. and Cane Savannah
4. Melrose
5. Land Grant to Matthew Singleton
6. (4) Indenture / Matthew Singleton & Peter Melette, Cane Savannah Millpond
7. (2) Isham Moore Portrait
8. (2) Will of Isham Moore
9. (2) John Isham Moore Portrait
10.(2) Boykin Map
11.(2) McLaurin Map
12.(3)McIlwain Plat
13.Ariel Photograph Cane Savannah Crossroads
14.(3) SC DOT Drawings
15.Rotting Tree Trunk
16.(3) Big Trees not cut
17.Ariel Photo Cane Savannah
18.(2)Deodar Cedar Trees
19.McLaurin Map
20.McIlwain Plat
2 1.(2)Will of 1. Singleton Moore
22.(2) McLellan Plat
23.(2) Google Earth Ariel of Cane Savannah
24.(3) Photos of Avenue
25. Google Ariel of Cane Savannah
26.Site of Cane Savannah Plantation Home Place
28.Foreclosure Sale Statement for Estate of J. Singleton Moore
29.Real Estate Inventory for Estate of J. Singleton Moore
30.Photo of Sing Moore, Sonny Arthur
31.Photo of Sing Moore, Aimee Moore, Mr. & Mrs. Pinckney, Rev.Barnwell.
32.Portrait of Mrs. Marion Deveaux Moore (Caroline Naylor Parker)
33.McLellan Plat
34.McIlwain Plat
35.Plat Dividing Estate of Marion Deveaux Moore
36.Google Earth Zoom out from Cane Savannah to Space