Earlier Road Trips

October (heard 10/26/06 on WKDK)
To Walhalla & Bac
k--Part II (The Sequel)

This is a special “There and Back Again” trip to help celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Newberry College. In 1868, Newberry College left Newberry for a 9-year stay in Walhalla, SC. This is the second part of their journey which we began last month. In the last road trip we made it as far as Belton, so...

Begin your tour in downtown Belton, SC. Across Main Street from the shops is the old railroad depot which now houses the Ruth Drake Museum and the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame. Continuing on Hwy 76 (Anderson Street), First Baptist Church is visible to the left. The turn-of-the-century church is constructed of red and yellow brick and has beautiful stained glass windows. Beyond it on the left is the Belton City Hall. As you leave town, the municipal cemetery is to the left.

Anderson (called Andersonville at the time of the College’s trip) has been known for many years as the Electric City. Because of innovations in the transmission of hydro-electric power by Anderson engineer William Whitner to areas in the county, Anderson became known as the Electric City. As you come into town, Hwy 76 becomes River Street (probably named for Rocky River that we crossed a few miles back). Bear to the left to stay on Hwy 76. At the corner of McDuffie Street on the right is St. Johns Methodist, which was founded 1828. Diagonally across from the church on the left is the Wilhite House with unusual Corinthian columns on the front. Turn right on McDuffie Street. Turn right on East Church Street. At the end of the street is First Baptist Church which was organized in 1821. The present sanctuary with its imposing steeple is the result of extensive remodeling to an 1859 building. An extensive churchyard surrounds the church. Turn left on South Manning Street and left again on Benson Street. Turn right on McDuffie Street. To the left, on corner of Whitner Street, stands an Art Deco theater. Down the street on the right is the Anderson County Library with its dome and massive Doric portico. Turn left on Greenville Street. Turn left on Main Street, a wide street with lots of nice old buildings. On the right between Whitner and Benson Streets is the Anderson County Court House which was built in 1991. In front of it stands a Confederate Monument. Across the street is the Old Court House which was built in 1898 (see photo at right). With its massive clock tower, it should look more than vaguely familiar to Newberrians. It is built on the site of the first (1828) court house. Turn right on River Street. Stay on Hwy 76 by turning right on Murray Street. To the right, in an old railroad warehouse, is the Anderson County Arts Center which includes a very nice Visitors Center and a Farmers Market. As you leave the downtown, Hwy 76 splits around Linley Park to form a nice older residential area. Continue on Hwy 76.

Cross I-85 and make no plans to visit Atlanta or Greenville on this trip. Up the road, an old railroad trestle passes over the highway at Three and Twenty Creek. As everyone should already know, there is a lot of orange in the color schemes through here (also a preponderance of tiger paws). Turn right on Hwy 88 to get to Pendleton. This becomes Broad Street as you approach the town. Pendleton County (later District) was established in 1789 and was cut from Indian territory that had been ceded to South Carolina in 1777. Pendleton, established in 1790, was the seat of the District and was named for Judge Henry Pendleton who came to the area from Virginia. It represents the end of the fourth day of the College’s travels. Just before Mechanic Street on the right is Pendleton Presbyterian Church. We’ll mention more about the history of this church shortly. Bear to the left on Mechanic Street. Pendleton is laid out in a similar manner to Newberry, with the main street running to one side of the rectangular square rather that through or around it. In the Square stands Farmers Hall. This circa 1826 Greek revival structure was built by the Pendleton Farmers Society. It is amphiprostyle (it has a portico extending across both the front and back). The principal storefronts are arranged around the Square on Broad, Main, Exchange and Queen Streets. Take a little time to walk around the old part of the town or drive out Queen Street to see St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Founded in 1819, this old wooden church was built in 1821 and has a beautiful churchyard. Return to Mechanic Street and turn right. As it leaves town, the street becomes Pendleton Road. Turn left on Excelsior Mill Road. Turn right on Hwy 76.

Cross into Pickens County. Like Anderson it was formed from the Pendleton District in 1826. It was named for Revolutionary War patriot Gen. Andrew Pickens. Turn left on Old Stone Church Road. Turn immediately to the right to get to the Old Stone Church and its extensive cemetery. Built from 1797-1802, this was originally Hopewell Presbyterian Church. About twenty-five years later, the congregation moved to downtown Pendleton (remember Pendleton Presbyterian Church?). For years the old church remained unoccupied. In 1902 the Pendleton Presbyterian Church created a commission to care for the property. Burials in the cemetery date back to circa 1794 and include: Gen. Andrew Pickens, Col. Robert Anderson, Osenappa (a Cherokee Indian buried in 1794) and Eliza Huger (the subject of scandal and legend).

Turn back to the left on Hwy 76. At this point in the trip, we’re going to pass by Clemson University because it wasn’t there when our historic trip took place. Maybe we’ll stop by on the way back. Cross the Seneca River into Oconee County. In 1868 Oconee County was carved out of the Pickens District. The name comes from a Cherokee word for “water eyes of the hills,” perhaps a reference to the waterfalls in the area. The countryside is getting really hilly. Turn right on Hwy 28 toward Walhalla, Oconee’s county seat. This represents the end of a five-day journey for Newberry College and its home for nine years.

Walhalla was settled circa 1849 by German immigrants from Charleston. The sign at the edge of town declares it to be the gateway to the Blue Ridge: “Garden of the Gods.” Proceed through the downtown. On the left will be the Oconee County Court House, a new building of red, brown and yellow brick which stands on a high point and is visible from most of the town. Turn left on South Church Street to visit St. John’s Lutheran Church. Founded in 1853, the present church was built in 1859. Its tall spire has the town clock in it. To the rear of the church is the cemetery which contains the grave of Rev. Smeltzer. From North Church Street, turn right into West View Cemetery. Turn right on South Oak Street . Turn right on Main Street. Turn left on College Street. At the corner of North College and North Broad is the Walhalla Civic Auditorium (photo at left) which stands on the site of Newberry College. Ruins of the college bell tower are still visible on the grounds. Return to Main Street and cross over to South College Street. Visit Walhalla Depot Park and Cultural Center (we had a picnic in the gazebo). While in town, be sure to drive along the streets of town to see the beautiful old homes. Return to Main Street and begin the journey back to Newberry. On the right is Walhalla Presbyterian Church which was founded in 1868. The present church has a dome and Ionic columns.

Veer to the left on East Main Street to drive through the neighboring town of West Union. You will pass Dutch Fork Road (!) and some really nice Victorian houses. Cross Hwy 11 (Cherokee Foothills Hwy). Turn left on Hwy 28. On the right, outside of Seneca is Kendall Mills (a familiar name to Newberrians). Instead of turning left on Hwy 76, stay on Hwy 28 (North First Street) to visit Seneca. A railroad crossing, Seneca was established in 1873. Like many towns in Oconee, it takes its name from an Indian place-name. It was the site of an Indian village at the headwaters of the Savannah River and of the patriot Fort Rutledge. There are some nice turn-of-the-century homes. Turn right on Townville Street and right on Main Street. There is a Bergen’s on the corner. Turn right on Fairplay Street. After a few blocks you will see the Brown Oglesby Funeral Home in old church to the right. To the left is the cemetery, on a hill with terraced plots of brick and stone. Return to the downtown and turn right on N. First Street. Turn right on Hwy 130. Turn right on Hwy 76. As you cross the Seneca River, Clemson is visible to the right. If you have time for a visit to Clemson, be sure to visit the South Carolina Botanical Garden. The garden is located on Perimeter Road off Hwy 76.

Stay on Hwy 76 through Anderson. Turn right on Hwy 252. At the intersection of Hwy 413 is McCoys Crossroads. Keep an eye out for cotton fields as well as donkeys and llamas to the left. On the left is Barkers Creek Baptist Church. Founded in 1821, it was the home congregation of Gov. Olin Johnston. He served in the state House of Representatives, was twice Governor of the state (1935-9, 1943-5) and served as United States Senator from 1945 until his death in 1965. As you approach Honea Path, Hwy 252 becomes Greer Street. At the intersection of Hwy 178, Greer Street becomes Hwy 76. Stay on 76 and return to Newberry. Just don’t wait nine years like the College did!

September
To Walhalla & Bac
k
Just Like Newberry College, Part I


This is a special “There and Back Again” trip to help celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Newberry College. In 1868 Newberry College left Newberry for a nine-year stay in Walhalla, South Carolina. One historian called the college’s stay in Walhalla the “Babylonian Captivity,” for even in the new location it was still called Newberry College. The college returned to Newberry in 1877, hence the there and back again aspect of our trip, but ours won’t take quite so long. In recreating this trip, I offer here one of several possible routes from here to there. By studying old maps at the Museum and the Library (as well as modern travel guides) the route described below follows old highways and has a village suitable for spending the night in the 1860's at twenty or so mile intervals. Two other options might have been to follow the line of the Columbia-Greenville Railroad toward present-day Greenwood or to follow the Newberry-Laurens Railroad to Greenville and work back down part of the old Wilderness Road. These, however, may have been considered a bit out of the way.

Begin your tour on the Square in Historic Downtown Newberry. From the Square, head south on Caldwell Street. Turn right on Boundary Street. At the corner of Nance and Boundary on the left is the site of Luther Chapel, downtown Newberry’s first Lutheran Church. Later the church’s name was changed to Redeemer and the church moved to its present site on Johnstone Street. At Luther Chapel on September 24, 1867, a special meeting of the Lutheran Synod of South Carolina met to open a discussion on how to settle the debts of Newberry College and effect repairs on the building. In an October 1868 meeting at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (Pomaria), the Synod decided to give up the property of Newberry College and accept the offer of a site and buildings in Walhalla.

Turn right on Nance Street. Turn right on Harrington Street and left on College Street. In the 2000 block on the right is the main campus of Newberry College. Smeltzer Hall (at right) stands on the site of the original college building. An ambitious gothic revival structure, the 1858 building had become practically a ruin by the end of the War Between the States. Whether for a Yankee swimming pool (as legend insists) or as a natural function of interior gutters and our moist climate, water had accumulated on the roof causing damage to the floors below. With no money for repairs, no money for the professors and a dwindling student body, Newberry College in the late 1860's seemed doomed.

As a result of the Synod meeting at St. Paul’s, President Smeltzer (Rev. Josiah Pearce Smeltzer) was ordered to take anything salvageable and leave for Walhalla. This was no easy task, for Walhalla was (and is) about as far from Newberry as you could get and still be in South Carolina. There were rivers to cross and hills to negotiate. Even with modern roads, it took the Road Trip team about four hours to recreate the journey. Chances are likely that it took Newberry College five days to complete the trip — if they were able to keep the pace of a little over twenty miles each day. It would have been possible to take the railroad as far as Pendleton, but, given the pecuniary state of the College at the time, they probably could not afford it. Even so, there would still be a day’s journey to their destination, and it may have taken the better part of two days just on the railroad. On October 26, 1868, President Smeltzer set out with ten students, some books, a few desks and the school bell.

From Newberry College, continue on College Street. At the intersection of Hwy 76, turn left toward Clinton. The first part of the trip will be familiar to road trippers. Hwy 76 in Newberry County runs along a ridge between the Broad and Saluda Rivers. It also roughly follows the Newberry-Laurens Railroad which split from the South Carolina Railroad in Helena in 1854. Likewise it would have been familiar territory for the Newberry College travelers as well. With the recent return to cotton in this part of the county, the vistas today are remarkably similar to those in 1868. You will pass Jalapa and Kinards before crossing into Laurens County. Laurens County was named for Revolutionary War Patriot Henry Laurens. Like Newberry, it was divided from the Ninety-Six District in 1785. The first town encountered in Laurens County is Joanna. That name is fairly recent. It was established as Martin’s Depot in 1854. After the War Between the States, it became Goldville. Continue on Hwy 76 to Clinton.

Clinton (pronounced without the “t”) was established in 1852 as a depot on the Newberry-Laurens Railroad. Situated about 22 miles from Newberry, this is a likely place for our College travelers to end their first day’s journey. It was named for a lawyer in the area, Henry Clinton Young, who helped in the laying out of the town. Clinton is home to Presbyterian College and the Thornwell Home. Both of these institutions were established after our historic trip, but their founder, Rev. Jacobs, had arrived in Clinton in 1864. On his arrival he described the town as “a mud hole surrounded by bar rooms.” We can imagine that in 1868 this was still an apt description. As you come into town, a Presbyterian Church is on the left — a reminder that we have left the Lutheran Churches of the Dutch Fork behind. (There are Lutheran Churches in the territory we are covering today, but they are few and far between.) Across the railroad tracks to the right is the downtown with rows of storefronts around a small square. Stay on Hwy 76 and take Business 76 into Laurens (don’t even think of taking a bypass on this trip!).

As you come into Laurens (or Laurensville, as it was called in the nineteenth century) you will see an unusual octagonal house on the right. Built by Rev. Zelotes L. Holmes in 1859 it is one of a very few 19th century octagonal houses in the southeast. Coming into town on the right is Little River Park. When you get downtown, drive around the square to see the old Laurens Court House. Sitting in the middle of the square, the old court house was built circa 1835-40 and remodeled later. When you complete your circuit of the square, turn right on Main Street (the same street and direction you would have been traveling if you hadn’t gone around the square).

Down the street stands a cluster of churches. On the left is Epiphany Episcopal Church which was built in 1846. This church and the old Court House are two landmarks which would have been here when Newberry College made its way west. Across from Epiphany to the right are three “first” churches: First Methodist (circa 1900), First Baptist (circa 1955) and First Presbyterian (circa 1892). There are many large Victorian houses in the next few blocks of Main Street. At the intersection of Hwy 252, be sure to bear to the right to stay on Hwy 76.

At the intersection of Hwy 101 is Hickory Tavern. This supposed to be the only town in the state with an alligator crossing — presumably from a five-foot alligator captured there in 1999. However, on this road trip, I didn’t see any alligators. Cross the Reedy River at Tumbling Shoals. As you approach Princeton, on the right is Princeton Baptist Church which was founded in 1888 and has an extensive cemetery. Princeton is tucked in the corner of Laurens and Greenville Counties and is a likely spot for the end of the College’s second day. Stay on Hwy 76 as Hwy 25 merges in. Cross into Greenville County. Probably named for Revolutionary War patriot Gen. Nathaniel Greene, Greenville District was established in 1786. Like Pendleton District, it was carved out of Indian Territory. After about a mile, bear left to stay on Hwy 76.

Look out for goats and a taste of mountainous terrain. The fall foliage is just beginning to turn with hints of gold and scarlet from Maple, Sweet Gum and Dogwood. Cross the Saluda River into Anderson County. In 1826, Pendleton District was divided into Anderson and Pickens Counties. The former was named for Revolutionary War hero Col. Robert Anderson (1741-1813) who had resided in the area following the war (after the Revolution he was Brigadier General in the State Militia and Lt. Governor). The land here is getting hillier. Though there is a good bit of Kudzu now, this invasive plant would not have been here during our historic trip.

Honea Path (Pronounced Honey-uh) was founded in 1794. The town is situated on the crest of the ridge between the Savannah and Saluda Rivers. The origin of the name is not known but it may be from a Cherokee word for “great trail”or “honey” misspelled. On an 1864 map in the Newberry County Museum the town appears as Honey Path. Honea Path was the site of one of the most violent suppressions of a labor movement. Seven laborers were killed in September of 1934 when 45,000 of the state’s 80,000 textile workers went on strike. As you come into town, cross Hwy 178 and turn left on South Main Street. To the right is First Baptist Church (founded in 1869) and to the left is Trinity Methodist Church (built in 1898). Beyond the churches on the right is the old Watkins School. This neighborhood has some beautiful Victorian homes. Turn left on Hampton Avenue. Turn left on Hwy 178. On the left (with the tower of the Methodist church behind it) is Honea Path Presbyterian Church. Though it is in a much newer building, the church was founded in 1860 and has an old cemetery next to it. Turn left on Greer Street and right on North Main Street. You will pass the old storefronts of the downtown area. Turn left on Hwy 76-178.

Belton, named for John Belton O’Neall, was established as a depot on the Columbia & Greenville Railroad in 1855. It is the point where the Anderson spur branches from the main course of the railroad. This location was a stop on the wagon trail long before the railroad came through. It is also a good point to end day number three of the College’s journey. As you come into town, Hwy 76 will turn off to the left toward Anderson. At that intersection, turn right (on O’Neal Street) and go around the square to visit Belton. In the downtown are many old storefronts. Looming over the town is a crenellated water tower (at left).

To Be Continued ...

 


The "Road Trip of the Month" is brought to you by
The Newberry County Historical and Museum Society.
The Newberry County Museum is located at 1503 Nance Street, behind the
Public Safety Complex.
The drive is off Cornelia Street.

The Museum is open on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 1:00 to 4:00 PM
or any time by appointment.
For more information, contact Ernest Shealy at
(803) 924-0282.

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