From: South Carolina
Spartanburg, Dist. 4
Feb. 7, 1938
REMINISCENCES: THE RED SHIRTS
"The Red Shirts had a big parade and barbecue in Spartanburg. They met
at the courthouse. There were about 500 Red Shirts, besides others who
made up a big crowd. I remember four leaders who came from Union County.
One of the companies was led by Squire Gilliam Jeter, and one by Squire
Bill Lyles. The company from the city was led by Capt. James Douglass
and 'Buck' Kelley from Pea Ridge was there with his company.
"Everything drilled in Spartanburg that day. The speakers of the day
from Union were Squire Jeter and Capt. Douglass. While they were
speaking, old Squire George Tucker from lower Fish Dam came with his
company. Mr. Harrison Sartor, father of Will Sartor, was one of the
captains. We saw Gen. Wade Hampton and old man Ben Tillman there.
"About this time I was bound out to Mr. Jim Gregory, a blacksmith. The
wealthy landlords bought negroes. Mr. Jim Gregory was the blacksmith for
old Johnny Meador and Aunt Polly, his wife. He told me that Uncle Johnny
bought a man, Heath, for $3,500. He also bought Heath's wife, Morrow,
for Aunt Polly, but I don't know what he paid. The Meador house is just
this side of Simstown. Aunt Polly's father, Triplett Meador, built that
mansion. The brick were made in a home kiln which was near the house.
Aunt Polly was a little girl when the house was built. While the brick
for the sitting-room fireplace were still wet, he made little Polly step
on each one of them to make the impression of her feet. So those foot
prints in that fireplace are Aunt Polly's when she was five years old.
She grew up there and married, and lived there until her death.
"Miss Ida Knight's house (formerly the Sims house) was built not later
than 1840. Dr. Thompson lived there first. Dr. Billy Sims married Dr.
Thompson's sister, Miss Patsy, and that is how the house got into the
Sims family. The old post office was known as Simstown, and I believe it
was up near the Nat Gist mansion. Simstown was the name for the river
community for years, because the Sims settled there and they were
equally or more prominent than the Thompsons and Gists in that
community. All the Sims men were country doctors.
"To this community at the close of the Confederate War, came old man
Ogle Tate, his wife, and Ben Shell, as refugees, fleeing from the
Yankees. When they came into the community, Nat Gist gave them a nice
house to live in on his plantation.
"Mr. Gregory got all the sheet iron used on the Meador and Gist
plantations, and also on the Sims and Thompson plantations. Plows were
made in his blacksmith shop from 10 inch sheet iron. The sheet was
heated and beaten into shape with his hammer. After cooling, the tools
could be sharpened. Horse and mule shoes were made from slender iron
rods, bought for that purpose. They were called 'slats', and this grade
of iron was known as 'slat iron'. The shoe was moulded while hot, and
beaten into the correct shape to fit the animal's foot. Those old shoes
fit much better than the store-bought ones of more recent days. The
horseshoe nails were made there, too. In fact, every farm implement of
iron was made from flat or sheet iron.
"I spun the first pants that I wore. Ma sewed them for me, and wove and
finished them with her hands. She made the thread that they were sewed
with by hand on the loom. I made cloth for all my shirts. I wore
home-made cotton underwear in summer and winter, for we were poor. Of
course my winter clothes were heavier.
"We raised some sheep, and the winter woolens were made from the wool
sheared from the sheep every May. Wool was taken to the factory at
Bivensville and there made into yarn. Often, cotton was swapped for yarn
to warp at home. Then ma ran it off on spools for her loom. 'Sleigh
hammers' were made from cane gotten off the creek banks and bottoms.
"Aunt Polly Meador had no patrollers on her place. She would not allow
one there, for she did her own patrolling with her own whip and two bull
dogs. She never had an overseer on her place, either. Neither did she
let Uncle Johnny do the whipping. Those two dogs held them and she did
her own whipping. One night she went to the quarter and found old 'Bill
Pea Legs' there after one of her negro women. He crawled under the bed
when he heard Aunt Polly coming. Those dogs pulled old 'Pea Legs' out
and she gave him a whipping that he never forgot. She whipped the woman,
"Morg was Morrow's nickname. Morg used to sit on the meat block and cut
the meat for Aunt Polly to give out. Morg would eat her three pounds of
raw meat right there. Uncle Johnny asked her what she would do all the
week without any meat, she said that she would take the skin and grease
her mouth every morning; then go on to the field or house and do her
work, and wait until the next Saturday for more.
"I do not know how old I am, but I well remember when Wheeler's men came
to the plantation. They tore up everything. We heard that they were
coming, so we dug holes and buried the meat and everything we could. We
hid them so well that we could never find some of them ourselves.
Wheeler and 36 men stopped on the Dick Jeter place. I think that was in
1864. The Jeter place touched Miss Polly's plantation. The Jeter place
was right near Neal Shoals on Broad River. Mr. Jeter had the biggest gin
house in the entire township. Old Mr. Dick was at home because he was
too old to go to the war. Pa was still in the war then, of course. Ma
and I and one of the other children and a few darkies were at our home.
"We saw Wheeler and his men when they stopped at that gin house. They
began to ransack immediately. Wheeler gave some orders to his men and
galloped off towards our house. The negroes ran but ma and I stayed in
the house. Wheeler rode up in front of the door and spoke to my mother.
He said that he had to feed his men and horses and asked her where the
corn was. She told him that the gin house and the crib which contained
the corn did not belong to her, so she could not give him the keys. At
that he ordered his men to remove a log from the crib. By this means
they broke into the crib and got all the corn. They then ransacked the
house and took everything there was to eat. They tore out the big cog
wheel in the gin and camped in it for the night. Next morning they set
fire to the gin and then galloped away. Soon Mr. Jeter's big gin had
gone up in flames. They took all of our corn and all of the fodder, 200
bundles that we had in the barn, away with them."
Source: Mr. John Boyd, County Home, Union, R. F. D.
Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S. C. 1/26/38
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