John Boyd

Project 1885-1


Spartanburg, Dist. 4

Feb. 7, 1938

Edited by:

Elmer Turnage


[~HW: Boy~]

"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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