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Pioneer Day in Gray Court, South Carolina

On the second weekend in September, Pioneer Day is celebrated in Gray Court, South Carolina. The Gray Court-Owings Historical Society was organized in February, 2001 with fourteen dedicated members and has grown to thirty members. It was founded to preserve the history and historic structures of this small rural area.

 The two small towns of Gray Court and Owings grew up around the railroad to serve the small farming communities nearby. The first European settler in the area was Richard Owings III who brought his family from Owings Mill, Maryland about 1757. His son Richard Owings IV was a patriot in the Revolution. The area has much historic value and as yet luckily has evaded the swath of the bulldozer and development. The towns consist of old homes and buildings and there is beautiful farmland outside the town limits.

 The Culbertson Back Country Settlement is on a beautiful two-acre circle on the old Georgia Road in Gray Court, just in front of the old Gray Court cemetery on the hill. This is where Pioneer Days is celebrated. The road was an old wagon road to Georgia that once was traveled by stagecoach to the Dorroh Inn just down the road. The Settlement consists of two log cabins, a block house, a one-room African-American school, corn crib, 1882 church, and a blacksmith shop. All of these structures have been given to the society and were in need of rescue.


As you can see, great attention to detail in the restoration of this log cabin give it a life of its own that takes visitors back to the 18th century.

As you can see, the porch is held up by sturdy rocks.

 The rock chimney stands tall, and the back country settlement gives a visual of our ancestor’s way of life.

 Inside the cabin were teen age girls working with wool. They happily explained the process from carding to spinning.

 This loom was set up to finish a rug.

 Costumes were worn by the young and old. This girl was decked out from head to toe as a Cherokee. She said the moccasins were quite comfortable.

 This family goat posed for the cameras of many.

 It was hot around the fire, but all day the blacksmith continued to create small tools from his forge.

This September day brought many smiles to our faces, as we met new friends.

 And it was time for the parade! There were walkers and animals of all descriptions. The street was lined with spectators. Dianne Culbertson and Sarah Jane Armstrong, the organizers for this event, led the way.

 There was much clapping for our flag.

 As I said, there were animals, too. This pig and goat walked sedately with their caretakers.

 Most were in colonial dress.

 Many chose to make bricks that day, and the process was a surprise. I heard someone say that maybe some of the Lowe’s and Home Depot personnel would be surprised at the old way of doing things.

 These two handmade quilts were beautiful. Besides being exhibited, they were given away in a raffle. I admit to being a bit jealous of the winners.

 This lady was making another quilt. Her stitches were small and precise.

 These hand carved spoons were made of various woods indigenous to our region, including peach.

 There was a group of Cherokee Indians at this event. They entertained many with their storytelling, drum playing, and explaining their costumes.

 Mark C. Anthony, the SCSSAR President presented a program on American flags and their history that fascinated many.

 For every age, there is something to look at, listen to, and learn from.

 In the Owings Music Hall, the shape note singers sang from 9:00 to 4:00. They started in the morning with a hymn and a prayer. Several times during the day, I went to sit at the back and savor their music.

On the second Saturday in September, the public is invited to celebrate our American heritage in Gray Court, South Carolina. Bluegrass music and barbecue are additions to this day, as well as friendly people to answer your questions about this part of our history. You will want to put this festival on next year’s calendar!

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