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What a Day to Celebrate South Carolina in Virginia!

Thursday, March 30, was the day to celebrate South Carolina during the Revolutionary War at the American Revolutionary War Museum in Yorktown. For their grand opening, each day for thirteen days, they celebrated one of our Thirteen Colonies.

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It was a privilege to honor SC with our SCDAR State Regent Dianne Culbertson. Kim Claytor,  Past Regent Comte de Grasse Chapter, NSDAR, made us feel most welcome.

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She had a table ready for us to set up a display of colonial toys, a picture of Kings Mountain, and a pastel John painted of a colonial woman on a horse. There were classes visiting that day, and they enjoyed playing with the toys.

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It was a dream to sign my books for the book store and to be part of a panel that talked about our SC Rev war history for four hours that afternoon. Believe it or not, some of our audience stayed for the whole program. South Carolina historians David Reuwer, Tray Dunaway, Doug McIntyre, Robert Dunkerly, and I tried our best to cover eight years in this limited time. and the evening speaker was author John “Jack” Buchanan.

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There were about 50 South Carolinians that attended the flag raising ceremony. What a delight to see it proudly waving over the encampment! The fife and drums opened this part of the day, and a cannon salute closed it.

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The exhibits inside and outside are designed to educate and entertain.

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I will look forward to another day honoring SC’s part in winning the Revolutionary War at Yorktown.


“I’ll Fly Away”

I can picture my Granny (great grandmother Justus) singing when she was snapping beans in her back yard.

She sat in a white iron chair. She held a white, porcelain bowl in her lap and threw the bean snips on the ground. Another bent tin bowl held the beans from her garden was beside the chair. Her apron kept her dress clean, because there was plenty of dirt on the beans from the garden patch.

Her foot would keep rhythm to any song she was singing. “I’ll Fly Away” was one of her favorites, and I learned to clap, as she sang. Granny would smile, as she sang, and those smiles reached her eyes.

Born and raised in Hendersonville, North Carolina, she loved keeping house. There was a sense of welcome and love that I can’t explain that came to greet her and Pop’s guests. They lost so much during the Depression. Even taking in boarders to their house at Laurel Cliff could not stay the selling of the land and house for taxes. They rented that five-room house.

Granny and Pop had eight children that lived to adulthood, and most of them lived in Hendersonville. Almost every Sunday afternoon, they all showed up at their parents’ home, as well as grandchildren and great grands. Granny always had cake, cookies, and coffee ready to serve. As the talking died down, often singing would begin. The hymns they sang at church were the hymns they sang at home. This was another favorite.

There was trust, faith, and hope on their faces and in their singing. This mountain family worked hard with their manual labor and never had much in the way of money. But they loved Jesus, their family, and other people.

Granny spent her last years in the local nursing home. She seldom knew her family members-not even her own children. She held a doll most of the time and talked to it, like it was one of her babies. But any time the home had someone come in to play the piano she’d sit right there and sing every word of every old gospel song they played. She didn’t know her children-but those songs of faith that guided her through her long long life were still there for her to call upon. It was amazing to me as a child to watch the transformation.

As I did the research about John’s Appalachian family, I heard stories of similar trust. They made-do with little, as they worked in upstate cotton mills. Another trait I found that was similar was their choice to not be beholden to anyone, but their hands were always out to help others. They all lived generous lives.

In May, Tales of a Cosmic Possum will be released, and you can read the short stories of eight of the women in John’s family. Yes, there are lyrics to their favorite songs and Appalachian sayings and recipes. It is chock full of life descriptions of living in a mill village or in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.

One of my granny’s sayings was “Don’t git too big for your britches.” It took me a long time to understand what on earth this meant, but it is still good advice today. As we tell our family’s stories, they won’t be forgotten, and we won’t get too big for our britches.

Snow Cone Cart

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Newland Teague retired from Monarch Mill in Monarch, South Carolina. Being restless and without any hobbies, he started a new business for those in his community. This entrepreneur first built a snow cone  cart.

Using scrap lumber from his wood shed, he put together a cart, painted it white, and attached two bicycle wheels to it. He attached handles to push the cart with. (Maybe I would call it a glorified wheelbarrow.) The word, “Snow Cone,” a painted picture of a snowball, and the price five cents was on each side of the cart, so all would know what was available.

Ice was kept in a tin pan. He bought an ice chunk from the ice house on Perrin Avenue. With a cast iron scraper, he scraped the ice into the cone-shaped cups. Pouring the requested flavor over the ice, he hand delivered his product to his customer.

Along the inside of the cart was a shelf with holes to put the bottles of flavoring in. The choices were lemon, watermelon, and strawberry; each person along his route had their favorite.

There was a shelf that pulled down from the side. He served from the shelf. Mr. Teague had carved four small holes in the shelf to hold snow cones, while children dug in their pockets for their nickels.

On hot, summer days, he meandered around the town. Though his customer base was primarily children, all available adults would stand in line for this icy treat, also. This low stress, low overhead business was fun for Mr. Teague. All of his customers were greeted with his smile of welcome. Parents and children stood around visiting while they enjoyed the snow cones.

In the humid and hot South Carolina afternoons, Mr. Teague took an oasis to his neighbors and friends.

In larger cities, men chose established places on the sidewalk for their snow cone carts.

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It’s a business many people try today. America is dotted with snowball-selling sheds in parking lots and along roadsides. Sometimes, snowballs are sold from folding tables set up outside a home, just like a homemade lemonade stand. Stands traditionally serve snowballs in one of two ways: with crushed or shaved ice.

We can even make them at home now.

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Mr. Teague was certainly a good neighbor. Don’t you believe he was one of the most popular in his community?

So many truths can be read in books; this appears to fit herre.

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Buffalo Mill in Union, SC


Construction for Buffalo Mill began in 1900, and the two seven-story towers were completed in 1901. The engineering firm of W. O Smith Whaley was the designer. The Romanesque Revival detailing was popular during this time. The typical industrial design included arches and brick work.

This large complex of buildings included the main mill,  mill office, power house, ice factory, company store, warehouse, and company bank/drug store. Besides operative and supervisor houses in the mill village, a baseball park and school were built.


Power House


Clock Tower


Ice Factory


The stain glass dome, Terrazzo floor, and marble fountain were a touch of elegance to the office building.


Thomas Cary Duncan founded Union and Buffalo mills. He was known as Union’s pioneer capitalist and industrialist. He connected Union and Buffalo mills with his own railroad. Hundreds of families moved to Union from North Carolina and Tennessee and spent their lives working in these cotton mills. This investment introduced the textile industry to this land that once was hunting grounds for the Cherokee.

Thomas Cary Duncan

T. C. Duncan inherited Keenan Plantation from his grandparents, which he renamed Merridun. Remodeling this family property became important. Adding to the piazza resulted in 2400 square feet of porch space. He refurbished the 7900 square feet Georgian floor plan which included a stunning curved staircase, large foyers on both floors, a music room, parlor, library, dining room, kitchen, 7 bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, and a third story cupola. Frescoed ceilings in the music room and dining room, mosaic tiles and turn of the century stenciling and faux graining in the main foyer, and beautiful chandeliers enhanced the mansion’s beauty.

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Perhaps you are wondering why I have shared this information with you today, and it really is back-to-the-past.

My husband John grew up in Union, South Carolina. His father, mother, as well as extended family members, worked in the Union and Buffalo cotton mills. This May, 2017, you will be able to read about their lives in my new book, Tales of a Cosmic Possum.

And on my fiftieth birthday, John treated me to dinner at the Inn at the Merridun with some of our friends. What a fun time it was! The house was lovely, as you can see by the above photos.

Below is one of the best chocolate muffin recipes I have ever tasted, and the owner of the Inn shared it with me. Since Valentine’s Day is in just a few days, I thought to share it with you. I believe you will like/love it. As you know, chocolate is my favorite. Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
Makes 24 regular muffins or about 7-8 dozen mini muffins

I had the privilege of having this recipe included in an innkeepers’ cookbook – Chocolate for Breakfast and Tea. As much as I love chocolate, I’m not always fond of chocolate muffins or breads—this is one exception. They are rich and moist, and our guests gobble them up.

½ cup butter, softened
1-1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1-1/3 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
¼ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or line muffin pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt all at once. Mix just until ingredients are blended. Stir in mashed banana, chocolate chips and walnuts.
  3. Fill muffin cups 2/3 to ¾ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean—be careful not to hit a melted chocolate chip! Cool for 5 minutes; then remove muffins from tins, and place them on a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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National Prayer Breakfast

On February 2 every year, the national prayer breakfast is held in Washington, DC.  The founder of this event was Abraham Vereide.  Born in Norway (October 7, 1886 – May 16, 1969), he was a Methodist minister and founder of Goodwill Industries in Seattle, Washington. He ministered to the down and out, the ones that society had backed away from. During the Depression, he provided relief work to all he could.

Realizing that he could help so few, he started mentoring the rich and powerful to work together and nurtured Christian leaders.

The event—which is actually a series of meetings, luncheons, and dinners—has taken place since 1953 and has been held at least since the 1980s at the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue NW.

The breakfast, held in the Hilton’s International Ballroom, is typically attended by some 3,500 guests, including international invitees from over 100 countries. The National Prayer Breakfast is hosted by members of the United States Congress and is organized on their behalf by The Fellowship Foundation, a Christian organization. Initially called the Presidential Prayer Breakfast, the name was changed in 1970 to the National Prayer Breakfast.

This breakfast is designed to be a forum for the political, social, and business elite to assemble and build relationships. Since the inception of the National Prayer Breakfast, several U.S. states and cities and other countries have established their own annual prayer breakfast events.

Every U.S. president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has participated in the annual event, and these presidents have shared about their faith.

President Dwight Eisenhower

Soon after his election in 1952, Eisenhower told Dr. Billy Graham that the country needed a spiritual renewal. For Eisenhower, faith, patriotism and free enterprise were the fundamentals of a strong nation. But of the three, faith came first.

As historian Kevin Kruse describes in “One Nation Under God,” the new president made that clear his very first day in office, when he began the day with a preinaugural worship service at the National Presbyterian Church.

At the swearing in, Eisenhower’s hand rested on two Bibles. When the oath of office concluded, the new president delivered a spontaneous prayer. To the surprise of those around him, Eisenhower called on God to “make full and complete our dedication to the service of the people.”

Part of President John F. Kennedy’s remarks were,

These breakfasts are dedicated to prayer and all of us believe in and need prayer. Of all the thousands of letters that are received in the office of the President of the United States, letters of good will and wishes, none, I am sure, have moved any of the incumbents half so much as those that write that those of us who work here in behalf of the country are remembered in their prayers….

This morning we pray together; this evening apart. But each morning and each evening, let us remember the advice of my fellow Bostonian, the Reverend Phillips Brooks: ‘Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.’

In 1975, President Gerald Ford said,

Since we last met, I have discovered another aspect of the power of prayer: I have learned how important it is to have people pray for me. It is often said that the presidency is the loneliest job in the world. Yes, and in a certain sense, I suppose it is. Yet, in all honesty, I cannot say that I have suffered from loneliness these past six months.

The reason, I am certain, has been that everywhere I go, among old friends or among strangers, people call out from the crowd or will say quietly to me, “We’re praying for you,” or “You are in our prayers,” and I read the same sentiments in my mail. Of course, there are some that are not so inspiring, but the great ground swell of good will that comes from the true spirit of America has been a wonderful source of strength to me as it was, I am sure, to other Presidents before me. Believe me, having counted the votes and knowing that you have them is a great satisfaction, but the satisfaction of knowing that uncounted numbers of good people are praying for you is infinitely more rewarding.

Prayer is a very, very personal thing, at least for me. Yet, to me, as many of my predecessors, it is a terribly important source of strength and confidence.

President Reagan bows his head and prays during the

Then in 1984, President Ronald Reagan said,

We all in this room, I know, and we know many millions more everywhere, turn to God in prayer, believe in the power and the spirit of prayer. And yet so often, we direct our prayers to those problems that are immediate to us, knowing that He has promised His help to us when we turn to Him. And yet in a world today that is so torn with strife where the divisions seem to be increasing, not people coming together, within countries, divisions within the people, themselves and all, I wonder if we have ever thought about the greatest tool that we have — that power of prayer and God’s help.

If you could add together the power of prayer of the people just in this room, what would be its megatonnage? And have we maybe been neglecting this and not thinking in terms of a broader basis in which we pray to be forgiven for the animus we feel towards someone in perhaps a legitimate dispute, and at the same time recognize that while the dispute will go on, we have to realize that that other individual is a child of God even as we are and is beloved by God, as we like to feel that we are.

The seriousness of prayer is evident in the body language here of President George H. W. Bush.

President George H.W. Bush, along with First Lady Barbara

The National Prayer Breakfast has grown steadily over the years – from 400 attendees to close to 4,000. The presence of the U.S. president has made the event a draw for leaders worldwide and networking before and after the breakfast.

Just as speakers have become more diverse, so have attendees. There are Muslims and Jews as well as Christians. The Fellowship Foundation, an organization started by Vereide that sponsors the breakfast, considers the National Prayer Breakfast as an inclusive event. Mother Teresa, Tony Blair, Senator Joseph Lieberman, and musician Alison Krauss have attended.

But while the breakfast is an open tent, the small seminars and discussions that fill the days before and after are exclusive. These meetings, also organized by the Fellowship Foundation, convene clergy, politicians, military leaders and businessmen for high-level discussions on the global intersections of faith, power and money. The president does not attend these meetings, but his confidantes do.

Today, our new President Donald Trump spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast.

It was the great Thomas Jefferson who said, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty.” Jefferson asked, can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?

At the second inauguration of President Bill Clinton, Dr. Graham again prayed for our nation.

Lord…remind us today that You have shown us what is good and what You require of us; to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God. We ask that as a people, we may humble ourselves before You and seek Your will for our lives and for this great nation. Help us in our nation to work as never before too strengthen our families and to give our children hope and a moral foundation for the future. So may our desire be to serve You, and in so doing, serve one another. This we pray in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

God bless America!





The Tune of Hope

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
― Emily Dickinson”

I read recently that there are over two hundred million copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul in print. This one series includes story-on-story of hope that sing to those without hope.

Listening to or reading the news can clobber us with a world without hope, but perhaps hope is a choice even in circumstances that seem hopeless.

One of my favorite children’s books was called Pollyanna. Eleanor H. Porter was the author, and it was published in 1913. (No, I didn’t read it until the 1950’s.) The main character, eleven-year-old Pollyanna was the most optimistic girl in literature. “When you look for the bad, expecting it, you will get it. When you know you will find the good—you will get that…. ,” she pronounced.

Pollyanna Whittier is a young orphan who goes to live in Beldingsville, Vermont, with her wealthy, but stern and cold, Aunt Polly. Her aunt was concerned about appearances, propriety, and local politics. For Aunt Polly, her niece is a duty, and not welcome.

Pollyanna’s father taught her “The Glad Game,” which encouraged his daughter to look for the good in every situation. This was an on-the-spot lesson about life when the doll Pollyanna was wanting for Christmas was not in the missionary box; only a pair of crutches fit into the barrel.

Bottom line, she learns to face adversity and challenges with a smile on her face.

Even when her aunt puts her into an attic room without carpet or pictures, Pollyanna enjoys the beautiful view of the town. She passes this philosophy on to other residents, before Aunt Polly finally realizes that there is another way to handle disappointments, rather than griping.

When Pollyanna is hit by a car and is paralyzed, she can’t find anything to be happy about with this tragedy. With time and encouragement from Aunt Polly, as well as therapy in a hospital, Pollyanna learns to walk again. Because of her paralysis, she learns how important her legs are and is glad for them.

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In 1960, Disney produced the movie Pollyanna, starring Hayley Mills, and Hayley Mills won an Oscar for her performance.

In 2002 the citizens of Littleton, New Hampshire unveiled a bronze statue in honor of Eleanor H. Porter, author of the Pollyanna books and one of the town’s most famous residents. The statue depicts a smiling Pollyanna, arms flung wide in greeting. Sixteen books by different authors have been written about Pollyanna, so young readers are still enjoying the mind-boggling hope in this young girl’s life.


Believe it or not, Pollyanna was a made-for-TV movie last fall by PBS, and a new generation of girls was introduced to this orphan with a positive outlook on life.

We all know the amazing story of another young girl, who overcame her disabilities. Helen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see a shadow.”

It is still January, and we are still in a new year/new beginning mode. Why don’t we choose a smile, rather than a frown? Can’t we look for something good in the midst of disappointment?

I have heard that it takes less muscles to smile than to frown, and I, for one, don’t need anymore wrinkles.



Chick Springs Hotel

In a time long ago, visitors flocked to the “luxurious” Chick Springs Hotel. Beginning in 1840 for almost 100 hundred years, this lively resort remained busy.

The Cherokee knew of this mineral springs’ healing powers. They called it “Lick Spring,” as Governor John Drayton wrote about in 1802. And it was Cherokee guides that led Dr. Burwell Chick there hunting for deer. Deer licked the local rocks, and these hunters were aware of it. As a sidebar, they mentioned to him that its water cured sores, since they had used it for years and seen its worth.


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This physician planter saw the medicinal and resort possibilities of the property and bought 192 acres from owner Asa Crowder in 1839. Then he opened the Lick Springs Spa in 1840. Moving forward because of its popularity, by 1842, a completed “large and commodious” 60-room hotel was built. The price for one night was $1; he charged half-price for children, servants, and horses. In response to the popularity, he sold a few individual plots for cottages above the springs.

Before long, people traveled here for not only medicinal reasons, but also for a respite.

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In the 1840’s the planter class would have been elegantly dressed in public. Dresses would have been off the shoulders and tight to that 16″ waist. The hair would have been straight around the forward with ringlets around the sides. Hats and gloves were a necessity. The bonnets were full, and there was a long pointed bodice. Dresses were worn in a soft dome shape that was created by a large number of stiff petticoats. (Think Scarlett O’Hara.)

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Dr. Chick died in 1847, and his two sons bought the property for $3,000. The hotel’s inventory included “four settees, valued at $2 each; a piano worth $250; 11 cane-bottom chairs, $15; 72 split-bottom chairs, $15; 25 bedsteads and 50 mattresses for $125; a set of crockery at $25; 19 blankets, 75 cents each, and a billiard table, $80.”

For ten years, the two sons kept the property. During this time, it became one of the most popular resorts in South Carolina. There were frequent balls, card parties, and games of billiards and ten pins. Day trips to Greenville were offered, and hunting with the hotel’s hounds were popular.

A reporter in 1854 noted “the whole house busy” with “five or six tables of whist parties below the piazzas, two or three card tables employed in the drawing room, two pianos accompanied by sweet voices, one billiard table, at which the balls were constantly cracking, a nine-pin alley, and a great many outsiders and lookers on busily engaged in smoking their cigars. Some were walking to the spring, and at the spring house some were pitching quoits for exercise after drinking the sulphur and iron water.” The reporter further noted the dissection of a fresh watermelon and evening dances that often lasted until midnight.

It was a place for families, for those seeking matrimonial proposals, and those that wanted a rest from larger cities.

The resort attracted hundreds of visitors at a time and boosted the local economy, farmers “for ten and twenty miles around” finding a market for their livestock and produce.

Stage coach and train brought the guests to the springs. The stage coach picked up the visitors at  a depot on Augusta Street for the Greenville and Columbia Railroad. One of the regular summer guests was Father J. J. O’Connell from Charleston. He said masses at the hotel in the 1850’s, which were the first Roman Catholic services in Greenville County.

There was one Sunday when he conducted morning services, and that afternoon “a Baptist at the Furman University” condemned the dances that were held in the ballroom.

Both guests and those who lived in Greenville drank the water described as having a “particular flavor and villainous smell.” (This sounds like so many of the medicines I was forced to drink as a child, before flavoring was added to those drinks!)

In 1857, ownership left the Chick family. Popularity of this resort/spa continued under Franklin Talbird and John T. Henry. The Civil War put an end to the faithful patronage; 1861 was its last season.

Then in November, 1862, the hotel burned at an estimated cost of $18,000. The Chick brothers tried once again and bought the property back; then in 1885, they sold it to the Atlanta attorney, George Westmoreland.

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Women’s fashions had changed quite a bit by the 1870’s. As the hoops flattened in front, they soon became gathered at the back of the dress and the bustle was born, with fullness below the hips. The style was characterized by a slim look, high necks, draped overskirts, frilly trains and endless embellishments. And for the first time, hairstyles radically changed when a fringe of short, tightly curled (or frizzy) bangs began to appear.

1870s dress with low bustle, train, elaborate trim and a side-less bonnet set on the back of the head.

In 1903, J. A. Bull bought the hotel and started the Chick Springs Company, selling the mineral water in bottles. Mr. Bull believed in the power of advertising. The Greenville Daily News, in 1903, printed an ad for the mineral water: “Get the Habit. When you get up feeling badly, don’t drink a glass, drink a half gallon bottle of Chick Springs water before breakfast. You’ll have an appetite. You’ll feel better all day.” (Two quarts of what was described as smelly and not fragrant would probably have been difficult to swallow!)

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Besides marketing the mineral water, he enlarged the hotel from 16 to 119 rooms. He also added to the entertainment with a larger dining room and ballroom, tennis courts, horseback riding, golf links, bowling, archery, and a swimming pool. Amenities for his guests included a long-distance telephone line and deliveries of newspapers from New York and Washington. And one of the most modern conveniences was a ride from the train depot in one of Greenville’s first cars. These extras added up to his customers.

In 1908, women threw off much of the frill and lace from their clothes and embraced the “New Woman” look with tailored suits and tailored blouses and skirts. Cycling was still a popular pastime for women during the early 1900s. Blouses and skirts, still layered over tightly corseted figures, were worn for leisurely bike trips.

1900s Cyclists in Blouses and Skirts

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Fire struck the hotel again in 1907. Even though Bull tried to salvage his business by expanding an annex that was saved, he gave up in 1903. Once again, the land changed hands. J. Thomas Arnold built a 100-room hotel in 1914, and it opened in May for the season.

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Unfortunately, America entered WW I, and the guests departed for good.

The building hosted the Chick Springs Military Academy beginning in 1916. Two years later, Dr. B. B. Steedly opened it as a “happy combination of hotel and sanitarium.” Unexpectedly, the doctor died, and the clinic closed in 1932.

Businessmen continued to try to make the area return to its heyday. The Bulls built a swimming pool that was fed by Lick Creek in 1926. In 1927, the Chick Springs Ginger Ale Company was incorporated to manufacture carbonated beverages. The Company also constructed a swimming pool and opened a park that included picnic facilities and a large dance floor. The business failed during the Depression, and the resorting at Chick Springs ended.

Robert Mills reflected in his book, Statistics of South Carolina that the “beautiful spring bursts and boils up from the earth in a large stream” and that the waters were “of so salubrious a nature that many persons visit them in the autumn for health.”

All of these springs during the nineteenth century lured those with leisure and money to these natural wonders. Hotels rolled out the red carpets to cater to days spent in luxury and whiling away time reading on the porches or under gazebos, playing cards, dancing, or other entertainments.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”
I believe more leisure in the 21st. century would be a healthy addition for all of us. What do you think?

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